Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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The Worthy Walk
Our FATHER We want to be very much aware today that the Book that we have in our hands is in deed and in truth the Word of God; and we want that our hearts, as well as our minds, shall be prepared to receive all that You have for us from Your Word. So do Thou open our hearts, as we open Thy Word that we might be open to Thy Truth. We pray in Jesus precious Name. Amen.
Return with me in your Bible to Ephesians chapter 4; and Lord willing in these four messages which we will share together this Lords Day and next Lords Day, Id like to speak on the subject of THE BELIEVERS WALK. Now I think that youre very much aware of the fact that the Book of Ephesians having six chapters divides neatly down the middle: the first three chapters relate to Doctrine, and the last three chapters relate to Decorum; or the first three to Precepts, and the latter three to Practice of those Precepts. Set forth in verse 1 of Ephesians 4 is reference to an exhortation to Walk. Now there are five such references in Ephesians 4 and 5. The first reference is found here in verse 1 of Ephesians 4, I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. [By the way, some of my friends up in Lancaster County when they come to that word vocation, would call it wocation. My son came home from Christian School and he said, Dad, do you know what that means (putting up three fingers)? I said, No. He said, Thats the Pennsylvania Dutch sign for Wictory. Well, you can only appreciate that if youre up in our part of the country.] But the first reference to a BELIEVERS WALK is The Worthy Walk. Im just going to relate to five of them, and then were going to come back to dealing with this one this morning. In verse 17 of chapter 4 is The Worldlings Walk, the walk of the worldling. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. Then in Ephesians 5:2, The Worthwhile Walk, And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. And then in verse 8, The Witnesss Walk, For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. And then in verse 15, The Wisemans Walk, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. This morning, Lord willing, we want to deal only with the first one found in Ephesians 4:1, The Worthy Walk.
May I say immediately that you cannot walk, unless and until you have life! Now any number of corpses that have all the facilities for walking but theyll never walk because they dont have life. And, the problem of the natural man and the unsaved man is that he does not have the ability to walk spiritually. Now in fact, he is a walking dead man. In Ephesians 2, this is set forth rather clearly. Beginning at verse 1, And you hath He quickened [or made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked [notice, Walking dead men] according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation [or manner of life] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Notice that these are dead, disobedient, and destruction bent; and their whole walk centers not about spiritual things but about earthly things.
And, the unbeliever does not have spiritual life until he believes on Jesus Christ, and by grace through faith is saved by believing on Him. Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [That doesnt mean that since you are saved by works, you dont have to do any works. You dont work to be saved, but you work because you are saved, and you cant even walk to get saved, but you will walk as an evidence that you are saved, having believed that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross, paid in full the penalty and price of your sin. This gives you new life, and then notice what follows, Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship [The Greek word there is POIEMA (poem), meaning something that is planned out in advance and carefully executed. That is what God intends for our lives.] We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [Now notice here comes the word] that we should walk in them. So in the natural state, man walks in a natural way; that is, according to the prince of the power of the air, according to the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. When you receive the life of God through Christ, you have the life to walk the walk of God, by faith. You know, you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she walks. Have you ever watched the way people walk? I like to do this sometimes. You look at people coming down the city street or on the boardwalk at Ocean City, New Jersey where we were just recently; and you watch people walking, and it tells you a lot about them. They tell about a young man who walked up to preach one morning, and he walked up very confidently, and he didnt really do very well, and he went down with his head down quite humbly. A dear old saint said to him afterwards, Brother, if youd gone up the way you came down, you might have come down the way you went up. You see, he demonstrated something by his walk....sort of an overconfidence at the beginning and a humiliation at the end. We do demonstrate our life by our walk. [My wife and other people tell me that my son walks like me. I dont know how that is, but she tells me that it is very evident. One reason he is able to walk like me is that he has my life in him.] And the only reason you can walk as God wants you to walk is if you have the life of God in you. [Now my son also has an association with me....We have fellowship together. He was graduated from Junior high school on Thursday, and his greatest desire for his gift for that, was that I would take him to a baseball game. Isnt that something? I cant figure out these fellows at that age, but thats what I did. We had a good association together....and he learns to do as I do by being with me.] You see, both of those things are essential in the walk of the child of God. First, he must have the life of God. Second, he must have an association with God, fellowship with God that makes his walk to be God-like.
