Monday, September 21, 2009

Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Three

In this section of the book of Ephesians, we are challenged to live differently, in a worthy manner, and shown how we are equipped to do so.

3) Walking Worthy Of Our Calling

Chapter four of Ephesians starts off with "therefore", pointing back to the previous chapters, the three chapters where the Apostle Paul laid the doctrinal foundation that we are to build our spiritual walks upon. We are shown where we came from, how we are given an inheritance and victory through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then chapter three ends with this wonderful prayer of Paul's:

Ephesians 3:14-19 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, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 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.

I love what Matthew Henry has to say about this passage, and how he makes a parallel between God's statements about the range of wisdom in the book of Job and applies it to love here:

"The dimensions of redeeming love are admirable: The breadth, and length, and depth, and height. By enumerating these dimensions, the apostle designs to signify the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, the unsearchable riches of his love, which is higher than heaven, deeper than hell, longer than the earth, and broader than the sea, Job 11:8-9. Some describe the particulars thus: By the breadth of it we may understand the extent of it to all ages, nations, and ranks of men; by the length of it, its continuance from everlasting to everlasting; by the depth of it, its stooping to the lowest condition, with a design to relieve and save those who have sunk into the depths of sin and misery; by its height, its entitling and raising us up to the heavenly happiness and glory. We should desire to comprehend this love: it is the character of all the saints that they do so; for they all have a complacency and a confidence in the love of Christ."

Earlier in this same chapter, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Ephesians 3:8 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;

"...the unsearchable riches of Christ..." - "The latter phrase has the sense of being fathomless. There is no end to the discovery of the riches of Christ." [Quoted from David Sorenson's Understanding The Bible commentary on Ephesians, page 367 of the volume entitled Corinthians Through Philemon.] Strong's Concordance defines "unsearchable" as "not tracked out, i.e. (by implication) untraceable:- past finding out."

I was blessed when the Lord pointed out these similar phrases to me: "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," and "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (see Philippians 4:7). There is an element of God's love and peace (among other blessings) that we will never fully be able to grasp before we go home to Heaven - but what we can understand and know should change our lives.

If true believers would just get a greater glimpse of the measureless love of Christ, of the glorious riches and inheritance we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, of the tremendous spiritual power that is available to us every day through the indwelling Holy Spirit, I think our lives would be utterly transformed! Too often we forget or neglect these truths - but when we are living in light of them, and walking in the victory that is ours in Christ, there is a world of difference in us and in the work the Lord can do through us.

In fact, the way that these truths affected those Paul ministered to was something he praised the Lord for:

Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

"Therefore..." - put feet to the truth, and walk accordingly.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Walking worthy of our calling - what does that mean?

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible makes these comments about verse 1: "That you live as becomes those who have been called in this manner into the kingdom of God... To 'walk worthy of that calling,' is to live as becomes a Christian, an heir of glory; to live as Christ did."

Theodore Epp in his commentary on Ephesians [Living Abundantly, Volume 2, page 9], states: "We are to walk worthy as His Body. This means we represent Him by expressing His mind and by living His life. We are not to attempt to merely imitate His life; we are to let Him live His life in and through us."

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

Ephesians 4:2-3 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.

"By lowliness we are to understand humility, entertaining mean thoughts of ourselves, which is opposed to pride. By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul which makes men unwilling to provoke others, and not easily to be provoked or offended with their infirmities; and it is opposed to angry resentments and peevishness. Long-suffering implies a patient bearing of injuries, without seeking revenge. Forbearing one another in love signifies bearing their infirmities out of a principle of love, and so as not to cease to love them on the account of these... Now without these things unity cannot be preserved. The first step towards unity is humility; without this there will be no meekness, no patience, or forbearance; and without these no unity. Pride and passion break the peace, and make all the mischief. Humility and meekness restore the peace, and keep it." [Matthew Henry]

Ephesians 4:4-6 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.

