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Wednesday, June 05 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: We have come to the concluding study of the Book of Ephesians. It has been a journey filled with the revelation of the mysteries of the Father’s love for and grace towards us. Today’s study will be split in two. The first part will be about Tychicus and the other the elements of Paul’s closing prayers

21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Ephesians 6:21–24 ESV)

PART I – TYCHICUS – BELOVED & FAITHFUL (Verses 21 & 22)

In verses 21 and 22, Paul introduces us to a man named Tychicus, who was delivering his letter to the Ephesians. He describes Tychicus as both a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord. This was not the only time he described him as such. See what Colossians 4:7 says:

"As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information." Emphasis mine

A Beloved Brother: Tychicus was not just a spiritual brother, but a beloved brother. The word beloved is a word of endearment. It is someone that you love, but it also someone that you are deeply devoted to. You don’t call everybody "beloved." Beloved means they have struck something in your heart. There is a common cord - a bond of love, and a bond of faith that draws you together.

A Faithful Minister: Not only was he a beloved brother, he was a faithful minister. The word for "faithful" used here is pistos. It is the word that means somebody who can be depended upon. When you’ve got somebody who loves God like you do, somebody who wants to see God’s work done like you want to see it and he is a beloved brother or sister, he or she becomes a faithful servant. Psalm 101:6 tells us that God takes special interest in the faithful.

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.”

Psalm 18:25 tells us that To the faithful you show yourself faithful . . .”

His Mission

To bring the Ephesian church up to speed with all the goings on around Paul. His ministry, his suffering, his well-being, etc. “Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything”! Nothing hidden, nothing coded, complete transparency. Once again, see what Colossians 4:7 says:

"As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information." Emphasis mine

PART II – FOUR IMPORTANT “CARDINAL POINTS” (Verses 23 & 24)

Paul also tells the Ephesian church about four important things in his concluding remarks, that he wishes and prays, not only for the believers in Ephesus, but for all believers everywhere.

Peace: The peace we have with God and the peace we have with one another, both of which are a result of our being united with Jesus Christ. After reminding the Ephesians of their condition before placing faith in Jesus Christ—a condition that included hostility with God’s people and with God himself, Paul gives the Ephesians good news in Ephesians 2:13-15. He says,

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” Ephesians 4:2-3 says:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Also see what Romans 8:11says:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Emphasis mine

Love: The love God has towards us and the we have for the saints. In Ephesians 1: 4-5, Paul told us that:

[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:4–5 ESV)

God chose us to be His special people. Before the foundations of the world were laid, God chose us to be part of a group of people who are set apart from the rest of the world. And He didn’t do this because He knew we would be holy, He did this to make us holy. In love, God made us His children. However, God doesn’t want us to simply be beneficiaries of His love, He wants us to be distributors of His love as well. And this is particularly true within the body of Christ. Ephesians 1: 15-16, says,

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you

Faith: In Ephesians 6:23 Paul ties together love with faith. He doesn’t just pray that the Ephesians will have love; he prays that they will have “love with faith.” In Ephesians 2:8 Paul tells us that we “have been saved through faith.” And he goes on to tell us that this salvation we have received, including the faith that made it possible, is not our own doing, but is a gift from God. That is why Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:9 that none of us can boast over our salvation. We can’t boast over something that was freely given to us.

Grace: In verse 24, the final verse, he says,

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul did not only say that we have been “saved through faith.” But he said, “by grace you have been saved through faith.” So apart from God’s grace, there is no salvation. God’s grace is the only hope any of us have. In Ephesians 1:4-8 Paul tells us that:

“In love [God] predestined us for adoption to himself 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. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”

God has lavished His grace upon us. We are the beneficiaries of many wonderful things we do not deserve. We have redemption through Jesus’s blood. We have forgiveness from our trespasses and sins. All of this is according to the riches of God’s grace. That is why Paul concludes his letter in Ephesians 6:24 by praying for grace for us because he knows we need it. Not just to be saved, but to faithfully live the Christian life.

CONCLUSION

When people have an understanding of a vision, they are able to identify with it. In verses 19-20 Paul requested that the church in Ephesus prayed for him and the next two verses he assured them that Tychicus will bring to them word about all of his affairs; telling us that Paul was transparent and accountable. There’s something powerful about clarity and the fulfilment of dreams and visions. Every vision needs “runners” but “runners” need to have a clear picture communicated to them.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, May 30 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we learnt that the Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word and it is the only offensive weapon listed. We also learnt that it is a defensive weapon and that we needed to be skilful in handling it and therefore require training. By considering the Sword of the Spirit last week, we looked at the last of the believer’s armour –but not the last of the weapons! Today we shall be considering the last weapon - Prayer and the place it holds in the life of a believer.

Ephesians 6:18-20

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;19 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, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” 

  1. EFFECTIVE PRAYERS – Vs. 18
  1. Should be done always (Praying always)

Always and at all times on every occasion and in every season. There are different categories of people when it comes to prayers. There are those who do not pray at all, there those who used to pray bit not anymore, there are those who pray only in distress and there are those who pray always. This verse of scripture admonishes that a man should pray as often as he has an opportunity

  1. Should encompass all prayer and supplication (all prayer and supplication)

This prayer includes all types of prayers (with specific requests), mental and vocal, public and private; and every branch of it, against all kinds of evil, petitions for good things, and thanksgiving for mercies.

  1. Should Be in the Spirit (in the Spirit)

In the Spirit (notice the capital S in Spirit) this implies that such prayers should be under the influence, and by the assistance of the Spirit of God. Romans 8:26 (NIV)

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

It also implies that we pray with fervency (with our hearts, souls, and spirits engaged in it); it implies praying with a true heart, and a right spirit, and without hypocrisy!

James 5: 16b says:

“. . . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

  1. Should Go with Watching (and watching thereunto)
    Stay alert! Be sensitive to the Spirit when you pray. In Matt. 26:41, Jesus admonished His disciples to watch and pray. Here also, Paul is asking that in prayers we keep watch too!

We should keep watch

  1. Either to the Word of God, as a direction for prayer,
  2. To prayer itself; for opportunities to pray for the assistance of the Spirit in prayer, for an answer of it, and to return thanks for blessings when bestowed;
  3. Against all dependence on the blessing and Satan's temptations.

  1. Should Be With All Perseverance (with all perseverance)
    With determination, with persistence even when the enemy is throwing fiery darts of doubt at us! Stay on! Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17)

  1. Should Not be Selfish (And Supplication For All Saints)
    Prayers should not be a “selfish” exercise. We must learn to pray for other Christians too. Pray for people of every nation, age, sex, and condition, in all places, etc. The Saints are constantly under attack from the forces of darkness and therefore should be upheld in prayers.

  1. NON RELIGIOUS PRAYERS – Vs. 19-20
  1. Requires Humility (And for Me)

This shows the great humility of the apostle, and the sense he had of the greatness of the work of the ministry; and that it is the duty of people to pray for their ministers; and that no man is perfect in this life; and that even leaders (especially leaders) need the prayers of their members. Paul made this request in humility and modesty; and from a sincere heart, because all leaders need a fresh supply of gifts and grace for the work and service of Christ:

  1. Must be Specific – Free from Ambiguity  
  1. That Utterance May Be Given unto Me

He was specific of the prayers he needed! Not like what we hear people “religiously” say: “Please pray for me” – “For what?” or "we are praying for you" – “About what?”

Here Paul specifically asked that utterance be given to him.

  1. That I May Open My Mouth Boldly

Now the apostle desired he might have something to say, to object to, and to reprove and convince the unbelieving Jews; that he might do this with boldness, with all faithfulness with Courage, and with freedom of speech; or "openly" and "publicly".

  1. To Make Known, The Mystery of the Gospel

The apostle's work was to make known the mysteries of the Gospel, to prove the truth of them from the word of God, and to defend them against the opposers of them; and that he might be able to do this he entreats the prayers of the saints.

  1. That therein I may speak boldly as I ought to speak

Apostle Paul has not left anyone unsure of what to pray for him about. Being an Ambassador of the Gospel, he needed to be able to represent the Kingdom and the Gospel boldly so he asks the saints to pray that he might speak of it boldly and freely.

CONCLUSION

When we engage prayers in spiritual warfare as we should; with a true heart, and a right spirit, and without hypocrisy we put the enemy to flight! We are so privileged that even when we do not know how to pray, the Spirit of the Lord helps us to pray! When we are humble, sincere, and precise in prayers, we achieve a lot. When we are alert and sensitive in the place of prayer, the results are even better!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 03:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, May 25 2019

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction: So far, we have discussed, in details, the first five elements of the Christian armor. Interestingly, these are all defensive in design and purpose. Last week, we considered the Helmet of Salvation. Amongst other items discussed, we looked at the three aspects of Salvation – Justification (We have been saved), Sanctification (We are being saved) and Glorification (We will be saved). We also looked at the importance of hope in the future promise of salvation (Glorification). This week, we will be doing an in-depth study on the sixth elements of the Christian armour – The Sword of the Spirit – an offensive weapon.

The Only Offensive Weapon Listed

  • The first five elements of the Christian armor are defensive pieces—armament the Christian can use to defend against spiritual attack. Why would an offensive weapon be listed with the other pieces of armor? What use should a Christian make of it?
  • We are to be girded with the belt of truth around our waist. It is Jesus and His truth that leads to life. We put on the breastplate of righteousness. So our hearts are protected by the holiness of the cleansing of our hands and purifying of our hearts. The shoes of the readiness that comes with the Gospel of Peace. The shield of faith protects from Satan’s fiery darts. The helmet of salvation reminds us that we belong to Jesus and that we are assured of the final victory in battle. And no matter what circumstances surround us, we stand on a firm foundation of His peace.
  • The armor is not just for our defense, but for offense. For too long, we as believers have stood and maneuvered in the armor from a defense mode. We react to the enemy and his schemes after the assaults have been unleashed instead of using the weapons and our armor on the offense. Why do I say this? The sword is a powerful and significant weapon. It is absolutely used in defense and protection when an enemy is aggressively charging the armed soldier. But the sword is also used in offense when the armed one advances into battle. Many want to believe that since Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, all we are expected to do is stand. A belief has developed that if we stand around with our hands in our pockets, evil will somehow not bother us or our society. But this is not what Paul was trying to convey. The word used for “stand” in this Scripture is an active tense. Standing does not mean we are stagnant and do nothing; it is an action stance we are to take to overcome the strongman and advance the Kingdom of God. Spiritual warfare is not just a defensive act; it is an offensive action and stance that obtains victory.