Now this Worthy Walk is set forth in Ephesians 4. Paul identifies himself as the prisoner of the Lord. I think that most of you are aware of the fact that when Paul wrote this, he was literally in prison; but he did not look upon himself as a prisoner of Rome. He looked upon himself, first and foremost as a prisoner of the Lord, in bondage to Him to do His will. [May I say that people round about you will discern very quickly to Whom or to what you are in bondage.] Paul was not primarily in bondage to Rome. I might say today that with all the distresses and difficulties that we are having in our nation, I think that we need to be concerned and prayerfully support our nation and pray concerning the problems of our day....but our first citizenship is in Heaven; and as we are first and foremost, the prisoners of the Lord, rather than the prisoners or even citizens of our nation....I think that we are going to have a better effect upon our nation and upon our folks in our family and our fellow believers, ...that we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. There is some question here where this word vocation refers to the calling that you exercise as your means of employment or whether it refers to your calling as a Christian. Im inclined to believe that it is primarily your calling as a Christian, because of all that proceeds in the previous three chapters in which is set forth your calling as a believer; but, may I add this very practical word. I believe that your calling, as a believer, dare not be divorced from your calling in the area of employment. Im frankly a little bit disturbed by those who say, My calling is to witness, and I work to pay expenses. Now you say, Why does that disturb you? Because I dont believe that you should just work to pay expenses. I believe that even in your work, you should work for the glory of God! And Ive seen some Christians through the years that rather half-heartedly pursue their employment, while they say that they are very enthusiastic in the matter of witnessing and all the rest of this. But friends, you are witnessing in your work. That is part of your witness, and if youre not able to glorify God in your work, youre not glorifying Him in your walk, because your work is part of your walk! So, when you are to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, primarily it relates to your spiritual calling; but it will also demonstrate itself in your employment whether that be so-called secular or spiritual employment. Walk worthy.
Now this charge, given to the Ephesians and also to us, is one that I think we need to be concerned about, that our walk.... [and by the way, a walk is just one step at a time. I meet some people that think that the Christian life is advanced simply by what I call a series of spectacular spiritual splurges, and you have one great emotional experience after another. But friends, the Bible teaches that the Christian life is a walk, and thats one step at a time.
One of my professors in Bible school used to say this and Ill never forget it, especially in light of the emphasis on emotionalism in some circles today. He said, I dont care how high a man jumps....just so he walks straight after he lands. Now I want to say that to you, friends. I dont care what kind of emotional experiences that you have had (and you can call them spiritual experiences or what-have-you). I want to see how you walk day by day, the consistency of your walk. ....Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called...!
Now the character of this walk is in verse 2 [The charge for it is in verse 1.], With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. This calls to mind of the young man who got up to preach, that I indicated. He didnt approach the matter with lowliness and meekness, longsuffering, but rather with pride and over-confidence. Someone has wisely said that a spiritual Christian is like a church steeple. The closer he gets to God, the smaller he becomes. I believe thats true, that as you walk with the Lord and the closer you get to Him, the smaller youre going to be yourself. Youre going to walk with all lowliness and meekness. Remember that the Son of God was not a self-assertive person. [Jehovahs Witnesses make quite a point of the fact that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus come right out and say, I am God; and technically, they are right. As you look in vain in the New Testament anywhere to find a direct reference of Jesus saying, I am God. I tell them that Im glad that He didnt say it, because if someone has to come out and say, I am this, and its so in evidence from their life, that I question whether he was.] Jesus said, The works that I do in my Fathers Name, they bear witness of me; and by His consistent walk and by what He did, He demonstrated clearly Who He was without being self-assertive.
