Take up the shield of faith

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” Eph 6.16 NIV.

A shield provides protection. We need protection from the evil one. He is the devil, the father of lies and a highly successful warrior against the sons of man. He always takes aim in order to bring us down spiritually. Our protection from the evil one is faith. This faith must be taken up. It must be used. We must put our faith into play in order for it to protect us. Faith is useless to us if not taken up.

How do we take up the shield of faith? By practicing the word of God. By obeying the commandment of God. By believing the promises of God. By proclaiming the salvation of God. By putting first the kingdom of God.

Faith is active. It bids us to take hold of its power. Without it we cannot be successful against the evil one. Without it we cannot be successful in the victory of God.

#action, #ephesians, #faith

The kind of love God has toward us

What kind of love does God have toward us?

On one occasion, Paul described God’s love like this:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4)

According to the context, even before we were saved God had (and by default still does) a great love for us – a love too large to express in words alone.

Read Ephesians 2 and you will see that this great love, expressed through Jesus, was great enough to cover the multitude of our sins against God, to cover the vast distance between us and a right relationship with God, and to cover us all in the same household and family of God.

And that’s why Paul considered the love of God to be huge news for the world!

#description, #ephesians, #love-of-god

Thought # 3 – In Him We Have Redemption Through His Blood

Text: Ephesians 1:7-10

There are many reasons why Christians should praise God. One of the reasons is for the work of the Son of God in redemption. In Eph. 1:7-10, Paul expresses his praise for the great redemption through the Lord Jesus.

We all need the forgiveness of our sins! All of us are in spiritual bondage and imprisonment, whether we know it or not. Paul wrote in Col. 1:13-14, “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.”

Most of us, I’m quite sure, prefer light to darkness. Without Jesus, all of us were in darkness, members, although we may not have known it, in the kingdom of Satan. Our heavenly Father desired that we all come to a saving knowledge and has provided the means through His Son, the Lord Jesus. We are glad that we can share in the inheritance He has for us (Col. 1:12).

The Word of God describes this transformation as changing kingdoms. We have been brought out of darkness into the marvelous light of the Gospel. The terminology used here by Paul is a military illustration. It pictures Rome going into a free country and as a result of waging war and winning they subdue that nation and take them into captivity. But in the spiritual realm, we are the ones in bondage and when we accept The Lord Jesus and obey the Gospel, we are “transferred” (NASV) or “translated” (KJV) or are “conveyed” (NKJV) out of that bondage into the light of the Gospel. But it does not end there.

Paul tells the Galatians that we were bought with a price (Gal. 3:13). Our freedom cost Jesus His life. What should be our response to His redemptive work? We should pour out our hearts in praise. We should love Him greatly because of what He did for us. The Psalmist said in Psalm 1:30:3-4, “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness.” (NLT)

Jesus lavished grace on us. “O, the love that drew salvations’s plan, O the grace that brought it down to man. O the mighty gulf that god did span—at Calvary” ! It is truly amazing grace. We do not have the words to express His grace.

Since we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins (Col. 1:14) we must put our new found faith to the test. We have been called out of that dark kingdom, changed by the light of the Gospel and now have the privilege to go back into that kingdom, now empowered by the Holy Spirit and utilizing the Whole Armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to help others find their way out. We can never work our way to heaven, but upon salvation, we are to be the best workers the Lord has. Let’s be found letting our light shine for Jesus (1 Peter 2:10)!

-Larry Miles, April 18, 2015

#bible, #ephesians, #new-testament, #paul, #thoughts-form-ephesians, #word-of-god

Thought #2: We Have Been Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing

Text: Eph. 1:3

The Apostle Paul is writing this epistle to the Christians in the city of Ephesus. He has talked about grace and peace in Eph. 1:2. We know that the “grace of God” was manifested in the person of the Lord Jesus. That grace was also an action, whereby God showed forth His love for lost mankind and the Lord Jesus was the Redeemer who came down to Earth to die for the sins of man­kind. Since we are now “in Christ,” we can claim the blessings in the letter also.

In Eph 1:3, Paul stresses first of all that we need to praising the Heavenly Father above all things. God wants to bestow, yea, even lavish his love and blessings on His children. He is not up there in Heaven blessing us sparingly. Jesus said that He came that we might have an abundant life in Him. We must desire all that He has for us. We must want to live the Christian life to the fullest, learning more about Jesus every day. We strive for this because we want to “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus,” as well as encouraging our fellow believers in their walk and reaching the lost with the message of salvation.

