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Where we have been

Through out the first two chapters of Ephesians, we have been seeing Paul go back and forth between what we are in Christ and what we were before Christ.

1 v. 3-14 reminds us of who we are in Christ

1 v.15-17 Paul hopes for us to understand more deeply who we are in Christ and what his desire for us is.

1 v. 18-23 he shows us this power that will help us understand and know Him better, which is the same power that exalts Christ.

2 v. 1-4 reminds us of who we were before Christ, using phrases and words, such as dead, passions of our flesh and children of wrath.

2 v. 4-10 shows us the work that God did and all things we now take part in because of being in Christ.

2 v. 11-12 calls us to remember who we were before Christ, as we were once in the flesh, separated, alienated, strangers, hopeless and without God.

2 v. 13-22 shows us because of Christ, what we are now. We were once far off and now brought close. We were once hostile and now we have peace. We are now one with Him, with the Spirit of God living in us, joining us to the family of God in both heaven and earth. We are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens.

Ephesians 1-2

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Peace Established. Hostility Destroyed.

We need to remember previous verses:

1 v.3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

1 v.13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

2 v.1-12 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

When reading through Ephesians there are some important words that come up. Specifically in this case, the word “but”. This is now the second time it has come up and if we look back in vs.4 we will see how important it is. Imagine, if that “but” was not there. And that was it. What if there was no “But God” in Ephesians?

We have remember who we once were before Christ. We should never forget but now that we are in Christ, we have been brought near to Him. We were once separated, strangers, and alienated from the one who cares for us and is in control of all things. But for those who have received Christ, we have been brought close to him. Important thing to see is that the reason we have been brought near is not because of anything we have done or will do. It is not because of a priest, a prayer, communion, nothing. It was only because of Christ and His blood that was poured out on the cross. That’s it! Only the blood of Jesus can bring us close.

More specifically it says that Christ was our peace and is our peace. Those who are far from God are not at peace with God and will truly never have peace unless they are brought close to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ became man so that He would proved and be the peace between God and man. This also made those of us who are close to God, through the blood of Christ, one with God and broke down any barriers that were dividing us from God and creating hostility. So, when Christ provided peace between man and God, He also provided a way to become one with Him. When God looks at those who have come close, He sees the blood of His Son, which kills any hostility and brings true peace.

This peace that Jesus brought was not just for a certain people group, or a certain class of people. This peace is meant for all who are close and all who are far. People that could be close could be those who are under the preaching of the Word every week and active in their church but yet have never been brought close to God, through the blood of Jesus Christ. Those who are far off could be someone who knows nothing about God and has no interested in knowing about Him. Some could be far off who were once appeared close to God but yet as life moved on and trials came, they are now far from Him. Many of us could easily think of people in both these categories. Those who are close, yet are far off. Those who are far off, yet have know thought or knowledge of Him. And those who were once close, but yet are now very far, proving they were never truly close to begin with.

We have been brought close to God, through His Son, who provided peace and destroyed the hostility between God and man, and He is inviting those who are close and those who are far away to truly come near and receive peace.

My mind wanders and aches for those who I know that are far. Bring them to yourself O God of Peace!

We need to remember 1 v. 13-14 when reading 2 v. 18. Because being drawn close, the peace, being one with Christ, we now have access by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Son and what He did for us, to worship and praise God for what He has done, for who He is, and for what He is going to do for rest of our human lives and also the rest of eternity!

Ephesians 2:13-18 ESV

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Remember my past…

We need to remember the verses before:

2 v.1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I don’t like dwelling on the past when it comes to my life. Even though there was a lot of great things that happened and majority of my life was good and pleasurable. But for some reason I am easily reminded of the hurt and pain that happened to me and the hurt and pain I caused in others. The moments of deceit and and evil things I did when no was around. Out of all that was “bad”, the worst is the broken relationships with people I knew throughout life. Not all of what went wrong in the different friendships I had was 100% my fault, but for some reason it’s hard not to think like that. The question, what if?, always resonates through my head.

As a follower of Christ, we are called to remember and not forget our past and where we came from. Ultimately, for the purpose of pushing and making us rely more on Christ. This remembering should bring us to the time before Christ or times where we were wandering from Him. Before Christ we were alienated from the promises of God. We were strangers in God’s land. We had no direction, no hope, and even if we thought we did, we did not have God, thus life was artificial and the sustenance of life, left us empty.

