Monday, June 8, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “My Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 1:15-2:10 (ESV).
The Hope (Eph. 1:15-23)
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Paul wrote these words to those who were in Jesus Christ by faith. He was thankful to God for them, and for their love, and he continually remembered them before God in his prayers. He prayed, first of all, that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. Remember, back then, they didn’t all possess Bibles like many of us have available to us today, though still many do not. They didn’t have printing presses or computers and printers that could reproduce multiple copies of the Old Testament writings, as well as the writings of the New Testament, all of which had not been written at this time, I believe. And, they didn’t have these writings in multiple languages like we have today, either, nor easy translators like we have on our computers which can translate for us one language to another. Most of them probably only had what they had been taught or whatever hand-written copies of scripture they could get their hands on. But, what they did possess was the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus gave us to teach us all things, and to remind us of all the things Jesus taught when he walked the face of this earth.
…the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…
So, Paul prayed they would be given a Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God, in order that they might know God better, not just intellectually, but experientially. We, as followers of Christ, need to gain and possess spiritual wisdom, and then we need to exercise that wisdom in our walks of faith. Wisdom goes beyond just head knowledge. It includes understanding, spiritual insight, perception and good sense. I always think of wisdom as applied knowledge. We can know a lot of things, even a lot of things about God, but if we don’t apply what we know, then what good is it to us? So, to me, this is the spiritual insight to understand what the word of God is teaching us, by the power of the Spirit within us, and then it is the spiritual discernment to know how God’s Word is to be applied to our daily lives. Then, it is to be empowered of the Spirit to actually put what we know into practice in our lives, i.e. to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…
What is my (your) heart? What does it do? Heart: “the emotional or moral as distinguished from the intellectual nature” (M-W). The heart is emotion, compassion, personality, my (your) nature, affection, courage, inclinations, and where we feel sad or happy, etc. It is the center of our being – who we are, what we are about, and our character, etc. It is also the place where we sense conviction of sin, and where we are receptive to the gospel and to being obedient to Christ (See: Ac. 2:37; 16:14; Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:12). And, it is the place where we favor (entertain) iniquity, and where we are deceived (Ac. 5:3-4; 7:51; 8:21-22; 28:27; Ro. 1:21-24; 2:5; 16:18). In addition, it is the place where we experience spiritual cleansing of the Spirit, by God’s grace, via faith in Jesus Christ, and it is where the Holy Spirit dwells (See: Ac. 15:9; Ro. 2:29; 5:5; 6:17; 10:9-10; 2 Co. 1:22; Eph. 3:17).
What about the eye? The eye has to do with judgment and discernment. We need to be discerning in our hearts – the place where we are vulnerable to sin, where we are convicted of the Spirit concerning sin, and where we respond in faith and obedience to the Spirit of God when he speaks God’s words into our hearts (the real us). We need to be enlightened, i.e. educated, informed, instructed, edified, and counseled by the Spirit of God in the things of God – concerning his divine nature, character and will, and with regard to his purposes for our lives, so that we may know him better experientially and may walk (conduct our lives) in the light of his truth. If we are blessed to have Bibles in our possession, we need to be bathing our minds with the Word of God, in the study of the Word and in obedience to what the Word teaches us, and we need to be clearing our minds of all the junk that is in this sinful world so that we can hear clearly when the Spirit speaks his words to our hearts.
…that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…
We can’t know the hope to which he has called us if we are not abiding in His Word, if we are regarding sin in our hearts, and if we are quenching or grieving the Spirit through disobedience. We can’t know this hope if we are filling our minds daily with the garbage this sinful world is offering, and if we are allowing ourselves to daily be entertained by the sins of others via TV, movies, the Internet, magazines, books, music and the like. We also can’t know this hope if we are investing our time and resources in listening to false teachers spread their lies and deceptions, and if we are not examining what they say against the Word of Truth so that we are able to discern what is true and what is false, and if we are closing our ears to the Spirit’s voice in favor of delighting ourselves in what tickles our itching ears and in what is pleasing to our senses.
We need to have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to receive what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches and to our individual lives. We can’t build doctrines of faith around single verses, taken out of context, while ignoring 95% of what the New Testament teaches us on the subjects of salvation, eternal life and holy living. We need to repent of our sins of idolatry and/or spiritual adultery, humble ourselves before God on bended knee, and submit our lives to the control of the Holy Spirit within us, forsaking our idols, and feeding our minds and hearts with the knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight and discernment of Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then, we will see clearly to see all that God has for our lives in the way of holy and righteous living, obedience to his commands, walking in his ways, following him wherever he leads us, and in doing what he says – all through the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, as we daily yield our hearts to his control.
Immeasurable Riches (Eph. 2:1-10)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
When we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, then by the power and working of the Spirit within us we die with Christ to sin and self, and we are resurrected to new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:24-25). We put off our old lives of living for sin and self, and we put on, by the Spirit, our new lives in Christ, which are to be lived in the power of the Spirit within us for the glory of God. This is what it means to be born of the Spirit – lives transformed (like in metamorphosis) by the Spirit of God away from living to sin and for self, to walks of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
As followers of Christ, we should no longer follow the ways of this sinful world, and the ways of Satan, who is the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient, as we once did when we were dead in our sins. As children of God, we should no longer live to gratify the cravings of our sinful nature, following after its evil thoughts and desires. God’s grace to us did not give us free license to continue in sin, as some would have us believe. No! God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). We were bought with a price. We died to sin. How can we live in sin any longer? (See: Ro. 6). Don’t you know that if we continue to walk (conduct our lives) after the flesh, we will die? But if, by the Spirit, we put to death (present tense, progressive) the deeds of our flesh, and we walk according to the Spirit, we will live? (See: Ro. 8:3-14).
Some people like to write off these scriptures as “works-based salvation,” but it cannot be that if God’s word commands that is the way we must live, and that by living this way, not in our own power, but by the power and working of the Spirit within us, we prove ourselves to be his disciples (See: Jn. 10:27-30; 13:35; 15:8; 1 Jn. 2:3-6). It can’t be salvation by works if the scriptures teach that we must continue in the faith, and that our belief in Jesus must be present tense, i.e. continuous, for us to have the hope of eternal life. We are not being saved by works when we walk in obedience to Christ’s commands or when we walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, because the word teaches us that the righteous requirements of the law will be fully met in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and that if walk according to the flesh, we will die. We can’t write off these scriptures just because we don’t like what they say, in other words.
Yes! It is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not of works, lest any of us should boast that we deserved or that we earned our own salvation. We can’t! It is impossible! Our salvation is a gift from God to us, which he provided for us through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, while we were still dead in sin. So, we can take no credit at all! Yet, we must receive this gift by faith, and scripture teaches us clearly that faith in Jesus Christ means we die to sin and we live to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24), yet all in the power of the Holy Spirit, and not of our own flesh. Yet, our walks of faith are not absent of works, though not works of our own flesh, according to human will. Rather, by the will of God, and according to his plan and his purposes for our lives, we are his workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
My Sheep / An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV84
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.