346. An Overview of an ABCD View of Christianity, Section D. Doing Something About It [About Putting Belief Into Action.] Part 5 of 5.

D].       DOING something about it. [Not just believing but acting on that belief.] [NOTE 4]

It is 9pm on New Year’s Eve 1958. I am sitting reading a booklet in a rented flat on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, on a street named appropriately, Boundary Street. I am thinking of stepping over a border. Not a border fence, though there is a low timber and wire one about 30 metres away. No, this was a much more significant border; the border between unbelief and belief; the border between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light; the border between my rule over my life and Christ’s rule over my life. It appears at this moment, to be the biggest decision of my life.

The noise level outside is getting louder and louder as tens of thousands gather in the Tweed Heads [NSW] and Coolangatta [QLD] area. I make a decision. To walk among normal folk gathering in the streets to see out the old year and to welcome the New Year of 1959. For about 2 hours I walk among the happy revellers caught up in their joy and excitement, but feeling alone [not lonely] but as though I am an individual in the sight of God. There is nowhere to hide, even among thousands of people.  I return to the less noisy flat and read again the prayer at the end of the John Stott booklet I have been reading. It had a simple Prayer of Commitment based on the letters ABCD. It suggests that if I want to commit my life to the Lord, I have to A= Admit I am a sinner in the sight of God; B= Believe that Christ had come and died for the sins of the world; C= Consider the cost of becoming a Christian. But it was D that makes me think more deeply about the ramifications of undergoing a drastic change in my life at only 23 years of age. I actually have to Do something if I want to cross all those borders and enter into God’s family and Kingdom. There is no going back once the decision is made. I have obviously done what is suggested in A, B and C. But D?

So what do I have to D = do?

  • Inviting Christ to come into our lives as our Saviour from sin. Rev 3:20

The booklet suggests asking Christ into my life through prayer. I read the verse from Revelation 3:20 to realise that the risen Christ is standing at the door of my life and asking me to open the door to let Him in. Am I ready for that? It is now 11.45pm and the New Year is about to arrive. Another decision is made! I kneel down beside my bed and begin to pray the ABCD prayer. I tell God that I Admit I am a sinner in His sight; that I now Believe that Christ had come from heaven to die on the cross for sinners like me; that I had Considered the cost of becoming a Christian and that I was now Doing something, in opening the door of my life to the Risen Christ.

As I finished the prayer, the noise outside erupted as bells tolled, car horns honked and people screamed out in joy. I realised that it wasn’t for me, but the New Year was being welcomed in. Only later did I read that, at that moment, the angels in heaven were rejoicing that a lost sinner had come home. That was the beginning of a new life for me as a Christian believer.

From that night some 61 years ago I have been grateful for the simplicity of the ABCD approach to Christianity.  It works! I know personally that it does! And so do dozens of others whom I have led in the same prayer of commitment over all those years!

However commitment needs to become a TOTAL commitment.

  • Inviting Christ to come into every area of our lives to be our Lord and Master.

I knew what it meant to allow Christ into every area of my life, so that He could deal with the past and bring healing, correct my beliefs and behaviours in the present and guide me in establishing my plans for the future in living for Him.

Later I came across a very helpful booklet written by Robert Munger, with the title “My Heart. Christ’s Home.” I was able to point others to it as a means of helping them to become more open to God. Its basic theme is that when we invite Christ into our hearts, we can treat him as an honoured guest. But He is meant to be the Lord of every person’s heart. So we respond to His presence in us, by opening all the doors in our hearts to Him, so He can enter every room of our lives and exercise His control in each room. The booklet ends with the home-owner handing over the title deeds of the home to Christ so that He becomes the Master of the home enabling His will can be done in and through the totally committed person.

  • Inviting Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we can know His will and do it.

It is sad that in many evangelical churches there is a resistance to the term “being filled the Spirit” or the term “Spirit filled.” One can understand that, when one comes across some extremes of Pentecostal teaching. But God commands us to “keep on being filled with the Spirit“ which is a true translation of Eph 5:18. It may be helpful to see what the consequences of being filled with the Holy Spirit look like, as you look at one of my previous articles, No. 340.

