Monday, August 30, 2010

EPHESIANS: Walking Worthily of the King According to Grace

As we continue in this study of the Epistle to the Ephesians, we enter into chapter 4. Chapters 1-3 entailed a doctrinal review of such things as the divine origins of the church, the plan of salvation, a rich spiritual inheritance as well as resurrection; spiritual enlightenment by the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as the sealing by Him which secures the believer in Christ Jesus and His work of salvation in all of its aspects. This epistle emphasizes that our life as Christians is based on grace, not on works, as is our very salvation. Good works in our lives demonstrate and follow salvation; salvation is not derivative or based on our good works. These first three chapters speak on the unity between Gentiles and Jews as one body in Christ; it elaborates on the divine purpose of God, both for Paul and for the church. The last half of chapter three comprises of another marvelous prayer by Paul for the church.


Now we are ready to embark on the 2nd half of this journey, that is, the practical (compared with the doctrinal) aspects of the epistle. It should be noted that a 'head knowledge' of scripture, while useful, is ultimately meaningless, in fact it is damning, if such knowledge does not lead to obedience to Christ Jesus in 'living out' that which He has instilled in us (PHIL 2:12).

'Practice what you preach', 'walk the talk', that sort of thing: this is vitally important, for its in the obedience to the Word of God, that further revelation comes, thus greater understanding of the scriptures, which prompts us to further obedience. Such are the trademarks of our love for God.

In chapter four we have the following -

What the divine plan and purpose of God calls for on the part of the church.


The Unity of Believers:

In the Spirit - vs. 1-3
Seven unities mentioned - vs. 4-6
Diversity of gifts but unity in one body of Christ - vs. 7-16


Consistent Christian Life:

The believers walk:
Not as other sinful people - vs. 17-21
In newness of life, abandoning the old sins - vs. 22-32

EPH 4:1-2
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

In chapter 3 Paul referred to himself as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ", and here again, "the prisoner of the LORD". In ch. 3 this notion of being a prisoner was connected to the grace (unmerited favor) of God in granting revelation to the apostle. Here its connected with the vocation with which we (Paul included of course) are called, and all that this entails (as detailed in vs.2 and 3).

Understanding that a prisoner or slave has no say in any given matter of their own, but that they are totally yielded and surrendered to the will of their Master, we rightly conclude that, One: what ever may be commanded of our Master He shall enable us to perform the task (practical application) and Two: that the vocation with which we are called is not an optional one where our service in the church and, or the world is concerned.

1 COR 9:17
For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

The word used here for 'vocation' in the Greek is klesis, and it refers to an invitation, a calling, vocation, its always used in the NT of that "calling" the origin, nature, and destiny of which are heavenly (the idea of invitation being implied); it is used especially of God's invitation to man to accept the benefits of salvation - ROM. 11:29; 1 COR 1:26; 7:20 (said there of the condition in which calling finds one); "His calling" in EPH 1:18; "high calling" in PHIL 3:14; "holy calling" in 2 TIM 1:9; "a heavenly calling" in HEB 3:1 and also "the vocation wherewith ye were called" in EPH 4:1 and finally "in one hope of your calling" in EPH 4:4.

One cannot divorce the calling of God from the power of God, for the former commissions the latter, and the latter provides for the former.

The LORD sent forth the apostles as His witnesses, but told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were empowered from on high (LUKE 24:49; ACTS 1:8).

The word "witnesses" there is martos, and it simply means "a witness", but you may notice something about this Greek word; it resembles the English word, 'martyr' and this is no coincidence! To me, this speaks of the power and grace of God which is so ever-present, so ever-powerful that it will enable us to be faithful witnesses even unto death!

(So if you ever wondered, with no small amount of doubt, whether or not you'd be able to endure persecution, torture and, or martyrdom: aside from being confident in a sure foundation of Jesus Christ in your life, and a commitment to God and His Word, you may always feel doubtful until the time comes for such days, and then the enabling grace of God will be bestowed, as we need it, and not before. Our love relationship with JESUS will get us through anything this world can throw at us! AMEN?)
If we ever hope to live up to the calling of this vocation, Divinely appointed to each and every one of our lives as Christians, it must be obtained on the basis of God's grace alone. Indeed, His grace is sufficient! If ever we experience God's hand upon us, in calling us to some work or ministry, and we feel utterly inadequate to the task, go with the feeling, because you are inadequate! As am I! May this truth sink deeply into our hearts and may it compel us to seek His empowering grace in all we say and do, constantly and perpetually!

2 COR 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

In this vocation, may we walk worthily, that is, may we allow the grace of God to so empower us, as we yield to His Spirit and conduct ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ, supernaturally emulating His character, moral integrity and spirituality in lowliness as He is lowly, in meekness as He is meek (MATT 11:29), in longsuffering as He is longsuffering (1 TIM 1:16; 1 PETER 3:20), forbearing one another as He forebears with all of us! This is the essence of walking in the Spirit (GAL 5:25), to live our lives in such a way as to be (ideally) indistinguishable from the LORD Himself... want to talk about a HIGH calling? There it is, in this very chapter we are studying (EPH 4:13)!


Will we ever achieve this? Ultimately, when we see Jesus Christ Face to face, yes. Until then, while still in this corrupt flesh, we are sanctified incrementally in our minds (PHIL 2:5-8; ROM 12:1-2 [note vs. 4-5 where unity in the body is also mentioned]; ROM 8:11-13; COL 3:5-10 [And here in this chapter, unity is likewise mentioned in vs. 15]), in every day, in every choice of every day, whether to walk in the Spirit or the flesh; whether to die to self and live unto God, or indulge the flesh and deny God.

"Forbearing one another in love" Paul spoke of the body of Christ as being the building of God (1 COR 3:9), that we are fitly framed together (EPH 2:21), and Peter elaborates that each of us as living stones in the construction of God's spiritual house, which we are (1 PETER 2:5-6).