Indeed one of the things that were going to see about the Worldlings Walk, is that it is a self-exaltation walk; but the walk of the believer is one of humility and lowliness. Now there is a lot said about this matter of humility. Ive heard a fellow say that he had a message on humility, but he never had enough people to preach it to. And, youve heard of the book, How I Acquired It and Ten Most Humble People in the World, and Why I Chose the Other Nine. Ive found through the years that people who talk about being humble, usually arent. But, the Word of God does exhorts us to be what we ought to be, namely to recognize what we are. First, what we are in relation to God and His greatness....that in comparison with the greatness of God, we are virtually nothing. But, on the other hand in relation to the goodness of God, we are something. And, we dont boast in regard to ourselves....but our boast, our glory is in the Lord. I think that there is a false humility that some people assume that they sort of slink away, and they say, Im not able to do this. Im not able to do that; and its pride turned inside out. On the one hand, you will recognize that in relation to God in His greatness, you are very small; but because of His goodness, He has made you great; and it can give a confidence to your step as you walk spiritually. While lowly and meek, remember meekness is not weakness. Meekness is recognizing yourself in the sight of God, but also recognize that you receive your strength from God, demonstrated by longsuffering and by the ability to forbear one another in love. You see as believers, were all part of the body of Christ.
Recently, I was meditating on this and I came up with the thought that I never sensed before, that while we are all members of the body of Christ, were not all necessarily supposed to be next to each other.....Did you ever think about that? And there are some contacts as a believer, I dont believe that youre even suppose to have with other believers. Boy, you say, Thats heresy! Not necessarily. This finger of mine is never going to touch that elbow. Its not purposed to. Now it is true that the elbow has an effect on this, and this finger in turn has an effect on that; and there is a relationship there....and I think sometimes with this so-called emphasis of love in our day, we try to sort of push people on each other in the body of Christ, that were not necessarily intended to be pushed on to each other. I think that theres some wonderful believers that dont quite believe and teach the way that I do, that really love the Lord, but theyre better off to love them in the place where they do; and God will bless them there, and God will bless me where I am teaching and doing as I am doing. So, think about that! In regard to this, I think that it will give you a degree of toleration and humility in relation to other people; and I think that well avoid some problems in the body of Christ ....forbearing one another in love!
I counseled with a person recently, that found it almost impossible to get along with someone else. Well, it appears to me from what Paul says in Romans 12, there may be some people in the world that it is impossible to get along with. Paul says in regard to this, in verse 18, If it be possible [He seemed to imply that with a very few, it may not be possible], as much as lieth in you [and you may have a problem in yourself. You may have an inadequate ability to live with other people as you should; but the ideal is to], live peaceably with all men. Now Paul goes on to emphasize that here in verse 2, ....forbearing one another in love; [and the concern we ought to have is...] Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now may I say immediately, that this is an endeavour. It is not just something that happens on its own. Its something that the child of God, and especially those in positions of leadership responsibility must carry out.
