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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : A humble study of Ephesians - request corrections & comments from saints

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vivmeeraj
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Joined: 2012/5/26
Posts: 61


 A humble study of Ephesians - request corrections & comments from saints

The position and response In Christ
Part 1

Eph 4:4 -7 {There is} one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

I am sure we all agree that there is only one body, spirit, lord, faith, baptism, God and Father. Despite that great truth, we all have our own perspectives and understandings on each of these! This makes it clear that all of us are not right when our understandings are different at least in some areas (truth is absolute). When we have differences, the natural tendency is to think and argue for our own stand. It is true that I would like to believe that my version is the absolute truth like every other believer. But let me honestly add that as I grow, I realize that my understanding is limited and I need to hear and learn from every believer around me. At least i have to rwmain teachable.

We have our freedom to agree or disagree and as the word says, it might bring out the real truth.

1 Cor 11:19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

So let us agree to disagree. Furthermore, let us also agree to stop defending our own views as it might result in missing the real truth. I agree I have my views which I believe is 100% true and I know the same is the case of most of you too. So how do we go about it and come to a consensus and real understanding of doctrine. Let us look into the scripture itself.

Now the point of discussion here is the blessed assurance through Jesus Christ for a believer (vs) the expectations from a true Christian in this earthly life. There are groups which believe and preach only the first part and there are groups which have a primary focus on the second aspect. I agree that I had a tilt towards the latter part and it has resulted in a lot of pruning in me on a positive note. But I understand, if I don’t come to the right balance by also having a revelation of the blessed assurances from God, I will lack terribly and will be like a malnourished child. This has been changing the way I used to look at people, ministries and denominations.

One’s holy life is NOT the way to Salvation as it is a free gift of God. We cannot earn it. No born again Christian would have a doubt about this. Let us understand this from the epistle of Ephesians, considered most important when you look at the doctrines.

First of all, we need to look at how Paul got a revelation of this depth. Paul had made it very clear in Galatians.

Gal 1:10 -12 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but {I received it} through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

He did not learn it from men, but from a revelation of Jesus Christ. Similarly, we cannot understand the depths and Spirit of Christ by our human intelligence. We need a revelation of Christ instead. One thing that can stop us from that is our prejudice. We all have our share of it and the same is limiting our spiritual progress. The moment Paul got the revelation, he actually unlearned all he had learned till then. This is clear from the passage after the one I quoted above and also from his first encounter with the Lord at the gate of Damascus.

Are we (the reader and myself) ready to forget all our understanding and prejudices for a moment and just seek a revelation. I am sure, we don’t want to stop ourselves from knowing the complete truth. Half truth is not truth. It would be like saying a combination of violet, indigo, blue and green makes white. The truth is complete when you add yellow, orange and red to it. So let us get the complete picture.

When we talk about revelation, let us also be extremely careful about deception. In the same passage (Gal 1:6 - 9), Paul warns of most dangerous deception as it cannot be identified easily. He has mentioned this in 2 Corinthians too.

2 Cor 11:3, 4 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity {of devotion} to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear {this} beautifully.

Another thing we need to have consensus is that the entire scripture is inspired by God. We cannot pick verses and make out of context and out of proportion assumptions and theories.

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

So let us start looking into this treasure called the epistle of Ephesians and seek a true revelation, allowing God to speak to us.

This is going to be a long one. So I would like to break into smaller parts for the ease of readers. I urge every reader to read, meditate the word, pray and also comment as the spirit leads.


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Rajesh

 2014/6/13 12:39Profile
vivmeeraj
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Joined: 2012/5/26
Posts: 61


 Re: A humble study of Ephesians - request corrections & comments from saints

The position and response of one IN Christ - 2

When we look into the epistle of Ephesians, we see a very clear division into two parts. Ephesians 1 to 3 is about our position IN Christ. Chapters 4 to 6 is about the response of one who is IN Christ. So we need to study very carefully the complete epistle so that we do not miss out the complete message.

