Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Ephesians | Session 12 | 5:1-7

In our study today, Paul is still focusing on the practical for how a child of God should be living as imitators of God and not the lost world around them.

Chapter 5

Verse 1: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Paul continues to be practical. The word followers means to be imitators. In other words, we are to be imitators of God as dear children. Just as a child would imitate their earthly fathers, so we should imitate our heavenly Father.

 

Verse 2: And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Notice that the believer is to walk in the love that Christ had for us. Just think about what it means to love with that kind of love. He went to the cross for us. He was wrongly accused for us. As such, he is to be out standard and not those around us. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:12, For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

 

The rest of the verse demonstrates how much Christ loved us in that he gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. We are to walk in that same love. Again, that is a tall order for sure.

 

Verse 3: But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Now he lists sins that should not be named among believers. The first is fornication. This could also be translated as immorality which includes all sexual sin. There are five that are mentioned in the Scriptures. These include adultery, fornication, bestiality, incest, and homosexuality. Uncleanness speaks of any kind of impurity, and Covetousness speaks to holding on to or desiring more, or just plain old greed. None of these things should be named among them as becometh saints. Becometh can be translated as fitting or proper.

 

As proper among the saints could be a reference to the believing Jews as we have discussed before. If so, it means that believers should not do the above listed things just as Law abiding Jews do not do them. Of course, they motivation is the keeping of the Law, and ours should be just because we are told not to.  

 

Verse 4: Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Filthiness means obscene which speaks of the portrayal or description of sexual matters. Foolish talking speaks of silly talk or buffoonery. Jesting speaks of turning words in a negative sense or twisting them in a vulgar sense. We call it innuendo today and it is very prevalent in our society. Finally, not convenient means appropriate. In other words, instead of doing the afore mentioned things, we should be giving thanks. Albert Barnes puts in this way, “Instead of filthiness, foolish talk, and jesting, we should be using that time in the service of God.”

 

Verse 5: For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Paul seems to be making a reference to verse 3 and just reiterating the fact that believers should not be involved in sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness. Also, he appears to be making a comparison with believing Jews who were under the Law and those believers who were not. He doesn’t appear to be questioning their salvation, just their behavior.

 

Verse 6-7: Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. This verse seems to be targeted at someone specifically that was spreading this stuff. Paul had dealt with this issue of how to deal with troublemakers before in Romans 16:17-18, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”; Titus 3:10-11, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,”; and in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

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Monday, December 5, 2022

Ephesians | Session 11 | 4:28-32

Today we still find ourselves in the book of Ephesians looking at verses 28-32 as new material. In these verses, Paul continues to focus on the practical as to how a believer should be walking in their faith and not as "other Gentiles."

Verse 28: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Paul uses the example of thievery to make his point about the change that should have taken place in the believer.

Verse 29: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Another example of how we as believers should act. Again, these actions do not save us, but they should be the biproduct of our salvation and our putting on the new man (verse 4:24). Our words to others should be edifying and not destructive, and I know that this can be done if we are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), putting on the new man.

Verse 30: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. In 1:13, it speaks of a sealing as well. There is also a sealing mentioned in Revelation 7 that protects against physical harm. This sealing is obviously not from physical harm, but it is obviously a spiritual one, i.e., eternal security (Colossians 2:10).

Also, as we have paid close attention to the pronoun throughout this study, there must be a difference between what is said in Ephesians 1:13-14 and here. The nation was sealed by the holy Spirit of promise which was an earnest of their inheritance until their redemption, while we in the Body of Christ have been sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation. Again, just trying to stay consistent in interpretation.

Verse 31: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: This verse presents a bit of challenge because of the last three words, with all malace. Most translations make it look like it is one another vice like the ones mentioned before. However, the KJV makes it seem like it is merely referring to the ones before. With this rendering, it means that none of the before should be done with the intention or desire to do evil. This would make sense considering verse 26 in which Paul said that we can be angry without actually sinning.