I have felt like a stranger before. Mostly in the hockey arena, walking into a dressing room full of guys that I did not know and they did not know me. Even better, was when it was a smaller dressing room and not a lot of space left for me to put my stuff down and change. Everyone forgets how to speak and they all just look at me and I am looking at them. Ultimately, this is reminding me to remember life without Christ. Alienated, a stranger, having no hope, and totally without God while living and satisfying the flesh by the desires of this world.

If we look back over what we have already read, we can see another glimpse of what we were like before Christ. We were alienated, a stranger, had no hope, without God, against God, orphaned, un-forgiven, un-redeemed, Satan’s, headed for destruction, blind, poor, dead and a child of wrath.

O how lost we were before we gained Christ! O how lost we would be if we gained the world and all that is in it! A slave of sin we once were, now a slave of God!

Ephesians 2:11-13

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Walking anew…

Before getting to far I have to go back and remind myself of vs. 4 “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” and vs. 7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood.”

Even though He chose me and I have redemption through Him, I was still dead in my sin. I wanted nothing to do with Him. I was drowning and in need of someone to save me but I did not want to be saved, but yet He still saved me by dying for me! He chose me and died for me even while rejecting and spitting in His face! How glorious is our God and King!

He has brought me to himself and saved and changed me into a new creation. I have been changed and will continue to change. I am no longer a slave to sin in which I no longer need to walk in. I once walked in sin and was dead, but now I am alive and no longer have to follow the world, but follow Christ. The world and all that is in it; Satan, passion of the flesh, mind and body. I am no longer like the rest of mankind… I am no longer like the rest of mankind? When I look at my life is that true? The things I say, do and see, are they different? If I am different, I won’t get along with the world because I can’t go a long with what the world wants me to do, say or see… am I different? I know I have been saved and changed, but has that permeated through out my entire life? May I strive to walk anew, not as I once walked.

Ephesians 2:1-3

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Life as a Christian

When it comes to this life on Earth, do people know me for my faith in Jesus Christ and my love toward others? If they do know me for this, what does it look like? Is it a faith in Christ that does not crumble in times of distress, produces love for others, sacrifice instead of selfishness, and holiness over comfort? Or does it something that sits on a shelf every week, says that I am better than you, instead of love, its legalistic and prideful?

This thinking should change how I pray about being a follower of Jesus Christ. I need to always be thankful for Christ saving me, a sinner. Pursuing wisdom and knowing Him and being known by Him through the power of the Spirit of God that lives in me. Keeping in mind that I fail, we all fail, but understand the Hope to which I have been called and the inheritance that awaits! Glorious day! The same power that God worked in Jesus Christ, which raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His Father’s right hand, is the same power that is coming towards me and those who believe in Him for Salvation. And the ultimate result of this Power of God has “put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 1:15-23

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In Christ…

In Christ, I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

In Christ, I was chosen before the foundation of the world to be made holy and blameless before God.

In Christ, I was adopted as a son for the purposed of doing His will.

In Christ, I have been redeemed through His blood, which forgives my sin, by His grace, so that in the fullness of time, all things in Him will be united.

In Christ, I have an inheritance, which was predestined by Him, so that, I who hope in Him with praise His glory.

In Christ, I am sealed by the Holy Spirit when I believed in the Truth, the Gospel, to which guarantees our inheritance.

Ephesians 1:3-14

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8 Clear Signs of a Compromising Church

1. In the confessing church, Christ is over culture. The compromising churchaccommodates Christ to culture. The confessing church believes Jesus is Lord over all creation. Hence, they attempt to reflect Christ in every area of culture. The compromising church has a posture of accommodation. Hence, the Christ they believe in and preach is shaped by the culture they live in.

2. The confessing church holds fast to the Word of God in spite of opposition. The compromising church alters the Word of God because of opposition. Soon in America it is quite possible that it will be illegal to preach from certain passages of the Bible dealing with human sexuality. Because of this, many will alter their theology to fit the culture while the confessing church will preach the Word of God in spite of governmental fines, penalties, lawsuits and even serving time in jail.

3. The confessing church puts the kingdom of God above their culture and ethnicity. The compromising church puts their ethnicity before the kingdom of God. The German Church during the Nazi era put nationalism and their Aryan heritage above the Word of God. Many pastors and believers today view the Scriptures more through the lens of their ethnicity and national heritage than through a proper exegesis of Scripture.

