The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
The Believers' Walk
As Believers we are to:-
1. Walk in Love
“Be imitators of God … as dear children”
In verses 1 and 2, Paul reminds us that we are now the children of God and just as earthly children copy their parents behaviour, so we are to copy Him.
Further more we are to live our lives in the same sort of love which Christ shows toward us and which is perfectly expressed in His sacrifice on the Cross.
2. Walk in The Light
Our lives are to be Clean and Upright in all our Ways and We are to Walk as Befits Children of the Light
These warnings and commands given by the apostle are very relevant in the age in which we live.
At one time we might have been excused for thinking that verses 3, 4, and 5 were applicable to the situation at Ephesus where immorality was rife.
We live in an a-moral world, that is a world that is without morals, the attitude of society being "if you think it's O.K. then it is OK" The old absolutes of “Right” and Wrong” have been overturned.
God's standards have not changed.
God still condemns sexual immorality in all its forms together with all forms of covetousness. and unrighteousness.
In verses 5 and 6 Paul states that neither the immoral, the filthy minded nor the covetous have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.
Paul states that covetousness, is a form of idolatry - and is akin to worshiping a false God.
There were then, just as there are now, those who put forward plausible arguments to justify the sort of conduct that Paul warns against here in Ephesians. Paul warns against being deceived by such vain words.
He likens evil and good with darkness and light.
Those outside of Christ are in darkness.
Believers have no escuse, we are not in darkness but are children of the light.
That being the case, we ought then to live as children of the light.
The light produces in our lives everything that is wholesome and good and true, therefore our lives should be living proof of the things which please God.
Some professing believers seem to take a delight in describing the works of darkness but Paul says it is shameful to even speak of these things.
Rather let us dwell upon the fruit of the Spirit in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
We do well to steer clear of the activities of darkness and allow our lives to shine forth and to reprove what Paul describes as the "unfruitful works of darkness."
3. Walk in Wisdom
We are to be wise and demonstrate our understanding of what the will and purpose of God is.
Since we know the Truth our lives should show it
We are to live, then, with a sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.
Paul says in v. 16 that we are to make the best use of our time despite the difficulties of these days in which we live.
“Redeeming the time, for the days are evil.”
4. Be Filled With The Spirit
People in the world often get their stimulus (Dutch Courage ! ) from the effects of an excess of wine.
Paul urges us instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit v. 18.
In effect he is saying "Let the Holy Spirit stimulate you souls.
We are to Express our joy in singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of the Lord!"
Song is a wonderfully expressive medium and, even in the natural, we are led to believe that singing releases a chemical into the body which lifts the human spirit.
Singing is an antidote to depression.
Let us exercise the capacity of "making melody in our hearts to the Lord." It does not matter what the musical quality is like, it is the exercise of the hearts that is important.
The psalmist was clear about this when he said:-
Psalm 98:4; Make a joyful noise unto the lord, ail the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psalm 100:1; Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Also …….. A Believer’s Life Should be Characterised by:-
An Attitude of Thankfulness
Earlier in the chapter when dealing with the subject of correct behaviour,.
Paul said words to the effect "Replace this behaviour, which is not convenient, by the giving of thanks." Here in verse 20 he urges us to thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We live in an age when everything is taken for granted. This attitude has even crept into the church. What a difference it makes when we give thanks in everything.
The Importance and Significance of the Marriage Relationship
The ideal husband - wife situation is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and his Church.
That is Why Satan seeks to destroy the Institution of Marriage !
Paul speaks of this as being a "great mystery."
Christ's love-work for the Church is three-fold:- past, present and future.
(1) Past It was because of His love that He gave Himself to redeem the Church (v. 25).
(2) Present It is in love that He is sanctifying the Church (v. 26).
(3) Future It is for the reward of His sacrifice and His labour of love that He will present the Church to Himself in flawless perfection (v. 27).
The Bible is full of illustrations with respect to this relationship between Christ and His Church.
eg. Joseph and his Gentile bride Asenath.
Asenath, is a type of the Church, called out from the Gentiles to be the bride of Christ during the time of His rejection by His brethren, Israel. (Acts 15:14 Eph 5:31 Eph 5:32).
While nowhere, in scripture, is it asserted that Joseph was a type of Christ, the analogies are too numerous to be accidental.
Here are some of the analogies that are evident:-
Both Joseph and Jesus
(1) Were special objects of a father's love (Gen 37:3 Matt 3:17 John 3:35 John 5:20)
(2) Were hated by their brethren (Gen37:4John 15:25)
(3) Were rejected by their brethren (Gen 37:8 Matt 21:37-39John 15:24 Johnn 15:25)
(4) Their brethren conspired against them to slay them (Gen 37:18 Matt 26:3 Matt 26:4)
(5) Joseph was, in intent and figure, slain by his brethren, as was Christ. (Gen 37:24; Matt 27:35-37)
(6) Each became a blessing among the Gentiles, and gained a Gentile bride. (Gen 41:1-45 Acts 15:14 Eph 5:25-32)
(7) Just as Joseph reconciled his brethren to himself, and afterward exalted them, so will it be with Christ and His Jewish brethren.
(Gen 45:1-15; Deut 30:1-10; Hos 2:l4-18; Rom 11:1; Rom11:15; Rom 11:25; Rom 11:26)
Paul speaks of :- Relationships Within The Church
(a) In Our Personal Relationships
In the realm of personal relationships in the church, we are to honour Christ by submitting to each other.
This means that we are to be considerate to each other and look to the well being of others rather that being selfish in our behaviour.
(b) In The Marriage Relationship
Marriage is an “Object Lesion” of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
It is God who, in the beginning, ordained family life.
God has ordained that the man is the head of the family and as such is responsible to God for his family.
The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands.
God requires that wives acknowledge this and must submit to their husband's leadership in the same way as they submit to the Lord.
This is not a licence for a husband to dominate his wife, for Paul goes on to instruct husbands to give to their wives the same sort of sacrificial love that Christ gave to the Church.
Christ gave Himself for the Church to make her holy and perfect, free from any spots or blemishes.
A man should, says the apostle, give to his wife the love which he naturally has for himself.
This love is the natural extension of his self-love to enfold his wife.
Mutual love and respect between husband and wife is therefore the divine command.
What a contrast with the pagan view.
The Pagan View.
In Paul's time, pagans saw women as inferior beings, playthings for the dominant male. To be "head of the house" was to accept the common notion that authority was the male's rightful providence. Children and wives were only responsible to obey.
The wife was not equal to her husband as a person, or in any other way.
His needs and concerns dominated the household, and the wife existed to fulfill those needs and to serve him.
The Christian View.
The Christian view is quite different. Women are seen as persons of equal worth and value. In the structure of society, men are given the role of head of the house, a role affirmed by God in this passage.
But the husband’s headship is modeled on the way Christ loved the church, not on human systems of authority.
Eph 5:27 portrays Christ as giving Himself up for the church "to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
In pursuit of this ministry, Christ nourishes and cares for the church.
