Monday, November 30, 2009

Ephesians Chapter 4 Walk in the New Life Part 1

The Basic Doctrines - Truths
The first 3 chapters of Ephesians cover the wonderful and major doctrines of a Christian such as:
  • The Purpose of Our Creation - We are not the result of random evolution. We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the universe to be holy and blameless. Eph 1:4
  • Everyone, the so called gentiles outsiders, are all along included in God's plan to be united with Christ as His one new body - His church on earth.
  • We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus for good work - God's masterpiece Eph 2:8-10
  • We are adopted through Christ as sons of God with all spiritual blessings, having inheritance of Christ,  and with authority, seated with Christ in the heavenly Eph 1 & 2. 
  • We are the New Man - identify of God's children, with Christ within.
  • In the meantime, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a deposit for future glorification.
  • Rooted in the love of Christ, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we are to be filled with the fullness of God Eph 3:16-19. Christ in us is the great mystery revealed.
  • ....
We now have all the ingredients for success (defined as living up to the calling that God has for us when he created us) like a seed. The only reasonable response for us is to live OUT what God has put IN us with His power in us. How should a New Man in Christ conduct himself is presented in Eph 4 to Eph 6:9.

Walk in a Manner Worthy of Our Calling - The New Man & Body of Christ
Hence Chapter 4 begins with 'we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling". It immediately follows about how we should relate to one-another - humility & love & patience & unity because we share the same Body, Spirit, Lord,... of Christ.

What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross to pay for our sins and resurrected to give us new life (Zoe, God's Kind of life that is eternally good. Those who are not saved, also have eternal life, external bad & suffering life in hell).  The Church has spent too much time on sins resulting in a sin-centered sick church because we become what we focus our thinking on. If we have only one word to represent the good news, if will be "LIFE". Christ came to give new Life to condemned and dead people.  We are called here to walk in the Newness Life that Christ has given us. Build in this new life and sins will be taken care of.

We stress on "Developing on your strengths and manage your weakness". Developing on your strengths bring success. Working on your weaknesses may lead to failures. There is only one warning about our strengths. Our strength, not wisely employed in the right situations, could be our weakness too. For example, perseverance, a strength in the right thing, is stubbornness in the wrong thing. Managing our weakness includes outsourcing to others - i.e. get other with such strength to augment our weakness. We could also get help and support from others. Remember, in-source strengths (build on them) and out-source weakness, to use business lingo.

If you are concerned about the sinner prayer for salvation, we can check the verses on salvation.
  • Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • Rom 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    Rom 10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
  • Act 16:30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    Act 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
None of the verses above talk about confession of sin (it could be argued that it is implied) but believe in Jesus Christ (To know Christ as God and personal Lord is more important that our sin is forgiven.) and to receive New Righteous Life ! We are saved from dead into new life.

What is the commandment of the new life? Love. As in
  • 1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 
The love in new life will keep us in righteousness. Love is more powerful than sins.
  • 1Pe 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Grace is to Empower Us for Goodness, Righteous and Truth
We are not left alone in this walk, Eph 5:7-9 tell us that grace 'was' given to empower us to have fruit of righteousness, goodness and truth. Sadly, quite a number of believers only receive the grace for salvation and did not realise the grace is for our sanctification and glorification as well. Christ want to walk our walk with us.

The 5 Fold Ministries for Equipping & Building the Church
Everyone of us given 'grace' of different kinds for different roles in the church. The purpose of the different gifting are to used in achieving the common purpose of "building up of the church" Eph 4:12. Unity is of diversity and not conformity to the same role. I prefer to use the term "Harmony" instead of unity as unity has be distorted to be "uniformity". Paul in Rom 12 uses body of different parts as illustration of unity in purpose but differences in functions.

For a church to be healthy, we need to see the harmonious function of different roles in action. It is a smooth and optimum synchronization of different parts like a living body. Sickness is when some parts of the body are not able to perform their original functions. Can you tell what roles are being played in the church? It should not be a one man show. What roles are missing? More importantly, what role are you called to play?

Paul in Rom 12:6-13 and 1 Cor 12:28 listed other giftings and roles.  The additional roles included are helper-server, ruler-manager, giver of money, doer of mercy, and other gifts like healing and miracle working, speaking of tongues that are gifts related to the roles.

Borrowing from business, the 5-folds are line functions and the other are supporting functions. However, no one is not important and no one is higher than others. As worldly minded, we tend to associate roles with rank and want to give order to be served then to serve. That is not what the Bible says. Those who lead are those who serve.

