A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 1
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesus was a harbor city on the Aegean sea, and a major commercial center of Asia Minor. It was the location of the pagan temple of Diana (which was three times the size of the Parthenon in Athens), and considered one of the even wonders of the ancient world. Ephesians is one of what are considered the “Prison Epistles” written from Rome – the others being Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.
Eph. 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” An apostle is a special messenger sent from God. Notice, he was an apostle “by the will of God.” Rom 1:1 says “called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” 1Cor 1:1 says, “called to be an apostle… through the will of God.” Gal 1:1 says, “An apostle, not of men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.” Paul once again confirms his Apostleship was bestowed upon him directly from God.
Eph. 1:1 “…To the saints… and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This same terminology is used by Paul in Col. 1:2. Some believe this speaks of two different classes of people; but it is better understood as just a further description of the saints. The (true) saints are the faithful brethren. Those with Jesus (born again) are called, chosen and faithful (Rev 17:14). Those who are saints are called to be saints, and beloved of God, and sanctified (Rom 1:7, 1Cor 1:2).
A Chihuahua and Great Dane are worlds apart as far a size, abilities, purpose, etc.; but they are both canines and have the dog nature. No doubt there are true Christians who are more faithful than others; but if born-again, they are Christian nonetheless. Also notice in Matthew 20 that at the end of the day, all were paid the same – from the least to the greatest.
Eph. 1:2 “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul prayed for grace and peace to be upon the Saints. How do we receive this and walk in it? Through knowing God and Jesus Christ (2Pt 1:2). Grace and peace are gifts bestowed upon us; but as we increase in the knowledge of God through reading, study and prayer, we will be “multiplied unto us.”
Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Blessed – praise and thanksgiving be to God, because He has blessed us with “ALL spiritual blessings.” All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28). With Christ, we are also freely given ALL things (Rom 8:32). We are complete in Him (Col 2:10). Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Jam 1:17). We have been given All things that pertain to life and godliness (2Pt 1:3).
All these blessings are ours, and they are all found in Christ. We do not have to strive to attain them. This is why Paul’s prayers for the saints in Eph 1 & 3 concern them “understanding”, “comprehending”, “being enlightened”, “knowing”, receiving “revelation”, etc. In other words, we need to know and understand what we already have in Christ! Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 2
By Pastor J.D. Link
Last week we started our series on the letter to the Ephesians, covering verses 1-3. We will continue today, starting on verse 4.
Vs. 4 – “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Why does God bless the saints with all spiritual blessings (vs. 3)? Because He has chosen us in Christ before creation even took place, “That we should be holy and blameless before Him” in love. This is speaking of position, rather than action. Of course, as new creations in Christ, we ought to pursue holiness; but this verse is speaking of our standing before God in Christ; and the free blessings we receive.
The new man (new creation) is created by God in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24). The partakers of the heavenly calling are “holy brethren” (Heb 3:1). Paul prayed our spirit, soul and body would be preserved blameless (1Thess 5:23) – signifying that in one sense (spirit) it is already blameless. Though we are blameless in spirit, Peter tells us to be diligent in our Christian walk to be found (in deed) blameless (2Pt. 3:14).
Vs. 5 – Eph 1:5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” God has no natural-born children. We must be adopted, and this only happens through relationship with Jesus Christ. Predestination has nothing to do with our works (Rom 11:5-7), but according to God’s good pleasure – for the saints were chosen before the foundation of the world (vs.4).
“Predestinate” means “predetermine, decide beforehand, foreordain, appoint beforehand”. It is according to God’s own will (vs.11). Our election is mentioned many times in Scripture (Rom 8:33, 9:11; Mk 13:20, Col 3:12, 2Tim 2:10, Titus 1:1, 2Jn 1:1, 1Thess 1:4, 2Pt 1:10), and is based on God’s foreknowledge (Rom 8:29-30, 1Pt. 1:2, Rom 9:23-24). The elect are predestined, called (Heb 9:15, Rom 8:30), and chosen (1Pt 2:9, Rev 17:14).
The doctrine of election and predestination is clear in God’s Word, and must be accepted by any Bible-believing Christian. However, there are two main “camps” that disagree – essentially on the definition of foreknowledge. True and faithful Christians are found on both sides of this debate; most notably John Wesley (an Arminian) and George Whitefield (a Calvinist) back in the 1700’s.
The essential question is: Based on foreknowledge, is God’s electing reactive or proactive? The Arminian believes it is reactive; meaning God looked into the future, and elected those whom He saw would choose Him. The Calvinist believes it is proactive; meaning God sovereignly chose the elect according to His own good pleasure and will before creation, because no one would choose God without first being chosen by Him (see Rom 3:10-12, Jn. 6:44, 65, 39).
Regardless of our definition on foreknowledge, the Scripture is clear that there is an elect – a predestined, chosen and called group of people who will be drawn to Christ by the Father; will be justified through faith; and will be glorified forever in heaven. Our job is not to try and determine who these people are, but rather to believe the Gospel call ourselves, and then proclaim that same Gospel to every person (Mk 16:15-16). God is just, and whosoever will come to Christ in faith, Jesus will not cast out (Jn 6:37). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 3
By Pastor J.D. Link
Today we will continue to work our way through Ephesians. In verse 6 Paul writes, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Referring to verse 5, he says that our predestination for adoption, according to His will, is to the praise and glory of His grace. It is not by our works, but according to His mercy and grace (Titus 3:5).
Through His grace, we have been “made accepted” IN the Beloved – who is Christ (Mt. 3:17, 17:5, Col 1:13). It is “in” Christ, that we now have no condemnation (Rom 8:1). It is “in” Christ, that we receive His righteousness (Philp 3:9, 2Cor 5:21). This is why Jesus is the only way to be accepted, free from condemnation and made righteous – because these things are found “in” Him. We cannot reject Christ, and yet attain these things. If we do not have Him, we do not have these blessings.
Eph 1:7 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Redemption means a “releasing effected by payment of ransom; a deliverance.” This redemption cannot be through earthly things, but only by His blood (1Pt 1:18-19). Through redemption, we are freely justified (declared righteous before God) (Rom 3:24). This redemption is not temporary, but eternal (Heb 9:12). We are not only redeemed from the kingdom of darkness; but from sin, as well – that we might be a holy people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14).
“The forgiveness of sins”. In order to receive this forgiveness, we must repent and be converted; and then our sins are blotted out (Act3:19). We are all dead in our sins, until we are made alive in Christ – and then we are forgiven all trespasses (Col 2:13). If we are walking in the true Light, we are cleansed from all sin (1Jn 1:7-8). The saint’s sins are forgiven (1Jn 2:12). We are blessed, because our iniquities are forgiven, and God will not impute sin to us (Rom 4:7-8). We are washed from our sins by the blood of Jesus (Rev 1:5).
Eph 1:8 says, “ Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). This wisdom is a hidden wisdom; available to those who are in union with Christ (1Cor 2:7). The world’s wisdom is foolishness to God; and God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world. This is why the world looks at the saints like we’re fools – and we look at the world in the same way. I encourage you to read the first and second chapters of 1 Corinthians carefully for more understanding of this important subject. Space doesn’t permit me to say all that needs to be said here. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 4
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 1:8-9 “Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.”
As we have already seen, “wherein” is speaking of God’s grace (end of verse 7). In God’s grace, He abounded (super-abound, be in excess, increase) toward us in all wisdom and prudence. How did He do this? By making known unto us the mystery of His will. He did this strictly because it was His good pleasure to do so.
1 Corinthians chapters 1 & 2 give us much insight into this abounding wisdom. We learn that true wisdom is spiritual wisdom; God’s eternal wisdom. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. The wisdom of God is the preaching of the cross. It is preaching Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1Cor 1:18, 23; 2:2). This wisdom seems foolish to the lost world, but that is because their wisdom does not lie in spiritual truth, but in the vanity of their own intellect. This is why many of them are not called (1Cor 1:26).
To the worldly-wise person, Believers seem foolish, weak, base, despised and nothing (1Cor 1:27-28). However, these are the very people God calls and uses for His divine purpose. Why does He choose them? Because they have nothing to boast in. They will give God all of the glory, as He should have (1Cor 1:29, 31). Christ is their everything. He is their wisdom; their righteousness; their sanctification and redemption (1Cor 1:30).
Only those spiritually perfected (born again) can receive this wisdom of God (1Cor 2:6, 10-12). The natural man cannot receive it. It seems foolish to him (1Cor 2:14), because he is spiritually blind. This is why new creations in Christ are often misunderstood in this world.
The “mystery of His will” (Eph 1:9) is the hidden wisdom of God (1Cor 2:7). It is the Gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ (Rom 16:25-26). It is the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of eternal glory (Col 1:25-27). It is “God manifest in the flesh”, and the inclusion of the Gentiles (all non-Jews) in the New Covenant (1Tim 3:16). To know this and believe this is true wisdom. In this sense, Christians are the wisest people in the world – though they may be thought of as simpletons.
Eph 1:10 “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” By this heavenly wisdom, we know the “fulness of times” started at the birth of Christ (Gal 4:4-5); and will culminate in all things being put under His dominion, where He will then turn everything over to the Father (1Cor 15:27-28). This is God’s master plan for the ages, and is revealed to and understood by the spiritually alive in Christ. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 5
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 1:11 says, “ In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” “In whom” is speaking of Christ. In Him we have obtained an inheritance. Why? Because we were predestined (determined beforehand) by God according to His purpose and will, that we should have this inheritance.
God’s Word reminds us often of our inheritance as the children of God. We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17); our inheritance is our reward (Col 3:24), and it is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and eternal – reserved in heaven for us” (1Pt 1:4). It is the blessing we’re called to inherit (1Pt 3:9).
Eph 1:12 “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” “We” speaks of the early church saints (who were the apostles and Jewish Christians) who were predestined, to the praise and glory of God (Rom 11:1-8, 20). “Who first trusted” is speaking of those had first hoped in the coming Messiah.This is again clearly speaking of the believing Jews.
Eph 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” “In whom you also trusted” is now refferring to the saints at Ephesus, and the Gentiles in general – showing Jews and Gentiles must come to God the same way.
“AFTER you heard the Word of Truth, which is the Gospel of Salvation” (Rom 10:13-17). Jew and Gentile alike receives salvation through the hearing of the Gospel (Col 1:5-6, 1Thess 2:13, Rom 1:16). The Gospel is the Word of truth (Jam 1:18) which we must hear. Then faith is generated within us, and we believe – becoming a child of God (Jn 1:12). We are then sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-17, Eph 4:30, 2Cor 1:21-22).
“Sealed” means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation” (Strong’s). So, stamped and preserved are what we are in Christ. Below is a Scofield Bible footnote that explains it well:
“The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal. In the symbolism of Scripture a seal signifies (1) A finished transaction (Jer 32:9-10), (2) Ownership (2Ti 2:19), (3) Security(Eph 4:30).”
Thus, God places the Holy Spirit in us permanently (Jn 14:16-17), indicating that the great transaction in which God the Son paid for sin, thus satisfying the just demand of God’s holy law, is finished; that we saints belong to Him as His heritage, and that we are eternally secure (Wuest).
Wommack also describes this “seal”: “At salvation, we each receive a brand-new spirit (see note 9 at 2 Corinthians 5:17). It is free from sin and totally pure. Then we are immediately sealed by the Holy Spirit (this verse). That’s like vacuum-sealing or canning food for the purpose of preservation. A barrier is formed to keep sin out and retain the purity of our born-again spirits. When we Christians sin, it is in the soulish and physical realm. The born-again spirit (see note 2 at John 3:3) doesn’t participate. It cannot sin (1 John 3:9).”
Eph 1:14 “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The indwelling Holy Spirit is our “earnest”, or down payment, for our soul and body – until we are fully redeemed. Jesus purchased us – spirit, soul and body – with His blood. However, only the spirit of the Believer is presently redeemed (Eph 1:7). The body and soul, while purchased, are not yet redeemed – but will be at the resurrection. The spiritual rebirth and indwelling Holy Spirit is the guarantee that our soul and body will be redeemed as well. This is all to the praise of God’s glory!
A Walk Through Ephesians:Part 6
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 1:15-16, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” Paul had been to Ephesus; but was here saying that after he left, he heard from others about the faith and love of these Christians. He thanked God for them. Few things make a minister happier, than hearing people he had ministered to are growing and maturing in their walk with Christ. He also prayed for them regularly. It is important for ministers to pray for those they minister to regularly; and for them also to pray for their minister.
Eph 1:17 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” “Spirit” means not only the Holy Spirit or the human spirit, but it also means a “mental disposition”, like “team spirit”.This word for knowledge means “precise and correct knowledge”; and is related to another word that means “become fully aquainted with.” So, what is Paul praying? That these saints would grow in deeper wisdom and have deeper revelation of the knowledge of God.
