Redeeming the Time
By: Scott Morton
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
As we begin a new year, many people look at what has gone on in the previous year. They seem to want to evaluate what has transpired and make some changes to improve their life. This takes the form of resolutions people make, which never turn out the way they want them to. While the first few weeks of the year are following whatever the change is, people usually go back to whatever is the norm by February. The whole process will start again at the beginning of the New Year creating a cycle where no sustained change has actually happened.
The Apostle Paul gives a warning to the church at Ephesus about what needs to happen with time. He tells them they need to redeem the time. In order to get an idea of what he means by this, let's look at the definition of this word (taken from Webster's 1828 Dictionary):
Ransoming; procuring deliverance from captivity, capture, bondage, sin, distress or liability to suffer, by the payment of an equivalent.
The sense we get is there is a need to ransom, or buy back, the time. This is necessary for us as the members of the Body of Christ, as there is a limit to the amount of time we have. Each year we get older, which usually leads to more health problems and the fact that death is closer each day. Based on the limited time we have on this earth, we have to make sure we are making good use of our time. The Apostle Paul had explained to the church at Corinth issues of time:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Here the Apostle Paul is explaining how the suffering which is a part of our lives is something which is only temporal. It is going to end at some point in time. When we are in the middle of a problem it never feels that way. The reality is the problem does end and we see this happen. The glory which is waiting for us is defined as eternal. The definitions of this word show it is something which does not have an end. This is a reference to when we are in the heavenly places with the Lord Jesus Christ and we receive the glory, along with all of the other spiritual blessings which have been promised to us and we know are our present possessions.
Since time on this earth is short, we have to be focused on the plan God has for us in this dispensation. The Apostle Paul clearly lays out some information for us on what it is that we are supposed to be doing.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Here we are told to walk in wisdom towards those who are without as we are redeeming the time. Those who are without wisdom are those who lack an understanding of the Word of God in this dispensation. There is a clear pattern of what we, as the members of the Body of Christ are supposed to be doing:
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
As members of the Body of Christ we have been given a ministry of reconciliation. This means we are to be going out and sharing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) with other individuals, as this is the message the Lord Jesus Christ would have all of mankind understand. This is what restores the relationship between God and man. It allows the individual to be able to have access to the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how the members of the Body of Christ start to walk in wisdom toward those that are without.
The next step in this is to help people understand the Word of God rightly divided. This will allow the information for this dispensation to be able to be applied to our lives properly for the practical, day to day things:
1 Corinthians 2:7-16
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
An individual can only come to the knowledge of what God intends for them by studying the Word of God. This is where the spiritual things are going to be looked at. In order for this to happen, the Spirit is going to give insight into what the Word of God is saying. The Spirit can only have an impact on someone's life if they have put their trust in the gospel. Once this happens, the Spirit is able to have an effect on someone's life and start to show the individual what the Word of God means.
This comparing will show someone what they need by using the Word of God an applying the principle of right division (2 Timothy 2:15) as well. This means the information which has been given to us as the members of the Body of Christ, what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans through Philemon, is the information which will be used to show how a person is to live their life. This is how the Apostle Paul explains this to us:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
It is the grace of God which teaches someone how to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (what not to do), as well as teaching how to live in this present world (what to do). A member of the Body of Christ is not going to be able to pull information for how to live their life from Matthew and be pleasing to God during this dispensation. Matthew does not contain the doctrine of the grace of God, as it deals with issues of the prophetic program and the establishment of the kingdom here on earth.
This is why should be a focus on doctrinal issues by those who understand right division. This is how the members of the Body of Christ are able to understand how to live their lives and know what it is they are to be sharing with other individuals. The Apostle Paul wanted all men to know the fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9). This means he was not trying to hide this information from anyone and was not ashamed of this message, as many others are (2 Timothy 1:8-12).
The Apostle Paul understood the importance of taking a stand for the doctrine of this dispensation and the fact that individuals needed to be able to apply it to their lives. He spoke of this in the prayers he offered up for the local assemblies:
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
The first thing the Apostle Paul is praying for them is they would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. This understanding can only come from an individual studying the Word of God, as this is the source of faith (Romans 10:17) and shows what the will of God is during any dispensation. The things God would have us to do are going to be included in His Word, as this is the only communication we have with Him. He needs to be able to give the information in some manner which we can grow in and have our mind renewed (Romans 12:1-2), which is why the principle of studying His Word is needed.
In order for this to fully occur, the believer is also going to need to apply the principle of right division to their study (2 Timothy 2:15). It would not help anyone to try to take information which does not apply to them and try to make it fit their lives. This is what too many people try to do, as they think they can apply principles from the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to their lives, as this is the information given during the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem with this is the statements the Lord Jesus Christ does make, such as salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22), tells them to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6), and instructs an individual who is asking about salvation to keep the law (Matthew 19:16-17).
In just these few short examples, it is clear there is information which would never be said to us in the dispensation of grace. The Apostle Paul tells us to follow him as he followed the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). This following would be apart from the law, as this has been removed (Galatians 3:13) and the middle wall of partition has been broken down (Ephesians 2:13-16) so everyone can have access to God during this dispensation.
These distinctions show how the Body of Christ is dealt with in a different manner than had previously occurred, which is why it is only the grace of God which can teach the believers how to live their lives today (Titus 2:11-13). They are to have an increase in knowledge occur so the rest of the prayer would actually be able to take place. The increase in knowledge is going to allow someone to be able to walk worthy, as they are going to do the right things as intended during this dispensation. They are not going to perform good actions because of a fear of something bad happening to them, as would have occurred under the law. They perform good things because it is a demonstration of the love of God and is what has been intended for us:
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.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
While many people who understand right division will quote the first two verses of the above text, verse 10 needs to go right along with it. There is a purpose for the salvation which doesn't always get mentioned. The Body of Christ was created so that good works would be part of who we are. While they are not necessary for salvation, as they were in the prophetic program, God would still have us perform good works.
The reason for the good works to be performed during this dispensation is to demonstrate love. God showed His love toward us related to salvation (Romans 5:8), which is to be a motivation for those who are the members of the Body of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul makes a reference to the grace of God teaching us how to do this in Titus 2 (which is referenced above), as grace teaches us how to show this love.
The Apostle Paul does also warn the Body of Christ about what is going to happen at the end of this dispensation:
2 Timothy 3:1-7
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This passage is often spoken about how the world is going to look right before the catching out of the saints. The problem with this thinking is the world already looks this way and has looked this way for a long time. Since the catching out has not occurred yet, there has to be another thing being described here. This would actually be the look of the Body of Christ. This means we will be going away from the things written for us by the Apostle Paul and can no longer be described as the things the doctrine would intend for us to be.
This can be a scary concept to think about, as it means believers will no longer functioning in the manner God would have us to. Those who are around at the end of the dispensation will be in such a horrible position doctrinally that it will affect the walk they have and cause them to no longer be pleasing to God. This is something all members of the Body of Christ should be wary of. The doctrine is what gives us the information on how to function properly. If we are walking away from the doctrine, the things listed above can be the only result.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
The salvation is the catching out of the saints. This keeps getting closer and closer. We need to wake out any sort of sleep we are in and remain faithful to the message given to us by the Apostle Paul.