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To Love As Jesus Loved: “Charity Endureth All Things”

SIH TOTT ICON“And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away…  

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

(1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13)

The Lord’s great love moved Him to willingly accept horrible false accusations, abuse and even death.

 

Christ’s Life:

 

The Characteristic of Scriptural Love: Perseveres Under A Heavy Burden

What great patience and perseverance is shown by our Lord as He withstood this abuse. Especially when we keep in mind that, at any time, He could have called legions of angels to come and rescue Him from this great burden of abuse that was placed upon Him…

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. (Matthew 26:52-56)

 

What was the motivating force behind Christ’s willingness to suffer long under this mistreatment? It was His love for His Heavenly Father and the people that His Father had given to Him:

 

1. His love for His Father – Christ was driven to fulfill His Father’s will for His life which included facing this horrible abuse.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.(John 14:31)

Christ declared His love for His Father through His obedience to His Father’s will.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(Philippians 2:7-11)

Christ’s submission to abuse and death did it as an act of obedience to the Father. This same faithful obedience resulted in His exaltation as Lord over all.

 

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;(Hebrews 5:7-9)

It was through His sufferings that Christ learned of obedience. Likewise, it was through His suffering that He became the Savior of His people.

In Isaiah 53:1-12, we find a prophetic compilation of the many types of suffering that was borne by Christ as an act of love and obedience to His Father.

 

 

2. His love for the people given to Him by the Father – Christ’s great love for His people drove Him to willingly bear the horrible abuse, and in doing so, paid the price for their sins.

And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.(Revelation 1:5-6)

 

 

Our Lesson To Be Learned:

May we be willing to give of ourselves for our Lord and those around us, motivated by the love of Christ in our hearts…

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 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 sweetsmelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.(Ephesians 3:16-19)

Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 1)

SIH TOA ICONIntroduction:

“Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

 

In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …

 

Type Of Accrediting Gift Gifts Included In This Type Representative Gift Mentioned In

1 Cor 13:8

Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)
Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits Prophecy (or Prophecies)
Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)

 

Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?

In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I.        The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II.        The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III.        The Death Of The Apostles
IV.        The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V.        The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”

 

 

 

Lesson:


The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Our text for this lesson is found in 1 Corinthians 13:.

1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2) And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4) Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

Here is a short outline of the entire chapter…
1)    The Definition and Indicators Of Biblical Love  vs 1-7
2)    Partial Versus Complete Knowledge   vs 8-10
3)    Illustrations of Partiality versus Completeness   vs 11-12
4)    Superiority Of Biblical Love vs 13

 

 

 

For this part of our study, we will be looking at verses 8-13….

 

8) Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Here, Paul makes it very plain that love is the only gift of the four divine gifts (love, prophecy, tongues, knowledge) that will exist eternally.   In our previous studies, we explained that knowledge prophecy and tongues were related to the divine inspiration and accreditation of Scripture (along with the accreditation of the local church).

 

(Please note it is crucial to understand the meaning of the phrases “shall fail”, “shall cease”, and “shall vanish away”)…

  1. “shall cease”
  2. is the Greek word – “pauo” – it means “to stop”, “to be made complete” and “to end”.
  3. is in the middle voice, meaning the subject of the verb is acting upon itself.  In other words, tongues would “stop by themselves” or “would be ended in and of themselves”
  4. “shall fail” and “shall vanish away”
  5. Both of these phrases are the same Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
  6. Both of these are in the passive voice meaning the subject of the verb receives the action.  In other words, our verse is saying that “the perfect thing” (vs 10) will cause both knowledge and prophecy to “no longer be exercised”, or “to vanish away”

 

9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

Out of the four previously mentioned gifts from God… knowledge and prophecy are set apart by being described as “in part”.  What does “in part” mean?  This phrase is referring to the nature of divinely inspired revelation to man.  Keep in mind, as God handed down His word to mankind, he did it over many years and many different men.  He gave it a part at time, not all at once.   (Isa 28:9-13)

 

The gifts of prophecy and knowledge were “in part” which teaches us that… as each prophecy came from God (as each bit of knowledge came to man) they were “one part” of the whole of divine revelation to man.  Until the final revelation from God was received by John on the Isle of Patmos (the book of Revelation), both knowledge and prophecy received by man was only a piece of His Word.  At the end of the message given to John on Patmos, the word was finally completed.  It was only then that mankind had the prophecy and knowledge God had chosen to give to man was made complete.

 

Love exists eternally, knowledge, prophesying and the gift of tongues will definitely come to an end, making love a much more valuable gift from God.

 

 

10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Paul describes what causes prophecy and knowledge to vanish away.  He describes it as “that which is perfect.  To help us understand what Paul is referring to, we need to recognize a few important points in our study…
a)    Remember, in the previous verse of our study we saw that the gifts that were “in part” were the gifts of prophecy and knowledge.
b)    Also, we saw that the ending of these gifts were described by the Greek word “katargeo” which means “to be made inoperative, to cease to work, to cease to exercise, to render useless, to vanish”
c)     Thirdly, we learned that based on the Greek passive voice, something must act upon the knowledge and prophecy “to render it useless” or “to cause it to vanish away.”

 

What has acted on the gift of prophecy and knowledge rendering them worthless and causing them to vanish away?

It is the completed revelation from God… Once God had given to man all of His Word, there was no need for prophecy or knowledge gifts any longer… they were now useless, ineffective and worthless because the Lord was not going to add to the Word He had given to men. In other words, divine inspiration ceased and with it, the gifts linked directly to it…. prophecy and knowledge.

a)    Remember, the Lord has made it plain that the Word He has given to us is now complete. We will be receiving no additional inspired truth from Him.  (Rev 22:18, Heb 1:1-2)
b)    We know it is His Word that is “perfect” based on the Greek word for “perfect”… The word for perfect is “telios” – which means “complete”, “finished”, “brought to completion”.  “Telios” refers to the Word of God in James 1:25.  Contextually, based on the subject matter of prophecy and knowledge and the inspiration of the Word, it makes sense that the Word is what is being described as “perfect”…

 

Please note: Not once in Scripture does the word telios refer to sinlessness. Here is every use of the word “telion” in the Bible. Every time it is used it is linked to the completed Word and Spiritual Maturity.  

  1. The Word Of God
    1. James 1:25 – telion speaks of Bible perfect replacing imperfect.
  2. Spiritual Maturity Brought About Through The Word
    1. Eph 4:11-13 – telion speaks of mature man based upon receipt of knowledge resulting in unity
    2. Hebrews 9:11 – telion is speaking of new tabernacle compared to old. Completed NT revelation revealing Christ as completed Messiah prophecy
    3. Hebrews 8:13 – when the NT was complete the OT was thrown down and perfect (Word revealing Christ) has replaced imperfect
    4. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebs 5:12-6:5 – Bible brings men to maturity
  3. Marks Of Spiritual Maturity
    1. Love – matt 5:44-48, Luke 6:36
    2. Dedication to lord – matt 19:21
    3. Spiritual discernment – 1 cor 2:6,14, hebs 5:14
    4. Attitudes – 1 cor 14:20
    5. Truth of gospel salvation, perfect not sinless – phil 3:15
    6. Unity w lord – col 1:28
    7. Faithful to lord – col 4:12
    8. Patience – James 1:4
    9. The gifts of the Lord – James 1:17
    10. Faith/works – James 2:22

(Please note that in Matthew 5:44-48 – “telion” does refer to the Lord. However, in the context, it is not speaking of the Lord’s sinlessness, it is speaking of the spiritual maturity that He displays as He shows unconditional love to those who are around Him. No place in Scripture does the word “telios” mean sinlessly perfect.)

 

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the term “perfect” does not refer to the completed Word of God. Instead, let’s assume that “perfect” in our text refers to the Lord at His second coming or the eternal sinless state. We have already seen that this “perfect thing” that is coming must act on the gifts of prophecy and knowledge rendering them useless.

If this is so then…
a)    We have to say that the Lord is continually revealing His inspired word to man throughout the ages. In other words, His word is not in completed form, but He is continually adding to His revealed Word to man. This revealing of the Word will only stop at His second coming.
b)    If this is so, we should be continually adding to the Scriptures.  Every new revelation God gives to man should be added to the Scriptures.  This principle does away with the warning given throughout God’s Word to not add to the Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6).
c)    And also the fullness and completeness of God’s Word for us to use is done away with.  Therefore, we cannot count on His Word being the complete set of instructions for us to live by. (2 Tim 3:16-17)  In this hypothetical scenario, we may face situations that the Word cannot equip us to face.  What happens if the part of the Word we need now, will not be revealed to man for another 25 years?  Our entire view of the Scriptures must change if this is the case.