Joshua – An example

Joshua was on offense when he led the children to possess the Promised Land. Yes, God’s enemies had stolen that land, but when they returned to possess it, Joshua did not wait to be attacked by his enemies. He received blueprint plans from the Lord for every battle and led the army of Israel in victorious offensive strikes to take their rightful Kingdom inheritance. Listen to this powerful challenge Joshua issued to the children of Israel to call them into order to advance: “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (Josh. 18:3 AMP). To stand is an offensive position to engage and possess.

The Roman Sword

The sword used by Roman soldiers was known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as “the sword that conquered the world.” It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to pierce armor. An infantryman in the Roman legions would also go into battle with a dagger, a few spears and possibly a few darts. But the gladius was the only offensive weapon listed by Paul, and it was the main weapon in the soldier’s arsenal.

The sword of the Word

Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as the “word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). This isn’t the only place where God’s Word (the Bible) is described as a sword. The author of Hebrews also makes reference to it

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

The Word of God is even sharper than the gladius! It is capable of piercing to the deepest levels of one’s heart and attitude, and it is also a tool of discernment in the hands of the skilled user. This gives rise to two questions:

(a) Is the sword of the Spirit only for use as an offensive weapon? (b) Who or what is the foe against which the sword is to be used?

The Sword Is Also for Defense

While the gladius was the primary offensive weapon available to a legionnaire, it was also invaluable for defense, being used to parry and deflect attacks by an opponent. So also is the Word of God valuable in defending against spiritual attack.

Jesus Christ Himself demonstrated how valuable it is to be grounded in the words of the Bible when He was attacked by Satan during a time of extreme physical weakness due to His fasting.  Notice the example in Matthew 4:1-3*

Satan knew full well that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but he prefaces each of his attacks by saying, “If You are the Son of God” (emphasis added throughout). He wanted to pull Christ away from His dependence upon the Father and the realization that He was there to do the Father’s will. Each time Jesus used the Scriptures to defend against and refute Satan’s ploys (vs 4)

Satan continued the attack (verses 5-9) and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ skillfully used a thorough knowledge of the Scripture to parry and deflect the attacks. What a masterful example of how to use the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God!

Who is the Enemy?

We have seen, from the example of Jesus Christ, that the enemy of the Christian is Satan the devil, as he tries to separate us from our God (see also 1 Peter 5:8-9).

A more refined question might be: What do we attack with the sword? How is it used as an offensive weapon?

The apostle Paul used a military analogy when he talked about the Christian fight. He described thoughts and attitudes that we must defeat, just as a soldier would use his weapons to defeat the enemy.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

We are to use the Word of God to discern those thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to God’s way and use that sword to bring those attitudes and thoughts into captivity. That is the Christian battle, and that is how we use the offensive weapon in our armor.

Training is Needed

Roman soldiers could not be sent into battle without having extensive training in the use of the gladius. They were first trained using shields made of wicker and swords made of wood. These items were typically about twice the weight of the normal swords and shields. The thought was that if the trainee could use these heavier items skillfully, he would be at an advantage when using the real weapons, which were much lighter by comparison.

After training extensively with the wooden weapons, the soldiers were then paired against each other for further training in combat techniques and moves. The importance of the training was reflected in the food rations given by the Romans. Instructors often received double rations. Trainees who didn’t achieve desired levels of skill were given inferior rations until their training evaluations improved.

As Christians, we also must train and be skillful in the use of the sword. The author of Hebrews tells us that we must become gradually more knowledgeable and skilled in the Word of God, until we are able to use it to discern good from evil.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

This level of skill—this proficiency with the Word of God—comes by “reason of use.” We have to be familiar with the Bible, and we must have our spiritual senses sharpened by it in order to make full use of this piece of armament God has given us!

Conclusion - The Sword and You

The desire to become knowledgeable in God’s Word—skilled in the use of the sword—has to come from within. Do you see how valuable it is, and do you desire to have a high level of skill? Notice the attitude shown by the psalmist when it came to God’s Word:

“I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:101-104).

This is the attitude and approach to God’s Word that can make a skilled spiritual warrior. The training and skill levels are up to you!

Some parts of this study was culled from https://lifehopeandtruth.com;

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:03 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 17 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

Last week we considered the fourth item of the Believer’s Armour – The Shield of Faith. We learnt how important the Believer’s faith is and why Paul said we should take it “above all”. We also learnt how Satan uses doubt and unbelief to make a believer unstable in his/her ways.

As Christians, we are at war —not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of wickedness and darkness. To win this war, to fight the good fight, we must be adequately equipped. Today we shall be looking at the fifth item of the Believer’s Armour – The Helmet of Salvation. Ephesians 6:17 says: “And take the helmet of salvation”

THE SOLDIER’S HELMET

Related imageA helmet protects a soldier against damaging and deadly blows to the head. Spiritually speaking, the helmet of salvation provides hope and protects the mind against anything that would disorient or destroy the Christian, such as discouragement or deceit. One of the places that Satan is continually attacking in this spiritual warfare is our minds.

Isaiah 59:17 describes the Redeemer of Zion as having a helmet of salvation on His head.

“For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak”.

WHAT DOES A HELMET HAVE TO DO WITH SALVATION?

The mind is a battleground where forces of darkness are waging war to take over control by any and every means necessary. This battle is not just for the Christian alone but also for everyone! The devil works upon the mind because he knows once he has control of the mind of a person; he has control of that person. The only way we can win the battle is if we channelled our thoughts appropriately

Satan and his cohorts targets the minds of believers with doubt and discouragement; challenging the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. To discourage us he points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father.

A very important point to note is that since Paul was addressing believers, putting on the helmet of salvation cannot refer to receiving Christ as Saviour. The only ones who can take up any piece of God’s armour, and the only ones who are involved in this supernatural wrestle against Satan and his demonic forces, are those already saved. To understand this, we have to realize that there are three aspects of Salvation. The Bible tells us that:

  1. We "have been saved" - Justification. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

  1. We "are being saved" - Sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Salvation can also describe the ongoing conversion process. We see these first two aspects of salvation expressed in Romans 5:10, which says:

“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son (1), much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (2)”

Christ’s death saved us once and for all from sin’s penalty, and His life within us now is saving us day to day from sin’s power and mastery.

  1. We "will be saved" - Glorification (Matthew 10:22). What does this mean for us?

“And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved”.

1 Peter 1:4-5 also says:

“to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Our ultimate salvation depends on whether or not we choose to endure to the end. It is this third aspect of salvation that Paul was referring to in 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 when he said:

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This final aspect of salvation is the real strength of the believer’s helmet. If we lose hope in the future promise of salvation, there can be no security in the present.

In 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) Paul said:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

The helmet of salvation is that great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever and we will be victorious in the end. We need to keep this hope of the glorious future with our Lord in view because if we lose sight of the eternal, Satan can do all kinds of things with our minds.

Looking forward to that glorious time, John says in 1 John 3:2:

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is”

CONCLUSION

A soldier going into battle without a helmet would have instantly exposed himself to the deadliest of blows. Leaving off any piece of the armour would have been dangerous, but to go without the helmet would have been unthinkable. We can no more afford to be without the helmet of salvation today. This hope of salvation by Christ is a defence of the head (the mind) against false doctrines; it keeps the warring Believer in the right mental state helping him/her to cast down every imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 01 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In the past two studies we looked at two parts of the Believer’s Armour – The Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness. We learnt that it is the belt of truth that holds the other parts of the armour together. Unless we are motivated and directed by truth, we will be defeated by the enemy. If we permit any deception to enter our lives, we have weakened our position and cannot fight the battle victoriously. And that the breastplate of righteousness is vital in protecting our “hearts” from the deception of the enemy. Today we shall be looking at The Shoes of Readiness.

Ephesians 6:15 (NIV)

“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

1. STRAP YOUR FEET

(a) The Physical

The Roman soldiers had a special sandal for battle which serves as a protection against sharpened sticks that had been buried upright in the ground with the points barely visible. If you would step on them bare-footed, you would be disabled. They were sort of the land mines of ancient warfare. Thus it was very important to have heavy soles on your feet when going into battle.

The sandal of the Roman soldier was mainly a sole with straps that went up around his ankles and calf holding the sandal tight to his foot. They typically were a half-boot with the toes uncovered and spikes coming out of the soles. They allowed the soldier to be ready to march, climb, fight, or do whatever else is necessary. The spikes specifically helped when hiking or on slippery surfaces.

(b) The Spiritual

Paul in asking us to strap our feet with the with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace was implying that we need to have a balanced life on solid footing. In the context of standing it is so important that we have solid footing. Many people are so wishy washy these days; talking out of both sides of their mouths in the name of political correctness that it is impossible to know where they stand on issues; willing to compromise the truth for the sake of “unity”. If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. There are many today, who because they don’t have a sure footing are being carried about with every wind of doctrine, being deceived by the cunningness and wiles of the devil.

2. WITH READINESS / PREPARATION

It is important to note that we are NOT to fit our feet with the gospel. The gospel is the Word of God and the Word of God is our sword as we see in verse 17. What we are to fit (strap, shod) our feet with is the READINESS that comes with the gospel of peace. It implies that we should be ready to move with the Gospel!

The word readiness implies constant vigilance. Like the wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). It implies that one is prepared for battle. Like a soldier who has studied his enemy’s strategy, and confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came. When we are ready/prepared with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan and therefore never let our guards down.

2 Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”

3. THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

Strange isn’t it? That peace is mentioned as a requirement for warfare! It is this Gospel of peace that prepares us and makes us ready. See Ephesians 6:15 (NIV) again

“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

We cannot live a chaotic life and be able to offer peace to others. So it is important that we have

Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Peace within (Psalm 4:8). “In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Peace with others (Romans 12:18). "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men”

4. FACE THE ENEMY WITH FIRM-FOOTED STABILITY

Ephesians 6:15b AMP version says:

“. . . [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].”

To be firm footed is to be confidently standing on the Solid Rock. Not on sinking sand (Matt, 7:26) or slippery places (Psalm 73:18). Not shifty and uncertain like the sons of Sceva in Acts 18:13-16

“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”

Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

Having our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace serves both as defensive and offensive weapons. In order to defend ourselves against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), we must have confidence of our position in Christ and stand our ground. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, regardless of how terrifying the circumstances may be (1 John 5:14).

In addition to standing our ground, shoes are also for moving. God expects us to go on the offensive and take the gospel of peace to others.  

