Tag Archives: faith

Principled Practice

Focus of this post will be on the necessity of living out a practical, yet principled believers walk. The reading text for this blog is Ephesians 4-6.  I got behind on posting this week, we have been in Vacation Bible School.

Looking at Ephesians letter we have Paul reminding the readers that they use to have a FORMER life. They once were a people who were outside the “commonwealth of Israel.” [Eph. 2:12] Four times Apostle Paul brings up their past. But his focus isn’t to continually throw their past sinful life in front of them. But to remind them of the great strides that God has brought them. One of the greatest conflicts in the new Church was the admittance of people who weren’t Jews. Often Paul was physically persecuted because His ministry to the Gentiles.  Initially, Christianity was view as an off-shoot of Judaism, meant for no one else. Peter had difficulty including the Gentiles in the faith, that is until Acts 10. even then He would lapse back into a Jews only faith. [Gal. 2]

For Paul to remind the Gentiles that they were “children of disobedience and darkness, was to reveal to them how God had worked a great blessing on their behalf to be included in salvation’s plan of Jesus Christ by faith. They were formerly in darkness; they were formerly afar off; they were formerly children of wrath; formerly walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air; and formerly in the flesh called the uncircumcised. This was/is our lot today. Unless we are of Jewish descent, we are all Gentiles. We have the benefit of saving grace because of the rejection of the Jews to Jesus and His redemption plan. Currently, Christianity is by and large a Gentile faith today. A great shift has occurred with respect to the “Promised People of Israel.”  Their rejection , brought into the fold of God. As Abraham was considered righteous before the circumcision and the Law, even we are children of faith, being the sons of Abraham.

While we have a great position and status before God now, we cannot boast. It was infinite plan that “all nations” would be blessed through Abraham, the Father of our faith. Since we are no longer children of darkness, wrath and separated from God; how then shall we conduct ourselves in this new-found son-ship?

Seven times in the Ephesians 3-5 we find the word “Therefore,” as with any time we see this word, it should make us reflect backwards to what was said, for it gives us the understanding of why we should embrace the admonition that follows. Paul isn’t satisfied that the Gentiles are now included in the Faith, but expects them to now conduct themselves according to Children of the Light rather than their old lifestyle of darkness.

So many times I hear people say that the Christian life is boiled down to nothing but “do’s and don’ts.” there is some truth to that if you are trying to be righteous through works. If however, you have experienced salvation through Jesus, then it is expected that we would be “like Jesus” instead of the old liar Lucifer. The inward change that has occurred because we are “a new creation” should be evident to others visually. If there isn’t a visible change in one’s life, it is reasonable to say that nothing happened. Now on to the “Therefore”

1. Therefore do not lose heart in seeing tribulations in other believers

2. Therefore walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have. Conduct ourselves as people of God, not according to our old way of life.

3. Therefore as Christ has risen and given gifts to men; each of us has been given grace for the equipping of the saints. The list of leadership posts that Paul describes is for the Church to be healthy and mature.

4. Therefore since we are to no longer “walk according to this world” we need to “walk according to the Spirit of God that works within us.”

5. Therefore put some things out of our life. foul speech, anger, lies and falsehood. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. These things are generated in our hearts as we are ridiculed by the world. Don’t let the world cause you to lose your witness!

6. Therefore imitate God, rather than Satan. Walk in love. Put away immorality, impurity, greed, silly talk that hurts others [I was only kidding]

7. Therefore do not be partakers with others in darkness, but walk as children of Light that we are.

8. Therefore walk carefully as wise not unwise. Redeem your time, make it worth while for each day must count. [Not necessarily Carpe Diem] .

Practical living, principled living logically makes sense. God who redeemed us, the Spirit at work within us, and Jesus making intercession for us; demands a New Way of Living. Our lives should not be lived as if we are in prison “having to behave” but wanting to be pleasing to God, and bring Him Great Glory as His Children. The practice of the principles should be a “want to” not a “have to” attitude.