Another term is ‘full of the Spirit” which is used of Jesus in Luke 4:1, and as a requirement for the 7 deacons to be chosen in Acts 6. “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” Acts 6:3. Luke the writer goes on to show that one of those men was Stephen, whom he described as being “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” It is the same Stephen who was later martyred for his faith, but as he was being stoned to death, he was still full of the Spirit, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55. Barnabas was also described as being full of the Spirit, “for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.”  Acts 11:24. It would seem that those who are  “full of the Spirit” are those who habitually allowed themselves to keep on being filled with the Spirit.

The term then, “Spirit-filled” should be the default position of every believer, because we are all commanded to “keep on being filled the Spirit.” It is not just a term to be used of so-called “high-flyers”, the supposed elite, in the church, but of every individual. Jesus taught His followers to ask Him for what they needed, and made a promise to those who did so, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13. I believe it delights the heart of God when His children ask Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit.

That brings to a close this short series of an ABCD approach to Christianity. It is a simple approach but profound. As I mentioned in a previous article, it can become the basis on which you can build your own testimony.  The great advantage is that you don’t have to start by memorizing huge numbers of Bible passages or fairly complicated diagrams. You begin by memorizing just 4 letters ABCD and the 4 words  Admitting, Believing, Considering and Doing. They are the building blocks on which you can build your own Bible verses to help explain what Christianity is all about, AND on which you can formulate your own personal testimony for sharing with others, to the glory of God.

Blog No.346 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 17th January 2020.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Justification, Prayer, Praying our way through Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Salvation, Sanctification | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

345. An Overview of an ABCD View of Christianity. Section C. Counting the Cost.  [Part 4 of 5.]

In previous articles, I have mentioned that my desire to find some quick and simple method of equipping people to be able to share the main features of Christianity led to suggesting an ABCD view of Christianity.  As the material below shows it is about remembering initially only 4 words, Admitting, Believing, Considering and Doing. It is a method [among others] that I have been using for over 60 years with individuals or in large groups.

In this article, I will be looking at Section C on Considering the cost of becoming a Christian. As the outline under C below suggests, salvation is a free gift to us, but in another sense, it costs us everything. It was costly for Jesus who laid down His life for His friends. It comes to us as a free gift in Him. However there needs to be a response from us, expressing gratitude to Him for all Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. In NOTE 3 below we will see what that response might be. [Sections A and B are minimized as I have written on the in the previous 2 articles, but still are retained here to give the overall outline. So move now to Section C.]

A].       ADMITTING WE ARE SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS. [NOTE 1 below shows the Bible verses and other quotes.]
  • What the OT says. Ps 14:2-3, 51:5, Jer 17:5,9, Eccles 9:3 are some examples.
  • What Jesus said. Jn 3:16, 17, 36. Mat 15:19, Mk 7:21-23. Jn 8:12. 
  • What the Apostles said. Paul, Rom 3:23, 6:23, 2Cor 5:15, Eph 2:8-9. John in 1 Jn 5:11-13. Peter in 1 Pet :18-19, 2:24.
  • What the Church says. 39 Articles. Westminster Confession.
 
B].        BELIEVING that Christ came to die for sinners. [ NOTE 2]
We obtain forgiveness in Him and only in Him!
  • It had been prophesied.
  • It was fulfilled. “It is finished!” exclaimed Jesus.
  • It is available in Him alone.

C].        CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian. [NOTE 3]

Salvation is a free gift to us, but it costs us everything.

  • Salvation is a free gift in Christ. Eph 2:8-10
  • He died for all, so that we might live for Him. 2 Cor 5:15.

 D].       DOING something about it. [Not just believing but acting on that belief.] [NOTE 4]

  • Inviting Christ to come into our lives as our Saviour from sin. Rev 3:20
  • Inviting Christ to come into every area of our lives to be our Lord and Master.
  • Inviting Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we can know His will and do it.

NOTES:-  

[Notes 1 and 2 are to be found at the end of the articles dealing with Sections A and B.]

NOTE 3. on C].  CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian.