The following explanation of Ephesians 4:4-6 is taken from a previous study of mine entitled, The Hope Of Your Calling:

"One of the seven things Paul mentions about the unity of the Spirit is the one hope of their calling. Paul wants the believers in each local church to be united together through the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word of God, and in the midst of the unity of the Trinity (one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father), one body (whether referring to the unity of the local church, or the future unity we will have as one body in Heaven) and one baptism (water baptism, which is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and our public identification with Him), he emphasizes one faith (THE faith - there is only one true faith - as much as the liberals want to teach otherwise, there can be no compromise on the fundamentals of the faith) and one hope. This hope is the assurance we have in Christ, encompassing many things, but especially His return for His saints and the inheritance we have in Him."

Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Webster's defines "measure" as, "Means to an end; an act, step or proceeding towards the accomplishment of an object;"

Strong's Concordance gives an interesting definition of "grace": "The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude."

Whatever spiritual resources each true believer needs to serve the Lord and to do His will, whatever each believer needs to exercise their gifts effectively in their local church and in the ministries that the Lord has called them to (especially the ministry of reconciliation), God has made available to them - to the end that other believers would be built up in the faith, mature spiritually, and likewise be equipped to serve the Lord day by day.

"Each believer is given a gift so that he may function in the body of believers in a particular way. When he does this, the body functions. That is where we find the unity of the Spirit. Along with the gift it says every one of us is given grace to exercise that gift in the power and fullness of the Spirit of God. When each believer functions in his peculiar gift, it produces a harmony, as does each member of the human body." [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary, Volume 5, page 253.]

Ephesians 4:8-10 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (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.)

Jesus first had to descend to the earth from Heaven and descend to the grave (ie. die for our sins and be buried), before He could be resurrected and ascend back into Heaven. (See Romans 10:6-7, where Paul uses similar language to speak of Jesus' incarnation and resurrection.) When He ascended, He took those Old Testament believers up to Heaven with Him (prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, their spirits dwelt in Abraham's Bosom, the abode of the righteous saints which had already died).

In Ephesians 4:8, Paul was quoting from the Psalms:

Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

It is worthwhile to note that what the Psalmist prophesied (ie. that Jesus had "received" gifts), Paul declared as fulfilled when Jesus ascended and "gave" those gifts to His body. It is because of all that Jesus has accomplished in our redemption that we have an inheritance in Him and our daily needs met as we walk with the Lord and seek first His kingdom in our lives. The very next verse in the Psalms praises the Lord for this very fact:

Psalms 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

In this passage, we are given a list of five offices (or ministries) that our Saviour has gifted His church with:

The first two are the Apostles and prophets. That is those who have given the Word of God to us. Though the offices of the Apostles and the prophets finished in the first century (ie. "when that which is perfect" came, the completion of the New Testament Scriptures, and thus of the whole Bible with the penning of the last word in the book of Revelation - see Revelation 22:18-19), local churches are still gifted by these two offices through their writings to us. It is their writings that form the doctrinal foundation of the New Testament church (see Ephesians 2:20 and Acts 2:42).

Evangelists – those who preach the good news (of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ), and who stir up God's people with/by the Word of God.

Pastors – those who lead by example and govern the people of God according to the Word of God. The word "pastor" literally means "shepherd." Pastors are those who watch over and care for each local church, each flock of true believers.

Teachers – those who teach the Word of God to us. While every believer is expected to be able to share their faith with others, and to be able to pass on what they have learned from God's Word (see Hebrews 5:11-14), there are those the Holy Spirit has specifically gifted in this regard.

What is the purpose of these five offices or ministries of gifted servants of the Lord?

Ephesians 4:12-16 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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.

"The unity of the Spirit" is to be maintained so true believers would mature and come in "the unity of the faith." The ultimate goal is so that every believer in each local New Testament church becomes more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ and is able to adequately and effectively serve Him in this world.