I have felt from the very first that I was made president of our institution, that this was a major responsibility of mine to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now to do that, there are some things that you have to take care of and some things that you have to overlook. I believe that the whole thrust of The Worthy Walk is a thrust that leads to edification. Notice over in verse 12, gifted men are given to the church, For the perfecting [or the maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry [And by the way, that doesnt mean that the minister is going to do the work of the ministry. It means the minister is going to involve the people in the work of the ministry. Why?], for the edifying [the upbuilding] of the body of Christ. Notice verse 15, But speaking the Truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. Now that word edifying means to build up. [Weve done a lot of building on Campus. Weve built seven new buildings in less than ten years. Some people said that we had an edifice complex! Well, Im not so sure that our primary calling is to build buildings; and Ive always said that whenever we dedicated a new building, our primary call is not to build buildings, but to build lives for the glory of God! Do you know that this is your primary calling....to build up first yourself and then one another in your most holy faith? Recently I spoke at the dedication of a new church building, and I pointed out to the folks there that one of the problems with the church of Jesus Christ is like its in the midst of a building program. [We recently had some construction done in our home. My wife always has all sorts of ideas and new things that can be done; and some things are always torn up a bit until you get this finished. And, weve had this on Campus with the building that is being done, and its a little difficult to live in the midst of a building project, isnt it?] But you know, thats exactly what the Church is? Its a building project....it isnt finished yet; and may I add that you, as a part of this Building, you arent finished yet either. You are being built up, and at the same time you have the privilege of building others up; and as you walk, you can encourage other believers to be built up.
Ive often said, publicly and privately, that I believe one of the most helpful things that was ever done for me was done by my mother when I was just a small boy and as I was growing up. As I received opportunities and challenges to do things that needed to be done, my mother would say to me, Stuart, go ahead. You can do it! And I tell you friends, that that ministry of encouragement, edification if you please, was one of the greatest helps in my own life. The tragedy of our day is that so few parents are genuinely encouraging their children.....I mean encouraging them in the right way.... encouraging them to do what is right.
Ive been speaking about this matter of gifts. Gifts are given unto every man, it says in this passage in verse 7, Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. I believe that every believer has at least one gift. In fact, I think that we have many more gifts than most of us realize; but Ill tell you how you can discover one of your gifts. I believe that it is a gift of encouragement.; and as you encourage other people, God is going to bring forth from you, gifts that you never realized you had. I believe one of the reasons our ministry has been somewhat effective as administrator on Campus is that frankly I enjoy seeing other people who are able to do work better than I can in areas that I cant do it. Im not a person who can work with my hands. I try to work with my brain, such as it is; but when it comes to working with my hands, Im a real finisher....I finish most every thing that I start, before its finished! And consequently, I have great respect and high regard for our maintenance men on Campus, for others who can work with their hands. I stand by and encourage them; and its amazing how much they do, when they are encouraged! You say, Boy, thats a good way to get out of work! Well, maybe it is....Ive other work to do, by the way. But, do you know that this Church could be greatly built up....and Im not just talking about numbers....I mean strengthened, encouraged as you as members of the body of Christ would edify one another, that is, build up one another.
You know, years ago I came to realize that everybody knows more about some things than I do. Did you ever realize that? Everybody knows more about some things than I do; and that makes me very differential and respectful to everybody; because I know that there are things that they know more about than I do! You say, How about children? Listen, they know more about psychology than most adults do. Our psychology prof said, You talk about child psychologists....every child is a psychologist! They know psychology better than most any graduate psychologist. Youll learn a lot from them...just observing from that perspective.
So, you see how this whole thing fits together.....With all lowliness and meekness.... realizing that others can contribute to you; but in turn, that by your Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit... by an edification complex [rather than by an edifice complex].....building up one another, youll find that you yourself are strengthened in the body of Christ. As Paul says, There is one body [and this is the body of Jesus Christ with which we have become identified when we believed on Him], and one Spirit [and that is the Holy Spirit], even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. Here again I believe that is your spiritual calling; and the ultimate destiny, that God has in mind for every child of His, is that we will be....like His Son. He wants this for us now, progressively. It will become ours completely when we stand in His presence; or as John says, We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. One Lord [the Lord Jesus Christ], one faith [This is the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints, the body of revealed Truth, the Scriptures.], one baptism [I dont believe that this is necessarily water baptism. I think that it is the baptism into the body of Christ I Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free... [whereby we are placed in and left in the body of Christ by the Spirit of God].