The Outcomes of a Healthy Church
  • Unity of faith
  • Knowledge & Demonstration of the Power of Christ the King
  • Mature Manhood
    • Not fickle minded
    • Christ likeness in full stature
  • Speaking Truth in Love
  • Following Christ as the Head
  • Fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth

This posting, Eph 4:1-16 covers the first part of Walk as a member in the Body of Christ - The Church.

  1.   What is a Church?
  2.   What are the Roles in a Church ?
  3.   How are they determined?
  4.   What is the purpose of the Roles?
  5.   How can you tell we have attained the purpose?
  6.   How can we have unity in church? What is a better word for unity?

  1. A Church a group of people united in Jesus Christ.
  2. 5 Folds
    1. apostles: the church planters; CEOs. Go. Pioneers. hunters.
    2. prophets: knowing God's will for your congregation, God's words for the times.
    3. evangelists: preach the Gospels. Marketing. Go. Hunters.
    4. shepherds: care for the sheep; seek & counsel the lost sheep. the builder, farmer.
    5. teachers: truth and doctrines. builder, farmer.
  3. Matching of Roles and Strengths & Gifts.
    When we work in our strengths, we feel energized and joy. We don't complain and even ask for more. We are focused on doing our best.
  4. To equip and build up one another to maturity conforming to the stature of Jesus Christ our Head.
  5. See the paragraph "The Outcomes of a Healthy Church"
  6. A better word is Harmony. It is a synchronization of differences to accomplish a shared mission.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Ephesians - Chapter 3 Mystery Exposed & Abundant Life

    Two key topics are covered in Ephesians Chapter 3. They are
    • The Mystery Exposed 
    • The Principles for Abundant Life
    The table of content for Eph 3 are:
    1. Paul's Calling & the Mystery Exposed
    2. Prayer for the Ephesians & Secrets of Abundant Life
    3. Praise for Jesus Christ
    Paul's Calling & the Mystery Exposed

    The shared about his own calling from God - the ministry to preach the Good News (The Revealed Mystery) to gentiles, or people of the world. Short-term wise, Paul was in prison because of the his calling but his imprisonment only served to show that the Gospel was not imprisoned and he serves as an example for others benefits.

    The Mystery, hiddened but new revealed through Paul, was that the gentiles are to be fellow heirs (3:6) and of the same body and partakers of same promise of Christ. This mystery has beed hid in God since the beginning supporting the God's original in Eph 1:4.  Here are the details:

    Prayer for the Ephesians & Secrets of Abundant Life

    Paul's prayer for the Ephesians that they be not discouraged but instead grew up to be strong and may be filled with all the fullnss of God revealed the secrets for abundant life in Christ. How can one live a life reflecting the glory of God? So filled with God that the His glory shine forth from us? 

    The secret is revealed in 3:16-19 : By faith receives the indwelling of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, rooted in His love, and experience beyond knowledge, in the community of fellow believers, the true love of Christ and then we will be filled to the fullness of God and showing forth from the inner-man. See the mind map below:


    Praise for Jesus Christ

    Paul confidence in Christ 'more than' answering in his prayer resulted in great praise for Jesus Christ. The power that is able to do more than we ask is residing and worked in us. We don't need to look outside of us, seeking help from others, asking God to give us again for the same power that has already been given. The 'more than' is for the glory in the church. The glory in the Church is for everyone of us. We are to show forth His glory ---- we are the salt and light of the world.

    Here are some questions for our reflection.
    1. What is the Mystery and what does it disclose?
    2. What was Paul's calling and how he was progressing? What can we learn from him?
    3. Are there purposes for your suffering?
    4. Explain the Struggle of Old vs New and how to gain victory for the New.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Ephesians - Chapter 2 NEW Man in Christ Q&A

    Q1. What are the additional new things you learned about your identity and calling? 

      Our Identity has the following additional (to Eph 1) attributes: 
    • A New Man in Christ
    • Peace with God
    • Spiritual Access thru Holy Spirit to God anytime anywhere
    • Citizens of heaven - with our spirit connected in Heaven & Feet on earth
    • Member of Christ's Body on Earth
      Our Calling:

    • Fulfill the God's Masterpiece of us.
    • We are saved for God's glorfying work
    Q2 Compare Before and After Salvation for man.
         Before                     After
    dead in sins              alive in Christ
    alienated                  peace with God
    no hope                   glorification with God
    condemned to hell     seated with Christ in heaven  

    Q3 What is the Purpose of Salvation ? How is it different from other religions? 
    The purpose of salvation is about giving New Life to dead men. It is not possible to make sinful man good. A rebirth in new life is necessary. Religions are about trying to make sinful man 'gooder'!

