The theme of our convention speeches is expressed in the words of the apostle Paul: “Redeeming the time.” We should note briefly the use of the concept time in this epistle to the Ephesians by the apostle. In the first chapter of this letter the apostle speaks of eternity in contrast to time. This contrast is foundational and of extreme importance for the understanding of this epistle. Paul speaks of the believer’s predestination, of his election, according to God’s good pleasure and that this act of God was before the foundation of the world. Before time God predestinated. Secondly, the apostle writes of the realities of the Ephesians’ salvation in the sphere of time. From the historic moment when the letter was written. Paul speaks of a past time. The Ephesian Christians had been dead in sins (Eph. 21-3), they had been without Christ and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12-13). The present moment for the Ephesian Christians must be viewed in the light of what had been the past time and in the light of the eternity of God. For they are now blessed with all the heavenly blessings (Eph. 1:3-4), they are now the children of God by adoption (Eph. 1:5), they are now God’s workmanship in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10), and finally, they are now the temple of God Himself who dwells in them by His Spirit (Eph. 2:20-22).
The Ephesian Christians, therefore, were faced with the responsibility to carefully examine their walk in order that as God’s wise children they would be redeeming the time!
All this has a significance for us. Who are we from an external view point? Obviously, we are a goodly number of the young people of our Protestant Reformed Churches. We have believing parents. We, as do many other young people, have hopes and dreams of possessing powerful cars, of gaining a particular boyfriend or girlfriend, of gaining a specific degree in education, and we hope and dream with respect to many other aspects of the future time. These hopes and dreams are perfectly natural and unavoidable. But who are we from a spiritual viewpoint? We are children of Jehovah God. We are the temple of God. We are the workmanship of God in Christ. We are believers by God’s sovereign grace and according to His purpose of election.
Consequently, the host society reminds us of our calling to be walking as wise children of God, who are redeeming the time. We thank them for this timely reminder.
What is our calling, then, according to the text: “See then, that ye walk circumspectly not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”? We should note that there is only one imperative in our test. The imperative is not to redeem the time. Though in itself this is a permissible idea. But it is not the text. Nor does the text command us to be wise, which is, of course, also a proper admonition; but it is not the text.
The specific command to the believer is expressed in the words of verse fifteen of this chapter, “See then.” By this expression the apostle commands us to “look closely”, or “examine carefully”, bow we are walking. We are called to a constant spiritual self-examination. How do I walk? Do I walk as the unwise unbeliever or as a wise child of God? The apostle’s’ command that we examine ourselves presupposes that we are spiritually sensitive children before God. For the close scrutiny of our walk stands opposed to all indifference, apathy, and disregard of God and His Word. Our present walk refers to our inward life of heart and mind as well as to our outward conduct. How are we walking? Are we the wise children of God and, therefore, those who are redeeming the time?
Why does the apostle place this demand of self-examination before us? The answer: he would have us as wise children of God redeem the time. It is possible for us to redeem the time and in this way to use it to God’s glory and honor. For we are no longer under the domination of the devil, the Prince of the power of the air. We have been enabled to serve our God by virtue of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Since we are children of God it is in our capacity and it is our calling to walk as wise children redeeming the time.
If one is wise he is able to employ the best means to the attainment of his purpose. What is the one great purpose of our lives? It is the glory and honor of our great God and Savior. In wisdom then we must employ the means unto that end. The apostle reminds us that the one all inclusive means that we are to employ unto the attainment of this great purpose is -time. We are to redeem the time unto the attainment of the ultimate purpose of our salvation, which is the glory of God’s name.
The obvious implication is that our use of time is to be radically different from that of the unbeliever, the unwise. The unbeliever uses time as an unbeliever unto the attainment of his wicked self-seeking purpose. The believer redeems time as a believer and, therefore, not for self but for the glory of Jehovah, his God.
What is then the character of the activity of one who is obedient to this command of the apostle that we carefully examine our daily walk? The character of that activity is that described in our text as “redeeming the time”.
What is time? What is this thing we are to redeem? Time is a creature of God; God alone is eternal. God stands above time and is not subject to its power and movement. Time is God’s servant. Further, time moves. Time is progress and it never stands still, not even for a moment. Time in its ceaseless march forward cannot be stopped. Time is irrevocable. The opportunities of the past time cannot be called back. Whatever was done cannot be undone. Time in a broader sense is the mighty bearer of all the circumstances of our lives. Time brings to us the particular realities of the day or night, of our youth or old age, of sickness or health, of poverty or wealth, of loneliness or fellowship, of sorrow or happiness. Time is the mighty bearer of all things good or bad. Finally, therefore, time is a mighty ruler and law. Time dominates our lives. It pulls us along down through the years and decades of our lives. Time rules. The time and its circumstances are not our making.
But time can be and must be redeemed by us. Literally the term redeeming means to purchase, to buy. Through this purchasing of time we make it our own possession. In our text the word time is in the singular. Therefore the moment of the present is to be purchased by us. Every moment of our lives is to be redeemed. We are not to procrastinate and take the attitude that we will purchase some future moment. No, now and each day of our lives we are to be redeeming the time. Every moment of the continuous present is to be purchased.
Time is valuable. This is presupposed. We purchase that which is valuable to us. Time is valuable from the viewpoint, first of all, that it is given to the believer in God’s grace as the means to be employed to His glory. Secondly, time is valuable because it is replete with opportunities to serve God as wise children.
If something is purchased we have to pay a price. The price required of us to redeem time is the high price of self-denial. When we put off the old man and put on the new man we are paying the price of redeeming the time. Our reaction by nature to this price is that it is far too high a price to pay. We do not always want to redeem the time. We often would walk as the unwise unbeliever. Therefore, the command of the apostle is that we look carefully to see how we are walking, as the wise or as the unwise.