Chapter 1 is starts with the heavenly blessings that a believer is blessed with. Blessed with every SPIRITUAL blessings. Specifically mentioned in Heavenly places.

Eph 1:3 Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly {places} in Christ,

Chosen us IN HIM before the foundation of the world

Predestined as sons due to His foreknowledge.

Eph 1:4-6 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Redeemed IN HIM by His grace

Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace Eph 1:8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight

Mystery of His will

Everything will be made together in Christ in the fullness of time.

Eph 1:9, 10 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, {that is,} the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

Inheritance

According to His foreknowledge and His will.

Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

Sealed in Him

With the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the inheritance

Eph 1:13, 14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of {God's own} possession, to the praise of His glory.

Let us list out the blessings mentioned above.

Chosen in Him
Predestined as sons according to the foreknowledge of God.
Redeemed in Him by grace
Made inheritors of heaven along with His people.
Sealed by the Holy Spirit

Now let us understand that these heavenly blessings came as a package to us along with salvation when we did not deserve it by any standards. Salvation is a free gift of God. I don’t think that a truly born again person would have any doubt about it.

To make it even clearer that it is not due to works that we got saved, He chose us before the foundation of the earth. Charles Spurgeon once said on a lighter note, “I am glad He did it then, if He sees me now, He might have changed His mind”

Eph 1:4 -6 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

If God predestined you and me and left out many others, was it a just act? It is very important that God did this through His foreknowledge. He knew you and me before the foundation of the world, He knew in His foreknowledge when and how we would repent and turn to Jesus, He knew who would be deceived and back slide. He knew who all would live with a false sense of being saved and were not in the chosen lot. This is tough to understand. But it is the fact.

1 Pet 1:1,2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

This could be confusing and many interpret according to their whims and fancies so as to pull a deceived crowd to themselves. As it is a free gift, we could think God should have given it to everyone. Yes it is offered to everyone but received only by those who believe.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

So we understand that the heavenly blessings mentioned in Ephesians chapter 1 were given by grace and not by any works. Secondly the predestination is not a partial choice of God, but it is due to the foreknowledge of God. Let us look at them once again before we close this portion and be assured in Christ. What a privilege to be a child of God! Let us not doubt it even for a moment and let us not take it for granted. Let us judge ourselves.

To be continued...


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Rajesh

 2014/6/13 12:44Profile
vivmeeraj
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Joined: 2012/5/26
Posts: 61


 Re:

The position and response of one IN Christ- 3

Pauls prayer for the church

Background of Paul’s prayer is immediately after stating all the heavenly blessings which we saw in part 2 of this study. He says, it is already done and it is important for a believer to know it. So he prays incessantly.

Eph 1:15, 16 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which {exists} among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention {of you} in my prayers;

For a spirit of wisdom
Revelation in the knowledge of Him
For a true enlightenment, to know the hope of His calling and the riches of the inheritance.
His power that manifests for the believer

Eph 1:17-19 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. {I pray that} the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. {These are} in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

Our knowledge and talents and understanding can sometimes be a blessing and at other times be used by demons. We can know that by the spirit with which we use them. Unless our spirit is right, we will not have heavenly wisdom. Unless we have heavenly wisdom, all our understanding and revelation of Him will be wrong. So let us check the spirit behind our wisdom before we move forward. James has clearly described the nature of wisdom.

James 3:10-17 from the same mouth come {both} blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening {both} fresh and bitter {water?} Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor {can} salt water produce fresh. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and {so} lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

True wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy. I hope it doesn’t need more explanation. And the opposite of this is bitter, jealous, selfishly motivated, arrogant and also against the truth. The word of God says, it is demonic. Recently, while I was going through some comments on a hot Christian topic, I could see majority of the people slinging mud over each other defending their stands with a sarcastic, arrogant, inconsiderate, disrespectful spirit. I also found a few responding with gentleness and a spirit of God. We can easily identify the spirit behind when we disagree on a certain point or someone criticizes one. Let us be more cautious with our words. Oh, we cannot do that, it is from the heart that the words come out.

