Getting Equipped for the Battle

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
But that you also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that you might know our affairs, and he might comfort your hearts.  Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” Ephesians 6:10-24

REFERENCES: Isaiah 11:5; 54:17; 59:19; Luke 22:53; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 John 5:4; Matthew 26:41; Philippians 1:4

O, The Blessings We Have in Jesus Christ

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom you also, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and has put all under His feet, and gave Him the head over all to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.  Ephesians 1:1-23

REFERENCES: Romans 1:7; Galatians 1:3; Exodus 33:19; Matthew 3:17; 1 Peter 1:18; Acts 20:28; Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Isaiah 46:10; James 1:18; John 1:17; Luke 21:28; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:4

Christmas Day Ten and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want all the people; all the men, women and children in the world who are about to do  harm to others through a terrorist act, in a domestic dispute, or any possible family related murderous act to know that God loves you; and that He loves you so much that He gave us His only Son, that if you will believe in Him you will not perish, but have everlasting life with God; and even if you have already done these acts of violence God still loves you, and there is forgiveness and healing for you.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Christmas Day Two Hundred Fifty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want children, and youth who are students in public, private, and home schools to realize the greatest thing to know and learn is about God, His Word – the Holy Bible, and to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4

Day Two Hundred Sixty and One

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the whole world; I want you to know that God loves you despite the way you are; and that He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.

That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:15-18 (KJV)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 363

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the sins of every charlatan Christian leader (especially in the U. S. of A.) to be exposed; their false teachings to be exposed, and the rebellious hearts of all who profess Jesus Christ to be exposed; that God may show Himself strong among those who love Him.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NKJV)

Since it is the ministry of every Christian pastor to preach the whole counsel of God’s word; to make God feel good; not themselves, and not any individual but the Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Psalm 119:126.

W4CL – Power

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

The human race is consumed by power.  People who want to have control over others; many of them are called politicians who are out to get all the power they can.  Many are preachers and pastors who desire to rule the Church they lead – sadly.

There is something the Christian must realize and that is that all power belongs to the Creator.  It is wonderful for the Christian to daily focus, fellowship with, and have faith in the One who is All-Powerful (Omnipotent).  It is a glorious thing to know that we have the One who empowered the life of Jesus as He walked on earth living within us too.  “…The power that worketh in us…”

How much power do we have?  All that is His; is ours.  Let us walk with Him, and it will be used rightly.

W4CL – Peace

“For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”  Ephesians 2:14-18 (KJV)

Many in our world are crying out for peace.  Peace between Israel and Palestine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, etc..  Ever since I was a child I can remember people calling for “Peace”.  Not too many, however, really appreciate what “Peace” means.

Peace does not mean  the absence of conflict.    There can be conflict for the cause of peace.  The greatest peace is realized when a man, woman, boy or girl receives the peace of God.

The thing Paul speaks of in the above verses, “…Broken down the middle wall of partition…” is speaking of the wall between Jew and Gentile; the law, and heathenism.  By the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that wall has been broken down, and we are both reconciled to God.

If one does not believe in, trust in the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ you are still at enmity with God.  Your heart is far from Him, and you cannot know peace.  With Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you will have the Holy Spirit and permanent access to the Father.

With this peace, even in the midst of the world’s greatest conflicts, you will be at peace.  Peace of heart and soul.  Peace of mind.  Peace with God.

W4CL – Holy Spirit

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”  Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)

We need not be fearful that God will not fulfill His Word.  He has promised that He will finish what He has began (Philippians 1:6).  There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).  Best of all we have God’s “Earnest” payment that He will do it.

“Earnest” is a real estate term.  One puts down an earnest payment as a guarantee of payment of a down payment on a house or land.  The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us as promise, evidence that He will complete what He has began in us.  You will note too, that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”.

In Christ we are a sealed document, that cannot be opened until it is delivered into the hand of the King.  Please read Romans 8:9.

Words for Christian Living – God’s Will

“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:17

I have spent a big portion of my Christian life looking, searching for God’s will.  About a month ago I realized I do not need to search for the will of God; that I am living in it.  I am not saying I am perfect, that I have reached the state of full knowledge or anything so preposterous as that.

The MacArthur Study Bible says this…

“…God’s will revealed to us is that people should be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4), Spirit filled (v. 18), sanctified (1 Thes. 4:3), submissive (1 Pet. 2:13-15), suffering (1 Pet.2:20) and thankful (1 Thes. 5:18).”

Knowing God, His will for our lives, and serving Him is as close as His Word and His Spirit.  When we are Saved, Spirit filled, Sanctified, Submissive, Suffering, and Serving; then we are in the will of God, doing the will of God; and there shall be nothing which will be withheld from us.

The Psalmist has written…

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  Psalm 37:4 (KJV)

When we know the LORD, are in His will, then God’s desires will be our desires.

Words for Christian Living 061613

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:1-4 (KJV)

Remember your earthly father today.  It is Father’s Day.  Even more remember him, honor him every day.  Children it begins with being obedient to the instructions, and direction he gives you.

Fathers be sure to be an encouragement and blessing to your children.  If you constantly berate, belittle, and criticize them you will drive them away.  Nurture them in the love of the LORD.  With the same grace you have received be gracious to your children.

Happy Father’s Day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lifting the Standard in the Face of the Foe

The following is from the daily Spurgeon sponsored by Bible Gateway.

‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’ Isaiah 59:19

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 6:10–18

Christian, you are in the land where foes abound. There are enemies within you; you are not clean delivered from the influence of inbred sin. The new nature is of divine origin, and it cannot sin because it is born of God; but the old nature, the carnal mind, is there too, and it is not reconciled to God, neither indeed can it be; and therefore it strives and struggles with the new nature. The house of Saul in our heart wars against the house of David, and tries to drive it out and despoil it of the crown. This conflict you must expect to have continued with more or less of violence till you enter into rest. Moreover, in the world without there are multitudes of foes. This vain world is no friend to the principle of the work of grace. If you were of the world the world would love its own, but as you are not of the world but of a heavenly race, you may expect to be treated as an alien and foreigner, no, as a hated and detested foe. All sorts of snares and traps will be laid for you; those who sought to entangle the Master in his speech will not be more lenient towards you. Moreover there is one whose name is called ‘the enemy,’ the ‘evil one;’ he is the leader among your adversaries; hating God with all his might, he hates that which he sees of God in you. He will not spare the arrows in his infernal quiver; he will shoot them all at you. There are no temptations which he knows of—and he understands the art well from long practice—there are no temptations which he will not exercise upon you. He will sometimes fawn upon you, and at other times will frown; he will lift you up, if possible, with self-righteousness, and then cast you down with despair. You will always find him your fierce, insatiable foe. Know this then, and put on the whole armour of God.

For meditation: Self, society and Satan are an unholy trinity to follow (Ephesians 2:2–3) and an unholy trinity to fight, but, in Christ, self (Romans 7:24–25), society (Galatians 1:3–4) and Satan (John 17:15; Hebrews 2:14–15) can all be overcome (Hebrews 2:18).

Sermon no. 718
28 October (1866)

What Spurgeon said on October 28, 1866 is just as applicable in October of 2012.

-T.A.

 

The Christian Walk

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Wherefore He saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:5-16 (KJV)

The Christian Walk is similar to Christian Life and Living, and it is also the walk of Enoch of old, Elijah, and others.  That walk is in agreement with GOD, and His Word (Amos 3:3), and there is only one way to walk with GOD, and that is to agree with Him.

The Christian is a changed individual.  She/He will trust the Lord even when darkness seems set on derailing our walk.  We must cherish our walk with God.  Continue in it even when the way is rough, rocky, dark, and lonely.  Walk diligently, circumspectly in the Lord.

-T.A.

For Christian Life and Living

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:17-32 9KJV)

Put off the “old man” that old nature and put on Christ.  When a man, woman, boy or girl comes to faith in Jesus Christ we are changed into the likeness and image of Christ; therefore we are to live like Jesus Christ.  Far too often I hear professing Christians who speak corruptly; and that is not only vulgarity in the form of cursing, or what we may think of as bad language; that includes the ridicule of another individual, or showing them as being worthless.

Let us follow the way of Jesus Christ and live.

-T.A.

Reconciled By the Cross of Christ

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:11-22 (KJV)

The only hope of the world, and its people is the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is the only means by which mankind can be or will be reconciled to God.

-T.A.

Day 82 – Spiritual Blessings

It could be said probably, that, everybody likes a blessing.  Those who do not believe in God, however, may not call it “Blessing”.  What would you have to be thankful for?  Who would you thank?  I do not have the answer.  My reading this morning was reading through Ephesians and Philippians.  Two Epistles [Letters] written by the apostle Paul with words of encouragement to the church of Ephesus and the church of Philippi.

To Ephesus Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

It is one thing to bless God with words, such as the apostle does above; but how are we at blessing Him with our lives too.  Both are a part of the faithful Christian’s life.  We are to bless God by remembering His blessings to and upon us.

While Paul is addressing “Spiritual blessings” which involve the things that are in the following verses; “He has chosen us in Him”,  “Predestinated us unto the adoption of children…”,  “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…”.  He goes on and includes “…an inheritance”, and that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise…”.  The spiritual blessings go on and on.

Those spiritual blessing work themselves out into living in this world and life.  If we do not live with these spiritual blessings; having thankfulness for them, then, we will most likely be a negative, bitter, envious, carnal individual; probably not a true Christian.  Do you realize your spiritual blessings?  Are you thankful for them?  Particularly for the grace given to us by the Father, putting His own Son to death on the cross, and raising Him again bodily from the grave?

In Ephesians we are told about grace.  It is by grace we are saved; plus nothing, minus nothing.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10

In chapter five we are admonished to “…Be filled with the Spirit”, not spirits; how husbands and wives are to respect and love one another, especially how the husband is love his wife as Christ loves the church, and gave Himself for her.  Children are to obey their parents, parents are not to “Provoke” their children (chapter 6).  Servants, even employees, are to serve their bosses as though they are serving Christ.