1].        Salvation Is A Free Gift In Christ. BUT!   Eph 2:8-10

One of the most well-known passages about God’s grace in sending Jesus to die for us, is found in these verses. Eph 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Our salvation is a gift from God. It is an act of grace towards us.  It is a gift in Christ we can choose to accept or reject. Faith accepts the gift, recognising this is because of what Christ has done and not because of any good work we have done. That is why is our salvation is never something we can boast about. We have been saved and now we belong to the family of God. There was no ‘good work’ we could ever do that would gain any merit for us to enter into heaven. But He wants His children to do good works.

In fact, Paul says that He has “prepared beforehand” what works God wants His children to do. Not only were the works prepared beforehand, but He had to prepare His children to be motivated and to be able to do them. They were His “workmanship,” His handiwork, being created and being prepared to do the works He had already prepared for them to do. Some translations are seemingly extravagant in their translation of the Greek word for ‘workmanship’ [poiēma; ποίημα] which simply means something that is made, when they render the word as ‘masterpiece.’ [Which of course we are as created unique beings with our own unique fingerprints and all.] However the point is that God Himself created His people for good works which He had already prepared for them to do. They do them, not to gain any merit in doing so, but because this is God’s purpose for them as new creatures in Christ.

Phil 2:12-13, has similar concepts. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Salvation is a free gift, but believers are to “work out” in practice, the implications of their salvation.  “Work out” is [katergazomai; κατεργάζομαι meaning to work and accomplish, or to achieve] and it is possible for them to do so because, as Paul states, God is actually at work in them, giving them the motivation and the ability to know and do His will. “At work” is energeō; ἐνεργέω, the basis of our English word ‘energy.’]  To “work” for His good pleasure, also has the same [energeō; ἐνεργέω] word.

In other words, the believer is to work out in practice what God is inwardly working in them.

So the cost of becoming a Christian is nothing, but the responsibility of being a Christian means becoming God’s agent in accomplishing the work He has prepared for us to do.

2}.        He Died For All, So That We Might Live For Him. 2 Cor 5:15. This is often called the “Divine Exchange.” “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 5:15.  It means that instead of living life as we want to live it, we now begin to live life as God wants us to live it. We hand the ownership of our lives over to Him, rather than being the Lord and Master of our own lives. We enthrone Him as Lord on the throne of our lives and seek to know and to do His will, rather than our own.

Living for Him means being committed to Him as one’s supreme responsibility and hanging on faithfully doing what He wants us to do. Jesus taught on that in Luke chapter 9 when someone said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus’ answer showed that commitment to Him, had the highest priority for His followers, “No one who puts his hand to the plow [plough] and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Lk 9:62. We can rightly rejoice in past accomplishments done with the Lord’s guidance and help, but we are not meant to relax in our efforts to serve Him in love at the present and in the future. St Paul wrote of his own philosophy of life and his future objectives in Php 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There IS a time for healthy reflection on past accomplishments and on life in general, provided that it doesn’t distract us from present and future responsibilities and opportunities to work for “His good pleasure” as Phil 2:13 says.

Counting the cost means committing oneself ‘boots and all” as they say in some circles, or “being totally committed” in other circles.

What a wonderful privilege it is to become a child of God by having faith in what Christ has done, but there is the great responsibility in living the way He wants us to live, from that point onwards! Working out in daily life, what He is working in us, day by day!

[The next article will be on Section D, Doing Something about it.]

Blog No.345. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 17th January 2020.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Justification, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

344 An Overview Of An ABCD View Of Christianity.  Section B] Believing That Christ Came To Die For Sinners.[Part 3 of 5.]

In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that I was thinking about how we can learn to share what Christianity is all about [and what is involved in our own personal faith] in a quick and simple way.  I came up with an approach I had used personally over the years and which stemmed from my own conversion experience over 61 years ago. It was based on the simple ABCD approach I used in a prayer of commitment to the Lord way back then. The sections ABCD below give an outline of what is involved in this approach.

In the previous article we looked at A] Admitting we are all sinners in the sight of God and Note 1 at the end of that article gave some of the suggested verses to consider in relation to that.

