Indicatives & Imperatives 7

Ephesians in Two Parts

Ephesians is one of the four “prison epistles,” written when Paul was imprisoned in Rome, in 62 A.D. The other three are Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. Messengers were sent to Paul in prison, and he took the opportunity to write back, reminding those receiving his letter of the blessings of the gospel.

The letter to Ephesus was a likely a letter of convenience and circumstance. A slave named Onesimus apparently ran away to Rome from Colosse. Once in Rome, Onesimus met with some followers of Jesus, came to be a believer, and was brought to and introduced to Paul. Paul then sent Tychicus, his “beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord,” with Onesimus to deliver letters to Philemon – the owner of Onesimus – and to the church at Colosse. When they traveled to Colosse, they had to port in or near Ephesus; thus, the letter also to the Ephesians.

Ephesians and Colossians are twin epistles. The unity of the church as the body of Christ is a theme in both letters. Colossians stresses Christ as the head of the church; Ephesians stresses the church as the body of Christ. But this letter emphasizes our identity in Christ, and the contrast between our former way of life and our new life sealed in the Holy Spirit.

DovesArms

The Indicatives

(all emphasis added)

In love He predestined us for adoption as children though Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us through His Beloved Son. (1:5-6)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of His will according to His purpose which he set forth in Christ… to unite all things in him (1:7-10)

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. (1:11-12)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth – the gospel of your salvation – and believed in him, were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory. (1:13-14)

God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (2:4-7)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (2:8-10)

Paul describes here the rich blessings we have already received from God through Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We’ve already been forgiven. We possess God’s grace and mercy new each day. We are new creations in Christ. The Spirit gives us wisdom from the Father, reminds us of Jesus’ words, lifts our prayers to Him, and guides us in righteous living as we surrender and trust Him enough to let Him do so. This is not about self-effort or will power; it’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way in you.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. (2:13-16)

Through Christ, we all have access in one Spirit to the Father. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (2:18-22)

The mystery of Christ is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (3:4-6)

Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (4:7)

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. (4:11-14)

Although Paul was writing about the unity of first century Jewish and Gentile people, I surmise on the basis of this last set of Scripture we can infer his meaning to include all denominations of Christianity in this century. Thus inferred, isn’t it time we put our differences aside and focus on the words of Jesus? On the standard of Christ? On His two commands to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves? Isn’t it time we put aside our theological differences and focus on the One who sacrificed all to bring us into relationship with the Father, who made it possible for the Spirit to reside in us?

resurrectedJesus.ChristianPost

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then, as Christ makes his home in your hearts as you trust in him, your roots of faith will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life that comes from God. (3:14-19)

Next week: The Imperatives

Beatitude

Praying

In your embrace is solitude,

Your living word, my daily food.

My time with You is time well spent.

With grace and mercy You present

Your love, You wish me to be wooed.

 

I’m filled with more than gratitude

And as such I can thus conclude

You’ve changed my heart, I am content:

Vicissitude

 

This transformation I exude

Has humbled me. Your magnitude

Bespeaks Your will; Your Son You sent,

It’s clear redemption’s Your intent.

Your promise brought me certitude:

Beatitude

Indicatives & Imperatives 6

Romans, Part 2: The Imperatives

After assuring Paul’s recipients of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ, of God’s mercy and compassion that gives us the assurance of hope, of His promise of redemption and eternal life as His adopted children, he issues imperatives that, to him, are the marks of true followers of Christ.

Paul lays out the gospel in the first eleven chapters of Romans. He only begins to issue imperatives after he shows us the indicatives of the saving grace of Christ. Just last week, another blogger quoted Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, appropriate here to explain God’s unconditional love and ever-present grace: “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

©David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

©David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Paul begins Chapter 12 with “therefore,” which refers back to all the indicatives he has laid out in the first eleven chapters: the mercy and grace of God.

Recall these are not about following laws or rules, but about what is in the follower’s heart.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (12:1)

The Indicatives

  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (12:2)
  • Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. (12:9)
  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12:10-11)
  • Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (12:12-13)
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. (12:14-16)

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (12:17-18)

  • Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (12:19-21; Deuteronomy 32:35; Proverbs 25:21-22)

Paul is letting us know categorically it is not ours to judge or punish. In addition, as we come to a place of leaving revenge behind, we are not to offer grace to our enemies out of a hope that they will be shamed. We offer grace out of the compassion and grace God has already given us which we did not first deserve.