    Q4 Who is the Body? What is the Purpose?
    Believers are Christ's body on earth. It is the temple of God. It is the Bride of Christ (see Eph 5) 

    Q5 Differentiate destination and journey. Explain the dichotomy of Complete in Christ 2 Pet 1:3  and Growth into Image of Christ Rom 8:29.
          2Pe 1:3  ... granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
          Rom 8:29  ...  to be conformed to the image of his Son

       2Pe 1:3 is like a seed - all the ingredients of life are contained completely in the seed. When the seed is planted in good soils, the seed will grow up to be a tree and then bear fruits. The bearing of fruits is the realization of Rom 8:29

       It starts with the new godly identity with all godliness things given to grow up to be conformed to image of Christ manifested in our work.
       Journey is the process and progress to reach an end-point the destination.
       The Journey of sanctification is the process of working out the Christ within, experiencing by faith and knowing Him intimately. In this walk with His continued guidance, supply and comforts we grow up with be like Christ.

    Q5b How it relates to your present living and what you are attaining? 
     Specific Application - fill the blanks....     

    For me ...
          my calling is clearly is .... or I am discovering my calling as ........
          my goal for the long term is ............   (Check: How is God glorified in me with that goal?)         

          my short-term goal is ..................
          my plan to accomplish the goal is ................
          my walk - actions are ...................  (work in progress)
          my learning /review are .................

    Q6 Compare Have-Do-Be vs Be-Do-Have.
    Note: Be is your identity, inner self; Do is the work, the effort used; Have is the achievement of possessions of things, positions, realization of dreams, the external manifestation  

    True Grace

    1. Spirit - complete; soul - renewing; body -  doing good work
    2. Be -> Do (Journey) -> Have
      ( from Christ in You permeating to Showing Christ in you)
    3. face reality and grow-up to maturity children -> young man -> father

    Ultra Grace
    1. Be = Have  Spirit=Soul=100%. Already arrived.
    2. no works needed, no element of time, no sufferings, disappointment, etc
    3. Outcome: superficial; hiding; blaming; can't face adversity. Treat sin lightly. Stayed as baby in Christ.

    Insufficient Grace, Grace + work

    1. Have - Do - Be
    2. Salvation by grace is a start. It depends on you to maintain your salvation through  good works and discipline. You need to hold on to your Father's hand.
    3. Outcome: stressed out, burnt out, angry with God and leave God in stages. Prayed that they find true grace before stage 4 leaving God on this earth. It is the Heavenly Father who is holding your hand and He will never let go your hand.
    For more details see...

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Ephesians - Chapter 2 NEW Man in Christ

    Chapter 2 main theme is "The NEW Man in Christ" through the cross of Jesus Christ.

    It compares the before and after salvation. All would agree that the New-Man is rebirth by grace through faith (2:8-9). But most will ignore v10, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus that we should WALK in them. Our walking to the new man to reveal the glory of Christ that is inside has not been emphasized enough in these days blessings and little-commitment gospel.

    Here is the outline:
    Chapter 2 Outline
    Before our new birth
    We are dead and condemned.....

    Salvation is by Jesus for the Purpose of:

    After, our new life in Christ:
    We are not to live alone but belong to the body of Christ -the Church, to be His dwelling place.
    We have additional blessings. Please add them to the list in Chapter 1.

    Questions for Reflection:
    1. What are the additional new things you learned about your identity and calling?
    2. Compare Before and After Salvation for man.
    3. What is the Purpose of Salvation ? How is it different from other religions?
    4. Who is the Body? What is the Purpose?
    5. Differentiate destination and journey. How it relates to your present living and what you are attaining?
    6. Compare Have-Do-Be vs Be-Do-Have.

    Ephesians - Chapter 1 God's Grand Plan

    Chapter 1 Overview and its theme is:
    The Blessings of Believers are given in:

    Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, can be our model prayer for others too, as:

    Questions for Review and our life applications:

    Bible Study on Ephesians - Overview

    The group started on doing a Bible Study on Ephesians.

    We begin by learning a Bible Study Method and applying it to our study of Ephesians.
    Here is mind map of the method and the examples from Ephesians.

    The red color powerpoint slide on the table of content is a straight forward exercise of doing dividing the book into sections. The bottom color map will need a lot of thinking and integrating with other knowledge learned.

    Another overview can be: