Where is the Power?

Eph 3:10 ESV – so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

 Is the local church that you are a part of making known the manifold wisdom of God to the spiritual forces that control the populace?

Is your church content to just keep on keeping on with the way things have always been?

Maybe you are a part of the new movements away from traditional church–emergent, simple, contemporary, organic, or house church. You may be “doing” church differently, but are you having an effect on the powers of darkness?

Jesus said it and Paul said it–the powers of darkness are no match for the power of the church.

Where have we missed it? Where have we gone wrong? Where is the power of the church?

NOTE: This is the third in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter three of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

All of Grace

Like Carl, and many others, Ephesians is a favorite of mine. I could spend an inordinate amount of time in this one epistle (if inordinate were possible). Now, as we venture into Chapter 2, we begin to explore the depths of Paul’s revelation about our position and inheritance in Christ.

The first thing we see is that we were dead (v. 1). We may have thought we were alive simply because we could eat, drink and be merry. But, when we look back on our life before Christ, we realize that any merriment was contrived or forced. We had to DO things to find a moment’s joy. There was no sense of lasting joy.

Most evangelical Christians recognize this reality and that is why they proclaim the necessity of being born again. However, the terms and phrases they use put a lie to the truth that is given here and in many other places in Scripture.

We are told to “make a decision for Christ,” “to accept Christ” in order to be born again or to be saved.

While that is true insofar as it goes, the emphasis on our “personal decision” for a “personal savior” leads many to believe that it is their intelligence, their strength, their effort that placed them within the Kingdom of God.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9), and this subtle error creeps in at the beginning and ruins the life of many a believer.

A dead person has no ability at all. There are no laws that affect the dead, for there are none that the dead can obey. Even the “law” to get saved cannot be fulfilled by a dead person. (This becomes important to understand when considering Jesus’ teachings about dying to self.) {for an excellent treatment of the practical application of dying to self, click here.}

Therefore, what are we to do?

We can’t DO anything unless God intervenes.

That is the plain teaching of scripture beginning with the first mention of being born again by Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3. Even Nicodemus wanted to know what he had to do, and Jesus said, “Can’t. If it doesn’t happen by the Spirit, it won’t happen.” (my rendition of John 3:3-6)

And that is what Paul reiterates here in chapter 2:5 “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved…”

Other passages for your consideration of this important truth:

John 1:13  – who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Deu 30:6  – And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Eze 36:26  – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Jhn 5:21  – For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Jhn 6:44  – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Act 5:31  – God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Phl 1:29  – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1Pe 2:9  – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Jhn 17:2  – since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Rom 9:16  – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Jam 1:18  – Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Act 13:48  – And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Eph 2:8-9  – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. 

I was dead.

He made me live.

Glory to God!

 

NOTE: This is the second in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter two of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Praying Paul’s Prayer

It has been said that we can do no better than to pray the words of Scripture when we pray.

Therefore, I offer this prayer from the first chapter of Ephesians, which closes with the last words of this marvelous epistle.

Personal Prayer

I thank you, God, the Father of my Lord, Jesus Christ, for blessing me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Thank you for choosing me in Him from before the foundation of the world so that I might be holy and blameless before you. It was in your love that you predestined me for adoption as a son (or daughter) through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of your will, to the praise of your grace with which you have blessed me in the Beloved. In Christ, I have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of my trespasses according to the riches of your grace, which you have lavished upon me with all wisdom and insight. You are making known to me the mystery of your will, according to your purpose that you set forth in Christ. It has been your plan that in the fulness of time you would unite all things in heaven and all things on earth in him.

It is in Christ that I have obtained an inheritance, because I was predestined according to your purpose who works all things according to the counsel of your will, so that I might be effective to the praise of your glory. When I heard the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation, you allowed me to believe in him, and sealed me with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of my inheritance until I actually take possession of it. That is to your glory and I praise you for it.

Prayer for Others

Lord God, I thank you for (insert name). I pray that you give (him/her/them) a spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus. I pray that the eyes of their heart be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, and what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints. I pray that they may know the immeasurable greatness of your power toward those of us who believe. That great power was what you worked in Christ Jesus when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. He is far above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And you have put all things under his feet and given him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

And Father, I pray that you grant peace and love with faith, and grace to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

NOTE: This is the first in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter one of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

Are You Spiritual?

Are You a Spiritual Person?

Gal 6:1 ESV – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

There are many who are overtaken in faults within the church today, but they do not get restored. Why is that? Are there no spiritual people in the church? Or, do we not know what it means to be spiritual, and therefore cannot find anyone to restore them? Are preachers the only ones who can be spiritual?

It is those who are spiritual who are to do the restoring. Who are they?

Taken within the context, they are the ones who manifest the previous qualities of the fruit of the spirit (5:16, 22) 

“Spiritual” is an after-Pentecost word—it does not show up in the Gospels nor in the LXX.

There is a difference between being spiritual and being religious. Spiritual = of things pertaining to spirit. Religious = of things pertaining to formal duty.

There are many religious people who are not spiritual.

There are many spiritual people who are not religious.

There are many spiritual people who are religious.

The Bible distinction is not between spiritual/religious (the world has this figured out), but between spiritual/carnal. It is either one or the other. It is not possible to be carnally spiritual or spiritually carnal (1 Cor. 3:1).

We often assume Christian = spiritual. But we know from our experience that is not true. It is possible to be a Carnal Christian (as we can see from this verse in Corinthians).

Now, here is an interesting thing for your consideration: Carnality is defined in the Bible, but spirituality is not!! Spirituality is inferred and implied, but not defined. Carnality, however, is clearly explained.

Characteristics of Carnality: 1Cor. 3: 2-3 

We could say here that Paul is referring to babies, and we know that babies need to be cared for.

Babies–

  • Need milk (1Peter 2:2—there is a place for milk)
  • Can’t eat meat (Heb. 5:12-14)
  • Manifest envying, strife, divisions (1Cor. 3:3) [this usually comes from the main characteristic of the ‘me’ generation–MINE!] {also notice that these are contrary to the fruit of the spirit}

Where does carnality come from? It comes from where you place your mind–what you allow your mind to dwell on. You become what you feed your mind on.

 Rom. 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

The word translated ‘mind ‘ is phroneo (fron-eh’-o); [from NT:5426]; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience).

How do we move from being carnal to becoming spiritual? By no longer being carnally minded.

1. Repent (metanoia = change your mind) [this is definitely a religious word] Decide that you no longer want to be carnal, but that you want to be spiritual (though not necessarily religious).

2. Reveal–ie, confess your carnality–James 5:16 (exomologeo = speak it out)

3. Renew your mind Rom. 12:2 (Jesus said to cleanse the inside first–Matt. 23:25-26)

4. Replace your thinking style–Col. 3:2

5. Reflect–ie, take control of your thoughts (Phil. 4:8)

Notice that the last three are all about what goes on in your head. This is your area of control.

Someone may say, “But, I have no control over what comes into my mind.”

That may be true. But, you don’t have to pull up a chair and offer that thought any hospitality!

 And anytime you find yourself moving into carnality, you can use this to change your mind and your practice. It may be difficult at first, because you’ve had many years of practicing being carnally-minded. But, stay with it, and you will soon find yourself in a spiritual condition you may have only dreamed about.

NOTE: This is the sixth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter six of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.