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (13:1, 6-7)
  • Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (13:8)

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (13:9)

  • Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands of falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (14:3-4)
  • Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God, for it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (14:10-11; Isaiah45:23)
  • Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother or sister. (14:13)
Google Images

Google Images

Paul explains an important point within these paragraphs. Our feelings and opinions about someone don’t matter. Whether we disagree with the political party of our president or the “lifestyle” of a neighbor, we are not to judge or despise. Whether we think someone isn’t running his life the way he ought, or her church isn’t worshiping the “right” way, we must refrain from judgment because judgment places a huge stumbling block in the way of someone getting to Christ.

So let us then pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (14:19)

Dad Likes Me Best

“Mom always liked you best!”

IMDB

IMDB

That was Tommy Smothers’ surefire comeback after a litany of insults from his brother, Dick.

His on camera persona was not the brightest bulb in the pack, but he was certainly the more humble of the two brothers. We could learn a thing or two from the older Smothers brother.

As early as the first century, disciples of Jesus argued over who among them was the greatest. (Luke 9:46, 22:24) Since then, we have continued to raise ourselves up because our sins are less than some else’s, or we serve God in a holier way, or our denomination is more righteous than another.

We have an entitled expectation that we deserve to be saved, deserve to judge the next guy, deserve heaven and all it promises. We’ve taken a bite of the apple and are too damn arrogant to admit it.

Getty Images

“You won’t die,” the serpent replied. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

Just like Adam and Eve, we want to be like God, we want to call down judgment on good and evil. We want to made decisions that are only God’s to make.

We forget the serpent is a liar. We will never be like God. We can never have God’s wisdom. We were never meant to judge.

Once we think we know it all, our minds and hearts become closed to learning. What good, then, is God’s Living Word to us? It can no longer transform our hearts and minds through God’s continuing grace and wisdom.

©susanirenefox

©susanirenefox

“Unconditional” is great when it is in my direction. And wondering why we so often use the bible to reflect it back “tainted, filtered, and changed.” Paufg, Just Me Being Curious

As long as we recognize we are incomplete until God completes us, we remain humble and able to receive. Because God loves all of us equally. He decides “on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15-16)

Why then love our neighbor? Why then love our enemy? Why then exhibit godly behavior?

To be in relationship with Him. To offer the love, compassion, grace and mercy that He first offers us. And simply, to be the face, the words, the hand and feet of Jesus to those we come in contact with in our everyday lives.

This post was inspired by a conversation with my dirt brother Paul. Please visit his blog, Just Me Being Curious. You will be enlightened, uplifted and simply blown away in your walk as you join his conversations with God.

His Spoken Word

©Beth Byrnes

©Beth Byrnes

Sunlight rolls into my room; glorious sprays

like ocean waves crashing over rocks, foam white,

wakes me, warms my bones, revives this living clay.

 

Birds seeking seeds, worms, in chorus praise the Light.

They build their nests from twigs, twine and scraps they thieve

All while scooping and diving in graceful flight.

 

Luminescent, filigree webs spiders weave

to lure, catch and store their prey for sustenance;

their patterns human artists seek to achieve.

 

Nature’s scents of pine or cedar, such fragrance

as an ocean breeze, gardenia, rose

appeal to senses; heart, mind and souls enhance.

 

Sweet strawberries, dark chocolate in appose

the taste to tongue cannot compare, it’s premiere

and with romance comes a sigh of sweet repose.

 

Yet are we thankful for these gifts we hold dear?

God’s provision began with His spoken word

available to see, smell, taste, touch and hear.

 

Since then His plan to save has transformed, altered

Our hearts; His love and grace have forever stirred.

 

 

This poem was inspired by the accompanying photo by Beth Byrnes.

Beth Byrnes … everything and nothing

Indicatives & Imperatives 5

Romans, Part I: The Indicatives

Paul was a Roman citizen called by Jesus to introduce the gospel to the Gentiles. He had a large arena to work in, considering Rome’s extensive empire. But the city Paul came from was the mighty capitol of the Empire. The gospel came from Jerusalem, the capitol city in one of the nations Rome conquered. This Jewish tentmaker and former Pharisee wrote to Jewish and Gentile Roman citizens in what is possibly the best theological treatise on the gospel of Jesus Christ ever written. It is the longest letter of Paul’s collection of epistles.

Most scholars agree Paul wrote this letter on his third missionary journey in A.D. 57 in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3).