May I reiterate this point once again (as I initially stated in the study of ch. 2) that love, agape love, that love that is God (for God is love - 1 JOHN 4:8) is the necessary and essential mortar that's required in the establishment of the church, and all her individual members. Loving one another brings cohesion and unity among us, such unity that it cannot be divided by any wile or scheme of the devil, no matter how arduously he may labor to create schizms, contentions, strifes, etc.

ROM 12:9
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

"Dissimulation" being without hypocrasy, but in sincerity. No phoney, gushy, weakly empowered human love is suitable for this mortar in building the church. It must be a love born of God's Spirit in a heart that is likewise born of God's Spirit.

The love one for another as believers finds in itself the unity of believers by the Spirit as we see in vs. 3-6:

EPH 4:3-6
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

There are those that are committed to the Truth of God's Word, yet they are sometimes harsh, and unloving; others are all about love, and non-confrontational, avoiding the challenge of those who even bring in false teachings and heresies at the expense of the Truth.

There must be a balance between these; and true, godly love will declare the truth, not to harm but to help; those who are intent on the truth, the truth as in JESUS CHRIST, will do so in the Spirit of Him Who is Himself love.

Note: In verse five it states that there is " . . . one faith . . . " which speaks of the exclusive nature of God's truth and revelation recorded in scripture. Thus for unity, we realize that both love AND truth are required in the life of the believer and in the life of the church (see ZECH 8:19; 1 PET 1:22; 1 JOHN 3:18; 2 JOHN 1:1, 3). True unity in the body is established because we are all born of God: One Spirit; and unity is strengthened as the individual members grow in Christ-likeness. This is in answer to the prayer of Jesus our LORD (JOHN 17:11, 22):

There is the blessedness of unity for the individual believer as well as that for the church:

PSALM 86:11
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Walking through life in the truth and love of God's Holy Word, and not having divided loyalties or competing loves (for God AND something else) will ensure a blessedness in fruit bearing and an abundance of life. And, as with the individual, so too the body which is ONE in Him!

Conversely, having a divided heart, or being "double minded" will only bring instability and this therefore will not produce the fruit of the Spirit (JAMES 1:6-8; 4:6-10).

One other point on the above passage (vs. 3-6): where it states "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" has been misinterpreted by those who are Universalists (which claim that all are either already saved or that all will eventually become saved). Yet the text of this passage deals not with the world at large, that is, all souls that God created (existing in this world for a time), but with the church of Jesus Christ. ". . . through all and in you all . . ." is expressly stated for the saints, the body of Christ, and cannot be a proof text to prove Universalism, a false doctrine.

Now from vs. 7 onto vs. 17 we see that the various gifts and offices for the church are described for the express purpose of reinforcing the body by means of edification, that is, building up the body (or temple) of God, which we who are in Christ, are.

EPH 4:7-10
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (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.)


The imparting of the gifts and functioning of the offices for the church commenced after the resurrection of Christ Jesus. While the LORD made the pronouncement of the church in MATT 16:18, it wasn't officially conceived until after the resurrection, for until that time the Spirit of God was not yet given, which is a requirement for the church to exist (JOHN 7:37-39; 20:19-22; ROM 8:9; EPH 5:23-24).

This is plainly revealed by the text here in Ephesians, 4; the LORD Jesus delivered those captives (those OT saints such as Abraham and so forth, who could not enter the glories of heaven because the blood atonement was not yet made) from hades (the abode of the dead, also called sheol) and proceeded into heaven to present the blood at the heavenly altar.

The LORD Jesus left, but promised a Comforter (JOHN 16:5-7; 14:16) and with Him, there would be bestowed the various gifts and offices that are elaborated on here in our text, and elsewhere (such as 1 COR ch. 12 and 14):

EPH 4:11-12
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Apostles, apostolos in the Greek can have a broad application as "one who is sent" or "a messenger" as in its usage referring to Jesus Christ Himself, Who was sent to us by the Father; also to a lesser degree, in ACTS 14: 4, 14 where its used of Barnabas and Paul; ROMANS 16: 7 of Junius and Andronicus; 2 COR 8:23 two unnamed brthren are called 'messengers'; in PHIL 2:25 its used of Epaphroditus; and in 1 THESS 2:6 of Paul, Silas and Timothy.

In a more explicit sense, an apostle and who can hold such an office is outlined in ACTS 1:22. However Paul himself was an apostle of equal bearing in that he also witnessed the risen Christ Who had appeared to him, instructed him, and appeared to him in various visions for the purpose of comfort and encouragement.

There are some today who disparage the apostleship of Paul, just as there were in his own time; however if indeed he was a false apostle, none of the others would have received him, or recognized his authority, but they had (GAL 2:9; ACTS 15:4; 2 PETER 3:15-16). Surely there would have been evidences in writing among the scriptures to warn others of Paul, if he were false.

Apostolic authority in the working of miracles, pronouncement of God's will, and holy unction esteemed as authoritative as scripture existed only until the Word of God, inspired through various writers by the Spirit of God came into existance. Such apostolic authority does not exist today, even though some Christian factions regard such authority for their own apostles and prophets (Kansas City Prophets and Latter Rain Movement, among others).

However God does commission saints who are sent by His direct will, and this is entwined with His calling and vocation for our lives in service to the KING of Kings, and thus these are 'apostolic' in nature.

The original apostles were foundational as were those early NT prophets who were ordained until the completed scriptures were realized (EPH 2:20).
Once a foundation is laid, there is no further need of another; so too, now that the apostles and prophets of the New Testament completed their work, there is no more need of them.

Yet just as a Christian today can have an 'apostolic' calling, they can also prophesy in the sense of declaring the Word of God, for what is prophecy in its essence?

REV 19:10c
. . . worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Thus every believer who preaches Christ Jesus, is in a very legitimate sense, prophesying.

EPH 4:11
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Evangelists are also likewise messengers and preachers who focus their ministry on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul admonished Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist" (2 TIM. 4:5) and just as the LORD Jesus Christ commissioned His Twelve and all His disciples to "preach the gospel to every creature" (MARK 16:15) this commission known as the Great Commission has passed down to all of us, who belong in the church.