We are to be built up and mature in the faith so that we are not led astray by every wind of doctrine that blows through our lives (and perhaps even our churches). It is spiritual children - the carnal, immature babes - that are in danger of being caught up and deceived by those that would take them away from the Lord and His Word. Godly pastors, evangelists, and teachers are those whom the Lord has given to His church to equip His body for the work of the ministry.

One final point: God's Word states that believers are to be "speaking the truth in love." We are not to be wishy-washy and have a worldly type of love that is void of the truth and lets anything go on in our lives or the lives of our families and friends. Nor are we to be using the Word of God as a hammer that we use to smack down others. We are to speak the truth in love - so that even when we deal with the negative aspects of God's Word (such as sin, judgment, negative consequences, etc.), those around us (and in our churches) can tell we are dealing with these things because we love others and want them to build their lives and eternity upon the truth, and live in such a manner that they please the Lord.

It is the Word of God and the grace of God that equips us to live in a manner worthy of our calling. In light of this, I leave you with three final passages:

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

September 21st/09
Jerry Bouey

There is so much in the Word of God, that sometimes it is hard to know where to start when it comes to tackling Scripture for the purpose of preaching or teaching it. Working on studies such as this (ie. preaching my way through all or most of a book, and developing those messages into more indepth Bible studies) has taught me even more to respect and value those sound commentators of the past, who have spent years putting together their efforts to mine the truths of God's Word. They were not just content to scratch along on the surface, but were dedicated to digging deeper and sharing those wonderful nuggets and treasures that the Holy Spirit brought to light through their diligent efforts. They studied to shew themselves approved unto God and manifested His Word through their preaching and teaching. I praise the Lord for those precious resources that are now available to His children.

Studies in this series of Our Walk In Ephesians:

Part One - Our Walk Without Christ
Part Two - Walking In Good Works
Part Three - Walking Worthy Of Our Calling
Part Four - Walking In Newness Of Life (Coming Soon)
Part Five - Walking In Love (Coming Soon)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Our Walk In Ephesians - Part Two

In Part One of this series studying out the seven times our walk is shown in the book of Ephesians, we saw that the first part of chapter two portrays God's view of man and his walk without the Saviour; plus the victory and inheritance we have in Christ when we trust Him alone for salvation (taken primarily from chapter one). Part two deals with the purpose the Lord has for saving us, and how this fits into the construction of His church, His new spiritual temple made up of true believers.

2) Walking In Good Works

Ephesians 2:8-10 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

A) Workmanship

"The word so translated (* poiema) has the idea of 'that which He has made,' 'His creation,' 'His production.' He not only saved us, He has made us a new creature in Christ. Thus, we have been 'created in Christ Jesus unto good works.' God's purpose in saving us, in part was that we might serve Him thereafter. We are not saved by good works. But we surely have been saved to do good works thereafter." [Quoted from David Sorenson's Understanding The Bible commentary on Ephesians, page 360 of the volume entitled Corinthians Through Philemon.]

The word for "workmanship" is poiema, where we get our English word "poem." If you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, you are the Lord's poem, His masterpiece, that He is creating. This same word is translated in Romans 1:20 as "things that are made." Just as God personally made and fashioned all of creation by the work of His hands (see Psalms 8:3, 6; 19:1), you are also His special handiwork. You are a new creature in Christ, created for His glory and pleasure.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

In all my years of being saved, I have always read Ephesians 2:10 with the perspective of the Lord working on the true Christian as an individual believer - however, this time around I am starting to see the bigger picture covered in this chapter. The "we" in "we are his workmanship" refers not just to believers individually but to the church collectively, the church He is building today, and that adds a greater focus and emphasis. Yes, the Lord is perfecting the work He has begun in each believer, but the good works He has ordained for them is with and through the local church that He has placed them in.