When, and if, our nation officially makes biblical Christianity illegal, we will soon see who will be the confessors and who will be the compromisers. In many ways, practicing biblical Christianity is already illegal when it comes to believers attempting to walk out their faith in the marketplace because private Christian-owned businesses do not have the same level of protection today as do local churches.

4. The confessing church alters their methods of preaching. The compromisingchurch alters the message they preach. While it is wise and biblical for the body of Christ to be relevant to culture regarding the preaching of the gospel, it should never put being relevant above being faithful. The compromising church puts being relevant before biblical faithfulness. Hence, they not only change the method of preaching but also the message they preach.

5. The confessing church is a remnant in the minority of church and state. The compromising church wants to be in the mainstream of both church and state.  The confessing church endures long seasons of feeling like aliens and strangers in their own communities. The compromising church wants to be in the mainstream of culture more than living in the divine flow of God’s favor and presence.

6. The confessing church is penalized by the state government. The compromisingchurch is applauded by the state government. While the confessing church is hunted down and ostracized by the humanistic state, the compromising church is celebrated by the far-left radicals and used as a model of how church and state should function together.

7. The confessing church prophetically speaks truth to power. The compromisingchurch conforms to those in power. The confessing church knows that at various seasons in their existence they will not gain a lot of converts and/or experience societal transformation. The best they can do is to maintain a prophetic witness to the cultural elites and surrounding communities. Since the compromising church enjoys the power and prestige the elites grant them, they always conform rather than confront.

8. The confessing church desires the praise of God. The compromising churchdesires the praise of men. Ultimately at the end of the day it boils down to this: Are we living for the praise of men or the praise of God? If things don’t change in the coming days, we will be shocked at how many megachurches, mid-size churches and smaller churches compromise the word of God so they could continue to keep their doors open.

At some point we will all have to stand the ultimate test, which is whether we desire God more than we love our lives, or whether we love our pleasures, conveniences and material goods more than God. Truly, if we confess Christ before men He will confess us before His Father in heaven, but if we deny Him before men He will deny us before His Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/46229-8-clear-signs-of-a-compromising-church?showall=&start=2

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Sola Scriptura ~ Sola Fide

Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are the two most fundamental marks of the Evangelical church. These two marks are all but destroyed in North America today. For some reason we have decided to all but abandon these marks. All churches in North America are not guilty of this but it seems, especially in my generation, that a lot of churches are disregarding these two crucial marks of  the Church. I praise God for the churches that have not bee persuaded by the culture to bow the knee of compromise. R.C Sproul talks about these two crucial issues in his book, What is the Church?:

“The two major points of unity in historic and classical Evangelicalism were two key solas of the Reformation— sola scriptura and sola fide. Sola scriptura reflects the fact that all the different Protestant parties believed that the Bible was the final authority for matters of faith and practice. They all believed in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. And second, they agreed on the cardinal issue of the sixteenth century, namely, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, that is, sola fide. Wherever else they differed (such as over the sacraments and other doctrines), at least they had the cement of what they did hold in common that bound Protestants together.”

Sproul also adds something said by Martin Luther as well:
“Toward the end of his life, Luther observed that the light of the gospel had broken through in his day and lightened the darkness. Remember the motto of the Reformation: Post tenebras lux, that is, “After darkness, light.” Luther said that it was inevitable that before long, the truth of the gospel would be hidden once more in obscurity. The reason he gave was that where the gospel is preached, it divides and controversy ensues .”

Sproul goes onto to talk about peace, which is something my generation seems to be obsessed with but forgets this too easily:
“People don’t want ongoing controversy. We want peace. The message of the false prophets of Israel was one of peace. But their peace was an illusion . They preached peace when there was no peace, or what Luther called a carnal peace. Luther said that when the gospel is preached with passion and with accuracy, it does not bring peace. In fact, our Lord Himself said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10: 34). That does not mean that we are called to use weapons of military combat to further the extension of the kingdom. We are to be peacemakers. We are to be tolerant, kind, and patient people. But if you look at the record of history, the true prophets of Israel contended for the truth, and every time they did, controversy emerged. Probably no human being has engendered as much controversy as Jesus Christ did. People were galvanized either for Him or against Him. The record of the Apostolic church in the book of Acts is the record of ongoing and unabated controversy. The controversy focused on the preaching of the gospel. So controversial was the preaching of the gospel that the religious establishment of the Jewish community forbade the Apostles from preaching the gospel at all because it was controversial and because it divided people. In our generation we’ve been told that the highest virtue is peace. We’ve lived in the age of the atomic bomb. We’ve seen widespread warfare. We’re tired of disputes , tired of people fighting and killing each other. It is by God’s grace that churches aren’t burning people at the stake or putting them on torture racks as was done in earlier centuries . We’ve learned to coexist with people with whom we disagree. We value that peace. But I’m afraid the danger is that we value it so much that we’re willing to obscure the gospel itself. We have to be careful of speaking about unity when we really don’t have it. At times I think we believe we have more unity than we actually have.”