(This Gospel has been of late, become twisted and malformed, even deformed by those who profess to be its heralders, when in fact they commit blasphemy in stating that its not about seeking some 'pie in the sky' life eternal, but about helping the poor, the disadvantaged, the uneducated; its about building houses for those who have none, building hospitals, coordinating and dialoging with other faiths so that together we might help humanity as well as our habitat, the Earth.

That's right, I did use the word blasphemy because that's what it is! How could they so denigrate and diminish so holy and lofty and grand a purpose as saving immortal souls from eternal punishment, and for everlasting fellowship with God that shall endure long after sun, earth, moon and stars have faded away and gone out of existance for billions and trillions of millennia??
If they succeed in enriching the poor with resources, the uneducated with university degrees, the disadvantaged with every privilege conceivable, and homes and hospitals aplenty, what good would it do them, if they perish and become relegated to the eternal fires of hell?)

Strange that we to whom were commissioned this Great work, have somehow resigned to let the 'professionals' do it. Billy Graham, Luis Palau, and our own paid pastors and evangelists. How did we absolve ourselves of that which our LORD, the Head of the Church commanded us? What will be our answer on that Day when He beholds us with His flames of fire and asks us what we've done about His Great Commission.

Certainly not all of us are called to hit the streets and preach to passersby, but we ought to pray for our neighbors and friends, family and co-workers, seeking an available opportunity to share the Gospel which alone can save a soul. Understand that in writing this, I am preaching to myself as well as to all of you out there!

Then there are pastors and teachers, shepherds of the flock of God who are charged with feeding and protecting the sheep of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. They feed the flock with the milk and meat, water and bread of God's Word, or so they should be.

What's become of this sacred office in today's church, and why does it appear that pastors today are more intent on building their own kingdoms, rather than God's? Why are we, the saints of the Living God even tolerating such pastors who 'question' God's Word in a feigned honesty that 'struggles' with such stories as Adam and Eve, and Noah, and Jonah and admit that for all they know, they never existed, but are nonetheless useful stories for the purpose of moral and spiritual illustrations (??!!).

Such words belong on the wiley tongue of the serpent, not on the consecrated lips of our pastors!

These shepherds of the church are likewise ordained to protect God's sheep from wolves that seek to enter into the sheepfold; yet the wolves are just as canny as their master, the serpent! They realize that they don't have to enter into the sheepfold personally, no! They can write a book, or produce a series of CD's, or conduct national seminars, or create a web site with all sorts of enticing materials, all of which not only cater to the itchy ear folk that populate our churches, but also confuse the weak-hearted and those young in the faith and undiscerning (1 THESS 5:14). And while these wolves dine on the flock of God, where are our pastors, but out to lunch!

Yet I cannot continue on in this rebuke, without acknowledging the few faithful pastors who earnestly yearn with tears and cries before the throne of God, laboring in prayer on behalf of those saints and sinners who've been entrusted by God to their care. I must mention, and give glory and thanks to God for those who remain diligent in proclaiming relentlessly the pure and wholesome Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. These blessed shepherds after God's own heart who will "exhort, reprove, rebuke with all longsuffering and doctine" (2 TIM 4:2).

Pastors and teachers are not only saints, but they are also redeemed sinners, as flawed or even more so, than the saints that sit in the pews each Sunday and Wednesday night. They are also marked targets of the enemy! Satan knows that if he can take out a pastor or two, that's worth as much as half a congregation that becomes disillusioned and downcast, embittered by yet another scandal in the pulpit! Thus, may we also receive a rebuke, in our failure to intercede intensely and interminably for our pastors and teachers, for their safety and protection from the onslaught of the enemy!

If we see a lack of anything in our pastors and teachers, make it a labor of prayer on their behalf! Remember that in vs. 8 it states that He "gave gifts unto men" and that in one reasonable sense, these gifts are in fact, these apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (vs. 11), to the flock of God. May we be thankful for these gifts of God, and by His heart of love, support them in the ministry as well as hold them accountable to God's Word, as we all must be.

Due to the depths of these and further passages, I can see that it will be most useful to divide this chapter into thirds, rather than halves, so we will end here and recap from vs. 11 and continue on to vs. 21.

The LORD JESUS CHRIST bless each and all of you, WAY TOO MUCH!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The SIX LETHAL LEVELS LEADING INTO SIN


We Christians are engaged in a war of such fantastic dimensions, with such high stakes, against so powerfully deceptive an enemy, that we cannot live our lives frivolously or carelessly. This world for us is not a playground but a battle field!

Spiritual warfare in good Christian conduct is all about "upright and outreach". It's about living our lives pleasing to the LORD, contrary to the kingdom of darkness, being proper examples of the believer, keeping faithful stewardship over our hearts and lives, living in the Light of God's Word and honestly examining ourselves for any compromises into sin. That's being upright.

We are to be able ambassadors, and powerful evangelists, bearing the precious seed of the Word of God, sowing the life-giving Gospel into the lives of the lost. Evangelizing the sinner and encouraging the saint. That's competent outreach.

Satan wants to do everything he can to compromise our walks, drawing us into the sinfulness of carnality and away from the LORD and the saints: "divide and conquer" by isolating Christians and bringing them to a place of lonely vulnerability; ruining our testimony and crippling our walk.


EPHESIANS 5:14-16
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

That word "circumspectly" means essentially, to WATCH YOUR STEP, be careful and observant about where you're going. Much like an acrobat on the trapeze wire, or even more significantly, the soldier stepping through a mine field!
Satan is plotting, even as we attend to this message, with plans and devices whereby he will trip us up in our walks, wound us, and prevent us from "redeeming the time" - that is, putting our time to good use for the purposes of God, and instead, indulging in sin that will snare us, traps us, bind us and make us ineffective.


I was reading through the books of I and II SAMUEL, I came to chapter 11 (uh, that's biblically, not financially) of II SAMUEL, the infamous event that led to David's downfall with Bathsheba.
As I was pondering the situation, the LORD led me to understand that there are six levels that lead us towards and then into sin, and He even gave me the wit to label them all with letter L's.

