Monday, June 20, 2016

Colossians

While the apostle Paul was preaching in Ephesus, all of Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus through his leadership (Acts 19:10). Colosse was in that region, but evidently Paul himself did not start the church at Colosse (2:1). It was likely Epaphras, a fellow-laborer of Paul, who started the church (1:1-8; 4:12-13; Phile. 23). It was Epaphras who told Paul about the condition of the church which led to him writing this letter by inspiration of God while a prisoner in Rome. The church needed to be corrected because they were in danger of being spoiled and beguiled by false teaching that detracted from the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ as Head of the church and the blessed truth that all the members of His body are complete in Him (2:8-10). 

Just as Galatians was written to correct doctrine contrary to that which is presented in Romans, so Colossians is written to correct doctrine contrary to that which is presented in Ephesians. In Ephesians the emphasis is on the Body of Christ but in Colossians it is on the Head of that Body. The work of the Holy Spirit is mentioned throughout Ephesians (every chapter) but He is only mentioned once in Colossians (1:8). Philippians is a letter of reproof for not holding the members of the Body in the right regard but Colossians is a letter of correction for not holding the Head of the Body (2:19). 

In chapter 2 Paul warns about different kinds of false teaching: 
Philosophy (v.8) - love of worldly wisdom 
Legalism (vs.16-17) – trying to be made righteous by the works of the law 
Mysticism (vs.18-19) – pursuit of higher and hidden knowledge in the spirit realm 
Asceticism (vs.20-23) – severe self-discipline and denial of the flesh for religious purposes 

The bottom line is that all false teaching denies the deity of Christ and/or His sufficiency to make us complete. All false teaching exalts the works of the flesh over the perfect work of Christ. 

"The Epistle attacks and destroys man's way of holiness by lacerations, adoration of angels, performances of sacraments and self-willed efforts of the carnal nature to improve and sanctify “the flesh” which God has condemned to death. The Epistle points out God’s way of holiness as opposed to man’s way.” (E.W. Bullinger) 

“The Church finds her full life in her Head. When this is recognized the uselessness and mischievousness of carnal ceremonies which appeal to the natural heart, are recognized. All that is needed for a complete Christian life of worship, service and intellectual progress, is found in Christ. All riches and all perfection are found in Him for the enrichment of His members and their maintenance in the full practical enjoyment of fellowship with Him.” (G. Williams) 

I. The Preeminence of Christ (1)
II. Our Position in Christ (2)
III. Our Practical Walk in Christ (3-4) 

Highlights in Colossians 

Chapter One
Hope (v.5, 23, 27) 
Paul’s prayer (vs.9-20) 
Paul’s twofold ministry:
1) To every creature with the gospel (vs.21-23)
2) To the church with the mystery (vs.24-29) 

Chapter Two
Beware lest any man beguile, spoil, or judge you (vs.4, 8, 16, 18)
We are complete (v.10), not by carnal ordinances and ceremonies, but by SPIRITUAL:
1) Circumcision (v.11)
2) Baptism (v.12)

Chapter Three 
The old man vs. the new man (vs.1-17)
The Christian home (vs.18-21)

Chapter Four 
Prayer must be:
1) Faithful (v.2)
2) Watchful (v.2)
3) Thankful (v.2) 
4) Purposeful (vs.3-4, 12-13)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Philippians


The historical record of how the Lord used the apostle Paul to start the church at Philippi during his second missionary journey is found in Acts 16. This short epistle of 4 chapters, 104 verses, and 2,183 words was written in the early 60’s AD when Paul was a prisoner in Rome. This present dispensation began with Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts, but there is a distinction between the epistles he wrote during Acts and afterwards due to the transitional nature (prophecy program of Israel phasing out, mystery program of Body of Christ phasing in) of the Acts period. For example, he was going to the Jew first and the sign gifts were in effect during his Acts ministry. When he writes his prison epistles, he writes as a prisoner of Jesus Christ for us Gentiles and the full revelation of this present age is known (Eph. 3:1-13). 

The prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians form a trilogy concerning the church which is the Body of Christ. 
1) Ephesians – doctrine of the Body of Christ
2) Philippians – reproof for not walking according to the doctrine of Ephesians 
3) Colossians – correction for listening to doctrine contrary to the doctrine of Ephesians 

Philippians is a very practical book. Like most churches today, the church at Philippi was having trouble keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-6; Phil. 1:27; 2:1-3, 14-15; 4:2). 