In the same way, husbands are to nurture their wives, seeking always to help the wife grow as a person and as a Christian.
What a contrast with the pagan view!
Suddenly things are reversed. The wife is transformed from an unimportant appendage, who exists only to meet her husband's needs, to a person of intrinsic worth and value, becoming the focus of her husband's concern.
Instead of demanding that she live for him, he begins to live for her!
Rather than keeping her under, he seeks to lift her up. Christian headship lifts the wife up as the rightful object of a husband's loving concern.
In this context, the husband serves by being a Christ-like head; the wife serves in responsive submission to one who lifts her up and holds her beside him.
The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
"The Believer's Conduct and Calling"
Paul now turns to the subject of Christian conduct. Notice the impact of the words that he uses here in the first verse, “I ...beseech you.” Beseech is such an emotive word, it means to beg, implore, plead, entreat.
What is it, then, that Paul is so concerned about?
It is this - that we live our lives as befits our calling. Let us never forget that ours is a calling. We have not chosen to follow Christ, rather He has chosen us and called us.
Peter says that we have been called out of darkness, into His marvellous light. cf. 1Peter:2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
The Believer’s Conduct and Calling
4: 1.” I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. –“
Calling and conduct: --
1. Our Conduct Should Correspond with our Calling
For two reasons …….
1. From a sense of gratitude.
2. The Source from which the Calling originated.
2. Certain Virtues Ought to Characterise a Believer
These are essentially the “Fruit of The Spirit”
[ Love, Joy, Peace; Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness; Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control. ]
Because of what these virtues are in themselves.
and secondly ……… because they promote "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
THE NATURE OF THE BELIEVER'S CALLING
What is the Nature of our Calling ?
It is a ……
1. Holy Calling (2 Tim 1:9).
2. High Calling (Phil 3:14).
3. Heavenly Calling (1 Tim 1:17).
4. Profitable calling (1 Tim 4:8).
The Principles and Privileges of Our Calling
Furthermore, we need to …..
Understand the …….
1. Principles of our calling (Eph 1:17).
2. Privileges of the calling (Eph 3:16-19).
and we need to
3. Cultivate the spirit of the calling (Eph 4:2,3).
and we must
4. Perform the Duties of the calling (John 14:23).
in our …..
1. Civil life (Eph 4:25).
2. Religious life (Eph 4:24).
3. Domestic life (Eph 6:1-9).
Paul says that we are to do this with humility, gently submitting ourselves to each other in love.
Doing all that is in our power to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The Seven Unities of The Spirit
1. One Body 2. One Spirit 3. One Hope 4. One Lord 5. One Faith 6. One Baptism 7. One God and Father
1. One body.
The Church is the body of Christ and we are members in particular. The body is not to be fragmented or scattered it is to be united. Paul has more to say on this subject later in the epistle.
2. One Spirit.
It is the unity of the Spirit which bonds the body together, for we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body and, just as our body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost so, too, is the body of Christ.
3. One Hope.
We are called in one hope of our calling. Remember that “hope” in Scripture is not some tentative desire, but is a sure, reality. Our “blessed hope” is the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
4. One Lord.
We have only one Lord, He is unique, there none like unto Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords - His Name is Jesus.
5. One Faith.
Paul spells out “the faith” in 1 Cor 15 where he declares the gospel which he preached - “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: ..............”
6. One Baptism.
In 1Cor:12:13: Paul writes “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.” Baptism in this sense means the initiation into the body of Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit via the “New Birth.”
7. One God and Father.
One God and Father who is:-
1. above all and 2. through all and 3. in all
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul says:-
“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1Cor 8:6.
Christ’s Ministry Gifts to His Body
In 1 Cor 12 8-28, Paul deals with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enduing the members of the body of Christ with the enablements for service.
Here in Eph 4:7-16 Paul describes certain Spirit - endued men as themselves being the gifts bestowed by Christ upon His body the church. In 1 Corinthians the gifts are spiritual enablements for a specific service, in Ephesians the gifts are men who have such enablements.
These gifts to the church are:- apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers.
In bestowing these gifts the Lord determines, through the Spirit, the places of their service. Some local churches need one gift eg. an evangelist, others need rather a pastor or teacher. Nothing in Christ’s service is left to mere human choice - ”And some He gave ........ ”
The purpose of the ministry gifts, Paul says, is for:-
1. the perfecting of the saints
2. the work of the ministry
3. the edifying of the body of Christ.
While positionally we are now “perfect,” experientially we are being perfected ie. being conformed unto the image ( express likeness) of His Son.
The work of the ministry is service, that is the meaning of miistry. All of this is for the building up of the body Christ.
God desires that we should become mature in Him, no longer behaving like children, swayed about by every new doctrine that is put forward by those seek their own and not the things of God.
True maturity means growing up “into” Christ. God desires for us to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head.
He points out that it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints which it is provided with, grows to full maturity in love by the correct functioning of the individual parts.
The Believer - a “New Man” in Christ
Paul instructs them to live no longer according to the manner of the gentiles, given over to sin and degradation, practising every form of impurity which lust can suggest.
But rather to put on the “new man,” the new life which is according to God’s design for righteousness and holiness.
This “New man” is not just an improved version of the “old man” but the regenerate man having become a partaker of the divine nature. The “new man” is Christ, formed in the believer.
Paul commands us to:-
Have done with lying and speak the truth. If angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper.
Never go to bed angry.
Don’t give the devil any sort of foothold in our life.
Don’t steal. Use only language that is edifying.
Never cause the Holy Spirit to grieve, for He is the personal pledge of our full redemption.
Put away any bitterness, resentment, self-assertiveness, slander and malice. Instead be kind to one another and show understanding, being as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.
This is what our walk will be like if we allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives.
THE OBJECT OF THE CALLING (1 Peter 5:10).
……. the object of our calling is …… to Glorify God.
10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11 KJV
Our prayer should be:-
Have Thine own way Lord,
Have Thine own way,
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mould me and make me, after Thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.
The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
(Eph 2:11- 3:21)
Next to Rome, Ephesus was the most important city Paul visited on his missionary journeys.
The main city of the Roman province of Asia, it was a populous port city, important as a centre for commerce, religion, and politics.
It had two great architectural wonders, the temple of Diana and a 50,000-seat theatre (Acts 19:29).
It also had a stadium or race course that often hosted fights between men and wild beasts (see 1 Cor 9:24-25; 15:32 -- words written from Ephesus).
Paul visited Ephesus during his second journey, a visit cut short by his haste to return to Jerusalem (Acts 18:19-21). He visited again on his third journey and remained there for three years (Acts 19-20).
He later sent Timothy to Ephesus as his representative. After Paul's death, the apostle John made Ephesus his headquarters until his death, by which time the Ephesian church had "fallen from [its] first love" (Rev 2:1-7).
The words "in Ephesus" (1:1) are missing in some important Greek manuscripts. This, coupled with the fact that there are no personal greetings in the letter and no specific church problem is addressed, has given rise to the idea that Ephesians was originally a cyclical letter, intended for circulation among the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev 2-3).