He has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places IN CHRIST.” The same Greek words rendered here “heavenly places” are translated heavenly things” in James 3:12. Since we are “citizens of Heaven,” (Phil. 3:20) we must look to the things above and not things on the earth. Our spiritual mindset must be honed in on Jesus at all times. We are but pilgrims and strangers here on earth. We sing “this world is not my home…,” and rightly so. But we are as John says in I John 2:15-17 “in the world but not of the world,” we have to have a heavenly perspective in life. That perspective comes from believing the words of Paul here in Eph. 1:3.

Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and worships with the Cherry St Church of Christ in New Albany, IN

#bible, #ephesians, #new-testament, #paul, #thoughts-from-ephesians, #word-of-god

Thoughts From The Book of Ephesians (Thought #1)

I have  been  working on  a  new series of   articles based on the  book of Ephesians– I have  12 “Thoughts”  done so far.  These  will take the  reader  through Eph. 2:10

 

Thought # 1: The Writer and the Recipients

Text: Eph. 1:1
When people wrote letters back in Biblical times they put their name at the beginning of the letter. We do just the opposite. This is called the “salutation.” The Apostle Paul, at the beginning of this epistle, lets his readers know who he is, what his credentials are for writing the letter and to whom he is writing the letter.

All of this is included in Eph. 1:1. Verse 2 is his greeting. Paul was not one of the original 12 Apostles. His Apostleship is by special appointment from the Lord Jesus. He received this as­signment to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Thank the Lord that he took this privilege and honor seri­ously. If he and others whom he reached with the Gospel had not, then we would not be here today en­joying the blessings of salvation.

“…By the will of God.” It was and is God’s will that all mankind be saved and He has provided a way through His Son that all may be saved. But we all know that the majority of mankind, both past, present and future will not accept that way of salvation. Paul was faithful in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Those whom Paul is writing to are named in the latter part of Eph. 1:1. The primary audi­ence of the writers of the Word of God was locally those in the first century, but we can share in these titles that Paul used for the Ephesian Christians on the basis of our faith and obedience to the Gospel.

The recipients of Paul’s letter were the Christians in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. Paul gives at least 2 names, perhaps 3, for Christians in verse 1. He calls them (1) “Saints; (2) faithful, and (3) in Christ Jesus.”

A “saint” in the New Testament, is not a sinless person, but a saved sinner. Faithfulness to the Lord is required if one wants to enjoy all that God has for him or her. Paul stresses that Christians are “in Christ.” As I said earlier in this devotion: Christians are saved by grace, through faith, in bap­tism, for good works. Let all of us strive to dedicate our lives to the Lord and His Church and help others find their way out of darkness into the marvelous light of the Gospel.

-Larry Miles

Louisville, KY

http://larryslines.com

#articles-by-larry-miles, #bible, #ephesians, #faithfulness, #new-testament, #paul, #thoughts-from-ephesians, #word-of-god

Textual parallels in Ephesians and Colossians

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eph-col-parallels

#bible-study, #colossians, #ephesians, #textual-parallels

Some Thoughts on Ephesians 1

Introduction and greetings (1:1-2). It was customary for Paul to start his letters by stating from whom the letter (epistle) came. Paul was chosen by the Lord Jesus to be an apostle (one sent out, a messenger), proclaiming God’s will to many, including those who resided in Ephesus. Those to whom he addressed this letter were Christians, they were saints.

The significance of belonging to the body of Christ (1:3 – 3:21). The spiritual blessings (1:3-14). In this section we have the great encouragement of God. All spiritual blessing are in Christ (cf. Acts 4:12). The clear implication is that there are NO spiritual blessings outside of Christ. This was the plan of the Father. Consider, briefly, from verses 1 through 14 what spiritual blessings Paul identifies. First, in Christ we are to be holy and without blame (Hebrews 12:14). Second, we have been adopted as sons of the Father. Third, we have redemption, that is, the forgiveness of our sins. Fourth, we have an inheritance. Fifth, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (cf. 2 Timothy 2:19). On this last, Curtis Vaughan said the seal represent three uses: to authenticate as genuine, to render secure, and to denote ownership. These indeed are spiritual blessings (1:1-6).