Verse 32: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Instead, Paul says that it is better to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving just as Christ has forgiven us. Which leads right into the next chapter.


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Ephesians | Session 10 | 4:18-27

In our study today we continue in the book of Ephesians where Paul begins talking about practical matters regarding how believers should walk in their faith. He does this by looking at how the unbelieving walk and why they do so.

Verses 18-19: Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. He goes on to describe these Gentiles as doing so because their understanding has been darkened, and consequently, they have been alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and blindness to the truth. The latter part about giving themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleannes with greediness is a reference to sexual sins and other vices and reminds me of Romans 1:18-25.

Verses 20-21: But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: He is now comparing those who are vain in their thinking (verse 17) with those who have learned Christ. The NIV translates it come to know Christ that way. In words he is speaking to those who heard him, and have been taught by him. Of course, this today happens through the Word. As such, we know that truth is in Jesus (John 14:6).

Verses 22-23: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; His point is that the believer who has learned Christ, heard him, taught by him, and come to the understanding that the truth is in Jesus, should live differently and not according to their deceitful lusts (1 John 2:15-17).

Notice that the lusts are deceitful. In other words, we should not live like we used to with this newfound knowledge. Instead, we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Why? - Because the former was corrupt. The word renewed is to be renovated or reformed (2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10).

Verse 24: And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. I can't help but notice that the renewing and the putting on of the new man requires action on our part. I have found that nothing in this walk merely happens by osmosis which is the idea of a gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc. Our walk with the Lord does not happen like that at all.

Verse 25: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Wherefore means in lieu of the previous mentioned. Having put on the new man, we must put away lying, speak the truth, because we are members of one another now.

Verses 26-27: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. This verse is not saying that we are not to be angry, but to not let it lead us into sin by letting the sun go down on it, thereby giving place to the devil in our lives. The verse follows verse 25 which spoke of speak truth to every man because we are members of one another. The point is that we are not to let our anger boil over and get worse. Instead, we are to put away lying and speak the truth.

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Ephesians | Session 9 | 4:12-17

In our study today we continue looking at Paul's words to the Ephesian believers trying to identify exactly who he was addressing, the purpose of the offices or gifts listed in verse 11, and the importance of being grounded in the Word of God.

Verse 12: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: The stated goal of these gifts was for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Those who hold that these were given to the Kingdom church only will use the word "saints" as proof.

Again, the view would be that God gave these gifts to the kingdom church to lay the groundwork for the Body of Christ. That is similar to what he said in Ephesians 2:19-22.

Verse 13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Again, the point of the gifts was unification of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

Verses 14-16: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 

Notice and carried about with every wind of doctrine, sleight of men, cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1 that seducing spirits are behind all of this.

It was to be a unity and knowledge that would cause them to be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, but instead (verse15) speaking the truth in love (verse 16) from whom the whole body is joined together, growing, and healthy. This portion of Scripture sounds very familiar with 1 Timothy 4:1-16.

From verses 17-32, Paul gives practical instructions regarding how believers should walk.

Verse 17: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Pretty obvious from the text that he is transitioning back to the Gentiles and is encouraging them not to walk as others do in the vanity of their minds.

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Ephesians | Session 8 | 4:1-11

In today’s study we see Paul transitioning from doctrinal to practical. His subject is, now that he has explained the mystery and the manifold wisdom of God that was previously hid in Christ, this is how we as believers in Jesus Christ should be walking.

Chapter 4:1: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, Just as in Paul's other epistles, he transitions from the doctrinal to the practical with the word therefore (Romans 12:1; Colossians 3:5). In other words, now that you know the mystery, the manifold wisdom of God, this is how you should live.

The word beseech means to call or invite. The word worthy is anxious which means to deserving or due reward. The word vocation speaks more of a calling than a career as it is commonly used today. Paul also loves the word therefore to express in lieu of all that I have previously stated.

