Monday, November 8, 2010

EPHESIANS: Form & Function in Christ

This particular study in Ephesians will be a somewhat short one, consisting of only fifteen verses. The reason for this is because I want to treat vs. 10 through 18 in a different study on The TRUTH Under FIRE (www.thetruthunderfire.com) regarding the popular topic (among some fellowships) of spiritual warfare.

So this study will extend from vs. 1-9, and then pick up at vs. 19 to the end (vs.24).

Remember that chapter divisions are not inspired (nor are verse numbers, these are constructed for convenience in referring to passages and are quite useful for this purpose!) and as is often the case, the divisions are not warranted as the same subject matter is dealt with before and after the division.

Such is the case here; previously in chapter five the marriage relationship is dealt with, but even more so, the relationship between the LORD and us, His own bride (of which every human marriage is a model, or it should be if the partners desire a prosperous, fruitful and blessed marriage).

Chapter 6 opens up with parental relationships with their children, and vice versa:

Eph 6:1-3
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour 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
.

As odd as it may seem, that a bachelor such as myself should expound on marital and family relationships, while I am unable to teach from experience, and this exempts me from very much elaboration, I can expound on the truth of the scriptures on how such things ought to be conducted.

Children are to obey parents for the sake of harmony and cohesion as intended by God in creating the family. They are to learn respect for authority and it begins in the home. These little ones must be trained in obedience and realize that there is blessing in doing so, and repercussions for not doing so. In this manner they learn such things as responsibility, an order in authority, the benefits in working together as a unit, and that distinct roles are designated for each family member.
The very fact that a man and a woman consists of a unified pair in marriage and that God instituted such as being male and female in a healthy, productive, useful and blessed heterosexual relationship is challenged in the world now. In today's politically correct environment, this institution has not only been challenged but overturned in much of the world, and such rebellion against this Divinely imparted institution is encroaching here in America.
As early as the 60's generation in which drug use, 'free sex' and rebellion against parents was seen as the norm, but these are the sledge hammers that are destroying the very foundation stones of a society that was once blessed by God. God has promised to bless obedient children who will hear and follow the leading of their parents.


Today we hear so much about the Rights of the Child by the UN, but what would seem like a global concern for the well being and protection of children is actually an attempt (one that is succeeding by the way) to divorce children from parental authority; see - Crossroads ministry article:

http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/009/1-family.htm (Attn. Parents: be sure to read parts 2 and 3 as well!).

God never intended that children would be directly subjected to a governmental authority, but by means of allocated strata, the first being of course, the parents who have the final say in the child's life and are held accountable to God in raising that child in a manner pleasing to Him, not the State government per se, or the Federal government, and certainly not a global government that would consider parents as mere caregivers, having no say in the child's life whatsoever.

Yet in obeying their parents, children would likewise learn respect for a teacher's authority, and that of a policeman's, and a commanding officer, and a governor, and a President, etc.

Without this cognitive infrastructure for respecting authority, and just laws our society would fall into a chaotic shambles having no structure or order whatsoever. Judging the way our society looks, it seems most of our children already lack this integrally important infrastructure!


As it may become increasingly discouraging for children to obey parents who are seen as 'unfair' or 'harsh', the LORD desires to encourage them, that this is the first commandment with a PROMISE of blessing!


Eph 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

There are a lot of key words in this verse that would prove useful in examination, words like "provoke" and "wrath", "nurture" and "admonition".

'Provoke' in this passage (and in Romans 10:19) is parogizo in the Greek, and can mean "to enrage, to arouse to wrath".

'Wrath' is the very same Greek word (as above), and used repetitiously as a means of emphasis.

'Nurture' in the Greek is, paideia, meaning "tutorage, education, training", by impl. "disciplinary correction; chastening"; denotes "the training of a child."

