Sunday, September 14, 2008
Tonight we're starting on the book of Ephesians. Mimi did a very good job of introduction, so we'll start right in.
Chapter one is one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament because it talks about our God-given purpose on this earth.
V1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the briefest of all the introductions to Paul’s epistles. It’s brief because, very frankly, this epistle was sent to the church in Ephesus but was intended to be for all the churches. In some of the better manuscripts en Epheso is left out—it’s not there. Ephesians was apparently the epistle that Paul referred to when he said in Colossians to read the epistle to the Laodiceans. In other words, this was a circular letter for the churches in that day. He’s not writing here to the local church as much as he is to the church in general, that is, the invisible body of believers.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” should be changed to Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. I hope you’ll not think I’m splitting hairs here, but all the way through this epistle and in many other places it should be Christ Jesus. The word Christ is His title. That’s who He is: “… Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus was His human name.
V1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
"...And any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).
By the way, that answers once and for all the question of a limited atonement, that is, that Christ died only for the elect. This verse in 1 John makes it clear that He died for the world. I don’t care who you are, there is a legitimate offer that has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You can’t hide and say, “I am not one of the elect.” You are of the elect if you hear His voice. You also have free will not to hear His voice. The free will of man is never violated because of the election of God. The lost man makes his own choice.
V15-16 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.
Paul prayed that all the Ephesians would gain knowledge and power through prayer. Paul says, when he heard the good news and wonderful reports about the Ephesian church, “I…. cease not to give thanks for you.”
It’s interesting that we don’t too often think of Paul as an outstanding man of prayer. We would put him at the top of the list as a great missionary of the cross. We can’t think of any greater example of apostleship than Paul. If you were to make a list of ten of the greatest preachers of the church, you would certainly put Paul as number one. He was also one of the greatest teachers. The Lord Jesus was, of course, the greatest of all—“… Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46)—and Paul certainly followed in that tradition. He is also an example of a good pastor. According to Dr. Luke, Paul wept with the believers at Ephesus when he took leave of them. He loved them, and they loved him.
I always judge the spiritual life of a church by the way they love their pastor, providing he stands for the Word of God. One can pretty well judge the attitude of the people by the way they love their pastor. Today we need to judge folk by their attitude toward the Word of God rather than how big a Bible they carry under their arms. The Ephesians not only loved Paul, but they loved God’s Word.
And that's where we should all be today!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Well, I'd like to say a big hello to all of our returning readers. For everything there is a time and a season. We rested for a season, now it is time to put the rubber to the road.
Chapter 13 of Romans is one of my favor chapters because it is so truly modern. This shows us how we are to act toward our government, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent. God set down the rules....Submit to Government!
1. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
It is true that the kingdoms of this world belong to Satan and that injustice and corruption abound in all governments; yet God still has control.
2. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will 1bring judgment on themselves.
We need to beware of those who would change our government under the guise of improving it. Remember John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod, Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, James, the brother of John, was slain with the sword of Herod, and Paul was put to death by Nero. Yet Paul chose to tell us this.
Therefore, Christianity never became a movement to improve government, help society, or clean up the town. The gospel was the power of God unto salvation of the individual. Paul never went around telling about the deplorable conditions of Roman jails—and he knew them well from the inside.
In our day the government is corrupt. What is the Christian to do? Our business is to get out the Word of God, and our business is to obey the law. That is what Paul is saying here. Christianity is not a movement to improve government or to help society clean up the town. It is to preach a gospel!
5. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
The government is to maintain law and order. When it does not do that, it has failed. I feel that a Christian should be opposed to the breakdown of law and order. We are to respect our rulers who are enforcing the law. I have great respect for our army, although it is honeycombed with corruption. I have great respect for police officers, although I know they make mistakes.
AND MY FAVORITE VERSE:
6. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Although we may resent the way our tax money is being used, we are to pay taxes anyway. 'Tis The Tax Season!!!!
8. – 10. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
There is nothing to explain here. It is self-explanatory!
12.b – 14. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
We hear a great deal about night life. The believer is identified with day life. He walks as one who belongs to the day. Oh, how many believers are making every provision for the flesh but are making no provision to go into His presence. My friend, I beg you to put Christ first in your life and to get out the Word of God. This is all important.
And be sure to stop by and visit us on Saturday as I resume the Lessons From the Land of The Bible series!