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

CONCLUSION

Let’s recall from verse 11b the main purpose of putting on the whole armour of God. “. . . that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Emphasis mine)

Sharing our faith is one of the best ways to maintain our own sure footing. When we are active in speaking the Gospel of peace to others, we not only charge into Satan’s territory (offensive), but we dig our shoes more deeply into truth and will be much harder to dislodge (defensive).

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, May 01 2019

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

Topic: The Breastplate of Righteousness Text: Ephesians 6:14b

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

INTRODUCTION: Last week we considered Paul’s teaching on the first part of the armoury of a Christian; “The Belt of Truth” in Ephesians 6:14a. The rest of a soldier's armoury are connected to the belt. The way love holds the rest of the fruits of the spirit together (Gal.5:22-23), same way, truth holds the rest of the Christian armoury together. Truth is the accurate information regarding God, His kingdom and redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. The more darkness by deception covering the earth, the more every believer must hold on to the truth that comes from the word of God. The people who are rooted and grounded in truth will be the only light bearers in this world.

There is no gospel without truth, because Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). We must deliberately know the truth and live by the truth (1John 5:20). “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3John 1:4)

In these last days, the greatest tricks of the devil are lies and deception, while the greatest need of man and the Church are truth and discernment.

Matt.24:24; “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

This week we are looking at the second armoury; the breastplate of righteousness.

In our previous studies in Eph. 6:11; “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”  Paul instructed believers to put on the whole armour of God so that we can be able to stand against satanic tricks because there is a conflict between God and Satan for the souls of men and believers are in the middle of that conflict.

Eph.6:12; “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

The only people who will remain standing, or make it to the end, are the people who constantly have their armouries in place.

Those who would want to live the best life possible in Christ must live by faith, and part of that is putting on the whole Armor of God, which he prepares and made available to all believers.

The Christian Armour is always made to be worn; and there is no putting off our Armour till the battle is over. There are no part time soldiers in the Lord's Army. We must be constantly dressed for battles knowing that we are fighting not to win a war, but to enforce the victory Christ already warn for us.

Col.2:15; “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

We must be able to testify, at the end of our race, like Paul in 2 Tim.4:7; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”

There is an eternal blessing also awaiting overcomers in Rev.3:21; “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

This is why the breastplate of righteousness is a must for every believer intending to overcome the host of darkness in this world.

We should note that our armour is both for defensive and offensive battles. Every piece of Armor had its purpose. Note, there is nothing for the back; nothing to defend those who turn their back in the Christian warfare and run from battles.

                                                      Breastplate

1. The Breastplate

A breastplate or chestplate is an ancient military device worn over the torso to protect it from injury. It protects the vital organs during combat. It’s a defensive part of the armoury. The iron or bronze scaled breastplate was built in four sections to cover each shoulder and side of the chest. The plates were sewn to a stiff leather vest, which was put on like a jacket before the front plates were tied with leather straps.

2. Breastplate of Righteousness;

Why does Paul call it the breastplate of righteousness? If we are not protected with righteousness, we open ourselves up to attacks from the enemy and can fall into condemnation and sin. He attacks us by accusations and temptations to breakdown our righteousness. 

Rev. 12:10; “heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”

Righteousness is in two dimensions for a Christian. We must arm ourselves with this knowledge.

A. Righteousness by faith; Rom.3:21-23

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The righteousness of Christ implanted in us at salvation, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. The word "righteousness" simply means being right or right standing. The foundation of our Christian lives, especially to combat the devil's accusations, is knowing and applying God's truth found only in God's word that we were made righteous by faith in Christ.

B. Righteousness by lifestyle; Eph.4:21-24, Ps.106:4

“if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

“How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!” --- Ps.106:4

The second dimension of righteousness is by practice. It is living a godly life. To know and live by God's word. To be filled with the Holy Spirit. To be working and living faithfully for the Lord. To be fighting sin in our lives that weakens us and to constantly resist every temptation of the devil to compromise with the world.

CONCLUSION

Putting on the breastplate of righteousness is to protect our hearts from condemnation when the accuser comes against us to distort the truth of our right standing with God and trying to derail us from the path of holiness. The first dimension is by grace through faith, while the second is by faith through practice or works.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, April 18 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: Last week we considered Paul’s further instructions the home, office and battle ground. We concluded that it was not coincidental that Paul first addressed having the right relationships at home and at work (covering every aspect of our lives) before introducing us to the spiritual battles we are engaged in. we cannot be victorious in battle with the enemy when our households are not in order. In the coming weeks we will be considering every item of the Christian’s armour. Today we will be starting with the first Paul listed – “The Belt of Truth” in Ephesians 6:14a

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, . . ..”

For a believer to stand firm, he or she requires that the belt of truth is fastened around their waists.

The Belt of Truth:

First, Paul mentions the "belt of truth." In that time, a belt was tied around the waist rather than buckled. It was therefore "fastened" as Paul notes. These were not thin, pretty strips of cloth, either. A soldier's belt was thick and sturdy, somewhat like what modern people would call a "weightlifter's belt." The rest of a soldier's armour connected to this belt. For the Christian, truth is to be securely connected to us, for our success. Truth, as Paul defined it, included the accurate information regarding God and the good news of Jesus (Ephesians 1:13; 4:15, 21, 25). From a logical standpoint, this is also a sensible statement. Truth "binds together" everything else we believe. Without unifying truth, we just have disjointed, disconnected pieces.

To have belt of truth buckled around our waists shows, that it should be near and close to the saints, and never departed from; and that it is a means of keeping them close to God and Christ, and of strengthening them against the assaults and attacks of Satan; and is of great use in the Christians' spiritual conflict with their enemies.

The belt of truth is a vital part of the armour, and so considerable because without it the armour isn’t complete. It is not an offensive weapon (as a matter of fact, not a weapon at all) but it has been listed first because it keeps all the other parts of the armour in place and gives agility to the wearer. It is for protection.

The reason why truth is a piece of the armour and why is it so important in warfare is because we live in a darkened, deceptive world. The devil is constantly deceiving the whole world. Now believers have been made light in the midst of that darkness. If we are going to stand firm and wear the garment, part of that garment has a thread and it is armoured. That armoured thread is that we be totally committed to truth, who God is, what God has said and what God has done.

When believers allow truth to be their guide, they are spiritually protected from Satan’s attacks. It does not prevent these attacks; it keeps the believer from being harmed by them!

The Loins (Waist): The word Paul used was osphus – it refers to the five lower vertebra of the lower back. Paul's analogy is beautiful! Your lower back is what helps you to stand. If you have trouble in your lower back, you are going to start bending and falling.

Truth is mentioned 6 other times in Ephesians and from these citations we can learn a lot.

1. Ephesians 1:13 “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Truth is the gospel. Truth is what saved us. Truth has to be believed to be effective in our lives. So, when we have our loins (waists) girded about with the belt of truth, part of it refers to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which we were saved and are now daily sanctified.

2. Ephesians 4:15 “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ”

Truth is what the members of the body are to speak (unafraid and unashamed) to each other. In speaking truth, we grow in Christlikeness. Speaking truth is vital for spiritual maturity. When we meet to "fellowship" or when engaged in other discussions, we should not waste our time and lives engaging with talking about the things of the world, (many of which are deception and lies), instead, let’s engage in talking about truth as revealed by God. We must redeem the time for the days are evil!

3. Ephesians 4:21 “if indeed (as is the case) you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus

Truth is a Person, Jesus, the very essence of Truth, the One Who Alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. John wrote "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him Who is true, and we are in Him Who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1John 5:20)

4. Ephesians 4:24 “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Truth is the source of righteousness and holiness and is now the potential of each believer who is a new man in Christ. Here in Ephesians 6:14, this truth is the knowledge of sound doctrinal truth, but it is also the practice that is in keeping with that truth. When we practice the truth, we know [i.e., obey and walk in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit] we are actively putting on this piece of the armour - girding our loins with the belt of truth and this serves as our defence against the deception and lies of the Evil One. Simply knowing the truth is not girding yourself with it. One must also practice the truth for it to be an effective defence!

5. Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbour, for we are members of one another.”

What we speak to one another should conform to reality. This truth should be made manifest by the way we speak. This will build up rather than tear down. A life so lived filled with the Spirit will be a sure defence against Satan and will prevent him from gaining a toehold in our life.

6. Ephesians 5:9 “for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth

We are now light in the Lord and as we walk in a manner worthy of that new identification and do it in the power of the Spirit, the Spirit bears fruit - goodness, righteousness and truth, that truth which others see in our practice or conduct being in agreement with the truth that is in us - the indwelling Spirit of truth, Christ in us = Jesus Who is the Truth, the Word of Truth, God's Word. And this gives God the glory as others see our good works.

CONCLUSION

We must faithfully hold the truth of God’s word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply it to our daily lives and test everything by comparing it to the plumb line of God's Word of truth. Since Satan is a liar, we must oppose him with God’s truth. In Paul's day the people wore belts or girdles to bind up their flowing garments and hold everything together. It is God’s truth that must hold everything together in our lives. As Christians, we must love truth and live truth. It is therefore not surprising to see John write to his spiritual children...

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3John 1:4)

Unless we are motivated and directed by truth, we will be defeated by the enemy. If we permit any deception to enter our lives, we have weakened our position and cannot fight the battle victoriously.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 15 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

In the last study, we considered the instructions Paul gave to households with emphasis on wives and husbands. He used the analogy of the mystery of the connection between Christ and the church. We learnt that the wife’s submission to the husband should model the union between Jesus and the Church. We also learnt that the standard of Christ love for the Church is God’s standard for husbands towards their wives. In today’s study we will continue with Paul’s instructions as it relates to children and the home, our secular jobs and ultimately the battle ground.

Verses 1-4: CHILDREN AND PARENTS – THE FOUNDATIONAL RELATIONSHIP

Verse 1: “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (Because God has placed them in authority over you).” Emphasis mine 

Obey--stronger than the expression as to wives, "submitting," or "being subject". Obedience is unreasoning and implicit; submission is the willing subjection of an inferior in point of order to one who has a right to command.

In the Lord--Both parents and children being Christians "in the Lord," expresses the element in which the obedience is to take place, and the motive to obedience.

This is right--Even by natural law we should render obedience to them from whom we have derived life.

Verses 2 & 3

Honour your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.  And this is the promise: that if you honour your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.

Honour your father and mother: To honour someone is to have high respect; great esteem for them. With this command we see the authority of revealed law (By Revelation) added to that of natural law (The Law od God).

