Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Brief Study in Ephesians

Note: Thanks again to all who have been praying for me of late. The situation,
I am sorry to say, has not been really resolved, but has been “put on hold” for the time being. Between that, and my very intense work schedule this week, I haven’t had time yet to complete part two of my post on defining true, biblical Christianity. By God’s grace, I will get to that over the weekend.

In the meantime, I feel badly about having nothing posted here for several days. Below is part of a brief study I put together on Ephesians 3:14-4:11-16. I recently presented it at a chapel service. I hope it is a blessing to you and encourages your own study of a wonderful portion of Scripture.

The passage I am looking at begins with a prayer by the Apostle Paul, preceded by his wish that the Ephesian believers would not lose heart when they heard about his tribulations. If we pay much attention to what is going on around us, it’s easy to get into a “losing heart” frame of mind. As yet, we have not experienced real, sustained persecution here, but that day might be coming. How do believers going through persecution or tough times sustain themselves? Of course, the Lord is the sustainer, but His Word gives us some clues. We are in a spiritual battle, and it’s easy to think of the term “spiritual” or “spiritual battle” as some sort of nebulous hocus pocus, but the key is the mind, and the battle for the mind and heart. I don’t mean to say there isn’t a demonic element at times, but the main zone of conflict is in the arena of thoughts and ideas – and the consequences of such thoughts and ideas. Let’s home in on that for a moment with examples from Ephesians and some other references:

1. Strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. (Eso, the soul, the conscience). Romans 7:22 and 2 Corinthians 4:16 also use the term “inner man.” The Corinthians reference talks about the inner man being “renewed day by day.” Later in Ephesians 4, we see Paul talk about being “renewed in the spirit of our minds.” In Colossians 3:10, Paul talks about the “new self” that is being renewed “to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created us.” Are you seeing the continuity there? “Inner man, renewal, true knowledge?” Knowing the truth makes us free. Knowing, believing, trusting, and having confidence in the Lord, who directs our steps, provides tremendous encouragement. He strengthens us by the power of His Spirit as we lean on Him and His Word.

2. Able to comprehend with all the saints . . .to know the love of Christ. The love of Christ surpasses knowledge. Not that it can’t be known, but so great that it can’t be known completely. Paul wouldn’t have used the term “comprehend” if it was impossible. All knowledge we have of the Lord and the mysteries of the Gospel are and must be by divine revelation, through His Word by the power of the Spirit that works in us. Some other examples of God “making known:”

Ro 16:26* . . . but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith . . .

Eph 1:9* He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

Eph 3:3* that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.

Eph 3:5* which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

Eph 3:10* so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

Romans 1 shows God revealing Himself and making Himself known, so much so that the human race is without excuse.

3. Filled up to all the fullness of God. Look at Ephesians 1:23 . . . talking of the church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” The concept of Christ’s fullness is found quite a bit in Ephesians. The Greek word used there means “that which is filled up.” Conceptually, think about a ship in the sense of being fully manned. Or as Strongs puts it, we — as the body of believers — as that which is “filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.”

Colossians 2:9 says in Christ, the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. In Chapter 1, we read that God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

As we finish Chapter 3 of Ephesians, we see that this — the prayer of the Apostle Paul — has been leading to something. Take away the chapter and verse divisions and the thought of Paul flows right into Chapter 4. I will continue this another time, hopefully after I finally finish in the Christian definitions arena.


DAVID said...

I am a survivor of Christian Bros Orphanages. In retrospect it seems like a dream. God was certainly with me, even though I felt abandoned by Him for many years. He must really love me to give me the courage to face my demons.

I didn't really know anything different & it wasn't until I left that it really hit me. I lived a lie for many years - so much guilt & shame. Alcohol was a constant companion. I don't drink today & my life is totally committed to serving God.

Yours In Christ

Cindy Swanson said...

Hey Joel...just wanted to let you know I mentioned you in my blog today!