In this article we are going to look at B}  BELIEVING that Christ came to die for sinners, and at the end of the article will be NOTE 2 giving suggested verses to consider when sharing this truth.  What I hope to provide is a smorgasbord of biblical passages and verses so that you can take what will suit your palate best as you seek to share the good news of the gospel.  It may be wise to start off by memorising just simply one verse for each section, and then to add others verses as you become more proficient in sharing your faith with others. The large collation of verses below is not to impress you, but to save you time from having to do the research yourself.  We now move to section B and its Note 2. [Section A is minimised below, as we have previously dealt with it in the previous article. However it is retained here to give the overall view of the ABCD approach.]

A].       ADMITTING WE ARE SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS. [NOTE 1 is to be found on previous article No 343.] 
  1. What the OT says. Ps 14:2-3, 51:5, Jer 17:5,9, Eccles 9:3 are some examples.
  2. What Jesus said. Jn 3:16, 17, 36. Mat 15:19, Mk 7:21-23. Jn 8:12. 
  3. What the Apostles said. Paul, Rom 3:23, 6:23, 2Cor 5:15, Eph 2:8-9. John in 1 Jn 5:11-13. Peter in 1 Pet :18-19, 2:24.
  4. What the Church says. 39 Articles. Westminster Confession.

B].        BELIEVING that Christ came to die for sinners. [ NOTE 2 is to be found below.]

We obtain forgiveness in Jesus and only in Him!

  1. It had been prophesied. 

  2. It was fulfilled. “It is finished!” exclaimed Jesus.

  3. It is available in Him alone.

C].        CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian. [NOTE 3 will be found in the next article]

Salvation is a free gift to us, but it costs us everything. 

  1. Salvation is a free gift in Christ. Eph 2:8-10
  2. He died for all, so that we might live for Him. 2 Cor 5:15.

 D].       DOING something about it. [Not just believing but acting on that belief.] [NOTE 4 will be found in a forthcoming article]

  1. Inviting Christ to come into our lives as our Saviour from sin. Rev 3:20
  2. Inviting Christ to come into every area of our lives to be our Lord and Master.
  3. Inviting Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we can know His will and do it.

……………………………………………………………………….…………………………………

NOTES:- (Note 1 is to be found at the end of the previous article No.343.]

 NOTE 2. This is on B].  BELIEVING THAT CHRIST CAME TO DIE FOR SINNERS.

We obtain forgiveness in Jesus and only in Him!

  1. IT HAD BEEN PROPHESIED.

    The number of prophesies about the coming Messiah or Christ [the Anointed One] varies amongst scholars. However one organisation has given a list of the 40 most helpful passages, on this linked site,

https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/top-40-most-helpful-messianic-prophecies/

Among those passages are some which are more well-known than others. For example,

  • Ps 16:8-11. “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11  You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” [see Acts 23:22-23 and 13:35-37.]
  • Ps 22 has many detailed prophecies about the Messiah including the crucifixion scene. 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 22:7-8, “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’” 22:16-18, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17  I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. [See Mat 27 and Mk 15.]
  • Jer31:31,  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah”, [see Mk 14:24, 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 9:15, 12:24]
  • Isa 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn”[See Lk 4:17-21 where Jesus said this about Himself.]
  • Isa 52:4 to 53:12 “ Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” {See Mat 8:16-17, “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Mt 27:40, “and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
  • Zech 11:12-13, re the 30 pieces of silver, [See Mat 26:14, “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 25 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.”
  • A forerunner to Jesus was prophesied, Isa 40:3-5 “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” And Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” John the Baptist proclaimed as the forerunner to Jesus, Mk 1:12-2, The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
  • Isa 35:5-6. The Messiah would heal people. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.“ [See Mat 11:4, And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”]
  • Isa 42:1-7, the Messiah to be a light to the nations. [See Jn 8;12, “again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”]

2}.     IT WAS FULFILLED. “IT IS FINISHED!” EXCLAIMED JESUS.[ Jesus’ Death Was For Sinners.]

Jesus said so.

Mk 10:45, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Luk 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jn 3:16-17,“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

 Jn 19:30, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The long-promised work of redemption by Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, had been accomplished! [The title of one of my favorite books by John Murray is,  “Redemption Accomplished and Applied.” Redemption was accomplished on the cross by Jesus’ sacrificial death. It was made available to His followers by His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God as He poured out His Spirit on His followers on the Day of Pentecost.

