Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is not only supremely elegant. It is foundational to Christian doctrine. If you are in San Diego next Wednesday, stop by and take part!
I have written a study guide organized in 13 lessons that we will use as a basis for a weekly Bible study. It is entitled, Chosen To Be Holy: Ephesians. I will have copies to give away at the Bible study.
We will go through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians together.
starts: Wednesday, October 24, 6:30 PM
Mira Mesa Branch Public Library, San Diego
8405 New Salem ST
summary of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
God has chosen you in Christ to be holy, to the praise of his glory, raised you with Christ from your former state of spiritual death, saved you by grace, and united you together into one body of Christ. Therefore, live accordingly.
On the contrary, we are rather to believe that in these days there shall be no lack either of those who fall away from, or of those who attach themselves to the Church; but there shall be such resoluteness, both in parents to seek baptism for their little ones, and those who shall then first believe, that they shall conquer that strong one, even though unbound—that is, shall both vigilantly comprehend, and patiently bear up against him, though employing such wiles and putting forth such force as he never before used; and thus they shall be snatched from him even though unbound. The City of God, book 20, chapter 8
The Mosaic covenant, while being an administration of the covenant of grace, was a “legal administration.”
This means that it came along with a rigorous reapplication of the law of God broken in Eden, and many
statutes and commandments intending to teach the people of God “under age” as minors, so to speak, not to look for salvation in their
own works, as if the commandment had never been broken in Eden, but to look to Him who was to come. The
Judaizers in Paul’s day were misusing the Mosaic law by trying to make it a way of salvation, which it
was never intended to be, since Israel at Sinai had already broken God’s law in Adam, and in many other sins.
Now the Church has reached a mature stage compared with the Church at Sinai. We do not need all the “picture books”
and ceremonies. But looking back, we nonetheless see that the Mosaic covenant was one and the same with the New
John 1:16 nkj And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
These verses do not describe a difference in kind between the covenants of Moses and Christ, but an increase in degree of the same kind of thing. “grace for grace”
Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies…The holy oracles foretold that all these changes, which had not been made in the days of the prophets of old, would take place at the coming of the Christ, which I will presently shew to have been fulfilled as never before in accordance with the predictions.” (Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica VIII)
169 Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.
170 Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.
171 My lips shall utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.
173 Let Your hand become my help,
For I have chosen Your precepts.
174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments. Psalm 119 nkj
The psalmist cries to the LORD for help, but in what? He asks God to teach him His statutes. There is a teaching through the ear. When we hear the word of God, like when it is preached, we are being taught. Likewise also when we read it. But there is an inner teaching of the Holy Spirit as well, that all those who are born again (from above) enjoy. We notice 5 things mentioned by the Psalmist:
- He has sinned against God terribly and possibly often. (v176a)
- He remembers God’s commandments. (v176b)
- Despite his sin, he desires to follow the law of God and delight in it. (v174, This is a characteristic of those who are born again of the Holy Spirit.)
- He prays a fervent prayer for the inner teaching of the Holy Spirit to make him to understand and keep the law of God–to go and do good instead of sin, obedience instead of rebellion. (v169, 170)
- He praises God for the answer to prayer, when he is enabled to keep His commandments.(v175)
Let us follow the example of the psalmist. We are sinners. If you can relate to the confession, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep,” you’re like every other Christian. If we hear, read, and delight in God’s law, as all those who are born from above will do, then let us pray fervently to ask God to give us understanding to keep it: His statutes and commandments, and to give us victory over sin in our life. And praise Him for the gift of repentance that He gives in answer to prayer.
This brings us to the end of Psalm 119. If you’ve been blessed by these posts, send me a message and let me know, as I consider whether to continue with other Psalms. You might also consider subscribing to this blog by entering your email address in the widget on the right side of this page to receive new posts directly.
161 Princes persecute me without a cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
162 I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
167 My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You. Psalm 119 nkj
The word of the Lord is such a blessed thing for Christians, that we have “great peace” because of its commandments and promises, no matter what else life brings, even if the rich and powerful come after us for no reason. The word of God is worthy of perfect praise. Seven is the number of perfection in Scripture. Those who have it have found a great treasure or “spoil” (KJV). Far more than the loot or booty that the world may offer those who seek after it, the word of the Lord brings security and satisfaction to those who trust in Him as He has spoken in it. We are blessed as Christians in America to have a glut of Bibles printed–and not only do we have Bibles, there are still faithful churches to be found, much more than in most other parts of the world, where the Bible is faithfully preached for our learning and understanding. Meditate on God’s word, thank God for it, treasure it, and be at peace today and everyday.
153 Consider my affliction and deliver me,
For I do not forget Your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.
158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119 nkj
Every word of God is truth. Though the world does not believe this, it is a truth that one day every tongue will acknowledge. The world hates believers because it hates God, and in fact it has a hard time getting along with anyone in general, even unbelievers. The wicked heart of man creates strife and conflict in this world. In the meantime, Christian, in the midst of this unbelieving world, where treacherous enemies and persecutors are many, stick to the word of God. Read it. Hear it. Meditate on it. Read it together with others. This word is your source of strength in a topsy-turvy world. Those who trust in it, because of the Lord who gave it, will have inner life and peace no matter what the world brings. It is a characteristic of those who are on the way of life, on their way to heaven, that they love the word of God. The Holy Bible in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments is our only sure guide that God has given for us to know him and serve him in this life. Know it, believe it, obey it, and rejoice in it. He will deliver all of those who trust in His word.
145 I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O Lord!
I will keep Your statutes.
146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness;
They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies,
I have known of old that You have founded them forever. Psalm 119 nkj
The Christian life is one of a struggle against the sinful flesh. Even as redeemed children of God, trusting in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation, we commit sins daily, and these sins bring consequences. God acts as a loving father to discipline his wayward children, and often it’s the cruel mercies of the wicked that come against us when we have failed to walk in obedience. But the psalmist’s manly and desperate cry for help to God is our expression hope in Him for deliverance in these trials in life. We cannot hope for deliverance from the cruelties of this world, or for victory over the sin that reigns in our bodies, unless we genuinely cry out to God for it. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Be like the psalmist, and cry out for help against sin reigning in your life today and everyday. And go in faith that God will answer your desperate prayer.
121 I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy,
And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for You to act, O Lord,
For they have regarded Your law as void.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments
More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things
I consider to be right;
I hate every false way. Psalm 119, nkj
The Lord is good. His mercy can be relied upon, but “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” Proverbs 12:10 The world oppresses and marginalizes, especially Christians that it sees as different and other. In the midst of cruelty and oppression, the psalmist cries out to the Lord, where he knows he will find refuge. Are you turning to the Lord with Life’s problems and hardships, or to something or someone else? His hope is that the Lord will right all wrongs, especially violations of His law. It is up to God to punish and not to us. Leave that to Him.
The greatest blessing that the Lord gives to His people, is that He writes his law upon their hearts, His statutes and commandments. Trouble in life is often caused by our own sin. God’s grace teaches us to obey him more faithfully, so that we do not repeat the same sins that got us into trouble. It is a grace from God. Starting your day, pray and ask God to teach you His statutes, and go trusting that he will answer your prayer.