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Archive for July, 2009

happy_anniversary_balloonJOGL has turrned 4 years old today and we did not celebrate it in an outwardly ostentatious way. We peeled away every appearance of what people normally would think of how anniversaries are held; no special numbers, no drama skits, no big band or sumptuous dinner table, guests, etc. No, we decided only for the what is truly essential – it’s all what we need to celebrate – the Lord and His gracious work.

From the Scriptures, we read 1 Peter 2:9-12…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness ito His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urged you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passion of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on that day of visitation.

The world today has its pursuits – material possession, hedonism, fame, self-worth, even a trivial pursuit for the elusive fountain of youth proven by the multi-billion dollar skin-care and food supplement business. Even the times past have shown us that people would even bury their dead with their possessions, including living servants as in the case of Pharaohs in their pyramid which were actually burial tombs, with the hopes that they will take these possessions into the other world.  But really, when its time to crossover into eternity, nothing in this world can be taken with us.  Job succinctly said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return” (Job 2:31a).  As Christians, only what was done by God in Christ Jesus for us shall remain for eternity so that God is truly glorified.

We recounted what God has made us in His Son:

  • a chosen race – in love, God predestined us for adoption through the Son according to the purpose of His will to the praise of His glorious grace,
  • royal priesthood – as living stones built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,
  • holy nation – washed by the blood of the Lamb and sanctified daily by the Spirit through the Word,
  • a people for His own possession – Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession zealous for good works,
  • heralds of His excellencies to the world – pleading with the world to be reconciled to God through the Gospel of His Son,
  • removed us from darkness and placed us in the light of His Son, and
  • recipients of God’s mercy – for by grace we have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ – this is the gift of God.

And admonished one another to remember as well:

  • that we are sojourners and exiles on this world for a temporary period and will one day go home to be with the Lord;
  • we will wage a continuing war against sin;
  • conduct honorable lives in the midst of unbelievers who may love us or hate us;
  • that our vindication shall come from the Lord when He returns for all to see.

We spent an hour meditating on each of these points above and in the end, our hearts were overflowing with praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God for the richness of His kindness graced upon us through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ.

We concluded our celebration with the Lord’s Supper to keep remembering our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross, shed His blood for the propitiation of our sins, rose again and shall return on a day we certainly are looking forward to. In the meantime, we entrust ourselves to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to transform us day by day into the likeness of our risen Lord.

May His Word dwell richly in us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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JOHN 1:9-13

9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

There is an english saying, ‘call a spade, spade’ – I don’t recall if I have this in the Filipino vernacular but there are variations with the same thought. Simply put, it means that we should avoid euphemism, be straightforward, use blunt or plain language (i).  Consequently, ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quack like a duck, then it must be a duck.’

Today, I went to visit my weblog; I opened the WordPress home page and typed Ralph Venning on the search box. I have a posted one of his quotes, clicked on my article and as soon as I was directed to my own post via this method, I saw that article titles were automatically generated at the bottom of the post. I blogged before cautioning everyone who might chance upon these links to be discerning and reject what is error-ridden. Then there is an article entitled “John MacArthur’s heresy on Predestination”. I proceeded to follow the link in order to get to the article (to view the full article, please click this link: http://onetruegod.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/john-macarthurs-heresy-on-predestination/) and after reading the post, I just sighed with dismay as the article began with this sentence, and I quote, “Pastor John MacArthur is a dangerous man, because he subtly has introduced many damnable heresies into the church—none more hideous than his denial of the redeeming power of the literal physical blood of Jesus Christ.” Then 2 sentences later, he wrote, “And to no surprise, as a Calvinist, MacArthur teaches that a lost sinner cannot be saved unless God first chooses him or her.”

Before I proceed, I must admit that such serious accusations exist on both camps – Calvinists and Arminians – and I pray that Christians from both sides of this theological divide would be more careful in pronouncing whether one is a heretic or not. It is good to question one’s stance on a doctrine but to call one as a heretic simply because he does not concur with another’s perception of what he thinks the Scripture says lacks the necessary care the Scripture itself demands.  Now, before I forget all together, I just want to be clear that someone is considered heretic if his doctrine does not conform, at the very least, to the essentials of Christianity. And one essential of the faith is that God saves by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Whether one is a calvinist or arminian or an amyraldian, salvation by grace through faith in the biblical Jesus Christ is still the means with fruit that bears witness to the reality of that faith. James’ epistle to the church is clear about that, even Paul, when we read Ephesians 2:8-10 fully (yes, verse 10, which begins with ‘for’, cannot be divorced from verses 8-9).