Election and predestination (1:3-6). As mentioned there are no spiritual blessings outside of Christ; that is, with regard to heavenly rewards. God chose this to be that way for those that belong to Him, just as He had chosen those of Ephesus (and us) when they (we) became Christian. The idea of being chosen by God might be perplexing. After reflection, however, the perplexity can be set aside (hopefully). God chose, Abraham, He chose Jacob, and He chose Paul. Each one of these men could have refused God’s invitation (cf. Acts 26:19; Titus 2:11-14; Matthew 11:28). God also chose us to be of a certain quality, that is, to be holy and without blame in Christ (1:4). It is up to each of us to accept this invite or refuse it. Let me also say a word about “predestined” (1:5, NKJV). This English word is made of two words, “pre” meaning before and “destined” meaning to designate. The dictionary defines the word to designate, assign, or dedicate in advance. From the word we learn that God “predestined” us unto something. What was that something? He beforehand designated us unto adoption, as His sons. This is in accordance with His good pleasure. Now, the question that often results from a reading of chapter 1 is whether man had any role in his own salvation. In one respect, the answer is no; in another the answer is yes. Salvation is entirely of God; that is, without God’s offer of the free gift (salvation), man could not be saved. However, man has an obligation to hear and respond to that message of God in order that he would be saved, and in this respect, man has a role (cf. 1:13). God chose and predestined us to His glory, and His glory was (is) that we be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4). He has made available to all men salvation; it is up to each to decide (cf. Joshua 24:15).

The Son’s redemption (1:7-12). Since all spiritual blessings are in Christ, note Paul’s identifying of them. We have forgiveness, we have spiritual wisdom and prudence (insight, NET), and we have been adopted as sons. The significance of this is really explained in 2:1-6. Our Lord redeemed (bought, purchased) our souls for His own good pleasure when we accepted (trusted) in the Lord after having heard the message of hope. Whereas we were at one time captives to Satan’s hold, because we trusted in the Lord we have been redeemed from the clutches of Satan’s bonds. This which we have is made known to us by the coming and dying of the Lord Jesus. Without that, Paul would have no message to preach.

The Spirit’s seal or down payment (1:13-14). So strong was Satan’s hold that there was nothing we could do to escape from it. However, with the coming of God’s Son (Galatians 4:4), the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) lost his grip (2 Timothy 1:8-10). In order that Satan could not reach in and grab us (if you will) God closed up that “ark of safety” and placed a seal on those that belonged to Him (the church), as a king would seal a document and no one could open but those authorized by the king, God placed a seal on us and only He is authorized to open it (cf. 2 Timothy 2:19).

Paul’s prayer (1:15-23). With such a lengthy expression of what it means to have all spiritual blessings in Christ, Paul is very grateful that those to whom he addressed this epistle are now among those saved by the blood of the Lamb. He is not only grateful for their response but he continues to pray that they would gain even more spiritual enlightenment in the knowledge of Him who saved us; that we would know the hope of His calling; and that we would know the greatness of His power toward us. “How do we receive a greater knowledge of God? In this context God supplies wisdom, in answer to prayer, to help His people understand and apply properly the truths in His revealed message” (Lockhart, p. 84). All this is found in the Lord Jesus, He who is seated above all that this earth presents and represents. In fact, all things of this earthly realm are in submission to Him, and He is the head of that holy institution called the church, which is His body, and only the church will be saved (1:22-23; 5:23).

Particular doctrines worth notice.  We already mentioned something on election and predestination, but let us notice the word church in Ephesians. The church is the body, and only the body of Christ will be saved (5:23; cf. 2 Timothy 2:19). A number of facts pertaining to the church should not be forgotten: 1) the Lord built it and, thus, it belongs to Him (Matthew 16:13-19), 2) those who respond to the Lord’s invitation to be saved are placed in His church (Acts 2:47; cf. Colossians 1:13, 18), 3) those who are in the Lord’s church are called saints (1:1; there are no non-saints in the church), 4) there is only one body, thus there is only one church (4:4), 5) the plan for the church got its start in the Lord’s mind and even before time began (3:8-11), 6) only those in the Lord’s church will be saved (5:23). When we begin to think of the Lord’s church as a denomination we pollute the church with a man-made ideology. The church is an institution, but it is a divinely organized institution, and those who relegate it as something insignificant do so to their own peril. People make up the Lord’s church and whatever failings there might be in them, to leave the local church, to speak against the local church, to run down the leadership of the local church, to do anything that would cast a negative reflection on the Lord’s body—does that one thing he (she) will escape the Lord’s judgment!

#ephesians