'Admonition' is nouthesia, or "calling attention to, a mild rebuke or warning, literally it means "to put in mind, as in the purpose of the scriptures (1 Cor. 10:11) and that which is administered by the LORD (Eph. 6:4) and that which is to be administered for the correction of one who creates trouble in the church (Titus 3:10). Noutheisa is the training by word whether of encouragement or if necessary by reproof or remonstrance; stresses trainnig by act."


Fathers are thus to patiently instruct, gently tutor, but likewise to administer reproofs and rebukes when necessary, but only as necessary.

I've often heard it said, never discipline your child when you're angry. Send the child to their room, allow yourself some time to cool down and reacquire some objectivity, and after prayer for guidance and wisdom, enter into counseling with the child, administering the proper level of discipline.


As I am not a father myself, my absence of experience must bow to those men who are fathers, and they have learned much as fathers relating to their children, and how our heavenly Father relates to us as His children. A vast wealth of wisdom and knowledge can be acquired from fatherhood as it relates to the Fatherhood of God.


Here, as well as the marriage relationship, how we deal with children is to reflect how our heavenly Father deals with us. Of course this same admonition applies to our mothers as well, but for the most part, the emphasis is on fathers, as mothers are more naturally patient, kind, and tender hearted towards their children.

On another note, we observe parents who are absent from much of the child's life and activities, and as a poor substitute they throw money and materials at them, seeking their fulfillment by these means. Children learn nothing of loving, nurturing family values, but how to value worldly possessions instead. We can shake our heads in disapproval at such conduct between a father and his child, but then I consider the church:
How many churches seek for 'blessings and gifts' and virtually demand them by their 'faith' while at the same time, know nothing of fellowship and communion with our heavenly Abba?
The church to a large degree has learned more about and coveted worldly possessions than about loving, nurturing values in the family of God! This is not to say we ought not to seek blessing and gifts from our Abba, Who is enormously generous with these, but to seek the GIVER far more, than the gifts; THIS is the GREATER BLESSING!

The following text is quite extensive and as it deals with the master/servant or in our case the employer/employee relationship, there is much we ought to glean and abide by in these verses, particularly in our society where industry, and integrity are at an all time low:


Eph 6:5-8
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free
.



Everything that we do in life can be consecrated to the LORD, used as a means of worship and can bring glory to His Name. Such is the case with our employment, be that as an employee in a company, or being self employed or working in the home (specifically, I speak to the stay-at-home Moms).



In any job that we take on, we must have the mind set that its as though the LORD Jesus Himself has come to us and asked us to lay brick and build that wall on the construction site; to mix dough and bake goods at the bakery; to be diligent and dutiful in the tasks involved at the pharmacy or the office, or in the class room, or in tending the needs of children. I endeavor to do this myself at my place of employment and at my hiring meeting (17 yrs ago) I told the interviewer straightforwardly,



"Tucson Airport Authority will be signing my pay checks, my supervisor will be directing my assignments, but in reality, I don't work for the Authority or for my boss. I work for the LORD and as He is ever present, and ever watchful of all my actions, and knowing that He is prepared to render eternal reward for faithful service, this is my motivation and great encouragement in doing my very best in maintaining the sort of diligence that requires 60 minutes of work for every hour paid."



We received bonuses this year at work, an unheard of benefit in today's economy; I was told that I and one other had the highest amount in our entire department! GLORY to GOD for His work in my life!



I am astounded at the goodness and generosity of the LORD! Not only does He provide us with jobs, not only does He grant us able bodies and minds to perform them, not only does He provide payment in remunerations, but He even grants rewards in heaven for such faithful service!!



What about those who work in the home? Mom's particularly? This indeed is a blessed office, and one that is sorely needed in today's world, especially in our nation! You godly, Christian Mom's that are with your precious children all day are instrumental in showing and ministering God's love to these lambs. Fathers, though you work an 8 hr. shift, you are even more responsible as the head of the house to minister in this way.