However, the Bible clearly tells us otherwise…
a)    The Word of God has been given to us resulting in us being given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)
b)    We are told that it is through the Word that we can know fully (Ephesians 3:3-5, Romans 16:25-27). These imply we have no need of other revelation than found in His Word.
c)     In Jude 1:3 we read that the truth was “once” delivered unto the saints. The term “once” is translated from a Greek word that means “once and for all”. In other words, the truth of God was revealed to us through His Word, and at its completion, no other revelation would be needed or given. This is exactly the point of our 1 Corinthians 13 passage.
d)    Also in Ephesians 2:20, we find that the teachings of the Christ, the Apostles, and the Prophets make up the foundation of the Lord’s local churches. This clearly implies the Scriptures would be completed during the founding years of the local assemblies. How can His churches be founded upon something which would not be completed for many years to come? It would be impossible. The very illustration of a foundation teaches us that the Word (just like the foundation) must be completed before the local assembly can be established (like the house that will be framed, roofed and then brought to completion FOLLOWING the completion of its foundation).  A foundation is never completed during or after the completion of the house which stands upon it.

The Word of God is clear that it is a completed document that can be relied upon to meet our every need. Again, keeping all of this in mind helps us to understand that the Word is complete and then it follows that the gifts related to the inspiration of His Word are no longer necessary.

 

11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

Paul now uses the example of the maturing of the process of understanding is used to picture the process of God’s revealed Word being brought to completion.  Just as Paul’s growth allowed him to come to a more mature and full understanding of life, so too, as God’s Word is brought to completion, it brings to us a fuller understanding of our Lord and our responsibilities as servants.

Based on the Word being brought to completion during the age of the Corinthian church. It was time for them to “grow up” and become mature as well. It would only be at that time that they could use the wonderful blessing of His completed Word to help them to correct the many errors in their assembly.

 

12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Paul now compares our knowledge of God in our sinful flesh with mankind’s knowledge of God with only a portion of His Word given to them.  In both cases, an incomplete view of God is had by man.

  1. Paul describes a time when God cannot be seen clearly
  2. Paul describes our life in our sinful flesh as seeing our Lord “through a glass darkly”.
  3. Paul then compares this to mankind trying to see a full picture of Christ with only a portion of God’s Word given to man. “now I know in part”.
  4. Paul next describes when we can receive a fuller knowledge of Christ
  5. When we go home to be with the Lord in heaven, it is seeing Him “face to face”, this will result in seeing Him much more clearly than while in our sinful flesh.
  6. Paul then compares this to receiving His completed Word which gives us a much more full revelation of the Lord.  “ then shall I know even as also I am known” .

 

In other words, God bringing His Word to completion gives us a much greater knowledge of who He is and what He has done for us. This is being related to man who while in his fallen, fleshly body is greatly limited in knowledge about Him. But when we receive glorified bodies in our eternal state, we will see Him much more clearly.

 

Also, keep in mind, both of these illustrations are illustrations CONCERNING AMOUNT OF KNOWLEDGE AND KNOWLEDGE INCREASING to a state of completeness. This is another point that cannot be ignored.

 

To say “that which is perfect” is speaking of spiritual maturity, the second coming of Christ, or the eternal state does not jive with these two illustrations when they are taken together. One illustration could be said to be speaking of spiritual maturity (vs 11) and other one could be said to be about His second coming and the future state (vs 12).

 

However, the only principle that is being brought out in both illustrations is the principle of incomplete knowledge and understanding being brought to a finished or completed state. Again pointing us back directly to His Word being brought from a state of being “in part” to a finished state of completion.

 

 

13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

 

After telling us about the Word and it’s soon completion, Paul now brings us back to the original thought… love is even greater than our three existing gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

Why didn’t Paul mention prophecy or knowledge as abiding (to continue on for extended period of time, to endure to limit)? We have already seen they would end within a short period of time from the writing of 1 Corinthians when Word was brought to completion (about 20 years).  So he didn’t include these on our list.

 

But why didn’t he include the gift of tongues… when did they cease to exist?  Tongues ceased to exist, around the same time as knowledge and prophecy.  Tongues were one of several “sign gifts” that God gave to mankind. The gift of tongues were handed down through the laying on of the Apostles hands. At the death of the last Apostle, the gift of tongues would no longer be able to be passed down and, therefore, died “in and of themselves” (“they shall cease” – vs 8).

 

Keep in mind, the last Apostle living was the Apostle John. John penned the last book of the Bible (Revelation) in approximately 97 AD and died approximately 100 AD. Following his death tongues could no longer be handed down and went out of existence soon afterward, well within the time frame of this study. We will look at the ending of tongues in great detail in a later portion of this study.

 

Putting all of this together, it is easy to see why only faith, hope and charity are said to “abide” (to stay in place for an extended period of time).  The gifts of prophecy, knowledge and tongues would go out of existence within a few years after Paul’s ministry would be complete.

 

But not so with faith, hope and love.  They would continue on until the second coming of Christ.  When Christ comes back we will have no need of faith nor hope…. As we begin, our eternity with Him, we will begin the process of receiving all His promises to us.  Faith and hope will no longer be needed, we will be experiencing all He has for us.

 

At that point, faith and hope will no longer be in existence, but only love will continue on to eternity.  Thus making “love” the greatest gift of all that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:.

  • Gifts are temporary but love is eternal
  • Gifts are elementary but love is mature
  • Gifts are partial but love is complete

 

 

Based upon our study, we have seen that the gifts involving the Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth (Knowledge) and the Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth (Prophecy) came to an end with the completion of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in approximately 97 AD. We also saw that the gifts involving the Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth (Tongues) came to an end within one generation following the death of John in 100 AD.

 

In our next lesson, we will see that the end of the Accrediting gifts can be understood by examining the 70 year time frame that the Lord uses to accredit His Word and the places of worship He has established.

 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”

Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

 

Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

 

Isa 28:9-13 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
(10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
(11) For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
(12) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
(13) But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

 

Mat 5:44-48 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
(45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
(46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
(47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
(48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

 

Luk 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

 

Rom 16:25-27 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
(26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
(27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

 

1Co 2:6-14 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
(7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
(8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
(9) 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.
(10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
(11) 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.
(12) 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.
(13) 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.
(14) 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.

 

1Co 13:8-13 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
(10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(12) For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
(13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

 

1Co 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

 

Eph 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
(20) And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

 

Eph 3:3-5 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
(4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
(5) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

 

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 

Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

 

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

 

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
(17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

Heb 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
(2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

Heb 5:12-6:5 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
(13) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
(14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
(2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
(3) And this will we do, if God permit.
(4) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
(5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

 

Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

 

Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

 

Jas 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

 

Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

Rev 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:21

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:

I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

 

 

EXPOSITION:

 

Paul’s prayer concludes …

(Eph 3:21)  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 
 

Paul now reminds the church at Ephesus of their ultimate responsibility…
 
Unto him be glory in the church
The ultimate responsibility for the church at Ephesus, and any local assembly, is to glorify God.  How can this be done? In many ways:
1. fulfilling the Great Commission as the church evangelizes the lost, baptizes new believers, and ministers the Word
2. loving others as the church ministers to them
3. the teachers proclaiming the truths of God’s Word and rejecting messages of error
4. members living Godly lives by bearing the fruits of the Spirit
5.  ministering using the methods the Lord desires while rejecting sinful, carnal methods.
6.  the church putting His will first in every decision that is made.
7.  and many many others

 

Folks, what a gracious gift of the Lord to give us such type of assemblies on the earth!  May we all appreciate and support the local assemblies that seek to faithfully serve Him above all.

 

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”  (Romans 1:7-8)

 

 

by Christ Jesus
This glorification of God is done through Christ alone.  Nothing Godly can be done apart from the intervention of Christ into the ministry of the local assembly.  It is only by Him, through His work, proclaiming His message, and receiving His enabling power that a church can bring glory to His Father in heaven.

 

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some [others], epistles of commendation to you, or [letters] of commendation from you?  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.  And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;”  (2 Corinthians 3:1-5)

 

 

throughout all ages, world without end.
This is to be done in every generation that the local assemblies exist and is to be carried on throughout the end of this age, at which time the local assemblies will be taken out of existence.

