Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ephesians Bible Study Lesson 1

After reading and rereading the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I am finally ready to begin this bible study. I seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to explain this letter verse by verse and I pray that your life will be enriched by it.

1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Paul’s apostleship is his source of authority and it is further validated “By the will of God.” Paul can, with authority, say listen up church at Ephesus “Thus says the Lord.”

Paul was not interested in what he had to say but what the Lord had to say through him. As Paul said in writing to the Corinthians, he was one who spoke “not in words taught…by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit.” This is important because it means that the letter Paul wrote is not to be regarded as other books but as God’s own revelation. This is the word of God and it needs to be handled very carefully. There is so much that so many pastors can learn by this. The pastor MUST be able to stand before his flock every time he stands behind the pulpit and say with authority the same thing, “Thus says the Lord”. The pastor that cannot say that should sit down and stop causing further harm to the flock that has been entrusted to him. It’s time for preachers to stop the story telling or feel good sermons or teaching the latest pop psychology and start preaching the WORD of GOD. The pastor is instructed to feed and protect the sheep not pet the sheep.

The letter is written to the “Saints” and “The faithful in Christ Jesus.” We find in this very short phrase is the essence of what a Christian is. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls it the “irreducible minimum of what constitutes a Christian.”

Christians are “Saints”
Christians are “The faithful”
Christians are “In Christ Jesus”

The word saint means to be set apart, to be set apart for God by God. If we are truly set apart, if we are truly a Christian, we have a new nature, a new set of loyalties, a new agenda, and we belong to a different kingdom. The Puritan intentionally sought to be different from everyone else. The Puritan purposed to apply God’s word to every facet of their lives. This is what set them apart and what gave them the title “Puritan”.

“The faithful” has two meanings. First, it is an exercise of faith that one is saved. The Christian has heard the Gospel and by God’s grace has faith in that gospel or believes it. Second it has the meaning of perseverance; it means to continue in faith. The Christian is faithful to the end.

The words “In Christ Jesus or In Him” are used some 164 times in Paul’s writings. It’s used 9 times in just these first few verses. The words describe the union that a Christina has with Christ. The bible uses numerous images to teach us about this union we have. In Eph. 5:22-23 you have the union between a man and a woman in marriage. In John 15:1-17 we see the union between the vine and the branches. In Eph 2:20-22 we have the temple where Christ is the foundation and individuals are the stones. In 1 Cor. 12:12-27 the union between the head and the other members of the body. John Murray wrote, “Union with Christ has as its source in the election of God the Father before the foundation of the world and it has its fruition in the glorification of the sons of God. The perspective of God’s people is not narrow; it has the expanse of eternity. Its orbit has two foci, one the electing love of God the Father and the counsels of eternity, the other the glorification with Christ in manifestation of His glory. The former has no beginning and the later had no end..

Apart from Christ our condition is absolutely hopeless; In Him our condition is glorious to the extreme.


Father of Jesus,

Dawn returns, but without thy light within
no outward light can profit;
Give me the saving lamp of thy Spirit that I may
see thee,
the God of my salvation, the delight of my soul,
rejoicing over me in love.
I commend my heart to thy watchful care,
for I know its treachery and power;
Guard its every portal fro the wily enemy,
Give me quick discernment of his deadly arts,
Help me to recognize his bold disguise as an
angle of light,
and bid him begone.
May my words and works allure others to the
highest walks of faith and love!
May loiters be quickened to greater diligence
by my example!
May worldlings be won to delight in acquaintance
with thee!
May the timid and irresolute be warned
of coming doom by my zeal for Jesus!
Cause me to be a mirror of they grace,
to show others the joy of thy service,
May my lips be well-tuned cymbals
sounding thy praise,
Let a halo of heavenly-mindedness
sparkle around me
and a lamp of kindness sunbeam my path.
Teach me the happy art of
attending to things temporal
with a mind intent on things eternal
with a mind intent on things eternal.
Send me forth to have compassion
on the ignorant and miserable.
Help me to walk as Jesus walked,
my only Savior and perfect model,
his mind my inward guest,
his meekness my covering garb.
Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit,
my delight the gentle ranks of the meek.
Let me always esteem others better than myself,
and find in true humility
an heirdom to two worlds.

Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth page 248.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Word for Our Day From James Montgomery Boice

I would like to see the beginning of a new reformation in our day, and I hope that you would like to see it too and are praying for it. I hope that you have become nauseated with the tawdry entertainment that passes for the true worship of God in many of our churches and, like the saints of the past, are longing for more of the deep truths of the inerrant Word of God. We certainly need a reformation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pastor Jim Lawless


Psalms 19:7-10


This Psalm is difficult for modern people to understand because it confronts the prevailing idea that the Law of God is dead, destructive, and damning. Paul in Romans 7:12 makes a statement which should be carefully considered by every Christian, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." The Law of God is holy because it is appointed by God for a specific purpose. The Law of God is just because it does not play any favorites. The Law of God is also good because it has accomplished the purpose for which it was, and is, intended. For this reason this Psalm is of utmost importance in understanding how the righteous person of the Old Testament is not so far from the righteous person of the New Testament.



"THE LAW OF THE LORD IS PERFECT,” - We need to understand something here. At the time this Psalm was written, the only Scripture that the people had was probably the Law of God or the Law of Moses. Therefore the statements made here concerning the "Law" can well be applied to the entire Scripture as we know it, both the Old and New Testaments.