When are we to be redeeming the time? The host society for this convention reminds us that we are to do that in an age of ignorance. Question. Of what are the people of this modern age ignorant? Is our society ignorant of history in general; in our age is science and its application to our lives without development, is there an ignorance of technology? With respect to what can it be said that we live in an age of ignorance? Do we not live in the age of the explosion of knowledge! The history of mankind and of nations and their development is well known. Modem man is very knowledgeable about the physical wonders of our universe. We live in the age of fantastic discoveries in space exploration, space technology, and geology, in the fields of medicine and of industry. Modem man is rapidly discovering and harnessing the powers of the material world to serve himself. From this viewpoint, therefore, we cannot speak of an age of ignorance. No, from this view point it is the age of brilliance and the rapid expansion of knowledge.
However, our age is none the less grossly ignorant of the one important reality of time. In our age men are ignorant of God’s Word! The Bible is not known to our society. Even in the church world today many, many church goers do not know the simple facts recorded in the Old and New Testaments. Much less even is the meaning and significance of the revelation of God in Christ Jesus known. People are not familiar with God’s Word. Our age is ignorant of that which is above all important.
Even in many conservative churches so-called the people are ignorant of the overall theme of Scripture. This theme is the truth of Christ crucified for the elect people of God, with whom, on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, God established the covenant of friendship with His own. Reformed people are ignorant of this central theme of Scripture. To be ignorant of this central theme is no little matter. It ought not to be minimized. Especially is this true with respect to those who call themselves Reformed believers. To be ignorant of this central theme of Scripture is to be ignorant of the heart of the gospel. Ignorance of the Word of God in our age and in the Church world in general and in the Reformed church world in particular is not merely the fruit of neglect. This ignorance is the fruit of apostasy. Rejection of the truth is the fountain head of this ignorance. Fathers and mothers have rejected the truth and, consequently, have refused to teach it or have it taught to their children. The fruit of rejection then is what? Whole generations of children and again their children have arisen who are grossly ignorant of the very heart of the gospel. It is the ignorance which is the fruit of a wicked departure. The candlestick of light and truth is being withdrawn from an apostatizing church world. This withdrawing activity is the work of God in judgment against the apostatizing churches of our land and world. It is an age of evil.
The days are evil! They are days of rejection, apostasy, and thus of ignorance of God’s Word.
How about ourselves? Are we ignorant of the Reformed truth? Are we ignorant of the heart of the gospel? Do we know and believe that truth of God that Christ Jesus was crucified for the guilty elect sinner, with whom, on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, God has established His covenant of friendship through the way of repentance and faith? Do we know it? I believe that you know this truth. You are not ignorant of it. That you know it is of God’s grace and goodness to us in our generations. We may not boast. It is of God we humbly and thankfully acknowledge.
Oh, I know that you are not theologians whose minds are filled with proof texts re the articles of faith. But you know the truth for yourself. How can I be so sure that you know God’s Word and that you are blessed by the knowledge of it? Because our parents have been redeeming the time. In the church, in the home, and in the school your parents have been using every opportunity to teach you the truth of God’s Word. They have used the time of our youth to prepare us to be the church of tomorrow! This was their calling before God. I believe that God has richly blessed that covenantal training in our churches. All thanks and praise to Him alone. Our parents did not cast away the central theme of Scripture, but they pressed it to their and our hearts. They lived out of it and caused us to grow up in the confession of this wonderful truth of God’s Word.
Ignorant of God’s Word and its central message cannot ever be true of us who are here today. It is possible that some of the youth of our churches in wickedness reject this truth and forsake it. But ignorant of it they can never be. However, our children and their children will be ignorant of it unless we do as did our fathers. We too must be redeeming the time in an age of willful ignorance.
What then specifically must be the content of our activity in redeeming the time? How do we redeem it? Our redeeming the time must take the form of gaining knowledge. Especially is this important in the moment, of the time of our youth. Youth is the time of preparation. The whole of life and its awesome responsibilities lie before you. Prepare! Gain knowledge!
In general we ought to gain a well-rounded training in the Christian high school and Christian college. I believe this to be more and more important for our youth. But above all and by all means must we be students of God’s Word. We must study the whole of the infallible Bible in the light of Christ crucified for His own. We must then let the light of this glorious gospel cast its illuminating rays upon our path in these days that are evil with the darkness of apostasy.
The benefit will be great for our churches and for others even to distant lands and islands of the sea. We must know the truth of God’s Word, defend it, preach it, and live it with all our hearts. We must strive to be fit instruments of God unto the gathering and preservation of His Church. Gain knowledge! The benefit of a thorough knowledge of God’s Word for us individually is that we will develop a firm conviction of the truth and an abiding assurance of God’s love and favor upon us in Christ Jesus. We grow in grace through growth in knowledge.
How? How can we redeem the time? How can we gain knowledge in this age of ignorance? Remember, God still favors us with the pure preaching of His Word. Use diligently the means of grace given us by God through the means of the Church. We must be attentive under the preaching of the word of the Cross. We must be faithful in preparation and in participation in our catechism classes. We gain knowledge of God’s Word through the efforts of our young people societies. Personal Bible study! Leave your T.V. off and turn off the godless music on the radio. You will not learn God’s Word from these sources. We are to redeem the time by contemplating and meditating upon God’s Word and Work in Jesus Christ. Doing this we are then walking as wise children of God redeeming the time.
Examine carefully how you are walking.