In Philippians we see that Jesus Christ was a man of humility; humbling Himself even to the death of the cross;

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)

It is one of the greatest spiritual blessings to know the God/Man who came to be with us and without sin, offer His life as an atonement for our sin, that we might be like Him.  Because of Him we have great cause for rejoicing, which the apostle addresses in the letter (4:4).

Let me end with just a note concerning the passing of a man of God.  Charles Colson who was the founder of Prison Fellowship and aided in many prison reforms; and many men and women coming to faith in Christ who were in prison; has gone home to be with Jesus.  Reading his book “Born Again” was a blessing to me.  I have also read several of his other books.   Thank God for men such as Charles Colson who devote their lives to the name and cause of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Death Grip

Anyone who thinks or believes that living the Christian life is “easy” has not begun to live the Christian life.  Several years ago, I was preaching in a Baptist Church [my conviction] on the difficulties of living the Christian life.  I had a woman who came to me afterwards and said, “I don’t find living the Christian life difficult.”  Now, I don’t know if she quite got a grasp of what I was saying, or if she did not know what the Christian life was about; but living it is difficult; even when we have the Spirit of God living within.

Death Grip is what sin has on those who are human.  The sad part of that is; that even when someone trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we still have a battle with sin’s death grip.  Every Christian struggles with sin.  We will continue to struggle with it until this body, this shell of flesh we live in takes its last breath, and the heart beats its last beat.

That is why as a Christian we are admonished by the Word of God to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11).  The promise of the Word is that we are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:16-17), as long as long as we “have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.  That doctrine, of course, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet, we struggle against sin.  Yes!  Christians still commit sin.  Not because we love it, but because of the death grip of sin.  The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope…” Isaiah 5:18.  Most of our struggle with sin is due to our own weakness to resist it.  We have the power to resist temptation because of the work of Jesus Christ and His “earnest payment” left us; the Holy Spirit.  Yet we are in that death grip.

Back during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ.  Dr. Al Mohler upset a lot of our folks by some comments he made using words, such as “Homophobic” and “Choice”.  It was falsely reported by one news agency that the SBC had recanted and changed its view of homosexuality; NOT SO.

Dr. Mohler believes as I do that homosexuality is sin.  Just as adultery is sin, murder is sin, stealing is sin, lust is sin, murderous thinking is sin, disobedience to God and His Word is sin.  Homosexuality, in scripture is called an abomination.

When an individual comes to faith in Christ we are not perfect, but we enter a state of growth where we are growing more into the image of Christ.  That, though, will not be perfected until we see Jesus face to face.

Sin’s Death Grip is like Isaiah’s iniquity, and cart rope; we still drag that sinful flesh along with us.  It is a burden, a drag, yet we desire to be free from it; and one day we will.  Until then, let us put off the works of the flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we fall, let us take the hand of our Savior, arise forgiven, cleansed, and continue on the journey.

There is forgiveness for all who will call on the name of Jesus Christ in faith.  Christian remember this, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Grace At Work

Ephesians 4:7-16

PURPOSE:  To teach that those who are in the one Body [the Church] are recipients of grace, demonstrated and shown through ministry gifts, also of grace, for the purpose of bringing the total Body to the maturity of Jesus Christ.

Grace does not stop with our initial repentance, faith, and confession of Christ.  Grace continues with every breath we breathe; every step we take; every morning we rise from our beds.  Grace is the continuing work of God in the Christians life.

The following are some works of grace which God has bestowed upon us.

THE WORK OF GOD WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SIN AND DEATH (v. 7).  Grace is the means by which we are delivered from the condemnation of sin and its death.  It is provided for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is only the propitiation or appeasement; God judging our sin [all sin] by placing it on the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ.  Grace continues and becomes efficacious [effective] when we respond  to His grace by faith in Him.  That same grace provides not only salvation, but also gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit, for living by grace in His power.

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11 (KJV)

Just as every individual who is born again, by faith in Jesus, is in the one Body, so too, has everyone received a grace-gift(s) in which to serve the Body.  There is no one who is in Christ who is not also gifted to live for and serve Him.

All this is the “gift of Christ”.  We are brought into one Body by Christ; we are gifted by Him to serve in the Body as He [the Head] directs and leads by the person of the Holy Spirit.

THE WORK OF GOD ON THE CROSS WHICH DELIVERED US FROM CAPTIVITY (vv. 8-10).  Because of the cross on which Jesus bled and died God the Father was and is able to deliver us from the captivity of sin.  His resurrection gave us victory over hell and death.

If you watch  people; as I have a tendency to do; you will see many enslaved by sin.  Illegal and legal drugs, like cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc., and you know what I mean.  You see some captive by other things in their lives.  Men and women, married and unmarried, are enslaved to their lustful desires; whether those desires are greed for wealth, or sex; makes little difference; they are none the less enslaved.  Some are enslaved to their comforts and entertainments.

When Jesus arose from the grave He led those who were Old Testament  saints out of captivity.  I believe this is vividly illustrated in Matthew 27:51-53:

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”

He then placed into captivity everything that places man in bondage – sin, hell, death, and Satan.

By ascending into heaven He opened the avenue for the Holy Spirit; in fact sent the Holy Spirit; to come and dwell within all who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit would not have come to abide in all who know Jesus except He [Jesus] ascended into heaven first.  By ascending He not only gave us the person of the Spirit, but He also gifted us; gave us tools for ministry, and the Holy Spirit is the power of the gifts.

His descension is His incarnation [Jesus coming as God in flesh].  Because of His death, burial and resurrection His mortal body was changed into an immortal body.  The Scriptures  declare that there is a man (in bodily form) in heaven:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”  1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)

Because of and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.  It is being made more and more into the image of Christ in heaven, in every individual who abides in His Body  on earth.  This by no means implies that individual’s in His Church are sinless, but contrary to that, His working in us shows that we are needy of Him.

Jesus’s desire, His heart is to be the FULNESS of everyone who will come to Him.

THE WORK OF GOD IN THE GIFTS WHICH HE GIVES US; CONTINUING THE WORK (vv. 11-12).  God desires, and Jesus desires to continually be at work in us; fulfilling His will and glory.  The reason for the gifts of the Spirit is His grace.

The gifts listed are not natural talents, but special gifts of the Spirit for glorifying Jesus in the ministry.  The apostles and prophets are the one’s upon whom the church is built (2:20).  There is no such thing as “apostolic succession”.  At least not in the sense of the Roman Catholic religion.  Apostles are not declared or made by a local congregation, but they are called out individually by God for the purpose of going to an unchurched, unevangelized area, and doing the ground work; preaching the word and the gospel of Christ to establish a local congregation.  In the truest New Testament sense an apostle today could be a missionary.  There can be no more apostles because the foundation has already been laid; there are no more eye witnesses of Jesus Christ risen from the grave; there are no more disciples who personally walked with Jesus in the land where He walked.  Missionaries do the work that the original apostles did in going about, preaching the gospel to people groups who have not heard, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ.

The prophets were preachers who were gifted with a special understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, and given the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit for the New Testament Church and Scriptures.  They were and are those whom are sensitive about sin and its destruction in human life.  They have a heart for hearing God and His Word.  The Church is built on the apostles and prophets.  The prophet today would probably be better known as  “Preacher”.  This is still how local churches begin.  The local church is where the gifts and power of the Spirit are demonstrated.  The Body of Christ is manifest in the local church.

Evangelists are gifted by God to seek out the lost and are particularly gifted at presenting  the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable way.  They are also gifted to teach others how to be soul-winners.

Where the previous three are itinerant [traveling] messengers the pastor/teacher is one who sticks around awhile.  He loves the people as his own family.  He preaches the Word of God to them and teaches them how to apply  the Word to their lives.  He is one who is really more concerned about their spiritual walk, spiritual growth than numerical growth.  The pastor will leave the numerical growth up to the Lord.  The pastor simply sows the seed of the Word and the gospel and leaves the increase up to the Holy Spirit.  He teaches by word and example.

In verse twelve we see a twofold purpose for these spiritual gifts;

1. The perfecting of the saints to do the work of the ministry;
2. Edifying the Body of Christ.

Number one, the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher is to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry.  These four are the equipping/leadership gifts of the Spirit.  There are other gifts listed in Romans 12:3-8;  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; and here in Ephesians 4:11.  Each of these gifts of the Spirit are needed in the local church to for the people to grow and be healthy and powerful for the glory of Jesus Christ.  Number two, the equipped Body will be operating in the unity of the Spirit and truly “building up” the Body of Christ.  When everyone “in Christ” recognize their place of service, then, the Church has been built up and is honoring and pleasing to Jesus.

THE WORK OF GOD AND THE FRUIT OF THAT WORK (vv. 13-16).  When the Body of Christ is being equipped and built up there are four evidences of spiritual growth.

  1. We become more Christlike caring for the needs of others, experiencing others hurts and sorrows.  We grow in knowledge of Him and His Word and work of His Spirit.  We reach a place of maturity where we are not offended by truth; or the color of the carpet.  This lever of maturity is still seeking the fullness of Christ.
  2. We begin developing a stability of faith.  We begin to understand truth and are not tossed around by false doctrines and teachings.  We are learning to test all teachings by the Word of God.
  3. We have a love for truth, coupled with a lover for people, the lost, and even backsliden  When others are confronted with the truth love will not permit us to condemn, but we will admonish them by pointing to their real need; realizing from whence we have come.
  4. We realize that there must be a unified work.  We have purpose through cooperation.  By joining our hands, prayers, finances, families, ministries, and our hearts we are in cooperation with one another and ‘building up’ the Church.  That means we would be the most powerful force on earth; through Jesus Christ.

When you have grace working in you  through  Jesus Christ you will be the better for it, and the world will benefit from it.  Grace works everyday in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ.  Let each of us submit to the work of grace and the Spirit of God every day.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abundant Family of God

Ephesians 3:14-21

It has been the will and the plan of God to bring all people into one body, but according to God’s good will; not man’s.  It seems that man has endeavored to come together as one more than once; the first time being at Babel; and look what happened.

