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Day 319 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Ephesians. Ephesians and Romans discusses predestination. Here’s a short video to help you understand one view of this issue.
Video – The Predestination Puzzle
Watch here on YouTube.
How does this video help you understand predestination better?
Ephesians 3 – The magnitude of the effect of Jesus’ people coming together in the church across cultural and personal barriers gets unique expression here. The manifold wisdom of God evident in Jesus’ united body, the church, becomes a witness to the spiritual hosts (some commentators identify these as the spiritual enemies of the Gospel) of the greatness of the Gospel’s transformation of the human heart.
Paul goes through a lot of theology in verses 1–12 to get to his conclusion in verse 13. His concern is that the Ephesians not be overly concerned for him. He may be suffering for the Gospel, but they should not lose heart—and Paul has not lost heart—because the glory of the Gospel is weightier than his suffering. The mystery of the Gospel (vv. 2–6), the ministry of the Gospel (vv. 7–9), and the manifold wisdom of the Gospel (vv. 10–12) makes “counting the cost” an easy calculation.
If presidential campaigns can raise millions of dollars, recruit thousands of volunteers, and make hundreds of speeches, all for a human leader and a human message, how much more should we press on in the face of suffering when we announce a divine message and serve a heavenly King. After all, the sufferings of Believers, following our crucified Savior, are preparing a weight of glory for us beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).
In Paul’s second prayer for the Ephesians (verses 14-17), he asks the Father for power through the Spirit so that Jesus may dwell in their hearts through faith. This is one of the epistle’s many references to the Trinity (see 1:13–14; 2:18, 20–22: 3:14–17; 4:4–6; 5:18–20; 6:10–18). Our lives would be richer if the doctrine of the Trinity did more to inform our prayers, our praise, and our Christian practice. We are saved from first to last by the triune God—the Father planning salvation, the Son accomplishing salvation, and the Spirit applying salvation.
Paul’s main petition is for Spirit-given strength in our inner being. The specific nature of this strength is the ability to comprehend the incomprehensible love of Jesus. We will not be fully mature until this love is planted in our hearts. We will not live as God’s holy ones until we know that we are first of all His beloved ones. We will not treat our neighbors with mercy until we apprehend Jesus’ mercy toward us. We do not know anything about Christianity until we know the love of Jesus that surpasses knowledge.
Both prayers in the letter focus on power. In chapter 1 Paul asks that the Ephesians might know God’s power toward them (1:19) and in chapter 3 he asks that they might know God’s power at work within them (3:20).
The reason we doubt God’s ability to do far more abundantly than “all that we ask or think” is that we grossly underestimate the power at work within us. We do not have a little 9-volt battery of spiritual power inside of us, but an entire nuclear power plant of divine might. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now indwells us by His presence and Spirit. We get to anticipate, and request, that God will overcome big sins, change bad habits, and make us into better followers of Jesus. As long as He desires to get glory through the church and in Christ Jesus, we can be sure that God, in ways that are surprising and at times imperceptible, will magnificently exceed our expectations, to His everlasting honor and our everlasting joy.
How has this chapter helped you understand the mystery, ministry, and wisdom of the Gospel?
Ephesians 4 – The first three chapters were largely in the indicative (our identity): “God has done this for you. You were like this and have become that.” The last three chapters are largely in the imperative (do this): “Live this way. Do this; don’t do that.” God has called us by His grace and blessed us in Jesus (chapters ); therefore we get to live out our calling in Jesus as His holy and beloved people (chapters ). The indicative fuels the imperative; the imperative does not earn the indicative.
The first set of imperatives concerns the unity of the Spirit. Paul urges the Ephesians to maintain the bond of peace by doing four things. They are to be humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love.
How many relational problems could be avoided if only we waded into conflict more slowly and gave people the benefit of the doubt?
Having explained practically how to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Paul goes on to mention seven theological propositions that speak to the reality of the unity the church in Ephesus already shares: (1) We are one body. (2) We have one Spirit. (3) We have one hope. (4) We have one Lord. (5) We have one faith. (6) We have one baptism. (7) We have one God and Father of all. The unity of the church—which given this doctrinal foundation does not require any sort of watered-down theology—is precious to Jesus and precious to us (John 17:20–23).
Because Paul makes so much of our holiness in Christ and our secure inheritance through the Spirit, Believers sometimes make the mistake of thinking it is improper to speak of growth or of differing levels of attainment in the Christian life. But Paul clearly teaches the importance of Christian maturity and our need to grow into it.
This maturation, which is aided by gifted teachers and leaders, is described in a variety of ways: as the fullness of Jesus (v. 13), as doctrinal stability (v. 14), as growing up into Jesus (v. 15), and as strengthening the body (v. 16). It is important to note that Paul is describing much of this growth corporately, not just individually.
The church is Jesus’ instrument not only of world outreach and renewal but also of His sanctifying work in Believers’ own lives through Christian example, worship, and accountability. All of these contribute to our growth in grace. The good news of the Gospel is not just that we can be saved by Jesus but that we are being renewed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:4).
When we embraced Jesus and received Him, it was not to continue on in the same futile ways of thinking. If our lives do not differ from the lives of unbelievers, we have not truly learned of Jesus. When Jesus calls us to Himself it is always a call to leave the world, die to self, and live for God. Let us never accept a false gospel which says we can have Jesus as Savior without also having Him as Lord. It must be both or neither.
What does it look like, then, to have genuinely “learned Christ”? Paul mentions three things (using three infinitive verbs). Learning Jesus means we are renewed in the spirit of our minds (v. 23), we put off the old self (v. 22), and we put on the new (v. 24). These exhortations get to the heart of the New Testament view of sanctification. The moral imperative for the Believers is to “be who you now are.” We are new creations in Jesus, so let us turn away from the old ways of the world and live like new people of the Spirit. When we sin, we betray our new identity as sons and daughters of God. Our obedience does not create our holy status but reflects it, honors God by it, and aids others through our expression of it.
This section at the end of chapter 4 and into chapter 5 of seemingly random exhortations is much more structured than meets the eye. There are five areas of life which Paul highlights. Each topic contrasts two ways of living (“put off” and “put on”) and then offers an underlying motivation for Christlikeness.
We must choose between truth or lies (4:25), sinful anger or righteous anger (4:26–27), stealing or hard work (4:28), rotten talk or wholesome talk (4:29–30), bitterness or compassion (4:31–32). In each case, the motivation for godliness is more than a simple “God said so.” We pursue holiness for the good of our neighbor (4:25, 28–29), for the pleasure of God (4:30), and in imitation of and appreciation for God’s work in Jesus (4:32; 5:1–2).
How is the Spirit of Jesus maturing you each day?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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