Eph 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”. Paul prays their imagination and minds may become more illuminated. Being “born again” means we start out as spiritual infants; and we must then grow and mature through study of God’s Word and illumination by the Holy Spirit. Both God’s Word and prayer are needed for understanding and enlightenment.
Eph 1:19-20 “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” Paul also prayed we would grow in knowledge of the exceeding greatness of God’s power, which is in us who have faith. The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead actively works in us believers. This increases our faith, and empowers us to live the Christian life victoriously.
Eph 1:22-23 “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.” If Jesus is our head and we His body; then all things under His feet are under our feet. In Him we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37); and tread upon the forces of darkness without fear (Lk 10:19, 2Tim 1:7). We have within us the resurrection power of God; but must, through Holy Spirit revelation and enlightenment, grow in the wisdom of it. May God increase our understanding as we study His Word. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians:Part 7
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 2:1 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” In Eph. 2:1-3, Paul lays out the doctrine of original sin. This doctrine says that we commit acts of sin because we are inherently sinful. Our nature is fallen (separated from God). We do not become sinful by sinning, but rather we sin because we are sinful.
Who were dead in trespasses and sins? All mankind. There is none righteous (Rom 3:10). All have sinned (Rom 3:23). In Adam, “all die” (1Cor 15:22). We know this means more than just physical death, because God told Adam, “In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). They did not physically die that day; and in fact, lived many hundreds of years. So what death was spoken of? Spiritual death, which is separation spiritually from God.
If Christ died for all, then all were dead (2Cor 5:14). Indeed, the whole world “lies in wickedness” (1Jn 5:19). Through Adam’s sin, death passed upon all mankind (Rom 5:12, 15); judgment and condemnation came upon all mankind (Rom 5:18); and all mankind were made sinners (Rom 5:19). We’ve all inherited the bad genes of disobedience.
Eph 2:2 “Wherein in time past ye walked (lived) according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” Before we were born again, the spirit of the “prince of the power of the air” (Satan) worked in us. Even if we didn’t commit the so-called “big sins” of the flesh, we still committed sins of the heart (jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, gossip, greed, evil thoughts, selfishness, etc.); as well as violating our conscience. In “times past” (before conversion), this is simply who we were; and therefore, we did what we did (1Cor 6:9-11, Col 1:21-22, 3:5-7, 1Pt 4:2-3, Eph 5:5-6).
Eph 2:3 “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Man is “by nature” a child of wrath. We are born that way. This is precisely why we must be “born again”. Because our nature is fallen from birth, there must be a spiritual rebirth (Jn 3:3-6). Man’s heart, by nature, is “desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9); “only evil continually” (Gen 6:5); “evil from childhood” (Gen 8:21); and we’re “conceived in iniquity” (Ps 51:5).
Any virtue or righteousness found in an unbeliever is but “filthy rags” (Isa 64:6), (or “splendid vices”, as Augustine said), because they do not come from a spirit united with God through Jesus Christ. We are corrupt from birth. Sin comes naturally, because our nature is sinful. This is why a child must be taught to do right, and not taught to do wrong. Recognizing this truth is the first step in being born again; and next week in verse 4, we’ll look at the wonderful words, “But God”. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 8
By Pastor J.D. Link
Last week we learned from Ephesians 2:1-3, that all mankind – by nature, and without exception – are children of wrath; dead in sins and trespasses; live according to the ways of Satan; and have his spirit actively working in them. That is the bad news. However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news, and that is what we will examine today.
Eph 2:4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…” Isn’t it wonderful that there is a “but”, and not a period, after learning the truth of our fallen nature? “But God”. God, because of His great love for us, abounded in mercy towards us in our helpless and fallen state through Christ (Rom 5:8). Mercy proceeds from love. Because of His love and mercy, He sent Jesus to be condemned in our place – that we might be saved (Jn 3:16-17). Like the children of Israel, it was not because of any goodness on our part (Deu 7:7-8, 9:6).
Eph 2:5 “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened (made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)…”. By God’s grace alone, the Believer has been made alive (spiritually resurrected a new creation – born again); and is now made free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2).
Eph 2:6 “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Water baptism is the ordinance that expresses the inward truth of us being spiritually united and risen with Christ (Col 2:12). Because we are risen with Him, we ought to seek (desire) the heavenly things (Col 3:1-3). We are now spiritually seated in Heaven, because we are in Christ – who is seated at the right hand of God (Eph 1:20-23).
Eph 2:7 “That in the ages to come he might shew (demonstrate) the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” It is through Jesus alone, that God is able to eternally demonstrate to us the abundant wealth of His grace, which flows from His kindness. It’s all to God’s glory alone. How marvelous is the love of God for us, that He made a way for us to be eternal recipients of His grace and loving kindness.
Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Grace is the free, unmerited favor of God (Rom 3:24); and can only be received by faith (Jn 3:36, 6:40, Act 16:31, Rom 10:10). Salvation is not of ourselves (Jn 1:12-13, 6:37, Act 16:14, Jam 1:18). We cannot manufacture it. It is not possible to work for it (Titus 3:3-5, 2Tim 1:9, Rom 3:27-28, 9:11-12, 11:6). Salvation, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, righteousness before a Holy God; this is a gift that can only be received by true heart belief. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 9
By Pastor J.D. Link
Last week, we explored the beautiful riches of God’s abundant grace towards us in salvation. This week, we explore a practical purpose in this saving work of God – which is walking in the good works God has ordained for us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Without question, God is the Creator of our physical lives (Gen 1:26-27, Ps 95:6, 110:3, 119:73). However, we being His “workmanship”, is speaking of us being created “in Christ Jesus”. The new man (Eph 4:24). The new creation (2Cor 5:17). The born-again spirit. It is God who begun this good work in us, and He that will finish it (Philp 1:6). He works in us, both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philp 2:13). We are the vineyard, and God the Gardener; the building, and He the Builder (1Cor 3:9).
We are created “unto good works”. To walk worthy of Him; be pleasing to Him; be fruitful in every good work (Col 1:10). Jesus gave Himself for us, not only to redeem us, but to purify unto Himself a special people – burning with zeal for good works (Titus 2:14). It should be constantly affirmed to us, that we be carful to maintain good works – for this is good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8). We are to incite one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24). By the unbeliever beholding our good works, we may very well bring them into God’s Kingdom (1Pt 2:12).
Being under grace does not mean we no longer work. It means we do not work FOR salvation. We are saved by grace, UNTO good works. We maintain good works, because we ARE saved. If we have no good works, it is because we are either not saved; or we are terribly confused about what the Gospel is. Have we justified our slothfulness, indifference, apathy and carnality with “I’m under grace, not works”? God forbid, I pray.
Is not our righteousness to exceed that of the Pharisees (Mt. 5:20)? Of course, only the imputed righteousness of Christ will gain us access to the Kingdom; but certainly, being under a better covenant with better promises (Heb 8:6), shouldn’t make us less holy than Old testament saints.
We must understand, that when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, it was often not because of WHAT they did, but HOW they did it. We are to pray – but not like them (Mt. 6:5). We are to give – but not like them (Mt. 6:1-4, 23:23). We are to fast – but not like them (Mt. 6:16). We are to evangelize – but not for the reasons they did (Mt. 23:15). We are to read God’s Word – but not in the way they did (Mt. 12:3-8, 21:42).
When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, it was not always because of their actions, but because of their hearts being far from their actions(Mt. 15:8). It was the motivation, and not the good works themselves. We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Being “free” in Christ does in no way suggest we are “free” from good works. Quite the opposite. As Paul said, “By the GRACE of God, I labored abundantly than they all.” (1Cor 15:10). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 10
By Pastor J.D. Link
Today, as we continue our series, we will examine verses 11-16 of Ephesians chapter 2.
In vs. 11-12, Paul once again references the “bad news”, as he did in vs. 1-3. In the past, Gentiles were the “uncircumcision” – that is, the “non-covenant” people. We were without Christ; without God; without hope; without covenant; and alienated from Israel – the chosen people.
However, in vs. 13-14, Paul brings back the “good news” with “but now” – as he did in vs. 4 with “but God”. But now, in Christ, we who were in past times far off from God, are made near by the blood of Jesus. The middle wall separating Jew and Gentile (a reference to the Temple) is destroyed. Through faith, all can come boldly unto the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).
Eph 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” (See also Col 2:14, Heb 7:11-12, 18-19, 9:9-10, 10:19-22, Rom 10:4). Because the priesthood had to change, so did the law – for they were connected. Jesus fulfilled the Law for us, and it was nailed to the cross when He was. Without the abolition of the ceremonial law, Gentiles could not have been included in the covenant. This is why God made the New Covenant and did away with the Old – to include all now through faith.
Eph 2:16 “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” How did God accomplish this task of reconciliation (Rom 5:10, Col 1:20-22, 2Cor 5:17-21)? By the cross.
The cross, which Jesus would carry to Golgotha, the place called skull (Jn 19:17) signifying the place of death, where the ultimate death would take place.
The cross, which Pilate would mockingly have a sign nailed to that said, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. (Jn 19:19).
The cross, of which, though He had the power to, would not come down off of, when the chief priests, scribes and elders ridiculed Him and said, “If He be the King of Israel, let Him come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.”
The cross, where the innocent, holy & righteous God-man would have iron spikes driven through His wrists and feet by Roman soldiers, in order to intensify His agony as He hung suspended between heaven and earth, between God and man – for six of the darkest hours in human history.
The cross, in which the guilt, condemnation and penalty of the law was taken away from us and nailed to Jesus (Col 2:14).
The cross, where the perfect obedience of our great High Priest, the Son of God, was fulfilled – and that the perfect sacrifice which He would offer would be Himself, as the Lamb of God (Philp 2:8, Heb 5:8-9)
The cross, which He endured, for the eternal glorification that was set before Him, and the eternal glorification of all those whom would put saving faith in Him (Heb 12:2)
The cross, that to the unbelieving is foolishness (1Cor 1:18) and offensive (Gal 5:11); yet to the Christian, is what we glory in (Gal 6:14), because it is the gospel – the power of God unto salvation (1Cor 1:17-18, Rom 1:16).
If there is no cross, there is no Gospel. The preaching of the Gospel is the preaching of the cross. They are inseparable.
Let us then acknowledge, that as Believers we are crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20); Let us preach Christ crucified (1Cor 1:23); Let us, then, deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him (Mk 8:34); Let us know nothing else, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor 2:2); Let us glory in the cross of Christ, and let the world be crucified unto us (Gal 6:14). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 11
By Pastor J.D. Link
We will continue our verse by verse study through the book of Ephesians today by looking at verses 17-19 of chapter two.
Eph. 2:17 “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Here, Paul again references and Old Testament phrase found in Isa. 57:19 “… Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD…”. Again, both Jew and Gentile needed this peace preached unto them. As we read in verse 16, both needed to be reconciled to God through the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The veil and walls of the Temple made clear that while the Jews were nearer to God than the Gentiles, neither were reconciled to Him.
“And came and preached peace…”. As we saw in verse 14, Jesus is our peace with the Father. It was prophesied in the OT that the Messiah (Jesus) would come publishing peace (Isa 52:7, Nah 1:15, Zec 9:10). Peace was the proclamation of the angels at His birth (Luke 2:13-14). Not peace among men, but peace toward men from God. Jesus was the peace offering from Heaven, that would be the only means of reconciling sinful mankind to a Holy God.
Peace was the message that Jesus preached while on earth (Lk 7:50, 8:48, Jn 14:27). Jesus said in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Notice, “In” Jesus we have peace. This explains the seemingly contrary statement made by Christ in Lk 12:51: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (or, “a sword” – Mt 10:34). While faith in Jesus would bring division among men, those who receive Him experience perfect peace with God the Father.
Peace was also the message of the Apostles (Act 10:36, Rom 5:1, 14:17, Col 1:20). Almost every single Epistle in the New Testament begins with “grace and peace be to you, from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ”. In fact, the very Gospel itself is called the “Gospel of peace” (Rom 10:15, Eph 6:15).
Eph 2:18 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Through Christ Jesus, both Jew and Gentile have access to Father God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. “Through Him”. Jesus is the only way (Jn 14:6). “Have access”. We can come confidently into God’s presence through Christ (Eph 3:12, Heb 4:16, 10:19, 22). “By One Spirit”. God’s children have His Spirit dwelling within them (Rom 8:15-16, Gal 4:6-7).
Eph 2:19 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” All who are born again, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, female; are children of God and citizens of heaven (Gal 3:26-28, Heb 12:22-24). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 12
By Pastor J.D. Link
This week we will continue our verse by verse walk through the book of Ephesians. Eph. 2:20 says, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” “Chief corner” is one word in the Greek. It speaks of the cornerstone. The foundation of the apostles and prophets are speaking of the foundation they laid, which is Christ Himself. Jesus Christ is the prophesied Cornerstone, Foundation and the Rock on which the church is built (Isa 28:16).