 

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

 

 

Amen.
So be it.  Paul sought to be in submission to the will of God in all of these requests found in this prayer, as should we every time in enter into our prayer times.  “AMEN” expresses that thought… it is saying that we understand the Lord is sovereign and He will do all things according to His will, not necessarily ours.  It is a shortened way of saying “Not my will but thine be done”.

 

 

APPLICATION:

Let’s all keep in mind, as individuals or members of His assemblies, that with additional blessings comes additional responsibilities to serve Him  We need to remember that we are considered stewards of the blessings we are given, and as such are held responsible for the proper use of the blessings which we have been given.

 

As we end this section of our study on this thought let us prepare our hearts for our next section of our study that begins in our next posting….

 

“Reflections Of His Grace Applied” (chaps 4-6) Paul’s practical application of the gracious workings of the Lord in our lives.

 

 

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:20

SIH TOTT ICONReflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

  

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

 

EXPOSITION:

 Paul’s prayer continues …

(Eph 3:20)  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Following Paul’s many requests on behalf of the church at Ephesus, he now declares the Lord’s ability to fulfill all of His requests…. AND MORE!

 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, 
 

Paul describes our Lord’s power by the phrase “able to do abundantly”.  In this phrase, Paul teaches us two basic truths about the ability of the Lord:

1. The Lord is “able” to perform any task
The Greek word for “able” (dunamis) is the word from which we get “dynamite”.  It always refers to the power that is needed to perform a given task.

2. The Lord’s is “able” to perform MORE than any task laid before Him.
“to do exceeding abundantly” comes from a Greek phrase that means “to perform far above the mark that is set”.  This helps us to understand that nothing the Lord does tests the limits of His power.  No matter what it may be, the Lord always has much more power than He needs.  His power is endless and therefore His abilities have no limits.

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee:  Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, [is] his name,  Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes [are] open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:”   (Jeremiah 32:17-19)

 

Paul describes the Lord’s ability in relationship to mankind’s requests to two different ways:

1.  “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask”
Paul is relating God’s ability to his prayerful requests.  He is reminding the church at Ephesus that His God can do all that he has just requested on behalf of the Ephesians.  They can trust in His abilities and not doubt that these gracious blessings can come upon them.

 

2.  “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we …think”
But Paul goes beyond this, he now explains that God’s ability transcends our human understanding.  He can perform “beyond our wildest dreams”.

 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”  (Luke 18:27)

 

 according to the power that worketh in us,

The same power that God exercises to perform all His will is the same power that is at work in our lives as the indwelling Spirit enables us for service and keeps us eternally secure in Christ.

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

 (Colossians 1:28-29)

 

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”   (1 Peter 1:3-5)

 

APPLICATION:

What a wondrously gracious Lord we serve!  This Lord, who is able to do more than we can imagine, graciously uses His great power to supply our needs, give us our desires (when they are beneficial for us),  and enable us to serve Him in great ways.  Remember, our Lord is not obligated to do any of this for us, but chooses to do so out of a heart of love and mercy on our behalf.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:19b

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

 

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20

IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

 

Paul’s prayer continues …
(Ephesians 3:19b) that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now Paul’s request is for the Ephesian believers to experience Godly control of all areas of their lives.

 

that ye might be filled
When Paul speaks of being “filled” he is describing the condition when EVERY area of a Christian’s life is submitted to His control.  Paul describes this filling in more detail later in this same book…

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”   (Ephesians 5:18-21)

Based upon Eph 5:18-21, we can understand that this filling involves:
1.  Every area of our life being controlled by God (in the person of the Holy Spirit)
2.  Experiencing great spiritual joy knowing that we are allowing His will to be done in every area of our lives.
3.  Recognizing and appreciating His many workings in our lives.
4.  Giving of ourselves to meet the needs of our spiritual brethren
5.  Motivated by a recognition of God’s authority over us and His chastening hand on the disobedient.

In Galatians 5:22-25, we have explained the fruits that are borne by those who are led by the Spirit.  These fruits will be on display in every area of a Christian’s life if they are filled with His Spirit….

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:22-25)

 

 

with all the fulness of God.

Paul describes the controlling presence of God in the life of a Christian as being filled with “all the fullness of God”.

The idea behind the word translated “fullness” is “completeness” or “totality”.

Paul desired for every section of the Ephesians’ lives to be controlled by “God in His totality”.  He desired for EVERY attribute of God to be at work in all areas of their lives.  Everything from His wisdom, knowledge and understanding to His strength, presence and authority should be active in their lives of service for Him.  When we are filled (controlled in all areas) by His Spirit, we will be blessed with all His graces (as needed) in each area of living.

APPLICATION:

Paul’s desire was for Christians to submit every area of their lives to the control of the indwelling Spirit.  In doing so, they are allowing the Lord to intervene in His fullness and bless them with all the blessings of obedience and service to Him.  What a wonderful act of God’s grace as He grants us an attitude of submission to His will and ways.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:18-19a

SIH TOTT ICONReflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

 The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13
 
 
 

EXPOSITION:
 

Paul’s prayer continues …
 
(Ephesians 3:18-19)  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,

Paul requests that the believers at Ephesus would come to a fuller understanding of the love of Christ.

 

This would be done by:
1.  learning more facts about His love (vs 18)
2.  to experience it in their own lives (vs 19).

 

 

May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 

Paul desired for the Ephesian believers to enthusiastically obtain a deeper mental understanding of the many characteristics and dimensions of God’s love. This can be done through consideration of His great works on our behalf….

 

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.”  (1 John 4:7-10)

 

 

And to know the love of Christ,

When Paul says that he desires for the Ephesians to “know the love of Christ”, he is wishing for them to experience Christ’s love.  First, for them to “know” it, they would have to receive it as an act of God’s grace. At this point, they could “experience” His love…

 

The word translated “to know” is a very interesting word.  It carries with it the ideas of “to recognize”, “to encounter” and “to be assured”.   This helps us to understand that, following the granting of God’s love, Paul desired for them to experience (know) it in three different ways…
1.  He wanted them to possess the ability to sense (or recognize) the love of God in their lives.
2.  He wanted them to encounter that love in a practical way, seeing it at work throughout their lives.
3.  Once they knew that God’s love rested upon them (see the above two), Paul wanted them to be assured of its continuing presence in their lives (throughout eternity).

 

This is to “know” the love of Christ in a Biblical way.

 

 

which passeth knowledge,

This same love of Christ which they were to “comprehend” and “know”, is the same love that cannot be fully, absolutely understood by fallen, sinful man.   Although Paul desired for them to increase in understanding and experience of His love, Paul was making it plain that they will never be able to come to a complete knowledge of Christ’s love while in their sinful flesh.

 

This is much like divine peace that we can learn of, and experience, but of which we can never come to a full understanding…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

 

 

APPLICATION:

 

May we all come to a mental knowledge and understanding, but more importantly, may we grow in an experiential knowledge in that which surpasses our human comprehension… His great love for us.  His love is among the greatest acts of His grace that He has shown to us.  Let us always allow this love to motivate  us to greater faithful service for Him…

 

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:17b

SIH TOTT ICONReflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

 

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

 

Paul’s prayer continues …

(Ephesians 3:17b)  that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 

 

Paul requests that the believers at Ephesus would be based upon love …

that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

In this verse, the word “love” is translated from the Greek word “agape”.  This word refers to a love that is:
1.  a deep abiding love
2.  characterized by a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the loved one.
3.  pictured as a gracious love … it is to be shown to those who do not merit nor deserve it.

The characteristics of agape love are looked at in detail in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 

This is the highest form of love and was displayed in all its fullness in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross….
Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.”   (1 John 3:16)

 
(Please note:  By looking at the Father’s willingness to sacrifice His Son on behalf of those He loved; and the Son’s willingness to give His life for those He loved; we can see clearly the divine manifestation of this great love.)

But Paul goes further in this text… Paul uses a dual picture (“rooted” and “grounded”) to describe the extreme importance of the believer’s relationship to agape love …

1.  rooted in – the Grk word translated “rooted” here literally describes tree roots… there are, at least, three main aspects that we need to notice in the context of being rooted like a tree:
a.  growth, increase, fruitfulness – Psa 80:8-9
b.  stability, firmness – Prov 12:3
c.  life and existence – Prov 2:22
d.  and, perhaps, others

2.  grounded in – the Grk word translated “grounded” here describes the foundation of a building… again we find several aspects to this idea found in the Bible…
a.  stability, firmness – Psa 18:7
b.  base, underpinnings, footing – Psa 102:25
c.  permanence – Psa 104:5
d.  beginnings – Prov 8:29
e.  and, perhaps, others.