Commandment with a promise. The "promise" is not made the main motive to obedience, but an incidental one. The main motive is, because it is God's will Deuteronomy 5:16 says: "Honour your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Emphasis mine

Long Life in the land of Promise

By quoting Exodus 20:12, Paul adapts the old testament to Gospel times, thereby taking away the local and limited reference peculiar to the Jews in Canaan. The godly are equally blessed in every land, as the Jews were in the land, which God gave them.

Verse 4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath (Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful): but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (With the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and godly advice) Emphasis mine

Fathers (including mothers); the fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to how their children turn out in the future than mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence. 
provoke not--irritate not, by vexatious commands, unreasonable blame, and uncertain temper, "lest they be discouraged." See Colossians 3:21
nurture--Greek, "discipline," namely, training by chastening in act where needed (
Job 5:17 , Hebrews 12:7 ). 
admonition--training by words; whether of encouragement, or reproof, according as is required
of the Lord--such as the Lord approves, and by His Spirit dictates.

Verses 5-9:  BONDSERVANTS AND MASTERS (WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS)

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

Bondservants--literally, "slaves." 
Masters according to the flesh--in contrast to your true and heavenly Master
Fear and Trembling--not slavish terror, but an anxious eagerness to do your duty, and a fear of displeasing, as great as is produced in the ordinary slave by "threatening"

singleness (sincerity) - without double-mindedness, or "eye service", which seeks to please outwardly, without the sincere desire to make the master's interest at all times the first consideration. Seeking to please their masters only so long as these have their eyes on them. The story of Gehazi in 2 Kings 5:1-18 tells us he was a very different man in his master's presence from what he was in his absence

The same things: Show the same regard to God's will, and to your servants' well-being, in your relation to them, as they ought to have in their relation to you. Love regulates the duties both of servants and masters, as one and the same light. Christianity makes all men brothers:

Threatening--Greek, "the threatening" which masters commonly use. "Masters" in the Greek, is not so strong a term as "despots": it implies authority, but not absolute domination. 
your Master also - "their Master and yours." This more forcibly brings out the equality of slaves and masters in the sight of God. Every authority here is under a higher one above." As you treat your servants, so will God treat you. 

Verses 10-13: READINESS FOR BATTLE

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Be strong--Greek, "be strengthened." 
In the power of his might--Christ's might is the Father's might.  Ephesians 1:19 says: “and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength.

The whole armour of God: the armour of light (Romans 13:12); on the right hand and left (2 Corinthians 6:7). The panoply offensive and defensive. An image readily suggested by the Roman armoury, Paul being now in Rome. In Romans 13:14 Paul admonished us to "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"; it is in putting on Him, and the new man in Him, we put on "the whole armour of God."

No opening at the head, the feet, the heart, the belly, the eye, the ear, or the tongue, is to be given to Satan. Believers have once for all overcome him; but on the ground of this fundamental victory gained over him, they are ever again to fight against and overcome him, even as they who once die with Christ have continually to mortify their members upon earth.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood: The wrestling in which we are engaged is not against flesh and blood. "Wrestling" implies that it is a hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot struggle for the mastery: to wrestle successfully with Satan, we must wrestle with GOD in irresistible prayer like Jacob (Genesis 32:24-29Hosea 12:4).

CONCLUSION:

It is not coincidental that Paul first addressed having the right relationships at home and at work (covering every aspect of our lives) before introducing us to the spiritual battles we are engaged in. we cannot be victorious in battle with the enemy when our households are not in order. We need to be able to say like Jesus that the enemy has found nothing of his in us. That is when we can effectively engage in the battle. It is also very important that have our armour always on, to be ready against the evil day which may come at any moment, the war being perpetual. For a soldier of Christ, there are no off days!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 02 2019

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION: Last week, in our study, we were admonished to walk carefully as wise people by redeeming (buying back or seizing the moment) the time because the days are evil (Eph.5:15-16). 
We also saw that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we come under His control, guidance and influence which wine can also induce in the negative. He will influence us to speak, sing, make melody in our hearts and always giving thanks (Eph.5:18-20).

Today, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is focusing on Christian households. This is a continuation of the effects of a Spirit filled life.

1.    THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE IS MARKED BY MUTUAL SUBMISSION (Eph.6:21)
“submitting to one another in the fear of God” NKJ
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ “AMP

When we are filled with the Spirit, it will show by our mutual submission (respect) to each other; and the submission will be done in the fear of God, not the fear of man. 
The word submitting here literally means, "to be under in rank." It is a military word. It speaks of the way that an army is organized among levels of rank. You have Generals and Colonels and Majors and Captains and Sergeants and Privates. There are levels of rank, and you are obligated to respect those in higher rank.
On the other hand, submitting one to another does not mean there is no idea of "rank" in the body of Christ. We can see how someone might take that impression. "It says we should be submitting to one another. So, I should be submitting to you and you should be submitting to me. No one has any more obligation to submit than anyone else."  This will contradict Heb.13:17, which says Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you] AMP. If Paul meant that there was no "rank" or "order of authority" among believers, then this command in Hebrews 13:17 is meaningless (1 Cor.5:1-5). The military implication of submitting to one another is to become a team player the moment you join the Army and same with the Army of the Lord.

2.    DUTIES OF WIVES (Eph.5:22-24)
 “Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Saviour of [His] body. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."

•     Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (v. 22).  Paul addressed wives and their responsibility in the Christian marriage first. This isn't because they are the bigger problem or because they need special attention. The reason is that the apostle was particularly concerned about this question of submission. That was the principle that he introduced in Ephesians 5:21. This aspect of submission has a particular application to wives in a Christian marriage.
Submission does not mean inferiority. As well, submission does not mean silence. Submission means "sub-mission." There is a mission for the Christian marriage, and that mission is obeying and glorifying God. The wife says, "I'm going to put myself under that mission. That mission is more important than my individual desires. I'm not putting myself below my husband like a slave, I'm putting myself below the mission God has for our marriage, for my life." 

•    to your own husband – This defines the sphere of submission and this does not make a woman inferior to men in the general society. 

•    as to the Lord.  When Sarah called Abraham lord (1Pet.3:6), That doesn't mean "Lord" in the sense of God, but "lord" in the sense of "master." That is a lot of respect. But still, it doesn't go as far as to say "You submit completely to God, so you must submit to your husband the same way. God is infallible, but man is not. We don’t blindly submit to sin. As to the Lord does not define the extent of a wife's submission. It does not define the limit of a wife's submission. It defines the motive of a wife's submission. This has nothing to do with whether or not the husband is "right" on a particular issue.

•    For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church
Paul states here the reason for a wife's submission. It is because the husband is the head of the wife. In its full sense head has the idea of headship and authority. It means to have the appropriate responsibility to lead, and the matching accountability. It is right and appropriate to submit to someone who is our head.     
1 Cor.11 & 1 Tim.3 emphasis the fact that the man was created first and not the woman. So, there is a natural priority for man to take leadership position. 1 Cor.11:7-10 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

•    just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands
Paul presents here a third reason for a Christian wife's submission to her husband. She should submit because the relationship of the husband and wife is a model of the union between Jesus and the Church.

3.    DUTIES OF HUSBANDS (VERSE 25-32)
 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, 27 That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 Because we are members (parts) of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church.”

•    Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her: 
The ancient Greeks had four different words we translate love. Eros(desire), storge(family, blood), and philia(friendship) each speak about love that is felt. These describe "instinctive" love, love that comes spontaneously from the heart. Agape describes a different kind of love. It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart. It is as much a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving. It is a deliberate, sacrificial, giving and absorbing love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another. This is the standard of Christ love for the Church and is God’s standard for husbands. Agape gives and does not demand or expect repayment.

•    So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies
A man must love his wife as his body, as a part of himself. As Eve was a part of Adam, taken out of his side, so the wife is to the man, because she is a part of him.

•    He who loves his wife loves himself
when you love your wife, you benefit yourself. Perhaps it is better to put it in the negative: when you neglect your wife, you neglect yourself, and it will come back to hurt you.
* For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh: 
Just as the first man and the first woman were one - she was taken from him, and then brought back to him - so it could be said of every married man today that he is joined to his wife. God did the joining. Husbands can resent it, they can resist it, they can ignore it, but it doesn't change the fact.

CONCLUSION: VS 33
However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband (that she notices him, regards him, honours him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly). 
The supreme thing always is to consider our Lord Jesus Christ. If a husband and wife are together considering Him, you need have no worry about their relationship to each other.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:33 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 15 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In last week’s study we looked at the reason why God gave gifts to the church (for growth onto unity) and were admonished how we should live as Christians (forsaking our old lifestyles and putting on the new man daily). Today’s study covers verses 1-14 of Ephesians chapter 5 - a continuation of Paul’s instruction about Christian living. 

  1. EXHORTATION TO BROTHERLY LOVE.  Verses 1 and 2

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The Message version so beautifully puts it this way and takes the need away for any further interpretation:

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG) Emphasis mine

  1. CAUTIONS AGAINST SEVERAL SINS. Verses 3-4

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

Once again see the way the Message version puts it.

“Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. 4 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

Here, Paul was talking about the habits of life they should not practice -- impurity, greed, course speech -- and harshly reminding them those whose lives are characterized by such things do not have an inheritance from God but instead an expectation of God’s wrath. These sins must be dreaded and detested. A greedy/covetous man makes a god of his money; places his hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly goods, which should be in God only.

  1. THE CONSEQUENCES. Verses 5-7

5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.” Emphasis mine

Those who allow themselves, either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they come to the kingdom of glory. When the vilest transgressors repent and believe the gospel, they become children of obedience, from whom God's wrath is turned away. Dare we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God?

These works of darkness are unfruitful, whatever profit they may boast; for they end in the destruction of the impenitent sinner. There are many ways of abetting, or taking part in the sins of others; by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And if we share with others in their sins, we must expect to share in their plagues. If we do not reprove the sins of others, we have fellowship with them. A good man will be ashamed to speak of what many wicked men are not ashamed to do.

  1. LIGHT AND DARKNESS. Verses 8 – 14

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” Emphasis mine

Paul starts off in verse 8 admonishing us to walk as children of light, as having knowledge and holiness and then goes further in verse 9 and talks about:

(a)        The Fruit of the Light: Paul lists several aspects of this way of living goodness, righteousness and truth, and he describes them as the “fruit of the light.” Paul imagines the reality of being light issuing forth in the fruit of goodness (a quality he connects to the Christian life in several of his letters: Romans 15:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), righteousness (one of his favourite and most important theological terms), and truth (frequently associated with the life of and in God).

