“Redeeming Time within God’s Plan of Redemption”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.15-17
Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 5. We have begun a new section starting in verse 15. And we know that because of one word in verse 15. Do you know the word that marks off this new section?
It’s the word “walk.” The word “walk” in Ephesians is used by the apostle Paul to give further applications to the benefits of God’s plan of redemption in Christ.
This word “walk” in verse 15 is the last occurrence of this word in the book of Ephesians and it is the fifth time that it occurs since the beginning of this application section in Ephesians starting in chapter 4.
Look back at chapter 4. Starting in this chapter, the apostle applies all the wonderful benefits of God’s plan of redemption in Christ. Let’s look at the word “walk.” That word walk simply means to “live.”
Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
Drop down to verse 17…
Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
A few verses later in Ephesians 5:8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
And then in our verse in verse 15, Ephesians 5:15 … Let’s read our text this morning… Ephesians 5:15-17 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
You’ll notice 2 contrasts in these 3 verses. Look at verse 15, therefore be careful how you walk … And here’s the contrast … “Not as unwise men but as wise.” There is a contrast … there is a difference between walking as the unwise walk or as the wise walk.
Also, notice verse 17. Ephesians 5:17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
There is a contrast, there’s a difference between being foolish or understanding what the will of the Lord is. And ironically, there’s a lot of foolishness in the typical understanding of that verse itself, which I hope we can clarify.
Last week we were in verses 11-14. In this verses, we discussed the light’s relationship to the darkness. In other words, what is a Christian’s response to sin?
And we determined that a Christian is called upon, number one, not to do dark deeds, but instead number two, a child of God is to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness.
And this exposing all has a purpose. To expose or to reprove the darkness for its unfruitful deeds has a purpose. There is a reason why we would rebuke lost people for their sin. It’s all so they might be saved. And that’s verses 13-14 where we as the light are shining in the dark place and as we shine our light with our life and with our words, all things become visible and as a result by the grace of God… at the end of the verse… some will themselves turn to light.
In other words, some people will get saved when we shine our light. And this is why Paul quotes from a Christian hymn in verse 14 “awake sleeper, and arise from the dead in Christ will shine on you.” In other words, repent of your sin and Christ will shine on you.
So we are to be a people who themselves know we are the light of the world.
And so now in our passage today … therefore, be careful how you walk, verse 15 says. You must, in light of a watching lost dark world, you must be careful how you live. Live as wise, not as unwise believers. Live as someone who understands the Lord’s will, not as someone who is foolish.
But how should you walk wisely? What would it look like to live in a wise way in this passage? In this passage, the answer to that is in verse 16. How do you walk wisely? How should you walk wisely? Verse 16 by making the most of your time. That is literally in the original language ‘redeeming the time.’ Redeem means to buy something back….
And so, we’re called upon to buy back the time.
So we are to be careful to live as wise individuals and we’re going to do that by redeeming the time, or making the most of each moment.
Now, we are to redeem the time within a certain context and worldview. We are to redeem the time with a certain outlook on life. We are to redeem the time in light of certain truths.
And those certain truths we have around these verses. The previous message emphasized our relationship to the darkness and how we are to expose the darkness that they might be saved. That’s God’s plan of redemption.
Also, at the end of verse 17 we have a similar concept. We are to live carefully as wise individuals by redeeming the time …. Verse 17 we are not to be foolish, but we are “to understand what the will of the Lord is.” And that phrase “the will of the Lord” does not refer to personal guidance in the life’s major decisions. But we will see a little later in the message that this phrase also refers to God’s plan of redemption in Christ. It refers to God’s will accomplished in the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem people that they might be a part of his kingdom. The will of the Lord is God’s plan of redemption. So before and at the end of this passage we are in the context of God’s plan of redemption. We’ll see “wise” in verse 15 also refers to God’s plan of redemption.
TITLE: So I would like to preach this morning on “Redeeming Time within God’s Plan of Redemption.”
THESIS: What we will see this morning is redeeming time is a godly response commanded by Scripture, but it needs to be done for the right motives and to reach the right goals. Making the most of each moment must be done with the right motives and to reach the right goals.
Live Carefully As Wise People (Eph. 5:15-16)
First, from verses 15-16, live carefully as wise people. Live carefully as wise people.
First, verse 15 … Ephesians 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
To be careful how you walk means to live carefully. Live carefully. Be careful with how you live. We need to live carefully as wise individuals.