God is holy, and all people cannot come to Him in their own merit due to sin.  God loves humanity, and is the offended Deity to whom a price must be paid, and that price is death; the death of every sinner.  Just as sin entered the world and the human race by one man [Adam] so too, by only one man can sin’s debt be paid, and that debt, which was owed to God, has been paid by the death of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21).

In verses 1-13 of Ephesians 3 Paul has given explanation how that God has displayed His love and grace by the cross of Jesus and has opened the way for the Gentiles (all who are not Jewish).

NAMED FOR THE FATHER OF THE FAMILY (vv. 14-15).  In the first two chapters and the first thirteen verses of this chapter the apostle has dealt with the “mystery of the gospel”, by which the Jew and the Gentile become one through Jesus Christ.  We understand through the previous thirteen verses of this chapter that it has always been God’s plan to bring Jew and Gentile together into one body.  God is sovereign and works all things for his purpose, will and glory.

God the Father is the source of “Fatherhood”.  This is not a verse supporting the heresy of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man”.  God is only the Father of all who have trusted Him through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of Christ – His death on the cross, His burial, and His bodily resurrection.  The “whole family in heaven and earth” can only refer to the “saints” both living and dead [bodies sleeping awaiting their day of resurrection].  We are of the family of God, because God in His grace has made it so; without our aid or efforts.

We are of the “Household of faith”, with the name given us by our Father.

BEING FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD (vv. 16-19).  When the lost man or woman comes to Jesus Christ they receive all of Jesus Christ that they will ever receive.  We are however, at times, very inept in practicing all the fulness of God we have been given.

God said through Zechariah the prophet;

“This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

The Spirit of God is the person and source of our Fulness of God.  He is the catalyst of our fulness.  In this prayer Paul is asking these things from God for the Ephesians and us, “according to the riches of His glory…”

1.  “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man”;
2.  “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”;
3.  “being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…”;
4.  “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”

It seems by the presence of these that would be having the fulness of God which Paul speaks of.

THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S POWER WORKING IN US (v. 20).  It seems as I am studying this I seem a bit unable to describe what this is dealing with.  God’s grace for salvation is more abundant than I can begin to imagine, and His grace for living is just as abundant, and when God says, that He will complete what He began (Philippians 1:6); that is part of that abundance.

God is far more able to do “Exceeding abundantly”, “far more abundantly”, “above and beyond” “all that we ask or think”, that we ought to know that anything God says we can rely on.

All of this accomplished “…according to the power that worketh in us…”.  The power working in us is limited, it seems, only by our faith at work.  Maybe I should say, “Limited only by our faith not working”.  If we are truly walking with God, in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit; then there is nothing that should stand in our way of fulfilling God’s will in our lives; and seeing God’s will accomplished in the lives of others.

We cannot muster up the power in ourselves.  It is through the Spirit of God in the child of God walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH GIVING GLORY TO THE FATHER FOREVER (v. 21).  The purpose of all creation is to give glory to God, to praise and adore Him.

When sin has wrecked and mauled and destroyed a sinners life God gets no pleasure from his death (Ezekiel 18:32).  When that soul has been saved, set free from sin by God’s free gift of grace God glories in that child’s physical death (Psalm 116:15).  Why deos Scripture tell us this?  Because, it is God who has worked in that saved soul’s life to bring him to Himself.  It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:13) as a child of God to bring you to His glory.

Now, having siad that, it leads us to the Church.  The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  He being “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).  What glory it brings to God when finally the Church is brought as one into the eternal presence of God.  The Spirit habitating in the life center of every believer is the means  by which we glorify God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the Church which brings every born again soul to God.  He is glorified because He sees the Church completed already seated with Jesus in heavenly places.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Divine Architect

Ephesians 2:18-22

The chapter begins by the apostles reminder that we were “dead in trespasses and sins”, and gives us good reason for believing it so.  Even more does he remind us that we have been “quickened” or “made alive”, and delivered from the old course we were once walking.

We are also told of God’s rich, marvelous, wonderful and glorious grace and mercy due to His great love for us.  That we have been raised up with Christ to sit with Him in “heavenly places” (v. 6).  Then in verses 8-10 the good and  faithful words, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV).  It does not seem right, nor Biblical, nor even teaching if we do not include verse 10 in there with verses 8 and 9.

The Gentiles of Ephesus, and you and I who are not Jewish, are reminded that we were not or are not of the “common wealth of Israel”; we did not receive the oracles, the Word of God, nor have we ever had the presence of God previous to the birth of the Church.  We were once strangers, separated from any hope, but God sent His Son.  It was like a wall of separation, that now, “through the blood of Christ” are made near, and brought into the Family of God.

THE WALL IS TORN DOWN BY THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS (vv. 18-19).  God raised up a nation of people who would follow Him, and be a light to other nations ( ).  The nation of Israel has not been faithful to the LORD’s calling, and were not an obedient people.  However, the LORD still used them to give us His Word; both the written oracles, and the Living Oracle [Jesus Christ].

It was and is the  will of God to bring together in the one body of Christ people from all nations, races, cultures.  With the people of Israel, through the call of Abraham from Ur, to go to a land he knew not of, with Sarah his wife, and to a land yet inhabited, but promised to his people in a future day; God promised to make of him a blessed nation.  God promised to him, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3); and we have with the oracles [Scriptures] which have been written for us. The Law, History, Poetry [Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations], and the Prophets (Major and Minor).

Where all seemed to be specifically for the Jew; now through the cross of Jesus Christ, there is access for all.  When Jesus died on the cross, the veil which separated the holy place in the Temple from the most Holy place was torn from top to bottom; signifying to us that the way was made by God Himself, into the very presence of the throne of God.

Those who come to God through Jesus (which is the exclusive way) become the “…Household of God”.  No longer strangers, no longer aliens, but brothers and sisters, with one Father.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT’S FOUNDATION AND CORNERSTONE (v. 20).  Before there is a building there must of necessity be a foundation and a cornerstone.  Jesus Christ is that cornerstone.  It is the cornerstone which determines the size, the shape of buildings made of stone.

Hear what God says of this cornerstone:

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” (Psalm 118:22)

“Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation…” (Isaiah 28:16)

“For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

Actually before there was the “foundation of the apostles and prophets”, there was the cornerstone which is the beginning of the foundation.  The “Apostles and prophets” have spoken, and written the words of God for us to hear and read, applying them to life and heart that we through the power of the Holy Spirit, believing would be living stones, added to the “building” of this “household of God”.  Since the “Apostles and prophets” are the foundation, and this is dealing with Scriptures, then, there can be no more apostles and prophets.  They have already spoken and written what God has given us.  Let’s be more diligent by His Spirit to obey what we have received; instead of searching for something new which will most likely be deceptive, and seek to lead astray.

Hear what the apostle Peter has written:

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:4-8 (KJV)

According to Peter’s inspired words we are, through faith in Jesus Christ, “living [lively] stones, are built up a spiritual house”.  That house is the “household of God”.  It can be called the “Family of God”.

THE DIVINE ARCHITECT FITS ALL WHO BELIEVE INTO THE “BUILDING” AS HE SEES FIT (v. 21).  It is only the Divine Architect who can “organize compactly” all those who are called to fit in just right for His glory.  A stone building designed correctly will have each stone in its proper place, fitting every niche, so that it will sit well with the one below it, beside it and over it.

Think of it this way.  Each part of this “household of God” is placed into this household in its proper time, proper place, and proper service.  It is Jesus Christ who determines this.  It is He who shapes and molds us for that fit that He needs, at that time He places us into His household.

WE HAVE BEEN DESIGNED TO BE THE PLACE OF GOD’S DWELLING ON EARTH (v. 22).  Everyone who is born again is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Together all born again believers are the Temple of God, giving Him even greater glory.

It is a sin against Him when we refuse to join together.  It shames His glory when we have the opportunity of gathering with brothers and sisters, and refuse to because of some carnal mindset, such as hurt feelings, something is not quite the way you like, envy,  jealousy, etc..  What shame.  Glorify God in your body and your bodily presence with the other saints in Christ gathered together for His glory.

Together we are strengthened.  Together we are encouraged.  Together we are empowered to resist sinful desire and temptation.  Together we can assault the gates of hell.  Together we can pray with authority and power.  Together we are the Body of Christ.

You are the place of God’s dwelling.  Let others rejoice with you by joining with other dwellings of God, becoming one with Him.  God does not have any “Only child”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

For The Praise Of His Glory

Ephesians 1:6-14

Three times in verses 6 – 14 we find the phrase, “to the praise of his glory…” and dealing especially with His grace.  First is it is written, “To the praise of the glory of his grace…” (v. 6), then we find; “…we should be to the praise of his glory…” (v. 12); and lastly; “…unto the praise of his glory.” (v. 14).  It should not come as a great surprise to the Christian that we are for the purpose of His glory.

Knowing this should thrill our hearts and souls.  To know that we are for the purpose of His glory ought to cause us, by the power of His Spirit within, to live lives that are scented with the fragrances of heaven.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR CALLING (v. 6; Romans 3:23).  Before there was Jesus Christ on earth as man we were in condemnation.  We were walking in ourselves, self-willed, without self-control, rebellious, and enemies of God.  That’s right!  I said, “Enemies of God” (James 4:4).  That was my estate before Christ, and the estate of everyone before they have faith in Him.

God’s purpose in calling us to Himself is for His glory, and to redeem a people unto Himself.  He loves us, and sent His Son Jesus to be the propitiation – the recipient of God’s wrath in our behalf.  By this one glorious event we now have fellowship, restored likeness with God our Creator.  We are accepted in His sight.  That our lives might be for the purpose of His glory, and the magnification of His grace.

BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR REDEMPTION THAT IS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (v. 7).  It is only through the blood of Jesus that we have redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19).  Because of sin the law requires death.  The blood is life for the sacrifice of sin (Leviticus 17:11).