"The church is His poem and His new creation. Paul is not talking about the local church here, but rather about that body of believers from the day of Pentecost to the Rapture, the real believers (and most of them are members of local churches). The body of believers is His workmanship and His new creation in Christ Jesus." [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary, Volume 5, page 237.]

I don't 100% agree with J. Vernon McGee's quote above (though I wanted to give his full statement here), so I will give you another quote for clarification:

"God wants us to be joined together to form a fellowship of saved people we call a church. When we get saved, God places us into His body by His Spirit and we become a part of the body of Christ. When the Bible teaches about the church, the emphasis is on the local church. A local church is a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together to carry out the Great Commission." [Clarence Sexton, Strengthen Thy Brethren, pages 114-115.]

B) Before Ordained - This phrase means "made ready, prepared in advance." In Romans 9:23, this same Greek word is translated as "afore prepared."

Romans 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Upon studying out the usage of this word (and seeing what some sound commentators had to say), I have found that there are two ideas expressed by it, and I think both are quite applicable here:

- The Lord Jesus Christ has planned good works for believers to walk in, works that He has prepared in advance for them to do in His name.

- He has molded and prepared believers in Christ in such a way that they would be enabled and equipped to walk in these good works that He has planned out.

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Notice that the above passage states that we are to "work out" (not "work for") "your salvation." This will happen on a day by day basis as we serve and follow the Lord. As we submit to God's leading in our walks with Him, He will work in us and through us, so that He is glorified in our lives.

As a younger believer, I had somewhat of the mentality that it was up to me to find good works to do, and then trust and expect the Lord to bless them. Yet in this verse we see that Jesus Christ had already prepared in advance the good works that He wanted me to follow in.

The primary word for "walk" in the New Testament is peripateo, and means "to tread all around, i.e. walk at large (especially as proof of ability); figuratively, to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary)." Peripateo comes from two root words, one of which basically means "to trample/tread a beaten path."

What this is saying then is that we are simply to follow along in Jesus' footsteps, walking in the path or trail that He has already blazed before us.

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

C) Good Works - The theme of believers doing good works is a prominent one in the New Testament. Grouping these various passages together into categories might help us to better see the range of them. This list below does not contain all the usages of the phrase "good work(s)", but the ones that most fit the theme of this study (ie. the good works we are to walk in). I have chosen to quote these passages in the general order we find them in the Bible.

Praise - Our good works are to bring glory and honour to the Lord:

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Peter 2:11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Planning Ahead - Laying up treasures in Heaven through our good works to others:

1 Timothy 6:17-18 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

Prepared - Ready and equipped for every good work (Notice: it is the Word of God that makes the believer perfect/complete and fully furnished to serve the Lord):

2 Timothy 2:19-21 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

A Pattern - Believers are to be models in their good works for other believers to imitate and follow:

Titus 2:6-8 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Peculiar - God's own people set apart to serve Him in doing good works in His name:

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Practice - Good works are to be maintained regularly, as a way of life:

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Provoke - To stir up and encourage to do good works (Notice: it is in the context of the church fellowshipping and assembling together that we see this command - see verse 21):

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

These last two points are listed out of sequence because I want to emphasize them a little more:

Promise - Here is a sevenfold promise that the Lord will provide EVERYTHING you need to do good works to others:

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Prayers - Paul's prayers for New Testament believers that they would be fruitful and perfect/complete in every good work:

Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

D) One New Man - God's Temple

Ephesians chapter two goes on to describe God's building project, the new man He is making. The Apostle Paul continues by giving us a more indepth look at mankind's condition apart from the Saviour. Notice the six negative statements Paul makes here:

Ephesians 2:11-13 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 1) ye were without Christ, 2) being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and 3) strangers from the covenants of promise, 4) having no hope, and 5) without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus 6) ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

But just like the Apostle does in the first part of this chapter, he overturns the bad news with the good news of the hope we have in Christ:

Ephesians 2:14-18 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 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; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 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.