The apostle Peter refers to Jesus as the “Stone the builders rejected”; who has become the chief Cornerstone (Act 4:11-12, 1Pt 2:7). He is referencing here the statement made a thousand years prior in Psalm 118:22-23 which says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Jesus is the only foundation for eternal life (1Cor 3:10-11); and the Rock on which the church must be built (Mt 16:18, 1Cor 10:4). To some, Christ is a stumbling stone and rock of offense (Isa8:14, Rom 9:22-23, 1Pt 2:8). Those who fall on Him will be broken and healed with eternal healing; while those on whom He falls will be ground to a powder (Mt 21:44). We would be wise to fall on Jesus now, rather than have Him fall on us in the day of judgement.
Eph. 2:21 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” Believers are each a living stone, built upon the foundation of Christ, joined to Christ through faith, and fit together to each other by love. We are together and individually growing up into a holy temple in the Lord. Individually, we are living stones (1Pt 2:4-5) and temples of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19). We are also corporately being built together as the church (2Cor 6:16) – the place in which God dwells and walks (Zec. 2:10-11, Rev. 1:3).
This helps us to understand the Holy City, the New Jerusalem; which is twice referred to by John as the “Bride adorned for her husband” and “The bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev 21:2, 9-10). When Paul speaks of marriage in Eph. 5:22-33, he says he speaks of Christ and the church.
Eph. 2:22 “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Paul is telling the individual Christians at Ephesus, as well as the church as a whole; that through the living, indwelling Spirit of God, they are being built up as a holy temple of God. They are where God dwells.
It is clear in the context of chapter two, that Paul is alluding to the temple in Jerusalem. That temple was no longer the temple of God. That temple would shortly be destroyed (70 A.D.). The born-again saints, individually and collectively, are now the temple of God. They are where God’s presence is. Selah
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 13
By Pastor J.D. Link
Today we will begin chapter three of Ephesians in our verse by verse study. Eph. 3:1 says, “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles”. “For this cause” refers to that which was previously mentioned in the epistle. “The prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Paul wrote several of his letters from prison (2Tim 1:8, Phm 1:1), but did not consider himself a prisoner of Rome. He was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. His life was not his own. He no longer lived, but Christ lived through him (Gal 2:20). “For you Gentiles” is not blaming them, but rather magnifying his office as apostle and teacher Gentiles. He was specifically ordained by Christ to preach the gospel to them (Act 9:15, Rom11:13, 15:16, 1Tim 2:7, 2Tim 1:11).
In looking at Eph. 3:1 & 14, we can reason that Eph. 3:2-13 is basically a parenthetical thought. It is like he pauses here to reiterate and summarize some things he has already said; as well as mention some personal thoughts and give some encouragement.
Eph. 3:2-4 “If (since) ye have heard of the dispensation (stewardship) of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (3) How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, (4) Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” He wrote in chapter one of this mystery.
Eph. 3:5-6 “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; (6) That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” The mystery is now revealed (Rom 16:25-26, 2Tim 1:9-10).
Eph. 3:7 “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” Paul did not choose ministry. He was made a minister (Gal 1:1). Eph. 3:8 “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul knew in himself he was nothing (Rom 7:18, 1Cor 15:9-10, 1Tim 1:15), as any true minister does.
Eph. 3:9 “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Jesus Son of God, and God the Son. He is Creator (Gen 1:1, Jn 1:1-3, 10:30, Col 1:16-17, Heb 1:1-2).
Eph. 3:10 “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” This is an interesting statement. The church actually reveals to the angels the manifold (much varied or multi-faceted) wisdom of God. The angels don’t know redemption, outside of looking at the redeemed church (1Pt 1:10-12).
Eph. 3:11-12 “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (12) In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Jesus is our confidence and access to the Father, to whom which we may come boldly (confidently) (Rom 5:1-2, Heb 4:14-16, 10:19-22).
Eph. 3:13 “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” Paul encourages the saints not to be sad, ashamed or afraid of his imprisonment. He knew it is to God’s glory, and furtherance of the gospel (2Cor 1:6, Philp 1:12-14, Col 1:24, 1Thess 3:2-4).
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 14
By Pastor J.D. Link
This week we continue our verse by verse study of Ephesians by focusing on verse 14 of chapter 3. Here, Paul continues what he had started to say in verse one (as we looked at last week, vs. 2-13 being a parenthetical phrase). Eph 3:14 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We know the bowing of the knees is directly related to prayer, because the rest of the chapter is a prayer and praise.Psalm 95:6 says, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” Kneeling is a common position of prayer in God’s Word. King Solomon kneeled and lifted his hands to heaven in prayer (1Kin 8:54); as well as Ezra (Ezr 9:5). Daniel kneeled in prayer three times a day (Dan 6:10).
Is kneeling only an Old Testament position of prayer? Not at all. Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, knelt and prayed at his death (Act 7:60). Peter kneeled down and prayed before raising Tabitha from the dead (Act 9:40). Paul knelt down and prayed with the Ephesian elders (Act 20:36). Our Lord Himself knelt down in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk22:41). Paul also reminds us that “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow” (Philp 2:10).
Though clearly a biblical prayer position, it is not the only one. King David “lay all night upon the earth” before God (2Sam12:16), and Jesus “fell on His face, and prayed” before His Father (Matt 26:39). So clearly prostration before God in prayer is biblical. Jesus mentioned when we “stand praying” in Mark 11:25, and Paul mentions that we ought to “…pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands…” (1Tim 2:8). What about sitting?
There is no example I’m aware of in God’s Word of praying while sitting, although some may possibly infer that based on Matt 23:36 and Act 1:14, 2:1-2. Here is my opinion: we ought to pray according to Scriptural example when possible. However, since we are to “pray always” (Eph 6:18); and since God looks on the heart (1Sam 16:7, Matt 15:8); and since there are various factors in daily life that may prevent us from taking a “prayer position” (at work; driving; physical difficulty, etc.) – then praying itself trumps a praying position. In other words, it is more important that one prays, then to wait until you can assume a particular position to pray. That being said: if we are able to take a biblical prayer position and refuse, we must ask ourselves “why”? If able to kneel, prostrate, stand and/or lift our hands before our God and King; why wouldn’t we? I cannot not answer that for anyone. That is a matter between the heart and God.
When are we to pray? Always (Lk 18:1, Eph 6:18); without ceasing (1Thess 5:17); in everything (Philp 4:6). How are we to pray? In faith, expecting to receive from God (MK 11:24, Heb 11:6, Jam 5:15); and knowing God hears our prayers and they are His delight (Prv 15:8, 29; 1Pt 3:12). We are to pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44), as well as our brethren (1Jn 5:16, Jam 5:16). We are to pray for all men, especially “all in authority” (1Tim 2:1-2) – for their decisions impact a greater number of people. Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 15
By Pastor J.D. Link
Last week we ended on verse 14, where Paul “Bowed his knees” to the Father, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Eph 3:15). I believe the “Family” consists not only of the living New Testament church; but of those who have died in Christ; the Old Testament saints; and the holy angels. We will all be with God eternally in heaven.
Eph 3:16 – “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” “strengthened” means “empowered”; while “might” means “force, miraculous power & ability”. The “inner man” speaks not of our born-again spirit, which is already perfect and complete in Christ (1Cor 6:17, Col 2:10, Jn 3:6); but rather, it speaks of the soul, the heart – mind, will, emotions, intellect. It is this “inner man” that needs to be renewed day by day (2Cor 4:16, Rom 12:2). This is achieved through being empowered with God’s supernatural ability by the Holy Spirit.
Eph 3:17 – “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…”. It is by faith (trust, confidence, assurance), that Christ dwells (to house permanently, abides, resides) in our hearts (thoughts and feelings). Again, Paul is speaking to Christians. This is not referring to being born again, but rather the place Jesus holds in our lives. That he might be president, and not merely resident. If having “Jesus in your heart” means only to be saved; then this prayer of Paul wouldn’t make sense.
“Rooted and grounded in love” means “firmly established and settled in God’s kind of love (agape).” First, His love for us; and then, our reciprocated love for Him and others (1Jn 4:19). The love of God is poured out abundantly in our heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5); but Paul’s prayer here is that we would be firmly established and settled in it.
Eph 3:18-19 – “May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Paul prays we would all (“with all saints”)comprehend (apprehend, take hold of) the vastness of God’s love; and know it experientially. The Word is not the end, but rather knowing Jesus Christ. The Word is the means to that end. This knowledge of Jesus “passes knowledge”, in the sense that to actually know Jesus is more than just to know about Him. Paul himself was all about really knowing Christ (Philp 3:8, 10; 2Tim 1:12).
“Might be filled” – that you may be completely filled to overflowing with all the fulness of God. Since the fulness of God is Christ Himself (Col 1:19, 2:9), and we have Christ when we’re saved (Rom 8:9); this speaks of fully experiencing or benefiting from that fulness.
Eph 3:20-21 – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. ” The “power” that works in us is speaking of that which the Holy Spirit produces. Remember in verse 16, we are strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man. Therefore, Paul is saying that to the degree that we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, is the degree that God is able to do the over and above, super abundant things that we ask or think.
In other words, God’s awesome, excessive power working in our lives, is dependent upon the amount of reign we give the Holy Spirit. The less we yield to Him, the less power will operate in our lives. The more we give to Him, the more power in our lives. This verse speaks less to God’s ability, and more to our yielding. It’s not about what God can do, for His ability is limitless. It’s about our yieldedness. While God has all power and ability, it does not mean it functions in our life despite how we think or believe or live. We must give the Holy Spirit free reign in our lives, in order for His power to be manifested. We have to believe. We have to walk in love. We have to yield.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 16
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 4:1 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called”. “Therefore…”. Here, Paul begins to address the practical aspects of Christian living. After laying out the doctrinal side of Christianity in chapters 1-3 (i.e. – how to think and believe); he now will begin to expound on how to live. In chapters 1-3, Paul spoke of what God has done for us; and in chapters 4-6, he speaks of what we now do in response to what God has done.
John MacArthur says, “This word marks the transition from doctrine to duty, principle to practice, position to behavior.” Andrew Wommack writes, “At Paul’s conversion, he asked two questions: “Who art thou, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) and “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). The first question was doctrinal, and the second question was practical. It’s not enough to merely learn about God. That knowledge has to be translated into practical actions in our everyday lives.”
“The prisoner of the Lord” – As he did in 3:1, Paul again mentions he is the prisoner of the Lord, and by doing so reminds the Ephesian Christians that living the Christian life in practice will come with a cost.
“I beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” This may be worded, “I pray, exhort and call you near; that you would now live in a manner that is worthy, becoming and appropriate for the vocation or calling that you have been called into.” This calling is speaking of the call to be saints (Rom 1:7, 8:30); however, I believe it is also applicable to our unique, individual calling (that is, the gifts God has given us to use for His glory – Rom 11:29). In other words, “This is who you are – now act like it.”
Eph 4:2 “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Here, Paul starts to reveal what “walking worthy of our calling” looks like. “Lowliness” – humility, humbleness of mind. “Meekness” – gentleness. “Longsuffering – prolonged patience. “Forbearing one another” – enduring; literally, “put up with”. “In love” – in agape – selfless, sacrificial love of God. Our love for each other is to be fervent (intent, earnest – 1Pt 1:22, 4:8). It is to increase, grow and abound (1Thess 3:12, 2Thess 1:3). We are to be of one mind (the mind of Christ) and one accord; putting others before ourselves (Philp 2:1-5).
Eph 4:3 “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” “Endeavor” – make effort, give diligence, labor, do your best. “To keep” – watch over, hold firmly, safeguard. “The unity of the Spirit” – the Holy Spirit unifies us as one body, the body of Christ (1Cor 12:13). “Bond of peace” – peace is the binding force that preserves our unity.
We are to make every effort to safeguard the unity we have through the Holy Spirit; the Word of God being our foundation (2Tim 3:16). This speaks not of the legal fact of our unity in Christ; but rather, of us maintaining that unity in a practical way. We do this through being at peace and avoiding strife and contention over non-essential issues (Jn 17:21-23, 1Cor 1:10, 2Cor 13:11, Jam3:17-18). In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 18
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 4:7 says, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Here, Paul moves from unity and what we all have in common; to our individuality as believers. We each have a different gift, and where we lack in an area, other believers who are gifted in that area help us along. Where we excel, we come along side others to make up what they lack. This is how the individual body parts all help to the functioning of the body as a whole.