By the shedding of blood God is just in forgiving our sins (Hebrews 9:22).

Slaves were bought and sold by millions in Rome of Paul’s day.  We were slaves of sin.  Jesus purchased us from sin’s bondage, by the shedding of His own blood, and set us free.

This price was not paid because you and I deserve it, but because of the riches of His grace.

THE GRACE AND THE INHERITANCE PROVIDED US THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS (vv. 8-12).  This grace of God is far more abundant than we can ever imagine.  He has over supplied it – (grace abounded) fully supplied – for us in making known to us “the mystery of His will”.  Mystery sometimes excites us.  By something being a mystery does not mean something spooky, eerie, or of which to fear.  Mystery causes mankind to be curious.  The mystery of His will was not fully revealed until Jesus came, died on the cross, was buried carrying the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin away, was risen, and ascended into the clouds; and through the apostles; including Paul.  It is still mysterious how that God could become man, bleed, die, then rise again bodily from the grave.  Some things God reveals, we must trust rather than understand.

By coming to the Lord Jesus we are place into God’s “Inner circle” and He reveals, to those who are His, His will concerning reconciliation of men to God, man to man, man to creation, Jew to Gentile, and earth to Heaven.

For verse eleven it has been translated to read, “In Him we were also made His inheritance…” (HCSB).  There is no real problem with that since we are told in the Psalms, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”  Psalms 2:8 (KJV).  We Gentiles who are in Christ are His possession, and inheritance in Him.  We have also received our inheritance in Him.  In the gospel of John Jesus mentions, at least six times, “…Those whom You have given Me” (John 17).

For the second time the apostle uses the term predestination.  As God’s children He has completed the work or plan for our lives in His Son Jesus Christ.  He has a predetermined purpose for our lives and brings them about, “after the counsel of His own will”.  We must remember that God does not have one plan for when everything goes well in our lives; and another for when things don’t go so well.  He only has one plan for Christians, and that is a completed salvation.  As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”  Philippians 1:6 (KJV).  His plan will not fail.

These verses end with doxology.  Words of praise and adoration.  A life lived in praise and adoration of His is what He desires.  This is a great part of our inheritance – to praise, adore, magnify, and glorify our Lord.  By the Holy Spirit within we are equipped to live such a life.

“Who first trusted in Christ” is most likely a reference to the Jews who began the first church of Jerusalem.  No matter to whom it may refer; it is the calling of all followers, believers of Jesus Christ, “To be to the praise of His glory”.

THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT AND THE EARNEST UNTIL OUR REDEMPTION (vv. 13-14).  Paul has written “…To the Jew first…” meaning that to them the gospel came first of all.  Jews were the first to hear and first to believe; though the numbers were very few.  Now the gospel has come to Ephesus – Gentiles.  This same Jesus of whom a few Jews had trusted was also the One in whom the Ephesians were trusting.

How did this transpire?

1. They heard the gospel which was preached unto them;
2. They believed the gospel – that is they put it to work in their lives;
3. They were then “sealed” or baptized into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

* Water had nothing to do with this “sealing” nor the “baptism” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

This “sealing” is one that speaks of and guarantees several things.  First, it is a promise, from God, of a finished transaction.  The full price of sin was paid.  When we believe on Christ and His finished work we become Christ’s inheritance and He becomes ours.  It is as good as done.

Secondly, this seal implies ownership.  We are marked by God, bearing His mark on us throughout the rest of our lives and into eternity.  “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  He is our owner.  We have no rights of our own.  We are branded/marked by the cross of Jesus Christ.

In the third place, the seal means security and protection.  There is nothing you or I can do to break off this seal.  It is eternal.  We are protected and secured from Satan, and all his forces, as well as protected from ourselves.

Fourthly, the seal is one of authenticity.  It takes more than a profession of the lips, religious activity, good works, etc..  If there is no witness of the Holy Spirit in the professor’s life, that is where Christ is not (Romans 8:9).  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  The Holy Spirit is the mark of an authentic Christian.

Finally, the seal can be an engagement ring.  The promise of a full and meaningful relationship, in the Christian example, for all eternity.

The Holy Spirit is the guarantee from God to the Christian that God will come and redeem the body of the man as well as his soul.

From verse three through verse fourteen there has been three doxologies.  The first speaks of the Father.  Why has He chosen, adopted and  accepted us?  “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6).  The second speaks of the Son.  Why has the Son redeemed us, forgiven us, and revealed God’s will to us and blessed us with His inheritance?  “To the praise of His glory” (v. 12).  The third speaks of the Holy Spirit.  Why has God the Spirit sealed us and become the guarantee of future hope and blessing?  “unto the praise of His glory” (v. 14).

In conclusion God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings… in Christ Jesus”.  The gifts and riches of Christ are far beyond what we deserve.  Yet, they are ours when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

All of heaven is yours and mine in Christ.  Jesus died, shed his blood, that you might be renewed to the place God intended you to be.  Believe Jesus.  Trust His Word, and you shall be saved eternally.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who We Are, and Our Blessings In Christ

Ephesians 1:1-5

Purpose of this study:

1. To discover the greatness of being in Christ;
2. To know the richness of His blessings;
3. To know and understand our purpose in Christ;
4. To better understand our calling.

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul the apostle while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Ephesians is known as one of the “prison epistles”, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The city of Ephesus was the seat of “Diana” worship (Acts 19 note verse 28).  A goddess worshipped by a superstitious people and profited on by business men and silversmiths.  The preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ caused a great loss of income for these men and their businesses when some of the worshippers of Diana, turned from idolatry to the true God (Acts 19:23-41).  These men would have done almost anything to take away Paul’s and other Christian’s right or freedom to speak.

This church is the same church that would receive a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ a few years later.  It can be read in the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter two, beginning with verse one.

At the time of Paul’s writing, approximately 55 A.D., the church of Ephesus is strong in faith and longing to grow in the Spirit of Christ.  In this letter Paul teaches them two main truths:  1) Who they are [their position] in Christ (chapters 1-3); and  2) How they are to live [their practice] (chapters 4-6).

Knowing who we are in Jesus is still important for Christians.  By knowing our position in Him we are strengthened in faith, and greatly encouraged to live for Him.

If we are to be the Christians God calls us to be we must be discovering the greatness and riches of being in Christ, our calling, the richness of His blessings, and the purpose of our calling.

The term “In Christ” or its equivalent is mentioned at least 34 times in the bood of Ephesians.  Fifteen of those being in the first chapter alone.  So we learn already that it is important for  us to recognize, to know who we are in Jesus Christ.

CALLED OUT AND FAITHFUL (vv. 1-2).  “Set apart”, “called out” and faithful.  Consecrated unto the Lord is the meaning of the word “Saint”.  The Christian has been called out of sin, set apart for the glory of God to be different from the world philosophies, and doctrines.

The Christian understands the problem of sin, and the human heart, as best as can be understood, and that is by the understanding which God gives by His Spirit, His word, and the life of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:10-11 spells it out for us; “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…”  We are called out of sin, unto faith in Jesus Christ; to live in the Spirit of Christ for the glory of the Father.

The “faithful” are the one’s who dedicated to the work and will of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  We glorify Him with a life given to living holy, separated, lives of witness.  The words we speak, our work ethic, our family lives, our church service and our worship of God alone is a witness that other’s will see or won’t see.  Unwavering faith in God, and His Word, and holy desire for His will to be done is shown in faithfulness.  Faithful in belief.  Faithful in and to His Word.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (KJV)

THE RICHES OF HIS BLESSING (v. 3;  2:6).  These blessings are not in the material things of this world, although we are told that all things are under His feet.  The blessings of Christ are spiritual, however, they are not limited.  “Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV).  I don’t know if we were meant to understand this whole all thing, but it sounds so full, awesome, and glorious.  Do we put enough emphasis on the spiritual things of Christ?  It doesn’t seem so in my life; and I really doubt it is in most Christian’s lives.

These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places; that is the place where Jesus is.  The blessings that Christian’s have in Christ Jesus cannot be attained through science, technology, knowledge, sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, rituals, liturgy, rites, religion, flagellation, wealth, or fame.  These blessings are all part of the grace given us who are in Christ Jesus through faith in Him by His death on the cross; His carrying our sins away; and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.  These are blessings of His grace.

In these spiritual blessings there is cleansing from sin, condemnation and guilt.  There is the personal relationship with holy God reserved only for those who have no sin debt.  We also have the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ and the Father; and in complete fellowship with Him.

OUR ELECTION AND OUR LIFESTYLE (v. 4).  If a king were to choose you as their son or daughter would you not find it a great privilege, and honor?  If the king were known as a wealthy, and good, and honorable man I think most of us would be honored by the prospect.  This is not likely to happen, of course, so don’t set your sites too high for this; except when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the King of kings.  He will rule with honor, power, and goodness; and He is wealthy.  He has chosen us in Himself.  We are getting into a topic of great controversy, and that is dealing with “Election” and “Predestination”.  There are some “scholars” and preachers/teachers who try to avoid these doctrines.   They are, however, in the Word of God, and need to be dealt with.  I am not sure that I can aid in this or not, but since they are here, I will say this.  When it comes to “Election” we have the clear teaching from the Word that those who are in Christ have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.  It is great to know that God chose me, and that He knew me long before I was ever conceived in the womb of my mother.  That is so of all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Dealing with this “Election” of God let us look further into Scripture – “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Exodus 33:19 (KJV).  As our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Judge… He has every right to choose whomever He will, to call to Himself.  Someone may ask, “Doesn’t mankind have a ‘freewill’?”  To that I would readily agree.  The very fact that God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden near the “Tree of Life” tells me that God gave them a choice, thus free will to choose to obey or disobey.  They chose the latter of the two, and sin, death, and misery came into the world.