R.C Sproul ~ What is the Church?

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Vocal Few: Canada Living Room Tour – Summer 2014

One of my favorite bands (Classic Crime) lead singer’s side project (with his wife), “Vocal Few”  are looking for family rooms or basements to perform live intimate concerts to about 40 to 50 fans. But they are only wanting Canadian homes eh! Check out the details here: Canada Living Room Tour – Summer 2014.

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Tim Challies: A Cost Of All This Preaching

I am one of those New Calvinists, I guess, which means I am part of a crowd that values preaching, and expository preaching in particular. Of course I was an Old Calvinist before I was a New one and was raised in a tradition that valued preaching just as highly. For my whole life I’ve been around preachers and preaching.

I spent a good bit of time last week pondering the nature of God’s Word and thinking specifically about Paul’s mandate to Timothy: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” That’s a passage about preaching, but it’s also a passage about just plain reading the Bible out loud. It intrigued me.

I travel a fair bit these days and often enjoy worshiping in other churches, and here is something I’ve noticed: We tend to be far more committed to the second part of that command than to the first. We love our preaching, but what about the public reading of Scripture? Most churches I visit will read the Bible immediately prior to the sermon, and some will read a text in sections during the sermon, but few just dedicate themselves to reading the Bible aloud. Conferences, too, are known for their preaching, but not necessarily for their emphasis on reading the Bible. Last week I found myself wondering why this is. I wonder if our emphasis on preaching has inadvertently nudged it out.

Paul’s command to Timothy that he devote himself to the public reading of Scripture can be better understood by looking to 2 Timothy 3 where Paul speaks about the nature of God’s Word. When we understand what God’s Word is and does, we better understand why we ought to read it. Paul tells Timothy that the Scriptures are “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Paul isn’t talking about the Scriptures as they are preached here—not yet—but the Scriptures as they are, as they are read, as they are understood, as they are absorbed by the Christian.

Paul uses two groups of two words to explain how the Bible functions and what it accomplishes. The Bible is profitable for teaching and reproof. These are words related to doctrine, to the positive teaching of truth and to the correcting of falsehood. The Bible teaches us truth and it convicts us of error. The Bible is also profitable for correction and for training in righteousness. These are words related to living, to the correction of unrighteous ways of living and instruction in godliness. The Bible teaches us how to live and convicts us of sinful habits and patterns.

And because it does all of these things it completes us, it grows us in Christian maturity and prepares us to do those good things—those good works—that God means for us to do. It prepares us to do good things that are done not to make us look great, but to make ourselves diminish so that God can increase all the more.

Once more, the Bible does not need to be preached in order to do this. It just needs to be read. God’s Word alone has the power to do this because those words have been breathed out by God; in that way it has a supernatural power no other words can have. Preaching has a role, to be sure, but preaching only does what it does because the Bible is what it is. God allows us to preach and even tells us to preach, but he does not need preaching in order to change us and mature us. The Bible alone can do this. The Bible is its own preacher, its own counselor, its own teacher, its own evangelist. If we have de-emphasized the public reading of the Bible because of our love for preaching, the solution is not to diminish preaching, but to re-emphasize the reading.

So here’s the question: Do you commit yourself to the public reading of Scripture? Do you read it in your church, even if you cannot explain it at the time? Do you read it in your home, with your family, even if you do not have a lot of opportunity to explain and apply it? If the Bible is so powerful, and if the Bible accomplishes so much, it would be ridiculous not to read it, not to read it faithfully and consistently and expectantly.

And here’s another question: What do you expect when someone reads the Bible to you? Do you expect that it will teach and train you? Do you expect that it will admonish and correct you? Do you expect that as the Bible is read, God himself will speak to you and convict you of sin and unrighteousness and teach you about himself and how to live in a way that honors him? You should expect nothing less.

Tim Challies is a Canadian pastor and author serving at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario.

Check out his website for thought provoking articles: www.challies.com

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