This “grace” is not speaking of the universal grace for living the Christian life that all believers have. This is limited to the gift of grace (divine ability, power, anointing) given to each of us individually in order to accomplish our God-given assignment on this earth. Also notice, that even the measure is up to Christ. In other words, not only do we have differing gifts given to us according to God’s will; but even the measure in which we have them is God’s prerogative. We ought not complain of our gift, nor covet the gifts of others. If the gift and the measure of it is according to God’s will, why complain? Doesn’t Father know best? God, who is all-wise and works all things together for good concerning me; is certainly more qualified than I to determine what gifts I need and in what measure I need them! So, be happy with whatever you are good at – for this is the gift of God.
Ephesians 4:8 “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Here, Paul references Psalm68:18 which says, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men…”. Notice the subtle difference. In Psalms, it is “received gifts for men”; and in Ephesians, it is, “gave gifts unto men.” Is this a contradiction? No. Remember, Paul refers to this Psalm under Holy Spirit inspiration. So, what does this mean? Through His glorious resurrection and ascension, Jesus “received gifts for men”; in order that He might “give gifts unto men”. He purchased the elect, the church, with His own blood. Those who were in captivity to Satan, he led them captive to Himself. He then sent His Holy Spirit to indwell the Believer and to give them gifts as He wills – to perform that function of the body He has ordained for them to perform.
Again, these gifts and talents are given to the Christian as the Holy Spirit wills. 1Co 12:11 says, “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” Hebrews 2:4 says, “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”
Ephesians 4:9-10 “(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.). “Lowest parts of the earth” could mean either the earth in general (as in, lowest earth and highest heaven; or heaven above, earth beneath) when he descended at His incarnation; or some believe, into hell, to take those Old Testament saints in“Abraham’s bosom” into Heaven. Whichever we choose to believe, one thing is for sure: when a New Testament saint dies, they (their spirit) goes immediately into the presence of the Lord (2Cor 5:6-8). “Fill all things” could simply mean complete His mission; or, that He fills all the members of His church (Christians) with His spiritual gifts and grace. Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 19
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 6:2-4 “Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Today we will skip ahead in our study of Ephesians, since it is applicable to Father’s Day. We will go back to chapter four next week.
In verses 2&3, Paul references the fifth of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:12. “Honor” means “prize, value, revere, fix value upon.” A child is to fear (reverence, honor, respect) his father (Lev 19:3). A child is not to “set light” (dishonor, lightly esteem, hold in contempt) his father – lest he be cursed. Under the Law of Moses, a child that cursed or struck his father was to be executed (Ex 21:15, 17). While we are not under the Law, it does reveal to us God’s attitude toward the subject.
Eph 6:3 “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” “Be well” means “be well off, fare well, prosper, go good.” That you may “live long” refers to our days being extended (prolonged – Dt. 5:16) on this earth. This promise is obviously extended to the New Testament. I would not take it to mean we are guaranteed a long life; but rather, our days will be extended by honoring our father, and shortened by not honoring him. Remember, honor is not a feeling – it is an act. Some fathers do not conduct themselves honorably, but God says to honor them, period. There are no qualifications listed. You may not like him or even love him – but honor him.
Eph 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. First is the negative (do not), then the positive (do). Do not incite your children to anger (through constant criticism, excessive discipline, neglect, pride, lack of boundrys, lack of discipline, abusing their mother, etc.). Do bring them up (rear them, train them up) in the nurture (education, correction, discipline) and admonition (warning) of the Lord.
Fathers have a Divine mandate; an order from God; a commission from their Creator – to train up their children by the Word of God (Prv 22:6). They are to instruct and correct (Prv 1:8, 3:12) their children in God’s Word and lead their children to Christ. Fathers have NO greater obligation than this. Yes, they are to work and provide for their family (1Tim 5:8). Yes, fathers are to protect their family physically (Neh 4:14) and spiritually (Job 1:5). But providing and protecting is only part of our responsibility.
A father is to have compassion on his children (Psa 103:13). He is to remember that he was young once, too; and that even now, he fails at times. If we want mercy, we are to show mercy (Jam 2:13). A father is to exhort his children (to call near, encourage them). He is to comfort and console them. He is to charge (be a witness or testify) them. This means not only teaching them to follow Jesus – but being a follower of Jesus. That we lead by example. (1Thess 2:11). As Kettering said, “Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice.”
A father is to love their children’s mother (Eph 5:25). Hunter said, “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” How we treat our wives is teaching something to our sons and daughters – what he ought to do, and what she ought to expect. Do you want your son to treat his wife like you do? Do you want your daughter treated the way you treat your wife?
Fathers are needed. Fathers are vital. Fathers are foundational. One thing is for sure – our country will never recover from its downward spiral, until fatherhood is raised back up to the position of prominence it originally had. There is no higher title that can be given a man than “father” – for it is what we call God Himself. Do you want to know how very important fathers are in their children’s lives? Go here and find out https://www.josh.org/resources/apologetics/research/ . Click on “The Father Factor”. You will be blown away.
A walk through Ephesians: Part 20
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…”. He (Jesus) “gave” (bestowed, supplied, appointed, committed, set). Jesus is the One who appoints men and gifts them for this office. They are not to call themselves to it. “Some” – Jesus appoints selected individuals to these offices. While all Christians are to be “ministers” (by definition, servants); not all Christians are gifted and called into these offices.
“Apostle” – There were the apostles of Christ (the twelve and Paul) who established the church (Eph 2:20) and who’s writings were inspired and authoritative. This office has ceased. However, there were others called apostles, such as Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, Andronicus, Junia – and I suppose these “apostles of the churches” (2Cor 8:23) could still be in the church today (see Thayer, Wuest, MacArthur).
“Prophet” – Strong’s Conc. “a foreteller; by analogy an inspired speaker; by extension a poet.” Agabus is really our only clear example of a New Testament Prophet (Act 11:27-28, 21:10-11). He foretold both a drought and Paul’s arrest. It is important not to confuse one who has a word of knowledge or word of wisdom (1Cor 12:8) with one in the office of a prophet. A true prophet is always subject to the apostle’s doctrine (1Cor 14:37) and will not contradict the Word of God. Also, we must distinguish “prophecy” from a prophet. To “prophesy” (exhort, edify, comfort – 1Cor 14:3) is available to all who have the Spirit God. This doesn’t mean one is in the Office of a prophet (1Cor 14:31).
“Evangelist” – Strong’s Conc. “a preacher of the Gospel.” Thayer’s – “a bringer of good tidings; the name given to the NT heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles.” Only Philip is called an evangelist in the NT (Act 21:8). Though it is a unique gifted office (one may easily think of Billy Graham); it is also a “work” all Christians are to be engaged in (2Tim 4:5, Mk 16:15).
“Pastor and teachers” – Some believe these are two unique offices, while others believe that they are one (see Wuest). Certainly, there is a gift of teaching (Rom 12:6-7); but whether it be an office is debatable. One thing is for sure: All pastors must be teachers (1Tim 3:1-2), but not all teachers must be pastors. Pastor means shepherd, and the office is usually referred to as “bishop” (overseer); as well as “elder” in the NT (Titus 1:5-7, 1Tim 3:1-7, Act 20:28, 1Pt 5:1-2). The teaching shepherd is to oversee and feed the Word to his flock.
Ephesians 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The KJV puts an unfortunate comma after saints. This verse is rather saying “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (ESV). See also LITV, the Amplified, Weymouth. You see, the “clergy” is not to do all the work of ministry. The Offices are to equip the saints to do the work. Saints are to do visitations, pray for others, minister to the sick, witness, evangelize, etc. The Offices are to give themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Act 6:2-4); in order to equip the saints to go and do the ministering (1Cor 15:58, 1Thess 1:3, Heb 13:21). Not that the pastor does none of these things; but it is primarily the “work” of the saints. Sunday morning is for sitting and learning; but the rest of the week is for doing. Selah.
A walk through Ephesians: Part 21
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 4:13 “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” We saw in Eph 4:11-12 that God called and gifted some into the five-fold ministry that they may bring the saints to maturity in order to do the work of the ministry; and to build up the body of Christ. Verses 13-16 continues this same theme.
“Till we all come into the unity of the faith”. Maturing in Christ brings us into unity around the Word of God. Jesus prayed for the unity of His people (Jn 17:20-21); and Paul reiterated this desire (1Cor 1:10, Philp 2:1-2). That there would be no divisions among us; perfectly joined together; of the same mind and judgment; likeminded; having the same love; being of one accord; of one mind. We become mature when the Word is our standard, and we humbly submit to it.
“knowledge of the Son of God”. The more we know the Word of God, the more we grow in the knowledge of Christ (Jn 17:3, 2Pt 3:18). The more we each grow in the knowledge of Christ, the more unified we become. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are contained in the Godhead (Col 2:2-3); and this wisdom and knowledge brings us together, that we may know Him that is true (1Jn 5:20). “Unto a perfect (complete, mature) man”. The preacher is to warn and teach every man in the whole counsel of God, that they may be presented mature in Christ (Col 1:28).
Eph 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”. To expound on this: That we would no longer be as infants, tossed this way and that way like a ship on stormy seas, carried around in circles by every wind of doctrine, by the fraud of man, and their trickery, whereby they set their traps to deceive.
“Be no more children”. We are to have child-like faith (Mt 18:3-4); but in understanding we are to be men (or, mature – 1Cor 14:20). Paul rebuked the Corinthians and the Hebrews for not growing up as saints (1Cor 3:1-3, Heb 5:12-14). When we live by our own ideas; own standards; own feelings – we are immature. When we cause division and strife, and refuse to unify around the clearly revealed will of God in Scripture; we are carnal and act as children.
“Tossed to and fro”. There are manifold warnings to us throughout Scripture to not be deceived by false teachers and false teaching (Rom 16:17-18, 2Cor 11:3, Col 2:4, 8; Gal 3:1, 2Tim 3:13, Heb 13:9, 1Jn 2:19). We must love the truth and seek to know it and conform to it. This will strengthen and unify us as one body.
“every wind of doctrine” – heresies are constantly regurgitated, repackaged and recycled through the church by deceivers and the ignorant. The preacher is to alert, warn and protect his flock against such deception; and the saints are to heed their warning.
Eph 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” God is love (1Jn 4:7) and God is truth (Jn 14:6). Therefore, truth and love are inseparable (1Jn 3:18, 2Jn 1:3, 3Jn 1:1). Love speaks truth. If we do not speak the truth, we do not love. If we truly love, we speak the truth. This so-called “love” that doesn’t speak truth is a carnal perversion of true love – and is, in fact, hate. However, the world calls us “haters” who care enough for them to speak the truth. Only by speaking the truth in love will the saints grow up.
Eph 4:16 “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Christ is the Head, and each saint a member of the Body. When each of us individually grows in truth; matures; and functions in the gifts and callings God has given us – we contribute to the health of the whole body. If parts of the body are not doing their part, then the body is sick and doesn’t function properly. We must realize, that when persist in stubbornness; pride; carnality; lack of submission to God’s Word – it not only negatively affects us, but the body as well.
Wise saints do not make the preacher’s job hard, because they know it not only hurts themselves to do so; but it hurts the body of Christ (Heb 13:7, 17; Prv 5:11-13, 1Thess 5:12-13, 1Tim 5:17, 2Thess 3:14). They rather receive the Word that is preached as if it is coming from God Himself (1Thess 2:13). Selah.
A walk through Ephesians: Part 22
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 4:17-19 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
“Therefore” basis what he is about to say on what he has previously said. Since they were to be built up and mature as the body of Christ; and not be led in circles with every wind of doctrine; but grow in the knowledge of Jesus – it is only practical and fitting that a believer no longer live their life as they did when they didn’t know Jesus (1Pt 4:3-4). Paul “testifies in the Lord”, meaning what he was saying is authoritative and from God Himself.
The unbeliever walks in the vanity of their mind. “Vanity” means inutility – as in, they do not utilize their mind. It also means futile, perverse and depraved. Some may be intellectually smart – but they are spiritual dunces. Thinking themselves wise, they became fools (Rom 1:22). Their “understanding is darkened”. The lost man’s mind is covered with darkness. It is blinded to the truth. It does not reason correctly. The lost man not only walks in darkness, but is himself darkness (Eph 5:8).
They are “alienated” and shut out from the life of God through the ignorance and moral blindness that is in them because of the callousness and dulled perception of their heart (thoughts). They are hard hearted and “past feeling”. Like a callous without feeling; like an inebriated man who feels no pain; these indulge in ungodliness without conviction of conscience. Being insensitive and apathetic, they have surrendered themselves to shameless, unbridled lusts; and make it their business to practice moral impurity and greedily desire more (Rom 1:18-32).