Verses 2-3: With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. In these verses he goes on to tell them five things regarding walking worthy.

It is to be done in 1. lowliness (humility); 2. meekness (gentleness); 3. longsuffering (patience); 4. forbearing (self-control or refraining); and 4. endeavoring (concerted effort) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It is possible because of the common love and the bond of peace that we share. The word bond speaks of a uniting principle.

Verses 4-6: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. In these verses he goes on to tell them seven reasons why they should walk worthy. These include because there is only one body, one Spirit (2:18, 22), one hope of your calling, i.e., rapture/return, Titus 2:13, which should be a unifying event, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Galatians 2:16), one God and Father who is above, through and in you all.

Verse 7: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. The point is that God has given every believer his favor for each of us to live as we ought to and to walk worthy (verse 1).

Does this mean that he has given more to some than to others? I believe that he is simply saying that every one of us have been given enough grace to fulfill God's purposes and callings in our lives (Romans 12:3; John 1:16). Remember that grace can also be interpreted as gift.

Verse 8: Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Paul now quotes from Psalms 68:18. Remember that the context is the gifts that he just in the previous verses. As such, whatever he is quoting is to make his point. In context, the Psalmist is speaking in the future tense when Christ will reign after taking back what belongs to him.

The phrase led captivity captive in these verses speak of him triumphing over his enemies by the resurrection from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-22). The picture would be that of a Roman Triumph which was a celebration of the success of a military commander. On the day of his triumph, the successful general would wear a crown of laurel and an all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga picta ("painted" toga), regalia that identified him as near-divine or near-kingly. In some accounts, his face was painted red, perhaps in imitation of Rome's highest and most powerful god, Jupiter. The general rode in a four-horse chariot through the streets of Rome in unarmed procession with his army, captives, and the spoils of his war and at Jupiter's temple on the Capitoline Hill, he offered sacrifice and the tokens of his victory to the god Jupiter.

The order of the procession would be the captive leaders, allies, and soldiers (and sometimes their families) usually walking in chains; some were destined for execution or slavery. All this was done to the accompaniment of music, clouds of incense, and the strewing of flowers. This most likely what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.

It is important to note that Paul did not quote the passage precisely. The Psalmist said thou hast received gifts for men while Paul said and gave gifts unto men. So, one says received while the other gave. He must be saying that what he received, he was now giving, i.e., grace gifts (verse 7, 11). Again, the point and context is gifts.

Now, for years, I have taught that those captives being referred to were those who were in paradise who had died before the resurrection. Not so sure about that view now. He seems to be referring to his enemies instead.

Verses 9-10: (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) It must be noted that these verses are parenthetical. That means that verse 8 runs directly into verse 11. This verse simply speaking of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.

Unlike what the Apostle’s Creed says, Jesus did not descend into Hell, but Hades; the place of the dead (Luke 16:19-31). Hell is where men go after the judgment and that has not happened yet, therefore, it was empty then and it is empty now.

Verse 11: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; These are some of the gifts that were given unto men. Apostles laid the foundation, prophets foretold and forthtold, evangelists had the gift of evangelism, pastors oversaw a flock, and teachers taught the Word. Some contend that the last two are one and the same.

Also, some are quick to point out that these are not gifts, but positions that were given to administer the gifts. Others will content that they were transitory because of the past tense of the word gave. Even if you don't believe they were all transitory, most in conservative circles will acknowledge that at least apostles and prophets were, therefore, affectively splitting the baby.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Ephesians Recap

Since it has been a while since I have done any recording, I have a new laptop, and upgraded software, I decided to just do a bit of a recap with where we are in Ephesians. We will jump into chapter 1, verse 1 next time.



Ephesians | Session 7 | 3:11-21

In our study today we see Paul praying that the believers would have boldness by building up the inner man so that they may be rooted and grounded in love in order to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height to be filled with the fullness of God.