Paul's two main points are: God has reconciled Jews and Gentiles together in one new man by the death of Christ; and the new body He is making - His workmanship - is the church, God's temple. (There is so much more we can glean from this passage, but that is beyond the scope of this current study.)

Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 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.

E) The Habitation Of God

"Habitation" means "place of abode, dwelling place."

It is worth noting that this spiritual temple is referred to in two senses in the New Testament. The first being the body of the individual believer, and the second being the collective or corporate spiritual body of believers gathered together (in each local church) in His name. Both are "the habitation of God through the Spirit," as the Holy Spirit permanently indwells each believer, as well as dwells within the church collectively.

1 Corinthians 3:9, 16 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building... Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

F) Fitly Framed Together - "The word so translated (* sunarmlogeo) is of interest. It has the sense of being masterfully designed and crafted together. It bespeaks a master architect and builder." [David Sorenson, page 364.]

This same Greek word is translated in chapter four of Ephesians as "fitly joined together." Strong's Concordance defines it as "(in its original sense of laying); to render close-jointed together, i.e. organize compactly." "Compactly" means "Closely; densely; with close union of parts." Thus this word carries the idea of the members of a body being closely joined together; or that of a building (in this case a temple), where the stones are being layed closely together, all parts united as one.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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.

1 Peter 2:4-9 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

This poetic work of art, this handiwork that the Lord is building, is individually and collectively God's temple, God's building, God's house. We are not referring to a physical house or building, but a spiritual one, comprised of individual born-again believers joined together into a new entity, the church. An entity that was created to praise and glorify the Lord, and to do His will. A building not made with dead materials, but with living stones built together on the same foundation, built upon the Rock - the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

G) Full Of Good Works

One verse that has intrigued me as I have been studying out this theme is:

Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

Notice the phrase "full of good works and almsdeeds." "Almsdeeds" means "active compassion exercised towards the poor." In the Bible, when someone was "full" of something (such as being "filled with the Spirit" or "full of joy"), that meant that they were "controlled or influenced by it." Tabitha was "full of good works" - all that she did in her day to day life was influenced by doing good to others. Can we say the same thing about ourselves? It certainly is a challenge to consider as we seek to "walk" in good works.

Under Construction

Under construction by the Lord,
Pieced together in perfect accord,
Bit by bit, each part joined carefully,
Fitted and arranged with wisdom, tenderly.

As the Holy Spirit smoothes the edges,
And transforms His vessel into honour,
These changes, blessed by God's own touch,
Are wrought by His glorious power.

When God's final product is presented,
It will have been tested and proved.
Fired in the kiln of life's afflictions,
Refined and the impurities removed.

Though I can't imagine the end result as yet,
This work of art will someday be done.
Molded by the Potter with His very hands,
Lovingly crafted into the image of His Son.

Poem written August 22nd/1995
Study written September 7th/2009
Jerry Bouey

*Here the commentary author quotes Greek words which this blog is not able to display properly, though the transliteration of each is quoted above.

Studies in this series of Our Walk In Ephesians:

Part One - Our Walk Without Christ
Part Two - Walking In Good Works
Part Three - Walking Worthy Of Our Calling
Part Four - Walking In Newness Of Life (Coming Soon)
Part Five - Walking In Love (Coming Soon)

I realize not everyone reading studies online has access to good study materials or Bible programs, so I wanted to post this excerpt from Torrey's Topical Textbook for further study. It is quoted from his entry entitled Good Works:


Created in Christ unto. Eph 2:10
Exhorted to put on. Col 3:12-14
Are full of. Acts 9:36
Are zealous of. Tit 2:14
Should be furnished unto all. 2 Tim 3:17
Should be rich in. 1 Tim 6:18
Should be careful to maintain. Tit 3:8,14
Should be established in. 2 Thess 2:17
Should be fruitful in. Col 1:10
Should be perfect in. Heb 13:21
Should be prepared unto all. 2 Tim 2:21
Should abound to all. 2 Cor 9:8
Should be ready to all. Tit 3:1
Should manifest, with meekness. James 3:13
Should provoke each other to. Heb 10:24
Should avoid ostentation in. Matt 6:1-18
Bring to the light their. John 3:21
Followed into rest by their. Rev 14:13