2 SAM 11:1
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem
.

Rather than leading his men into war, as he was accustomed to do beforehand, he sent Joab in his place; one might suppose that David was getting on in years, and so he was no longer capable of engaging in battle, but this wasn't the case until almost 10 chapters later; he had a close call in battle - his reflexes and strength weren't what they used to and so his men told him, "no more! (2 SAM 21:17)". But here at this time, David should have been engaged in battle, instead, he resided in comfort in his own palace.

A preoccupation in seeking personal comfort over the call to arms in the LORD’s army to stand with the Captain of the LORD of Hosts and against evil, will lead to an attack from the enemy which in turn will lead to defeat. If the church isn't actively engaged in an offensive against the enemy, if we are conducting ourselves in a defensive battle - that is a battle we cannot win (history proves that no one ever won a defensive war).

Consider the apostle Peter, warming himself at the fire during the LORD’s trial, instead of standing with His LORD – or even beforehand, falling asleep when he should have been praying alongside our High Priest (MARK 14:37), and then following Him to His first trial, but following "...afar off... (MARK 14:54).

The FIRST LETHAL LEVEL that leads into sin is: LOCATION:

Being where you shouldn't. Or not being where you should! That is in a physical sense, but also in a mental sense - do we allow ourselves to drift to places or thoughts where we shouldn't be?

We would know far less struggle if we continued to walk in the Spirit - that is - to live our lives like Jesus, by His power alone! If we did this, we wouldn't have to be so concerned about fulfilling the lust of the flesh, because you can't do both at the same time, even as you can't walk in two different directions at the same time (GAL 5:16-17)!

David should have gone to war, but rather, he tarried still in Jerusalem, at his palace. He would have done well to "ponder the path of [his] feet" (PROV 4:26). Little did he know he was about to engage in an entirely different battle, a battle against temptation and lose terribly:

2 SAM 11:2
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon
.


In those days, people had patios on the roofs of their homes; and because the land in Jerusalem had steep hills, houses looked like stairs, the one next door being higher than yours, and the one after that, higher still.
David had a clear view of the patio area where Bathsheba was. Instead of turning right around and going back inside, and perhaps picking up a scroll of Scripture and meditate on God's Word - he remained at that location, at a vantage point where he viewed what he shouldn't have. 

The SECOND LETHAL LEVEL that leads into sin is: LOOKING:
Setting things in our sight that we shouldn't.
It's been said regarding temptation, that it isn't the first look that snares you, it’s the second. It's one thing to catch sight of something that one ought not to see, and then avert one's gaze and attention away from such, but it's another thing to return your gaze to that sinful sight and stare, and allow yourself to be drawn in. 

The Psalmist said:

PSALM 101:3
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me
.

This was something David was committed to after Bathsheba, and it would seem he had learned his lesson (read PSALM 101 in its entirety and see if you get the same impression). Would to God that he had reminded himself of such necessary protection to keep him from peril, prior to this insidious incident.
Would to God that we'd remind ourselves when temptations come our way! We must never be caught off guard when temptation comes our way; sometimes we are surprised, because the devil is wily and cunning and seeks to catch us by surprise like a ravenous wolf or a roaring lion that lies quietly hidden in the brush, eyeing his prey.

Let us expect assaults of temptation by our enemy, just as troops expect enemy soldiers on the battlefield.

The THIRD LETHAL LEVEL that leads into sin is: LINGERING: Rather than fleeing temptation (2 TIM 2:22), we linger and entertain.

2 SAM 11:2b
. . . and the woman was very beautiful to look upon
.

And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
As stated, it's that second, and third, and continual 'looking' that turns to lingering that causes us trouble. Rather than rejecting such vision and ideas and thoughts outright, we, like David 'toy' and 'flirt' with them. We take the time to let temptation work in our heart and mind which brings us trouble.

Martin Luther was fond of saying that . . . 

"You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can sure keep it from building a nest in your hair!"

Such fleeting thoughts that may cross our minds are in large degree out of our control, but it’s our choice if we decide to reach out and snatch one of them 'out of the air' and examine it more closely. Proverb states:

PROV 6:27
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

There will be consequences to entertaining temptation; the fiery passions can and will burn our clothes, i.e., our robes of righteousness; that out-working of God in our lives which is apparent and manifest for all to see.

ISAIAH 61:10
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness

Traditionally people wore inner garments with a heavier robe over them. The garments were underneath, unseen, but the robe was worn on the outside, and visible.
Likewise, the LORD’s work of salvation is multi-fold, including justification, and sanctification. Sanctification is the inner working of salvation upon our hearts and minds, unseen by all except by the LORD. 
However, this work of justification and sanctification works outwardly to produce the righteousness of Christ in our lives, producing good works, righteous actions and the fruit of the Spirit, visible for all to see.

It’s when we succumb to temptation and fall into scandalous sin, that our robe of righteousness suffers burning, creating a blemish that nothing can mend except repentance and the blood of the Lamb (1 JOHN 1:9). Just as David eventually ended up losing the respect of many of his subjects because of his sinful conduct, our witness for Christ can also suffer – which is exactly what Satan intends!

The FOURTH LETHAL LEVEL that leads into sin is: LUSTING:
We begin to burn in unlawful desires and covetousness. 
As we have already seen, David took note that Bathsheba (who was taking a bath . . . strange that she would have such a name!) was beautiful to look upon. 

If this was a mere glance, he wouldn't have been able to appreciate this beauty. But this was a beauty that was not his to appreciate!
More than this, she belonged to another: her husband Uriah who conducted himself more nobly than the king, valiantly fighting in the battlefield far away!

Temptation is not a sin in itself, but lusting and all other forms of coveting is a sin (ROM 7:7), and in their own way, are a form of idolatry. We believe "if only" we had this in our lives or that, THEN we would be content and happy. 

This is a silent indictment against our Maker Who has given us all things to enjoy (1 TIM 6:17) and blessings enough to be content with (Paul said, having food and raiment [only!] and therewith be content! 1 TIM 6:8), such coveting says to God, 'What You've given me is not enough! I want more!' This is a lie from the enemy, and our own carnal thinking!

