Reading this passage reminds me of what Allan mentioned when we first started this whole thing. And admittedly, I think I needed a good shaking. This blog and process of reading and combing through scripture isn’t a means of proving to be an adequate Christian, or to make Allan happy, or to stay on par with our peers. Its the surpassing worth of Christ that we do these things. Everything else is counted as loss because knowing Christ is infinitely more rewarding..
Chapter 3 was really encouraging in my walk this past year so it is refreshing to be reminded. I am not perfect yet – but I have a reason to press on towards the prize of the upward call because Christ has made me his own. I love how Paul finishes this thought at the end of the chapter… knowing that our citizenship is in heaven – and that is where we will be made perfect. A friend use to put it this way. Thinking about it like a passport, your citizenship more often then not represents where you permanently reside or rightfully belong. Everywhere else you travel, you’re just a visitor. In the case of the Christian faith our time in earth is like a mist that only appears for a little while – on earth we’re sojourners. And for the short time we are here, we are to press on – forgetting what lies behind and straining forward. That is what we are to look forward to.
Philippians is another epistle that is incredibly encouraging, though If i were to pick one thing to really sit on for this post it would be what Paul writes about Christ in 2:6.
Our finite minds cannot grasp how Jesus could of possibly been 100% God and 100% Man.. but he was, and only by that accord could he save us. He came down from his glorious throne only to humble himself as a servant. Not one that would be treated with the highest esteem, but one that would suffer in place of us. I was reading Isaiah this morning and stumbled upon ch 53 which gives an account of exactly what his servanthood entailed. Wounds for our transgressions, crushed for our inequities.. the chastisement that brought us peace. That is more than any world servant could do in service.
Theres a huge sense of obedience and humility that is displayed through the crucifixion of Christ that gives us reason to do all the same in our lives today. Obedience in gratitude – and humility in knowing that we are undeserving, yet sons and daughters of the matchless king. In a way I often wonder why it comes so hard for me. We place ourselves on a slight pedestal, thinking we are entitled to things that God graciously provides though when we really look in the grand scheme of things.. EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Christ is King.
Yeah, i’m awfully behind. No excuse, i’ll continue on where i’ve left off .. pretty much have read but not written.
The latter portion of Ephesians puts the first three chapters into application. Paul says, I THEREFORE, (thus, contingent on what he previously stated) urge you…Its almost as if he were be pleading. Its because of what paul emphasized in the former portion of the epistles should we do anything that follows. Why is there unity? Because of the Gospel given to us. Why do we put off our old self? Because of the Gospel. Why do we imitate God? Because we can, after seeing how Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
Hearing a testimony of my fellow sister in Christ was sobering. I was reminded of one thing that really struck me. She mentioned how in one sense, hearing the Gospel and putting all faith in it is terrifying. If it were all to be true ( as we know it is,) it demands a change in us that will shake everything we’ve ever known. It requires a repentance that is whole and a life of self denial. And here we see it in a laying off and putting on of qualities. This is how we learned Christ. It’s unnatural to us – it is learnt. We need to imitate because nothing of ourselves emulates this righteousness from within our own power.
There is so much to even mention in the wives and husband section that I don’t even know where to begin. I think i’m always faced with the beauty of how marriages are. God didn’t create man, women and marriage and think to himself, hey that kinda looks like how I love the Church! Marriage from the get go was suppose to illustrated the love between Christ and His chosen. What great implications that bears for husbands and wives.
I’ve decided to split Ephesians in half, just because of how the epistle is structured (and I am meaning to catch up… slowly but surely).
After reading this through last night I thought I would have a better idea of how i’d go about writing this out but I don’t… so we’ll see how it goes. The first half of the epistle is so gospel saturated, with the mention of other doctrines which make the bigger picture so amazing. Paul begins by letting Ephesus know that they (and we) were chosen in love to be set aside, before this world was even made. To even wrap my finite mind around that idea would be in vain. He loved me before I even existed, in full knowledge of the hostility and hate I would have towards him – and in the most dear kindness and deepest grace he chose me to bring him glory. Pretty stunning… knowing that there is nothing worth loving in me. With this salvation we were given, as he promised, the Holy Spirit that would sustain us. Pauls discourse in section 15 onwards alludes to the fact that the same power that worked in Christ when he was resurrected, is reflected in us (v19). If I read that wrong, let me know, but if not it is a great deal of encouragement when in every way, we feel like we cannot continue fighting.