The worthy walk of our HIGH calling is a LOWLY walk of service! Paul gives 4 great examples in this epistle (Christ, Timothy, Epaphroditus, and himself). 

Philippians is known as the joy book because joy is referred to18 times. Paul was joyful as a prisoner who had endured much suffering. How so? True and lasting joy is found in Christ (1:21, “Christ” mentioned 37 times) and in the pathway of sacrificial service. No wonder most people have no joy! 

Key verses
I. Christ our Life (1:21)
II. Christ our Mind (2:5)
III. Christ our Goal (3:14)
IV. Christ our Strength (4:13)

Outline
A. Salutation – “Grace be unto you” (1:1-2)
      B. Paul’s concern for the Philippians (1:3-26)
                 C. Exhortation: Example of Christ (1:27-2:16)
                     D. Example of Timothy (2:17-24)
                     D. Example of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
                 C. Exhortation: Example of Paul (3:1-4:9)
            B. Philippians concern for Paul (4:10-20)
      A. Salutation – “Grace be with you” (4:21-23)


Highlights in Philippians:

Chapter One 
Emphasis on the gospel (6 times):
1) Fellowship of the gospel (1:3-6)
2) Furtherance of the gospel (1:12)
3) Faith of the gospel (1:27)

Paul's prayer:
1) Request (v.9)
2) Reason (v.10)
3) Result (v.11) 

Chapter Two 
Exhortation to lowliness of mind (2:1-3)

Examples of sacrificial service (2:4-30)
1) Christ (vs.5-11)
2) Paul (vs.12-18)
3) Timothy (vs.19-24)
4) Epaphroditus (vs.25-30)

Chapter Three 
Justification (vs.1-9)
Sanctification (vs.10-19)
Glorification (vs.20-21)

Chapter Four 
Conditions for experiencing the peace of God:
1) Rejoicing (v.4)
2) Moderation (v.5)
3) Prayer (vs.6-7)
4) Right thinking (v.8)
5) Right living (v.9)
 
Contentment:
1) It must be learned (vs.10-11)
2) It is not based on circumstances (v.12)
3) It is found in Christ (v.13)

A note upon the bank of faith (v.19)
1) My God – the name of the Banker
2) Shall supply – the promise to pay
3) All your need – The value of the note 
4) According to his riches – the capitol of the bank 
5) In glory – the address of the bank 
6) By Christ Jesus – the signature without which the note is worthless 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ephesians

The apostle Paul's work at Ephesus is recorded in Acts 18:18-20:38. Ephesus was the capitol city of Asia minor and had a population of about 300,000 people. Thanks to its large harbor Ephesus grew very wealthy on trade; and, thanks to the Temple of Diana it attracted many visitors who wanted to come see one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple was 418' x 239' and had 100 columns that stood 50 feet high. It housed an image of Diana (goddess of fertility) that supposedly fell from heaven. Like the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, the temple of Diana had hundreds of temple prostitutes. 

In spite of much opposition the Lord gave Paul a great ministry at Ephesus that spanned over two years. In that short time the book of Acts records that “all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). We cannot make people believe the word, but are responsible to make sure that everyone in our area at least hear it! His ministry was so influential it caused a riot because the idol-makers were losing money. 

Ephesians is the second of the great text-books of doctrinal instruction for believers in this present age of grace. In Romans is set forth the truth concerning the standing of the sinner in Christ, as having died and risen with Him. Now we are taken a further stage and taught that the sinner not only died and rose again in Christ, but that he is now in God’s sight and purpose seated with Christ in heavenly places. Romans ends with a reference to the revelation of the mystery (16:25); Ephesians takes up that subject and unfolds it to us. It is therefore, the pinnacle of divine revelation for the Body of Christ, like the Book of Revelation is for Israel. 

The Book of Revelation is known for its sevens but did you know that Ephesians is also marked by that divine number of perfection? It opens with seven spiritual blessings, it closes with seven pieces of the spiritual armor, and in the middle we find the sevenfold unity of the Spirit. 