Based upon the use of the terms “rooted and grounded” we can learn much about the role of self-sacrificial love in our Christian life…
1. it gives us our stability and firmness in service. (John 15:9-13)
2. its exercise causes us to be fruitful and gain spiritual increase for the Lord. (Gals 5:22-24, Col 3:14, 1 Peter 4:8)
3. it is the cause and sustainer of our life in Christ (Romans 8:35-39)
4. it was the beginning motive of the Lord to choose us and make us accepted in the beloved. (2 Thess 2:13)

APPLICATION:

All of the above is summarized in Matthew 22:36-40…
 
Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” 

If we love our Lord and others as we should we will find ourselves living lives that are pleasing to the Lord and fulfilling His divine law.  Let’s take a few of the ten commandments for an example…
1.  If we love the Lord as we should we will not worship other Gods nor take His name in vain.
2.  If we love others as we should we will not lie, steal, or commit murder against them.

As we can see, if we have the proper agape love in our lives…. we will be motivated by that love to treat our Lord and others as we should.  It is for this reason that Paul emphasizes our need to have love as the motivation and basis for all of our relationships.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:17a

SIH TOTT ICONSIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:17a

 

“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

 The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:

I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14

II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15

III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16

IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a

V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b

VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a

VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b

VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20

IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21

X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

Paul’s prayer continues …

(Ephesians 3:17)  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;

Following Paul’s request for the Ephesian believers to receive spiritual strength, he now asks …

 

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;

The idea of “dwell” in this text means “to permanently reside in a house”.    So this request by Paul involves the Lord permanently inhabiting the Ephesian believers.

I believe this request by Paul could be speaking of one of two different actions of the Lord within the life of the believer:

1.  The most obvious meaning of this phrase is that Christ indwells the believer beginning at their initial salvation experience.  This results in Christ, in the person of the Holy Spirit:

a.  accompanying and helping the believer (Hebrews 13:5-6);

b.  comforting the believer (John 14:16-18);

c.  guiding the believer (Romans 8:14) ,

d.  revealing the truths of the Word (John 16:12-14);

e.  guaranteeing and securing their salvation eternally (2 Corinthians 1:20-22, Ephesians 1:13-14).

This is probably the most common understanding of our text… It is through an exercise of saving faith that the individual receives the indwelling Spirit of God.

However, keep in mind that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the natural result of their initial salvation experience.  I believe that Paul was assuming those to whom he was writing were saved individuals.  If this is the case, why would he ask the Lord to do what he believed the Lord had already done in their lives?

ALL of the other requests that Paul makes on their behalf were acts of God that were not limited to their original salvation experience; IN EVERY OTHER CASE, they are acts that are carried forward by God following their salvation experience.

Keeping this in mind, there is another possible way to understand this text…

2.  Note Christ is being requested to indwell “the heart” of the believer.  Many times in the Bible the heart is linked symbolically for a person’s desires, affections and lusts (Psalm 10:3, Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 13:12, Romans 10:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:17 and many others)

When Paul speaks of Christ fully indwelling their hearts, he could be asking Christ to enter into the believer’s desires and align them all to do His will. (Jeremiah 31:33, 32:40, Ezekiel 36:26)

For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.     (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Many times, the alignment of the believer’s desires to the will of God is an ongoing process.  As the believer grows in faith and knowledge of the Word, they find their heart (desires) gradually becoming more aligned with God’s will (1 Peter 2:1-3, Colossians 1:9-10)

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

(2 Peter 1:2-4)

Based upon this, I believe that Paul is asking the Lord to enter into their “hearts” (their desires) and through ongoing knowledge and application of the Word, align their hearts more fully to do His will above all else.  As their desires to do His will increase, they will find themselves being more obedient to Him.  This is the exact meaning of the statement of the Lord when He says…  If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Our growth I grace and knowledge are certainly by faith as well.  We must not only learn His Word but we must trust it for us to live according to it.  As our faith in the Lord and His Word grows, we will find our desires will align themselves more fully with His desires.

APPLICATION:

By God’s grace, may we all experience Him living fully within our hearts, applying His Word, increasing our love, and aligning our desires to please Him in all things.  This is another work of the Lord that we do not deserve, but can only be received as an act of His wonderful grace.

If we have seen spiritual growth in our lives and we now desire to please Him in greater ways, there is no reason for us to be prideful.  It was only Him working with us, by grace, that has brought these changes to pass!

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:16

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

 

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII.       Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

Paul’s prayer continues …

(Ephesians 3:16)  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That he would grant you, 

Paul begins a series of requests for the enabling of the Ephesians for faithful service, these will include:
1. spiritual strength
2. Christ in their desires
3. a foundation of love
4. understanding of Christ’s love
5. totally controlled by God

Please notice the word “grant” it originates from a Greek word that means simply “to hand over”, “to deliver”, to yield to” or “to give to”.  In other words, these are things that the Lord must “bestow upon” us because we do not naturally possess them within us.

according to the riches of his glory,

These differing gifts to us come from His abundance of valuable items (riches) that bring praise and honor to Him (his glory).  Again, this is emphasizing to us that these things do not find their origin in us, but come from a gracious Lord.

Why does He give these enabling graces to us?  So that He would be honored and praised in two ways:
1.  These enabling graces would allow the recipients to better serve Him and bring glory to His name.
2.  These enabling graces in the lives of the recipients would be seen by others who would praise Him for His works on behalf of their spiritual brethren.

to be strengthened with might 

The word “might” is from the Greek word “dunamis” from which we get the English word “dynamite”.  This word is used to describe the ability needed to perform a naturally impossible task.   Dynamite is a great example of this principle…  dynamite can be used to clear away rocks in a mountain that normally could not be broken up and destroyed by the hand tools of men.

Paul was saying that when we serve the Lord in the midst of persecution and other types of opposition we would naturally fail and fall far short.  However, through the intervention and empowering of the Lord in our lives, we are able to remain faithful in our service to Him.   Paul’s desire was for the Ephesians to be empowered (strengthened) with the ability to go beyond their natural abilities and perform that to which they were called (might).

He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:29-31)

In the midst of very difficult circumstances in life Job sought to remain faithful based upon his understanding of this type of strength…  (Job 23:6)  “Will he plead against me with [his] great power? No; but he would put [strength] in me.”      

Job understood God does not use His power to work against His people, but He uses His power to enable His people to remain faithful in the midst of great trials and opposition.

by his Spirit 

How was this “dynamite” power given to the Ephesian Christians?  This is given by the intervention of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

in the inner man;

The strength that Paul is describing is not physical strengthening of the body.  Paul is referring to receiving spiritual strengthening of the new (inner) man that desires to faithfully follow the Lord (Roms 7:22-23, Col 3:9-11) …

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.  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.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

APPLICATION:

When we seem ready to faint and go no farther, the Lord’s gracious intervention will bring renewed peace, power and faith to our troubled souls.  May we continue to faithfully serve Him, knowing He is at work in our hearts and lives enabling us to continue in our service to Him.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:14-15

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

  

The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21

 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. 

In this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I.        Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II.        Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III.        Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV.        Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V.        Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI.        Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII.        Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX.        Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

 

Paul begins his prayer for the gracious equipping of the Ephesus saints…
 
(Ephesians 3:14-15)  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

For this cause
In the previous verse, “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”  Paul encouraged the Ephesian believers to remain faithful during great trials and opposition.  This was the “cause” of which Paul speaks in our verse for this morning.

In other words, Paul is saying “because I want you to remain strong in the face of opposition”, I will now pray for you that the Lord will graciously equip you for your faithful obedience.

I bow my knees unto the Father
As Paul begins his prayer he bows down to the Father.  The principle of men “bowing” during prayer is taught throughout the Holy Scriptures.  (1 King 8:54, Psa 95:6, Lk 22:41, Acts 20:36 etc).