However, the majority of Greek manuscripts do include "in Ephesus," and none of those manuscripts indicate any other destination.
Ephesians may have been intended as a cyclical letter, being first sent to Ephesus, the main city of Asia, where Paul had made his headquarters as he ministered throughout the region (Acts 19:10).
Having received a good report about these churches (1:15), and hearing that Tychicus (6:21) was ready to make a trip to Ephesus, Paul seized the opportunity to send a letter.
- To teach about the church as the body of Christ, composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers
- To exhort believers to conduct themselves properly toward one another because of their oneness in Christ
- To equip them for spiritual warfare
- Ephesians addresses no specific church problem.
- It is one of the least personal of Paul's letters. There is almost no personal greeting, and only two personal names appear: Paul and Tychicus.
- The phrase "in the heavenly realms" occurs five times here (1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12), and nowhere else in Scripture.
- Paul used three great figures of speech to illustrate our union with Christ:* building (2:21-22)* body (1:22-23; 4:15)* bride (5:25-32)
COMPARISON WITH OTHER BIBLE BOOKS
- Joshua deals with the conquest and possession of the Promised Land, the "earthly realms"; Ephesians deals with our taking possession of our promised "heavenly realms" (see exposition on 1:1-6).
- The content of 78 of the 155 verses in Ephesians is repeated in Colossians with only slight differences; 78 out of the 95 verses in Colossians resemble Ephesians:* Both epistles stress the relationship between Christ the head and the church his body.* Ephesians emphasizes the body, while Colossians emphasizes the head.
Philippians; Timothy; Philemon:
- Like these epistles, Ephesians was written while Paul was in prison in Rome, with 2 Timothy coming during his second imprisonment when death was at hand.
We now pick where we left off. (Eph 2:11- 3:21)
Paul reminds the Ephesians, who in the main were Gentile believers, as to what their position, as gentiles, had been.
1. The Gentile Position by Nature
At that time they were without Christ and were aliens from the common - wealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise.
In Gen 17 we are told that God made Covenant with Abraham – a covenant of Promise. In this covenant, God promised that Abraham would be “the father of many nations” and gave him the title deeds of the land of Canaan.
Indeed, the extent of the land covered all the land from the Mediterranean Sea in the West to the River Euphrates in the East and from Hamath in the North ) NE of Damascas) to the “River of Egypt” and Kadesh in the South. God promised all of this to Abraham and his descendents through the line of Isaac. God told Abraham that his descendents would be in bondage for 400 years before being brought forth to enter the “Land of The Promise.” Subsequently, God brought the children of Israel into an organized body, the Common-wealth of Israel with Laws and regulations and a visible system of worship with a local habitation of worship - the Temple.
The sign of the covenant was that of circumcision.
Gentiles had no part in this covenant, they were strangers from the covenants of Promise, aliens, having no hope and without God in the world ( world = kosmos = mankind).
Paul points out here that this too was the positions of the Ephesians and this position is ours, as Gentiles, outside of Christ.
We were aliens, without hope, without God in the world.
2. The Believers’ Position in Christ
BUT now we like them, who once were far off have been made nigh by the blood of Christ and Now we are accepted in the beloved.
Paul says here that He ( Jesus ) has broken down the middle wall of partition between us ie. Jew and Gentile believers.
This is a reference to the fact that in the Temple, Gentiles were only allowed into the outer court - the Court of the Gentiles only Jews could enter into the Temple proper.
Now, Jew and Gentile are united in one body in Christ “for He is our peace who hath made both into one.”
As Paul writes in Gal:3:28: “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.”
Paul uses the analogy of a “new man” (v. 15) this referring here not to the individual believer but to the Church, considered as the body of Christ.
Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God into one body by Christ’s death on the Cross where He destroyed the enmity between – on one hand God and Man and on the other hand the enmity between Jew and Gentile.
In the atonement made for sin upon the Cross Christ has made into one both Jew and Gentile. Access to the Father is through Christ and through Him alone “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1Tm:2:5).
Therefore we are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with the saints; we are now members of the household of God.
3. The Church
A Temple for the habitation of God
Just as the Church is the body of Christ, it is also the Temple of God. In verses 20 - 22, Paul uses the analogy of a physical building. He describes the apostles and prophets as being the foundations, with the Lord Jesus Christ as the Chief Corner Stone. Individual believers are the stones which join together to comprise the building as a Holy Temple for the habitation of God.
Looked at from this view point, the “Temple” is being built, and is almost complete. When the last stone is in place and the building is completed, then Christ will come for His Church.
Another analogy is with the body, when the body is complete, then Christ will return to take us unto Himself.
The Mystery of the Church
That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Rom 9:24-33). The “mystery” was that God purposed to make a wholly new thing - the Church - composed of both Jew and Gentile, in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears. In scripture, a mystery is something which God has chosen not to reveal. The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold but not explained by the Lord Jesus Christ in (Matt 16:18), was committed to the Apostle Paul. Paul was given this revelation by the Lord during his time in Arabia after his conversion.
It is in Paul’s writings alone - the Pauline Epistles - that we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the Church. The mystery, Paul says is simply this: that the Gentiles, who were previously excluded from God’s Covenants, are to be equal partners in God’s promise given by Christ through the Gospel.
4. The Dispensation of the Grace of God
Here, in Eph 3:1-21, Paul states the purpose of his letter namely to teach them about the mystery of the Church and its purpose.
Paul could never get over the feeling of his own unworthiness (cf. v 8) for he regarded himself as being less than the least of all saints.
Yet God had chosen him to be the means of preaching the Good News of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles.
We are living in what Paul terms the “Dispensation of the Grace of God.”
The term “Dispensation” simply means a period of time during which God deals with mankind according to a certain set of criteria.
During the time between the Cross and Christ’s return for His Church (the Rapture) God is dealing with mankind according to His Grace.
[ That is not to say that people in the Old Testament were not the recipients of God’s Grace ]
5. God’s purpose for the Church
The Church was no after-thought in the mind of God but was purposed by Him from the beginning and had been hidden in the Mind of God from the beginning of the world (v 9).
The purpose, says Paul, is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God being worked out through the Church in accordance with the His eternal purpose which He centred in Christ Jesus. It is in the Church, the Body of Christ comprising both Jew and Gentile that God’s purpose for this age is revealed.
It is because of our position in Christ Jesus that we can approach God with confidence - the faith of Him.
6. Paul’s prayer for the Saints
It was because of his ministry that Paul was suffering a period of imprisonment. Paul was the prisoner of the authorities but He did not regard it as such - Paul describes himself as the “Prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles.” (v.1) However, Paul urges them not to be discouraged on account of his sufferings but rather to feel honoured.
Paul says that it is for this reason, when he thinks of the greatness of this great plan, that he falls upon his knees before God the Father after whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Paul’s prayer is this - that out of the glorious riches of God’s resources He will enable them, and us, to know the strength of the in-dwelling Spirit.
