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