But keep in mind “bowing down was not limited to times of prayer, but is also spoken of in connection with:
1. worship (Gen 24:36 etc)
2. submission to a higher authority (Gen 27:29 etc)
3. recognition of personal deficiency (Joshua 7:6 etc)

To properly understand the meaning behind “bowing down” is to properly understand what our attitude should be as we pray.  As we enter into the Lord’s presence there should be a three-fold attitude in our hearts:

1.  Prayer is an act of worship:
a.  we should desire for the Lord to be glorified and honored in our requests
b.  we should want the Lord to be glorified and honored in His response to our requests.
c.  His glory should come before our comfort, desires, or wishes

2. Prayer is an act of submission
a.  we should desire for “His will be done” as we bring our requests before Him.  We should not be praying with the attitude of receiving what we want.  We should be praying with the attitude that, through prayer, we are finding out what He wants of our lives.

3.  Prayer is an outward display of need and deficiency
a.  we should be recognizing our great need
b.  we should be recognizing His vast source of divine supplies.

All of these make up the Scriptural attitude a Christian should possess in times of prayer.

Please keep in mind, the outward act of bowing down is simply a reminder and declaration of our Godly inward attitudes.  Must we literally, physically “bow down” to please Him during prayer?  I do not believe this is the case.  If we hold the proper attitudes in our heart, the Lord is pleased as we pray, regardless of our physical positioning.

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul reminds us that God the Father is the Father of Jesus.  In doing this, Paul is reminding us of the Father’s great love, concern and grace towards us.  After all, this is the Heavenly Father that willingly sacrificed His Son for us.

If He is willing to sacrifice His Son, will He not be willing to do anything for us that will work for our ultimate benefit?

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  

What shall we then say to these things? If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?   (Romans 8:29-32)

Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

The same God that is the Father of Jesus, is the same God that is also our Heavenly Father (John 11:52, Romans 8:16, Galatians 3:26 etc).  What a blessing to know that the One that loved us with an eternal self-sacrificial love is the One that is eternally our Heavenly Father.  He is the One who will supply our needs, watch over us, be our advice giver, and live with us eternally.  All by His grace.

APPLICATION:

What wonderful grace! That we are able to approach the throne of God and make requests on behalf of ourselves and those around us.  What wonderful grace! Realizing that the Lord to whom we pray is a loving, kind, merciful, gracious Lord who will only do what is good for His people.  May we all live our lives today with thankful hearts knowing we have the privilege of prayer to the God Most High.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:12-13

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

Paul explains that, based upon the redemptive work of Christ, we can serve Him with confidence and faith…

(Ephesians 3:12-13)  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

 

After Paul affirms that it is through Christ that the redemptive purposes of God are fulfilled, he now tells us…

In whom we have boldness and access with confidence

In this same Christ, we possess:
1.  boldness –  assurance of the truthfulness of our message which allows us to speak freely without hesitation.
2.  access – now, we have acceptance and fellowship with God through prayer, worship and the indwelling Spirit; then, throughout eternity, we will live with Him in the New Jerusalem.
3.  confidence – certainty that we possess the above two graces of God (freedom of speech, fellowship with God)

We serve the Lord faithfully, based upon a confidence that our message is true and we commune with God now (and throughout eternity).

 

by the faith of him. 

These blessings of confidence are only enjoyed by those who have placed their faith in Christ.  There is no confidence in service nor divine access apart from the redemption found in the work of Christ.

Note: faith in Christ is described as being “of him (Christ)”.  Why is this?  It is because a true, saving faith does not originate with man, but is a gracious gift given to man by God…

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:”    (Ephesians 2:8)

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;(Philippians 1:29)

Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, 

Based upon our confidence in:
1. the truthfulness of our message
2. our current acceptance and fellowship with God
3. our future eternal dwelling with God
4. our saving faith was a gift of God’s grace…

we are to be motivated to serve Him without fainting.

Even when we see others persecuted for their service to Christ, we are to remain unwavering in our service because we recognize our standing in Christ.   Paul’s desire was for the Ephesus believers to recognize their standing before God and use that knowledge to consistently serve Him, even in the midst of Paul’s imprisonment for the faith.

 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:14-18)

 

which is your glory.

The church at Ephesus shined brightly due to their consistent service to the Lord in the midst of opposition and persecution.   In the midst of Paul’s imprisonment, he understood that when we see others persecuted for the faith, it can either motivate us to greater service or to diminish our labors for Christ.  Paul’s desire was for them to not turn from these practices, but to continue on in faithfulness even though he, himself, has been imprisoned for his stand for Christ.

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things [which happened] unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;  So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other [places];  And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”  (Philippians 1:12-14)

And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:  That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. “  (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4)

APPLICATION:

Let us recognize the many blessings we have in Christ and allow these truths to motivate us to continue faithfully in service, even in the midst of the persecution of brethren, or the personal persecution we may face.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:11

SIH TOTT ICONReflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

 

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

 

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:

1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,

2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:

I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a

II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6

III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11

IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

 

Paul now tells us of the eternal plan of God that includes the revelation of God’s great mystery of redemption of His people including the Gentile acceptance into His family, nation and churches…

 

(Ephesians 3:11)  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

 

 

According to the eternal purpose

The revelation of God’s mystery which was to be proclaimed by His churches to mankind, was in alignment with His plan:

1.  The idea of “eternal” helps us to understand that God’ purpose existed “throughout the ages”.  In other words, it finds it’s beginning before creation and continues in effect into eternity future.  It truly spans all the ages!

2.  The idea of “purpose” is an interesting word which implies a two part action.  It is translated from a word that means “to determine beforehand” and then “to set on display”.

a. God determined that He would redeem His people… Our wonderful God determined each individual whom He would redeem (His people that included both Jew and Gentile).  He also determined how this would be accomplished (through the work of the Christ).

b. God then displayed this redemptive work…. Throughout the ages, God reveals this plan to man as He completes His work of redemption.  From the OT sacrifices which prophetically revealed Christ and His work; to the actual work of Christ at His first coming; and the granting of salvation to each of His people; we gain a clearer understanding of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.

which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

This same plan for redemption of His people was based upon the work of Jesus on the cross.  This is one reason why the entire Word of God is centered upon revealing to us this same Jesus, and His work on our behalf…

1.  The Old Testament scriptures look ahead prophetically and symbolically to Christ and His work of redemption;

2.  The New Testament gospels (Matt-John) record historically the life of Christ on earth, the message He gave, and the work He performed.

3.  The later books of the NT (Acts-Revelation) look back at His coming and further clarify what He did for us.

The work of Jesus at His first coming is the most important historical event that has ever taken place.  It is the very basis of the eternal redemptive plan of God, and therefore is the central message of the entire Word of God.

 

 

APPLICATION:

Let us all appreciate the Lord’s wondrous grace in choosing to redeem mankind, choosing to include us individually into that plan and the willingness of Christ to accomplish the work needed for the plan to be fulfilled.  As we see our testimony to loved ones, friends, and acquaintances result in their coming to faith in Him, let’s always remember to be thankful to Him for …

1.  including our loved ones in His purposes of redemption.

2.  choosing to include our testimony in His redemptive purposes for the salvation of those around us.

3.  His willingness to do the redemptive work that was necessary to save all of His people.

4.  for His Word that clearly points to Our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus and the way of salvation.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more! 

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org

SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/

SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/

SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:10

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

 

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

In our previous study, we saw that Paul’s two great goals in his calling were to present the gospel message to the Gentiles and then to make certain that all men came to understand that Gentiles have equal access to acceptance by God into His family, nation and church.  Paul now explains one reason why the accomplishment of these goals was so important…

 

(Eph 3:10)  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places 
What is meant by “principalities and powers”?

The Greek word for “principality” carries with it the idea of “higher in rank”; while the term for “powers” means authority holders.  Based upon this, it is clear to see this phrase is talking about some type of being who holds authority over others.

If we look at how this phrase is used in the Bible we find two basic ideas are meant by this phrase…
1.   Authority holders in the spirit realm – Angels (Eph 6:12, Hebs 2:7-9)
2.   Authority holders in the earthly realm – Kings, Judges, Captains, Masters etc (Titus 3:1, 1 Tim 2:2)

[Please note … in several verses, it is not clear which type of authority holder is being described, as a matter of fact, in these verses both may be being talked about. (Roms 8:38; Cols 1:16, 2:15)]

When Paul adds the description “in heavenly places”, that helps us to understand he was speaking about the angelic type of authority holders.

 

might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
These angelic beings will learn about the divine, eternal, plan of redemption and other areas of God’s wisdom, through the ministries of the local assemblies as they propagate the truths of God (after receiving them originally from Paul).