Paul described His death as being for sinners.

Rom 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Rom 8:34 “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

2Cor 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died”

1Thess 5:10 “who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

Hebrews. The writer saw Jesus’ death as being sufficient to bring forgiveness of all sins,

Heb 2:17 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Heb 9:12  “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption…. 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Heb 10:14’ For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” AND Heb 10:18 ‘Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”

Peter

1Pet 1:18 “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

1Pet 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1Pet 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”


John in Revelation writing about Jesus’ death for sinners

Rev 1:5  “and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”

Rev 5:9 “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Rev 7:13-14, “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

 3].    FORGIVENESS IS AVAILABLE IN JESUS ALONE

Jesus. Some examples

  • He said He was THE light of the world. Jn 8:12, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • He said He was THE way and THE truth and THE life. John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
  • He said He was THE only way to the Father. Jn 14:6, “…No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts.

  • Act 4:12,And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
  • Act 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Act 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
  • Act 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
  • Act 13:38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
  • Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

 Paul. [Salvation and forgiveness are to be found only in Jesus.]

  • Paul put it simply and clearly in Eph 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Forgiveness for sin is to be found in Him and in Him alone. There is no other source to obtain forgiveness. He is THE Redeemer and THE only Saviour from sin.
  • Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • 1 Tim 2:5, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
  • Heb 9:22,  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
  • Heb 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
  • Heb 10:13-14, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Peter.

1 Pet 1:18-19, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

John.

  • 1Jn 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
  • 1 Jn 3:16, By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
  • 1 Jn 4:10, In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
  • 1 Jn 4:14, And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.
  • 1 Jn 5:11-12, And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

 This has been an exhausting but not exhaustive search. As I remarked above, you can read all the verses in their contexts if you wish, but then take your fork and try to sample and memorise only what suits you best in your efforts to share your faith with others.

[ In the next article we will look at Section [C] on counting the cost of becoming a Christian, and the accompanying NOTE 3 will provide biblical texts related to this.]

Blog No.344 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog  on Thursday 16th January 2020.

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343 An Overview Of An ABCD View Of Christianity. [Part 2 of 5.]

In my previous article [No342] I suggested that one way of explaining Christianity to someone who was interested, would be to use the letters ABCD as a simple method of explanation. It means initially having to remember only 4 words, Admitting, Believing, Considering and Doing. Sometimes just being able to quote one or two verses connected with these 4 words can lead to fruitful discussions and as I have discovered, to personal commitment to Christ by those who were hungry for reality in their lives.

In this article I want to give an overview for this suggested concept. It looks at the 4 sections involved in the ABCD approach and what we will discuss under each heading. Then we have NOTE 1 at the end of the article which will deal with the letter [A], which is “[A]DMITTING WE ARE SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS.” While it is true that it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring conviction of sin to a person’s life, He often highlights verses that we have been acquainted with, to bring such conviction. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” [John 16:8}

[As noted above, the Notes at the bottom of this article give only some suggested references for Section A, dealing with the topic, “Admitting we are sinners in the sight of God.” There are myriads more verses we could suggest, but these are suggested, not to be memorised in full, but to read in their context. Then you would be able to choose those you wish to memorise to help you in explaining or sharing your faith with others. I will use the same outline in future articles but will add Notes for the other sections B, C and D in those future articles.]

A].       ADMITTING WE ARE SINNERS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. WE ALL NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS. [NOTE 1 below shows the Bible verses and other quotes.]

  1. What the OT says. Ps 14:2-3, 51:5, Jer 17:5,9, Eccles 9:3 are some examples.
  2. What Jesus said. Jn 3:16, 17, 36. Mat 15:19, Mk 7:21-23. Jn 8:12. 
  3. What the Apostles said. Paul, Rom 3:23, 6:23, 2Cor 5:15, Eph 2:8-9. John in 1 Jn 5:11-13. Peter in 1 Pet :18-19, 2:24.
  4. What the Church says. 39 Articles. Westminster Confession.