Matt 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

No matter what the situation is or what the point is, If we speak with an evil spirit, that is what is filled in our hearts. One may be holding a religious position, but if the speech is evil, the spirit behind it is evil. I guess these are strong indicators to help ourselves. And the solution is at His feet in total surrender and repentance.

Coming back to the main topic, Paul prays we realize that the power that manifested in Christ is offered towards us also who believe. The power that was manifested in Christ resulted in the following.

Eph 1:20-23 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly {places,} far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Raised from dead
Seated with Him at heavenly places
Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name
All things in subjection under feet And makes Him the head of the church, His body.

We need to receive this power by believing in it. Is it just for the sake of power or does it do something in us?

It transforms a person from sins, worldliness, disobedience, lusts etc to a victorious life.

It raises us from a spiritually dead situation and seats us with Him at heavenly places. (Eph. 2:1).

There is a mystery here. We might know that in our mind but let us see if we have become that, His body, the true church. If we have, we receive commands from Him and Him alone. I am not talking of a perfect state of believer. But being part of His body, we cannot go astray.

We will look at it in the next part. God bless you.


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Rajesh

 2014/6/13 12:49Profile
vivmeeraj
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Joined: 2012/5/26
Posts: 61


 Re:

Position and response of one IN CHRIST part 4

Now, let us understand how salvation changed our lives. We are not going to discuss our perspectives, but look into the word of God so that we do not stay defending our personal choices and views. When we look at the change that has happened due to salvation, we see that we had a past, we are going through a present and we have a future. Our future is hope in the coming of Christ to take us for our heavenly abode. Let us look at the past and present state.

The past

Dead in trespasses and sins
Walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of air as sons of disobedience. (note that this spirit is still working in the sons of disobedience)
Lusts of flesh, indulging in them
By nature children of wrath like others

Eph 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
For a nominal Christian, it is easy to write this off as the state of those who have not come to faith (formally). But we should understand this letter is written to the church of Ephesus and also meant to be distributed to all the churches consisting of believers. So Paul is not addressing unbelievers here. Let not one deceive you taking you off course from your heavenly blessings by deceitful interpretations.

A saved person is born again as a new creation in Christ Jesus. Please note the three aspects in one incident. Saved, Born Again, New Creation. When salvation happens, there will be an absolute U turn from old ways and the carnal nature. One might not have become perfect (most likely nowhere close) but the direction would change to the exact opposite of the previous one, resulting in remarkable changes in character and conduct. If this direction has not changed, we need to ask God if we are truly saved. We are not doubting the power and purpose of salvation, but if it was a real experience or just an emotional/soulish experience. If direction has changed and one starts a spiritual journey, the transformation process also continues. That is why, the moment one stops seeking Him with that passion, one starts sliding back to old nature.

Coming back to the above passage, we read that before salvation, we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of air as sons of disobedience. A spirit of pride, rebellion, sarcasm, arrogance, filth, disrespect, lack of love and respect etc are clear signs of a carnal old man. If this is one’s basic nature, he/she is still the old self. A born again child of God will have a spirit of love and humility in everything. Even when we disagree or strongly oppose on a topic or issue, a child of God will be dominated by this spirit of love and humility. Again, do not get confused, I am not trying to connect salvation with this character as the deceivers might portray to take one away from the real message. But a natural refinement of character is a clear indication and confirmation of salvation. It is not purposely done by the person. The Holy Spirit transforms one working within and it will soon be reflected in outward manifestations also. Let me remind you over and over, we are not talking of a believer in perfect state. But we are talking of the spirit within which works from inside out. Godly people also make mistakes and sometimes commit sin also!
We have to elaborate this point a little. Is it possible for a saved person to commit sin? Yes according to the scriptures and we know that is very true from our life (which is not at all perfect). What does the scripture say in this regard?