Concerning  the article in focus, the original writer, David J. Stewart, responded to John MacArthur’s explanation of Acts 13:48 by firstly using John 1:12. It is from this context that I find it necessary to refresh myself on John 1:12 (and hopefully you, the reader of this blog) and see what the verse is really saying.

I took verses 9-12 because it forms a more coherent understanding of verse 12. Let us observe the following points:

  • (v.9) Referred to as the Word originally introduced in verse 1 and following, Jesus Christ is the One who brings the light of truth into a person originally in darkness. Everyone who has that light of truth did not receive it from anyone, nor can in himself generate that truth. Rather, Jesus is the sole source and giver of truth (light) and was announced to be coming into the world.
  • (v.10) Jesus came into the world that He has made, through His incarnation (taking human form through the virgin birth) but no one received Him for who He truly is – God who created all things.
  • (v.11) Jesus came to the nation of Israel who should have expected Him as they are the custodian of the oracles of God through the Law and the Prophets wherein His arrival have been announced in various ways over many centuries. But they, as a nation, did not welcome Him as they should have – the Messiah of the Lord. We can infer at this point, that their very rejection is the evidence proving that people born into the world are born with the darkness of the soul brought by the fall (from verse 9).
  • (v.12) Now there were some who received Him, as who He truly is – God and Messiah, and to these particular people, Jesus gave the ‘exousian’ (ESV uses ‘right’, KJV uses ‘power’) to become children of God. Dominion is also another meaning of exousian.
  • (v. 13) continued from verse 12, points to the supernatural means how one can have the ability to receive Jesus and obtain the right/power to become a child of God.

Now, David J. Steward pronounced that John MacArthur is wrong (and heretic) by teaching among other things that it is God who must choose first before one can choose to believe in Jesus Christ. Although there are numerous verses and pericopes that will support the fact of God’s predestinating work prior human response, let us be fair and contend with him by the particular verse he used – John 1:12.

Indeed if I look at verse 12, apart from the surrounding verses, I will have to arrive at the same conclusion that the right of becoming a child of God depended on my receiving and believing Jesus Christ. As most Arminians would argue, it’s the plain reading of the text. However, the verse is not the sole text of the chapter and context is primary in interpreting the text – this is where Arminians and Calvinists agree, theoretically. Actual application is, at times, found wanting.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Notice however that verse 12 and 13 form a complete sentence. Here we observe the following:

  • The first half of the sentence (v.12) tell us that all who did receive and believed in Jesus – to these were given the right/power to become children.
  • The second half of the sentence (v.13) tells us something about those who did receive and believed in Jesus, and were given the right/power to become children – that they were not born (by the will) of man but born (by the will) of God.

Adding the second half of the sentence changes the perspective. You might say I am putting something into the verse to change that perspective. But that can also be said to those who would say that the person must choose first before they are saved (as the writer of the article said). His statement is, honestly speaking, a bit tricky and I will explain why hereunder with hopes that you can follow me.

