Ephesians 2:18

[Originally posted by Helen and Roger Lewis on 11 December 2015]

Zephaniah 2, Ephesians 2


 Ephesians 2:18  (New International Version)

18 Through [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


One, two, three: access have we.

One Spirit. The Spirit does not divide but unite. There is an essential unity in Christianity: one Spirit, one Lord, one God, one faith, one baptism, one body, one hope.

We both. The two parties directly referred to in this letter were Israel and others. Christ made the two groups one. He made one new humanity out of the two. Both now have access to the Father, through the Spirit. There are no divisions in the renewed humanity. Jew and Gentile, men and women, bound and free, together are reconciled to God in Christ.

Three in one. These few words depict the relationship of three persons in one God. In theological terms, the Trinity. The movement is by the Spirit, through Christ, to the Father.

But the striking heart of the passage is ‘we have access’. Each one of us, individually, but together as the redeemed people of God, can approach the unapproachable, can commune with the almighty and holy God, now that the Son has opened up the way, and the Spirit is with us as our guide.

 

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The battery of good works God has already prepared for us to do.

Today’s (Fr 05/01/2018) FDR is Ephesians 5:1-20

The previous readings in the last few days have sought to remind us of our response to God on becoming Christians. (Thanks Steve for these.)  Much of the underlying theme of each of these is the path made smooth for us by Jesus.  Just as the lead Sherpa, when climbing Mt Everest, seeks to find the best path for we who are following, to tread trustingly to reach our goal.  So are Jesus demonstrations and instructions about how to live as believers in this world.

So that we as faithful Christians may adopt a lifestyle that exemplifies God as described in these 20 verses.

vv 1 & 2 asks us to not just talk to the talk, but to walk the walk.  That is to act in Christian ways, “to walk in the way of love.”  Essentially we are encouraged to act as Christ taught us.  Yes even to imitate God by taking on Jesus example of behaviour.

vv 3 -7 Provides us with a list of behaviours and people who behave in these ways that are to be rejected.

vv 8 – 20 encourages us to ” . . live as children of light . .” (v8), “. . making the most of every opportunity, . .” (v16), ” but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (v17b) and “. . .be filled with the Spirit, . .” (v18b).

 

Hebrews 10: 23 & 24 has this to say about why we should act like this;

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

Martin Luther (1483-1546) picks up on the continual imperative of imitating God with these words:

This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed. (1)

 

Lastly, but not least, we should ask for guidance and assistance through prayer;

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy on me.

Almighty God, Creator and sustainer of the universe, I worship you.
Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord of the World, I worship you.
Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to  ripe in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and shell be forever.
Amen.

 

Blessings,
Glenn

(1) Defense and Explanation of All the Articles”, transl. 
Charles M. Jacobs, in Luther’s Works, Volume 34 (Philadelphia: 
Muhlenberg Press, 1958), 24.

The Things of the World

I remember when I became a Christian some 23 years ago. Some “things of the world” such as swearing and drinking excessively stopped straight away. But many things I still struggle with and are much more ingrained. This passage is a good reminder of three things as I continue this struggle:
  1. How easy it is to go along with the rest of the world and before I know it, I’ve lost touch with God. As such, I need to be reading His Word regularly and allowing myself to be shaped by it, not the world.
  2. The need to be hard-lined with anything that prevents me from growing in godliness. Note Paul’s strong words in v22 “You must get rid of your old way of life”
  3. The importance of having healthy relationships with others. Note that the sins Paul mentions in v25-29 (lying, swearing, uncontrolled anger, and stealing) damage relationships and hurt others.

And like most of Paul’s letters, they contain words that we can turn into prayers to help us pray positively. In this case, about what is likely the root cause of all our sins – our heart.

Prayer – Lord, I’m sorry for grieving you and breaking your heart when I sin. Please forgive me. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. Please renew me from the inside out. Work yourself into my conduct and may your character be reproduced in me in all I think, say, and do today.