Wisdom in Ephesians
Wisdom in the book of Ephesians concerns our understanding of God’s plan of redemption. This is important, wisdom in the book of Ephesians concerns our understanding of God’s plan of redemption. And to see this, I would like to ask you to turn back to Ephesians chapter 1. We’re going to see that Paul describes God’s wisdom to refer to God’s wisdom in His plan of redemption.
If you have trusted in Christ for salvation and have lost your life for Christ’s sake, you have made the first step of an infinite number of steps in truly understanding God’s plan of redemption. Coming to Christ for salvation is the first step. It’s the beginning of understanding the gospel. This is the beginning of the lifelong goal of coming to grips with what God is doing in the church through Christ Jesus for His own glory forever.
We must constantly endeavor to seek to understand more of what God is doing in the church through Christ Jesus for his own glory forever.
And believers have, at least, some insight into God’s plan of redemption, but we are to seek more insight.
Let’s read Ephesians 1 beginning in verse seven. Speaking of the rich spiritual blessings we have in Christ … Ephesians 1:7-10 7 In Him we have redemption [there’s that word …] through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will [what’s His will? Keep going … ], according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, [ok here we go … ] the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
In other words, we have wisdom and insight into His will. We have redemption. What is his will? That in verse 10 in the future age he will sum up everything in Christ, things in heaven and things on the earth.
Clearly this is God’s will: That He might redeem people and bring everything underneath Christ’s leadership in the future age. He made this known to us in wisdom, end of verse 8 says. Believers understand this, this plan of God’s redemption is God’s wisdom that He has given to us.
And then in verses 17-19, Paul is praying that God would give to believer’s the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might more fully understand God’s plan of redemption for all the ages.
Ephesians 1:17-19 17 [Paul is praying] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your [the believer’s] heart may be enlightened, so that you will know [that you will come to have Holy Spirit-empowered knowledge of 3 things end of verse 18… #1…] what is the hope of His calling, [#2] what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and [#3] what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
We need to pray that we would understand the hope of his calling and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and we need to pray that we understand what is surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe.
And this wisdom and insight that we are to have is Holy Spirit-empowered knowledge. This goes beyond the academic textbook knowledge of these things. That is what is required …. But what is also required is that the Holy Spirit make that knowledge powerful in our hearts. And this is why prayer is important. Pray, pray … for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and insight into God’s eternal plan of redemption.
And this wisdom … God’s plan … God’s eternal plan of redemption is being worked out in the church. God’s plan for all the ages is today, by God’s design, being worked out in the church.
So we need Holy Spirit-empowered insight and wisdom into God’s plan of redemption. And what he is telling us in Ephesians is that he is working out his eternal plan of redemption through the church.
We can see this in 2 chapters over … the next time “wisdom” occurs and that is in Ephesians 3:10. Turn there, Eph. 3:10.
And this verse is a climax in the book of Ephesians. God is working to accomplish his eternal plan of redemption. We’re told in Ephesians 1 what that plan is. And now were seeing in Ephesians 2 and 3 how God is working out that plan in the church.
Notice the emphasis, drop back to verse eight. Ephesians 3:8-10 [Paul is marveling at his own role in God’s eternal plan of redemption] 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church [it’s through what? Through the church!] to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Do you see it? Paul the very least of all the saints … so undeserving of this …that this grace was given to him to preach to the Gentiles … I mean even the Gentiles not just the Jews are to receive the unfathomable riches of Christ. And Paul has been given the inestimable opportunity to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery. What is that mystery? This eternal plan of God’s redemption has now been revealed. What was hidden for ages past has now come to [!!!!!]light[!] so that the wisdom … the multi-faceted wisdom of God might be made known through the church to rulers in the heavenly places.
God’s wisdom in Ephesians is His infinitely brilliant plan to work out His eternal plan of redemption. This is God’s wisdom in Ephesians.
So now in this age God is working out His eternal plan of redemption … and He’s doing that … through the church.
And my friends you now have insight into this. Perhaps as we went through this the veil was lifted in your heart and you began to see a little more deeply how God’s wisdom in Christ for the redemption of lost people is being worked out in the church.
And so you have insight into God’s plan of redemption. And Paul’s point back now in our text, in Ephesians 5:15, is that you live wisely. What would living wisely mean in light of God’s wisdom? God’s wisdom is displayed in His eternal plan of redemption. Now, you are to live wisely. Putting it together, you are to live out the very wisdom of God in His eternal plan of redemption.
Live your life in light of God’s wisdom that he has displayed in Christ. Live your life in light of God’s wisdom …that is His plan of redemption. Live as wise people who understand His eternal plan of redemption and live in light of it. Live as people who have gained insight into God’s eternal plan of redemption.