This is why “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 TIM 6:10), because it’s by the power of money that our lusts and covetousness meets together with sin and leads not only to destruction of ourselves, but too often those around us!


JAMES 1:14-17
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

JAMES 1:12
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The FIFTH LETHAL LEVEL that leads into sin is: LATCHING:
Once we partake of the temptation we are snared, caught in the trap set for us by the enemy and rather than possessing the sin, the sin possesses us.

2 SAM 11:4
And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.

Once the decision was made, it led to a course of actions (JAMES 1:15), beginning here. Little did David know, or Bathsheba for that matter, that a child would be conceived, and with a sense of dread and panic, David connived a scheme to 'cover his sin' from her husband Uriah.
Think about it, all of this trouble could have been avoided if David had simply left his porch and went back inside of his house! Or consider this: Bathsheba could have easily set up a screen around her bath to prevent unwanted attention – so was it ‘unwanted’ after all? A good question . . . 

Yet the fire had already had a chance to burn in David's bosom, and it set in motion a destructive series of events that would lead to further deception, murder and national scandal as well as a never ending family feud among David's kin!

2 SAM 11:5
And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child
.

Here the one who had done the latching, finds himself latched onto by a woman he had wronged; now there was a child born of this sin, and David had to try to figure a way out of this mess!

The SIXTH LETHAL LEVEL that leads further into sin is: LYNCHING:

Just as the latching on to sin gets us caught, the lynching of sin gets us killed, specifically, spiritually deadened, unable to have fellowship with the LORD, unable to reach Him due to our condition (ISAIAH 59:2)
Since the armies of Israel were away, including Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, upon his return, he would have known that she was unfaithful to him, and further would demand to know who the father was! David had to think fast . . .

Now he could have repented; he could have faced the consequences of his sin by bringing this trespass into the light and seek forgiveness, first from the LORD – and then from Uriah. But he didn’t. As is so often the case, one sin leads to another – as well shall soon see . . .

2 SAM 11:6-8
And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David
.
And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet.
And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.

After the long journey from the battle front, then having eaten, David presumed that Uriah would then feel quite tired and sleepy, and go to his own home, spend time with his wife, and later upon learning of her pregnancy would assume that it happened that night.
Yet here we see Uriah conducting himself with greater nobility than David.

He refused to spend time in his own home, in his own bed with his wife because his fellow officers and men were off in battle, enduring great stress and hardships; he stood in spirit with his compatriots, and would not enjoy his ease and comforts!

The king then thought to get him drunk with wine; that would do it! Even drunk however, Uriah had enough presence of mind to remain vigilant in his integrity.
Here was a worthy man, and it makes the crime about to be committed even more horrible and heinous! Uriah was a man of God, who possessed integrity or as we might think of it, inward truth, good character, an upright heart.

PSALMS 51:6
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom
.

Not only does David send a letter to Joab by the hand of Uriah, with orders to abandon Uriah in the heat of battle until he is slain by the enemy, but this noble man was trustworthy enough to carry these orders without 'peeking' at them! 

David knew what sort of man he was conspiring to kill. To go through such measures to conceal our own sin is reprehensible, and the plot here gets more tangled with transgression as it goes!

Uriah delivers the message to Joab; imagine as this officer stands at attention before his general, and Joab having read David's message, then looks up to this soldier for any glint of knowing in his eyes. What he read there was an innocent man who had no idea of his imminent death.

Uriah is slain in battle, but while it was the enemy's sword that killed him, it was David's doing (See 2 SAM 12:9)! The word reaches back to Jerusalem. King David takes Bathsheba into his own home and is heralded no doubt as a heroic benefactor, a noble deed, indeed! No doubt people bragged about their king and his generosity and compassion!

Some years go by, and David believes his dreaded secret is safely covered, but none of our sins are ever hid from the All Knowing gaze of our God! The only ones fooled by our cleverness is we ourselves! The seeds we sow will inevitably find their way upwards and bring forth its terrible fruit! And this sin festered, and ate away at David's soul, deadening his relationship with the LORD and with others (PSALM 32:3-4)

GAL 6:7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap
.

Finally, we come to Chapter 12 of II SAMUEL, and the prophet Nathan whom the LORD sent to David with a report of a wealthy man and his vast herds of sheep, and his poor neighbor and his one ewe lamb that was like a daughter to him. 

The wealthy man has a visitor come calling and he gives the order to his servants to seize upon his neighbor's ewe lamb, slay and dress it, and set it at table for his guest.
David is outraged and demands that this man pay back his poor neighbor four fold (which was according to the Law of Moses) and that the man himself should be . . . slain?? THAT was NOT in the Law!

This makes me stop and think: how severe and harsh we can be in judging other people’s sins. Sin is such a blinding, destructive power, that rather than sympathizing with others snared in the same sin we've been snared with, we can too often be doubly cruel!

Then GOD does some 'LYNCHING' of His own, when He speaks through Nathan the prophet. Some might suppose that this prophet thundered with wrath, pointing an accusing finger at David when he says what he says.
But I think I can see the heart of God mirrored in Nathan's lamenting, grieving cry as his words like arrows pierce 'the conscience of the king'!

2 SAM 12:7
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man
. . .

The words following are a lament as God pours out His wounded heart, and declares how He had lavished David with blessings and honor . . .

2 SAM 12:7-8
. . . Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon
.

Yet, after carrying the weight of this besetting sin along with the enormous burden of guilt, David finally breaks and confesses his own guilt: he, unlike Saul his predecessor, owns up to it, and repents (vs.13)!

In PSALM 51 we read about David’s heart after he repented of this sin, and in vs. 4 he says,

PSALM 51:4
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight
. . .

“Against Thee and Thee only, have I sinned…”??

Imagine if Uriah, now dead, could have heard that prayer! What would he have said??
“I am dead David, and all my men with me, they were killed under your orders too! And what about my wife!? I think that was a naughty thing you did to her!”