  • For sure God requires, in fact He commands, a person to repent and believe in Jesus as a part of the process of salvation. Peter preached to the Jews and said that they have to repent and believe the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 2 (also in Paul’s preaching in Acts 17).
  • If I were to be more meticulous about human actions concerning salvation, the chronology of the action verbs (received-believed) is illogical for both arminians and calvinist, because both groups demand that a person believes first then receives. The Greek sentence (verse 12) is odoi de elabon auton edoken autous exousian tekna theou genesthai tois pisteouosin eis to onoma auton oi [word for word: but as many as received him he gave to them the authority children of God to be, to those that believe on name his (i)]
  • Having said this, the second part of the sentence (v. 13) must contribute to the meaning and even the grammatical structure of the first half (v.12). This reveals that a person (who received and believed) is born of God not by man. This has nothing to do with physical birth. This must be spiritual in nature – that man cannot give birth to himself spiritually only God can.
  • But verse 12 is grammatically not an explicit command to the person to repent and believe – to think so is to import thoughts from other parts of the Scriptures and impose those thoughts into the verse. May I propose then that the verse can be rightly perceived as a statement of being – something that one already has ( the right given by Jesus) and the ensuing proof thereof (having received and believed in Him).
  • Now if man is by nature spiritually dead, how in the world can he trust Jesus without a prior spiritual work of God first happening – in this case, spiritual re-birth (born of God)? Unless this question is properly answered theologically by the Arminian, I certainly will argue for and in behalf of the Calvinist who says that God must choose the sinner first and give him spiritual birth before he can choose Jesus Christ. Further why would one spiritually dead person choose Jesus and another spiritual dead person does not – what does the first one have that the second one does not have?
  • The arminian will always say believe and then you will be born again while the calvinist will say that God will cause the new birth (born again) to happen first before a person believes.
  • In fact if I will simply get into the flow of thought of verses 9 to 13, it will naturally flow towards the fact that God must work His power in a spiritually dead man first to bring him to spiritual re-birth before this man will trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

David J. Stewart did not do his refutation by solely using the same verse that John MacArthur used (Acts 13:48). To prove Mr. MacArthur wrong, Mr. Steward should be able to exegete Acts 13:48 properly in order to argue against Mr. MacArthur’s position. Instead, Mr. Stewart imported John 1:12 which, in truth, is quite devastating to his arminian position.

When Mr. Stewart attempted to exegete Acts 13:48, he has made some serious errors through questions like: Do you think that God chooses evil men to kill the innocent? [He was refering to Hitler’s killing of the Jews based on his understanding of the word “ordained” used in both Acts 13:48 (tetagmenoi) and Romans 13:1 (tetagmenai)]? First error is he assumed that the Greek word used in both verses assumes that God cannot use evil men to accomplish His purpose. Second, he assumed that all Jews were innocent. Innocence does not mean sinlessness. Jesus was killed by evil men – a will of God to fulfill His glorious purpose, that is redemption. Through the hands of evil men was the Innocent One murdered on the cross. Much of Mr. Stewart’s arguments are weak at best, and lack understanding of the biblically revealed human condition at worst. I recommend one reads his article (linked above) with solid biblical backing in order to discern whether Mr. Stewart is right or wrong in his analogies and conclusions.

All of the above then would help me arrive in concluding that David J. Stewart is incorrect and John MacArthur has done his homework well albeit originally using a different verse. I would also conclude that Mr. Stewart is not careful in his exegesis of the John 1:12. And more importantly, I would conclude that Mr. Stewart did not exercise utmost caution and restraint before pronouncing that John MacArthur has been heretical in his views on predestination. Worse still, I believe Mr. Stewart has slandered Mr. MacArthur and needs to repent publicly as he publicly slandered Mr. MacArthur. And if I have insinuated or even remotely hinted that Mr. Steward is a slanderer, then yes he is….Just calling a spade, spade!

 

(i) World Wide Words: Spade; Michael Quinion writes on  international English words from a British viewpoint

(ii) Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, based on the Majority Text, by George Ricker Berry

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250px-Wenceslas_Hollar_-_Ralph_VenningThe sinfulness of sin not only appears from, but consists in this, that it is contrary to God. Indeed, it is contrariety and enmity itself. Carnal men, or sinners are called by the name of enemies to God (Romans 5.8 with 10; Colossians 1.21); but the carnal mind or sin is called enmity itself (Romans 8.7). Accordingly, it and its acts are expressed by names of enmity and acts of hostility, such as, walking contrary to God (Leviticus 26.21), rebelling against God (Isaiah 1.2), rising up against Him as an enemy (Micah 2.8), striving and contending with God (Isaiah 45.9), and despising God (Numbers 11.20). It makes men haters of God (Romans 1.30), resisters of God (Acts 7.51), fighters against God (Acts 5.39 and 23.9), even blasphemers of God, and in short very atheists, who say there is no God (Psalm 14.1). It goes about to ungod God, and is by some of the ancients called Deicidium, God-murder or God-killing.