The Trinity is in every chapter:
Salvation (1:3-14) 
Access (2:18)
Prayer (3:14-17)
Unity (4:4-6)
Fulness (5:18-21)
Prayer (6:18; 3:14; 5:20)

Emphasis on the Holy Spirit (He worked in other ages but not like now, Num. 11:29; 1 Sam. 16:14): 
1) Sealed (1:13)
2) Earnest (1:14)
3) Access (2:18)
4) Temple (2:22)
5) Revelation (3:5)
6) Might in the inner man (3:16)
7) Unity of (4:3)
8) Grieve not (4:30)
9) Fruit (5:9)
10) Filled (5:18)
11) Sword (6:17)
12) Praying (6:18)

The 6 chapters of Ephesians are naturally divided in half into two main sections (Eph. 1:3; 4:1):

Ephesians 1-3         Ephesians 4-6
    Wealth                      Walk
   Standing              State 
     Calling            Conduct
    Blessings            Behavior 
     Riches        Responsibilities 

Practical application must be based on the foundation sound doctrine in order for it to be effectual in our lives (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11; Titus 2:1, 10). Paul always begins with doctrine and then makes the proper applications. 

Contrast Law and Grace (1:3; Deut. 28). Most think they are God’s earthly people in a covenant relationship! They claim the blessings of Deut. 28 (vs.1-14) but conveniently forget about all the curses (vs.15-68).

        Israel                                  Body of Christ
Material Blessings              Spiritual Blessings 
On Earth                             In Heavenly Places
Based on Performance     Based on Position



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Galatians

In his epistle to the Galatians the apostle Paul passionately defends the gospel he received by revelation of Jesus Christ against the error of legalism (performance-based religious system). He deals with this error in relation to both justification and sanctification. Legalism is still a very prevalent error today. 

Key verses: 2:16, 20 

There were false teachers that always came in behind Paul’s ministry in an area to try and influence the churches he established away from his message of grace. They taught the people that they must be circumcised and do the works of the law to be saved and/or to stay saved. They were having success in Galatia. 

The scripture not only reveals doctrine, it also reproves and corrects for failure to believe and live by the doctrine. A balanced Bible-based ministry both teaches (positive aspect) and reproves and corrects (negative aspect). Although the apostle Paul wrote Galatians before Romans, it follows Romans in the order of the church epistles because it is a letter of correction for doctrinal failure. The churches at Galatia were listening to doctrine contrary to the doctrine of salvation by grace as laid out in Romans. The Corinthian letters contain reproof for practical failure; their conduct was not in line with the doctrine of Romans. 

Doctrinal and moral failure is not to be tolerated in the church because it takes just a little leaven to leaven the whole lump. Leaven represents corruption that spreads (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). Doctrinal corruption produces moral corruption (1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Tim. 2:15-18). Sound doctrine produces godliness when it is truly believed (Titus 1:1). 

It is important to notice exactly how the letter is addressed (1:1-2). He is writing to local churches in the region of Galatia. He is careful not to say “to the saints” (Eph. 1:1). There are no lost people in the church which is the Body of Christ but there are usually some lost people in the local church. This explains what Paul meant by, "fallen from grace" (5:4). He did not say, "fallen out of grace." Those who are in the Body of Christ cannot lose salvation (Rom. 8:35-39). Those who are seek to be justified by the law have not trusted in Christ. There were some in Galatia that heard the message of grace, but chose rather to put themselves under the law. 

I. Personal (1-2) – Defense of Paul’s Distinct Message and Ministry
II. Doctrinal (3-4) – Grace and the Law do not Mix (Rom. 11:6)
III. Practical (5-6) – The Grace Life 

The first two chapters clearly establish that Christ gave Paul a message and ministry that was distinct from the 12 apostles. 

Paul shows the precedent of God imputing righteousness by faith with the case of Abraham. We are children of Abraham in the sense that we are also counted righteous by faith (3:6-4:7). 

Many that preach salvation by grace teach sanctification by works. Putting believers under the law does not stop sin, it actually increases it (Rom. 6:14; 1 Cor. 15:56)! The grace life is lived on a higher plan than the law system (5:13-26). We are not under the law of Moses, but the law of Christ and of sowing and reaping still apply today (6:1-10). 

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