 

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Why the Gospel is Needed

We began this week reading from the book of Romans. This is the strongest letter by Paul. For it outlines the work of God through humanity and especially the need for salvation for all. Quickly the Apostle Paul moves from a strong greeting and salutation to the crux of his intention of writing. Since Paul had not started the church, he may have been largely unknown to the church that was in Rome. In Romans, we find a magnitude of theological and doctrinal issues addressed. Particularly, doctrines of depravity, justification, salvation, sanctification, and glorification. Sounds like a lot of $20 words, but Paul spends much of Epistle writings to correct and instruct beliefs and practices within the church. In writing to the Romans, Paul wanted some fruit from them, in order to be sent on his way to Spain. It makes logical reasoning that Paul would need to present himself and his message to the people first.

Chapter one has become of late a very volatile passage for it clearly speaks to the issue of homosexuality. It speaks first to the foundational existence of God. Although He [God] cannot be seen, He is Known through the things that exist and observed with our eyes. There are other passages that describe the created order of things through Jesus [Col. 1:15-18, Heb. 1:2-4]. Paul quickly describes the work of Jesus as the Savior of the world, and thereby affirming that He is the Son of God.  In verse 18, Paul exposes the condition of mankind and the depravity of our minds. From verse 18 to the end of the chapter, one finds that there is sufficient justification for the wrath of God in the lives of rebellious people. Many of the actions expressed by the Gentiles is being lived out in our day. There is significant accusation about the behavior of the Gentiles. At the foundation of their rebellion is their rejection of the God that has been revealed to them. Even though they KNEW God, they did not honor Him as God. I often hear in arguments against the “Jesus only” salvation, that everyone hasn’t heard of Jesus – then they try to come up with a people who live in some obscure place, where the Gospel can’t get; in hopes that there are people who will be excluded from Hell because they didn’t hear of Jesus and the Bible. This argument is shattered, for “They are without excuse,” for the invisible God is know by His visible creation.

The thrust of Paul in identifying the pagan behavior, is to show how low and how far from God people will go to pursue their rebellious behavior.  The condition of the mankind is the basis for the wrath of God. God is holy and righteous. He does not have to put up with gross immorality. Note the Flood conditions are the same as Paul writes and God destroyed all the people. Jesus speaks of the only sign we will be given, as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the end times. [Matt 24:37 -ff] Our culture has adopted am “amoral” position with regards to good and evil, specifically morality. All is acceptable, because there isn’t a standard. To adopt this position, one must eliminate God – this is exactly what Paul brings out is chapter one.

You can almost hear the Jewish believers shouting Amen to Paul’s conclusion about the Gentiles. Wait a minute, Paul isn’t done. In chapter 2, Paul takes on the Jews. The Jews had the oracles the Law; yet Paul brings out that the Law no man can’t be justified. The Old Testament salvation was one of faith [Abraham specifically, Hab 2:4], the just shall live by faith. Then Paul brings the argument that when Gentiles by nature do the Law, without the Law, they become a law unto themselves, and are pleasing to God. In other words, God has in fact created mankind with a desire to worship and governed by an innate law within them. His statement, that the Jew is not one born of Jewish stock, but one who lives by faith. So then, a Gentile who does the Law, without the Law becomes in all essence a Jew,

Chapter 3 is a huge chapter, for it quickly gets to the point that no one seeks after God, it is God who seeks after us. [Jeremiah 29:12-14] Paul, having leveled the ground by revealing the both Jew and Gentile are condemned and in subjection to the wrath of God. All have sinned, all fall short, all will be the object of God’s wrath, if faith and repentance are not accomplished. Romans becomes a great book to show how the Gospel moves from a Jewish audience to a Gentile, and hence a global Gospel. No one can claim advantage – the advantage is not in circumcision, nor,  is it in ignorance.

justification is always by faith, not works – Ephesians 2:8-10. It is God who justifies, in a forensic sort of way we are “declared” righteous, even though clearly we are not. Out justification and righteousness is in the Son Jesus – who God the Father sent. Hence salvation and acceptance is not of boasting in who we are, but praise and worship to the One and Only Way to be reconciled – Jesus!

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