That is that Christ may actually live in our hearts by faith and that, being rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints the true extent of the love of Christ. Paul acknowledges that God’s love is so vast that it is beyond the capacity of our comprehension.
7. Paul’s Doxology of Praise
Having got all this off his chest, Paul bursts forth into a glorious doxology of praise to the Lord.
Paul just cannot contain himself and here, in the middle of this letter, erupts with this outburst of praise to God.
Now unto Him, who by His power within us is able to do infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or imagine - to him be glory in the church By Christ Jesus for ever and ever Amen!
We often associate “Amen” with bringing a prayer to a conclusion.
Amen simply means “so be it.”
Paul has much more to impart to the saints at Ephesus as we shall discover in the succeeding chapters.
Oh that we, this morning, may be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.
That we might be rooted and grounded in love and be able to appreciate and understand the love of Christ; and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.
May it be so:- for His Name’s sake.
The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians
(Eph 1:15 - 2:10)
Paul's Prayer for The Saints
Ever since Paul had learned of the existence of the church at Ephesus he had never stopped praying for them. The burden of Paul's prayer for them was two fold - namely that God would grant them:-
1. Spiritual Wisdom and 2. Spiritual Understanding
1. Spiritual Wisdom
That God, the Father would grant them wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Never forget this - the source of all our wisdom is The Father Himself - through knowing The Son.
The last book in the Bible commences with the words – "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him...."
and Revelation ends with the solemn warning – "And if any man shall take away from the words of this book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life."
Oh that we might know more of Him.
2. Spiritual Understanding
When God grants us spiritual understanding a whole new area of knowledge is opened up to us:-
(a) The hope of His calling (b) The Riches of His inheritance (c) The greatness of His power.
(a) The Hope of His Calling
"18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places," Eph 1:18-20
The nature of His Calling ........
His calling is …….. . High
The High Calling of God
Our calling is not a lowly one for, in Phil 3:14, Paul tells us that it is a high calling - he says it is ……. “ the high calling of God."
14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:14 KJV
A Heavenly Calling
In Hebrews 3:1 we are told that it is ……. "a heavenly calling.”
"1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house." Heb 3:1-2 KJV
A Holy Calling
In 2Tim 1:9 Paul states that it is a "holy calling" which is - "not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace."
The Anomaly of God’s Choice !
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul states that “not many wise men, according to the flesh, not many noble not many mighty are called but God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the things which are mighty." 1 Cor 1:26,27)
[NB Paul says "not many" not "not any?"]
Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul urges believers – “to abide in the same calling” (1 Cor 7:20-24).
In The Light of This …..
Peter, in his second epistle, urges believers to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure." (2 Pet 1:10)
However, note that …
In Roman 11:29 Paul teaches us that - "the Gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
That is to say, God will not go back on His Word.
May we be counted worthy of being “Chosen By Him”
In 2 Thess 1:11,12 Paul expresses his desire that we should – “be worthy of this calling and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us and us in Him.”
May our lives glorify Him !
(b) The Riches of His Inheritance
Note how Paul phrases this - “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
Just think about this phrase - “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”
He is the Lord of glory! The universe and its contents belong to Him!
Him who, as Paul says in Phil 2:9, "has been given the Name which is above all other names" - has an inheritance in the saints.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph 2:10.
In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul writes - “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col 1:12.
In Acts 26:18 we find Paul testifying to King Agrippa that the Lord Jesus Christ had called him to go to the Gentiles - “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18.
This is what Peter says on this subject
Peter, in his first epistle, tells us that God has “begotten us again unto a living 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 Pet 1:3,4,5.
All this is possible because of The Atonement - “For this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Heb 9:15.
(c) The Greatness of His Power
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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: Eph 1:19-21 KJV
Paul delights in the use of superlatives - here he refers to “the exceeding riches of His power.”
There is no doubting the mighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ, for this was demonstrated time and time again during His earthly ministry.
He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, un-stopped deaf ears, made the lame to walk and even raised the dead. He cast out demons and stilled the tempest with the phrase “peace, be still.”
However, the exceeding greatness of His power is demonstrated to us by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Now, He is far above all else, be they principality and power, might and dominion. Christ is exalted to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.
This is further demonstrated in the fact that He has brought us to new life in Him.
Paul now proceeds to deal with the past, present, and future of us believers.
In The Past Before we were saved, we were dead in:-
(a) trespasses (b) sins and (c) conducted our lives according to the manner of this world.
Our lives were dominated by the prince of the power of the air - Satan.
In this respect we were no different to anyone else because this is the same spirit which is at work in the world.
We lived according to the dictates of the flesh and were – “by nature children of wrath, even as others.”
In The Present
God, who is rich in mercy has:-
(a) Quickened us together in Christ. (ie made us alive)
(b) Raised us up together and made us
(c) Sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
And all because of His great love wherewith He has loved us.
In The Future
" That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Christ Jesus."
The Method of Salvation
Throughout this letter Paul emphasizes our dependence upon God’s grace. In verse 5 he interjects the phrase “by grace are ye saved” and in verses 8,9 and 10 Paul explains how Salvation is the gift of God by His grace and that the mechanism by which that grace becomes effective is through faith; this is God’s way.
In the words of the hymn-writer:-
Nought have I gotten, but what I received,
Grace hath bestowed it, since I have believed,
Boasting excluded, pride I abase,
I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.
Only a sinner, saved by Grace,
This is my story, to God be the glory,
I’m only a sinner, saved by Grace.
And .... "Now, we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."
To Him be The Glory Now and forever .... Amen
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Sunday 27th January has been designated by the EU and the UN as “International Holocaust Remembrance Day”
The stated objective of this initiative is to encourage peoples and nations to take proactive action against anti-semitism which is becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe and the Middle East.
The term – “Holocaust” means “Immense Destruction” – especially by fire cf. the effect of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshema and Nagasaki at the end of WW 2.
Another aspect of the meaning of the word “holocaust” is “Burnt Offering.”
In our age ie for the last 70 years or so the term has been almost exclusively used to describe the horrors involved in the mass murder of 6 million Jews during the barbaric rule of Hitlers Third Reich.
The Call to Remembrance is Necessary Because:-
The old lies of the past are being repeated in Europe and even the historical facts of the Holocaust are being denied, questioned and brought into doubt.
Israel and The Jewish People are Under Threat
The Resurgence of anti-semitic feeling in Europe - people on the streets chanting “Death to the Jews”
The blatant call by Hamas for the destruction of Israel – The palestinian government calling for the liquidation of Israel
The open rejection of the holocaust by the President of Iran and his call for Israel to be wiped from the map.
In addition there are academics like the Norwegian award winning author Justein Gaardner who stated that “Israel has lost the right to exist”.
Why are the Jews as a People under Threat ?
Because, according to the Bible…….. Israel is God’s Servant
The Servant of The Lord
Now the Bible describes Messiah as “The Servant of The Lord” and in Isaiah 53 He is described as the Suffering Servant of the Lord.
But Israel, the nation, is described also as: “The Servant of The Lord” who is also described as His suffering servant. cf. Isaiah 41:8,9; Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1,2; Isaiah 49:7.