Yet the quality time that mothers spend with their kids has a profound effect on their growth, development and their world view. If we are going to have a REVOLUTION of FIRE in this nation, its going to start with the sparks ignited through the ministry of our godly mothers and their knowledge of the Word, investing such in their children!



What about those who are legitimately in need of disability services, and can't provide in the way of employment, or retired folk and, or the shut-ins that are unable to interact with society? What can these do? MUCH!!


There is a work that I believe will render the GREATEST rewards in heaven, a work that I think is closest to the heart of God, and that is intercessory prayer! Such folk as these have an invaluable resource in abundance that the rest of us don't: time! With such time on their hands, these supposed 'useless eaters' of our society,these elderly saints, can dwell within the courts of heaven in their prayer closests and petition and interceed for the church, unsaved loved ones, and a lost world that dwells in darkness!



A lonely widow in New Jersey lived across the street from a high school; God put a burden on her heart to pray for those kids, and that He would not only save them, but send them as missionaries around the world and declare the glorious gospel!


A few years later, God's Spirit moved upon those students, and many of them were saved. Not long after, upon entering college a few of these, led by a young man named George, loaded up a van and drove down to Mexico preaching the Gospel. This work began to grow and in a couple more years, this small team became a small army that flew to England and Spain to continue the work.



Their leader's name is George Verwer, the International Director and Founder of Operation Mobilization (see the link to O.M. on the side bar of this blog under LINKS to LIVE By - Missions HIMpossible 3).


All of this because of one lonely widow committed to prayer! This reminds me of Anna the prophetess in the Gospel account of (Luke 2:36).

What we render to God in our labors is important, not in the job itself, but out of a loving heart that longs to serve faithfully to the LORD who granted that job, whether you're called to push papers or a broom!


I'm told there is a story in the Talmud (Or is it the Mishna?) of two angels that reported before the Throne of God to receive assignments; one was to go to a certain city and there rule over it as its king; the other was to go to that same city and sweep the dust in the streets. Both angels left the throne rejoicing, not because of the tasks themselves, but for the opportunity to serve their LORD faithfully and gratefully!



If you have an intolerable boss, or maybe careless co-workers who slouch off and get away with it, you might have cause to get discouraged (like I do at times!) but if we stay focused that whatever any one else may do, we will remain faithful and diligent in our service to the LORD, our real boss! we will persevere!



Now let us skip ahead to vs. 19 and conclude this study of chapter six (remember, I will be doing a seperate study on the armor of God later on and have this posted on TTUF!):


Eph 6:19
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,



Paul was elaborating on the subject of prayer in vs. 18 and so here he is soliciting prayer from our Ephesian brothers, for inspiration and boldness in preaching the Gospel (interesting side note: Paul seems to be the only epistle writer that solicits prayer.). Imagine someone like Paul, asking for boldness? Perhaps that's why we so often see him storming into cities, into the very heart of darkness and trouble, and fearlessly preaching Christ Jesus, because there was the foundation of prayer laid first!



Any work we do, be it mundane or messianic (that is, preaching the Gospel of the Messiah) should be bathed in prayer, and we likewise need to seek leading by the LORD as we pray.



Again, I call attention to this word "mystery" which means something hidden that is now being revealed, like a monumental statue being unveiled at a park somewhere. Paul stated that if the gospel is hid, its hidden from the lost (2 Cor 4:3-4) who are blinded by Satan. So not only is the gospel hidden from the lost who are blinded by the enemy, but it can't even be revealed except by the Holy Spirit!


Thus our prayer in bringing the gospel to those lost in this world, in the depravity of their sinful state (of which we ALL had our part) needs to be two-fold: first in binding the influence of the enemy in seeking to hold them back from knowing Jesus (Mat 12:29) and in the power of God's Spirit in illuminating the hearts and minds of the lost, bringing understanding to them by the only means possible - the Divine will and power of God! (see
John 6:63, Eph 1:18, Eph 2:4-5).