Because these qualities are not “tangible” Paul follows this list with the affirmation that the person who is light will need to test out what is pleasing to the Lord. In other words, “What is goodness, righteousness, and truth?” are not simple questions. They must be discerned with the aids God has provided: The Spirit, the Scriptures, and the Church.

(b)       The Fruitless Deeds of Darkness: Darkness produces unfruitful works. It is not simply the case that darkness produces no fruit, but even more dangerously it produces works that are the opposite. In this instance, there exists not simply the absence of the good but the presence of the corrupt. Paul instructs the Ephesians not to fellowship with such things.

In addition to avoiding unfruitfulness, Paul asks his readers to reprove -- to speak against -- such works. His is not an instruction for passive avoidance, but for active critique. This action might be one way in which Paul envisions the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and especially truth becoming ripe. To speak against the fruitless deeds of darkness is, itself, a demonstration of healthy fruit.

The group Paul has categorized as darkness do things in secret which are so shameful to talk about. When the people who are light reprove these things they move out from under the cover of secrecy and darkness into the state of revelation. Back-room deals that result in oppression, any kind of exploitation, or deeds that result in shame come to light when they are reproved.

(c)        Christ Will Shine on You: In a fascinating turn, then, Paul declares that everything which has been revealed (everything which has been named in reproof) is now light. The transformation of verse 8 is repeated. Darkness is now light. If the people of the light expose the deeds of those in darkness, that reproof can result in those people’s transformation. Paul’s citation of a poem makes it more likely that salvation is in fact in view.

Because the light of Christ has come, the Ephesians have been radically transformed, and they have a call, a responsibility, to usher in the shining of his light upon others so they too can be transformed. Moving into the light brings initial pain to the eyes, and the cultivation of fruit takes effort, but the transition is worth it. For who would not relinquish the secret and shameful darkness of death in order to walk in the light as children of the God of light?

CONCLUSION

Today’s study of Ephesians 5:1-14 has defined the situation of a believer who is not walking in fellowship with God, who is not producing fruit, who is not producing work for the Lord and is even involved in a lifestyle of sin. The passage exhorts believers to imitate God in their daily walk. In so doing it indicates the undesirability and the consequences of a disobedient life. Verses 7-12 indicate the shamefulness of going back to the disgusting lifestyle of the world after Christ had sacrificed Himself so that the believer would not have to be a slave to sin and suffer eternal condemnation. The passage says to act instead like the person that a believer is: a child of light possessing eternal life, (v. 8), rather than to act like the world and suffer the consequence of losing one's inheritance in the kingdom of Christ for being immoral, (v. 5).

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 12 2019

Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye

INTRODUCTION: In the last study, we looked at the sheer extravagance of God’s marvellous grace for our salvation. We looked at how God generously dispensed spiritual gifts to the church and how these should stir our hearts to serve Him out of gratitude and not out of a desire to earn merit. This week we look further into the various different gifts and examine how we can truly live a Christ-like life.

  1. VERSE 11-14: SPIRITUAL GIFTS - EXPLAINED

And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles……………]”. (AMP)

In verse 8 it was mentioned that God gave gifts to men. Here we see the different gifts distributed to being explained and illustrated at greater lengths than what he had was previously said, that out of this variety arises unity in the church. When men are called by God, gifts are a necessity to function within offices of such calling. God does not confer on men the mere name of Apostles or Pastors, but also endows them with gifts, without which they cannot properly discharge their offices.

And he gave: The apostles did not appoint themselves, but were chosen by Christ; and, at the present day, true pastors do not rashly thrust themselves forward by their own judgment, but are raised up by the Lord.

Pastors and Teachers: Note here it didn’t say “and some pastors and some teachers” rather it says “Pastors AND teachers” signifying that for the role of a pastor to be complete he/she is also given the gift of a teacher. Paul speaks broadly of pastors and teachers as belonging to one and the same class, and that the name teacher does, apply to all pastors. We have however seen instances where people are gifted in teaching without being pastors but all pastors must be teachers!

That we may be no more children:Children” here refers to those who still hesitate in the way of the Lord. Those who have not yet determined their purpose for living, but move sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another, always doubtful, always wavering. We shouldn’t be children to avoid us been Tossed to and fro, and carried about.

  1. VERSES 15-16: EVERYONE IS EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.

But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth]” (AMP)

Speaking the truth: To emphasise the fact that we should not be children, here he now instructs us to grow up in the truth. When God’s word is true to us, all the devices and attacks of Satan will not be capable of drawing us from our course;

Each member has its own proper share, — according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.

By love the church is edified, — to the edifying of itself in love. That anyone who desires his own separate growth is mistaken. If a leg or arm should grow to an extraordinary size, or the mouth be more fully enlarged, wouldn’t the excessive enlargement of those parts make the whole body deformed? In the same way we as members of Christ are. Let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.

  1. VERSES 17-19: BELIVERS MUST NOT LIVE AS UNBELIEVERS LIVE.

So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must ………] (AMP)

Here Paul deliberately fully painted a picture of how unbelievers live. Pointing out that when we become Christians, there has to be a distinct break from the past. People should be able to see a clear difference in your life.

Vs 17: In the futility (meaninglessness) of their mind – Starts by pointing out the root of unbelievers’ problem, the mind! Everything starts from the mind (good/bad). Vs 18 then explains why their minds are so empty (Due to been darkened in their understanding (ignorant of God)) – Sometimes because their hearts are hardened due to sin. And then Vs 19 Paul shows where living this type of lifestyle leads.

  1. VERSES 20-24:  THE CHANGED LIFE

But you did not learn Christ in this way! 21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him…………………….” AMP

Truth is the idea of change sounds good and we are always up for it until it comes down to doing what’s required to get the change and then we decide . . .   “you know what? This is hard am ok as I am…….”

Paul describes the changed life:

  • Learn Christ, Hear Christ, taught in Christ and Know the truth that is in Jesus:

Note how the verse did not say you did not learn about Christ but rather you did not learn Christ! To learn Christ is to know God personally while to learn about Christ is just been aware of him. It’s emphasised here as it is possible to know about someone yet not know the person. Think about it, we all know about the president correct? But how many have actually met him or spent any time with him personally? Our changed life begins first from knowing Christ.

Paul is saying “I know that you have heard him” – These doesn’t necessarily mean each individual one of them have heard Christ directly but rather than when Paul and others preached the gospel, the people had heard it as God speaking to them. Our change life begins when God opens our ears to hear him through the gospel and not only hear but respond with obedient.

Before we didn’t know. Our understand was dark, easily moved but now we are in Him for life because of his mercy and kindness towards us. He teaches us, guides u. To be taught in him is a lifelong process! It never ends.

Salvation truth can only be gotten through Jesus. Is in him we learn the truth about who we really are, we learn our purpose on why we are here, how to love (both God and each other even how to love ourselves), we learn sin and righteousness, about heaven and hell. All the truth we need to know is in Jesus.

  • Putting off the old man:

The old man here refers to all we were before we were saved. The things we used to do, say, the way we used to act and react and the moment we get saved we should have put off the old cloths, the old manners and put on the new life in Christ. When we got saved we got loose from bondage to sin. God freed us. Of course our old life will still fight to live but we do not have to answer to it.

  • Renewed in the spirit of your mind:

Renewal is an ongoing process that God performs in us once we continue to walk with him. Our renewal happens from the spirit of our minds. This is done once we obey God, he saturates our minds with his word of truth.  Therefore, the means of renewal is His word! And we are responsible for the use of it.

  • Putting on the new man:

This has been said earlier in that we continue to put on the new man daily. In other words, we live by applying the truth of a new man no matter what we face. Speak the truth when tempted to lie.

  1. VERSES 25-28 LIVE A LIFE OF INTEGRITY.

“Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths…………………” AMP

We need to be done with falsehood, have nothing to do with it even part-time to resort to emergency solution NO! We are commanded here to put away lies. We are commanded to speak the truth to one another (living a life of integrity). We are also required to have a change in attitude (i.e.: move away from taking advantage of people/ cheating others because you believe you can easily get away with it).

Called to live a life of honesty for the welfare of Christ’s body (the church). Remember we are all members of one spiritual body. Think about it, why isn’t it easy for one to do harm to themselves because before the hand will commit to harming the body it considers the pain same we must be. We must be faithful, honest, and dependable towards one another.

  1. VERSES 29-32 DISPENSING SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO THE CHURCH.

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth….” AMP

Here Paul talks about “grieving (to pain, to harm, to cause sorrow) the Holy Spirit” – This is done when we allow harmful word come out our mouth or when we let bitterness and anger dwell in within us. Instead we need to be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving.

CONCLUSION

We have seen above the various types of gifts given by God Himself to His people for the edification of the church. We have also examined the process of a changed life and why we cannot live like the unbelievers. Why we must put away our old self and daily put on the new man. How we need to be spiritually matured so as not to be deceived by fake prophets. Instead we know who we are in Him with Him and allow only Him through the Holy Spirit continue to renew us daily.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 08:36 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 23 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

In last week’s study, we looked at the prayer Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus and consequently us. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul spelt out in glorious detail all that God did for us, freely by His grace; and now in Chapter 4, he brings a call to us to live right, live in unity and to mature in Christ’s body.

  1. VERSE 1: LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING

“So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation](AMP)

The AMP version of this scripture spells it out clearly. We are to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation. When we really understand how much God did for us, we will naturally want to serve and obey Him out of gratitude. Understanding who we are is the foundation of this worthy walk. We don't walk worthy so that God will love us, but because He does love us. It is motivated out of gratitude, not out of a desire to earn merit.

  1. VERSES 2-3: THE CHARACTER OF A WORTHY WALK.

“with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience (longsuffering), bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. 3 Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” (AMP) Emphasis mine

    • Humility and Gentleness

A worthy walk before God will be marked by lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many, it still does, but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way.

    • Patience, Bearing with One Another

We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God's family will not work against God's purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus - illustrated through His current work in the church. Longsuffering is the spirit that has the power to take revenge, but never does. It is characteristic of a forgiving, generous heart.

    • Making Every Effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:

This humble, forgiving attitude towards each other naturally fulfils this gift of the unity of the Spirit. We must endeavour to keep this unity - we do not create it. God never commands us to create unity among believers. He has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognize it and keep it. This is a spiritual unity, not necessarily a structural or denominational unity. It is evident in the quick fellowship possible among Christians of different races, nationalities, languages, and economic classes.

  1. VERSES 4-6: THE DESCRIPTION OF THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.

“There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.” (AMP)

    • The Seven Elements that Unite us

We have unity because of what we share in common. There are seven elements unite us; one body [of believers], one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. Each of these common areas is greater than any potential differences we may have.