Bring your walk … bring your lifestyle into conformity with God’s wisdom displayed in His eternal plan of redemption. God is displaying His wisdom in His eternal plan of redemption to the heavenly beings through the church.
Make your lifestyle conform to what God is doing to redeem humanity. Conform your lifestyle to this wisdom of God in the church.
Don’t be unwise
And Paul says in Ephesians 5:15 that we are not to be unwise. Don’t be unwise. Don’t be someone who does not bring his life into conformity with God’s eternal plan of redemption. God has displayed his wisdom in his eternal plan of redemption … You’re to live in that wisdom of God. Don’t live like you have no insight into his wisdom … Don’t live like you have no Holy Spirit-empowered knowledge of what he is doing through the church…. Live wisely … Make lifestyle choices because of God’s plan of redemption….
Make lifestyle choices because of God’s plan of redemption
To be unwise is to fail to make lifestyle choices that conform to God’s eternal plan of redemption. Don’t be unwise. Don’t fail to make lifestyle choices that conform to God’s eternal plan of redemption.
Paul is calling on us here to live a life that reflects God’s wisdom … And God’s wisdom in Ephesians is his eternal plan of redemption as we saw in Ephesians 1-3.
Now, how are you going to live wisely? How are you going to conform your lifestyle to God’s eternal plan of redemption? And the answer to that is by redeeming every moment.
How: By Redeeming the Time
In order for you to conform your lifestyle more to God’s eternal plan of redemption is for you to redeem something. God has given us wisdom and insight into his eternal plan for all the ages: his plan for redemption. And I am to live wisely … We are to live in light of God’s wise plan of redemption. To do that, you must redeem something.
We must redeem the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 [how are you to live wisely? You are to live wisely by] making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
That phrase “making the most” translates one Greek word that is literally the word redeeming. If you have a New American Standard Bible, “making” in verse 16 has a “1” next to it and in the margin you have the word “redeeming.”
This word is translated “redeem” in Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—
As well as Galatians 4:4-5 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And that word “redeem” in those two verses is the same word in Ephesians 5:16 that’s translated “making the most.”
Redeeming has the idea of buying. It’s a slave market term. To redeem a slave means to buy him back from the slave market.
And the word “time” refers to particular events or situations. We can think of them as moments or opportunities. “Buy back every moment.”
So to redeem the time means to make the most of every moment. The time saving tips that many of us are familiar with are helpful in this context. Setting priorities and accomplishing them, learning to say “no,” and developing a family mission statement and filtering each activity through that mission statement… Do what you do and live the way that you live because of what God is doing in the earth. Do what you do and live the way that you live and make your lifestyle choices based on God’s plan of redemption and how you can get more plugged into that. Get more plugged into God’s eternal plan of redemption!
And so there are two kinds of Christians, as described in this passage. Wise or unwise. Those who are careful how they live, they are wise. And “wise” in Ephesians as we saw refers to God’s wisdom as he has displayed it in his eternal plan of redemption and how he is working out that plan through the church. There are some Christians and they live in that reality. They live in the reality of God’s eternal plan of redemption that he is working out through the church for all eternity. So these believers redeem the time that they have. They make the most of every moment in order to best fit into God’s plan of redemption. These Christians live in reality.
But there’s also another kind of Christian: And they are not living in reality.
ILL: One of the most common phrases in the book of Ecclesiastes is the phrase “chasing the wind.” In other words, trying to find meaning in something inherently unmeaningful. Pointlessness, fleeting, emptiness this describes over 90% of the people’s lives.…
It’s like the people of this world who live for the weekends. They go to work to earn money to buy food, to eat food, to get energy from the food so that they can work in order to get money to buy food, to eat food … And hoping somewhere in the middle of this vicious cycle they can at least have pleasure on the weekends. This is like a mouse on his running wheel. They keep going and going but they get nowhere and accomplish nothing of lasting value. The only hope seems to be retirement, which ends up being a life of indebtedness and the inability to actually retire.
This is chasing the wind and not living in reality. This is foolish living. Christians can get caught up in this rat race of meaningless existence.
That’s why we are commanded to live wisely. But some Christians are not careful about how they live. They understand in the head about God’s plan of redemption but they themselves are not plugged into that reality. They live as unwise people. They choose not to make lifestyle choices that conform to God’s plan of redemption for all the ages. They do not redeem every moment to better conform their lives to God’s plan of redemption.