Eph 6:20
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.



Paul just finished his exposition on spiritual warfare, and has exhorted Timothy elsewhere to fight a good warfare as a soldier of Christ (2 Tim 2:3, 1 Tim 1:18) and yet here he describes himself as am ambassador, hardly an office given to martial proclivities! Ambassadors are all about peaceful negotiations and obtaining amicable, peaceable situations between either warring or potentially warring nations.



This contradiction is easily understood when one considers that we are to conduct ourselves as ambassadors to the world or even fallen saints and seek restoration for them and a reconciling on their part to God:


2 Cor 5:20
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God
.



The warfare we conduct is not against sinful humanity but for sinful humanity and against Satan that holds these precious souls for whom Christ Jesus died; that his enslavement over them would be broken and that these may know salvation and liberty in the LORD!



Unfortunately the Crusades of the Holy Mother Church at Rome instituted a legacy of carnage and brutality that many attribute to Christianity in general; however what that church did was to take scripture intended to encourage the saints in SPIRITUAL warfare and use them in terms of PHYSICAL warfare; not against Satan and his principalities and powers, but against our fellow man, even those that Christ Jesus commanded us to LOVE, namely, our ENEMIES!



The disciples of Jesus Christ are not to bear a sword, dripping with the blood of slain humanity, but to bear the Sword of the Spirit, dripping with the blood of the LAMB and proclaming the Gospel even at the expense of our own lives!



Eph 6:21-22
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:

Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.



Paul was ever attentive in his ministering to the saints, to keep them apprised of his own ministry, and to lend aid to them where ever and how ever he could. He often employed and delegated others in the work, and this is a vital lesson for any one in ministry. We are not 'Lone Ranger' Christians, or at least we ought not to be!


As members of the body of Christ, we have need of one another, just as members of our own bodies need each other, even the smallest, seemingly most unimportant members. Suppose you were to have the pinkie toe on your feet surgically removed - do you think this would hamper your walk? You bet it would, even such a tiny member as this, that you hardly pay any mind at all to!


Tychicus is someone you may never think of in the same terms as Paul or Peter or John, or Luke, Timothy or Apollos, but the LORD God regards him as a child of the KING, in the holy and high office of a saint!


We all have our parts to play, and as Chuck Missler is oft saying, "Any of you who are not out there exercising your spiritual gifts are defrauding the rest of us."



If you're starting a Bible study, or a prayer group, or about to commit to a ministry at your local fellowship, make sure this is the leading of the LORD by seeking confirmation in His Word which is THE Lamp unto our feet, and THE Light unto our path!


Once its ascertained that this is indeed "...the way, walk ye in it" then seek out spiritually mature and strong-in-faith saints to begin interceeding for you before you even commence in the work!


Eph 6:23-24
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.



Peace and love in their most genuine form is something that the world lacks deplorably. Certainly there may be instances of peace in the tranquility of a camp ground deep in some forested mountains at night; there is love between a husband and wife, parents and children - but all of these are transitory and cannot fulfill us in the purpose for which we were created.

We were created by God and FOR GOD, in a living, breathing, vital relationship with the LORD as our Maker as well as our Father. No other relationship will bring satisfaction, fulfillment and rest!



These are the things that "the brethren" are blessed with "from God the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ, and to those who sincerely love God, to these is granted the grace of God in abundance.



Peace with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him will bring about the peace of God when He takes up residence in a regenerated heart, alive with the Holy Spirit of promise!



Rom 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:


Phil 4:7
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Col 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.



And for those of us that abide and walk in the grace of God, for us we receive a never ending supply of peace FROM God...


Rom 1:7
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.



Examine how replete the scriptures are concerning the saints and the peace "FROM GOD" that we are to receive continually by using a concordance (either in book form or online), and may the peace from GOD the FATHER and the LORD JESUS CHRIST be with you all!

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