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

So we know we do sin. What makes a child of God different from sons of disobedience is that they confess, receive forgiveness and cleansing from God and move on. One becomes as holy as one was before the sin. So is that an easy way and an excuse for sinning? Can we sin as we like, confess and go on like that? No. A child of God does not willfully sin. In other words, he/she will not continue in sin once God speaks and cleanses.

1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

1 John 5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

That is the balance we can find in the word of God. It says, we are not perfect in ourselves. We might sin. And then it adds, no one who is born of God practices (or continues wilfully) in sin. So there is clearly a determination and seriousness that is required from our part in leading a victorious Christian life.

Again Paul assures us of our present position in Christ. God for His mercy, saved us from sins and made us alive with Christ. Let us not take it for granted. We will come to the passage which balances this assurance. Let me reiterate, it is 100% God’s work that can save us. But we are called to glorify Him with a responsible life.

Present position in Christ.

God for His mercy, saved from sins and made us alive with Christ
Raised up with Him
Seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Eph 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly {places} in Christ Jesus,

What a promise! He saved a fallen, carnal man and made him not only an inheritor but also seated in heavenly places. For the sake of understanding it to some extent, let us imagine ourselves in the worldly realm. Let’s take a name, say Thomas for the purpose of illustration. Imagine Thomas is a pauper owing a huge amount to the bank and struggling to make both ends meet. One day he gets a message from the King’s palace office that he has been adopted by the king. The message doesn’t change his position. It is an offer. He has to believe and then accept it if he wants to. But the moment Thomas accepts the offer (in faith) the whole position changes. He starts living with the king! The bank to which he owed money is now under him! The entire country and all authorities are under him! All the protection and all the forces of the country works for him as they work for the king. Did he deserve any of these? No. Another aspect that changed was the life he lived after this adoption. He stopped wandering around purposelessly, groomed himself properly according to the standards of the palace (think of it spiritually) and his entire way of speech, thought and deeds changed. The king did not adopt him seeing this change. But he knew that would happen in his foreknowledge. And of course, He is pleased when he sees the change!

I guess Paul would have sensed the danger of people thinking this high position was offered due to some goodness or good works and quickly reiterates that salvation is the gift of God. He also adds that one is created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Salvation is the gift of God
Saved by grace
Not by works
Created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

So we need to understand very clearly that salvation is a gift of God and by no chance we had any merit to earn it. It is also very important to understand that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. So, good works is a result of salvation and not vice versa. Now let us look at the state we were all in before salvation.

Former state

Gentiles Separate from Christ
Excluded from the heavenly inheritance Strangers to the covenant of promise
Had no God and no hope

Eph 2:11,12 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," {which is} performed in the flesh by human hands {remember} that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

From such a state where we had no God or hope of salvation and eternity, God who had chosen us before the foundation of the world came down in flesh and saved us through His sacrifice of the cross. Saved from a state of hopelessness to an inheritance of heavenly blessings.

Now

In Him by the blood of Christ
He became our peace breaking the walls of enmity and divisions.
Abolished the Law making both sides one in Him
Reconciled both in one body to God THROUGH THE CROSS

Eph 2:13-16 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both {groups into} one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Let us be aware that when we say we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we ought to accept the message of the cross. We have no resurrection prior to the crucifixion. That is why Paul always stressed on the message of the cross.

1 Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing and power to those who are saved! We have risen with Him (as mentioned in Ephesians) ONLY if we have died with Him.

Rom 6:6-8 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with {Him,} in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

It is clear that ‘’if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.