To these believers, God got plugged into their life by redeeming them. But to conform their life to better participate in God’s plan of redemption of others is not happening …
I would say many of us feel like we need to work on managing our time. I would say that some feel overwhelmed by the daily grind. And you could go out and get a lot of time-saving tips. And you could use those time-saving tips in order to get more free time … for yourself. You could use those time-saving tips [and there are plenty out there…] in order to get more free time for the same exact reasons that the world wants more free time: to spend it on their pleasures.
In other words if you were to say to me, “Greg, I want to learn how to make the most of every moment.” Ok, I would ask you, “why do you want to most of every moment?” And you might say, “because I want to spend more time with my family and to raise my kids better and have some free time for hobbies.” I would ask you, “Great, why do you want more time with your family and why do you want to raise your kids better and why do you want to have some free time for hobbies?” And what is the right answer to that?
Do you want to make the most of every moment to gain more free time only because you’re running a freak show in your house and you’re pulling your hair out trying to get everything done and you’re so busy and tired you can’t think straight and if somebody else asks me to do something, I think I’ll implode and have a meltdown? Is that why you want to redeem the time? If that’s you, yes we do need to talk.
But is this what ought to motivate time redemption? This is what motivates the world to get them to manage their time better. This is what motivates the world in their rat race.
Of course, the answer to why we redeem the time is because we want to be more a part of what God is doing in the world, and He is redeeming people. This is why we should want to redeem the time.
TRANS: And further help with the reason why we redeem the time is at the end of verse 16. Look at it … We live carefully as wise people who have spiritual understanding of God’s plan of redemption and we redeem the time within that plan of redemption … And we do this at the end of verse 16 because [why?] b/c the days are evil.
Why Redeem Time: Evil Days
You are to buy back time from the slave market. You are to buy back time because the days in which each opportunity you have exists are evil. Every opportunity you have lives in a day that is evil. And so what’s the danger? The danger is that each opportunity you have is used for evil.
Each opportunity you have in this dark world lives in the slave market of evil and you’re called upon to buy that opportunity back to be used within God’s plan of redemption.
“Redeem the time because the days are evil.” Each of your opportunities is standing there in the “evil day” slave market. Look, there are opportunities for the day, to buy them to be used in God’s plan of redemption! They are waiting to be purchased back from the slave market. Are you going to make each moment you have your slave for God’s plan of redemption somehow? Or are you going to let Satan have his evil way with your time?
Consider this: There was once a time when you were in Satan’s slave market, too. You were once wrapped up in these evil days. You were once underneath the control of the Prince of the power of the air. Satan was your father. And under his power, you rebelled against God whole-heartedly. And Satan kept you underneath his terrible enslavement and you were a child of wrath even as the rest.
But by the mercy of God he rescued you from that domain of darkness and transferred you into the kingdom of his dear Son and now you are light in the Lord. But the prince of the power of the air is still at work. And you live in the midst of his evil days as you await your final redemption in the resurrection of your body.
And because this is reality, live in it. Live wisely in evil days during which God is redeeming people. And what God is doing is what he revealed to man hundreds of years ago.
In Daniel chapter 7, the setting is in eternity past. Daniel keeps looking in his vision of God and He sees the Ancient of Days taking His seat. His vesture was like white snow and the hair of his head like white wool and his throne was ablaze with flames and wheels burning fire. There is a river of fire flowing coming out from before him and thousands upon thousands attending him and myriads upon myriads were standing before him and …the court sat and the books were opened …
And then Daniel tells us that he keeps looking and behold with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man is coming … the Christ is coming … And He approaches the Ancient of Days and was presented before him and Daniel 7:14 says … “And to Him [to the Son of Man, Jesus Christ] was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
And folks this reality is being fulfilled today. God is fulfilling this vision. God is calling out peoples from the nations and men and women and children from every language … And he has been doing this since Adam fell in the garden and since Christ died and rose again.
And after this very Son of Man’s death and resurrection, the gospel of Christ began to spread from that little speck of the nation to encompass the entire globe. [!!!!!] And one day the light will break forth into this dark world and Christ will come and his dominion will be an everlasting Dominion which will not pass away his kingdom one that will not be destroyed…
Folks this is reality! God is redeeming people … And what he is calling upon us to do in light of this eternal plan of redemption is for us to redeem something as well. We need to redeem every moment within this plan of redemption. We must redeem every moment to better participate in this eternal plan of God.
!!!!! Christ purchased you back from that slave market! Now, you are called upon to buy back your time from that slave market and use it for Christ’s kingdom’s sake.