Stop and think about it.  Through the faithfulness of one man, Paul, we have many churches coming to an understanding of the truths of God.  They, in turn, will proclaim those truths to many, many more people and angelic beings throughout the ages.  This is how the truth multiplies, much like seed that is planted and multiplied many times.

How is it that angels will learn from the ministry of local churches?  Three points may help us to understand this a bit.
1.  Angels attend the church, this is one reason why women are to be appropriately covered. (1 Cor 11:10)
2.  The purpose for their attendance could be their desire to learn more of the truths of God.  (1 Peter 1:12)
3.  Satan (and by implication fallen angels) accompany saved men as they gather to worship (Job 1:6, 2:1)

Based upon the above, we can see that both elect and fallen angels can be present in the midst of a worship assembly.  At this time, as the Word is taught, they can learn of the Lord, His work, and many other aspects of His wisdom.  That’s why Paul tells us the angels can learn the wisdom of God “by the church”.

 

APPLICATION:

This should be a great blessing and warning for every local assembly of believers.  As we gather together, we can be encouraged knowing that we are in the presence of elect angels, and we can learn with them.  However, it is also possible that fallen angels (even Satan himself) may be present, seeking to hinder the worship service, or learning more about God to more effectively oppose His works on earth.

May we all appropriately prepare our hearts prior to our entrance into worship, by asking for:
1. the Lord’s protecting, restraining hand as we enter into His worship.
2.  His rendering of any demonic activity ineffectual as we seek to come into His presence
3.  His truth to be clearly proclaimed
4.  Our eyes to be opened to the truth
All of these are to be done so that we might be taught of His manifold wisdom.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:8b-9

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13 

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

 

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

 

EXPOSITION:

In our text today, Paul now shares with us the two goals he is attempting to accomplish as he ministers the “mystery of Christ!” to others …

(Ephesians 3:8b-9)  that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

 

that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 
Goal number 1…. To bring the gospel message to the Gentiles

The word “preach”, in this verse, comes from a Greek word meaning “good news” or “gospel”.  As Paul delivered this wonderful mystery to the Gentiles, he was delivering the gospel message to them.  He was telling them of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and witnesses to His resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-11).

Paul describes this gospel message as “the unsearchable riches of Christ”.  Another way to say this is that the news of Christ’s work is of such great value it can never be fully understood or assessed.

 

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, 
Goal number 2… To reveal to all men that they share in common access to this work of Christ (as revealed in the gospel message).

Paul was concerned that both Jew and Gentile would come to understand that the acceptance of the Gentiles though God’s grace.   In doing so, he desired to increase the fellowship and acceptance between them.

 

which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,
This mystery (the acceptance of the Gentiles by God) was a part of God’s plan from the beginning of the world.   How He would accomplish this (through Christ’s gracious work) was hidden throughout the times of the Old Testament.

Although basics concerning the work of Christ was presented by the prophets (Isaiah 53:, Daniel 9:24-27, Zechariah 13:7-9 and others), many of the details were not revealed until the actual occurrence of those events that surrounded His great sacrifice.  In that sense, the basis of the acceptance of Gentiles by God through the work of Christ was “hid in God” in other words, “hid in the counsels of God”.

Likewise, the acceptance of the Gentiles by God, although similarly revealed in the Old Testament, was only fully revealed during the life of Christ on earth and following.  (Please see Ephesians 3:3-5 for more information on this aspect of our teaching)

 

who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Paul is reminding us of the great authority that God possesses to do all these things.

Paul is reminding us that…
1.  the God that decreed Christ would be the sinless substitute for His chosen people;
2.  the God that decreed that Gentiles would possess access to His gracious workings on an even level as Jews;
… is the same God, in the 2nd person of the Godhead, that created all things.

God, as Creator of all, possesses absolute authority over all…
1.  As such, He has the right to choose how He would save mankind from their sins (through the death of Christ)
2.  He has the right to choose whom He would accept into His family, nation and church (Jew and Gentiles)
3.  and He has the right to choose to whom the work of Christ would be applied through faith (His elect people).

Paul, through gracious, God-given wisdom is mentioning the authority possessed by God for a good reason. Perhaps, he looked ahead and saw many arguments coming his way by religious, but lost, men who would question God’s choices and actions.  Paul’s response is very clear and unarguable… God has the right to do anything, and to make whatever choices he desires, because… AS OUR CREATOR, HE POSSESSES ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY OVER US ALL…

“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth.  Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,  Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”   (Romans 9:18-24)

 

APPLICATION:

We can see in our past few studies that Paul, in the fulfillment of his God-given ministry, carried with him a great burden to fulfill his calling with a two-fold motivation…
1. To bring glory and honor to the Lord
2. To work for the greatest benefit of those he was ministering to.

May we all seek to do the same in whatever area of service to which we are called.  In doing so, may we all hear from our Lord “well done my good and faithful servant” when we stand before Him.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:7-8a

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

 

EXPOSITION:

In our text today, Paul relates his personal responsibilities given to him concerning this “mystery of Christ!” …

(Ephesians 3:7-8a)  Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…

Whereof I was made a minister,
Paul was made by God, a servant of this wonderful mystery.

The term “minister” comes from a Greek word that describes a person who seeks to supply the needs and desires of others (like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant).   Paul’s role was to concentrate on “handing out” the much needed gospel message to the Gentiles (and to a lesser degree Jews).  As he did so, he explained to them the wonderful access to God’s family, nation and church that the gospel message supplied.

 

according to the gift of the grace of God
Paul looked at his calling and minister as an undeserved gift given to him by God.

He did not look at it as a drudgery, insignificant nor as if it were of no value.  He saw it as a wonderful opportunity to glorify the Lord and an occasion to reap very valuable rewards in service of the Most High.

 

given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 
How did Paul receive this calling? It was given to him in conjunction with God’s power working within him.

He was not expected to minster the gospel to the Gentiles of his own ability, power and authority.   Not only was he called of God but through His power, he was enabled to fulfill his calling through the power of the Most High God.

 

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…
Paul was in amazement that the Lord would call him to be a servant of the gospel message to the Gentiles.  He considered himself “the least” or “far less than” all the other men who were saved.

Why does Paul consider himself least of all saints?  Probably for two reasons at least:
1.  Paul’s current sinful condition…Paul, as a spiritually mature and honest Christian, recognized the sin that was in his life.  In Romans 7: he made it plain that he was constantly burdened by the sins that he saw within his own life.
Please keep in mind, those who claim to be sinlessly perfect are, in actuality, either deceptive or immature Christians who cannot see the indwelling sin that inhabits them.  It is the mature Christian who is able to discern sin in their lives, willing to admit it, and are constantly burdened by it.

2.  Paul’s past acts of sin…. Remember, Paul (prior to his salvation) was known for his persecution/murder of Christians (Acts 8:1-5, Acts 9:1-2, 1 Cor 15:9-10).  This past life certainly caused some other Christians to pause and question Paul’s new found salvation and his commitment to the service of Christ.
For, at least these two reasons, and perhaps others, Paul looked upon himself as the lowest of his spiritual brethren.

(Please note that Paul describes those who are saved as “saints”.  The Biblical idea of a saint is simply “a separated one”.  A “saint” is simply describing a person who has been separated from sin to God.  Another way to look at the idea of a saint is a person who has been made holy through the application of the blood of Christ.  In the Bible, the term “saint” NEVER is used to describe only the most faithful of believers.)

 

APPLICATION:

Any God-given area of service is of equally important with that of Paul’s.   One example of this is found in 1 Corinthians 12:12-21 the Lord makes it plain that any ministry to which a Christian is called is valuable and necessary for the cause of Christ.

Let us never think that if the Lord has called us to a specific area of service that it is a “lesser” area than that of others.  ANYTHING to which the Lord has called us is a privilege, an opportunity for eternal rewards, of great value to His cause, and is worthy of giving it our all.

The greatest service is FAITHFUL service in the area to which we have been called.  There is no service greater that that in God’s eyes.

So then death worketh in us, but life in you.  We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;  Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present [us] with you.  For all things [are] for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day.  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.”   (2 Corinthians 4:12-18)

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:6

SIH TOTT ICONReflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

In our text today, Paul finally reveals the “mystery of Christ!” …

(Eph 3:6)  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
What is this mystery that is hidden from the world, but now clearly revealed to God’s people?  It has a three-fold aspect:

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs,
1.  That the Gentiles have access, by adoption, into the family of God making them heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”   (Romans 8:16-18)

Based upon the death of Christ, all who are adopted into God’s family become heirs of the Lord.  This inheritance includes the receipt of many wonderful gracious blessings of the Lord throughout eternity (Revelation 21:-22:).

