The friendship some never think about

Have you ever thought about the friendship of Paul and Luke?

When it comes to Paul and friendships, we usually think about Timothy (Philippians 2:19-20; 1 Timothy 1:2), or Titus (Titus 1:2) or maybe Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1-3, Romans 16:3). But Luke should be considered as well.

Luke was there in the midst of Paul’s mission journeys (Acts 16:10, 28:16 – note the use of “we”), and when it came to companionship – Paul could rely on Luke when so few cared to be counted on (2 Timothy 4:10-11).

We don’t have all the details of the friendship Paul and Luke shared, but we see enough to know Jesus changed the unlikely relationship this Jew (which Paul was) and Gentile (which Luke probably was) enjoyed together.

Luke the beloved physician….” (Colossians 4:14)

#friendship, #luke, #paul

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

Guest Article: Plato and Paul by Joshua Gulley

Plato and Paul by Joshua Gulley

As a diversion lately I’ve been reading a textbook I kept from college: Philosophy: History and Problems. In a chapter about Plato the authors describe his theory of “Forms.” Basically, forms are the essence of a thing—you and I, being humans, are copies, imitations, or manifestations of the form called “humanness.” Perhaps a better example would be the form called “Beauty,” of which there are many diverse expressions. A rose, for example, displays characteristics of the form “Beauty.” It doesn’t exhaust the characteristics of beauty, because beauty can be manifested in other things—a sunset, for example, or an attractive person, or a relationship that works properly. The things that display the form “beauty” are almost endless. The point is that these individual things are only manifestations of the “form,” which is said to exist independently of the things which are copies of it. In support of this idea is the fact that we make value judgments about the quality of things. We say that one particular “car” is better than another car, implying that there is a standard—an “ultimate car”—by which we measure the quality of a particular car—and one model is closer to that standard than another.

Like other philosophies, I suppose this one has weaknesses, but that’s not the reason I brought this one up. I find this philosophy of “forms” intriguing because it suggests there are two worlds—one that is made up of the things we see and handle, which are, as Plato suggests, copies of the true “forms” that exist separately from our experience. The analogies could be pushed to the extreme, but I think this aligns perfectly with what we understand from reading the Bible. There is a physical world—a world of the flesh, the things we experience. Then there is a spiritual world—a world of the “forms” or virtues that find expression in the physical world. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” All these we can imagine as “forms” which find expression in the actions we portray in everyday life. I’m ninth in line at Wal-Mart at the only register that is open despite the fact that it’s Wednesday night and they should know there will be an onslaught of customers, but instead of huffing, puffing, and describing the managers using creative adjectives, I make use of the time by saying a silent prayer, getting to know someone in line next to me, or thinking of all the things God has done for me today that I don’t deserve. My doing so is not the ultimate picture of “patience,” but it is a reflection of that “form” which exists separately from my individual demonstration of it.

I believe the apostle Paul has Plato’s back here. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Lord, may our lives be filled with demonstrations of those “forms” You call us to pursue; and by so doing, help us reflect Jesus, who is our life.

Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and is a member among the saints who belong to the Smithville Church of Christ

#forms, #fruit-of-the-holy-spirit, #god, #guest-article, #jesus, #paul, #philosophy, #plato

FAITH and WORKS

 

A good study of the New Testament helps us to see there is a role for works and a role for faith. Without faith as the underlying foundation in place, the role for works would be useless. The significance of this point is found in relationship to the apostle Paul, James, and many in the denominational world.

Paul, in the context of his letter to Rome, argued that man is justified by faith apart from works (Romans 3:28). In this con-text, it is important to know exactly what Paul had in mind with the word works. It seems that some in the denominational world, reacting to Catholic teachings with regard to works, insert the word alone after faith, thereby giving us the unbiblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

One can turn the pages of the New Testament forward from Matthew to Revelation, start again and do the same, and not find anywhere where it is taught by the Lord (or any who represent Him) that man is saved by faith alone. What he will find, however, is that man is saved by faith apart from works (as Paul declared); the word works as used by Paul in Romans is associated with the Law of Moses. In other words, Paul is making clear that justification is by faith apart from the works of the Law of Moses.