What does this mean? It means their depravity is insatiable. Our society today proves this perfectly. Whenever the immoral are granted some demand, they never stop there. As soon as some ground is gained, they demand yet another depravity to be accepted. They are implacable (Rom 1:31), which means they cannot be appeased.
Eph 4:20 “But ye have not so learned Christ.” In other words, Paul is saying, “This ungodly, Gentile way of life I have just described was neither taught to you by the indwelling Spirit of Christ who abides in you since your conversion; nor was it what I personally taught you about Christ.” As Calvin said, “…but the doctrine of Christ teaches us to renounce our natural dispositions.” Yes, the Gentile way of life is our natural, fallen state. We are often encouraged by the world to “be ourselves”; but this is contrary to the truth of Scripture. “Ourselves” are corrupt and separated from God. We are to be “born again” and “transformed”.
Eph 4:21 “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” Wommack comments on this passage, “The phrase “If so be” is what is called a conditional clause. It is not expressing doubt that these Ephesians had heard the Lord speak to them and teach them. It’s just the opposite. The statement could be paraphrased, “You did hear (Jesus), didn’t you? You were taught by Him, weren’t you? The truth is in Jesus, and if that is so, you know there is no room for the conduct or behavior of the world in the Christian life!” Calvin writes, “… So here he affirms that any knowledge of Christ, which is not accompanied by mortification of the flesh, is not true and sincere.”
Bottom line: If Jesus truly dwells within us, there will be a desire for and a striving towards holiness; and a departure from what God clearly condemns. While we will not reach sinless perfection in this mortal life; if we are truly united with Christ, a love of the truth and the fruits of righteousness will be manifest in our lives. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 23
By Pastor J.D. Link
Today we’ll examine Ephesians 4:22-24. I have it listed here, and have added word definitions in parentheses. “That ye put off (cast off, lay aside) concerning the former conversation (behavior, conduct) the old man (nature), which is corrupt (ruined, defiled) according to the deceitful lusts (desires); And be renewed (renovated, reformed) in the spirit of your mind (be spiritually minded); And that ye put on (be clothed with) the new man (nature), which after (according to) God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
The illustration here is referring to a garment. The old man (corrupt nature) and his deeds (works of the flesh) are like an old, filthy, stinking defiled garment that we are to cast off. The new man (new nature) and his deeds (the fruits of the spirit) are to be put on, like a bright, shining, spotless and white robe. It is true, the remnants of the corrupt nature still abide in the flesh, even after conversion. However, the old man has been dethroned. While he exists, he doesn’t reign supreme (Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world – 1Jn 4:4). The old man has been put off, but not put out entirely; and will remain as long as we are in these mortal bodies. This is not to excuse sin, but to simply explain that while in these mortal bodies, it will have to be contended with.
Again, we are to “put off” the old man and his corrupt deeds. We are to mortify the deeds of the flesh (Col 3:5-9). This obviously doesn’t mean we are to kill the flesh, as in suicide; but rather, the deeds of the flesh. Let us therefore “cast off” the deeds of darkness (Rom13:12). Let us “lay aside” every weight and besetting sin (Heb 12:1). Let us “put away” the corrupt conduct (Eph 4:25). Let us “lay aside” all evil, bitterness, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking (1Pt 2:1). Let us “lay apart” all filthiness and abundance of wickedness (Jam 1:21). We are to offer our bodies (in which the corrupt nature dwells) a living sacrifice to God, and not be conformed to this world (in which the corrupt nature reigns), but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). As in 1Pt 2:2 and Jam 1:21, being students of God’s Word will enable us to have victory over the old man.
The “putting off” of the old man is only half the equation. We are then to “put on” the new man (nature). The new man, and his deeds, are righteous and truly holy (Eph 4:24). Let us “put on” the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation (1Thess 5:8). Let us “put on” the armor of light and walk honestly. Let us “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh (Rom 13:12-14).
We must understand the difference between the one-time “putting on” of the Lord Jesus (conversion); and the continual “putting on” of the new man, in our daily lives. The first speaks of justification, and the second of sanctification. In the same manner, we once “put off” the old man at conversion; but must continually “put off” the old man daily. The second is based on the first. We first put on Christ, and then continually put on Christ. We first put off the old nature, and then continually put off the old nature.
When you are born again, your spirit is joined with the Lord’s Spirit, and you become a new creation (Gal 3:26-27). You “put on” the new man (Col 3:10). You are spiritually regenerated, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, you renew your mind in God’s Word, and by yielding to the Word and the Spirit, you continually “put on” the new man (Col 3:12).
The new creation in Christ is told, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are under grace” (Rom 6:12-14). If sin (the flesh; the old man; the old nature) has gained the ascendancy in some area of our life, it is because we have yielded to the flesh, and not the Spirit. It does not “legally” have the reign – it is given the reign. “Sin shall not have dominion over you”. We are told not to yield to sin. This means sin does not have dominion. It must be given dominion. Why is this so important to know?
Because when we know and understand that Jesus has dealt with our sins and carried them away; and that Jesus has made us free indeed; and that our spiritual nature is righteousness – then we will view the corrupt nature in its proper light. It does not reign supreme. It does not have dominion. We have the power over it. Satan is a master identity thief. He wants to steal our identity in Christ, and deceive us into identifying with the flesh. Then we will believe the lie, that sin has dominion over us. We must stand unmovable on this: “Sin does not have dominion over me”! That is God’s Word. Say it a million times if necessary, until it’s reality to you.
Col 2:6-7 summarizes this lesson: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” As we have received Jesus (salvation), so now walk in Him (be continually clothed with His nature and deeds). Being first rooted in Him (salvation), let us then be built up in Him (sanctification). May the salvation of the spirit be continually walked out in our soul and flesh. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 24
By Pastor J.D. Link
This week we will continue our verse by verse study through Ephesians by examining chapter four verse 25 which says, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”
As we saw last week in verse 24, the new man (new creation) is created in righteousness in true holiness. In the next few verses, Paul will begin to get specific in what “putting on” the new man looks like. As we “put off” the old man, we will be putting off lying; and by “putting on” the new man, we’ll be putting on truth. The old man lies – the new man speaks truth.
“Put away” means to cast off or lay aside. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines lying as “a lie; conscious and intentional falsehood; in a broad sense, whatever is not what it seems to be; of perverse, impious, deceitful precepts.” Therefore, as new creations in Christ, we are to cast off falsehood and deception; and rather speak and live truth.
John 8:44 says, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Satan is a liar, and there is no truth in him. When he speaks, he lies – because it is who he is. He is the father of lies. The first lie told in the Bible was told by Satan when he told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die”(Gen 3:4). God had said they would (Gen 2:17), and they did (spiritually, and eventually physically).
We are never more like Satan than when we lie. When we lie, we imitate him, and not our heavenly Father. As Christians, God is our Father; and we ought to imitate our Father, and not the father of lies. God is the God of truth (Deu 32:4), and so His children are.
God hates lying. He abhors it. He detests it. Pro 6:16 “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:… (17) a lying tongue… and (19) A false witness that speaketh lies…” Pro 12:22 “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” In the Law of Moses, the Israelites are commanded to not lie (Lev 19:11); and, in fact, it is the ninth of the ten commandments (Ex 20:16).
Lying is condemned in the New Testament, as well as the old. We see in the formulative days of the church, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Act 5:3-4). Notice, the first lie of the Old Testament brought death; and first lie of the New Testament church brought the same. This ought to confirm in our hearts that lying is a serious offense in the eyes of God. If we have put off the old man, we do not lie to one another (Col 3:9).
Liars are specifically mentioned as those who will be eternally destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8, Ps 5:6, Rev 22:14-15). Liars will not be permitted entrance into the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:27). Lying is not the unpardonable sin, but it certainly is sin, and ought to be confessed and repented of. It should not be the practice of a Believer.
We who have put on the new man speak truth. Pro 8:7 “For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Pro 12:17 “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.” Pro 12:19 “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Zec 8:16 “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.”
While we are bombarded with lies on a daily basis, we must adhere to the truth and not compromise. Just because it is accepted in society that “everybody lies”, it should never be accepted in the life of a saint. The most honest people on earth ought to be the Christians. We are to live speak truth and live truth. We are not to lie to “save face” or get what we want; we are not to lie to, or about, others; we are not to lie to God.
What is the truth? Jesus is truth (Jn 14:6). God’s Word is truth (Jn 17:17). Unlike Satan, the father of lies, we do not say, “Hath God said?”; but rather, “God has said.” Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 25
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil.” Paul here continues with specifics of putting off the old man with his deeds and putting on the new man. “Be ye angry” means “be provoked or aroused to anger.” On the surface, this may appear to be a contradiction to the Christian doctrine of being humble and peaceable. After all, are we not to be “slow to wrath” (Jam 1:19)?
We must realize there is a difference between a godly, righteous indignation and a fleshly rage. For instance, Jesus looked upon the Pharisees in anger because of the hardness of their hearts in Mk 3:1-5. He also fashioned a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple (Jn 2:13-17). In these events He never sinned; for it is not sin to be angry in godly and righteous zeal.
Most of our natural anger is not righteous. We learn from the Word of God that those with a hot temper deal foolishly and often regret their actions (Prv 14:17, Ecc 7:9). Pride is most often associated with wrath (Prv 21:24). We do not usually associate humble people with hot tempers. Angry people stir up strife and abound in sin (Prv 29:22). In fact, we are told to just stay away from the quick-tempered, “ticking time-bomb” type of person (Prv 22:24). So, obviously, when we are told to “be angry and sin not”, there must be a type of anger that is not sinful. Paul says to “put away” and “put off” a carnal anger and wrath (Eph 4:31, Col 3:8); and rather “put on” a righteous anger (Eph 4:26, Ps 4:4).
“And sin not”. A righteous indignation does not produce sin, because we understand that vengeance is God’s (Rom 12:17-21). We can hate sin; hate Satan; hate injustice; hate the blinding of people’s hearts by the Devil – but not hate people. True, the Word of God does say that God hates certain people – but we are not God. God is perfect and holy and can properly hate who He wants. We, being flawed ourselves, are commanded to love people.
“Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” There are two interpretations of this statement: 1. Is that we must not let a righteous anger turn into a bitter wrath by continuing to dwell on it and allowing it to poison our heart (i.e., don’t go to bed angry). 2. That we never allow ourselves to become passive and indifferent to the evils of the world. We must be diligent; that is, we must never get to the point where we are no longer angered about the things that God hates; but at the same time, we do not react to this anger according to the flesh. I believe both are true. Allow me to explain:
Take, for instance, the abortion issue. We, as Christians, ought to be righteously indignant that this is practiced lawfully in our nation – for it is evil. I do not let the sun go down on my hatred of this practice – as in, I do not become calloused and indifferent and simply accept it. However, I also do not allow the sun to go down on my anger – as in, I do not go to bed meditating on it and allow it to cause me stress and high blood pressure. Again, I am not God, and I trust in and know He is judge, jury and executioner.
“Neither give place to the Devil”. This is a general truth (Eph 6:11, Jam 4:7, 1Pt 5:8); but in context it is related to this issue of being angry and not sinning. In other words, if we allow the wrong kind of anger to get a hold of us, it will give Satan access to our lives. We give him place when we allow carnal anger to turn into bitterness and unforgiveness (2Cor 2:10-11). We must be diligent to maintain a godly anger in our lives, while exercising the same diligence in keeping carnal anger out of our lives. Put on righteous indignation – put off fleshly rage. May the Lord give us wisdom, discernment and understanding in this. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 26
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Here, Paul again gives both a positive and negative commandment. The negative commandment is “do not steal”. The positive commandment is, “work that you may have to give.” Or, as it relates to the whole concept described in vs. 22-24, “put off stealing and put on working and giving.”
Greek Scholar Kenneth Wuest tells us the literal translation is, “The one who is stealing, let him no longer be stealing.” In other words, there were converted pagans who were still stealing. Paul was saying, “Hey, you Ephesian Christians that claim the name of Christ, you need to stop stealing!”
Why should we not steal? 1. Because God forbids it (Ex 20:15, Lev 19:11,13; Matt. 19:18). 2. Because God hates it (Matt 21:13, Deut 25:13-16). It is interesting to note, that the only time Jesus displayed violence was when the moneychangers were robbing the people in the Temple. 3. Because it is Demonic (Jn 10:10, 12:6). 4. Because God will have vengeance on the thief (1Thess 4:6). 5. Because thieves will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9-10).