Israel’s Sufferings are:-
Redemptive Corrective Instructive
Israel is God’s Vehicle of World Redemption.
Jesus is a Jew
Rom 1:1-3 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” NKJV
Salvation is of the Jews
“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22 KJV
Through the Jews we have the Word of God
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Rom 3:1-2 KJV
God chose the Jews to be a blessing unto all the nation on the earth and warns that:-
People and Nations should be careful in their dealings with Israel and Jews
Gen 12:2-3 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." NKJV
Zech 2:8 “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” KJV
Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome explained God’s purpose in respect of His people, Israel. [Rom 11:1-32]
800 years prior to Paul’s letter to the Romans, Isaiah had written this prophetic word. [Isa 62:1-4]
Isa 62:1-4 1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. 3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. KJV
God's Promise to Abraham
God made a promise to Abraham recorded in Genesis Chapter 12:-
God said:- "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curses thee: and in thee shall all the families of the Earth be blessed." Gen 12:3
This promise is ultimately fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in that there is salvation in none other.
As Paul said to the Philippian gaoler. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Acts 16:31
Jesus said:- "For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Paul's Epistle to The Saints at Ephesus
The Apostolic Greeting
Paul begins by stating the authority of his apostleship. He is an apostle - by the will of God. Paul never got over the sense of wonder that God should choose him, who he himself describes, as "the least of all saints..." ( 1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8 ).
The letter is addressed to - "the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." This extends the greeting to include the saints in every age and at every place - ie. to you and to me.
Paul extends grace and peace to the saints from both God, the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
And there we have it, right at the very beginning of the letter, our position - is in Christ Jesus.
This is an expression which is repeated throughout the letter.
The key word which recurs throughout this letter is the word " in." The first chapter is particularly rich in the word, indeed verse one declares the basis of our security it is - "in Christ Jesus." It is because of our position "in Him" that we can rest assured of our eternal security. Everything that we have and are and ever will be is because of this established relationship in Him.
The word "In"
The letter is addressed to the "faithful in Christ Jesus."
We are blessed with all spiritual blessings , in heavenly places in Christ (v. 3). This term "heavenly places" means, literally, "in the heavenlies." The "heavenlies" may be defined as the sphere of our spiritual experience in Christ. Believers are spiritual people, strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Paul says here that we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (v. 4).
The purpose of this ? To be holy and blameless before Him in love (v. 4).
To this end God has predestined us to be adopted into His family (v. 5).
And we have been accepted in the beloved (v. 6).
The word "According"
Another word which is repeated in the letter is …… "according."
None of the blessings of the Lord come to us according to our deserving but according to His choosing (v.4).
So, we have been chosen, adopted and accepted and been granted the forgiveness of sins.
On what grounds?
On redemption ground according to the riches of His grace (v. 7).
Predestinated unto the Adoption of Children
Predestination is that effective exercise of the will of God by which things determined by Him are brought to pass.
Predestination is one part of that trinity of divine processes namely:-
Election, Foreknowledge, and Predestination.
The divine order is:- foreknowledge, election, predestination.
1 Peter 1:2 makes it clear that it is foreknowledge which determines election, and that predestination is the bringing to pass of the election.
Election, which means "chosen," is wholly of grace and proceeds from the divine will.
Election and predestination are always related to the saints and their sanctification. And are not to be interpreted in the sense that some are predetermined for salvation while others are predetermined to be lost.
Election is the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him.
cf Luke 6:13 Where Jesus chose, from among His disciples twelve, whom he named, apostles.
Acts 9:15 The Lord said of Saul "he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles..."
1 Cor 1:27,28 God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.............."
Election looks back to foreknowledge, and predestination looks forward to the destiny.
The Adoption of Children
The word huiothesia, translated "adoption," meaning "placing as a son," is not so much a word of relationship as of position. Our relationship to God as a child results from our being "born again (John 1:12,13), whereas adoption is the act of God whereby one, already a child, is placed in the position of an adult son through redemption from the law (Gal 4:5,6,7). It is the operation of the Holy Spirit which brings about the realization of this fact in our present experience but the full manifestation of our sonship will occur in what the scriptures call the "redemption of the body" (Rom 8:23 1 Thess 4:14-17) at the coming of Christ for His saints. Then we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
The Mystery of His Will
This is "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times" He might gather together in one, all things in Christ.
The Dispensation of the fullness of times is the final dispensation in God's dealings with mankind.
God has dealt with man (1) Under Innocence in the Garden of Eden; (2) under Conscience before the Flood; (3) under Human Government between the Flood and Babel; (4) under the Headship of the Family with the Patriarchs; (5) under observance of God's Law before Christ; and (6) now under Grace until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ returns in Glory with His saints to exercise (7) His rule of Righteousness which will last for a thousand years, man will have been tested under every conceivable set of conditions, only to have failed because those which are passed came to an end in judgment and those yet to come will also end in judgment.
It is then that the "Perfect Age" the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" will be ushered in and there will be a "New Heaven" and a "New Earth" "Wherein Dwelleth Righteousness (Rev 21 and 2 Pet 3:13. It is this "Perfect Kingdom" that Christ surrenders to the Father (1 Cor 15:24-28).
What these Ages of Ages will reveal of the Plan and Purpose of God, we do not know for these are in the "Mystery of His Will." This great era is still over a thousand years in the future and is not the end of things - eternity is yet young!
The Seal of the Holy Spirit
This is our inheritance in Christ! and the proof of this lies in the very fact that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are trusting Him as Lord and Saviour.
We are "Born of the Spirit" and have been sealed by Him (v. 13).
What we have here and now is "the earnest of the Spirit."
In the symbolism of Scripture a seal signifies:-
1. A Completed Transaction. 2. Ownership 3. Security
The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal. He has completed the transaction, we are now Divine property and our eternal future is secure.
What a privilege it is to belong to the Living God, to be His purchased possession, His property!
May our daily lives testify to the position we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The Purpose of The Church
Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church:-
“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be:-
1. teaching biblical doctrine,
2. providing a place of fellowship for believers,
3. observing the Lord’s supper,
The church is to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith.
Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can:-
- be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10),
- instruct one another (Romans 15:14),
- be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32),
- encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11),
and most importantly ……
- love one another (1 John 3:11).
The church is to be a place where believers can observe the “Breaking of Bread”, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together.
This is another example of the church promoting fellowship.
The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer.
The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer.
Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Another commission given to the church is proclaiming the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
The church is called to be faithful in sharing the gospel through word and deed.
The church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community, pointing people toward our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The church is to both promote the gospel and prepare its members to proclaim the gospel (1 Peter 3:15).
Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The church is to be about the business of ministering to those in need.
This includes not only sharing the gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as necessary and appropriate.
The church is also to equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.
So, what is the purpose of the church ?
Paul gave an excellent illustration to the believers in Corinth.
The church is God’s hands, mouth, and feet in this world—the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth.
The church is to be “Christian,” “Christ-like,” and “Christ-following.”