Though all these things are not done by every sinful man, yet they are not only in the nature of sin, and that of every sin more or less, but are all of them in the heart of all sinners in their seed and root (Matthew 15.19) So what is done by any man would be done by every man, if God did not restrain some men from it by His power, and constrain others to obedience by his love and power (2 Corinthians 5.14; Psalm 110.3). Here then is the desperately wicked nature of sin, that it is not only crimen laesae Majestatis, high treason against the Majesty of God, but it scorns to confess its crime. It is obstinate and will not that He reign over it. It is not only not subject, but it will not be subject, nor be reconciled to God; such is its enmity!

 

Ralph Venning
From his book entitled The Sinfulness of Sin
Originally published in 1669 “Sin-The Plague of Plagues”
 
(Note: blue-letter highlight mine)

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A group of Christian music ministers in south-eastern Luzon, Philippines have formed a group to test choruses currently used in worship services. Much of these songs are contemporary, comprising of few short verses that are repeated a couple of times or as much as the song leader would like to repeat them for reasons that only them would know. These choruses are a far cry from the hymns of centuries gone by. Some would argue that we need to be contemporary; if style is the issue, then I for one would also push for updated arrangements but I guess what they mean by contemporary go beyond arrangement – it is the ‘reconstruction’ of theme and words within the song.

One of these choruses that they have been critiquing based on the original composition, arrangement and artist is entitled ‘How He Love Us’ (John Mark McMillan). It appears that this song has become popular that it was also recorded by two other artists/groups (Kim Walker and David Crowder Band). Hereunder, in order to conserve space, I have appended only the first stanza and chorus (to view the whole song, click on the link at the bottom of this post):

HOW HE LOVE US
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
Chorus:
He loves us
Whoa, How He loves us
Whoa, How He loves us
Whoa, How He loves
Yeah He loves us
Whoa, How He loves us
Whoa, How He loves us
 Whoa, How He loves us

Their bone of contention is the word ‘jealous’ and how it ties in with the song, whether the opening line ‘He is jealous for me’ is biblical or not. I do not know how their forum on this was resolved, but let our electronic fingers do the walking on the pages of the Scripture. Using a search engine on the ESV, the words ‘jealous’ and ‘jealousy’ produced dozens and dozens of verses from the entire Old and New Testaments. Since the first line of the song is relational I narrowed it down and I considered how these two words are used in terms of the relationship between God and His people. These resulted to 28 verses (Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15, 29:20, 32:16, 21; Joshua 24:19; 1 Kings 14:22; Psalm 78:58, 79:5; Ezekiel 5:13, 8:3, 8:5, 16:42, 23:25, 36:5-6, 38:19, 39:25; Nahum 1:2; Zephaniah 1:18, 3:8; Zechariah 1:14, 8:2; 1 Corinthians 10:22; James 4:5. May I note here that Deuteronomy 4:24 (For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God) is inferred in Hebrews 12:28 (our God is a consuming fire).

Each time, it is used to explain God’s anger upon His people’s idolatry or His warning against idolatry to which God says that He is a jealous God. Indeed I must admit that it infers His love for His people, however, in these verses the object is not about His love but about His glory for which He would not share to anyone – not any idol or gods of any sort. His glory is foremost hence His warnings. The first time God says He is jealous is in the Decalogue which is tied to His wrath upon idolatry and upon His people if they fall into it:

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me – Exodus 20:5

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) begin with “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2-3). In fact every command that followed is predicated on this first command. That means any infraction on any of the commands is ultimately the breaking of this first one. Dr. Albert Mohler, in his series of sermons on the Decalogue, mentions this truth (you can visit his site and go to his sermon page).

By the time we read the 34th chapter of Exodus, not only is He a jealous God but reveals that His name is ‘Jealous’ and is again tied with His warning against worshipping other gods:

(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God) – Exodus 34:14

Going through the 28 verses listed above, one can see clearly how it is God’s intention to declare His glory every time the verse is used and as a warning to His people about idolatry. But I also mentioned that His love for His people can be inferred. God’s jealousy is also to be understood as for our benefit. In Ezekiel 39:25, the Lord promised to restore Jacob (Israel) from her 70-year exile in Babylon and as you will notice that His restoration is primarily for the glory of His name, the consequence of which is a blessing for His people who has previously rebelled against Him through their idolatries and breaking of commandments.

“Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy Name” – Ezekiel 39:25

Although there is much to write about this matter, let us go back to the issue at hand. Is the first verse of the song biblical? So it seems. But just looking at the first stanza (and the whole song as well – see link below), there is nothing in its theme that reflects the way God used the word jealous in connection to Himself and His people. A theme of God’s glory, warnings of idolatry and its curses, as well as the benefits of being faithful to the one true God who graciously saved us and is jealous for His people must permeate the song. If I would change the lyrics of, for example, the chorus, it might read something like this:

The Lord is our jealous God, worthy of glory
There is none beside Him, His Name is Jealous
Let His people seek no other, for there is none like Him
Through His Son He has saved us, and called us for His own
By His Spirit preserved us – the people He formed for His glory
The Lord God is our portion, now and forevermore!

– then it would perhaps be a more appropriate congregational song, don’t you think so?

Critiquing the first line in relation to the whole song has revealed a serious problem when placed face-to-face with the Scriptures, let alone the entire song. So, if I were to give an unsolicited advise to that group, file that song under “Hazardous to Spiritual Health” category. The song is, at best, reductionistic and romanticism, and worst, idolatrous because the focus of the song shifts from God to self. For seeker-sensitive groups this song is a sure favorite, but for Gospel-centric groups, this song would not even make it through the front gates of the church.

Paul’s admonition is recalled here: “but test everything, hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

 

HOW HE LOVE US by John Mark McMillan
http://www.sweetslyrics.com/526318.John%20Mark%20Mcmillan%20-%20How%20He%20Loves%20.html

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spurgeon

In contending with certain sins there remains no mode of victory but by flight… He who would be safe from acts of evil must haste away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant. Who would wantonly enter the leper’s prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? He only who desires to be leprous himself would thus court contagion…No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin. The devil I am to resist and he will flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, I must flee, or they will surely overcome me.

-Taken from Morning & Evening devotional for Genesis 39:12

 

 

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Ephesians 6:10 – ‘Be strong in the Lord…’ – “Endunamousthe en Kairos” in Greek. A sampling of the root verb endunamoo in the New Testament is listed below to give us an idea how it is used in the Scriptures:

  • Acts 9:22 – But Saul increase all the more in strength…
  • Phil 4:13 – I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
  • 2 Tim 2:1 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus
  • 2 Tim 4:17 – But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message…

When I was much younger in the faith, I thought this phrase “be strong in the Lord” necessitates that I muster the power up by doing certain ‘spiritual disciplines’ or speak aloud certain verses repetitively (yes, I was once an unknowing victim of the certain heretical practices in the first church I was planted until God mercifully opened my eyes to see and also tamed my tongue).  It was not until further study of Scriptures and guidance from godly men that I get to grips of what ‘be strong in the Lord’ meant.  It is an empowering that comes from the Lord.

To understand the phrase better, I would like to refer to D. A. Carson’s sermon on the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:15-21, emphasizing a petition to God to strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being.  Without going deeper into the prayer itself at the moment, we observe here that the empowering comes from God.  Carson notes that the Holy Spirit is already indwelling in each believer from Ephesians 1.  However, our problem is that we do not simply understand what is now available to us.  Moving two chapters earlier, Paul petitioned for the saints;  let us read Ephesians 1:18ff

(v.18) Having the eyes of our hearts enlightened that you may know…(v.19) what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe according to working of his great might (v.20) that He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…

…while the reason for the above requests are all based on the realities written in Ephesians 1:2-14. You will agree with me that this is truly a power-packed strengthening from God for us in Jesus Christ when we comprehend the implications on Christian living! The idea of what a dynamite is made of and can potentially do is an analogy we can apply. Incidentally, we derive the english word ‘dynamite’ from two related Greek words:  dunamis and endunamoo.  To summarize, the power comes from God and is made available to us through Jesus Christ mediated by the Holy Spirit. In prayer, therefore, it becomes necessary for us to ask for a progresssively increasing understanding of this spiritual blessing.