Though it is often not seen as such, stealing is an especially wicked sin because it is related to so many other sins. For instance: 1. Sexual immorality – stealing from your partners future spouse. 2. Adultery – stealing from your partner’s current spouse. 3. Murder – stealing someone’s life. Stealing a family member. Stealing from society. 4. Covetousness – stealing in your heart (Matt 15:19-20). 5. Kidnapping – stealing a person. 6.Bearing false witness (lying about someone) – stealing their reputation. 7. Dishonoring God and worshipping idols – stealing the glory and honor from God that is His alone. 8. Taking God’s name in vain – stealing His reputation. 9. Not keeping the Sabbath – stealing God’s time. 10. Not honoring your parents – stealing honor from whom honor is due. 11. Refusing to work – you steal from your family. You steal from your neighbors (through wealth redistribution). 12. Income taxes – the government steals from its citizens and gives it to whom they see fit. 13. Loafing on the job – stealing from your employer. Notice from this list, that breaking the other nine of the Ten Commandments is theft in some form or fashion.
“…but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good…”. In all labor there is profit and increase (Prv 13:11, 14:23). We are commanded to work (1Thess 4:11); and if we do not work we should not eat (2Thess 3:10-12). If we provide not for our own house, we’re worse than unbelievers and have denied the faith (1Tim 5:8). Also, our work must be honest. Working at something dishonest is as bad as not working. We are to do our work as unto the Lord (Col 3:17, 23-24).
“…that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Our primary reason for working is not to live, but to give (Act 20:35, 1Tim 6:18) – especially to the saints (Rom 12:13, Gal 6:10). Yes, we must pay the bills; but Jesus said to not be anxious about material needs, for the Father will take care of us. Rather, we seek first God’s Kingdom (Matt 6:25-33). We live to give. As Abraham, we are blessed to be a blessing. Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 27
By Pastor J.D. Link
The past several verses, Paul has been issuing negative and positive commandments. He continues in Eph. 4:29 which says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” So the negative command is “Don’t speak corrupt things”, while the positive is “Speak what is useful and edifying.”
Greek scholar Wuest says it like this: “Every word that is rotten and unfit for use, out of your mouth let it not be proceeding, but whatever is good, suitable for edification with respect to the need, in order that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Paul makes similar exhortations in Col 3:8 “But now ye also put off all these … filthy communication out of your mouth.” And in Eph 5:3-4 “But … let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; …filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
We see in the very first chapter of the Bible that the tongue is a creative force and words have tremendous power. “And God said… and there was…”. In Gen. chapter 3, we see the destructive force of words, when the serpent deceived Eve through his lying, deceptive – and yet coercive speech. Truly death and life are in the power of our tongues, and the word seeds we sow we will have to one day eat (Prv 18:20-21). This truth abides both in the positive (Prv 12:14, 18: 15:26, 16:24) and in the negative (Prv 18:7, 10:19, Ecc 5:2-3, 10:12-14).
This is why King David said, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps 141:3). He knew he needed God’s help in controlling his tongue. Why? “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (Jam 3:8). The tongue must be yielded to God. Only He can tame it. We need to pray for God’s assistance in taming our tongues.
I encourage you to read Numbers, chapters 13-14. In it is the story of the 12 spies – 10 of whom brought back an evil report and filled the people’s hearts with fear and unbelief. Only Joshua and Caleb spoke the truth – and only they went into the promised land. The people were so full of dread by the evil words, that they wished they had died in the wilderness (Num 14:2). So, God said, “As you have spoken in my ears, so I will do unto you.” (Num 14:28). Do we want God to perform in our lives what we speak? If not, may we change what we say.
In Jam 3:2-7, we see our tongues guide our lives and determine our future. Like a little bit in a horse’s mouth; like a little rudder on a ship; like a spark that starts a wildfire – so our little tongues control our lives. This is good, if we speak truth. This is bad, if we speak fear, doubt, unbelief, gossip, murmur, complain, lie, etc.
We will give an account for our words on judgment day. Like the 12 spies, our words will either justify us or condemn us. Therefore, we must put good treasure in our hearts, so that good words will come forth from our mouth. (Mt 12:34-37). Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 28
By Pastor J.D. Link
Continuing his theme of putting off the old and putting on the new from verse 22, we will look at these final words in chapter four of Ephesians – beginning with verses 31-32, we will end with verse 30.
Eph 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” We are to “put away” all bitterness (harshness, deep-seated resentment), wrath (rage, violent outbreaks), anger (internalized hostility), clamor (out-crying, screaming and yelling) and all malice (evil, wickedness, desire to injure). These things are not of the Spirit, but of the flesh. Rather, we should “put on…”
Eph 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Instead of walking in all of this anger and bitterness, we are to be kind (benevolent, gracious), tenderhearted (compassionate), and forgiving – in the same manner we are forgiven in Christ. In similar verses, this involves forbearing and longsuffering (graciously tolerating over a long period of time – Col 3:12-13); as well as being full of pity and courteous (1Pt 3:8-9).
Again, in the same manner we are forgiven completely in Christ, we are commanded to forgive each other. This leaves no room for bitterness and grudges. The story related to us by Jesus in Matt 18:21-35 vividly portrays this truth.
Eph 4:30 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” “Grieve” means “to cause grief or sorrow, to make sad, to distress.” Man’s utter depravity before the flood “grieved God at His heart” (Gen 6:6). The unbelief, idolatry, ungratefulness, murmuring and hard-heartedness of the children of Israel grieved God (Ps 78:40, 95:10, Heb 3:10, 17, Isa 63:9-10), as well as compassionless legalism (Mk 3:5).
Another thing that leads to grieving the Holy Spirit is Quenching (extinguishing, suppressing, stifling) Him (1Thess 5:19). When the Holy Spirit indwells the blood-bought believer at conversion, His work has just begun. Our job is to yield to Him, and not hinder the work that He longs to do in conforming us more to the image of Christ day by day. When we refuse to allow ourselves to be controlled by Him, we stifle His work, and thereby grieve Him.
He, being our Helper, Comforter, Teacher, Advocate, Friend – does all for our benefit (Rom 8:28) and God’s glory. We can trust Him more than anyone. Why stifle Him? Why grieve Him? May we allow Him full reign in every area of our lives.
“… whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” As previously stated in Eph 1:13-14, the Believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit Himself. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the down payment of our eternal inheritance until we are redeemed. This being the case, we ought to please God by yielding ourselves to His will in every aspect of life. This is the wisest and most blessed thing we can do. Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 29
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:1-2 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” Here, Paul takes a moment to remind the Ephesians of the “main thing”. He has been dealing in a lot of specifics in the second half of chapter four and pauses before continuing to remind the Christians of the great commandment.
Eph 5:1 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” Literally, “Become imitators of God, as His beloved children”. We are God’s children through faith in Christ (Gal 3:26). As His beloved children, we are to imitate Him. More specifically, we are to imitate Jesus – for if we have seen Him, we’ve seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1Cor 4:16, 11:1); and that we ought to imitate them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb 6:12).
How are we to imitate God? Be perfect, as He is perfect (Mt 5:48); Be merciful, as He is merciful (Lk 6:36); Be holy, as He is holy (1Pt 1:15-16); Love each other, as God loved us (1Jn 4:11). Of course, this is impossible to do perfectly – that’s we all need Jesus. The point is, however, that God and His ways are to be what we strive for. They are the ideal. We are not to compare ourselves to each other (2Cor10:12); but rather, look to God for the perfect example to follow.
Eph 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” Wuest says, “Be ordering your behavior within the sphere of love”; and Weymouth says, “Live and act lovingly”. In other words, walking in love means to live and act like Jesus. Thus far in Ephesians, we have been encouraged to be rooted and established in love (3:17); that we are to forebear one another in love (4:2); and speak the truth in love (4:15). Now, in Eph 5:2, Paul is stating that we ought to do EVERYTHING in love. This is a common exhortation in the New Testament (1Cor 16:14, Col 3:14, 1Pt 4:8).
Paul said the whole point of the Divine mandate (the main thing) is “Love out of a pure heart…” (1Tim 1:5). After Jesus spoke of His disciples keeping His commandments, He said, “This is my commandment (singular), that you love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). Why was this? Because love is the fulfilling of the law. The sum of the commandments is contained in “Love God and love your neighbor” (Rom 13:8-10). If we are wholly loving – loving God and loving people – the commandments are fulfilled in us. We want to obey Him; we want to do His will, because He first loved us, and we love Him back (1Jn 4:19).
What does this love look like that we are to walk in? Here is 1Cor 13:4-8 from the ESV: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…”. The greatest abiding thing is love (1Cor 13:13) – for God is love (1Jn 4:8). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 30
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:3-8 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
Eph 5:3 “But fornication (sexual immorality), and all uncleanness (moral impurity), or covetousness (greedy desire to have more), let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; (4) neither filthiness (obscene, shameless, immoral conduct)…”. Thayer’s GK Lex. says “fornication” means “illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality and incest.” This would obviously include prostitution, sex trafficking, pre-marital sex, cohabitation, pedophilia, and the entire LGBTQ; as well as pornography – since Jesus said to look upon another lustfully is adultery at heart (Mt 5:28). Some might protest with the defense, “well, viewing is not doing”. While this is true physically speaking, it is no less sinful and to be confessed and repented of.
Sexual immorality is not to be once named among us (Christians). In other words, it is always wrong, and never alright. It is never justifiable. There is no instance where this would be “Okay”.
Eph 5:5 “For this ye know (intimately know and can be sure of), that no whoremonger (sexually immoral person), nor unclean (morally impure) person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater (a server or worshipper of images), hath any inheritance (heirship or possesion) in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” This doesn’t mean a person who confesses and repents of sexual immorality can’t be forgiven (1Cor 6:11, 1Jn 1:9); but one who, without shame or remorse, unrepentantly continues in sexual immorality, has no part in the Kingdom of God.
Any sex of any kind outside of the marriage covenant between male and female is strictly condemned in the New Testament (Act 15:20, 1Cor 5:11-13, 6:13-20, 10:8,11; 2Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, 21; Col 3:5-6, 1Thess 4:3-8). The only way to avoid fornication is abstinence (1Cor 7:1) or marriage (1Cor 7:2). The marriage bed is pure and holy, but the sexually immoral God will judge (Heb 13:4). Those who refuse to repent of their sexual immorality will be damned (2Thess 2:12); cast into the lake of fire (Rev 21:8); and forever remain outside the city of God (Rev 22:14-15).
Eph 5:6-7 “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” There are many exhortations in Scripture to “be not deceived” (Col 2:8, Gal 6:7-8, Mk 13:5, Col 2:18, 2Thess 2:3). There are many deceptive words spoken against the clear teachings of Scripture concerning fornication: “Everyone does it; love is love; it’s the 21st century; it’s natural; God understands; God wants me to be happy; as long as your committed” – and many other such excuses – are often proclaimed as if they had some biblical validity. They don’t. They’re just man’s opinions and reasoning, and in opposition to what God has clearly said. Now, don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger. If you despise what God has said concerning sexuality, you despise God (1Thess 4:8). Our choice is to reject God’s Word and rebel; or accept God’s Word and repent.
Eph 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” Paul now goes from the negative command (don’t do), to the positive exhortation. “Why live sexually pure? Because you are no longer darkness. You are children of light. Children of the day. Children of God. Now, live your life as children of light. Honor God in your body. Abstain from fleshly lusts, for you are a holy nation (1Pt 2:9-11). Walk in the light (1Jn 1:6-7). Be led by the Spirit, not your flesh.”
Sex is blessed, wonderful, pure, holy and encouraged in God’s sight – if practiced within the parameters He has set (the marriage covenant between man and woman). Anything else is a distortion and perversion of His original intent and invites His judgment. Therefore, may we strive to live righteously; honor the Lord with our body; and flee sexual immorality (1Cor 6:18).
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 31
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:9-14 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (10) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (11) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (12) For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (13) But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. (14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
Vs. 9-10 “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” After admonishing the Ephesian Christians to walk as children of light because they are light (vs.8), he goes on to say what this looks like. The fruit (works) of the Spirit (of light) are in all goodness (not evil); righteousness (not unrighteousness) and truth (not lies). What light produces is seen in Gal 5:22-23. The way we prove (test) what is acceptable (fully agreeable) to the Lord, is by renewing our mind in God’s Word (Rom 12:1-2). Therefore, if you are a child of light, you want to do what God says is acceptable. So, you read God’s Word and you find out what God says is good – and you do that. You find out what God says is evil – and you don’t do that.
Vs. 11-12 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” The child of light does not fellowship (partake together with) the works of darkness. This does not mean we cannot associate at all with unbelievers (else, how can they be saved?); but rather, that we do not partake of their deeds (that go against God’s Word). Instead, the life of the Believer, and the words of truth they speak, shine light into the darkness of the world and thereby reproves (rebukes, convicts, exposes) it.
The works of darkness are too shameful to even utter or describe. It is a sad indictment on our society, that many things so utterly disgraceful they would not have even been mentioned in the past, are now in our everyday vocabulary and paraded around as normal – or even good. Whether done in secret or openly, God sees it all and will judge it all (Ecc 12:14, Jer 23:24, Prv 15:3, Rom 2:16).