In this portion of the Psalm, we have the Bible known by a particular description and then an application which rises from that description. The first is that the bible is "perfect". The Hebrew word has more the meaning of “completeness”. While God's Word is perfect in the absolute sense, when dealing with the written record we call the Bible, it might be better to use the idea of "complete". In the Bible we have the COMPLETE Word of God. It needs no help, no augmentation, no further expansion, or new discipline in order to meet the spiritual need of mankind. It is a real shame how that well meaning people have bought into the idea that God needs help from other sources to handle the world’s problems. It is a good indication of just how far the spiritual health of our people has sunk.

"CONVERTING THE SOUL:" - Here the "completeness" of the Scriptures is applied to the necessity of being converted. That is, the soul of man is "restored" to its place before the God who created it. Man fell from a place of fellowship and peace with Almighty God. His conversion, then, restores him to that former place he had before the fall. While the circumstances surrounding all of mankind is not the same as the first man enjoyed, there is the "sure hope" in the restoration being complete one day when God ushers in the Eternal Order. Hence the first benefit is "Conversion".

“THE TESTIMONY OF THE LORD IS SURE,” - The second description is concerned with the message of the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. As such, then, it is His Testimony concerning Himself, His Character, His Attributes, and His Actions. The best any other source of knowledge about God can do is just to show His Presence. That is not enough for a person to be able to serve God. When "natural revelation” is all that there is, the result is man-made religion and idolatry. The Scriptures give us an adequate enough understanding of God to be able to live for Him and to live with Him.

"MAKING WISE THE SIMPLE." - The Bible has the capacity to do what eating the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden could not do. From Adam and Eve in the garden this idea of a man’s wisdom has been the greatest point of contention. In Genesis we see that this was at the root of the very first sin. In Genesis 3:6 it says, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Many of the trees of the garden no doubt were “good for food", many were also most likely "pleasant to the eyes", but only one was "desirable to make one wise". The second benefit is "Wisdom".


"THE STATUTES OF THE LORD ARE RIGHT," - One of the attributes of God is that He is Righteous. This means, among other things, that He is always right. Since the Scriptures reflect the very character of God, then the Scripture also is always right. They are correct in every single command that is given. Even the passing of time has not dulled them one bit. God charges mankind with His kind of life and man can do no wrong as long as he walks in the ways of the Lord.

"REJOICING THE HEART:" - David said this. Paul said this. Every true child of God knows that the end result of facing the impossible task of keeping the Law in order to come up to God's expectations for man, we have utterly failed, BUT this failure has led some of us to fall back upon God's marvelous Mercy and find salvation. Nothing makes the heart rejoice like being at peace with Almighty God.

"THE COMMANDMENT OF THE LORD IS PURE," - Without admixture or error, the Laws of the Lord are completely trustworthy to tell exactly how God looks at something. Either it is sin or it is righteousness. Adam and Eve thought that they could find a shortcut to this kind of understanding in eating of the tree in the midst of the Garden, but it led to their sin and the downfall of mankind. They found, sadly, that there was no way to circumvent the commandment of God, therefore, it was pure.

”ENLIGHTENING THE EYES." - Real knowledge and real wisdom come from a thorough acquaintance with God's Word. Later we will study a verse in Psalm 119 which deals exactly with this concept. The Word of God gives Spiritual light to a sin darkened soul.


"THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS CLEAN," - It is interesting to note that the "fear of the Lord" is here listed with the attributes of the Scriptures. It teaches a man to be aware of the fact that God is always watching and listening to every thought, word, or acts and has the perfect right to judge that thought, word, or act at any time He sees fit. In Its being clean, the Bible intends us to understand that it requires a holy separation from all uncleanness.

"ENDURING FOR EVER:" - The Law of God is permanent. There are those who try to preach and teach that Christ, in fulfilling the Law, did away with it. However, the Law of God is just as much in force today as it ever was, if not more so, since the Christian now has the Holy Spirit to give guidance and wisdom in dealing with sin. The Law of God is just as alive as He Himself is, and many preachers and teachers need to understand that.

"THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER." -What God has decided is right! He needs no input from either Angels or us. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a Democracy. It is a Theocracy in which God rules and reigns absolutely. If Angels totally failed in rebellion, then mankind is doomed to failure in his own petty rebellion.


"MORE TO BE DESIRED ARE THEY THAN GOLD, YEA, THAN MUCH FINE GOLD:" - Now the Word of God is compared to many of the things which man holds to be valuable to him. The first is the one thing which, for most men of the world, is held to be the first priority of their lives, gaining wealth. Yet the Psalmist says that the Word of God is much more desirous than even a veritable treasure chest of gold. The impression is that all the gold in the world would not take the place of God's Word in its benefit to a man. In other words, salvation cannot be bought.

"SWEETER ALSO THAN HONEY AND THE HONEYCOMB." - Then the Word of God is compared to one of the most prized delicacies in the Biblical world. Many people do not see much favor in the diet of John the Baptist, locusts and wild honey, but it was sufficient to give him much strength and health for a very rigorous life. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Obviously these pleasant words are from God's Book.


God's Word is complete, perfect, and meets every contingency which man can possibly face in his life. Since God is the One who created all things, He is also the One who is in control of all things. Also, since He is aware of all things, He has been able to anticipate, in our frame of reference, all things. The Bible never was outdated, is not now outdated, and never will be outdated. Nothing which man has invented, is inventing, and will invent has not already been woven into the grand Plan of God. In short, the Bible is The Word for all men at all times.