What David realized, was that had he never gone wrong with the LORD in his walk, he would have never gone wrong against Uriah, the soldiers under his command and Bathsheba.

The LORD forgives David's sin, but there were still consequences! The child within Bathsheba was born ill and though David mourned, fasted and prayed, the child still died. His family was also destined to chaos and disorder.

A child, in wanting to copy his Daddy who was a carpenter, took a hammer and nails and pounded those nails into the doors of the kitchen cupboards. The father discovers his son’s deeds and disciplines him, and forgives him. But the forgiveness of the father for his son, didn’t make the holes in the cupboards disappear . . . 

Our sins are never insular or isolated; they affect everyone all around us. I am convinced that as the body of Christ, we also effect one another on a spiritual level when we commit sin, harbor sin, and leave it festering in our souls, unconfessed and unrepented of!

1 JOHN 1:8-9
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

May this admonition and exhortation be heeded by us all, myself included when we begin to traverse these Six Lethal Levels Leading into sin; may we rather repent from such that leads to corruption and choose that which leads to life everlasting:

GAL 6:8
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting
.

To choose the ways of corruption over the ways of Life Everlasting is a form of spiritual insanity that we who have the mind of Christ should never partake of!

DEUT 30:19
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The SEVENTH LEVEL that leads us out of sin: SALVATION!
There is hope for us however, when we get caught in sin and trespass, because the LORD has tender mercies towards the broken and contrite heart, and a repentant soul will be blessed in such forgiveness:

Read PSALM 32 and PSALM 51!

And let us seek the LORD with such repentance and find freedom from the slavery of sin. Let us stand fast in the LIBERTY that the LORD has won for us by His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, where He ever lives to make intercession for us!

GAL 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage
.

Friday, August 13, 2010

EPHESIANS: His Purpose; Our Passion!

Now we continue with the blessing of looking into God's Holy Word, and mining (in part) its depths to discover the treasure trove of this Divine Love Letter, written especially for US, accepted into the beloved!

Since we ended half way through chapter 3, we need to back up just a bit to recap the context. We finished up to and included vs. 10 so we can begin here.

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,

Paul was addressing the "manifold wisdom of God" and how by such wisdom we have entered into "the fellowship of the mystery" (vs.9), that is, the mystery of Christ, and all of the spiritual dynamics that this encompasses. There can be no such "fellowship" apart from the blood atonement of Jesus Christ, Who was the true Veil rent, so that we may enter into the Holy of Holies, and there have fellowship with God as our heavenly Abba!

From vs. 10, we proceed onto vs. 11 (is that a gasp of shock I hear, due no doubt from the profound nature of my statement?) which declares the "eternal purpose . . . in Christ Jesus our Lord

EPH 3:11
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Let's stop right there for a moment, before we proceed to complete this chapter. Think about what this verse states . . . "the ETERNAL PURPOSE, which GOD our Father, purposed in Christ Jesus our LORD"! - - wow!

Consider that in the sublimely lofty, hallowed, limitless MIND of God, a GREAT PURPOSE, an ETERNAL PURPOSE that involves His own Beloved Son, the LORD Jesus Christ resides (not a purpose conceived because GOD is eternal, and His Mind doesn't proceed from one thought to the next chronologically bound within the limits of time - thoughts, ideas, plans or purposes do not 'occur' to God the Eternal One).

This is an ETERNAL PURPOSE, that is one that existed for all eternity and will ever exist. What else can you say THAT about, especially in relation to this Earth, the physical universe, our entire temporal world that exists as a space/time continuum?

The sun won't last forever, it will gradually burn out as stars routinely do across our galaxy. Once it goes, the moon and our planet and the planets of our solar system will likewise degrade in their orbits, albeit, incrementally. One big blaze of nova-sized light and heat and everything will be reduced to cinders or gigantic glacial chunks floating in space . . .

Yet even before any of this were to happen, the Word tells us that God Himself will 'wrap' this decaying Universe up and dispose of it, in favor of a new world (see ISAIAH Ch. 51:6; 65:17; 66:22 and REVELATION 20:11).
Still, civilizations, our own contemporary one included, come and go, to be replaced by others; how long will this go on as our ability to annihilate life as greater scientifically intellectual and militarily powerful sophistication increases?

Then there are those who tout 'purpose' and tag God's Holy Name to it as if to gain Divine endorsement on these schemes which these P.E.A.C.E. plans and 'purpose driven' missions proliferate. They want to feed the poor, educate the unschooled, they want 'social justice' (you're going to be hearing that phrase more and more these days) and economic equality, and transform this weary, war-torn world of strife, hatred and discontent into a paradise (they claim this is the work of the Gospel itself, but it isn't. Though feeding the hungry and caring for the poor are legitimate by-products of the Gospel certainly, the Gospel is about the salvation of repentant sinners, who desire God and a love relationship with Him via Jesus Christ and the work of the Cross) that will welcome a 'Christ' back, to whom they will gladly relinquish the reins of rulership, in order to inaugurate a new age of peace and prosperity. What a PURPOSE, huh??

Surely one that Christ Jesus would gladly endorse . . . right?

Wrong; Christ Jesus' kingdom will not arrive at the behest of a global-centered people whose values are humanistic in nature, socialist in their economic endeavors, syncretic in their ecumenism and satanic in their inspiration!! His coming will obliterate this imperial, idolatrous system! (Dan. 2:31-35, 44-45)

Christ Jesus' kingdom and purpose are as high above the aspirations of mankind's (or Satan's for that matter) grandest schemes as the heavens are above the sea slugs that lie on the ocean's floor!

Even if they could have their way for this hopeless dream, how long would such a thing last? How long has any dream or ambition of any man or group of men lasted, any time in our history? Five hundred years? A millennium? two millennium?

What is that compared to the ETERNAL PURPOSE of GOD!
And what is this purpose that will span eternity! Paul is getting to that . . . eventually (you know how Paul writes!).

He first addresses another point, that is actually related to this Eternal Purpose. Access:

Eph 3:12
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him
.

Typically that word "boldness" carries with it the idea of 'confidence' in the King James Version, such as with HEB 4:16. Yet here in vs. 12 the word "confidence" is already in use. It would therefore be expedient to determine just exactly what these two words mean in the original Greek of the New Testament period, and see if they are related or not:

"boldness" in the Greek employed here is parrhesia, and it means, "all out-spoken, frankness, bluntness, publicity, assurance, also confidence, openly, plainly, freely." It denotes "freedom of speech, unreservedness of utterance (ACTS 4:29, 31; 2 COR 3:12; 7:4; PHILEMON :8) or "to speak without ambiguity, plainly (JOHN 10:24) or "without figures of speech" (JOHN 16:25). It also can refer to "the absence of fear in speaking boldly, hence 'confidence, cheerful courage' etc.

"Confidence" in this verse is from the Greek word, pepoithesis which simply means "reliance, confidence, trust."

So we can see that parrhesia has to do more with the attitude of acting freely in regards to one's words, speech, and in the manner in which they are conveyed. There is a liberality with the way speech is delivered, as among close friends or family who can 'say what's on their mind' without fear of reprisals or retaliation.

Pepoithesis has to do more with the attitude of entrusting something to another, to cause oneself to be dependent on, and reliant on another, and speaks of a willing vulnerability.

Finally there is this word 'access': In the Greek it's prosagoge, and it means "admission; the freedom to enter, through the assistance or favor of another". By this access, we enter into grace (ROM 5:2), and to the Father (EPH. 2:18; 3:12-14).

Verse 9 spoke of "the fellowship of the mystery" and that mystery divinely revealed relates to how the church (another mystery revealed by God) has this confident admission with Divine approval into the very presence of the Creator-King of all things! You want to talk about privilege with the Potentate? Lordly liberty with the KING of kings? All of this through the implicit trust and reliance upon Christ Jesus our LORD, through Whose blood we have this access by faith.

Once we enter in, we don't have to cower, and reel with trepidation as did the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow did before the 'Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz', but with confident assurance, to speak freely what's on our minds and hearts with our loving Abba, Father.

Now I'm quite certain that when we see our God face to Face, there will be a great deal of prostrating, quaking and holy, righteous fear, but of the utmost reverential kind and not the sort of terror and paralyzing fear that the unsaved will no doubt experience once they meet their Maker!

This access, and fellowship with God is at the very heart of this Eternal Purpose God established for us - because we are abjectly powerless, totally poverty-stricken, and unable to establish this for ourselves - and Paul begins to address the regally, lofty, holy and yet tender, loving and passionate Purpose of God in vs. 16, but we have a few more verses in between to get through.

Verse 13 is possible only because of vs. 12 before it, that is:

EPH 3:13
Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Any tribulations that we endure may be so endured because of that access we have to our God, to procure from Him all the graces and powers from that Heavenly Bank, necessary to steer a straight course, sure and true, through such hardships (and sometimes prosperity) that life is prone to!

Paul states that any tribulations he goes through is for their "glory" that is, for their betterment, and edification. Always the humble servant, willing to serve the saints out of a heart of love; that's Paul!

EPH 3:14-15
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Here is the place you will find any servant of the most High; on their knees before the Father in a spirit of humility and willing servanthood, and he, along with the whole family of God, which resides partly in heaven, and partly on Earth have continual, uninterrupted, steadfast and secured access to Him. I pray that we all will take advantage of that access as much as possible through the course of our lives!

Only on the knees of such a lowly, humble servant is it possible to witness the greatest heights of God's glory and His most intimate of purposes and plans (GEN 18:17; ISAIAH 66:2; AMOS 3:7; 1 PETER 5:6); we witness this truth throughout the Bible, from the lives of Enoch, to Noah, from Abraham to Moses, and many others - each of them were granted revelation from God and they were able to receive it because of contrite, and humble hearts of meekness. To know of the LORD's plan for your life, for my life, we ought to seek Him with such a spirit as this, and as God's family, we can have confidence of speech in our prayers, and total reliance upon the LORD Jesus, knowing we are heard of our Father, and are able to receive answers and guidance!

Praise Him!

The whole family, in heaven as well as on earth, are named by the name of the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. As members of God's family, are we bearing resemblance to Him? Any of His family traits being revealed in our lives? His love, grace, tender mercies, patience, peace and joy, etc.? I pray that this is so in my own life!
In the last remaining six verses, I can almost see Paul sharpening up his quill pen, and peeking into his ink well to ensure he has enough to finish this thought and wrap up the 'chapter' (even though the epistles didn't originally have chapters); he's about to go into overdrive as he reveals the awesome revelation in fervent, passionate prose, and its central theme is?

The knowledge of the love of Christ Jesus!

EPH 3:16-17
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

The inner man is the spiritual man, who is born of God's Spirit, as opposed to the outer man, who is the natural man or the carnal nature which is after Adam once he fell into sin. The empowerment of the inner man can only come through the Spirit of God, and not the self-determination of the saint's own will. The only one who can live the 'Christian life' is Christ Jesus. For the rest of us, its impossible; thus the need to rely totally, unconditionally, wholly and simply upon the LORD and His Spirit.

To those who disparage the doctrine of the 'indwelling of Christ Jesus in the heart' of the believer (some sects of Church of Christ, Oneness Pentecostal Movement, and others, among them, various cults as well), this verse is a proof text, among several more:

JOHN 14: 20; 17: 23; GAL 2:20; EPH 3:17-19; COL 1: 27; 1 JOHN 3:24 and REV 3:20.

We know of this indwelling first of all because the Bible plainly declares that those who are born of God's Spirit, those who receive Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior, are in fact, a dwelling place, a temple of God, and secondly we appropriate this truth by faith as it states in the verse here.

