Friday, December 30, 2016

Ephesians 4:1-6

In the first three chapters we were edified by the knowledge of our spiritual wealth in Christ. In the last three chapters we are exhorted to have a spiritual walk through Christ (4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). In these chapters Paul exhorts us concerning the good works that God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph. 2:8-10). Many try to separate doctrinal teaching from practical preaching, but they go together and both are necessary. The strength of application is a solid doctrinal foundation. Sound doctrine has a life changing effect when it is believed and obeyed (Rom. 6:17). 

[1] I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

The law commanded, but grace beseeches. To “beseech” basically means “to plead with.” Paul used that word about twenty-three times in his epistles, which is fitting since he is the apostle of grace. 

The word “vocation” refers to our calling. We must know the “hope of our calling” (Eph. 1:15-19). We have a “high” (Phil. 3:14) and “holy” (2 Tim. 1:9) calling. The goal of spiritual growth is getting our state lined up with our standing. In order to do that we must first know what our standing is, which is why Paul dealt with that first in this epistle. How can we walk worthy of a vocation that we are ignorant of? To walk worthy of our vocation is to live in a way that is becoming to the sound doctrine we profess to believe (Titus 2:1, 10; Phil. 1:27).  

[2] With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 
[3] Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

This is how the members of the Body of Christ are to treat one another (see also Phil. 2:1-5; Col. 3:9-15). Believing Jews and Gentiles now have a common bond in Christ (Eph. 2:11-18). A true spiritual knowledge of all God has done for us by grace in Christ Jesus should humble us. Our high calling demands a lowly walk! A superficial knowledge will just puff us up (2 Cor. 12:7). Knowledge without charity is nothing (1 Cor. 13:2). We cannot make the unity of the Spirit (positional standing), but we must endeavor to keep it in our practical state.  

[4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 
[5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 
[6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This passage is often misused to teach that all professing Christians should be ecumenical and come together in unity despite doctrinal differences. God is not asking us to form some kind of unity, but rather to recognize the unity that He Himself has made in Christ. This is the unity of the Spirit and not the uniformity of the flesh (the Roman Catholic Church is a unified religion of the flesh). 

There are seven spiritual things listed here that form the basis of the unity of the Spirit. The number seven is God’s number of perfection. Ephesians is the pinnacle of revelation for the Body of Christ, like the book of Revelation is for Israel. The number seven is used repeatedly in both books. 

The first chapter revealed seven spiritual blessings and the last chapter speaks of seven pieces of spiritual armor. In between we find the sevenfold unity of the Spirit. 

1) One body – There are many local churches (Rom. 16:4), but there is only ONE Body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:13; Eph. 2:16; Col. 3:15). There are many Christian organizations, but there is only one spiritual organism that is being built by God in this age. 
2) One Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 2:18; 1 Cor. 6:17) – The Holy Spirit baptizes, regenerates, indwells, and seals every member of the Body. 
3) One hope of OUR calling (Titus 2:13; Phil. 3:20) – Christ catching us up to heaven before the tribulation period begins is the heavenly hope of the Body of Christ. Paul instructs us to look for Christ from heaven, not the antichrist from earth.  
4) One Lord – Christ is the Head of the one Body (Eph. 1:20-23 Col. 1:18). 
5) One faith – “The faith” (e.g. 2 Tim. 4:7) is the body of doctrine revealed in Paul’s epistles for the Body of Christ. This “one faith” reveals the “faith of Christ” by which we are justified. Our faith is to based upon this “one faith.” 
6) One baptism – There are various baptisms in the Bible (see Matt. 3:11 for three baptisms in one verse), but there is only one that makes us members of the one Body (Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12). The baptism by the Spirit that takes place upon salvation and puts us into the Body of Christ is the only baptism that matters today. How sad it is that the professing church is greatly divided over a water ceremony that God never even commanded the Body of Christ to practice! The apostle Paul never commanded water baptism like Peter did (1 Cor. 1:17). 
7) One God and Father – He is above, through, and in all believers. God is not the Father of the lost (Gal. 3:26). The Father, Son, and Spirit are all in the believer. 

Notice that the three members of the Godhead are mentioned in vs.4-6, and that Christ is central. The trinity is found in every chapter of this book (1:3-14; 2:18; 3:14-17; 4:4-6; 5:18-21; 6:18), which is fitting since Ephesians is the pinnacle of divine revelation. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ephesians 3:14-21

In the latter part of this chapter we find Paul’s second prayer which concludes the doctrinal section of the epistle. Paul’s prayers for the Body of Christ recorded in his prison epistles are all about spiritual things. He does not pray that we would receive things we don’t have, but rather that we would understand and enjoy all that we do have in Christ. 

[14] For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
[15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 

Bowing the knees in prayer is a symbol of humility (Acts 20:36). It is not necessary to always bow the knees when praying (Neh. 2:4). The most important thing is to bow the heart in true humility before God. Scriptural prayer is to the Father, in the name of the Son (Eph. 5:20), and in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). All believers are in the same spiritual family of God (Gal. 3:26). Christ called the Father "Abba" when He prayed (Mk. 14:36). The Spirit of Christ in us gives us that same intimate access to the Father (Gal. 4:6). 

[16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

How does God strengthen us with might by His Spirit in the inner man (2 Cor. 4:16-18)? By the word of God (Col. 3:16). Yet, Christians spend much more time praying about the outward man which is perishing. 

[17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Christ is in every believer (Col. 1:27), but does He dwell in our hearts in the sense of making Himself at home there?

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

Most take this to be referring to the love of Christ, but v.19 seems to differentiate the love of Christ from what he is talking about here. I think he is referring to the mystery (vs.8-9). The mystery is not something that can’t be known, but rather a secret that was hid in God and has now been revealed. God wants us to see it and comprehend the dimensions of it:
Breadth – ALL men
Length – eternal purpose  
Depth – based on the deep love and grace of Christ 
Height – heavenly places 

[19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

How can we know something that passes knowledge? It passes human knowledge, but we may know it by the Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 2:9-13). Christ is the fulness of God (Col. 1:19; 2:9). We are to seek to live a FULL Christian life (Eph. 5:18; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11). If you are filled with the things of the flesh and the world you will not desire to be filled with things of God (Prov. 27:7).

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

These last two verses of the chapter divide the book in half. The first half is about our standing or position in heavenly places and the last half is about our state or practice on the earth. In first three chapters believers are edified as to our spiritual wealth as members of the body of Christ. In the last three chapters we are exhorted as to what our spiritual walk should be in light of that standing (Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). As we read the first three chapters we wonder how it is that God could give sinners like us such great blessings. Then as we read the last three chapters we wonder how it is that we can live up to the standard of life that He has set for us. The answer is in vs.20-21. 

This “present evil world” must end. The “world to come” is without end. In the “world to come” (Heb. 2:5; 6:5) Israel will reign on earth and we will reign in heavenly places (Eph. 1:21; 2:6-7). 

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