Please do not cut it off by saying it is not our choice. Submission is our choice. Choosing the cross is our choice. It is with this response in faith by grace that we gave up desires of the flesh and world to walk with Him in the newness of life. It is true that God knew us in His foreknowledge and chose us before the foundation of this world. Salvation is a non negotiable act of God. But our understanding and assurance of salvation in our personal life can be confirmed only with the fruit of salvation and grace. If our spirit has not changed post salvation, we have to really look into ourselves and ask God.

If not, we should be saying a person who has confessed the salvation prayer by mouth and took baptism can live his life the way he wants. Even when he goes away from God ignoring the mercy and grace of God over and over, and never comes back, he is still seated in heavenly places with Him? I am not saying that one looses salvation. My understanding about predestination can be wrong or incomplete. I request elders to correct me in this and in everything I have commented on. I think one cannot lose salvation as it is a non negotiable act of God. And God doesn’t make a mistake as He has foreknowledge. That is why He has chosen some before the foundation of the world. God knew who would sustain in faith. I hope it makes sense. So it is possible that we have wrong ideas of our personal salvation experience. Let us not judge others but ourselves. May God guide and confirm us.

To be continued


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Rajesh

 2014/6/13 12:51Profile
vivmeeraj
Member



Joined: 2012/5/26
Posts: 61


 Re:

Position & response of one IN CHRIST- part 5

Access is only through Him

Gospel is to be received by everyone, those who were under the law as well as the gentiles.
There is only one Spirit through whom one can access the Father.
We are made fellow citizens and God’s household

Eph 2:17, 19 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,

As we have access to the father only through His Son, (abiding in Him) and in one Spirit, it is important that we reconcile and have peace with everyone. We need to take serious care that we do not cause any division in the body. We may think that it is not I who made the division but the other faction. But if we have any sort of enmity with the ones who made the division, we are also equally at fault. We can disagree on doctrinal issues and stand firm for truth but we can never have any sort of negative sentiments against the other. Instead we should love them as we love ourselves. Only prayers with unity of the spirit and oneness would please our Father in heaven. So let us be most careful in matters that could lead to conflicting interests, divisions etc.

After about 15 years of experience in faith life, I am convinced that a true Christian is a very dependent person, dependent on God and dependent on God’s children (fellowship). Paul had this revelation and repeatedly compared church with the well coordinated functions of a body. Every body organ has a unique function and the entire body benefits by them. No organ in the body can take over the function of another as no member of the body of Christ has the capacity to stay independent either from God or from fellow brethren. If we think we have, we will soon find we were wrong. A Christian or group which functions separately apart from the body is a cult.

The above slowly lead me to looking broader and less negativism and criticism. Recently I got a strong conviction on Christian groups which are focused on Grace and works of grace on one side and Holiness and Victorious Christian life on the other. I had my own affinity towards one at the cost of a proper balance. Most of the Christians and 99% of the leaders WILL NOT admit that they are not balanced. Most spend their entire life defending their faith & doctrines and not by living as a Christian.

The conviction came from one fact. Among the churches and groups I know closely, those which are tilted towards grace and works definitely SEE more miracles and signs in their midst. I realize God answers their prayers of faith. But a problem I have seen in many of them is that they take this for granted and is often not very careful in their personal lives. Many of them are arrogant and over confident. What they need is coming to the balance by taking sound doctrines one can find throughout the New Testament, on victorious Christian living, on humility, love and holiness in general.

Those groups which are more holiness/truth oriented have grown considerably in victorious Christian life and great character can be seen in their members. God gives them grace upon grace in what they pray. But as most of them pray probably without the authority of children of God (children should have submission and authority) but only with submission (servants have no authority) to the will of God, we do not see instantaneous results often. They are always heavenly minded (great indeed), deliverance and signs in earthly matters are very seldom (not sought either) as it is not often a matter of their prayers.