Vs. 13-14 “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
Living our lives in the light of truth and speaking God’s Word shines a light into the world’s darkness. It reveals the wickedness and secrets of the heart and will result in: 1. The lost person being convicted, repenting and calling on Jesus for salvation (1Cor 14:24-25); or 2. The lost person loving the darkness and hating the light, and fleeing from it – and thereby being condemned (Jn 3:19-21). Selah.
A Walk-Through Ephesians: Part 32
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:15-17 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” In a similar verse, Paul writes, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Col 4:5). “Without” means outside the church; i.e., unbelievers.
Eph 5:15 “See then that ye walk circumspectly , not as fools, but as wise”. Circumspectly means “accurately or precisely.” Wuest says, “The translation reads, “Be constantly taking heed how accurately you are conducting yourselves.” That is, see to it that your conduct is accurate with respect to the demands of the Word of God.” In other words, to walk “circumspectly” means to walk in the wisdom of God’s word. Not as “asophos” (unwise, foolish) but as “sophos” (wise). To walk foolishly is to walk out of step with the Word of God.
Eph 5:16 “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Redeeming means to “buy up, ransom from loss.” Thayersays this, “Metaphorically, it means, “to make a wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good,” so that zeal and well-doing are as it were the purchase-money by which we make the time our own.”
Jesus said the saints are sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore, we are to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves(Mt 10:16). We are to be wise in goodness and simpletons concerning evil (Rom 16:19). We are to be adults in understanding and children in wickedness (1Cor 14:20). We are to maintain a certain purity and naivety as God’s sheep; but we are not to be fools. We are to be wise with God’s wisdom.
We are to be aware of the tricks and subtly of Satan by adhering to the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ (2Cor 11:3). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a thorough knowledge of God’s Word is our sure foundation. When we know the real thing, we won’t be fooled by the counterfeit. We’ll know Satan comes as an angel of light (2Cor 11:14) and won’t be led away captive by his enticements that “seem” good.
Paul says we are to redeem the time because “the days are evil”. This fact is repeated often in Scripture (Eph 6:12-13, Gal 1:4, Jn 15:18-19, 17:14-15, Rom 12:2, 1Jn 5:19, 2Cor 4:4, Eph2:2, Jam 4:4, 1Jn 2:15-17). We must always remember this world is not our home and our job is not to try and fit into it. Our job as citizens of Heaven is to be ambassadors of Christ and shining lights of truth in this dark age.
Eph 5:17 “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” We understand (comprehend) what God’s will is by knowing His Word; knowing he who does the will of God “abides forever” (1Jn 2:17). To not know God’s Word is to not know God’s will – and therefore is to be unwise. While not an exhaustive list by any means, the following are some specific verse that say, “this is the will God” (1Thess 4:3, 5:18, 1Pt 2:15, 4:19, 3:17). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 33
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” The Christian is commanded to not be “drunk” with (intoxicated, that is, to be filled with or soaked in) “wine” (the common drink of the time, but any alcoholic beverage is being referred to). “Wherein is excess” – abandon (self-indulgence), profligacy (reckless extravagance), debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures); literally, “unsavedness”. Calvin said, “Be not intemperate in drinking.” (That is, do not drink without moderation and self-control). Gill writes, “…nor is drinking wine for necessary use prohibited, nor for honest delight and lawful pleasure; but excessive drinking of it, and this voluntary, and with design, and on purpose; … and it is a custom, or habit of excessive drinking, for not a single act, but a series of actions, a course of living in this sin, denominates a man a drunkard…”.
While the Scripture does not forbid drinking alcohol altogether; it repeatedly warns against drunkenness (Prv 20:1, 23:29-30, Isa 5:11, Lk 21:34, to name a few). In fact, the Holy Spirit expressly says twice that drunkards “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God” (1Cor 6:10, Gal 5:21). While we may drink wine, we are not to be “filled” with it.
We are rather to be “filled” (GK – make full, fill up, fill to the top, to the brim, be crammed full of) with the Holy Spirit (Act 2:13-18). Being filled or soaked with the Holy Spirit has the exact opposite effect on the believer than that of being drunk/stoned. Our senses are sharpened, instead of dulled. We make wise decisions, instead of foolish. We have peace and confidence, instead of shame and regret. Being filled with the Holy Spirit heals you instead of making you sick; strengthens you instead of making you weak; energizes you instead of making you tired. May our intoxication be with the Spirit of God.
Eph 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” “Speaking to yourselves” means, “speaking to one another” (as Christians – Heb 2:12, Ps 149:1). Singing and being Spirit-filled go hand and hand. When we’re full of God’s Spirit, we can’t help but sing. We may not be great singers, but it doesn’t matter. We’re going praise our Lord. Paul and Silas sang in prison (Act 16:25); Jesus and the 11 after the last supper (Mt 26:30) – and, of course, it is what goes on in Heaven all the time (Rev 5:7-14).
Eph 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Spirit-filled person is a thankful person; a grateful person. If one is ungrateful, unthankful – and think they’re “Spirit-filled” – they are fooling themselves. Like singing, thanksgiving is a natural fruit of being filled with the Spirit (1Thess 5:18, Col 3:17, Php 4:6, Heb 13:15, Ps 34:1). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 34
Eph 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Submit – (GK – hupotasso) means, “to be subject to; subordinate to; yield to; obey.” Wuest comments, “the root “hupo” in GK means “under” – hence, “to place one’s self under another.”
Though the difference is subtle, submission and obedience are not exactly the same thing. Submission is more an attitude, while obedience is an act. While one generally obeys if they are submitted – it is possible to obey and not be submissive. For instance, a child may obey their parent out of fear of punishment, but not be submitted to them in their heart. A parent is to win their child’s heart through loving discipline and instruction – not be simply a dictator who demands obedience with no concern for relationship.
Submission is the opposite of self-promotion and assertion – putting one’s self first and not yielding to others. That is rebellion and pride, which is opposed to humility, obedience and submission. To be submissive is to be like Jesus, who “humbled Himself, and was obedient unto death” – though He was God (Philp 2:1-9). Jesus said to be great in God’s Kingdom is to be servant to others (Mt. 20:25-28); and gave example by washing the feet of His creation (Jn 13:14-15). Submission is within the Godhead. Jesus was submitted to the will of the Father, and the Holy Spirit submitted to Jesus. Thus, to be submitted to others is to be Godly and spiritually mature. Those who are rebellious, obstinate and prideful have not achieved any sense of spiritual maturity.
Submission is a common theme throughout the New Testament. It is unfortunate that – like repentance – submission has a negative connotation in the minds of many people. Submission has been twisted and abused to mean something that is foreign to the biblical principle of it. There is a godly, spiritual and biblical submission; and there is a carnal, worldly submission. The one is a blessing and the other is not.
We are to be submitted to godly government (Rom 13:1-5, 1Pt 2:13-15) – so long as the government doesn’t impose ungodliness upon us. For instance, the three Hebrew young people were submitted to the Babylonian government – until that government tried to impose idol worship upon them. At that point, we are required to submit to God’s Word over earthly government (Dan 3).
Employees are to be submitted to their employers (1Pt 2:18, Eph 6:5-6, Col 3:22-24, Titus 2:9-10). We are to serve our employers as we serve Christ – for it is truly Him we serve and by Him we receive our reward. We are not to rail against the boss; subvert his authority; destroy or steal company property; waste time while on the clock; etc. This is ungodly and immature.
In general, the younger are to be submitted to the older. The younger are to honor the years of the elder and show the proper respect. Why? Because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1Pt 5:5). Not only is it God’s command, but it personally benefits us to do so. As in all cases, this only goes so far as it does not violate God’s Word to do so.
Christians are to be submitted to their pastor (1Cor 16:15-16, Heb 13:7,17, 1Thess 5:12-13). Again, not only because it is God’s command; but also because it is beneficial for us to do so as the Scripture says. Children are to be submitted to their parents (Eph 6:1-3, Col 3:20, 1Tim 3:4), because it pleases God; Because it is right and because it is the first commandment with promise of blessing. Wives are to be submitted to their husbands (Eph 5:22), and husbands are to be submitted to Christ (1Cor 11:3). I will expound on that next week.
In Eph 5:21 Paul adds, “…in the fear of God.” The natural person is so carnal, self-willed, rebellious and prideful; that Paul adds to the command to submit to one another to “do it in the fear of God”. This could mean: 1. In the fear of God – as in, because we respect and honor Him and want to do those things pleasing in His sight. 2. In the fear of God – as in, the fear of God’s judgment if we don’t. 3. In the fear of God – as in, exclusively in those things that are godly. In other words, the command to submit is limited to things that are lawful in God’s eyes. I believe the Scripture makes the case for all three of these being correct. We are submissive because we love God and want to please Him; because we don’t want our works to burn at the Judgment seat of Christ; and only in such things that don’t violate God’s Word. May we see submission as God does and count it the blessing and covering that it is. Selah.
A Walk through Ephesians: Part 35
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:22 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Last week we spoke about the general exhortation for all Christians to be submitted to each other (meek, humble, placing oneself in the lower position and having a servant’s heart). We also saw that submission applies to many different areas of life and that it is positive and blessed attitude – and that it is godly, for there is submission even within the Godhead.
Now, Paul starts to deal specifically with marriage. Wives are to submit themselves unto their own husbands; not because she is of less value or of less talent, abilities, etc. – but because that is her God-given position. It is about divine authority and order, not worth. Though God the Father and God the Son are co-equal and co-eternal – Jesus submits Himself to the Father’s will. She submits to her husband, as unto the Lord. A wife who claims to be submitted to Jesus but doesn’t submit to her husband – is in fact not submitted to Jesus, for that is His command. It is fitting (proper) for wives to submit to their husbands (Col 3:18).
Eph 5:23 – “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” Headship, or authority, is the purpose in submission. As the Father is the head of Christ, so Christ is the head of the husband and the husband the head of the wife (1Cor 11:3). The man is the glory of God, and the woman the glory of man. The woman came from the man, and the woman was created for the man (1Cor 11:7-9). She was taken out of him and is the other half of him – and brought by God to him to be his partner (Gen 1:27, 2:18, 21-25). For this reason, also, she submits to him.
“…and he is the savior of the body.” As Christ is the savior of His bride, so husbands are the savior of their wives. Not in the sense of eternal, spiritual salvation; but in the sense of providing for them, protecting them and giving themselves for them. For this reason, also, they are to submit to him.
Eph 5:24 – “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” A wife is to be submitted to her husband as the church is to be submitted to Christ. Jesus is the head of the church. It follows His leading, direction and will. He leads and she follows. Where there is a difference, is that because the husband is not actually Jesus, he is wise to talk things over with his wife and get her opinion. It is a partnership, of which the husband owns 51%, so to speak. He is the final decision maker, but is not to be a dictator or tyrant. She is his partner in life and is given to him by God to help him. Peter also gives another reason why wives are to submit to their husbands, because her godly conduct as a submissive wife can lead her husband to salvation (1Pt 3:1-6).
“Subject …in everything.” This is limited to things lawful, of course. A wife is under no obligation to submit to her husband if he wants her to do something illegal or immoral. Why? Because Jesus is the head of every individual believer. Therefore, her first loyalty, as a Christian, must be to Christ. However, outside of that, the wife is to submit herself to the will of her husband. We will examine the husband’s obligations next week. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Part 36
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Paul includes in Col 3:19 “… and be not bitter against them.” How does Christ love the church? Unconditionally. He provides for His bride; protects His bride; forgives His bride; holds no grudge against His bride. He gives honor to His bride, as she is the weaker vessel (1Pt 3:7). He is faithful to His bride. He rejoices in His bride and has eyes only for her (Prv 5:18-19). He gave His life for His bride. So ought husbands love their wives.
Eph 5:26 “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” As Christ cleanses and sets apart His bride by washing her with the Word of God (Jn 17:17); so ought husbands to wash their wives with their words by speaking God’s Word over them; praying over them; encouraging them – not belittling, criticizing or speaking ill of them.
Eph 5:27 “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” As the Lord preserves us in order to present us to Himself (Jude 1:24-25); so ought husbands understand that the wife they are presenting to themselves are in part their own doing. If a husband neglects his wife; puts her down; cheats on her; abuses her; doesn’t provide for her, etc., then complains she’s not the woman he wants her to be – he must understand he’s partly to blame.
As there is an initial sanctifying upon conversion and then a continual sanctifying throughout our Christian life – so there is in marriage an initial sanctifying (wedding vows) and then a continual sanctifying (confirming through word and deed those vows). If we as husbands have vowed before God, “Do you sir take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, and to the exclusion of all others, cleave only unto her, as long as you both shall live? Do you promise to love and cherish her, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do you part?” – then we ought to live upholding those vows until death.