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The world has had enough of religion. Religion is man trying to reach God. Man has been trying ever since the Fall to do that.
Christianity is not just another religion. Christianity is Christ Himself........it is God reconciling the world to Himself through His One and Only Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus. Christ died for us. He fought our battle. He won the victory for us.
He was our substitute.He did for us - what we could not do for ourselves.
1. Man's Condition Before God
The Bible tells us that Mankind is “lost in sin and shapen in iniquity.”
It goes on to say that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
And that “there is none righteous, no not one.”
“The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked.”
“Our sin has separated us from God.”
2. God's Love For Mankind
Calvary demonstrates the extent of God's love for us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...........”
"But God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Christ died in my place.
3. Christ’s Substitutary Death
On the Cross, Christ became my substitute.
He bore our sin in His body on the tree.
He who knew no sin became sin for us. “He was wounded for our transgressions.............”
4. Christ's Resurrection is My Guarantee
Christianity is more than a religion - it is Christ Himself.
Every other religion has been founded by someone who is now dead and gone.
Budda is dead ….. Confucius is dead ….. Mohammad is dead….
BUT Jesus Christ is Alive.......today !
In other religions the death of the founder doesn't matter, his teachings, way of life, ritual is passed on from one generation to another.
BUT WITH JESUS CHRIST IT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that He is still alive.
IF JESUS CHRIST IS NOT ALIVE THEN CHRISTIANITY IS A SHAM.
Because Christianity is ………. “Christ in Me the hope of glory.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to this.
Everything depends upon the resurrection.
What did people say about the resurrection at the time?
The Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body while the guards slept.
BUT - They had done their best to ensure that this could not happen.
All they needed to do was to produce the body and dispel the rumours.
5. The Reality of the Resurrection
Today, there are those who claim that Jesus never actually died but simply swooned on the cross and recovered in the cool of the tomb.
However someone who had suffered such a flogging as He, and who had been subjected to the torture of the cross could have recovered enough to escape from the grave-clothes let alone convince His followers of a triumphant resurrection is beyond comprehension.
In fact, initially His disciples did not believe that He had come back to life.
The whole of the account of the events which took place on that Easter Morn testify to the fact that the disciples did not believe initially that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Until.....they saw for themselves.Then, they witnessed something, which, completely transformed them from being timid, frightened, creatures into fearless witnesses to the resurrection.
What was it? What had happened to them? They had met with the Risen Lord.
Have you met with the Risen Lord?
When you meet Jesus in all His Risen Power then your life will be transformed.
6. The Relevance of the Resurrection
If there had been no resurrection then we would have no grounds for salvation. Paul wrote .... “If Christ be not risen then ye are yet in your sin.”
If there is no resurrection then ....... there is no hope of eternal life.
His resurrection is the guarantee of our own.
7. The Evidence For the Resurrection
Paul writing to Corinth......1 Cor 15 deals with this very theme. There, Paul states that :-
1. Christ appeared to Peter
and then to:-
2. The rest of the apostles.
He then :-
3. Appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time of whom many were still alive at the time Paul wrote that letter.
Then Paul describes what, to him, was the most amazing thing of all - a post ascension appearance of Christ to Paul himself on road to Damascus.
In 1 Cor 15 Paul deals at great length with the subject of the resurrection of Christ and its relevance and importance to us.
8. Christ’s Resurrection is the Basis for our Salvation
Our faith, our eternal security depends upon this fact.
If it is not true, then we are of all men most to be pitied.
If it is not true, Christianity is founded on a lie - founded by a bunch of liers.
Is this view the one which is in keeping with His character or is it alien to the One who was willing to die in my stead that a soul, though unworthy might live.
Yes, the path to the cross He was willing to tread all the sins of my life to forgive.
He went to the cross and lay down His life for me.
And God gave His seal of approval by raising Him from the dead.
Up from the grave He arose.
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes .
He arose a victor fom the dark domain,
And He lives for ever with His saints to reign.
He arose, He arose......
Hallelujah! Christ Arose !
1. Testifies of Jesus
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Acts 1:8 NKJV
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
1 Cor 12:4-11KJV
The General Epistle of Jude
Over the last three months or so we have been considering the epistle to Hebrews.
During the course of that study, we have seen that “Faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11
Last week we considered “Faith in Practise” Heb 13.
The General epistle of Jude, also highlights the importance of faith – the theme of Jude’s general letter to believers in the early church is that of “Contending for the Faith” literally “Contending earnestly for the faith”
Theme:- “Contending For The Faith”
Jude 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.
Writer;- Jude, the brother of James.
Which James? Most likely James “the Lord’s brother” cf Matt 13
55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas?
This is particularly relevant today cf. the Lord Jesus said:-
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (the) Faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
“Contending earnestly for the faith”
In this brief letter Jude predicts the apostasy which would come and how it would come about and how it should be dealt with.
Paul also predicted the coming apostasy in 2 Thess 2
2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
And Peter 2 Pet 3:3,4
3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Contending for the Faith amongst believers and non-believers.
This letter is has five divisions:-
1. Greeting (vv 1,2)
2. Purpose (vv 3,4)
3. Coming Apostasy (vv 5-7)
4. Characteristics of Apostate teachers (vv 8-19)
5. Reassurance and Comfort ( vv 20-25)
1. Greeting vv 1, 2
1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified[a] by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
NB During Jesus’ earthly ministry, we are told that his “brethren” did not believe on Him.
Now, Jude (Judas) describes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ!
Note how he describes the believes to whom he writes this letter - “Called” “Sanctified” “Preserved”
Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.
2. Purpose (vv 3,4)
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[b] and our Lord Jesus Christ.
“which was once for all delivered to the saints”.
Cf. Hebrews ch. 1 God’s Supreme Revelation
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they
1. Coming Apostasy (vv 5-7)
In the NT Apostasy is turning away from the truth revealed in the scriptures.
Eg. Dis-owning the name of Christafter having believed.
Perverting apostolic doctrine.
Deliberately rejection the truth as revealed in scripture.
Apostasy is different from error which may result through ignorance
Or heresy which may result from the deception of Satan.
Ie. Apostasy is the act of a professing Christian who knowingly and deliberately revealed truth concerning the deity of Christ and redemption through His atoning sacrifice.
In the day and age in which we live there has been a falling away among professing Christians.
Many of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith are no longer accepted.
Wrong is deemed to be right and right to be wrong.
The beliefs of the world have been brought into the “church” and many have become disillusioned.
This is quite apart from the onslaught of militant atheism against the church of Jesus Christ.
Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Thess 2
2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
We are often urged to come together as the “Faith Sector” of society and all “faiths” are given equal credulance.
However, we have to stand firm and earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered.
This Faith does not “Change with the Times” is is steadfast and unchanging.
NB. Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the Same, yesterday, and today and forever.”
Heresy, error and apostasy hve always existed. They existed in the O.T.
Jude cites the examples of Cain, and of Korah as well as that of Balaam and of Sodom & Gomorrah.