Verse 10: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Many commentators infer that this is speaking about earthly rulers and powers. However, it clearly says in heavenly places or the heavenlies. Paul will mention it again in Ephesians 6:12 when he says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Again, he is simply saying that now they all know, both those on earth, and those above it (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

Peter said something similar in 1 Peter 1:10-12, Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:10).

F.F. Bruce said, "The accomplishment of this eternal purpose of God’s has not in view only those who enter into the good of it on this earth. The triumph of his grace in overcoming an otherwise insurmountable barrier and uniting the two sections of mankind in Christ holds instruction for the inhabitants of the celestial realms."

Verse 11: According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: The dispensation of grace has always been in God's eternal purpose. That doesn't mean that God overruled man's will, but that he knew. Again, the message of the Twelve was always known, but the message of Paul was unique, but in God's eternal purpose.

Verse 12: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Notice the boldness and access that we now have is the result of the faith of him. It is our faith in his faith that brings about salvation (cf. Philippians 3:9; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20)

If it were not for his faith, ours would not matter. Sadly, other translations totally miss this. The ESV translates it our faith in him, the NIV translates it as through faith in him, and the NASB translates it as through faith in him, and believe it or not, the NET gets it right when it accurately translates because of Christ's faithfulness.

Verse 13: Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. This is a reference back to verse 1. In other words, he is saying, "Do not feel sorry for me." The verse literally means, don't faint, or be discouraged by my trials for you, because they are to your glory. In other words, all that he went through was for them. He said something similar to the Colossians in Colossians 1:24.

Verses 14-15: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, For this cause implies that since Paul now knows the manifold wisdom of God (verse 10) and his eternal purpose (verse 11),  he bows his knees in prayer to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whome the whle family in heaven and earth is named and asks the following in verses 16-19.

David Guzik points out that our prayers are much more effective when we know what we are praying for according to the purpose and will of God.

On a side note, the Bible has enough prayer not on the knees to show us that it isn’t required, but it also has enough prayer on the knees to show us that it is a good thing as well.

Verse 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; His prayer was that they might be strengthened with might, but according to the riches of his glory in the inner man by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13).

So, his desire is that they are continually strengthened abundantly according the working of the Holy Spirit in the inner man (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:16).

The inner man is said to be the heart, mind, and soul, as compared to the outter man. Just as the outer man needs to be cared for, so does the inner. Albert Barnes said of this, "the innner man needs a constant supply of grace. Every Christian needs grace given each day to enable him to bear trials, to resist temptation, to discharge his duty, to live a life of faith."

I believe this requires action on our part as that it does not come naturally just as he told the Galatians in Galatians 5:16, This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 

This reminds me of an old illustration that I learned as a young pastor: An old Indian Chief, of an American Indian tribe, had just come to a new faith in Jesus, because of the regular visits to his tribe by an early American preacher. As the preacher continued to make his visits to the tribe, he continued to instruct the Chief in the workings of his new faith. One day, as the preacher came to visit, he asked the new Believer, "Well, Chief, how's it going?" The Chief replied,.. "... Two Dogs inside, a Small Dog & a Big Dog, always fighting." So, the preacher asked, "Well, which dog is winning?" To which the Chief replied, "The one that I feed."

Verse 17: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love. This is a continuous thought from verse 16 implying that if you they did verse 16, Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith. As a result, they would be rooted and grounded in love, and be able to...

Verse 18-19: May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. In other words, it is only then that they would be able to understand (comprehend) with all the saints the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ. If anyone understood this, it would have to be the Jewish people. Of course, none of us can attain to that in this life, but it is no reason not to try. After all, it is necessary if we would ever desire to be filled with the fulness of God which is to be filled to capacity with Jesus. Who wouldn't want that? Well, it doesn't come by osmosis!

Verses 20-21Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. This is a doxology which is a spontaneous exclamation of praise. Apparently, Paul got a little beside himself. 