The first part of verse 10 (be strong in the Lord) also concerns the biblical teaching of the Triune God who revealed Himself to us.  Although I do not intend here present a long discourse on the Trinity, it is necessary, however,  to briefly mention here  that the one Lord (the “I AM”) revealed Himself to us the three distinct, yet inseparable Persons – God the Father, the Son-Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. A brother asked me why ‘Persons’ and I gave him a simple reply: that we cannot use ‘God’ because to say ‘three Gods’ would really be terribly wrong, anti-biblical and blasphemous. Also, the term Persons implies interaction within the Triune God, and while being transcendent over His creation, the Lord also compassionately condescends towards sinful man through the Son – Jesus Christ. I recommend Dr. James White’s book entitled “The Forgotten Trinity” for an excellent exposition of the subject.

We continue with the second half of Ephesians 6:10 – ‘… and in the strength of His might.’  This part of the verse tells what kind of strength is available to us. The Greek reads ‘kai en to kratei tes ischus auton’.  The word ‘kratei’  was used for ‘strength’ but it also can mean dominion .  ‘Ischus’ is used for might which means ability.  Their respective meanings tie in well with the flow of thought in the Ephesian epistle itself.  The Lord’s dominion over His church and the His ability that He endows the church by the Holy Spirit is the source of our strength.  From here, we need to briefly piece out from the Ephesian letter what God has done to demonstrate His power. 

Carefully going through each of the verses in Ephesians 1:2-14, will assist us to gain information regarding the power of God available for those whom He has predestined to believe in His Son.  Three times, Paul gave the reason why God did so – for the praise His glory! Therefore this empowering from God is a blessing to us only through His Son and will result to the praise of His glory.

Notice also, the piece de resistance (the high point) of God’s display of power is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that same power God exerted to raise His Son from the dead is the empowerment now available in us through the mediation of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:20 states this fact.  How powerful can that be can?  It would definitely be more than what we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)!

For those who love sci-fi movies (that includes me), awesome power is displayed when a single laser beam would destroy an entire planet. A few years back, I watched a a non-Christian documentary on the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – the theory about the beginning of the universe from nothingness to the first instance light resulting from a cataclysmic explosion.  Well of course that is a theory and the accurate account is written in Genesis. However, my miniscule mind could only arrive at a comprehension of a limited amount of power, but God’s strength displayed in the resurrection of His Son is more than what I, or any of us, could imagine. 

By this, we view power not in the amount of energy generated or expended (humanly speaking) but in the uniqueness of the work of God; in that no one has ever authored nor accomplished such a feat. It would take no less that the eternal Son to incarnate, live a sinless life, offer His life by dying on the cross and rising up on the third day to accomplish the plan of God to gather for Himself a people that will be for the praise of His glory! Paul wrote to the Corinthians that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:1-10) – the Gospel of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. It would take His life to transform sinners to saints – now that’s truly powerful!

Paul prays that the believers may know “what the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come and God put all things under Jesus’ feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23).

In Jesus Christ we are partakers of the same power and that indeed in Him are we strong, in His might are we able to face the enemy with assurance of victory.  May the Lord be gracious to grant us an increasing understanding of this truth day by day and through the Holy Spirit be made strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

 

 Soldiers of Christ, Arise

by  Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Soldiers of Christ, arise
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thro' His eternal Son; 
Strong in the Lord of hosts
And in His mighty pow'r.
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror. 
Stand, then, in His great might,
With all His strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God, 
That, having all things done
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o'ercome through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.
 From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down
And win the well-fought day.

 

Part 2 – Last But Not The Least                              https://emmaustrekker.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/panoply-series-part-2-last-but-not-the-least/ 

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Quote from D. A. Carson

Brothers and sisters in Christ,  when we merely assume the Gospel, we are only one generation of denying it.  The Gospel is never something to be assumed.  It is never something to be mastered so that you can then move on, it is what must master us.  And all of its ramifications, all of its control, all of its thoughts, all of its lifestyle, all of its patterns, all of its morality, all that it discloses of God and of us, must be thought thru and re-thought thru, and taught and applied again, and again, and again.

D. A. Carson

Sermon – The Primacy of Expository Preaching, part 1

 Audio Link:  http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/The-Primacy-of-Expository-Preaching-part-1#

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