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Abba, Father

There are three times in the New Testament where we find the phrase "Abba, Father" repeated - each time showing the closeness and intimacy that the Heavenly Father wants with every single person He has created. The word "Abba" is an Aramaic term meaning "Daddy." When we realize the closeness this term implies, these passages take on a whole new dimension to our hungry hearts.

The first time is found in the Gospel of Mark. Here we see Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, the Son of God (the second person of the Trinity), praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mark 14:34-36 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Jesus Christ knew that within a short time He would be betrayed and then led to the cross, where He would bear our sins in our place. In the Garden, He was so overwhelmed - because He, the Sinless One, would be bearing all the sins of mankind upon Himself, would be separated from God the Father, whom there had never been any separation between from all eternity.

In His trust, He willingly gave Himself up to the will of His Father, and went to the cross - knowing there was no other way to save us. There He bore the sins of ALL mankind - past, present, and future - my sins and yours - all of them. Then He cried, "It is finished!" - the complete debt had been paid, and He died. Three days and three nights later, Jesus, the Son of God, arose again in triumph over the grave - proof positive that the Heavenly Father had accepted His once-for-all sacrifice for our sins. Forty days later, He ascended to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to bear witness of Christ and convict fallen mankind of their need of the Saviour (see John 16:7-14). When we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, and receive Him as our Saviour, trusting in Him alone to save us, we receive His free gift of eternal life, and the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us.

Here is the second time we find the word "Abba" used:

Galatians 4:4-6 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

In God's perfect timing, He sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Jesus became a man to die for our sins and to buy us back from the slavemarket of sin that we had sold ourselves to. When we come to Him, we are born again and become God's children by faith - we are adopted forever into the family of God.

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

And the Holy Spirit makes that salvation real to us, causing our hearts to cry out to our Heavenly Father - Abba, Father! Ah, the closeness and intimacy God longs us to have with Him.

Now we come to the third time this phrase is used:

Romans 8:14-16 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

The instant you come to Christ and are made a child of God, that moment the Holy Spirit indwells you and begins to lead you in the will of God. You are no longer enslaved to fear, but now have a different Spirit working within - the Spirit that testifies to your own spirit that you are now God's child and that He is your Abba, Father.

Now with that background on how to become a child of God and have that close, intimate relationship with Him, I want to share a parable with you that Jesus told the multitude, the story of the Prodigal Son. This is probably one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Place yourself in the place of the son in the story and realize that the father here pictures the Heavenly Father.

Luke 15:11-14 And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

The son asked his father for his inheritance. Once he received it, he took it and wandered off into a far country - far away from his father. All of us have wandered far from the Heavenly Father...

Next we see the son wasting all his money, wealth, inheritance on riotous living - that could include wild partying, drugs, alcohol, illicit sex - anything outside the will of God - wherever sin would take him. Then his wealth began to run out - he had spent all and began to be in want. He began to realize his need - he had nothing left...

Luke 15:15-16 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

The prodigal son had wandered so far and sunk so low that he was willing to compromise even further and work for pig farmers, serving slop to the swine. The significance of this is: Jesus was preaching to a Jewish audience and to them the pig was an unclean animal. They were not to eat pork - therefore to even raise swine would also be against them. Yet, here we see this desperate son sinking so low that he was willing to feed the pigs to get by.

Unfortunately, his situation was so desperate that he began desiring the husks that the pigs were eating. If you have ever seen pig slop, you wouldn't want it - yet this son was so desperate that even the pig slop was looking good to him!

Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Wait a minute! What am I doing? Why am I thinking of eating pig's food? My father's house is full - he has bread enough and to spare - even the lowest of his servants have plenty. This prodigal son thought on his desperate situation, and realized that he didn't need to live in the filth and muck of the pig pen any longer. He didn't need to perish. Even so, we don't need to perish far from God, in the muck and mire of sin, starving for whatever this world might offer us - the Father's house is filled with plenty for the hungry soul.

Luke 15:18-19 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Here we have repentance. He realized he had sinned and wandered astray from his father - as we have all wandered astray like lost sheep from the Heavenly Father (see Isaiah 53:6) - we have all sinned against Him. We need to realize that and turn in our hearts from the pig pen of this world towards Him:

Luke 15:20-21 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

He arose. He took the first step away from the muck and mire of his sin - he could not clean himself up. He literally had nothing left but his filthy rags that he was wearing - the rags covered with the pig slop he had been living in. Even so, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the sight of the Heavenly Father - and we need to realize this in our heart and turn from it. Not clean ourselves up first - just acknowledge in our heart and to God that we have sinned against Him and wandered away - and that we do not want our sins and the filth of our pig pen anymore. Notice, the father was waiting for the son before the son ever turned to go home - the Holy Spirit is calling to you, convicting you of your sins, and calling you to come home - to where the Heavenly Father is waiting eagerly with open arms to receive you unto Himself.

Then, oh the wonder of grace! The wonder of God stooping down and doing for us what we never could do for ourselves:

Luke 15:22-23 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.

He didn't say, "Clean yourself up first." Instead the father took those filthy rags off his son and covered him with the best robe - the instant he came home. The moment you turn in your heart towards the Saviour, the Heavenly Father receives you and covers you in the best robe He has for you - the robe of Christ's righteousness. From now on, your Heavenly Father no longer sees your unrighteousness, your filthy rags - instead He sees Christ's righteousness credited to your account.

Next, the son is given the ring of sonship - this is the seal that the Holy Spirit places on us when He indwells us - the earnest and guarantee that we are now adopted into the family of God, and Jesus will one day take us home to Himself and give us our new bodies in Heaven.

Lastly, the son is given shoes for his feet - these represent the feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, the readiness to go where God would have us go with the Gospel of salvation.

All of Heaven rejoices and makes merry every time a prodigal child comes home.

Wherever you are in life, consider these three final points:

If you have never turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, why not take that step right now (make sure you have made the most important decision you could ever make in light of eternity) by receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour, turning from the pig pen of this world, and coming home to the Father's House. He is still waiting with open arms for you.

If you are saved, but are not living for the Lord, not maintaining your walk with your Saviour - come back into the Father's House, and cry out for that closeness with God that He wants you to have. Abba, Father. Oh He loves you so and does not want you to wander any more.

And thirdly, if you are no longer a prodigal son, but are in fact a child of the Heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ, use those shoes He has shod you with - be the witness He wants you to be of the Saviour - and wisely use the time the Lord has given you to bring more prodigal children home.

Abba, Father - thank you for receiving this prodigal child, and use me, Lord, to bring others home to You!

In Jesus' precious name,
Jerry Bouey
January 7th/06

Tonight (September 5th/2009) I slightly edited the last few paragraphs to change this study from a New Year's Eve challenge to something that could be used year round. Lord willing, down the road I want to put together a third poetry book, with about half of it focussing on salvation. In it, I will also include several clear studies on salvation, such as this one and John 3:16 - The Gospel In A Nutshell. Please feel free to give me your input on these.

For my friends who receive updates on my blogs, I am currently working on some new studies, including further developing several series I had already started (or have since preached/am preaching), such as Our Walk In Ephesians - Part One (Lord willing, I will be preaching part two this Monday, so need to finish putting it together). Please hold me up in your prayers as I seek to get back into the regular habit of writing.

Thank you for reading this blog and for being a blessing to me. May the Lord richly bless you in return.