jumpJump Start # 2522
Ephesians 4:20 “But you did not learn Christ in this way.”
Our verse today is a simple reminder of what we read and find in the Gospels. Jesus, as the Holy Spirit reveals Him to us, is the Jesus that we are to imitate, believe, follow and obey. It’s the Gospel’s Jesus that is the true picture. And, this is what Paul was reminding the Ephesian brethren about.
The Ephesians were told to walk differently than the way they once walked. They were to be a changed people. They were to be a new people in Jesus. Lying, anger, unwholesome words, bitterness, unforgiving were the old ways. They were to be done with that. They did not learn Jesus in this way. Following Jesus would not take them down those dark streets. Jesus is all about holiness and righteousness.
Such a simple concept. You did not learn Christ this way. There are different ways of learning. Some learned to play the piano in private one on one lessons. My wife learned in a group setting. When I was a kid in school, all the talk was about “new math.” It was a new way of learning math. I don’t know what the old way was like, but I learned math. That was important in the home I grew up in. Dad was an engineer and math was important. So, we learned it. But what Paul is driving at here is not the manner in which you learned, but the information that you were taught. The Ephesians did not learn that Jesus promoted ungodliness, selfishness and sinfulness. You didn’t get that from Jesus.
And, for us, don’t turn Jesus into what He is not. Don’t manufacture your own version of Jesus. Don’t try to merge Jesus and sin. They won’t fit. They never do.
There are a few thoughts that spring from all of this:
First, Paul knew how they had learned Christ. He was one of the instrumental teachers that introduced them to Jesus Christ. Paul knew. He knew that he had taught Jesus correctly. He knew that following Jesus included repentance, and changes. Don’t try to say, “We didn’t know.” Paul taught them. He knew what they knew.
Second, for us, this reminds us of the important value of teaching accurately, correctly and as God has stated. Don’t spend class time chasing rabbits of speculations, theories and ideas that are not based upon Scriptures. Teach the word of God. Don’t teach doubts. Don’t teach worries and fears. Don’t teach things that are not there. Faith is built upon a solid teaching of God’s word. Build your faith and not your doubts.
Thirdly, who teaches you can be as important as what is taught. If someone is misguided, dishonest and has an agenda, he may with fancy words twist things, change things and present ideas that are not supported by the word of God. In these times, feelings replace facts and faith. Folks assume that if they like it, then God likes it. And, this fuzzy, confused teaching opens the door to all kinds of ideas that lead us away from righteousness and holiness. So, who are you allowing to influence you and teach you? What are you reading? What podcasts are you listening to? Do they get what the Bible message is all about? Do they understand fundamental concepts such as baptism, miracles, organization of the church, worship, Heaven and Hell? Do they get it about those ideas? If they are wrong about these simple things how can you trust them about other things? You did not learn Christ in this way.
Fourth, we all have a responsibility for our own faith. We must take ownership of our own faith. I can’t allow my faith to be shaped by someone else. We wouldn’t allow someone to talk us into buying a car that we didn’t want, yet, would we allow someone to tell us what to believe about the Lord? Search the Scriptures. Do your own homework. Look carefully and deeply. Think things out. Lower your nets into the deeper waters. Know. Understand. Make up your own mind.
Fifth, when you build your faith upon the Scriptures, you’ll soon see others who have a faith, but it’s not Bible based. Their faith is based upon what they wished the Scriptures said. They have no real foundation and there is no rock supporting what they believe. Their evidence is in that God loves me. That broad and inclusive concept has allowed folks to wallow in the mud of sin without any guilt or shame. It’s allowed leaders to ignore what God says about worship and leadership. People are flying solo and it’s all under the giant umbrella of “God loves me.” He does. The Bible says that. And, the same Bible that says that, also says that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. That shuts the gate on all the free lance thinking that goes on today. Build your thoughts and faith upon the word of God. Go to the book for your hope, evidence and proof. Be a people of the Bible. You did not learn Christ that way.
Finally, if we all learn Christ based upon the Bible, then we ought to all believe the same. There ought to be a unity of thought which translates into a unity of action. The Bible speaks of one mind. How can we have that one mind? We all come from different backgrounds. We all have different stories. We all have different experiences. We get that way when we all have learned Christ the same way, the Bible way. Our faith rests upon the same Scriptures. A person in the first century, who barely knew how to read, had the same understanding of Christ as you and I do with all the books, software programs and information at our finger tips. The Gospel story doesn’t change. Our hope is not in finding something new out there. Our delight is seeing the Jesus that is revealed to us by God. What God wanted us to know is in the Scriptures, not in some newly discovered article written long ago.
You did not learn Christ that way. That’s a great reminder to folks who once knew Christ but have started to walk away. It’s a great reminder for those who once knew Christ but now they have embraced some wild ideas that are not in the Bible. It’s a great reminder for those who want culture to be the standard rather than the word of God.
It all starts with learning. We must learn Christ. And the way to do that is to open up the Gospels and jump in.