One God and Father of all [Thats our Heavenly Father], Who is above all, and through all, and in you all. You know, if you realize that you belong to such a great God, as our Heavenly Father, I believe that it is going to put a spring in your step, spiritually, as you walk. Its the person who doesnt realize who his Father is, or doesnt realize the greatness of his Father that sort of slinks along through life; or tries on the other hand to overcompensate and say, Well, I dont know....my father wasnt much or dont know what he is, and he tries to overcompensate on the other hand in his walk....and makes a fool out of himself. But, the child of God, who knows Who his Father is and how great his Father is, will walk with confidence.....not self-confidence, but confidence in his Heavenly Father. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive [There are differing views on that, but I dont have time to go into that.], and gave gifts unto men. I indicated previously that I believe that every believer has at the very least, one gift and probably you have more gifts than you have realized. Many of you, I am sure have done as the man in the parable of the talents did, you buried it. Youve buried it under an attitude either of indifference or ignorance or maybe impatience; and you said, Well, it never came forth, or maybe you didnt wait for it to come forth. I believe that God will bring out of you those great gifts that He has given you, as you give yourself to Him! I believe that God gives us one gift upon another gift, so that we can, as it were, improve to the utilization of the gift that He has already given to us. I am firmly convinced that as you use one gift, God gives other gifts to add to it; and I believe that if you will utilize whatever gift God has given to you, and you have at least one gift....you can start with that one of encouragement [I believe that anybody can exercise that one, if they just have a little sense to do it].
Some years ago I heard a speaker say, Whenever you listen to someone, you ought to listen with a view of encouraging them and of saying something to them good about their message. I was challenged with that, and do you know what I did ever since? I was determined to listen to every message with appreciation for it, and with the point of telling the person afterwards that I appreciated the message and something specifically that I appreciated. You know what? Ive gotten more from every message Ive heard from that time on.
You see, if you add one gift to another, it improves the previous gifts that you have; and makes them more and more effective. Now it is true, I believe, that He has given gifted individuals, and verse 11 indicates, in the early age of the Church apostles, prophets; now in this age, evangelists [those who have the gift of reaching the unsaved], pastors and teachers [those who instruct the saints] ....and their work is to mature the saints to involve them in the work of the ministry. The work of the ministry is not just the work of the minister. The problem is that we have differentiated and we sort of indicate that the work of the ministry is to be the work of the minister; but the work of the minister is to involve the people in the work of the ministry; and its in this work of edification and evangelization.......edifying, building up one another and evangelizing the lost. We try to stress both of these principles on Campus, and I rejoice to say that to a large degree, weve seen the Lord work out both of these things concurrently; that is, as our students have encouraged one another in their faith, has also been an evangelistic outreach; so this year, they reported having led more than seven hundred people to Christ as person Savior. They just didnt sit around edifying one another; but having been encouraged in the faith, they went out to win others to Jesus Christ, and I think that this is essential in the work of the Lord.....for the edifying and upbuilding of the body of Christ, Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [or mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. What God wants is that we measure up to His well-beloved Son, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive [Dont be tossed about. Have firm convictions. Stand for something, or as they say, Youll fall for anything.]; But speaking the Truth in love [The child of God should speak the Truth in love and then], may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ; and then the whole body is rightly related to Him....as we edify on another in love. This is the goal and purpose of The Worthy Walk, that we edify, upbuild one another in the body of Christ. I hope that you will have an edification complex, to be obsessed with the desire to encourage other believers in their faith and also in the projection of their faith to those who do not know Christ as their personal Savior. Shall we pray.
Our FATHER We pray that perchance someone has come in to our service this morning without a knowledge of Jesus Christ as personal Savior, that You will visit that one with restlessness until he rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. May that one recognize that Christ did die for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, was raised again the third day according to the scriptures; and that through Him alone, we have eternal life by faith in Him. And Father, for those of us who have named the Name of Christ, may we depart from iniquity; and may we encourage one another in our most holy faith. May we be determined to edify one another, and thereby demonstrate The Worthy Walk. We pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
Message shared at Immanuel Baptist Church