Interesting that the words exceeding abundantly is one word and only used by Paul. It literally means to an extent which cannot be expressed.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

2022 Project Completed

 Our mission project for this year was a home for our director in Nicaragua and his family. We so appreciate each of you who support our business, because without you, this would not be possible. Moises and his family are very happy with their new home! 





Thursday, July 21, 2022

Are We Justified by Works?

Paul wrote to the Galatians in 2:15-16: We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. The phrase we are Jews by nature simply refers to those who were born Jews including Paul. As for the rest of us, we were the sinners from among the Gentiles. 

However, please understand that Paul was not saying that the Jews were not sinners as well. He had said as much in Romans 3:23 when he said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  It also needs to be understood that Paul here was not addressing all Jews but only those who know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. The language makes it clear that he is addressing those Jews who had placed their faith in Christ and not the Law. This would mean that they were grace believers. 

Again, he said that by the works of the law shall no flesh by justified. This has to be referring to the new dispensation of grace because under the old dispensation of Law they were justified by the works of the Law. Paul said in Romans 2:13, For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. This verse is clearly not referring to this present dispensation of grace. 

Also, James 2:20-26 also said the exact opposite when he said, But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also

It is pretty apparent that Paul and James are contradicting each other in these verses. What gives? The men were obviously saying two different things because they were addressing different audiences. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and James was writing to the Jews who were still under the Law. Like many in the church today, I spent years trying to harmonize the glaring contradictions until I came to realize that.

Still There

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. - Romans 1:24-27

Well, what do you know? These verses are still in the Bible even during the month of June. 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

A Good Reminder


person can be incorrect regarding many biblical doctrines, yet still a Christian.

When I first got saved, all I knew was that I was a sinner and Jesus was my only hope. I didn't yet know Jesus was the son of God, about the Trinity, about baptism, or any number of any other deep and important doctrines.

The bottom line is that we can rebuke and correct bad ideas without calling into question the state of someone's soul in relationship to Christ.


Laying on of “Hands”!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Ephesians | Session 7 | 3:11-21

In our study today we see Paul praying that the believers would have boldness by building up the inner man so that they may be rooted and grounded in love in order to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height to be filled with the fullness of God.


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Friday, April 29, 2022

Directional Devo - 4.29.22

Today we take a closer look at Ephesians 3:17-19 where Paul prescribes how believers could know the love of Christ that passes knowledge.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Directional Devo - 4.26.22

Today we take a closer look at Ephesians 3:14-16 where Paul begins a prayer for the church that they would be strengthened in the inner man to share the manifold wisdom of God.


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Directional Devo - 4.25.22

Today we take a closer look at Ephesians 3:11-13.

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Ephesians | Session 6 | 3:1-9

In our study today, we take a closer look at Ephesians 3:1-9 where we find Paul explaining how he was a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles, that the dispensation of the grace of God which was not known but had now been revealed through him, and that the Gentiles were now fellow heirs of the same body.

Verse 1: For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, Interestingly, while Paul was physically a prisoner of Rome, he viewed himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ instead (cf. Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:8). He goes on to say that his imprisonment was for you Gentiles. And his mission as a prisoner was to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).  

Bullinger points out that this chapter is parenthetical, and contains another parenthesis in verses 2-13, and that it must be carefully noted. Guzik says that Paul knew that Jesus was the Lord of his life and not the Romans: he was Jesus' prisoner.

Verse 2: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: This is a very important verse in that it mentions the very thing that our Reformed brethren deny. The word simply means administration, economy, or stewardship; and it was given by Revelation to Paul (verse 3). It is also used in 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; and Colossians 1:25.

It must be recognized that while God does not change, his ways of dealing with man has and these are called dispensations.

