Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Down the Stretch

Things have been quiet here over the last week, but I didn't want to let another day go without at least letting you know why. The answer is simple: finals week. Though I don't have a bunch of exams (just one, in fact, that I'll take today), I do have my share of papers to write, the queen of which is an enormous exegetical commentary on Ephesians 1:3-14. It's totally monopolizing my time, and so that's why I don't have anything more substantive just yet. Pray for me. Hopefully we'll be able to continue the series on the Jehovah's Witnesses on Friday.

Maybe I'll leave you with some of what I've been working on in Ephesians. Here's how Eph 1:3-14 fits within the context of the book:

Paul’s purpose in writing to the church in Ephesus is to make known to them their exalted position and identity in Christ as His body, the Church. He labors to help them understand the spiritual blessings they enjoy because of God’s grace to them in Jesus Christ. Then, on the basis of this glorious calling, knowing themselves accepted by God, Paul exhorts them (Eph 4:1) to walk in a manner worthy of that calling. Because they have been granted new life in Christ positionally speaking, they must now live out their new life in Christ practically speaking. They must bring their conduct into conformity with their calling.

As Paul contemplates what it means to be Christ’s body, the implications of having one’s identity so united with and rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ, and all of the glories of salvation and redemption, he explodes into praise and blessing, giving us one of the most beautiful benedictions in all of Scripture, recorded in Eph 1:3–14. Very similar to Hebrew praise poetry, 1:3 contains a call to praise (“Blessed be”) and the cause for praise (“who has blessed us”). Thus in Eph 1:3 Paul declares that God is to be blessed for the gracious blessings He pours out upon believers in Christ. Then, in Eph 1:4–14 he
outlines those blessings according to the work of each Person of the Trinity: the election of the Father (Eph 1:4–6), the redemption of the Son (Eph 1:7–12), and the seal of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13–14). This opening eulogy lays the foundation, then, for the first three chapters in which Paul aims to overwhelm the Ephesians with an accurate picture of their identity as the Church.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places
in Christ.
- Ephesians 1:3 -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Can't Staple Fruit to the Tree

Christ is not merely after people who aren't anxious. He's after people who aren't anxious because of how they trust so surely in Him as their Rock.

He is not after merely humble or devout people. He's after people who are humble and devout because they know the sweetness of knowing Him.

He is not after merely pure and holy people. He's after people who are pure and holy because they know the pleasure to be had from sin doesn't hold a candle to the pleasure to be had in seeing and knowing and following Him.

There are no shortcuts in the Christian life. Jesus gets no glory when we try to staple fruit to the tree. He gets glory when obedience is compelled by His own delightfulness, beauty, and pleasantness. When that happens, then the Holy Spirit -- and not we ourselves in our flesh -- is producing His fruit in us.