 

Consider Your Ways

On day, just over 2500 years ago – August 29, 520 BC to be precise, a man stood up in the middle of his community in Jerusalem and began to challenge them about where their priorities lay. That man’s name was Haggai.

Having returned from exile in Babylon, the first thing the Jewish people did was clear away the rubble from the area where the temple of Solomon had stood. They marked out a new foundation and put up an alter so they once again could offer sacrifices to God. But then more practical matters became the priority. The people needed houses to live in, and markets in which to trade and fields planted to grow crops …. and any further work to rebuild the temple was neglected. For 16 more years weeds covered the temple’s foundation. The people in their spiritual complacency had convinced themselves that if they made themselves prosperous and satisfied their own needs, they would be in a better position to meet their obligations to God.

Haggai stood up in a society like ours where people were busy, where people had to work hard to make ends meet. He looked his community squarely in the eye with a message from God and put it to them – “Consider your ways” – a theme he repeats throughout his short book (1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18).

 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:4-5)

His challenge was for the people (and us reading his words today) to evaluate their/our lives in the light of God’s direction and biblical priorities. The people had worked hard to have it all, yet they never seamed to get ahead.

You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. (v6)

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. (v9)

His words where a bombshell that awoke his community of spiritual couch potatoes from their slumber and propelled them to a new level of commitment. The penny had finally dropped why they weren’t getting ahead in life – the God who had brought them out of exile had not been their Number 1 priority.

Overnight from the top down, the entire community was transformed – its focus was shifted from self back to God.

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel (the governor), and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. (v12)

While many of the Old Testament prophets were either ignored or attacked, Haggai had success – the people of Jerusalem responded to the message with joyful obedience and the work on the temple recommenced.

And God responded with the words that Ron shared in Sunday’s sermon – “I am with you” and the spirits of the people were stirred.

May we today take the time to “Consider our ways”.

Our New Testament reading from Ephesians 4 is entitled “Unity in the Body of Christ”.

Reflecting on this passage after the all the work that went in to stage Figtree Community Carols – I see afresh how important these words are. We all have different gifts – musicians, singers, dancers, sound technicians, food preparation, cooking, serving, security, librarians, welcomers, face painters, cleaners and all the many other ways that people served – when we work together “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” in unity as one body – we can so effectively be the hands of Christ reaching out to our community.

Stay united Faithful Daily Readers

Glenn B

 

 

Ephesians 2:18

Zephaniah 2, Ephesians 2


 Ephesians 2:18  (New International Version)

18 Through [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


One, two, three: access have we.

One Spirit. The Spirit does not divide but unite. There is an essential unity in Christianity: one Spirit, one Lord, one God, one faith, one baptism, one body, one hope.

We both. The two parties directly referred to in this letter were Israel and others. Christ made the two groups one. He made one new humanity out of the two. Both now have access to the Father, through the Spirit. There are no divisions in the renewed humanity. Jew and Gentile, men and women, bound and free, together are reconciled to God in Christ.

Three in one. These few words depict the relationship of three persons in one God. In theological terms, the Trinity. The movement is by the Spirit, through Christ, to the Father.

But the striking heart of the passage is ‘we have access’. Each one of us, individually, but together as the redeemed people of God, can approach the unapproachable, can commune with the almighty and holy God, now that the Son has opened up the way, and the Spirit is with us as our guide.

 

Battling for the Lord

Today’s readings: Proverbs 21; Ephesians 6:10-20

Every day we are confronted by conflict in the world. However gloomy it looks, the Bible assures us that, “There is no wisdom, no insight, and no plan that can succeed against the LORD; the horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD” (Proverbs 21:30, 31). So no human wisdom or understanding can outwit God, and whatever preparation we make, in the end victory lies in God’s hand. We are told too that, “to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3). How do we live a life that is “right and just”?