Salvation is by faith in God's Word of Truth as presented in the Gospel:

ROM 10:9-10
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe [by faith] in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. See also 2 TIM 3:15; 1 PETER 1:5, 9; JUDE :3

" . . . being rooted, and grounded in love"

How vital is it that a Christian become 'rooted and grounded' in the love of God?
At such times when one experiences what's been called "the dark night of the soul" or as extreme pressures and trials, and sufferings arise; when all the odds are against us, and we feel alone and afraid, and the fierce storms of tribulation or persecution terrify and threaten to engulf us, at such times as these, will we be tempted to believe a lie? Will we be faced with the possibility of doubting that God loves us, has forsaken us and succumb to it?

It is entirely vital that we are rooted and grounded in God's love for at such times as these, when we must endure and not fail in the face of trials, that this love will not fail us; that God will be present with us and His love for us is everlasting.

JER 31:3
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Rooted in God's love, like a tree whose roots run deep, and dig deeper still, plunging the depths in order to procure the much needed water required to sustain life and growth. Such roots that will allow that tree to remain steadfast, even when enormous buildings all about are shorn to the ground by lethal hurricane force.

So are we to dig deep in our relationship with the LORD; we are to pant after Him as the hart pants for water (PSALM 42:1) for our very spiritual well being depends on it! Our survival in life's storms and shakings requires it, and we must know that He Who loves us will never leave us nor forsake us (HEB 13:5)! Let us endeavor to remain wholly in God's grace, walking in the Spirit, empowered by Him and allow nothing to come between us and the LOVE that the LORD has for us! (JUDE :21)

COL 2:7
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

The other word used in the vs. of Ephesians chapter 3 is "grounded in love"

The Greek word for this is themelioo and it means "to lay a basis for, erect, consolidate, lay the foundation, ground, settle (MATT 7:25; LUKE 6:48 as well as in a metaphorical/spiritual sense in EPH 3:17, COL 1:23, 1 PETER 5:10)".

EPH 3:18-19
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

"Comprehend" here is katalambano, and among other meanings, it refers to "laying one hand's on, apprehending". Colloquially we might say, "get your arms around" and how can one do that with the breadth, length, depth and height of the love of Christ, especially when one considers the extreme measures He took to prove this love for us?

How? Only by the Spirit of God Who alone can impart that which "passes knowledge" Paul's desire is that we might be "filled with the fulness of God" Who is Himself Love"! What a glorious place to be in, Amen?

" . . . to know the love of Christ . . . " That word "know" is a very well known Greek word, ginosko, and it has a very WIDE number of applications, but one that's particularly useful here is as follows:

In the New Testament ginosko frequently indicates a relation between the person 'knowing' and the object known, in this case, the believer is doing the knowing, and Jesus Christ is the object, and of course the roles are reversed in such instances as when the LORD Jesus said:

JOHN 10:14
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine

Further, this particular rendering of ginosko states:

" . . . in this respect, what is "known" is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of a relationship; also 'to be known of God' suggests approval and bears the meaning 'to be approved'. Such knowledge is obtained, not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Spirit consequent upon acceptance of Christ [Jesus], nor is such knowledge marked with finality (2 PETER 3:18).

This is important to realize, that scholastic study of the scriptures alone is not sufficient to know Jesus; one must also be born of God's Spirit, and in fact this is the primary pre-requisite that must be established before one can ever hope to 'know' Jesus and His Word in this sense of ginosko (1 COR 2: 7-16). This is not to say that those who are seeking Truth, and desire to know Jesus are unable to have understanding imparted to them by God; the LORD does enlighten and His light does in fact shine upon all (JOHN 1:9). God promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, if you seek with all of your heart (DEUT 4:29; JER 29:13).

Once the living, breathing, actual relationship with Jesus the LORD and Savior and Head of the church is established, then and only then is it vital to . . .

2 TIM 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Lastly, the final two verses of this most awesome chapter:

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.

God's limitless abilities is in direct proportion to our inability to comprehend them in the natural realm of our limited minds, thus the "exceeding abundantly above" portion of these verses. Yet while we cannot in and of ourselves understand these abilities, they nonetheless work in us by the power of God! It's like electricity; scientists still aren't even sure what electricity even is, and yet not understanding its essential nature doesn't deny us the ability to employ its uses.
We may not understand God fully or how it is that His power works in us, but we can nonetheless employ the power of God in our lives, and by the power of His Spirit, do great exploits for GOD!

Remember the old saying, "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called!" God is, as it were, a 'complete kit' in that when He comes into our lives, He comes complete with instructions (His Word) and the power (His Spirit) and the means by which it all works together (His grace and love)! "Batteries and glue included" you might say!

When I think about the prayer life I have, and other saints close to me, I sometimes wonder if we stifle God by our tiny prayers. Sometimes I think we don't ask great enough things of God, especially when one considers Who God is, and what He is capable of!
To think that He is able to do "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask..." I don't know about you, but I often settle for less than what I originally have in mind, when I voice my prayers to God. What I hold in my heart can be a rather bold and in my mind, an 'over-large' request of God. Yet God is able to do not just above what we ask but as the verse states:

". . . all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us"!
According to the power, the very Spirit of God who formed the Universe all about us, by Whose power Christ Jesus has RISEN FROM THE DEAD; this is power that all the nuclear weapons of this world combined would pale to in comparison!

This kind of power must be wielded in hearts that are yielded, humble, submissive, tender hearted towards the LORD of Glory, for only in and through such hearts can this power flow without sinful impediments; only such hearts that exalt God's will supremely above any and all other considerations can be entrusted with such power.

No one wielded this power as greatly as the LORD Jesus Himself who came not in His own name or power, He who laid aside His own glory, and was thus entirely dependent and yielded to the Father's will is our grand example.
This is why its so important saints, to live the crucified life: the more we put to death our carnal nature, the more we mortify the deeds of the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof, the more present will be the power of Christ in our lives, and His nature will likewise be manifest in us. Thus the spiritual power and the spiritual maturity will go hand in hand, as we place both of ours on the plow and not look back, but persevere in our labor in the Kingdom - for God, for our love to Abba, and for His Glory alone!

EPH 3: 21 "Unto Him be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

May the blessings of our Dear and Precious LORD and Savior be with you all, AMEN!!!
(next time, chapter four!)