Eph 5:28-29 “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” The husband is to love his wife like his own body, because in a sense she is his body (they two shall be one flesh). How do we love our body? We take care of it; we clothe it; we feed it; we protect it; we give God thanks for it. So we ought to do the same for our wives. As Jesus nourishes and cherishes the church, so husbands are to emulate.
Eph 5:30-31 “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” This is repeated from Gen 2:21-25 & Matt 19:3-6. Jesus adds, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” In covenant marriage, husbands are one flesh with their wives. She is joined unto him. They are one. This is physically expressed in the marriage bed. If she and her husband be Christians, they are also one spirit – not only husband and wife, but brother and sister in Christ.
Eph 5:32 “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Paul shows that the marriage covenant has a deeper spiritual meaning and is to be an expression of the spiritual union of Jesus and His bride, the church. However, he ends by making sure we understand that we ought not “spiritualize away” the practical precepts he had just expressed in vs. 22-33. The husband is practically to love his wife as himself; and the wife is practically to reverence her husband (Eph 5:33). Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Pt. 37
By Pastor J.D. Link
We’re going to skip down to Eph. 6:5 today, seeing as we have already covered Eph. 6:1-4 back in part 19 of our series. Eph 6:5-6 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness (sincerity) of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice (just working hard when the boss is watching), as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;” The parallel verse in Col. 3:22 adds “fearing God”.
People have estimated that the Roman Empire had a slave population of 30-40% during the time of Christ; being less at some points during its history and even outnumbering freemen at others. Whatever the case, there were a lot. As the Gospel spread, both slaves and their owners were getting saved. In Eph. 6:5-9, Paul addresses how both Christian slaves and owners were to treat each other. This was no endorsement of slavery, but just dealing with the reality of it. The application for us today would be the relationship between employees and their employers.
How are Christian employees supposed to act toward their bosses? They are to be obedient – as in, do the job they’re paid to do the way their bosses want it done. “With fear and trembling” – not of their earthly boss, but their true boss – Jesus Christ. “In sincerity of heart” – not doing the job while murmuring and complaining through gritted teeth; but rather, with a sincere heart working for them as they would for Jesus. “Not with eye-service” as “men-pleasers”– that is, not just working when being watched, but loafing the rest of the time. Rather, knowing we really work for Jesus, we do a good job at all times as unto our Lord.
Eph 6:7 “With good will (kindness, benevolence) doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” This simply means, that although at times we may not “feel” like doing this or that; we do it anyway with the right heart attitude. We are to do our job “heartily” (with all our heart), as unto Jesus (Col 3:23). Why? Because it is He we truly work for. Jesus is the Christian’s Boss, no matter who their earthly boss is. So, if we keep this truth ever before our eyes, we will happily do a good job at whatever we do. It’s all about Jesus.
Eph 6:8 “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” This we “know” – that God will reward us; promote us and bless us as we do our work as unto Him. We need not look to our boss for reward. We want God’s reward. God may very well use our boss to bless us – but we know the blessing is ultimately from Him. It is, “of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3:24). See also Prv 11:18, Mt. 16:27, Lk 14:13-14, 2Cor 5:10, Col 3:25.
These facts should make the Christian employee the happiest and most productive employees that exist. Think about that. We can do, even the most menial tasks, with joy as unto the Lord – just as if Jesus asked us to do something for Him. Also, we know Jesus will reward us for a job well done. It matters not if we get recognition or appreciation from earthly bosses. God sees, knows and rewards accordingly.
Besides it being God’s Word, I can say from personal experience this really works. I used to be a “good” employee (show up on time, do the job) – but my attitude stunk. I was a cussing, griping, angry employee. However, once I found and began to practice this truth, everything changed for the better. A simple change of focus and attitude can totally transform any job into a blessing.
Eph 6:9 “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Col 4:1 says, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Christian employers are to understand they’re not the ultimate boss. They have a Boss in heaven, where the buck truly stops. With this knowledge, they are to treat their employees fairly and decently – paying an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Not looking for how they can take advantage of them, but how they can bless them. If every employee and employer followed God’s Word spoken in these verses, every work place would be blessed. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Pt. 38
By Pastor J.D. Link
Ephesians 6:10-12 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” William Gurnall, who literally wrote the book on the armor of God, said, “In heaven we shall appear, not in armor, but in robes of glory. But here these are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.” Being a good soldier of Jesus Christ means living our lives in the full armor of God every moment of everyday. The kingdom of darkness does not sleep, so neither can the disciple of Christ.
I encourage you to read Eph 6:10-18. In it, we find there are seven pieces of armor the Saint is to put on. Five are defensive (belt, breastplate, boots, helmet, shield), and two are offensive (sword and prayer). The pieces of armor we will look at more thoroughly next week, but first we will cover the preceding verses.
Eph 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” “Be strong” means empowered, enabled, increased in strength. In whom? In the Lord, and the power of His might. Through Him, we can do all things (Philp 4:13). We are strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner man (Eph 3:16). Spiritual battle requires spiritual strength, and it is through Jesus that we receive His might and power.
Eph 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Put on” means to be clothed with. Meditate on it; grow in the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of it; realize it and accept it. We must know the Word and trust in it. “Whole” means all of it. We cannot neglect any piece of armor. Imagine a soldier who had all his equipment – except for his belt. It’s near impossible to fight with your pants around your ankles. Any part we neglect, will be a vulnerability that our enemy will exploit.
Also, this armor is “of God”. It is not our own invention. We don’t go to war with cardboard cut-out armor. We have God’s armor, and it works. His power and His tools are all we need to overcome our adversary. We stand against the “wiles” of the devil. Wiles are his methods, strategies, schemes, tactics or devices. Satan was stripped of his power by Jesus (Col 2:15), and Jesus now has all authority (Mt 28:18); and has delegated that authority to us (Eph 1:19-23). Satan comes to us not in power and might; but subtly, craftily, sneakily.
Eph 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We do not wrestle flesh and blood – but we do wrestle. A wrestler tries to overthrow and pin down his opponent. If we are not engaged in this wrestling match, we are overthrown and pinned already. We’re in it, whether we know it or not; whether we like it or not. The sooner Christians suit up and soldier up, the sooner they start getting the victory over the enemy.
With whom do we wrestle? Principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and wicked spirits in the atmosphere. In other words, Satan and his demon spirits. Satan, demons and the kingdom of darkness are real. They are by no means more powerful than God, nor more powerful than the Christian in the full armor of God. Nevertheless, they exist and seek to: hinder God’s work (1Thess 2:18, Rev 2:10); blind people’s minds (2Cor 4:4); mislead and deceive (Mt 24:24, 2Cor 11:3); tempt people (1Cor 7:5, 1Thess 3:5); buffet God’s people (2Cor 12:7); attempt to infiltrate and corrupt God’s true Church (Act20:30-31, 2Cor 11:12-15, Gal 3:1, 1Tim 4:1); devour those he can (1Pt 5:8).
Demonic forces are real, active and crafty. Some err by denying them altogether and others by giving them more power than they have. We are not to fear Satan, but rather, we are to fear God (Lk 12:5). We do not have a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2Tim 1:7). We are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us (Jam 4:7). Next week, we will look at each piece of God’s armor.
A walk through Ephesians: Part 39
By Pastor J.D. Link
Last week, we began to look into Ephesians 6:10-18. We covered verses 10-12, which is an introduction into the whole armor of God. This armor is necessary for the soldier of the cross to clothe himself with in order to win the daily battles with the adversary, Satan. This week, we will look into what this armor is.
Eph 6:13 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” The reason the armor of God is so vital, is because we will not be able to stand in the evil day without it. What is the “evil day”? It’s today, my friend. These days are evil (Eph 5:16). This present world is evil (Gal 1:4). We live in the midst of a crooked, perverse, wicked, adulterous and sinful generation according to Jesus & the Apostles; of which Satan is the “god of this world” system. “Having done all to stand” means we do all that we can and should do as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We must take and use the weapons provided for us by God. If we’re not standing, then we’re not using what God has given to us. It is God’s job to provide this armor, but it is our job to put it on and use it.
Eph 6:14 “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” Gill said this on “Stand therefore”: “Keep your ground, do not desert the army, the church of Christ, nor his cause; continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, stand upon your guard.” This is no time to abandon our post, but rather we should press into the Kingdom even more so than ever. The belt of truth is our unwavering belief in the integrity and truth of God’s Word. It holds everything together. Without this belt, your pants fall down and you are exposed to the enemy and cannot fight. Without this belt, you have nothing to hang your weapons on.
The breastplate of righteousness guards the heart. Righteousness guards our heart against the lies of the enemy. This speaks of both knowing we are righteous with God’s very own righteousness through faith in Christ; and also living righteously so as to have a good conscience. The enemy can put us out of the fight if this breastplate is not worn constantly.
Eph 6:15 “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” It can also be said, “And for boots, the readiness of the gospel of peace.” The gospel of peace is the foundation on which we stand, and also the message which we carry. We must be firmly rooted in “We have peace with God through faith in Jesus” (Rom 5:1) and carry this message wherever we go.
Eph 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” In front of all this armor is the door shield, for it protects the whole man. Through unwavering faith in Jesus and the promises of Scripture, every flaming arrow of lies, deception, doubts, fears and temptations can be extinguished. “All” the fiery darts means every one. The shield of faith held up constantly can give us complete victory over the devices of the adversary.
Eph 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The helmet protects the head. The greatest battlefield in spiritual warfare is between our ears. We must know we are truly saved (1Jn 5:13). If we continually question this fact after we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, the enemy will exploit our doubts and render us ineffective in the battle. A soldier who continually questions what he is cannot have confidence in battle.
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. This is not the Word on a bookshelf, or even in our head; but the spoken (rhema) Word. It is God’s Word on our lips, spoken from a heart of faith. As Jesus taught us in his wilderness temptation, the spoken Word drives the Devil away (Mt 4:4, 7, 10-11; Jam 4:7). It is vitally important we use this offensive weapon if we want to walk in victory.
Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Finally, we have the powerful weapon of prayer. We must pray “without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17), and continually stand our watch. We do not want to be asleep on duty. Our watch is this earthly life, and our duty is every day. This is not only prayer and watching for ourselves, but for “all saints”. We must pray for our brothers and sisters as well as ourselves as our General taught us (Mt 6:9-13).
This is but a brief overview of our spiritual armor, but I pray it is enough to give us understanding, and to compel us to utilize the resources God has supplied us with to overcome in spiritual warfare. Selah.
A Walk Through Ephesians: Pt. 40
By Pastor J.D. Link
Eph 6:19-20 “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
“And for me” – In the previous verse, Paul had just encouraged them to always be in prayer for themselves and for the saints; and now he specifically points out himself as a needed recipient of their prayers. Though Paul was the greatest apostle (making four missionary journeys, planting multitudes of churches, writing half the New Testament Epistles, etc.) – he knew he needed the prayers of the saints.
Wise pastors know they need the prayers of their congregations, for ministers and their families are at the top of Satan’s list for spiritual attacks. Paul was not ashamed to “beseech” (beg, implore) the saints at Rome for their prayers (Rom 15:30), for prayers help the minister in his work (2Cor 1:11). He asked the Colossians (Col 4:3); Thessalonians (1Thess 5:25, 2Thess 3:1); and Hebrews (Heb 13:18) for their prayers.
Paul’s specific request here was prayers for boldness, to speak boldly as he ought. A preacher should never water-down or apologize for God’s Word, but rather speak it boldly – his confidence being not in himself, but in God’s eternal Word of truth. Ministers are to speak boldly as their Lord did (Act 4:13). They are to pray for boldness (Act 4:29-31). They are not be bold on occasion or in certain company, but rather “always” (Act 19:8, Philp 1:20) – even to those who are contentious (1Thess 2:2).
Paul was “an ambassador in bonds” – or Christ’s representative though imprisoned (2Cor 5:20). Ambassadors speak not for themselves but represent the country from which they are citizens; so, the preacher being a citizen of heaven is to speak God’s Word and not his opinions.
Eph 6:21 “But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things.” Little is known of Tychicus, but that he was from Asia (Act 20:4), and was a faithful, beloved and trusted minister friend of Paul the apostle (2Tim 4:12, Titus 3:12). He was not well known in earthly life, but most certainly in heaven.
Eph 6:22 “Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.” Paul’s departure from Ephesus was a sad one, for they loved him much (Act 20:36-38); therefore, he sent Tychicus to comfort their hearts. Yes, he was imprisoned; but good fruit was coming from it (Philp 1:12-30).
Eph 6:24 “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” Paul closes his letter stressing that our love for Jesus must be in sincerity (incorruptible, genuine). Selah.