There are basically two lenses today through which to interpret the Bible: Covenantalism and Dispensationalism. At the risk of oversimplifying both, the difference between the two is that Covenantalism interprets the Scriptures through the lens of covenants, i.e., Adamic (Genesis 1-3), Noahic (Genesis 6-9), Abrahamic (Genesis 12), Mosaic (Exodus 19), Davidic (2 Samuel 7), and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31-34).

On the other hand, Dispensationalism sees the Scripture through dispensations which are defined as a particular means by which God deals with man and creation during a given period in redemptive history.

Ligonier Ministries says that "Dispensationalism differs from Reformed covenant theology in a number of ways, but the most significant is this idea of two peoples of God. Covenant theology affirms that there is one people of God and thus continuity between the people of God in the Old Testament and the people of God in the New Testament. Covenant theology is not, as some dispensationalists assert, “replacement theology” because in covenant theology, the church is not technically replacing Israel. The church is the organic continuation of the Old Testament people of God. The oneness of the people of God is evident by an examination of several New Testament texts, e.g., Romans 11."

Some detractors will say that Dispensationalism did not originate until the nineteenth century with John Nelson Darby and subsequently popularized by the Scofield Bible. However, I believe that the early church was dispensational to begin with, e.g., Dispensationalism Revisited.

In the more popular view, there are seven dispensations which include: 1. Innocence (Genesis 1 -3) - Adam and Eve before they sinned, 2. Conscience (Genesis 3-8) - First sin to the flood, 3. Civil Government (Genesis 9-11) - After the flood, government, 4. Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19) - Abraham to Moses, the Law is given, 5. Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 9, most say Acts 2:4) - Moses to the cross, 6. Grace (Acts 9, most say Acts 2:4 - Philemon, most say Revelation 20:3) - Cross to the millennial kingdom, and 7. Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6) – The rule of Christ on earth in the millennial kingdom.

Randy White makes some very good points about the dispensation in which we live: 1. It offers individual verses national salvation. 2. It is unrelated to the Kingdom. 3. Is has a Savior rather than a Messiah or King. 4. Its salvation does not require works and does not allow works because it is fully a gift of God. 5. It is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Notice also that this dispensation of grace had been given to you-ward. F.F. Bruce points out that this marks out his Gentile readers as the recipients of this grace. Again, Paul was the only apostle that could make this claim.

He repeats it several times throughout his writings (v.8; Romans 11:13, 12:3, 15:15-16; 1Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 1:15-16; 2:8-9; Colossians 1:25; 1Timothy 1:11; 2:7).

Verses 3-4: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ). I have come to know that if you do not correctly understand the mystery as revealed to Paul, and its significance, you will never know how to rightly interpret or understand your Bible and will walk in a constant state of confusion. Normally, it doesn't take me more than a few minutes to determine if someone understands it.

The Twelve only received the mysteries of the kingdom according to Matthew 13:11That is totally different from the mystery that Paul received that had been kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26).

Notice the parenthetical (as I wrote afore in few words)He is most likely referring to Ephesians 1:9 and Ephesians 2:19, but, he could have also been looking back to Galatians 1:15-16.

Verse 5: Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; Again, Paul is clearly saying that what he received was not what was given to the Twelve, or anyone else for that matter. And now it has been revealed through Paul to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:20).

Some commentators will refer to Peter at this point as having received the same revelation back in Acts 10:9-20 before going to Cornelius' house. Sure, Peter's vision was that the Gentiles were in, but that was not the same revelation that Paul had received that they would do so outside of the law and completely by grace. We know this because Peter preached the kingdom gospel to Cornelius and continued to do so for the rest of his life.

Unlike the grace gospel, the kingdom gospel required baptism, repentance, and adherence to the law. They were not the same. "Things that are similar are not the same."

Verse 6: That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: This is the mystery! Jew and Gentile in one body. Nowhere in the Bible was this event foretold, i.e., Hebrew Scriptures. This "But Now" (cf. Ephesians 2:13) period in which we live was never spoken of until Paul.