 

and of the same body,

2.  That the Gentiles have access by water baptism into the body of Christ, which is the local assembly.  These Gentile assemblies are the same type of assemblies as their Jewish counterparts …
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

“And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”   (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  (Acts 20:28)

Based upon the death of Christ on behalf all members of His local assemblies, all who are baptized into God’s churches become a part of His body and, as such, receive care, honor and other spiritual benefits from all members of that body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

 

and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

3.  That the Gentiles have access by citizenship into the spiritual nation of God (the Israel of God).  This citizenship allows the Gentiles to become a party in the eternal promise (covenant) God had made with Abraham…
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”   (Galatians 3:13-14)

Based upon the death of Christ, Gentiles can share in the wonderful promises that were given to Abraham so many years ago. Which include the promise of eternal blessings that will be enjoyed in the promised land of the Heavenly (New) Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-7)

This three-fold aspect of the Gentile’s acceptance by God is brought into clear view in Galatians 3:26-29 ….
1.  The family of God (vs 26)
2.  The local assembly (vs 27)
3.  The Israel of God (vs 29)

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  (Galatians 3:26-29)

 

APPLICATION:

What a wonderful blessing for each one of us… to be initiated into the “mystery” of the acceptance of the Gentiles into three institutions of God (family, nation and church).

It is knowledge of this mystery, and its application to our lives, that will bring upon us the blessings of peace and mercy.

May we all apply this truth to our lives and share the Lord and His work with Jew and Gentile alike, accepting them with open arms as our spiritual brothers/sisters, fellow-citizens of Israel and fellow-members of His assemblies…

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”   (Galatians 6:14-16)

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:3-5

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

In our text today, Paul describes how the “mystery of Christ” was revealed to the Ephesians (and by extension, to us also)…

(Ephesians 3:3-5)  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)   Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Paul now describes for us the manner in which the Lord has revealed this great mystery to His people…

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; 
The Apostle Paul received an understanding of this mystery through divine revelation.  In other words, it was the Lord who, personally, that “took the cover off” of his mystery, which resulted in Paul becoming aware and fully understanding of this mystery (Acts 9:10-17, Galatians 1:11-17).

 

(as I wrote afore in few words, 
Paul had written to them about this same mystery in the previous two chapters of this book.  In them he had explained the gracious nature of salvation and the fact that, by grace, this salvation had become available to Gentiles as well as Jews.  He went further and explained how Gentiles were now graciously given access to the Lord’s three institutions (the family of God, the nation of God, and the local assemblies of God).

 

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)   
Paul knew that the Ephesians, based upon the previous two chapters, were now coming to an understanding of this mystery and coming to an acceptance of Paul’s extensive knowledge on this subject.

Please take note that Paul was actually fulfilling his calling by writing about this mystery of God within the pages of Ephesians.  This would be one way that he reveal to the Gentile believers this mystery.  This, in turn, allowed them to come to a fuller understanding of their graced standing before the Lord as equals with Jewish believers.

 

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men,
Previous to the Lord’s first coming to the earth, the truth about Gentile access to salvation and acceptance by God was not clearly understood among God’s people, although there were Gentile believers in the Old Testament…:
1.  Everyone saved before the establishment of the nation of Israel (Gen 1:-11:),
2.  Inhabitants of Nineveh under the ministry of Jonah (Jonah 3:)
3.  Rahab the harlot (Hebs 11:31)
4.  King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:)
5.  Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:)
6.  Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth)
7.  Perhaps others

Also, it is also important to remember that even the some of the Old Testament prophets had received a glimpse of Gentile acceptance by God (Gen 17:7; Isaiah 42:1,6, 49:6, 55:5-6 56:8; Hosea 2:23; etc) .

In spite of all of this, Gentiles were still, in many ways, excluded from acceptance in the worship and service of Jehovah.  It was only following Christ’s coming to the earth, His teachings, His work and His use of the Apostle Paul, that the inclusion of the Gentile believers became more fully grasped and accepted.  This is Paul’s meaning when he says that this mystery “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men”

 

as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

“Now”, in other words “in Paul’s day”, the Lord revealed His mystery to the apostles and prophets.  It was revealed through the Spirit’s intervention in the lives of these people opening their eyes to the truths of the Lord (including the truth of Gentile acceptance).

Keep in mind the term “prophet” helps us to understand that along with the Apostles, the New Testament prophets of the Lord had knowledge of this mystery as well (Eph 4:11, Rom 12:6, 1 Corinthians 14:1-3).

APPLICATION:

In both the Old and New Testament writings we find examples and inspired revelation of the truth that Gentiles are accepted by God through His grace and mercy.  However, it was only in the times following Christ and the ministry of the Apostles and NT Prophets that Gentile acceptance became clearly understood by a majority of God’s people.

May we all praise and honor our Lord for showing His grace to the Gentile peoples throughout history.  What a wonderful blessing it is to know that, as Gentiles, we are “accepted in the beloved” just as the Jew.  What a greater blessing of grace it is to live in a time when these truths of God are more fully understood, accepted and proclaimed.  We certainly are a graced generation!

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

SIH’s Think On These Things: Ephesians 3:1-2

SIH TOTT ICON“Reflections Of His Grace”

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13 

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;   And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”.  What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study?  The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”.   We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.

What is this mystery being talked about?  It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord.  It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace.   It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).

Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1.  We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2.  but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.

A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I.        The revelation of this mystery to Paul  –  1-3a
II.        The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III.        The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others  – 7-11
IV.        The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13

EXPOSITION:

In our text today, Paul begins to describe how he learned of this mystery and his sacrifices for that mystery…

(Ephesians 3:1-2)  For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

 

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
What was the dual “cause” that motivated Paul to suffer imprisonment? In 2:21-22 we saw it was the Lord’s desire for members of His nation, family and churches to:
1. increase numerically
2. be spiritually strengthened by the His truths found in His Word.

Paul describes himself as “the prisoner of Jesus Christ”.  Remember, during the time he wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus, he was sitting in a Roman prison uncertain of his fate (this was during his first Roman imprisonment).  That was why he described himself as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”, in other words, “A PRISONER because OF my ministry for JESUS CHRIST”.

It was very possible that his personal ministry at Ephesus was the reason for his arrest and imprisonment.  Note how he says that it was “for you Gentiles”…   Either he was pointing specifically to his Ephesian ministry, or similar ministries to Gentiles (like those at Ephesus) that formed the basis of his arrest and incarceration.

 

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Those in the church at Ephesus will understand that Paul was imprisoned for the sake of Christ, IF they understand that Paul had been given “the dispensation of the grace of God” for their sake (and other Gentiles who would come to faith during Paul’s ministry).

What is meant by “dispensation”?    It has the idea of “administration an estate”, “stewardship”, “management”, “oversight” or “distribution”.    Paul was appointed as an “administrator” of the message of God’s grace in salvation.  In particular, Paul was made “an overseer” or “a distributor” of the gospel message going out to the Gentile world.

If the Ephesian believers understood this great responsibility given to Paul, they would understand why he was sitting in a Roman prison.  It was not his own rebellious sinful actions… but as a servant of Christ, he was simply fulfilling his ministry.  He was taking the gospel to the Gentile world motivated by the call of God in his life and his love for the Gentile world (including the Ephesian believers).   Paul was risking his life for the Gentile world to receive the truths of God, to be saved, and grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.

 

APPLICATION:
As Paul, may we all take our calling of the Lord very seriously, and be willing to give our all in the fulfillment of that call.  Let us all realize that our calling is a gracious opportunity that is given to us by our Lord to bring glory to His name. No matter what our calling of God may be, let us all “run with patience the race that is set before us” and seek to bring honor to our Lord who has so graciously done so much for us.

May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!  

SIH Homepage: http://www.settledinheaven.org
SIH Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/all-about-salvation/
SIH Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven/
SIH Email: settledinheaven@gmail.com

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #4

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this series, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.

2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.

3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);

B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)

C.   (Romans 16:21-24)

D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)

E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)

F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)

G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)

H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

K.   (James 5:12-18)

L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

 

THE STUDY:

A basic principle used in this study:

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

The basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.

2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .

3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.

