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“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11 NLT).

September 25, 2018

Viewed as offices, at least one or two of these five roles would not remain active today. For instance, the office of apostle would include the qualification of having seen the resurrected Lord Jesus. Certainly, no one today could make that claim. However, viewed as “gifts,” as the NLT here translates it, the five may be considered not only active, but critical in the equipping of God’s people in the church.

Although the word “gifts” is not in the original Greek, it might be considered implied by the original, “he gave.” Viewing the five as gifts or as giftings, the characteristics of these five might be described as follows:

– APOSTLE – A gifted and passionate pioneer, who extends the mission of the church into new and healthy ways, breaking ground in new cultures, always looking to plant new churches where gospel hasn’t been heard.

– PROPHET – A gifted and passionate guardian of God’s Word, concerned with applying it to God’s people, calling for holiness and loyalty.

-EVANGELIST – A gifted and passionate proclaimer of the gospel as the core message of the church, a powerful enlister who invites people far from God to draw near.

– PASTOR/SHEPHERD – A gifted and loving nurturer and passionate defender of the flock, concerned for people care and maintaining unity in the family of God.

-TEACHER – A gifted communicator who is able to lead God’s people into deeper understanding of His Word, able to take complex things and explain them in simple, yet accurate and memorable ways, passionate about study and helping other to grow in knowledge and practice.

Viewed as “giftings,” doesn’t every church need all five in order to rightly equip the saints?

“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33 NKJV).

September 27, 2017

This is the summary of Paul’s instruction to husbands and wives. Husbands are to “love” their wives. This is the sacrificial love (Greek: “agape”) of Christ, which He expressed by laying down His life for us. Husbands are to be servant-leaders. Wives are to “respect” their husbands. A surprising command in light of the husband’s command to “love.” Shouldn’t the wife also love her husband? Yet, “respect” is the way most men receive love. So, respecting her husband is the best way to show her love. When the husband loves his wife with sacrificial love and the wife loves her husband with respectful love, then their house becomes a lighthouse, showing forth the “mystery” of Christ’s love for the church.

“according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:11-12 NKJV).

September 24, 2017

Americans may point to the First Amendment as the protection of free speech in our country. But it was revealed to the apostle Paul that it is actually those who are in Christ Jesus who have been given freedom of speech with God the Father. For those who are in Christ Jesus have been given both “boldness and access” to God. “Access” means that the curtain of separation between sinful man and holy God has been removed. Christ has opened up the “way” to God. We may enter into the very presence of God in Christ. Not only have we been granted an unlimited audience with God, we have been given freedom to speak all that we have on our hearts to Him. Yet, as Albert Barnes’s has noted, this “boldness is not rashness” and this confident access “is not presumption.” But we are able to approach God the Father with the freedom of being His children without fear of rejection.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV).

September 23, 2017

What is “grace?” Someone has said it is about “mercy, not merit.” This is true, yet grace is more than mercy. For mercy only withholds punishment. But grace forgives and adopts. Grace not only withholds what we do deserve, it gives us what we don’t deserve. For grace changes our status from rebel to righteous, from criminal against God, to child of God. Grace is the basis for our salvation (“by grace you have been saved”).

What is “faith?” It is trusting in the grace of God. Faith is the hand that takes hold of God’s gift, which is Christ Jesus, who died for our sins, was buried and raised on the third day. Yet, even this “hand” is a gift, for didn’t the God of grace also give us the “hand” of faith? So, do not make too much of your faith. It’s nothing to “boast” about. Even a child has the faith to open a gift. Therefore, if you boast, boast in the grace of God, which is Christ Jesus, our Lord!

So, if grace is the basis for our salvation and faith the means by which we receive it, then where do “good works” belong? If grace is the steam engine of salvation and faith is the coal car, then good works is the caboose. For good works follow salvation, but do not have the power to accomplish it. Good works are the evidence of salvation. They are the fruit on the branch that has been grafted into the Vine, which is Christ.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NKJV).

September 22, 2017

What is this “redemption?” When I was young my mother would collect “Green Stamps,” which were given as a bonus at most grocery stores. She would put them in a book and when she had collected enough, she would take her filled books to the Green Stamp store and “redeem” them for some desired item, usually something for the house, like silverware or a lamp. The doctrine of redemption has a similar meaning. The Greek word translated “redemption,” literally means to “buy back,” or to “buy out from.” Christ has bought us out from slavery to sin with His own blood. Redemption emphasizes that Christ has purchased us “out from” sin’s bondage and curse, which is death.

Yet, not only have we been redeemed “in Him, we have been forgiven “in Him.” This “forgiveness of sins” was accomplished by Christ’s sacrifice, which not only satisfied God’s justice, it reconciled us to God as our Father. This is the doctrine of propitiation.

So, “in Him” we have redemption, which buys us “out from” sin. And “in Him” we have forgiveness, which brings us “into” right relationship with God. All of this is accomplished “according to the riches of His grace.”

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)

September 28, 2016

The apostle Paul warned the believers in Ephesus not to go out into the world unprotected from spiritual warfare. He told them to be prepared for trouble by putting on the “whole armor of God.” There are six components to this armor, five defensive and one offensive:
1) Belt of Truth
2) Breastplate of Righteousness 
3) Gospel of Peace shoes
4) Shield of Faith
5) Helmet of Salvation
6) Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God. Our only offensive weapon.
Have you armored up today?

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)

September 25, 2016

Both the goal and the means of our speech are described. The goal is maturity in Christ. The means is twofold: “truth” and “love.” The mission of the Church is to make disciples who are being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The members of the Church are to speak the unvarnished, absolute truth to one another, so that they don’t fall prey to false doctrine and worldly deception. Yet, this truth should not be delivered in a harsh, judgmental way, but in a graceful and loving way. Our speech should have the goal of “building up” the hearer (Eph. 4:29). Some consider themselves truth-tellers and others are people-pleasers, but the Word calls for us to avoid both extremes. Instead, speak the truth in love.

“…In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV)

September 22, 2016

God’s motive for adoption is here explained. It was “in love” that God chose us before we knew Him. It was God’s love that moved Him to save us and to give us the rights of sonship through adoption (John 1:12). While the doctrines of regeneration and justification describe our salvation from sin and death (Romans 8:2), the doctrine of adoption describes our new relationship as a beloved child of God.

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV)

September 27, 2015

Not living under the influence of alcohol, but under the Spirit’s control. Two commands are given here, with the first being illustrative to help understand and emphasize the second. They are: 1) Don’t allow your mind and senses to be dulled and dissipated under the influence of alcohol by getting drunk. 2) Instead, be continuously filled with the Spirit, so that your mind and body are always being submitted to the Spirit’s influence. This “filling” is not a once in a lifetime command or need, but a continuous, moment by moment one. Not because the Spirit leaves us, for He never leaves those He has sealed. But because we must continually drink from the Spirit as from a fountain that lives within us. Remember that Christ told the woman at the well that those who asked from Him would receive “living water” that would become in them a “fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). The secret of living the abundant life is continuously living according to the Spirit’s filling, rather than by our own strength.