Verses 7-8: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Paul's point is that his ministry to the Gentiles with the mystery was the result of the gift of the grace of God that was given to him by the effectual working of his power.

I believe that gift of the grace of God was his salvation while some would say that it was the actual grace gospel that he is referring to. I do know that Paul was a blasphemy and that according to Matthew 12:31 his only way of salvation would have had to have been grace. I also believe that he was indeed the first (1Timothy 1:11-16).

What does he mean that he is the least of all saintsI believe that he makes this statement because of the persecution that he inflicted on the kingdom church (1Timothy 1:11-16) and the fact that God would still choose to use him to preach amoung the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Again, I believe that he is referring to the mystery, that until revealed only to  him, and thus, unsearchable (Colossians 1:26-27).

Verse 9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: Interestingly, translations differ regarding the translation of the fellowship of the mystery. The ESV says plan of the mystery. The NAS says  administration of the mystery. The RV says dispensation of the mystery.

From this verse, we learn that Paul's ministry statement was twofold. First, to share the gospel of grace with was committed to his trust, second, to make all men see the fellowship of the mystery concerning Jew and Gentile in one new man (the Body of Christ), which had been hid in God from the beginning.

One commentator said that the mystery was hidden from Satan so that he would go through with the crucifixion. In other words, if he had known the mystery that lay on the other side, the salvation of the Gentiles, he would not have pushed for it (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8).

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Ephesians | Session 5 | 2:8-22

In our study today, we pick up in Ephesians 2:8-22 where we see Paul explaining that both Jew and Gentile are now saved by faith and not works, that the nation is his workmanship for good works, that in time past the Gentiles were without Christ, aliens, and strangers without hope, but now have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ, and the wall of separation has been removed and we are, both Jew and Gentile, the Body of Christ.

Verses 8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. We, the Body of Christ, are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. His point seems to be that the grace that is offered today is based solely upon faith; of course, saving faith is in view. I do believe that the faith being referred to here goes back to Galatians 2:16 which is a reference to the faith of Jesus Christ. It is his faith that it is the gift of God to all who believe in his death, burial, and resurrection.

It is also worthwhile to mention that grace is not exclusively to this dispensation. God has always shown grace since the beginning.

Verse 10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. I have quoted this verse so many times in my ministry. He just said in verse 9 that our salvation of not of works, lest any man should boast. Now, if he is indeed referring to the same group as verses 8-9, the Body of Christ was created in Christ Jesus unto good works? But that would seem to be a contradiction to me now (when comparing it to Romans 3:28. So, we are saved without works to do works? The answer is that he is back in 1st person plural and is speaking regarding the nation whom he has called to good works (cf. Deuteronomy 5:33). Do we get blessed because of it, sure; His desire was to use Israel to save the Gentiles during the kingdom (cf. Isaiah 49:5-6, 59:20-21, 60:1-3). Also, I believe this verse is directed at the nation in that they are his workmanship (cf. Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 43:1, 43:21, 60:21).

Of course, the other approach would have to be that the Body of Christ, the one new man, is what God is building today and that is his workmanship. They will go on to say that we to too, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:9-10 when Paul speaks of himself as a wise master builder, i.e., we are also doing the good work of building the church today by reaching the world for Christ with the gospel. Of course, this has been before ordained that we should walk in them.

Verses 11-12: Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: Now he turns his attention back to the Gentiles who in time past were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: To me, these verses fly in the face of covenant theology that teaches there is only one people of God.

Verse 13: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Again, this verse is still speaking of the Gentiles who were far off but have now been made nigh by the blood of Christ. In other words, our status has changed from being far to nigh because of Christ's work on the cross and the blood that he shed to that end. This is the gospel or reconciliation as shared by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

In time past, for a Gentile to be saved, they had to recognize that they were outside of the nation and could only be brought in by proselytization via circumcision and keeping the law of Moses just like the nation. But not now. Now, both Jew and Gentile come to God the same way through faith alone, apart from the works of the law.