So how do the teachings of Election, the Sovereignty of God, and man’s free will operate?  I don’t know that I have the answer to that, but these things I do know and believe; and that is that God says that He knew me before the foundation of the world and He chose me; He has enriched me with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and that according to His will, the free will of men, and  His Sovereignty somehow work together to fulfill His will and glory.

The greatness of this “Election” is that God chose me before I ever did anything good or bad.  His choosing me was not based on any merit of my own, but solely on the grace of God alone.  Since He chose me before doing anything good or bad, that only means that there is nothing I could do to be plucked from my Father’s hands:

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (KJV)

This does not give license to sin.  This does give us freedom from sin to live for Jesus Christ.  Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ we were bound by sin.  In Christ we are free to live for Him, and Him alone. This election is a calling to holiness (2:10;  John 15:16).

OUR PLACEMENT IN THE HEAVENLIES (v. 5).  By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross we are born into relationship with the Father (John 3:3;  1 Peter 1:23).  By that blood we are legally sons/children, however, there is something else that happens to those who come to faith in Jesus Christ.  We are placed into the position with Christ as legal heirs of all that is His.  That is the “Adoption”.

That is the predetermined plan of God.  That is the “predestinated” will of God.  In John 1:12 we are told this – “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them tht believe on His name.”  Some new translations place children where the KJV uses sons, and that seems to me to be a tragedy, for we miss the greater meaning.  With Christ as our Lord and Savior we are given the same rights as the Elder Son, who is Jesus.  In the Old Testament economy the elder son received a majority of the father’s estate, and was given the responsibility of caring for the parents when they became unable to care for themselves.

Now consider this; since we are born into the family shouldn’t we just receive a minority of the inheritance?  Jesus has paid the price of our sin, making it possible for us to be in God’s family in the first place; He is the One who deserves it all.  By grace He places us with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him.

There is an example of this given in the Law of Moses concerning inheritance, and the daughters of a man who had no sons, and would be left out of the inheritance except for the grace given.  Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-7) had five daughters, and he would be left out of inheriting any of the promised land, leaving nothing for any sons who might come along later.  Thus, in a since, they are placed in the position of an elder son, inheriting the land that would have been their father’s.

There is such a wealth at the hands and feet of every believer in Jesus Christ.  It is a wealth that is not of this world, however it is accessible in this world; and through it and by it we can live in victory.  The enemy has been defeated.  Let us rejoice.

We are “Predestinated” to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and that is to live in glory.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 (KJV)

We have yet to “tap into” the wonderful resources that are ours in Christ Jesus.  If we were the people of God in Christ that He has called us to be, walking in the Spirit, walking in the power of His word, there is no attack of the enemy which could stop us, and no human force could stand in our way; and He would be seen and glorified in many hearts and lives.  What God calls “Complete” is complete.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Put Off, Put On, Put Away

Ephesians 4:20-25

A few years ago a church of  which I was pastor had a Sunday afternoon Nursing Home ministry one Sunday of each month.  There were several who attended the service, and we sung hymns, and I usually preached a short message.

Almost every Sunday we were there I made an attempt to visit a moment with each one, shaking their hand, placing a hand on their hand or shoulder, even kneeling beside them so I could hear what they wanted to say.  One man in particular, which I remember well; and this shows the repulsive side of me; was a man who was pushed in a wheel chair to the service.  This man was unclean, he stank, and it was so bad the flies even noticed.  I tried to give him the same attention I gave all the others.

The first time I met him I am sure I pulled away, but quickly caught my action, and still spoke with him.  That must be a small bit of how God senses our stink of sin.  The odor of sin is more than He in His holiness, righteousness and justice can endure, but in His wondrous grace, and tender mercy He provides cleansing, and new clothing of righteousness which is the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Would God provide this cleansing, new clothing, and new life to continue living in that stench from which we have been delivered?  By no means.

OUTLINE –

I. THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST (v. 20).

II.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN” (vv. 21-23).

III.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN” (v. 24).

IV.  THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING (v. 25).

THE CHRISTIAN LEARNS CHRIST.  We already know the way we have left behind.  It is time we learn Christ.  This is not learning about Him, but LEARNING CHRIST.  This means a life, road, path of sin, stench, death and destruction is left behind (Ephesians 2:1).  It was a life that knew not that it was enslaved until the Light of Christ broke through.

It is good to learn about Jesus Christ, however the Christian LEARNS CHRIST.  That means we love Him more than anything else; we love and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.  That means that we walk with Him and He with us (John 14:21, 23-24).  That means to live His life so others see Him within us.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS OFF” THE “OLD MAN”.  When Jesus delivers us from that life of sins condemnation and its stench the old stinky clothes of sin must be removed; sometimes, however the Christian getting full of themselves rather than full of God, put the old clothes back on.  Delving into the sewage of our sins, the stench hangs around again, and we wonder why God seems so far away, and we have started getting into the old, former way of life.

The people of Ephesus were known to be worshippers of Diana, and this made the Christian life a little difficult, because all the Ephesians were almost expected to be Diana worshippers.    Every culture or society is difficult  for the Christian life.  We say things today like, “It’s hard to be a kid today”.  “Things are different in this day than they have ever been”.  I am one who begs to differ with that.  Someone has said, “The more things change; the more they remain the same”; and that looks right to me.  I read the Bible, and in the prophets I see people who are absolutely no different than the people of today are.  That is why we need the apostle’s inspired words today.

Put them off… that is not what you learned Christ.  That old life of self, sin, and its stench must go.  “Put off” that old garment spotted by the flesh.  Since the apostle is telling us to “put off” that surely means that it is  in our power, through the Spirit of Christ [Holy Spirit] to put it off.  We have the POWER of God to put off the evil.

Then there must be “renewing in the spirit of your mind” as well.  Before we were born of the Spirit of God our spirit was dead to God.  By the power of the Spirit of God our spirit was born of God; we are empowered to overcome all sin; to put off the garment of sin, and put on the “new man”.  The “putting off” comes before the “renewing the mind”.  The old stench of sin on those grave clothes blocks the fragrant scents of heaven and of God’s glorious grace. (Colossians 3:8-9).

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS ON” THE “NEW MAN”.  The “new man” is born of God to be like God in His holiness, and righteousness; through His Son.  We are told by Paul nine times within his epistles to “Put on” something…

1. In Romans 13:12 he writes, “Put on the armour of light…”
2. 1 Corinthians 15: 53 & 54 “Put on  incorruption… ‘put on immortality” twice in these two verses;
3. In Galations 3:27 “put on Christ…”;
4. Ephesians 4:24 “Put on the new man…”
5. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God…”
6. Colossians 3:10 “put on the new man…”
7. Colossians 3:12 “Put on… bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering”
8. Colossians 3:14 “Put on charity…”

We are to “put on” the life of Jesus Christ.

THE CHRISTIAN “PUTS AWAY” LYING.  Lying is a means of deception.  Deception should never be in the heart of the believer; the follower of Jesus Christ.  Deception’s intent is to cover the truth, and reveals nothing except that the one lying, deceiving cannot be trusted.  Deception is a tool of the enemy.

The truth is precious among friends, neighbors, and practiced among them.  Sometimes truth hurts, however, it is a means of great peace, and to great peace.  Truth is the way to the knowing of God, and all knowledge needed knowing.  Truth is the way to strong faith, and new, rewarding fellowship with one another and with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is the Truth in Person.

Those who do the truth come to Jesus.  “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  John 3:21 (KJV)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  John 3:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 12/30/08

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained. 

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Christian Soldier – Prepared For Battle

Ephesians 6:10-20

PURPOSE: Seeing how we are constantly bombarded with evil in society, which comes from the “evil one’; we Christians must be as soldiers, prepared for the battle of good against evil, the flesh against the Spirit, pride against humility, love against hate, and be equipped by the strength of the Lord, the power of His might and learning to put on, and keeping on the armor of God.

THE FINAL EVIDENCE OF THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE (vv. 5:18, 6:10).  “Finally” concludes the evidences of the filling of the Spirit which the apostle gives from verse eighteen of chapter five and runs through verse eighteen of chapter six.  I am saying that to put on the armor which we are commanded to put on, and the keeping on of that armor are evidences of the “Filling”

Let’s recap what has already been said of the “Filling of the Spirit”.  When you are filled with the Spirit of God:

1. You are controlled by the Spirit of God (v. 5:18);
2. Your life is a musical; your life is filled with song and thanksgiving (vv. 5:19-20);
3. You are submissive to others, or to one another (v. 5:21);
4. The Spirit filled wife is submissive to her husband (vv. 5:22-24);
5. The Spirit filled husband loves his wife sacrificially as “Christ died for the church” (vv. 5:25-31)
6. Spirit filled children will honor their parents (vv. 6:1-3);
7. Spirit filled parents will lovingly teach, discipline, and direct their children in the Lord (v. 4);
8. The Spirit filled laborer/worker/employee will be a diligent, faithful, hard working, unselfish, having high integrity, in the work for Christ sake (vv. 5-8);
9. The Spirit filled boss/manager/supervisor/owner will be well behaved toward his laborers/workers/employees: paying a better than average wage required by government; and see to it that all workers are treated fairly and equally.

The final three chapters of Ephesians are the practical aspects of what the apostle is teaching in the first three chapters.  These are surely practical, and show us how we ought to live personally, toward others, and this final one in the spiritual world as well; which many times, if not all the time; is manifest in the flesh and  blood of humanity.

We live in a desperately wicked world, and as Christians if we are not diligent and  vigilant we can find ourselves living a life of defeat.  Paul encourages us with these great words, Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  This reminds me of the prophet Zechariah’s inspired words, “Not by might nor by power; but by My Spirit, says the LORD” (Zechariah 4:6).  The only way for us to “be strong” effectively is in the Lord, and that happens as we obey Him and His Word.  The Spirit of God can only work in us for godly living as we obey the Word of God.  The disobedient child of God is not in the will of God, and out of fellowship, out of tune with the leading of the Spirit of God.  No disobedient Christian can faithfully follow the will of God, nor can the disobedient Christian be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might.

The only answer for that is seeking God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9), receiving that forgiveness; then, living faithfully to God, His Word and the direction of His Spirit.  Be strong… in the power of His might.

The Spirit filled Christian will be a good soldier of Christ.

THE COMMAND, THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BATTLE (vv. 11-13).  Imagine if you will you can see the apostle, possibly chained to a Roman soldier, as he is imprisoned in a cold, wet, dark, cell.  He has occassionally caught the look of the armor the soldiers wear, and God has given him this illustration of the Christian’s armor.  You can tell where Paul’s heart is.  It is on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the people who have and who are coming to Christ as their Lord and Savior.  The apostle wants, even desires that his brethren be made strong, protected, powerful, and sturdy in the fight of the faith, and for the faith.

In these verses Paul gives us the command to put on the whole armor of God.  He also gives us the equipment of the armor; which consist of, the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, battle shoes, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and for a weapon, the Sword of the Spirit.  Could there be one more weapon?  I believe there is and it is the weapon of prayer.  It is more powerful than an ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missle), or any other missile for that matter, because it is faster, and hits with much more impact, and only damages evil.

We are told that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against forces which we cannot see.  Evil is a force (within politics, religion, etc.) of our enemy [the devil] which works deceptively; destroying individuals, marriages, families, towns and cities, State and Federal governments, and the whole world; which the devil uses to try and overthrow the reign of God.  We can see God’s view on this in the Second Psalm:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalms 2:1-3 (KJV)

The battle rages everyday of our lives.  We cannot back down, nor lose hope.  Though the enemy has already been defeated on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ; he is still a foe that we must deal with in the Spirit of God.  His doom is sure.  His teeth have been shattered, and all he can really do is roar, and make a big stink.  However, the Christian must daily be filled with the Spirit, putting on the whole armor of God to stand, and stand firm against the onslaughts of Satan, that others may come to faith, grow more into the image of Christ our Lord, and be eternally with Him in glory.

The evil day is any time Satan’s attacks are worsening.  It seems to me that they are worsening everyday now.  It is actually speaking of when things in the world are at their worst.  With the economy crumbling and especially with many people’s investments in Wall Street, there is much fear, worry and dread.  May the Spirit filled Christian and her resting in Christ be the cause of peace in many more.  Whent he attacks seem unbearable, even in this can the Christian – Spirit filled – and fully armored, stand.  Praise God!

STANDING, FIGHTING WITH THE ARMOR IN THE STRENGTH AND MIGHT OF OUR LORD (vv. 14-17).  Some years ago there was a song I heard several times with the words, “We are walking into the enemies camp, and laying our weapons down; shedding our armor as we go, and leaving it on the ground.”  I believe this was the chorus of the song.  It did, however, catch my attention.  I think you can see what the writer of that song was saying.

This is not the time for Christians to be laying our armor, nor our weapons down at the feet of the enemy.  This is the time for us to gird up our loins with the belt of truth, taking all those things which hinder us and tucking them away so we can fight.  Why is it that some “Christian” hymnals have taken songs such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” out of the hymnal?  Some have changed to wording of songs so as not to offend the world.  Has any one figured out yet that the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the cross, burial and resurrection offends this world!?  (I guess it would be alright to view the previous sentence as an exclamation or a question).  To put on the belt of truth requires that the Christian spend time daily in the Word of God, hearing God through those things written by the prophets, lawgivers, singers, and historical writers.

The belt of truth is used as the means to hold other pieces of equipment in place.  With it you had a  place to carry the Sword.  The “belt of truth” for the Christian is the “truthfulness” continued, abiding living a committed, dedicated life to the battle for Christ, without hypocrisy, and devoted to victory.

The breastplate of righteousness described by the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE,

“The breastplate was usually a tough, sleeveless piece of leather or heavy material with animal horn or hoof pieces sewn on, covering th soldier’s full torso, protecting his heart and other vital organs.  Because righteousness, or holiness, is such a distinctive characteristic of God Himself, it is not hard to understand why that is the Christian’s chief protection against Satan and  his schemes.  As believers faithfully live in obedience to and communion with Jesus Christ, His own righteousness produces in them the practical, daily righteousness that becomes the spiritual breastplate.  Lack of holiness, on the other hand, leaves them vulnerable to the great enemy of their souls (cf. Is. 59:17;  2 Cor. 7:1;  1 Thess. 5:8).

THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p. 1815.

Righteousness has been put to our account, because of Jesus’s death on the cross, and in our place.  This breastplate protects the Christian from the frontal assaults of Satan as he bombards with accusation which has been forgiven, insults, defamation and lies.  When we are clothed in the righteousness and armored in the breastplate of righteousness we can rest assured in Christ Jesus and enter the battle with confidence that, “No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper” (Isaiah54:17a).

A good soldier will have on the proper shoe or boot for the journey, and the battles that will be faced.  The shoe will provide good traction, stable footing, a steady foundation.  The feet are our foundation for travelling.  The means of going, and carrying out the mission to which every soldier has been called.  The feet of the Christian soldier is to be ready to share the gospel wherever we may go.  The Christian soldier is assured of eternal salvation, and knows how to share his personal testimony, and give a clear presentation of the message of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15).  His feet are “shod” and, ready to go at a moments notice.

Though most modern troops/soldiers do not carry shields, each soldier knows the value of a shield.  If we have been watching some news clips on television news we have seen some of our soldiers walking beside the hum-vees using them as a shield from the enemy bullets.  We see them hunkered down behind walls as shields as well.  In many cases it would be foolish not to seek a shield for protection.  For the Christian we cannot exist without the shield of faith.

When the enemy come swinging his sword of evil, and shooting his “fiery darts” of hatred; the shield of faith is raised to turn them away.  Sometimes the blows of evil and darts of hate can be felt, but they fall harmlessly to the ground yielding to the raised “shield of faith”;

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”  Isaiah 59:19 (KJV)

The enemy will stop at nothing in order to make us stumble in our faith.  The “shield of faith” can only be effective when the “loins are girt about with truth”; when the “breastplate of righteousness” is in place, and our feet are “shod”, and prepared to preach the “foolishness” of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The helmet of salvation is protection for the head; for if you lose the head you lose your life.  The Roman soldier’s helmet protected him from a simple blow to the head, and from being knocked unconscious from a seemingly minor blow, disabling him from the battle.  When an individual is born again they receive this salvation, as though awakened out of sleep or from death with this helmet.  It is from our head that we have our senses of sight, smell, hearing and taste; and without the head we would have no sense of touch.  The total body is ruled by the head.

It is with salvation one’s eyes are opened to the things of God; that one can begin to tell a spiritual stench from spiritual fragrance; that one begins to hear God’s commands and do what He says, that one can taste the Word of God, and that it is good, in fact DELICIOUS.

The apostle now proceeds to the offensive equipment/weapons.  The first item is the Sword of the Spirit.  The Roman soldier’s main offensive weapon was his sword.  Once trained in its use he could wield his sword with great accuracy and power.

Notice, by the text that this Sword is the “Word of God”.  The power of God’s Spirit in our lives is in the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit of God, who resides, dwells in every believer speaks to and through the one who is familiar with the Word of God.  The Sword would literally be the Word of God present, and at work in the spirit filled soldier of Jesus Christ; not just words on onion paper, and bound in leather; but written in our hearts.  The writer of Hebrews likened the Word to a “two edged sword,” and as  “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The sword of God’s Word is not only powerful to its handler, but also to anyone within its thrust.

The preacher of God’s Word can stand confidently knowing God’s Word and God’s Spirit work together in power, doing the work for which God intends it.  He can stand with that Bible in his hands and know, that no matter what portion of Scripture he uses; a message from God is being proclaimed.  The “rightly divided” Word.

STANDING WITH GOD IN PRAYER (vv. 18-20).  Not too many see it, but it seems to me that prayer must be the second offensive weapon that we have in Christ.  I wrote earlier that it is more powerful and an ICBM and accomplishes far more in God’s glory.  What could be more important for the soldier of Christ than to kneel before His presence, tell him our hearts fears concerning the battle, receive His encouragements, corrections and rebukes, and also receive His instruction for fighting the battle ahead?

A lot of spiritual warfare is fought on our knees.  As a matter of fact no victory will be secured if prayer is not practiced.  In prayer we find and receive power to do the will of God; we are strengthened and encouraged for the battle(s) ahead.  In prayer we are made alert to the things that are hated by God.  The Christian soldier, when he spends time with his Commander-In-Chief Jesus Christ learns to become like Him.

We pray for others, one another, all saints.  Remember saints are simply called by God out of sin unto faith in Christ Jesus.  We pray “in the Spirit” by praying according to the Spirit and not our own desires.  The Spirit prays in us which glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

In this text Paul request prayer for himself as well.  We ought always pray for our pastors, teachers, and all who have spiritual authority in the church.  Paul’s request was threefold:

1. That he might experience freedom in his preaching;
2. That he might speak boldly;
3. That he might clearly present the “mystery of the gospel”.

If you want to know how to pray for your pastor, and others who are in authority, biblically, and in the Spirit; here is the answer.

We are all “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20a), therefore, we all need prayer to be bold in our witness, and preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).  “Put on the whole armor of God,” and wield the “sword of the Spirit” in power; trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to accomplish His work in you; and in His word.  His word will not return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Evidences Of The Filling Of The Spirit

PURPOSE: To show that  by the Christian’s yielding control of life to the Holy Spirit that Christian is filled with the Spirit, making life more heavenly on earth.

OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 5:18 THROUGH CHAPTER 6: 9:

I.  BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).

II.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).

III.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).

IV.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).

V.  SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).

BE CONTROLLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD (vv. 18-20).  From the beginning we must understand that every born again individual is indwelt by the Spirit of God.  He inhabits your body along with your spirit that has been born anew in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have witnessed the activities of a drunk who was mad drunk by drinking by alcoholic beverage or some other drug legal or illegal.  The man or woman now drunk has become boisterous, knows no fear, will do things they would not normally do when they were sober.  The individual made drunk by this foreign substance, is controlled by another substance which has robbed him of self control.