Firstly, we must make sure we’re on the right side. The central pillar of the bible story reveals how a just, merciful and loving God, brings self-centred people like ourselves into a right relationship with himself through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ. When we come into a right relationship with God we obtain a new identity and a desire to be “right and just”. We desire to forego our selfish orientation and become Christ-centred, living life by his principles.

Yet becoming Christ-centred is not a simple matter. As Paul reflects in Romans 7:25, “In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin”. Paul was thinking only of his inner struggle, his internal civil war – but today’s Ephesians passage shows that we have an even more challenging struggle which comes at us from all sides.

In the first section of this letter Paul explains the new identity believers have in Christ. In the next section he applies the rules of godliness to relationships in the Christian community, in home life, and in social life. In Ephesians 6:10-20 Paul confronts us with a startling revelation: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). This is a difficult passage. Its content does not sit easily with us western Christians, whose reliance on science has dulled our senses to the spiritual realm. We must not underestimate the power of the forces of evil against us for they are from an intelligent strategist who is frequently deceptive.

We don’t face this struggle alone. A loving and perceptive God knows our human weaknesses in this cosmic battle. He provides armour that can keep us firm in our resolve and upright in our actions, with the reassurance that when we have put on this armour we will be still standing when the struggle is over (6:13). God designed the armour, so we can be absolutely certain that it is suitable for the job. He provided it, but it is our responsibility by a conscious act toput on the full armour of God” (6:11, 13).

The armour imagery is of a first-century Roman foot soldier. To survive the battle we need to put on all of these components:

  • The belt of truth. Sincerity and integrity – which contrasts with the deception of the devil.
  • The breastplate of righteousness. Uprightness of character and conduct.
  • Feet fitted with readiness. Roman soldiers had spikes in their sandals so they would not slip or slide in battle. Our “spikes” are the “peace of God that guards our hearts and minds” (Phil 4:7).
  • The shield of faith. A body-length oblong shield. Reliance on the promises of God in times of doubt and temptation.
  • The helmet of salvation. Assurance of our present position of adoption into God’s family, and of future and final salvation.
  • The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This can be used for defense or attack and is our only offensive weapon. This is the written Scriptures, God’s revelation which is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Finally, Paul wants us to, “be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer is not an optional extra but is a natural component of the armour, since prayer shows our dependence on God as we put on this armour and our unity with those battling alongside us.

Something to work on: the Sword of the Spirit plays a vital role in the daily life of a Christian. Do we keep it sharp by reading the Bible and pondering its meaning (Psalm 119:11)?  By discussing its content with other Christians (Proverbs 27:17)?  Since our inner being is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:4), do we allow the Holy Spirit to constantly correct our vision through our growing knowledge of God’s Word.  Have we brought this biblical knowledge to bear when thinking of the values we absorb from the society around us?  How much have society’s values affected our values?  Do we know enough of the bible’s principles to refute the values of our culture?

Nev

Ephesians 3:6

Proverbs 15, Ephesians 3:1-13


 Ephesians 3:6  (New International Version)

 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.


“Mystery” occurs many times in Ephesians, several times in today’s passage (Ephesians 3:1-13) and is the focus of this verse (Ephesians 3:6). “Mystery” here is not an unsolved enigma, like a murder mystery, or an unexpected connection, like pepper improving strawberries. Rather, this mystery is something that was once hidden but is now unveiled. An open secret.

The mystery concerns the gospel. The mystery involves the Gentiles – thus most of the population of Figtree. The mystery is the status the gospel gives the Gentiles and is stated in three ways:

  • Heirs together with Israel – those who will inherit the good things God has in store. There is no effort or merit needed to be an heir, it is simply the position of being the child of a parent; in this case, the adopted child of the heavenly Father.
  • Members together of one body – living tissue in the body of Christ, bricks in the building in which God lives by his Spirit.
  • Sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus – for no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.

These are three different aspects, but the one common theme is getting it together: heirs together, members together, sharers together; Gentiles and Israel, together, the community of faith.