Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ephesians - Handbook to Maturity

It is hard to say what my favorite book of the Bible is. At different times certain ones have held the top spot for different reasons. I am a huge fan of the Gospels, and Acts inspires my faith every time I read a passage.

They truth is at some point I grew up and I do not need the verses that helped me get through a day, or a tough situation. Don't hear what I am not saying. I still need the word of God from day-to-day. When things come up, verses like "therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." are handy tools for understanding how God thinks. It is just that there is a lot less panic because of the faithfulness of God in my life.

Currently I am really pouring over Ephesians because my focus is on church building, not David fixing. I love the fact that God pursued me. Paul's prayer in chapter 1 is beautiful because of the love he expresses to those he writes to. The Song Open the Eyes of My Heart is taken from this passage. In chapter 2 he speaks of how we are made alive in Christ; both of us, Jew and Gentile. In chapter 3 there is a heart felt prayer for the Ephesians (Gentiles) that God would accomplish much in them. In chapter 4 Paul deals with growing the church up. In chapter 5 he makes it personal - you know that passage about husbands loving their wives is there along with some other moral instruction.

For the grand finale Paul writes about the armor of God and how it is to be used in our lives.

6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Awesome don't you think!

I know that it is primarily an epistle aimed at how the church is supposed to be crafted by the spirit. I have studied a lot on the 5 gifts of the spirit that are given to the church in 4:11. I even wrote a book about it. You can down load a free copy of it HERE.

There is one verse that seems to get a lot of lip service, and I have found it elusive and puzzling. Here it is:

4:13 until we all reach [preserve] unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

So often we see the body of Christ attack one group, while another says: "How will we ever get everyone to agree on anything?" For God's sake, Peter and Paul didn't agree on everything! So what does this verse really mean?

I heard one teaching that said it presumes the "fullness of Christ," and no on has that; therefore, it is impossible. If you read the preceding verses it talks about the ascension gifts, but there is a huge debate of over those.

The verse actually says to "preserve the unity of the faith." That removes it from the natural realm and puts this particular unity into the realm of faith. That means that it is not agreement, but an agreement of the spirit of God.

It means that when we received Christ by faith, we have this unity because of his spirit in us. It is an inheritance. It is not a theological license, but something that we must express that comes from our new man.

I recently heard a teacher say it this way. "I am God's house by faith in Jesus, and God is always home!" In context, unity comes when we are mature enough to act like Jesus.

Spiritual unity is that which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have together.

Pretty cool in my book.


Joyce Lighari said...

Mature enough to act like Jesus - wow - now that's a goal! I like that so much better than the worn out WWJD. Makes me think of the scripture 2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Tracy said...

Definitely relate to having a hard time picking a favorite. Ephesians is an awesome book. Ephesians 1:15-19 has long been a passage that I pray over my oldest son. Now I pray it over both he and his wife Ginger. I'm especially fond of the way Peterson has paraphrased those verses in The Message:

That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Tony C said...

Love your choice!

I find it interesting that the full armor of God doesn't include anything to protect the back. That tells me God expects His people to face Satan and evil head on and continue to take the fight to them...not turn and run.

I'm very glad you are fighting by my side Joyce.