©NLT Study Bible

©NLT Study Bible

Because this letter is long and rich in the gospel, I chose to cull what I consider to be the most important verses that speak to this subject of indicatives and imperatives. There is much spiritual bread to digest in Romans, and I encourage you to take a few weeks to read it in its entirety in more than one Bible version. Choose one version that is a study Bible with plenty of commentary. I assure you it will be worth it.

“Romans 1:17 is the key verse of the letter. In it Paul announces the theme: ‘the righteousness of God.’ The word righteousness is used in one way or another over sixty times in his letter (righteous, just, and justified). God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel; for in the death of Christ, God revealed His righteousness by punishing sin; and in the resurrection of Christ, He revealed His righteousness by making salvation available to the believing sinner.Warren W. Wiersbe, Romans, Wiersbe Bible Commentary

Paul lays out the gospel in the first eleven chapters of Romans. He only begins to issue imperatives after he shows us the indicatives of the saving grace of Christ. Christ gave us grace and new life: salvation by taking our sins, justification through our faith in him, reconciliation to God, eternal life through his resurrection, and righteousness through the Holy Spirit.

 The Indicatives

(Notes added) For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith [God’s faithfulness] for faith [our faith in His faithfulness], as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. (1:16-17, Habakkuk 2:4)

God’s invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived from the creation of the world in the things that have been made. (1:20)

Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory.The free gift of God’s grace makes all of us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free.God gave him as a sacrifice to pay for sins. So he forgives the sins of those who have faith in his blood. (3:23-25)

God did all of that to prove that he is fair. Because of his mercy he did not punish people for the sins they had committed before Jesus died for them.God did that to prove in our own time that he is fair. He proved that he is right. He also made right with himself those who believe in Jesus. (3:25-26)

Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness. So even David himself speaks regarding the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom the Lord will never count sin.’ ” (Romans 4:4-8, Psalm 32:1-2)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (5:1-2)

For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (5:6,8)

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. (6:3-4)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you were also made to die to the power of the Law through the body of Christ so that you could be may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (7:4)

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. (8:1-3)

In other words, you’ve been saved by God’s compassionate grace. You cannot be “unsaved.” You’ve been forgiven totally, completely and irreversibly. You are a new creation in Christ.

 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (8:11)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (8:14-17)

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (8:26-27)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (8:31-32)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (8:35)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (8:38-39)

Whether you know it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, He lives in you. The more you surrender to Him, the more He will reveal Himself to you. You will feel His love and love Him back. You do not need laws to understand God’s heart; in the stillness, you will become aware of it beating, know His will. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” (8:28)

God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (9:15-16)

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (10:4)

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise, grace would no longer be grace. (11:5-6)

The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (11:29)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (11:33)

The one who makes the jar can make anything he wants. He uses the same clay to make different things. He might make one thing for special purposes and another for daily use. It is the same way with what God has done. He wanted to show his anger and to let people see his power. But he patiently endured those he was angry with—people who were ready to be destroyed. He waited with patience so that he could make known the riches of his glory to the people he has chosen to receive his mercy. God has already prepared them to share his glory. (9:21-23)

Paul makes the case for faith vs. the law, faith vs. works, and God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ as the gospel. He also explains in great detail we are not to think we are better than others, expecting we are entitled to salvation. It is only God’s mercy and compassion that gives us the assurance of hope, His promise of redemption and eternal life as His adopted children.

Next Week: The Imperatives

©2007, Warren W. Wiersbe, Romans, p. 412 Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, CO
©1996, Roman Empire and Spread of Christianity Map, NLT Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, Ill

Endless Grace

seedlings

As churches preach of sin and wrong

In droves God’s people leave; they long

For Jesus and a welcome space.

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

When Jesus lived he spoke of things

Like love, forgiveness, God as King.

It’s time to shout of God’s embrace!

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

He offers mercy, forgets sins

With open arms invites us in.

Our Father’s love is sweet to taste.

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

New seedlings Christ did make of us.

Through him God’s redemption promise

Filled; love and mercy, freedom’s place.

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

In you through Spirit He abides,

His sons and daughters are His pride

And joy, yet this is just a trace;

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

To God our Father you belong,

Loved, known and cherished – His heart’s song

Until we see Him face to face

Come, know our Father’s endless grace.

 

My apologies for the absence. Illness, depression, hiding out. Back now, breathing in His fragrance.