Paul urges us to look at the things which unite us, rather than the things that divide us. The early church didn't lack conflict, but they worked hard -- with the apostles' urging -- to preserve, guard, and maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, focusing on the things they did have in common.

4. VERSES 7:  UNIQUE GIFTINGS

“Yet grace [God’s undeserved favour] was given to each one of us [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and abundant] gift.”

    • Grace was given:

We all have grace given to us according to the measure of Jesus' rich and abundant gift. This is basis for God's distribution of spiritual gifts through His church: grace, the free, unmerited giving of God. No one deserves or has earned spiritual gifts. God works unity through spiritual gifts of leadership in the church.

5. VERSES 8-10 DISPENSING SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO THE CHURCH.

“Therefore, He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”

Paul begins his discussion of spiritual gifts in verse 8 by using the figure of a military victory procession where the conquering general leads the prisoners of war through the streets of the capital and distributes gifts to his subjects from the booty (See Colossians 2:15). He then quotes Psalm 68:18:

"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."

Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean:

In this, Paul demonstrates how the words He ascended in Psalm 68:18 have reference to the resurrection of Jesus, speaking first of His rising from the lower parts of the earth, (1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6); and secondly of His ascension far above all the heavens.

CONCLUSION

The sheer extravagance of God’s marvellous grace; firstly, for our salvation and now for the generosity in dispensing gifts in the body of Christ should endear us to Him stirring our hearts to serve Him out of gratitude and not out of a desire to earn merit. We should in this service focus on the elements that unite us rather than any differences we may have. Because by this we show that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35) and ultimately please our Father in heaven.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, February 23 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

In last week’s study, we looked at the prayer Paul prayed for the saints at Ephesus and consequently us. In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul spelt out in glorious detail all that God did for us, freely by His grace; and now in Chapter 4, he brings a call to us to live right, live in unity and to mature in Christ’s body.

  1. VERSE 1: LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING

“So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation](AMP)

The AMP version of this scripture spells it out clearly. We are to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation. When we really understand how much God did for us, we will naturally want to serve and obey Him out of gratitude. Understanding who we are is the foundation of this worthy walk. We don't walk worthy so that God will love us, but because He does love us. It is motivated out of gratitude, not out of a desire to earn merit.

  1. VERSES 2-3: THE CHARACTER OF A WORTHY WALK.

“with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience (longsuffering), bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. 3 Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].” (AMP) Emphasis mine

    • Humility and Gentleness

A worthy walk before God will be marked by lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many, it still does, but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way.

    • Patience, Bearing with One Another

We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God's family will not work against God's purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus - illustrated through His current work in the church. Longsuffering is the spirit that has the power to take revenge, but never does. It is characteristic of a forgiving, generous heart.

    • Making Every Effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace:

This humble, forgiving attitude towards each other naturally fulfils this gift of the unity of the Spirit. We must endeavour to keep this unity - we do not create it. God never commands us to create unity among believers. He has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognize it and keep it. This is a spiritual unity, not necessarily a structural or denominational unity. It is evident in the quick fellowship possible among Christians of different races, nationalities, languages, and economic classes.

  1. VERSES 4-6: THE DESCRIPTION OF THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.

“There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation]— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.” (AMP)

    • The Seven Elements that Unite us

We have unity because of what we share in common. There are seven elements unite us; one body [of believers], one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. Each of these common areas is greater than any potential differences we may have.

Paul urges us to look at the things which unite us, rather than the things that divide us. The early church didn't lack conflict, but they worked hard -- with the apostles' urging -- to preserve, guard, and maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, focusing on the things they did have in common.

4. VERSES 7:  UNIQUE GIFTINGS

“Yet grace [God’s undeserved favour] was given to each one of us [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and abundant] gift.”

    • Grace was given:

We all have grace given to us according to the measure of Jesus' rich and abundant gift. This is basis for God's distribution of spiritual gifts through His church: grace, the free, unmerited giving of God. No one deserves or has earned spiritual gifts. God works unity through spiritual gifts of leadership in the church.

5. VERSES 8-10 DISPENSING SPIRITUAL GIFTS TO THE CHURCH.

“Therefore, He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)”

Paul begins his discussion of spiritual gifts in verse 8 by using the figure of a military victory procession where the conquering general leads the prisoners of war through the streets of the capital and distributes gifts to his subjects from the booty (See Colossians 2:15). He then quotes Psalm 68:18:

"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."

Now this, "He ascended"; what does it mean:

In this, Paul demonstrates how the words He ascended in Psalm 68:18 have reference to the resurrection of Jesus, speaking first of His rising from the lower parts of the earth, (1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6); and secondly of His ascension far above all the heavens.

CONCLUSION

The sheer extravagance of God’s marvellous grace; firstly, for our salvation and now for the generosity in dispensing gifts in the body of Christ should endear us to Him stirring our hearts to serve Him out of gratitude and not out of a desire to earn merit. We should in this service focus on the elements that unite us rather than any differences we may have. Because by this we show that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35) and ultimately please our Father in heaven.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, February 17 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: In last week’s study, we saw God’s marvelous plan for the Gentiles and how Paul; a genuine messenger of Christ fitted into this plan. We saw this plan being fulfilled in the Gentile world to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God is known by the church. He then encouraged the Ephesians not to lose heart because he, Paul was suffering in chains and prayed this prayer for the saints. Today’s study is a prayer in continuation of his encouragement.

STRENGTHENED THROUGH HIS SPIRIT READ - Ephesians 3:14-16. 

  • Verse 14: “For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

Following from verses 1-13 where Paul related how God called him to minister to Gentiles Paul bowed in reverence to pray to the Father. He specifically uses the word Father for God. In patriarchal families of that day, the father was the authority figure, a man to be obeyed. 

  • Verse 15: “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”

The assignment of names is the privilege of the creator.  In human families, the father and mother name their children.  Naming is essential to the child’s identity.  Not only does our name tell us who we are, but it ties us to our parents, who gave us our name. But the Heavenly Father is the ultimate Creator—the One who created all families, both those on earth (who are still alive) and those in heaven (those who have died).  The Heavenly Father thus has the right to assign names to all families—and to all of creation (Genesis 1:5, 8, 10).

Being named by the Heavenly Father gives us our spiritual identity, and ties us to our Father.

  • Verse 16: “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man”  

Paul prays that God would strengthen these Ephesian Christians “with power (dunamis) through his Spirit in the inward man.” The Greek word dunamis (from which we get our word dynamite) speaks of a special kind of power—the ability to do or to accomplish.  It is an enabling sort of power, because it equips us to do good things while leaving us freedom to exercise that power. It is natural that this power would come through the Holy Spirit—the presence of God with us—God dwelling in our hearts—God guiding and empowering us.

Paul prays that the measure of power accorded the Ephesian Christians and consequently us, might be in accord with “the riches of (God’s) glory.”  What a prayer!  The riches of God’s glory are infinite, so Paul is praying for God to shower us with infinite blessings. 

FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD - Read Ephesians 3:17-19. 

  • Verse 17a: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” 

The word dwell here refers to Christ making a home in our hearts and not just that but Him setting up housekeeping in our hearts—Christ making our hearts His dwelling place. The heart refers to the center of one’s being, both physical and spiritual—that which makes the individual person what he or she is—character, intellect, personality, etc.  Paul’s vision is that, having experienced God’s infinite blessings, Christians might harbor Christ’s presence in the innermost parts of their being by faith.

If Christ is to dwell in our hearts, we must receive him in faith.  Christ wants to bless every person, but will not force his way into their hearts.  Faith is the key that unlocks the door.

  • Verse 17b “to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love” (agape)

As every gardener knows, plants depend on their roots for nurture and sustenance.  The roots might be underground—invisible to the casual observer—but they are absolutely essential to the well-being of the plant. But much also depends on the soil in which the roots are rooted.  If the soil has moisture and nutrients, the roots will extract those and feed the plant—so that the plant can prosper.  However, if the soil contains no moisture or nutrients, the roots will be helpless—unable to support the life of the plant—and the plant will die. But these Christians have no reason to worry about the spiritual soil in which they are rooted.  It is agape—God’s love—the kind of love that a mother showers on her child—the kind of love that focuses on giving rather than getting.

  • Verse 18a: “may be strengthened to comprehend”

Being rooted in and surrounded by God’s love makes it possible for Christians to understand spiritual mysteries—” what is the breadth and length and height and depth.”

The Greek word used in place of the word comprehend is katalambano. It means more than comprehending or understanding.  The Greeks used this word to speak of reaching out to cross the finish line—to win the prize.  Paul is praying that God will strengthen us to enable us to reach out and grasp the prize—to emerge victorious.

  • Verse 18b: “with all the saints”

With Christ rooted in the depths of their being, these Christians join with all the saints—not just those who live nearby, or even those who are still alive. We, today, are joined with all the saints of history when we come to Christ in faith.  We are joined with all the saints of far-away lands—people whose color and culture are different than ours, but who share our faith in Christ. 

  • Verse 18c: “what is the breadth and length and height and depth” 

Having Christ at the center of our lives makes it possible for us to understand “the breadth and length and height and depth”the infinite measure of the One in whom we believe.

  • Verse 19a: “and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge” 

The love that Paul mentions here is Christ’s love for us—not our love for Christ.  He says that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge.  While the Greeks prized knowledge, their knowledge could take them only so far.  For one thing, their knowledge was imperfect.  We have learned so much in the past two thousand years, but our knowledge is also imperfect.  Also, our knowledge, however perfect, cannot bring us into the kingdom of God.  Only Christ’s love has that power.

  • Verse 19b: “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” 

Paul prays “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that…you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (vv. 17, 19).  In other words, the Christ who embodied the Godhead (Colossians 2:9) makes it possible for Christians to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (v. 19b)—so that we also embody the Godhead.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY - Read Ephesians 3:20-21 

  • Verse 20: “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”

Has Paul, in praying for these ordinary Christians to “be filled with all the fullness of God,” asked too much?  Not at all!  God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”—beyond anything our minds can imagine. Earlier, Jesus promised: 

Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.  Whatever you will ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14). 

That too seems too grand to be true—until we consider the meaning of asking in Jesus’ name. 

To pray in Jesus’ name requires that we first try to understand Jesus’ mind so that our prayers represent His will as closely as possible. It is bringing our prayers into accord with the essential character of Jesus. 