Of course it is a higher level. But I guess God who has created us in this world is also having a heart broad enough to let us live in this world comfortably, but WITHIN the provisions of the word of God. I am sure, He is waiting for us to ask in faith for our NEEDS, not luxuries. Some of our needs are deliverance from sickness, financial debts, rebellion in family members etc. It is not a sin to pray for our daily needs which include prosperity (well being) in our business. When I mentioned prosperity, let me make it clear, I am not talking of what Christians call prosperity gospel. What I mean is the business or career doing well. As long as a Christian is mature to manage his business or career, he can run it and it can be a blessing to many others. The moment this business or Career affects the quality of the Christian, he should take appropriate measures. I think a man of God has to pray in faith, with the authority bestowed upon one by God and incessantly pray for the issue till it is granted. In place of this a light prayer is not what our heavenly father expects.

I am now convinced that both (grace & life) are equally important and two vital parts of the nature God wants us to have. Suppose both of these manifest equally in a Christian, imagine what a glorifying and powerful life would come out. God’s power has no limitations. Whatever we ask Him in faith, He gives. A Christian should know what is to be asked and what not. This comes from sound understanding of scriptures. Let us have the right balance in the two equally important aspects of faith life. We would then have some Christians walking this earth the way our apostles did, full of grace & truth. I am humbled by this revelation. How little I have actually received from the rich inheritance that I have above!

The Church

Foundation of apostles and prophets Christ Jesus is the corner stone. Meaning everything has to be built according to Christ, His teachings and His spirit.
In Him, the whole building (the church) is fitted together.
His church is a holy temple.

Eph 2:20-22 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner {stone,} in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Having Jesus Christ as the corner stone means to build everything based on Jesus Christ. That is what a corner stone is meant for. So it has to be Christ centered. Everything we build has to be Christ centered. Be it our personal spiritual life, family or fellowship, unless we build it comparing each step with Christ’s we will be building something so away from Him even when we carry His name and use His name. Let us remember the promises or blessings for one In Christ. The moment we go away from Him, we go away from the blessings and authority also. We hear many versions of Christ-centeredness these days. Some take portions of scripture on what Christ did for us, the promise we have in Him and that is it. This is not Christ centered but wishful thinking. We cannot divide Christ any further. We have to accept the promises by obeying the command which is

Matt 22:37-40 And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

The new covenant is based on this principle. It is not about Law but about the unwritten love of God and towards God. We show our love for God not only by devotion to Him but also by loving others. That is what this is all about. We have to accept all teachings in the New Testament which are pointing us towards one of these two. We cannot choose or ignore certain passages.

In chapter 3, we see Paul lays a bridge from grace to truth and connects it beautifully.

Paul reiterates his commissioning and appointment

Eph 3:1-5 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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;

Mystery of Christ Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise through the gospel.

Eph 3:6 {to be specific,} that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,

Contd. Pauls commissioning.

Eph 3:7-13 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 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.} {This was} in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

Paul was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace by His power. (Gal 1:11-17)
Specially gifted to preach to the gentiles, the unfathomable riches of Christ.
To bring to light the administration of the mystery.

How great is the salvation given to us freely by our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ! This is received ONLY by grace through faith. Now, an often forgotten part is that many do not receive this salvation (which God knows in His foreknowledge). It is also possible that many who think they have received it has not received it. Thinking that we have received it is not the sign that we have received it. Paul elaborates on this aspect. If we believe in the above part in which he has clearly stated what God HAS DONE for us who believe, we need to believe in the second part which says what is the sign of one IN Jesus Christ.

Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Rom 7:6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Eph 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him {be} the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Paul prays that

We be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man
Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith
Be rooted and grounded in love.
We may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth
We know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge
We are filled up to all the fullness of God.

A true salvation experience is not just a feeling or confirmation from the person who said the prayer for you to repeat after him. It is a state of being. Hence Paul prays incessantly that we be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. Now what is this new man?

Eph 4:23,24 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in {the likeness of} God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

We will see the qualities of this new man in the next parts.

To be continued....


_________________
Rajesh

 2014/6/13 12:53Profile





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