1. The Characteristics of Apostate Teachers
Even these can be traced back to O.T. times.
Cain(Gen 4:1) The type of the religious person who, believes in God, and religion BUT after his own ideas, will. Cain rejected God’s Way of redemption - by blood.
Similarly apostate teacher seek to explain away the atonement.
Balaam (Num 22 et al) Balaam used human reasoning and sought to obtain material gain from his prophetic gift.
Korah (Num 16) Refused to accept God’s authority through the ministry of Moses and Aaron.
Even some of the angels succombed to this sin v 6
Jude says here that certain people, ungodly people, had crept in unawares, turning the Grace of God into lasciviousness.
Jude 16:16-19 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
ie. Grumblers; Complainers; Loud-mouths; Flatters; Mockers; Sensual.
5. Reassurance and Comfort ( vv 20-25)
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Notice the contrast in verse 17 - 20
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Judes Magnificent Doxology ( vv 24-25)
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians
The church at Philippi was the first church to be founded in Europe. It came into being after Paul and his companions crossed over from Troas after having been given the "Macedonian Call." Philippi, capital city of Macedonia, was named after Philip of Macedonia the father of Alexander the Great.
The actual date of the epistle is uncertain but is generally accepted to have been written from Rome around 64 A.D. during Paul's imprisonment there and, as such, it is classed as one of the "Prison Letters."
The Subject of The Letter
The subject of the letter is that of "Christian Experience."
Paul uses the occasion to express his love for the saints at Philippi and his delight in their progress, for there appears to be nothing in their church order which required to be put right as soundness of doctrine is assumed.
Philippi is a "normal" New Testament assembly of "saints in Christ Jesus, with bishops (elders) and deacons."
The Occasion for The Letter
The particular purpose of the letter was to thank the church at Philippi for the gift they had sent to him, and Paul's desire to commend Epaphroditus to them.
As to the apostle himself, his circumstances are in striking contrast with his Christian experience.
Although Paul was Nero's prisoner but in spirit he was free and rejoicing in Christ.
From this it is clear that Christian experience is not something which is going on around us but rather that which is happening within us.
The key verse of Philippians is Phil 1:21 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
True Christian experience is the outworking of the life, nature and mind of Christ living in us, no matter what our personal circumstances might be.
The letter divides quite neatly into the four chapters in which Pauldescribes Christ as the believer’s:-
1. Life 2. Pattern, 3. Object 4. Strength
The Theme throughout is that of Rejoicing
1. Rejoicing in Suffering.
2. Rejoicing in Service.
3. Rejoicing despite Imperfections.
4. Rejoicing over Anxiety.
1. Christ, The Believer's Life - Rejoicing in Suffering.
Paul's intention is to confirm the church in the faith, and to encourage them to live as becoming of the church of Christ. This is the only one of Paul's letters in which no censure of the local church is expressed or implied.
(a) Paul's Thankfulness for Fellowship (Phil 1:1-7)
In verses 1-7 Paul offers up thanksgiving and prayer for the work of grace evident in the Philippians.
The highest honour that we can have is to be servants of Christ. Paul addresses this letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.
The Church is made up of saints, those who are not saints on earth will never be saints in heaven.
Outside of Christ, the best saints are sinners, unable to stand before God.
A local church is an assembly of believers professing faith in Christ who live, for the most part, in one locality and who assemble themselves together in His Name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the Word, discipline and the furtherance of the Gospel.
Every such local church has Christ in the midst, and is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Inner peace comes from possessing a sense of Divine favour and there is no peace without grace. Grace and peace come from God who is the fountain of all blessings.
Memories of Philippi filled Paul with joy even though he experienced ill-treatment from the authorities while he was there. cf. Acts 16.
Paul sought to encourage the believers with the thought that the One who had commenced a good work in them would continue and would keep them until they were perfected in Him. Of this we can be in no doubt, the work of grace in each one of us will be perfected in the Day of His appearance. As Paul thought of the saints at Philippi he identified with them in suffering as being partakers of his grace.
(b) Paul's Love and Concern (Phil 1:8-11)
In verses 8-11 Paul expresses affection and prays for them.
How he longed for the fellowship of the saints.
How he prayed for them that their love for each other might overflow and that they might grow in spiritual knowledge and insight.
It is those things which are most honouring to God which will benefit us the most.
Believers should not easily take offence but, on the other hand, should be careful not to cause offence to the Lord or to fellow believers.
Our lives should be filled with the fruits of righteousness, these are by Jesus Christ and are unto the praise and glory of God.
We, as believers, should find our joy in serving the Lord.
(c) Paul's Desire to Encourage them in their Suffering (Phil 1:12-20)
In verses 12-20 he seeks to strengthen them against being cast down because of his sufferings.
Paul was a prisoner at Rome, something which itself had turned out to be for the furtherance of the gospel because everyone there, including the soldiers in the barracks, were aware of the reason why he was a prisoner ie. the fact that he was a Christian.
These things had made him known where he would never have otherwise been known. Also, because of his imprisonment, others had lost their fear of imprisonment and had become bolder in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There were of course those who sought to make trouble for Paul and some who preached Christ with ulterior motives. However, no matter what the motives, the gospel of Christ was being preached and for that Paul rejoiced greatly.
What an attitude!
Even in prison Paul could see that all things were working for his good.
As for Paul, his desire was that he would never do anything that would be dishonouring to the Lord whether by living or by dying.
(d) Paul's Attitude towards Life and Death (Phil 1:21-26)
He goes on in verses 21-26 to explain his attitude towards life and death.
Death is a great loss to the carnal, the non -christian, because he loses all his earthly comforts and hopes; but to the believer it is gain, because it is the end of weakness and misery.
Verse 21 is perhaps one of Paul's most famous sayings. In effect he says "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Which means that for him , living meant more opportunities to present Christ, and dying - well, that would be even better.
He says "If living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don't know which is better, to live or to die!" However, Paul acknowledged that it was better for the church that he remained alive even though he himself might prefer to go to be with the Lord. Paul's choice was between two good options, one of living for Christ and the other of being with Christ.
Those of us who have the most reason to desire to be "with Christ" should be willing to remain in this world as long as the Lord has work for us to do. Paul's earnest desire was that Christ should be glorified whether it were by his living or by his dying.
(e) Paul's Exhortation for Steadfastness (Phil 1:27-30)
Verses 27-30 are exhortations for zeal and steadfastness in proclaiming the gospel. Those who profess the Name of Christ, should live in a manner becoming those who believe in Christ.
Paul urges them to be fearless in their proclamation of the gospel no matter what their enemies might do to them.
This would be a clear sign that God was with them and that they were assured of eternal life.
Paul points out that as Christians they had been given the privilege not only of trusting Him but also of suffering for Him.
He concludes by reminding them that they were all in it together with him.
Christ then is the believer's life, there is no life outside of Him. Christ's joy was perfected through suffering cf. Heb 12:2 reads:- "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
If Christ suffered then we His followers can expect no less.
May we be counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake.