In comparison with what Paul said, James said that man’s works bring about God’s declaration of “righteous” (James 2:22-23). The word “works” as used by James (2:14-26) is not the same as the way Paul uses it.

How do we balance the two ideas? To begin, we see there is a difference between the two men in how the word works is used. Let us not misunderstand what Paul had in mind when he said what he did in Romans. If one would be pleasing to God, under the old covenant, then faithful obedience to the Law of Moses was paramount (crucial). Without the foundation of faith in place, obedience to anything the Lord said would not actually be obedience at all, but a mere doing, acting, or complying with some outward requirement, not properly brought about as a result of loving God. This in no way pleases the Lord!

Note how these two ideas play a crucial role in one’s salvation. In Genesis 15, the Lord declared Abraham righteous as a result of his faith (Genesis 15:6), and in Genesis 22:12, the Lord said with regard to Abraham’s work (and faith) “now I know…” The idea is this: faith has a starting point, but obedience to the Lord’s will and deeds (works) of charity bring that faith to a completion, a goal. Thus, when the Scripture says that Abraham was justified by his works, it was in relation to doing the Lord’s will.

When you hear (or read) of a denominational teaching like justified by faith alone, you can be sure that it is not from Scripture, but one’s personal theology (opinion). Yet, the Scriptures teach that, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). One can’t go wrong doing such things as this. RT

 

#denominations, #faith, #faith-alone, #james, #paul, #works

Long May Our Land Be Bright With Freedom’s Holy Light

An American patriotic hymn’s final verse is a prayer:
“Our father’s God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.”

When we sing this prayer, written in 1832 by Samuel Smith, we remember passages that talk about Christ’s concern for freedom. When Jesus preached in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he read a passage from Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19). He chastised religious leaders who attempted to go beyond the word of God in binding additional requirements on God’s people. He modeled how freedom works best when exercised with discipline and respect for others. Jesus could converse with people whom others disdained because of their lifestyle because he could see their potential for being God’s people. He could forgive people who tried to hurt him and even people who had committed adultery, but express anguish over others who tried to deny help to suffering individuals because of religious laws. Jesus understood, as they did not, that submission means giving up my desires and wants to serve another, not making another into a clone of myself. Freedom does not mean doing whatever one wants. The same biblical chapter that begins, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” also warns that those who engage in the acts of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God, and concludes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another” (Galatians 5:1, 19-21, 26). Freedom is messy. Sometimes I am bothered by something I observe in a congregation, but when I search the Scriptures, pray, and perhaps check out the history there, I realize they are merely exercising their freedom in Christ. That sometimes is hard for me to admit, because I thought initially that they were wrong and needed to be corrected. On the other hand, some times what people do or tolerate is wrong and should be corrected (Note Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, whom the apostle corrected on several issues. Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3) also emphasize that there are limits to individual and congregational freedom in Christ. What helps me is to imitate what Barnabas did at Antioch and look for the grace of God at work (Acts 11). Freedom, whether in our nation or in the church, may make us uncomfortable, but so long as it is in harmony with the word of God, we rejoice because we too are free in Christ.
We celebrate the beginnings of our nation’s independence and its continuing quest for freedom for its citizens. We moan because someone else’s freedom conflicts with our own. We worry when our freedoms (both as citizens and Christians) seem to be threatened. Let’s keep singing and praying that God will protect us and our nations (for those who live elsewhere), that he will use us to bring liberating light into the lives of our neighbors and our enemies, that we will grow in love and in disciplined use of the freedoms God has given us.

#barnabas, #freedom, #grace, #hymns, #jesus, #obedience, #paul, #prayer