Paul knew what the excess of wine did to people.  I know what the excess of wine does to people, as I am sure you do as well.  Most drunks believe they can drive, maybe even fly, or do anything.  Paul uses the likeness here in a somewhat analogous way.  Drunks (for the most part) become drunk willingly and by drinking what they know will inebriate them.  The Holy Spirit filled believer becomes Spirit filled willingly.  The drunk knows no fear.  The Spirit filled believer is not fearful.  The drunk does things he/she would not normally do, if sober.  The Spirit filled Christian does things he/she would not normally do, such as one on one witnessing, preaching, serving others, teaching, giving, loving, and living with the fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) more practical things.

Now here is wheree this analogy breaks down.  The drunk has no self control, while the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Spirit filled Christian, gives each Christian self control.

In verses 19-20 (Colossians 3:15-17) we begin seeing what the life of the Spirit filled person is like.  He/She is in an attitude of worship.  He is at peace with God in his heart, always praising God.  Always a song in the heart and on the lips.  The Spirit filled/controlled Christian will have their lives filled with song and singing.  Always thankful, for all things, and identified in the Lord Jesus.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIVING IS A LIFE OF SUBMISSION (vv. 21-24).  Further evidence of Spirit controlled living is submission to one another.  Submission in this event is recognizing God ordained positions and being subject to those who are in those positions as God has designed and led.  For the man; a woman is far superior to the man at being a woman, and all that God has designed for her to be and do.  For the woman; the man is far superior to the woman at being a man, and all that God has designed for him to be and do.  Therefore, there is cause for us to submit to one another.

As members of the Body of Christ [the Church] our Lord and Savior, we are to be first submissive to Him, and if we are genuinely submitted to Hom we will also be to one another.  We will be accountable to each other in our walk with Christ.  When a brother or sister in Christ submits to another Christian it is motivation for Christian living unseen any other way.  We submit one to one, all to one, and one to all.  Husband to wife, wife to husband, and children to parents and parents to children; of course remembering that God has placed some in positions of authority.

Wives are to submit to their husbands [in the Lord] because God ordained it so in the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:11-13).  It was from Adam’s side which God created woman to be his helper.  Believe me ladies; we men need a lot of help. 8)  She is to submit to her husband as to the Lord and for His sake.

The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church…  The head is what keeps the rest functioning properly.  Without direction, vision and leadership from the head the collective body will fail.

In every organization, business, military endeavor, church and home there must be a head who will lead the way.  If all try to lead you have chaos.  Now, we understand as human beings, leadership that is dictatorial is not responsible leadership.  The head, in human affairs, will listen to advice and counsel from others, and make decisions accordingly.

Wives and their husbands should be able to sit down together and make plans and talk things through.  Generals who listen to good advice from privates would be wise Generals indeed.  In many cases it may be that listening to Privates, is part of the reason they made the promotion of General.

The husband is a wise husband, and wise head who will listen to his wife.  The husband as head of the wife and analogous to Christ should also see the picture of sacrifice.  Christ gave Himself for the Church.  If the husband is willing to sacrifice his life for his wife she will have no problem being submissive to him.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED HUSBANDS LOVE THEIR WIVES SACRIFICIALLY (vv. 25-33).  Holy Spirit filled husbands love their wives sacrificially.

As Jesus gave Himself for the Church in order to have a glorious bride the Spirit filled husband voluntarily gives himself to and for his wife.  She is a special and precious treasure.  He will see her as an extension of himself, a partner, a friend, a helper for life.  He cares for her well being; physically, financially and spiritually.  He loves her as he loves himself.  A man will give up almost anything to do what he wants to do – what he REALLY wants to do.  If the husband really loves his wife he will give up anything to show her that love.  Jesus gave up the glory of heaven for a time to show He loves His bride.

No longer under the care of his parents he loves his wife and becomes one with her for the rest  of their lives.  There is no one else by her that he sacrifices for, not even himself.  If husbands want reverence from their wives we must first love them sacrificially, and do so at the expense of our own comfort, pride, and well being.

Here is some other sacrifices husbands can make for their wife’s benefit:

  1. That favorite football team that’s playing the same time your wife wants you to go shopping with her; what will you do?
  2. Her favorite TV show is on the same time as yours; what will you do?
  3. Your home from work for the day, there are things you could be doing that you enjoy, the wife is working, and there are dirty clothes to be washed, and dishes in the kitchen sink; do you wait for her to come home and do them? or will you do them? instead of what you want to do?

The above mentioned things are not giving your life, but merely giving up your wants for what would be good for her.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHILDREN OBEY THEIR PARENTS (vv. 6:1-4).  Obedient children are a blessing to any home.  Children who love our Lord, and are Spirit filled are obedient and hold their parents in honor and respect.

The Christian home should reflect the likeness of Jesus.  Even though He is the Creator of the world He subjected Himself to Joseph and Mary in honor and obedience.  Children who are born again and are controlled by God’s Spirit are an excellent testimony of God’s power to change lives.  Children who live solely for self are not subject to anyone, not even God.  It is a sure sign, that if a child is disobedient and disrespectful to their parents, they are in the same condition with God.

The same can be said of the father who is abusive to his children, and neglects to hear their cries and hurts.  If the father provokes his children, or does not sacrificially love their mother, he is not Spirit filled or controlled.  The Spirit filled – controlled – father teaches, encourages, without downgrading his children.

The care and encouragement in the Lord is what our children need.

Living as Spirit filled Christians is about as close to heaven as we will come in this world; at least until Jesus Comes and makes all things right.  Our God has equipped us, and given us His Spirit to help us in the endeavor of living holy lives.  It is only possible as we yield our selfishness to the control and influence of His Spirit.  Yielding will bring harmony to the church, marriages, parents, and children, and in all realms of living.

The only way to Spirit filled/controlled living is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

SPIRIT CONTROLLED CHRISTIANS PRACTICE THEIR GOD GIVE VOCATION (6:5-9).  Remember the Submission part; about submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God… (v. 21).  It is for the place where we are employed as well; or the place where we employ employees – as owners or boss.  When we see ourselves as the servants of Jesus Christ it will not matter what our job, but in the power of God’s Spirit will do our job “as unto the Lord.“

The word servant used here is a reference to “slaves”.  Slavery was a dominant institution during the time of Paul’s writing.  According to some the word is used in referring to involuntary or voluntary slavery.  If this means “slave”, then how can it apply to Twenty first century America?  It applies in the factories, grocery stores, farms, churches, families, government offices, Law offices, Court buildings, Police headquarters, Fire stations, Ambulance services, Hospitals, Highway/Road departments, etc., thus, everyone is an employee somewhere.  An employee must appear at work at a set time, leaves at a set time, is paid on a set day, and must work according to the employers policies; or be fired.  When you are working for someone other than yourself, you are serving someone.  In what is called service oriented businesses; even if you are “working for yourself” you are still serving others.  You may not like the term, but you are a servant to that employment – a slave.

You can talk to just about any one who works for someone else and they will often begin telling you all, or at least some of the problems of their employer.  There are a lot of people who are dissatisfied with their place of employment.  It seems to be human nature to complain, however, it is not God’s nature.

Be obedient… unto Christ (v. 5), could form the entire sentence.  Even when the boss seems to be messing up, if we are to be faithful, Spirit filled Christians we comply with his directions – as long as his directions are not immoral, or physically harmful, and/or violate your conscience.

Spirit filled Christians are different in their labor than are the rest of the laborers.  Where others complain and slack off in their work the Spirit controlled believer is thankful, and works his/her best.  Her single purpose being to glorify Jesus Christ.

The very fact that more is said in these verse cold show who the majority of Christians were in this church.  These words to encourage them in their labor.  It is Jesus for whom we labor.  The Scriptures say nothing of a division of secular and sacred.  For the Spirit filled Christian all things are done, as unto Christ.

The Spirit filled Christian employee will not serve with eyeservice; seeking the approval of the boss only when he is watching.  This term eyeservice implies only doing the work; and maybe even with a little more effort; when being watched.  Many people who are of the world work one way when no one is watching and a completely other way when they know they are being watched.  To please the boss (while he is watching) could mean a promotion, they think.

It is the will of God that Christians do their work heartily as the servants of Christ .  The work of the Christian is not to please men, but to glorify their Lord.  Those Christians who do their work unto the Lord will recrive eternal rewards from Christ (Colossians 3:24).  This is not unto salvation but rewards which glorify our Lord.

Doing a job cheerfully can be contagious.  Others see you working, and enjoying the work of your Lord, and it begins to rub off on others.  What kind of witness is it to be sour and complaining about low pay, no benefits, poor work environment, and whatever other complaints there are?  I heard Elisabeth Elliot say, “If you aren’t doing the work you like, then, like the work you do.”  We  can only learn to like it by seeing that  our true Master is our lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verse 8 is the link to what has just been said.  If  there is anyone who has doubt that this idea of servanthood is not relevant for our day, Paul includes, “Whether he be bond or free”.  In other wards the principles given are for all Christians, and for all ages.

When we go to a place for employment we are subjecting ourselves to their rule of practice and operation.  We voluntarily become a bond-slave to our employer with the understanding we are being  paid for what we do, and at an agreed upon wage.  However, if we expect to be paid, the employer expects good work.

The good work that Christian employee does, along with a joyful and giving attitude, is a witness to everyone around, including the boss.  God promises reward to those who serve the Lord in this way.

When it is said and done we are all bond-slaves to someone or something.  There are some who are slaves to sin and obey its every craving and desire.  The Christian, however, is free from sin, and is a bond-slave to Christ, because he was redeemed with the purchase price of the shed blood of Jesus (Romans 6:14-18).

The Christianity part does not lay on the employee alone; that is the responsibility of every Christian employee and employer.  We look now at the duties of the Christian employer, Business owner, Supervisor, Boss; let’s also keep in mind 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  We are all subjects of Christ.