Verse 14: For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Christ brought about peace between the Gentiles and God removing the middle wall of partition that was between us. Remember in the Old Testament that God separated his people from the rest (cf. Exodus 11:7; Numbers 23:9).

The only physical mention of this wall is the one that separated the court of women from the court of the Gentiles. Josephus mentions this wall as having been three cubits high. A cubit was the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger. That would make the wall about 4.5' tall and the penalty was death if crossed. Whether a spiritual wall or a physical wall, the point is that it is gone now and Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God in the same way.

Verse 15: Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; This is a continual thought from verse 14. Having done so, God has abolished in his flesh the enmity, which was the law. In so doing, we created one new man of Jew and Gentile, therefore, making peace.

Verse 16: And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: Now both Jew and Gentile make up one body called the Body of Christ. This is the result of us both being reconciled to God by the cross. The enmity having been slain (verse 15).

Verses 17-18: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Jesus came to preach the message of peace to those which were afar off (Gentile), and to them that were nigh (Jew). Now they both have access to the Father, unlike before when on the Jews did through the law.

Verse 19: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; In other words, now that the enmity has been removed and the Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners, they are fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

Contextually, this is clearly saying that Jew and Gentile have been made one in the Body of Christ. It is not saying that the church has now been made a part of Israel.

Verses 20-22: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. The church is built on a Jewish foundation. However, with that in mind, it is important to realize that the building and the foundation are two different things (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:19; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 2:21).

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Ephesians | Session 4 | 2:1-7

In our study today, we introduce chapter 2 where we see Paul comparing how both unbelieving Jews and Gentiles once walked according to the course of this world and the prince of the power of the air, but God has shown mercy by raising them up together in Christ.

 Chapter 2

Verse 1: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; The word quickened means to be made alive. However, notice that hath he quickened is in italics in the KJV. It literally says, And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Verse 2: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: The emphasis is that dead people walk according to the course of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air. His point is that people who have been made alive no longer do either (cf. Colossians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The children of disobedience are the lost. The Greek indicates that these have no faith.

Verse 3: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. He is literally saying that the nation in times past did exactly what the Gentiles did by living in the lusts of the flesh (cf. 1 John 2:16) and fulfilling its desires, and were just as much children of wrath as the Gentiles were (cf. Isaiah 53:6; Romans 1:21-25, 3:9-12, and 5:12-19).

Verses 4-5: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Paul seems to be pointing out that just as God has quickened the Gentile believers according to verse 1, he has done the same with the Jews.

Notice that by grace ye are saved is in parenthesis and is a reference to the Gentiles that he will begin to further develop in verses 8-9.

Notice that he mentions both mercy and grace meaning they are not the same thing. Mercy is not getting what you deserve while grace is getting what you don't deserve.

Verse 6: And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: He goes on to say that he raised up the nation So both Jew and Gentile have been quickened together, raised up together, and made to sit together! Again, Paul is showing how God in the age of grace has made one body of both Jew and Gentile.

What does made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus mean? To me this is further proof that he is writing to both Jew and Gentile grace believers who make up the Body of Christ and whose promises are heavenly.

Remember, the promises made to the nation are all earthly and the promises that are made to the church are all heavenly. The church does not get Israel's earthly promises. However, we do become joint heirs with those Jews who are now part of the Body of Christ in heavenly places.

Also, another point found in this verse that Les Feldick pointed out is that phrase in Christ. The Body of Christ, Jew and Gentile, are now in Christ.

Verse 7: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ JesusAgain, I believe that he is speaking to the nation regarding the exceeding grace that was offered to the nation through Christ Jesus. Of course, this grace was not accepted by all and it is why they remain in blindness to this day, but there is the promise that one day their eyes will be opened.  

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Monday, April 4, 2022

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Directional Devo - 3.29.22

Seven Reasons for Right Division
Reason #1: The Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and not contradict.


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