When we do that, everything becomes possible. At his ascension, Jesus promised: 

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

We, Jesus’ disciples, are His chosen instruments for proclaiming the Gospel.  It makes sense, then, that He would enable us for that task.  The enabling power is the Holy Spirit.

  • Verse 21: “to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” 

Paul concludes this chapter with a doxology (an expression of glory to God).  Doxologies of this sort are found frequently in both Old and New Testaments (Psalm 28:6; 31:21; 119:12; Romans 11:36; Galatians 1:5, Philippians 4:20, etc.). Jesus called the church to proclaim the glory of God in perpetuity—” forever and ever.”  That is how it has worked out.  It has been two thousand years since Jesus walked the dusty pathways of Israel, but the church is still giving God glory.  We are not only singing songs of glory in our worship, but we are also proclaiming the Gospel far and wide—and feeding the hungry and healing the sick all over the world in the name of the Christ who has called us.  Who could have imagined such a thing?  God could.  Jesus could.  Paul could. 

This study was culled from: https://www.sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/ephesians-314-21/

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 07 2019

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction:

Continuing from Paul’s letter to the saints at Ephesus in Chapter 2, we dug deep into the topic of Grace. We considered what our lives was like before the arrival of Grace and Salvation. We also considered the biblical definition of Grace. We were reminded that “Our faith was not the means by which we received grace. Instead, grace was the means by which we received faith”. We will continue in our study today by looking into God’s pre-ordained plan for the salvation of the Gentiles. 

Verses 1 – 4: A Mystery Is Revealed
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),"

Paul is given a revelation which he shares with the Ephesians, so that they may have the same enlightenment that was granted him.

Paul is a Genuine Messenger of Christ
Paul spent a lot of time in prisons because of his activities as a Christian preacher. So he calls himself “the prisoner of Christ”. His willingness to suffer deprivations shows the genuineness of his heart. It is therefore not a sin or strange to face some levels of persecutions as faithful follower of Christ. We should also be proud to share our testimonies in order to encourage others. But his message is also genuine —having been given him as a revelation from God. Paul, several times in his writings, mentions that he had no input into his message: God put it into him! It had been a mystery to Paul, but God graciously gave Paul complete understanding by revelation. For example, Paul says to the Galatians, "Brethren, I make known to you that the gospel I preached is not according to man. I did not receive it from man. I was not taught it by man. I received it by revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). Incidentally, Paul uses the word “man” here to denote mere humans as opposed to the divine Son of God.

How the World is Able to Understand
God did not give revelation to everyone, only to a few like Paul. The mystery was "revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets" (Ephesians 3:5). Everyone else can understand the mystery by hearing those who were given revelation. Paul says, "By revelation the mystery was made known to me... By reading my letters you will understand the mystery of Christ as I do" (Ephesians 3:3-4). Many people today love to say, “God spoke to me and he told me...” It isn't popular any more to say, "The scriptures tell us..."

Verses 5 – 7: The Three Marvels In The Mystery
"which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power."

Paul claims that the gospel he preaches makes known the mystery as never before. His gospel embraces the heathen nations and offers them full unity and fellowship with God’s holy people.

The Mystery of Unity
The Gentiles, as Paul has already said, "were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise... Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:12,19 NKJV).

In Paul’s understanding this was the great eye-opener. What Christ did favoured Jews and Gentiles equally and "made both one and broke down the barrier between" (Ephesians 2:14). So now Paul mentions three marvels. Gentiles are "heirs jointly with Israel; members together of a united body; and sharers together of God’s promise in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 3:6).
•    First, looking to the future hope, Gentile believers are joint heirs with Jewish believers.
•    Second looking to the present, Gentiles and Jews are united in one joint body, one “church”.
•    Third, looking to the past, Gentiles share equally with Jews in the promise made to Abraham that "In your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 22:18 cf Galatians 3:16).

Verses 8 - 9: Paul Reflects On His Task
"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;"

Paul is conscious of the burden laid on him to get the gospel out among the nations. 

Paul’s Humility
Paul was given the task of taking the gospel to the wider world. He was at the forefront of this campaign. Paul is amazed at God’s grace in choosing him, of all people, for this work. When Paul calls himself “less than the least” he isn't referring to his ability or his desire for the work. He is referring to his worthiness to be chosen. He had been a chief activist in the persecution of the Christian Way. Christ stopped Paul dead in his tracks. Christ appointed him to the opposite task, to be a chief activist in spreading Christ’s message to all nations. Paul marvelled at this grace.

Paul’s Commitment
Paul could see the terrible darkness in the world. Humanity stumbled in ignorance, spiritually destitute. Paul had been given a great light and “boundless riches” to share. He was totally dedicated to that end.

Paul’s Power
Paul was granted the power to achieve his commission. It was not himself that accomplished it, but God working in him and giving him the revelation, the answer to the mystery, the answer the whole world needed. It was now in Paul’s power to help everyone share in the mystery of Christ.

Verses 10- 13: God’s Plan Is Being Fulfilled
"to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory."

Paul was always conscious that he was carrying out God’s Plan. God purposed to make his wisdom known. And of course God’s wisdom would be a mystery unless he made it known.


Wisdom, Purpose, Confidence
God’s “wisdom” was glimpsed by the prophets of old. But now through Jesus Christ the veil of mystery is removed and the good message is revealed. The wisdom of God for salvation is fully known!

God’s “purpose” is achieved through Jesus Christ. Without him, there would not even have been any mystery in which to find hope. However, Jesus tasks all those he calls into his one body of holy people. He gives them all the great commission, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... teaching them..." (Matthew 28:18-20).
Our “confidence” is in Christ, not in ourselves. We come boldly to God “in Christ” We are confident “in his faith”. It is now an open secret that life is not about believing in yourself. It's about believing in Jesus Christ.

Study culled from https://www.simplybible.com/f74e-eph-the-mystery-of-christ.htm
 

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:52 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 31 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION: Last week’s study got us looking at Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving for the Ephesian church and consequently us. These prayers we were admonished to covet – that the Lord will grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, to understand everything God’s given in Jesus Christ, God’s great power and where this power puts us! In today’s study we will be looking at what the Apostle Paul wrote on the doctrine of salvation, and how these writings establish a bedrock of truth upon which rests everything we can know about how we are saved and why we are saved.

VERSES 1-3: BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF GRACE AND SALVATION

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

  1. Dead in Trespasses and Sin

The word for dead in Greek is nekros, which literally means a corpse or dead body. This deadness refers to our spiritual life. The Ephesians were alive physically but dead spiritually. Paul chose this comparison because it accurately describes not only the nature of an unbeliever but also the impossibility of an unbeliever recognizing and correcting his own condition. Just as a corpse cannot revive itself to life, neither can an unbeliever revive his own spirit into new life. The MSG version makes it very relatable

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.

  1. Spiritual Deadness According to The “Course” of the World.

The word "course" in Greek is aion, which literally means age or a space of time. So, Paul explains that the natural state of every man and woman during this age or time is to be spiritually dead. The cause for humanity's dead state is the sin of Adam, which we inherited at birth. Every person begins their life on earth in a state of spiritual deadness, and apart from a work of God to revive our spirit, this state will continue uninterrupted until our physical death.

  1. Spiritual Deadness Is a Condition Which Finds Its Source in Satan

He was the first to fall, and his deceptive influence contributed to the fall of Man in the Garden. Today, he rules the hearts of those bound in spiritual deadness, and he exerts his controlling influence through the fear of death (see Heb. 2:14-15).

  1. We Were Once Like the World – Lost in Sin

Every Christian should understand their former state to be the same as every other unbeliever. No one is "born" a Christian. Every human being by nature of the Fall in Eden, is born a “sinner”, dead in their trespasses from birth. All humanity shares the same starting point as children of (God's) wrath.

VERSES 4-7: BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF GRACE

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

VERSE 4: Paul tells us WHY we were rescued from this state of deadness: because God was rich in mercy and had a great love for us, He acted to save us. Not by our works; God's reason for saving us was entirely His own. Being rich in mercy and having a great love, God determined to save us. We did not merit His mercy, nor did we earn our salvation.

VERSE 5: Paul explains HOW we were rescued from our dead spiritual state - God made us (spiritually) alive in Christ. The Bible is utterly clear on the sequence of events that lead to our salvation: God must act first, because men do not naturally seek God (see Romans 3:10-11). God must act first on our behalf, because dead corpses are not capable of reviving themselves. We share none of the actions with God. By Himself and according to His own purpose and while we were still yet unaware of Him, He made us alive.

VERSE 6: Paul completes the discussion of HOW we were saved by adding that our new spiritual life resulted in us being raised with Christ to be seated in heavenly places. Though we are presently located on earth physically, nevertheless we have been assigned a place spiritually at the right hand of the Father in Christ. Salvation it is a change of spiritual position before God. By His work, we have been moved, spiritually speaking, from our prior position as sons of the devil dead in sin to our new state as sons of God alive in Christ.

VERSE 7: Finally, in verse 7 Paul finishes explaining WHY God saved us. So that He might display the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness to us. In effect, we are His appointed audience to receive His grace and kindness, so that in the ages to come we may glorify Him for it.

VERSES 8-10: CONCLUSION

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

 

VERSE 8a: Paul says we were saved by grace. Grace is unmerited favor, and as Paul has already explained, it answers the question "why" we were saved. The answer is that God showed us unmerited favor.

The grace of God was manifested by faith. When the time came for God to bring us His grace, He delivered it through faith. Our faith was not the means by which we received grace. Instead, grace was the means by which we received faith.

VERSE 8b & 9: Paul goes further to ensure we do not confuse his point. He said: "it" (i.e., faith) was not of ourselves. We did not leave our state of spiritual deadness and come to believe God's word by our own efforts. Dead corpses cannot raise themselves. Instead, the faith we received was a gift of God (hence, it was grace). The moment a person is born again and moves from the kingdom of darkness and enters into the light of the truth of the Gospel, they do so because God, by grace, bestowed the gift of faith.

VERSE 10: Since our very faith is itself a gift of God, we must acknowledge that we are God's workmanship. The purpose for God taking these steps is so that we might do good works. As Jesus Himself said in Matt 5:16: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Our good works will display the handiwork of God. They do not produce our salvation; they result from our salvation. Finally, Paul says that even our good works were prepared beforehand by God. When we endeavor to please God by our works, we must accomplish the work He has appointed for us. If we accomplish other work of our own choosing, we labor in our flesh and we do not please the Lord. Therefore, only those works He has purposed beforehand for us constitute "good works" done in faith.