The “master”  is to do service to the servant, “as unto the Lord”.  Paying a wage that enables the servant to have a life supporting his family and providing for their health needs.  This is speaking of the Christian employer.

For the “master” he is to do it as a servant of Christ.  Not beating, nor threatening, but encouraging.  The “master” realizing that he too has a Master “in heaven”.

The Master in heaven has no “respect of persons”, but every one of His children are equal in His sight; receiving from Him according to their need.  The master/employer should  treat his employees equally according to their needs and abilities.

When Christians are filled with the Spirit they will be the best employees an employer can find, for they see that they are servants.  Servants not of their employer, but of Christ, who is Master over all.

The Christian [Spirit controlled] employer will give the best of care to his employees, because he realizes he has a Master, and when the employees are respected and blessed by their employer they will give more of themselves without complaining.

Wouldn’t it be great if employers were always on the look out for Christian employees because every Christian  who cam to work for them was a hard and joyous worker?

Wouldn’t it be great if the Christian employer was gracious and took care of his employees, and his employees loved him and because of his generosity worked their best for him?

We give evidences of the filling of the Spirit of God by these things which the apostle has written.  Husbands and wives submitting to one another, respecting one another’s place filled by God;  Children loving and respecting their parents, obeying them and parents filled with the Spirit correcting their children with love;  Servants/Employees be submitted to their bosses; Christian employers/bosses/business owners submitted to the servant.  As Christians we must remember we are to be submitted one to another.  See the other as better than ourselves and seek others well being.  This is a practicing, active, living Christianity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus, The Commandments and Tradition

In verses one and two the scribes and Pharisees had travelled to Galilee from Jerusalem to confront Jesus with the issue of eating meals with “unwashed hands”.  They would suddenly find themselves confronted by the  holy God in person Jesus the Christ.

It is something that happens, of which they seem very slow to learn.  You don’t ask Jesus questions without questions being asked by Him.  In doing this Jesus knew their motives.  It was evident by the way they lived their lives and by the way they asked the questions. 

These hypocrites concerned over the absence of unwashed hands before eating a meal, had no problem whatsoever deceiving their  parents, and of that is what Jesus speaks in verses three and four:

“But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” Matthew 15: 3-4(KJV).

The matter of washing hands was a man made tradition.  The only basis for it was the ceremonial cleansing/washing of the hands and feet of the priests of Exodus 30, and the brazen laver.  There is nothing concerning washing of hands before a meal for the average Hebrew man or woman.

The fifth commandment, however, gives us clear command, and guidance concerning our parents; and that is that we are to honor them.

These so called law keepers, legalists is what they were; and especially when it came to Jesus, tricked, deceived and manipulated their wealth – little or much – so that when a parent had a need the son could say, “I have dedicated all I have to God”.  In saying that they were saying to their parents that since it was dedicated to God it could not be used to help them out.  This was not honoring to their parents.  God is not pleased with such deception, manipulation, and just plain ole, outright SIN.

Hear the indictment Jesus brings against them:

“But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”  Matthew 15:5-6 (KJV)

By their tradition they condemn a man and his followers for not washing their hands before they eat a meal.  By the word of God, men are condemned for not washing in the eternal Word of God (Ephesians 5:26).

It was their tradition which condemned Jesus for eating with unwashed hands; and it was their tradition that let them withhold what was due to their parents.  Neither were righteous; and neither stood the muster before the Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Husbands in Marriage

What is the role of the husband within the marriage?  We have had an article a couple of weeks ago which dealt with the wife’s submission to her husband, and his to her.  I fear that there are many men who think that the responsibility for keeping the marriage fresh, vital, and romantic is all the wife’s responsibility.

That  could never be more incorrect.  The love in the marriage is the man’s responsibility.  Where do I get that?

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…”  Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV).

The Bible makes it clearly the husbands place to love the wife.  Some of you over tuned with testosterone males need to realize that this “Love” is not about sex.  It is about genuine love.  The love which Jesus Christ showed by the greatest display of love ever given.  That was His death on the cross for the sins of the world.  There can be nothing more manly, heroic, chivalrous, than sacrificing yourself for your wife.

Now, I am getting where it hits home with myself.  I cannot say that I am this way, but I want to tell you that I am learning and growing.  I want to ask the real men who are reading this to begin doing this today.

My wife has been the picture of submission to me.  When our children were at home we would take our family vacations at times going camping, cooking over an open fire, without the modern day camp provisions, etc., and my wife hated camping this way.  She would go along without complaint, she would cook over that fire, and never complain.  She did it for me and the kids.  I have learned from that

How much should a husband love His wife?  Just as much as Jesus did the church in giving His life for her salvation.

You want to show your wife the love that she needs.  Let her choose where you go to eat next time.  Let her choose the movie you watch.  Let her choose where you go on your next vacation.  When you have that very important football game on, you only have one TV, and there is something on she wants to watch; let her watch, and watch it with her.  She likes that time you take to spend with only her.  The next time you have a hunting trip planned, and something comes up she wants to do with the family; you have the idea, go with her and enjoy her and her joy.

“Husbands, love your wife”  There is no command for the wife to love her husband, but she will when you show that form of sacrificial love which was shown us in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

Children and Your Marriage

There are many Christian couples who were married and expected to have children and found out after a few years or so that they were unable to have children.  The children are often seen as a blessing to the marriage and children making a house a home.  To those married couples who have longed to have children, but cannot, I can only say one thing, and that is the blessing of children is from the Lord, and He must have something different in mind for you.  I do not mean that to be a cold or harsh statement, but He may have a different blessing for you, so that you can bless children who need help or parents.

My intention is not to deal with having children in marriage, but that in most marriages children do come along as God’s blessing on us.  Most people who have children will realize this some time as the child or children grow, and that is this; these children will put your marriage to the test.  It is for that purpose I write this, and to encourage every young couple to be sure to devote time to their marriage.

Some young couples with children will probably be angered by what I am about to tell you, but it needs to be said.  When that boy or girl gets to two years or so they will start testing your marriage.  Couples need to nourish that marriage at every opportunity they have.  Your marriage made strong through your commitment to one another, your devotion to one another, your love for one another is the greatest thing, other than Jesus and the gospel, that you can give that child. 

By the time a child is five years or so, they will begin to realize that they can cause Mom and Dad a little trouble by dividing them, in matters of discipline, or guidance.  That is why before you have children you need to be sure that you agree on the matters of discipline and direction for your child.  If you have not, and that child sees Mom disagreeing with Dad in a matter of discipline, then that child will know how to get his/her way.  Do not disagree over disciplinary issues in the presence of your children.

In one of the churches God gave me the joy of serving as pastor, there was a woman who told of an event in their home where their daughter tried to divide her Mom and Dad over an issue of discipline.  The daughter did not like the way Dad had disciplined her, and went to her Mom, and said, “Aren’t you going to take my side on this?”, to which Mom said, “I have know him longer than I have you”.  That made an excellent point. 

The home is built around a strong, solid, Biblical marriage with Jesus Christ at its center.  If the marriage is not built according to Biblical principles and on the couples love for Christ Jesus and one another, that is a home that will not stand.  Our children will grow up and leave home.  That is how it should be.  That is how it is supposed to be.  If you do not have a strong marriage while the children are at home, then you are going to have problems after they are gone.

The best thing you as a man can give your children is letting them see you love their mother, and that nothing they say or do is going to divide you. 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…”  Ephesians 5:25.

“Nevertheless let each one of you in  particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)

Husbands and wives must both work at nourishing that marriage, even in the midst of a housefull of children.  If your home is built around the children, that marriage is most certainly doomed for failure.

Submission

With our third installment of TWO FOR TUESDAY concerning marriage I want to invite your opinion and ask for your help as well.  This would be much more interesting if we could get some “Good Marriage” articles written by some of our readers.  Just write an article about someone you know who has been married 25 years or more whose marriage has been an inspiration to you.  I will give you credit for the article and a link to your site when I choose to use it.  You may email your article to isaiah4031(at)mo-net(dot)com. and if I choose to use it; it will be posted on the next available Tuesday.  Look forward to hearing from you.

Submission

Many times we hear this phrase using the word “Submission”, and in our society of this day it does sound like a word of bondage.  Is it bondage?  Is there something we have been missing?  In answer to the first question it is bondage when it is perceived the wrong way.  It is freedom for a marriage when it is seen in light of its true meaning.  So, yes, there is something that has also been missing.

From the Bible we see Paul the apostle writing this:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”  Ephesians 5:21-24 (KJV).

Submission is a two fold deal.  The husband must submit to his wife in the sense of being his only one.  His only wife.  His only lover.  His only woman.  He submits to her on those grounds.  He submits to her as being equally created in the image of God human being.  He submits to her dreams for their marriage, their home, their children.  To the husband his wife is his chief joy for life, other than Jesus Christ.

Men, that means that cars, boats, guns, football games, baseball games, boxing matches, hunting, fishing, camping – you get the idea – takes a back seat to your wife.  She is more precious than those things.  She wants and needs your love (this does not necessarily include sex), attention, and time.  We represent Jesus Christ and His love for the church.  How does He love His bride [the church]?  He gave His life for her.

Wives submission for you is to cherish your husband, commending him before his peers, encouraging him in his work and ministry, and like Sarah of old even seeing Abraham as lord (Genesis 18:12), even when she believed they would have no children.  It was an endearing term for Sarah, but also a term of respect.  That only means that in submission the wife is to respect her husband, his strengths, abilities, and his person.  In submission to him the wife should also see her husband as an equal of the creation of God’s image.  The wife should see her husband as the chief object of her affection, love, and life; after her love for Jesus Christ.

Both the husband and wife gave vows to one another; something like this;  I promise to love, honor and cherish you; in sickness and in health, in wealth or in poverty…, as long as we both shall live.  Marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and the church.  Let us who know the Savior be mirror images of Him in our individual lives and in our marriages.