B].        BELIEVING that Christ came to die for sinners. [ NOTE 2]

We obtain forgiveness in Him and only in Him!

  1. It had been prophesied.
  2. It was fulfilled. “It is finished!” exclaimed Jesus.
  3. It is available in Him alone.

C].        CONSIDERING the cost of becoming a Christian. [NOTE 3]

Salvation is a free gift to us, but it costs us everything.

  1. Salvation is a free gift in Christ. Eph 2:8-10
  2. He died for all, so that we might live for Him. 2 Cor 5:15.

 D].       DOING something about it. [Not just believing but acting on that belief.] [NOTE 4]

  1. Inviting Christ to come into our lives as our Saviour from sin. Rev 3:20
  2. Inviting Christ to come into every area of our lives to be our Lord and Master.
  3. Inviting Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we can know His will and do it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

NOTES:- [In this article the Notes deal only with section A.]

NOTE 1. on A]. ADMITTING we are sinners in the sight of God. All people Need God’s Forgiveness.

1].           What the Old Testament says.

Ps 14:2-3, The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Ps 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Jer 17:5, Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Jer 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Eccles 9:3,  This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that, they go to the dead.

2].          What Jesus said. (Words attributed to Him.)

Jn 3:16,17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jn 3:36, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Mat 15:19, For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Mat 7:21-23, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Jn 8:12, Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

3].         What the Apostles said.

PAUL.  

Rom 3:23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Rom 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Cor 5:15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Eph 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

JOHN.

1 Jn 5:11-13, And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

PETER

1 Peter 1:18-19, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 Peter 2:24, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

4].        WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS. The 39 Articles. Westminster Shorter Catechism.

39 Articles Of Religion. (Church of England. Anglican.)

Article IX. Of Original or Birth-Sin. Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; 

Westminster Shorter Catechism. (Presbyterian).

Question and answer No 18.

Quest. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
Ans. 18. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called Original Sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.) Rom. 5:12, 19; 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14-15; Matt. 15:19.

Blog No.343posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 14th January 2020

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342. Sharing Our Faith Using A Simple ABCD Formula!  Explaining THE Faith. Testifying To OUR Faith! (Part 1 of 5]

What do you do when someone suddenly says something like “Hey, what’s this Christianity stuff all about?” Probably most of us would be shocked to be asked such questions out of the blue. But we do need to have a reason for the hope that is in us as it says in 1Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15.

It was very helpful for me after my conversion to Christ on New Year’s Eve 1958 to be able to get help in this area by attending the Counselling courses provided by churches before the Billy Graham Crusade in Australia in 1959. Later I received help by learning to use the “Four Spiritual Laws” approach by Bill Bright of Campus Crusade. Another helpful input was a course on Evangelism Explosion begun by Dr. DJ Kennedy. Later on, I found the “Two Ways To Live” booklet authored by Philip Jensen and Tony Payne a very good tool to use in sharing one’s faith. However, it may be that some of us haven’t been acquainted with these tools. So what follows is an attempt on my part to help folk learn to share their faith quickly and simply.

What if someone TOMORROW were to ask you a question about your faith! As I thought about that, I came up with a suggestion that is easy to learn and to remember. It could be used easily in a non-confronting way with anyone who expressed some interest in Christ or Christianity or even the church. I realised in retrospect that I had used this approach hundreds of time over the years in prayer ministry situations with individuals, and even in groups numbering in the hundreds.  It comes naturally to me because it formed part of my own conversion experience in 1958. This was the background. I had been reading some of the late John Stott’s booklets. [He was a former Chaplain to the Queen and Rector of All Souls Langham Place, London.] I came across a suggested prayer of Commitment to Christ in one of the booklets. It formed the basis to the prayer I prayed as I asked Christ into my life that night in 1958.

It was based on the simple formula ABCD. I obviously still remember it almost 62 years later.

  1. Admit you are a sinner in the sight of God.
  2. Believe Christ died on the cross for you.
  3. Consider the cost of becoming a Christian.
  4. Do something about it. Open the door of your heart and invite Christ in, by accepting His invitation in Rev 3:20.