This study was adopted from https://www.versebyverseministry.org/bible-answers/could-you-explain-ephesians-21-10

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 06:54 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 25 2019

Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye

Introduction: Last week we looked at 9 spiritual blessings God gave us and the purpose of these blessings. We got to understand that Faith is then used to convert the blessings to material substance. This week we will look into Paul’s loving prayer and thanksgiving for the Ephesians.

PAUL’S PRAYER WAS IN LIGHT OF GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN:

  1. Paul’s statement of prayer and declaration of thanksgiving. Ephesians 1:15-16:

Faith in the Lord Jesus. Love for all the saints.

Faith and Love are evidence of our association with God and his plan. Here Paul was full of delight for the people. It was clear to him that the people were indeed working in line with God’s plan.

Love for all the saints.

Notice here that Paul didn’t give thanks for their love for God, but rather for their love for all the saints (each other). It’s an indication of God working in us and through us when we are able to love others not when we claim to love Him but do not show love for others.  1 John 4:20

Making mention of you in my prayers.

Paul did not just give thanks for evidence of God amongst the Ephesians, but he also prayed. Giving thanks is good and we should practice to give thanks no matter what we going through. However our thanksgiving also need to be followed by prayers. Paul prayed for the people in order to ensure that who they have become now will continue with greater strength.

Paul usually prayed making mention of others in prayers. Example Romans 1:9 (Prayer for the Christians in Rome), 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (Prayer for the Christians in Thessalonian) and Philemon 1:4 (Prayer for Philemon).

  1. Paul’s Prayer. Ephesians 1:17

Give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Prayer for the spirit of wisdom and that God would give them revelation. This prayer is not so that the people should have ability to see into the future but rather so that they would have a better knowledge of God.

In the knowledge of Him.

Our number one purpose as Christians need to be getting to that stage where we know God as He is in truth, what His Word tells us of Him, and to gain enough understanding of Him to correct our deceitful, idolatrous ideas of who He is. Yes we need to know and understand who we are but it is far more essential (and advantageous) for us to know and understand who God is.

  1. Understand everything God’s given in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:18-19a:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.

The reason Paul prayed this prayer is that once the eyes of their understanding was enlightened by God they will know all God has given them in Jesus (their rights). We cannot take the knowledge of knowing Him for granted.

The hope of His calling.

When we have hope is really because we know or have strong belief of what the future holds for us. Paul prayed this as he wanted them to know what it was that awaits them. To name a few: a glorious future of resurrection, everlasting life, free from sin, perfected reasoning and magnificent rise with the angels.

The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.

The greatness of the power of God toward those who believe is recalled on here. We need to know and remember that we serve and love a God of living power who shows His strength on behalf of His people.

Many of us do not know this power while some of us only know it from a distance. Think about it, the same power that raised Christ is still available. Call on the power to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the unbelievers from their unbelief.

NOTE: The prayer of Ephesians 1:17-19 is really a request that the promises of Ephesians 1:3-14 (which we studied last week) begin to show in the lives of the Ephesian Christians and consequently ours.

  1. The great power of God. Ephesians 1:19b -21:

According to the working of His mighty power: The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same one that works in us. So then why do we sometimes think we have some sort of “power shortage” in our Christian life? This same power raised Jesus to heaven after His resurrection, above all demonic adversaries and every potential enemy. Jesus was raised above all angelic realm.

  1. Where this great power puts us. Ephesians 1:22 -23:

All things under His feet: This great resurrection power placed Jesus above all things including the church placing all things are under His feet. The church, which is His body: Since Jesus is the head, then the community of Christians (we) are His body. We are joined to Him. We are one with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).

CONCLUSION

Paul’s prayer prompts us that learning to know Jesus does not happen all at once. It happens slowly over time. God wants us to know Him, not to know about Him! Let’s make it a daily prayer that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:49 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 17 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION

Last week we commenced the study of the Book of Ephesians. We learnt that it was written to give insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. That the apostle Paul dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.

In our text today, we encounter a verse (Verse 3) that says categorically that God has blessed us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING in heavenly places! For the singular reason that we belong to Christ! So, in today’s study we shall be considering what these Spiritual Blessings are; and why He choose to bless us with them and if there are any purposes or reasons for these blessings.

VERSE 3:

“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”

The Living Bible says:

“How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.”

So, what are these Spiritual Blessings; and why did He choose to bless us with them? Are there any purposes or reasons for these blessings?

VERSE 4: BLESSING #1 - CHOSEN SPECIALLY

He chose us! He picked us and carefully selected us out! Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own through what Christ would do for us. (1 Peter 2:9, Isaiah 43:1)

PURPOSE/REASON #1: To be holy and without blame before Him

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” Ephesians 1:4 (Emphasis mine)

VERSE 5: BLESSING #2 - PREDESTINED FOR ADOPTION

Predestination implies an outcome or course of events determined in advance by divine will or fate. So, God predestined us; His plan has always been to adopt us into His own family from the foundations of the world. (Jeremiah 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:19)

PURPOSE/REASON #2: He chose to do this according to the pleasure of His will! And he did this because he wanted to!

“having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” Ephesians 1:5

VERSE 6: BLESSING #3 - DIVINE ACCEPTANCE

He made us accepted in the Beloved; on the basis of our unity with “His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased” (1 Peter 2:5)

PURPOSE/REASON #3: For the praise of the glory of His grace

“to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

VERSE 7: BLESSING #4 - REDEEMPTION

He gave us redemption through His blood, and the forgiveness of sins (Galatians 3:13)

PURPOSE/REASON #4: According to the riches of His grace

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7

VERSE 8: BLESSING #5 - ABUNDANT GRACE

He made His grace to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. (1 Timothy 1:14)

PURPOSE/REASON #5: According to the riches of His grace

“which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,” Ephesians 1:8

VERSES 9-10: BLESSING #6 - DIVINE REVELATION

He revealed the mystery of His will to us. God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan he decided on in mercy long ago. (Colossians 1:27)

PURPOSE/REASON #6: He decided to do this in Himself because it pleased Him to; so that when the time comes He will gather all of us together

“having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Ephesians 1:9-10

VERSES 11-12: BLESSING #7 - INHERITANCE IN CHRIST

He gave us an inheritance in Him (1 Peter 1: 3-4)

PURPOSE/REASON #7: To the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. God’s purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to him for doing these mighty things for us,  

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” Ephesians 1:11-12

VERSE 13: BLESSING #8 - SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Revelation 7:3)

PURPOSE/REASON #8: Because we trusted in Him, after we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation  

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13

VERSE 14: BLESSING #9 - GUARANTEED INHERITANCE

The Holy Spirit guaranteed our inheritance. His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. (Hebrews 7:22)

PURPOSE/REASON #9: to the praise of His glory

“who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:14

CONCLUSION

The Almighty has showered us with such abundance of blessings! Reading through the reasons and purposes for God showering us with such blessings reveal His extravagant grace! A sound realization of these amazing blessings should cause us to be grateful, confident and humble! And like Paul, we cannot but break out in praise blessing the Almighty God for such extravagance!

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 07:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 14 2019

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION:

We thank God for the study series on prosperity last year and I believe that most of us are already implementing the lessons learnt. I pray the impact of the studies will be evident in our lives.

This year, we are going into book study from the bible. We shall be looking at the book of Ephesians and Galatians. These are books written by Apostle Paul to the Ephesian and Galatian believers.

Today, we are starting with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus written around A.D. 62 while imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28:16-31, Eph.3:1;4:1;6:20). During this time, he also wrote Colossians and Philemon. All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus.

This is a letter in which Apostle Paul did not set out to address or correct problems in the Church, but it was written to give insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. He dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.

This book is an epistle for all the world, for Jew and Gentile, for husband and wife, for parents and children, for employees and employers (masters & servants). It was the mind and will of God in Paul’s day; it is the voice of inspiration in our day; it is an epistle of universal appeal and application.

The letter started with an introduction and Apostle Paul’s common salutation to the Churches.

Eph.1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. Main Theme

John Calvin called Ephesians his favourite book of the Bible.

Ephesians deals with our legal position before God in Christ and the daily life that corresponds to that position (Eph.2:19). Ephesians, more than any other book, presents the purpose and plan of God for the church. This book sets forth one of the clearest presentations on the relation between positional truth and experiencing positional truth in one’s life.

We see something of the supremacy of Christ in God’s eternal plan. Ephesians emphasizes God’s sovereign grace in the lives of believers (Eph.1:22).

God did not reveal the idea of the church in the Old Testament. That it is why Paul called it the “mystery” (Eph.3:1-6)

Ephesians argues that the believer’s position before God is the same as Jesus’ status before God (chapters one to three). The second dimension is that the believer is to apply positional truth to experience it reality

(chapters four to six).

The Key Themes

A, All people are by nature spiritually dead. They disobey God’s law and are ruled by Satan (1:7; 2:1–3, 5, 11–12).

B, God predestined his people to redemption and holiness in Christ (1:3–14; 2:4, 8–9).

C, God’s rich mercy in Christ has saved sinners. This free gift is by grace through faith alone (1:7–8; 2:4–14).

D, Jesus’ saving work was part of redeeming a fallen creation for God. For this he deserves glory, honour, and authority in this age and the next (1:15–23; 3:1–13).

E, Jesus unites Jews and Gentiles into his one body, the church, as a new creation (1:23; 2:10–22; 3:1–21; 4:1–6).

F, Christ’s people are saved to new lives of holiness in thought, word, and deed. They must reject their old, sinful lifestyles (4:1–3, 17–32; 5:1–20).

G, Holiness in life includes submission to proper authorities, in home and family life, and those in authority must care for those in submission to them (5:21–6:9).

H, Jesus has given powerful gifts to his church. These bring unity, maturity, and defence against the devil and his allies (4:7–16; 6:10–19).

  1. The Principal divisions of the letter

A, Introduction; (1:1–14)

B, Unity of the Church in Christ (1:15–2:22)

C, World Mission of the Church (3:1–4:24)

D, Daily Conduct, an Expression of Unity (4:25–6:20)

E, Conclusion (6:21–24)

Conclusion.

This year of Glory, we are focusing on intentional spiritual growth. We must deliberately grow in our individual and collective relationship with God.

The book of Ephesians is a powerful tool for every one of us to study, meditate and personalise the lessons and revelations captured in this epistle.

I must also call our attention to one of the most powerful prayers for spiritual growth in the Bible;

The prayer of Apostle Paul in Eph. I:16-23

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your [f]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality[g] and [h]power and [i]might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

This is a classic spirit led prayer that we should pray daily and before our weekly studies.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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