TRANS: And so why? Why would a believer not make the most of every moment to better participate in this eternal plan of God? And the answer is that he has become foolish, that’s why … And that’s not my opinion, that is what verse 17 of Ephesians 5 says…
Don’t Become Foolish, Understand the Lord’s Will
Don’t become foolish
Ephesians 5:17 So then do not be foolish [and you should translate that become foolish… So then do not become foolish], but understand what the will of the Lord is.
This translated properly indicates the possibility of becoming foolish. A believer who has become foolish has become careless with his time and actions in light of God’s eternal plan of redemption. He lacks real spiritual comprehension of the truth of what is really real.
And though he here it on a Sunday morning message like this, he does not give his full attention to it and fails to work hard at spiritually comprehending God’s truth and then to make decision to live in light of God’s plan of redemption.
He runs his life like the rest of the world except perhaps he occasionally opens his Bible and he might be found at church. And he’s just satisfied that he is not watching the wrong kind of movies and not listening to the wrong kind of music and doesn’t go to the wicked places on the Internet. This is a foolish believer. Believers become foolish when they don’t streamline their life to better participate in God’s redemptive plan.
TRANS: Instead of becoming foolish, the end of verse 17…. We are encouraged to understand what the Lord’s will is. Understand the will of the Lord.
Understand the Lord’s Will
The foolishness of believers have too long interpreted this verse. Those who have as of yet failed to get their life plugged into God’s plan of redemption have too long interpreted this verse to refer to matters of personal guidance.
Someone who is overly concerned about God’s will for their life, for example whom to marry what job to take, what should I do … This person has not understood in a real life changing way, God’s eternal plan of redemption. And they have not owned that plan for themselves and they have not sought to get plugged into God’s will; they are still too concerned with getting God plugged in to their life.
No, this phrase the will of the Lord refers to we’ve been talking about this whole time and that is the will of the Lord in the history of redemption.
And we know that by looking at the word “will” in Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11 … All refer to God’s will in redeeming man. Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
[*palm out and up*]
Ephesians 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him [and that will is] … The summing up of all things in Christ.
And we are his inheritance verse 11 of chapter 1 says … having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of … His will.
So, you can see that the will of the Lord in Eph. 5:17 refers to the overarching plan of in redeeming man.
Paul again is pleading with us to truly, spiritually comprehend the will of God in Christ Jesus to redeem out for himself a people for his own namesake that they might be a part of his eternal kingdom that shall never fail, to be a part of His dominion that will not pass away.
He desires us to understand this that we might make the most of every moment in that plan of redemption.
Now, Paul is calling us to live in this reality. This is reality. Are you living in this reality or a dream world …. Your own tiny dream world with your priorities, goals, wishes, ambitions?
Now, am I trying to say everyone should quit their jobs and become missionaries. No, I’m saying to be a missionary and don’t quit your job! I’m saying buy back some time with God in His Word and prayer. Buy back some time growing in Christ. Buy back some time growing your family in Christ. Buy back some time within your job. Buy back some time to spread the message of this kingdom and disciple others.
On the back table I have a half sheet of paper that you and your family could work through together if you are having trouble with this. And if you need further help with this, please ask me.
We can discuss all the time management tips together, but there is a reason why those time management tips are not in the Bible. There is a reason why the Lord put it here the way that he did. What we really need is a reorientation in our hearts concerning God’s plan of redemption and our understanding of that.
So, I could tell you things like unload the dishwasher and instead of putting the dishes away, put the dishes on the table you are going to use for the next meal.
Or, I could ask you the question that I asked my kids … “What is the most important thing going on in the world today?”
Rosie said the most important thing going on in the world today is “swinging on the swings set.”Hudson: working on trucks. Haddie: trusting in Jesus.
It’s one thing to get that right on paper, it’s a totally different thing to get it right in the time that you spend.
The reality of the most important thing going on in the world today of God redeeming out for himself a people that are set apart, sanctified, and made holy that they might be worthy citizens of his kingdom … This eternal plan of God has direct relevance to every moment of your life.
What does this mean when there is a conflict in your priorities? When the Bible says do _____ but you really want to do _______ ? Which do you choose? Personal time with God, family time with God in prayer and His Word, church attendance even when times are busy….
Men, have you made solid plans as to how your business is doing this? Have you made a plan as to how you’re buying back time to evangelize and disciple those in your own family and how you’re spending quality time with those in your family? Have you made plans in your business to fulfill God’s calling of you within His plan of redemption? Men, have you lead your family in making serious plans as to how you’re going to better redeem the time for the sake of His eternal plan of redemption?
What are you doing every day to streamline your life to get it more in line with what God is doing in the Earth? Redeem the time for the sake of God’s plan of redemption.
641: Sands of Time are Sinking