Chapter 2 poses that incredible section of scripture that is the Gospel. V3-5 stand out to me as the strongest ones that hit home. We were DEAD – and be nature, children of wrath. There was nothing lovely about us. When something is dead, it is in the process of decay, and far from being able to even reach out and grasp the gospel even if it was handed on a silver platter. Paul later warns us of the belief that we could of gained salvation ourself – but it being made alive was a gift.
After expressing how the gentiles and jews are alike( anyone can be saved by the blood of Christ), paul begins to close the first half of the epistle. I really like the benediction he kinda gives here. He is able to do more than we can even begin to ask or even THINK. But how is He able to do these things? BY the power at work in US! Not to say that WE can do these things but the same power that can, sustains us. And now I wonder why our prayers are so lacking faith. We ask timidly for things that we hope will happen and pray that he hears. But 3:12 speaks so differently. In Christ we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in him. No wonder why paul pushes so strongly to close with a statement like that.
In light of what I wrote for the past 2 posts. This is great.
That henceforth we should not serve sin.
Christian, what hast thou to do with sin? Hath it not cost thee enough already? Burnt child, wilt thou play with the fire? What! when thou hast already been between the jaws of the lion, wilt thou step a second time into his den? Hast thou not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all thy veins once, and wilt thou play upon the hole of the asp, and put thy hand upon the cockatrice’s den a second time? Oh, be not so mad! so foolish! Did sin ever yield thee real pleasure? Didst thou find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to thine old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delight thee. But inasmuch as sin did never give thee what it promised to bestow, but deluded thee with lies, be not a second time snared by the old fowler-be free, and let the remembrance of thy ancient bondage forbid thee to enter the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which all have an eye to thy purity and holiness; therefore run not counter to the purposes of thy Lord. Another thought should restrain thee from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin. There is yet a higher argument: each time you “serve sin” you have “Crucified the Lord afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” Can you bear that thought? Oh! if you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be my Master has sent this admonition this evening, to bring you back before you have backslidden very far. Turn thee to Jesus anew; He has not forgotten His love to thee; His grace is still the same. With weeping and repentance, come thou to His footstool, and thou shalt be once more received into His heart; thou shalt be set upon a rock again, and thy goings shall be established.
The latter part of this letter includes a lot of points of application. I think in light of the last two chapters I wrote about – chapters 5 + 6 would too have been good to read in the conversation that brother and I were having.
Picking up from the same language Ch 4 ended with, the FREEDOM of Christ has set us free and we are aren’t to submit to the yoke of slavery. Instead, we’re to serve one another in love. This is kind of a random note, but I think one thing that was on my mind while I was spending time with my parents on vacation was how can I, as their daughter, serve them. And it was heightened once I got my wisdom teeth out. In my freedom, what more can I do?
The chapter continues with more encouragement to fight flesh. Though our flesh has been crucified with Christ, there will always be a constant tug-of-war between the two. The Spirit and Flesh war against each other.. to keep us from doing the things we want to do. Though justified, this is something that we’re going to keep fighting til death, and though it may be exhausting, it will worth it. Often it’s encouraging to hear stories how the fruit in someones life constantly eclipses the things Paul listed right before as things that of the Flesh. My prayer is that our lives will continue be ones that bear fruit – some pruning may be necessary! Reread john 15 if need be. Heck, read it just because its good 🙂
In light of a conversation a brother and I had yesterday, Gal 4: 8 – 9 really resonated with me. While Paul took most of chapter 3 to debunk the misunderstandings of the Law and the Faith in its roles in salvation, it all ended in the idea that we are all one. We have “put on Christ” with an emphasis on unity amongst what use to be so diverse. We are now heirs of Christ that came all the way back form the promise of Abraham. Isn’t it insane how this is all woven throughout history? From the beginning, though the Law, only to have Christ fulfill the law, and now to present day it all still stands true.
God , in his perfect timing, sent Christ so that we can be adopted as sons. And because we are sons, we are heirs! All this wonderful news is abruptly contrasted by a warning, one that should immediately pop up in our heads every time sin looks appealing.
However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
If we have indeed tasted the sweetness that is Christ, then it would be a shame to desire anything less. This all kinda echoes the same warning Paul exhorted in Rom 6 about being a slave to sin. Why retreat back to a false god, knowing the very perfect one before you is for you? The world presents heaps and mounds of worthless and weak elemental things – but we are not go back to that under any circumstance.