4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

For more detailed information on the above sections, please see part one of our study…

A verse by verse study of the “questionable” texts that use the word “ekklesia”:

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places],  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”   (Ephesians 1:16-23)

 

The exposition:

Paul is describing his prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus. Some of those desires include understanding: the truth of His Word, their calling, what eternity holds for them, His great attributes, and the exalted position of Christ.  This exalted position includes: being placed above all worldly powers, all creation, and being placed as Head of the local assembly.

Christ’s exaltation over the local assembly is described as being made “head” over the “body”, the church.

(For further details on this phraseology please refer to our prior study of the 1 Corinthians 12 passage.) Paul then continues by explaining that it is within the confines of the local assembly that Jesus will meet with His people in His fullness.

This is supported by Matthew 18:20 –

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

This text is speaking about the meeting of God’s people in a local church assembly (Matt 18:15-19).

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The local church is clearly described as the Lord’s body as already seen in our study.  The entire context clearly fits the description of a local assembly.  No need to look further.

 

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,   According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  (Ephesians 3:8-12)

 

The exposition:

The reason that Paul acted as a missionary, being instrumental in the founding and instruction of the first local churches, was so that these churches could present Christ and His Word to both men and angels.

This section of Scripture presents the same truth as the account of the Great Commission found in Mark… And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.   (Mark 16:15-16)

When the gospel is preached by the local assembly, all of creation, including the angels of God learn of the wisdom of God.  Keep in mind, we are told that angels attend the meeting of local churches and learn from the preaching of the Word. (1 Cor 11:10, 1 Pet 1:10-12)

The use of local assemblies to proclaim truth about Christ and His work on our behalf is a part of His eternal plan.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Here, the preaching of the Word by the local church, and the benefits of that preaching extend to both men and angels and is supported by a variety of Scriptures.  The local church can easily be understood in this passage.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.   (Ephesians 3:14-21)

 

The exposition:

Paul’s prayerful desires for the local church at Ephesus is explained in detail… receipt of His eternal riches, His strength through the Spirit, salvation from sins, a foundation of love, an understanding of the love of Christ, filled with the fullness of God.

Paul then explains the obligation of the church to glorify God for granting them these blessings.  God is to be glorified by the local assembly through the work and intervention of Christ in their personal lives and worship services, until the end of the age.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Paul is addressing the local assembly, explaining to them the blessings of God that can be received by them and their obligation to praise Him for those blessings. Clearly, in the context, this is speaking of a local assembly.

 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.   For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.”   (Ephesians 5:22-33)

 

The exposition:

Here we find Christ’s relationship with His local assemblies being likened to the relationship between a husband and a wife.  Some of these likenesses include: the church’s need of submission to Christ as their head (1 Cor 12:12-31); the husband’s need to sacrifice himself for the wife, always putting her welfare above his own, motivated by love (Acts 20:28); the very special intimate union that takes place between Christ and the local assembly (Matt 18:20, Rev 1:13-20).

The usage of “ekklesia”

The word “church” is used in the generalized sense. The concept of a local assembly fits very nicely in the context. No need to look further.

 

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”   (Philippians 3:4-6)

The exposition:

Paul speaking of the persecution of the local assembly at Jerusalem of which he has spoken earlier. See 1 Cor 15:1-11 and Galatians 1:11-13)

The usage of “ekklesia”

Church refers to the local assembly at Jerusalem.

 

In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

The exposition:

Christ’s (who was God Himself) great work, power and authority being described.  Because of His faithfulness to the calling of His Father to give His life, Jesus is exalted as head of the local assembly.  Christ’s work involved making a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that we might serve Him.

Our faithful service to Him is our supreme call to holiness and spirituality.  Because of his desire to keep this calling, Paul is thankful for the privilege of being persecuted, which allows him to have be a living sacrifice for the Lord.  He is making this sacrifice to be of benefit to the local assemblies to whom he is ministering.

The local assemblies benefit from his ministry by receiving his teachings on the mystery of Christ, His person, work, and the eternity He has prepared for us.  Paul’s great desire is that the local church might learn from his teachings, then fulfill their commission to indoctrinate their members so that they might grow in grace and knowledge and win others to Christ.

The usage of “ekklesia”

The “church” is used in the generalized sense. It is referring to any local assembly to whom Paul has ministered.  The local assembly can easily fit this context, therefore no need to look further.

We will continue our study of the questionable texts in our next posting.

 

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #1

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this sereis, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.

2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.

3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);

B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)

C.   (Romans 16:21-24)

D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)

E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)

F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)

G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)

H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

K.   (James 5:12-18)

L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

THE STUDY:

 

A basic principle used in this study:

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Let me use an example of the word “ball”.  We all have a basic understanding of the definition and usage of the word “ball”…. It is a round or oblong object that is many times used in sports and children’s play (something like that).

My point is this…. Every language on earth is based upon this basic principle.  If we don’t use the common usage and definition for words, then language becomes unintelligible. For example, when we hear the word “ball” we automatically assume we are talking about the round object described above.  Let’s pretend that this rule should not be followed….

If we did not keep to this rule… a “ball” can mean a watermelon, a boy, a target, a tree, a fox, a girl, a planet, a star…. etc etc etc . We could never come to an understanding of the word if every time it is used it can hold a varied, different meaning. If this is the case, think about this sentence…

“He saw the ball”.

This sentence then becomes absolutely meaningless.  The context reveals nothing about the definition of the “ball”, therefore the word “ball” could stand for ANYTHING.   The sentence holds no meaning for us.  For language to hold meaning, we must take the common usage and definition of a word and apply it to the sentence.

The only time that this rule does not apply is when the THE CONTEXT FORCES US to find another meaning. Only if the context absolutely forbids the common meaning of a word do we seek another definition.  Let me give us two sentences where the word “ball” is used:

1.  “He lost the ball in the weeds.” – in this example, we can see that our definition of the word  “ball” easily fits the context.  Therefore, we automatically know its definition.  THERE IS NO REASON TO find another definition for “ball”.

2.  “The ball of his foot gave him great pain.” – In this context, “ball” cannot have the normal usage and definition we are using.  Therefore, we look for another definition.  In this case, it would be a round area found on the bottom of our foot.   How did we know to find another definition for “ball”?  There is no possible way that our definition of “ball” could fit the context, therefore, we were FORCED to look for another.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

1)    The Greek word from which the word “church” is translated is ALWAYS the word “ekklesia”.  “Ekklesia” is made up of two parts…. “ek” and “kaleo”.

a)    “ek” holds the idea of “out of” or “from” (implies separation)

b)    “kaleo” holds the idea of “to be called”, or “to be summoned”

c)     Therefore the basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

If we simply use this definition for “ekklesia” we can see how it could refer to either a universal invisible assembly of believers, or a local visible assembly of baptized believers ….

1.  When the lost are saved, they are called to salvation by the Spirit, and separated from the sinful world to the service of Christ.  (1 Peter 2:9)  In this sense “ekklesia” could be referring to an invisible, universal body that contains all believers

2.   When a believer is baptized and enters the Lord’s local church, they are summoned (led) by the Spirit and are separated from the sinful world and other believers.  They become members of a particular, unified, local assembly that brings honor to God. (Acts 2:41-47)  In this sense, “ekklesia” could be referring to a visible, local assembly of baptized believers.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

1)    If we study the Biblical usage of “ekklesia” we find something very interesting that will be a great benefit to our study…

a)    The word “ekklesia” is used in 112 verses in the Bible.  To the best of my ability, as I looked at every reference using ekklesia…

b)    I found that in 80 verses or more, the word clearly, in its context, MUST mean “a local visible assembly”.

c)     There were at the most, 32 verses when it could POSSIBLY mean “an invisible universal assembly” (you can see a list of these questionable verses under the above heading “THE SCRIPTURES” found earlier in this posting.)

So based on the above, I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

(Please note: In the 32 texts I have included several, I believe, that strongly lean towards the local visible definition. But for the completeness of this study, I included them in the “questionable” category.

If we remove those texts, the actual number of questionable texts would have been 21 (less than 20%).  Therefore, I believe, the word “ekklesia” means a local assembly more than 80% of the time, compared to “ekklesia” possibly referring to a universal invisible assembly less that 20% of the time.

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.

2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .

3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.

4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

In our next study we will begin looking at the “questionable verses”…

Please visit…

Settled In Heaven Ministries Home On The Web: http://www.settledinheaven.org

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Settled In Heaven Ministries Video Blog: http://youtube.com/settledinheaven

Email Us At: settledinheaven@gmail.com

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”