The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians
(Phil 2:1- 30 )
This short letter was written by Paul to Philippi from Rome around A.D. 63/64.
Paul was especially close to the church in this, the leading city in Macedonia for it was there that he established the 1st Christian assembly in Europe. It was in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten and thrown into gaol. This letter, was not written to combat doctrinal error or personal conduct but is simply an expression of friendship and of joy shared in a common faith.
Three Prominent Themes
Three things seem particularly special about this short letter.
1. Its key word is "joy." - the words "Joy" and "rejoice" occur again and again.
2. Philippians contains one of the most powerful New Testament affirmations of the divinity of Christ and His Lordship. Jesus who was God from eternity emptied Himself to become a man and, after suffering death, was raised again to His original glory and given a Name above every name.
3. Paul shared his own personal goal in life - his yearning for a present experience of the transformation which will be his at the resurrection.
Christ – the Source of our Joy
The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that it is our relationship with Jesus that is a vital source of our joy.
Jesus Himself spoke of two ways that we might find joy in Him.
"If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11).
And, "Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).
This “Joy” is produced in us by the Holy Spirit, and is a fruit of His presence (see Luke 10:21; Gal 5:22; 1 Thess 1:6).
It is not linked with material possessions but flows out of our salvation (Acts 8:8; 16:34).
Even persecution could not dampen the joy that glowed in early Christians, because their joy was not dependent on external circumstances (see Acts 13:52; 2 Cor 7:4; James 1:2).
Peter even said:-
"in this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Believers experience a heightened joy; a joy that is rooted in the bond that exists between us and the Lord, and the bond that exists with other believers whom we have come to love.
(see Rom 16:19; Phil 1:4,25-26; 2:2,29; 4:1; Heb 13:17; 1 John 1:4).
The deeper our relationship with Jesus and with His people, the greater the joy that awaits us, and the less that joy is dependent on external circumstances.
Who is Jesus ? [ Phil 2:1-13 ]
To understand why Jesus is the key to joy, we must grasp who Jesus is.
Paul made Christ's true identity perfectly clear in this great affirmation of faith recorded in Phil 2:1-13.
Jesus is God (Phil 2:6-11).
This statement is the foundational truth in Christianity.
In this the early church affirmed:-
· The pre-existence of Jesus as God
· His incarnation as a true human being
· His death on the cross
· His resurrection from the dead
· His coming again in glory
We should note that the phrase stating Jesus was "found in appearance as a man" does not imply that Christ only seemed to be a human being.
The Greek word here is schema (schema), which lays stress on what was visible to the beholder. The Son of God was seen by men to be a man, and He truly was what He appeared to be: one of us.
What a passage for us to dwell upon as we remember our Lord, and focus our thoughts on who He is - and how much He has done for us.
This is the One ……….
“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [ Phil 2: 6-11 ]
Similarity Between John 1:1-14 and Phil 2:6-11
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
[ John 1:1-14 NKJV ]
Jesus is the Source of our Salvation (Phil 2:12-13).
Paul concluded with an exhortation to the Philippians to continue obeying his instructions, as they had been doing.
In this way they were to carry out Paul’s directive to:-
"work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."
This call to "work out your ['own,' as some versions have it] salvation" has troubled some.
They have seen it as a demand to perform / carry out doing good works, or perhaps their salvation would be lost.
However, this is not what Paul is suggesting here.
The word commonly translated "salvation" does look at personal salvation, in the Christian sense of salvation from sin.
Salvation has several aspects:-
· the initial forgiveness obtained through faith in Jesus
· present deliverance from the dominating power of sin in our lives
· ultimate salvation; deliverance from even the presence of sin when resurrection day arrives.
Here the word "therefore" ( v 12 ) links Paul's words with what had been said before.
Paul had been speaking to the Philippians about the unity which is to be found by adopting the attitude of Jesus - a unity which 4:2-3 tells us was at least strained in the local body.
What Paul was saying, then, is that the church is to work out (to express) in their lives together the deliverance which Jesus has won for them, and is to do this with a proper sense of awe, realizing that God Himself was at work within them, present to will and act according to His good purpose.
As the Christians at Philippi modelled on Christ, and adopted His attitude, they would find deliverance from the things that divided them and would in fact give visible expression, together, to the salvation that was theirs in Jesus Christ.
Yes, the Jesus we worship truly is God.
Christ – The Supreme Example
And, as the God-Man, Jesus set us an example, showing us the attitude which is the key to the unity of His Body (church) and is also the key to expressing in our fellowships the salvation which is ours in Him.
· Jesus’ Life defines Holiness
· Jesus’ Compassion explains love
· Jesus’ Patience reveals God’s attitude towards us
What Christ Did For Us
· He Humbled Himself
· Made Himself of no Reputation
· Became Obedient even unto Death
What God has done for Christ
Because Christ humbly gave himself for our sins God has:-
· "raised him up to the heights of heaven" (2:9; see Isa 52:13; John 17:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 2:9).
· He has been given a name (a position and place of authority) above all other names (2:9; see Eph 1:20; Heb 1:4).
· Someday (2:10-11) he will be acknowledged as Lord by everyone:
"in heaven" (angels)
"on earth" (human saints and sinners)
"under the earth" (demons)
What Isaiah Wrote about The "Sin – Bearing Servant"
This is what Isaiah says about the “Sin-Bearing Servant” in Isaiah 52:13-15
13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider. NKJV
The Apostolic Example (Phil 2:17-30)
The chapter concludes with the testimonies of three men who sought to follow that example, namely Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Although Paul expressed the desire to visit the church at Philippi again, he was content to submit himself to the will of God. Paul was willing to live for them or to die for them whatever the Lord willed. Paul never counted his life dear unto himself. Paul regarded the believers at Philippi as a cause for rejoicing. They were proof that his labour had not been in vain. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good.
It was Paul's expressed desire that, if he personally could not visit them, then Timothy should visit them on Paul's behalf. Paul had experienced many setbacks and disappointments as a result of being let down by men. As he says here, "all men seek their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's." All that is except Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy had served Paul as a son to a father. He had certainly made full proof of his ministry. It speaks much for Paul that he was willing to surrender the companionship of Timothy in order to minister to the needs of the church at Philippi. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease and safety, before truth, holiness and duty; not so Timothy.
Epaphroditus was himself from Philippi and had been sent by the church to help Paul in his need. He had himself been sick, in fact he had almost died but the Lord had spared him. Notice how Paul describes God's goodness "lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." Epaphroditus had done for Paul what the church at Philippi would have done had they been nearer. Now Epaphroditus was willing to return to Philippi that he might comfort those who had sorrowed for him when he was sick. Paul urged the people there to love him all the more on that account.
What a saintly trio these three make, father, son in the faith, and faithful servant.
What an example to us.
How we need to see the dedication shown by these three great men in the faith, evidenced in the lives of believers today.
However, good and virtuous though they may be, the real example is that of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as described in verses 5 to 11.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. NKJV
O that we might be like-minded and lowly-minded in the service of Him who's Name is higher than any other name.
Is it any wonder that:-
9 God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.