1].        TELLING OTHERS ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH using the ABCD formula

So here is my simple suggestion for learning in very quick time, to share our faith.

If we were asked the question, “What is Christianity all about?” Or “What do you believe as a Christian? We could reply,

“Christianity could be summed up under four letters, ABCD. It’s about:-

A].       Admitting we are all sinners in the sight of God.

B.]       Believing Christ came and died on the cross to take away the sin of the world.

C].        Considering the cost of becoming a Christian.

D].       Doing something about it. Asking Christ [who is knocking at the door of our lives] into our hearts to be our Saviour and Lord.”

 It is far less confronting than telling people they must A= Admit their sin. B= Believe Christ died on the cross for their sins. C=Consider the cost of becoming a Christian. And D = Do something about it and invite Christ into your life.

Some people may be ready for such a direct approach but most will not be.

 The simplicity is that initially, in my suggestion, we need to remember just 4 words beginning with the letters ABCD; Admitting, Believing, Considering and Doing.  We can build on those ABCD building blocks as time goes on so that we can have a more comprehensive answer to give those who are interested in learning more.

2.]        TELLING OTHERS ABOUT OUR OWN FAITH IN CHRIST using the ABCD formula.

Sharing our faith or giving our testimony can be based on the same ABCD formula. As we share with others, we can share with them, the following:-

  1. How we came to recognise and Admit that we were sinners in God’s sight and needed Him and especially His forgiveness.
  2. How we came to learn about Christ and came to Believe that He died on the cross for us personally.
  3. How we had to Consider the cost of becoming a Christian and the challenges that faced us as the time for a decision drew nearer.
  4. How we eventually decided to Do something about it by asking Christ into our lives or by handing the control of our lives over to Him.

Naturally, we don’t have to say the letters ABCD in our sharing, but they can be a useful way of framing our testimony so that it covers the main facets of our commitment to Christ.

3.]        SUGGESTED HOMEWORK

What would be a helpful thing to do would be to practise telling ‘others’ what Christianity is all about using the ABCD formula above, in section 1]. The ‘other’ could be a spouse or partner, or another member of a Bible Study Group, a prayer partner or a friend. The more it is practised, the more easily it becomes to share about Christianity or about our personal faith in Christ, in a natural and relaxed way.

My homework will be, in future articles, to add more material in the form of biblical teaching, to these ABCD building blocks so that we can give more comprehensive and deeper answers to those who ask us about Christianity or about our faith. Opportunities to share sometimes come at unexpected times and from unexpected people. We would do well to be prepared. [Please look for future articles on this topic in coming weeks.]

Blog No.342 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 11th January 2020.

 

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341. PRAYING THROUGH EPHESIANS.  Winning The War In Spiritual Warfare. Eph 6:10-24. A Suggested Prayer

Some years ago I wrote an article giving an outline of this passage. It was No 047 on this link. https://jimholbeck.blog/2011/11/23/047-outline-of-ephesians-69-24-spiritual-warfare/

Because this passage was discussed there at length, I will do a shorter treatment of these verses in this article. What Paul is doing in this passage is encouraging his readers to be strong in the Lord’s strength as they live in a hostile world.

COMMAND 1. TO BE STRONG IN THE LORD.

It is the Lord’s strength that is needed in Spiritual warfare! 6:10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

Paul uses here 3 of the most common words for strength or power in the New Testament.

  • “Be strong” is [endynamoō; ἐνδυναμοῦσθε,  a derivative of dunamis =strength]
  • “Strength” is [kratos; κράτε= dominion or power]. It is the basis of our English words theocracy [the rule of God] and democracy [the rule of the demos, the people.]
  • “Might” is [ischys; ἰσχύος] and here refers to mighty strength, God’s strength or power.

Paul is urging his readers to rely only on the Lord’s strength and not just on their own strength which he saw as being inadequate for spiritual warfare.

COMMAND 2.  TO PUT ON THE LORD’S PROTECTION.

It is the Lord’s Protection that is needed in Spiritual Warfare!

Put on the whole armour of God.” ”Put on” is  ἐνδύω; endúō and can also mean “to clothe oneself with.” That is appropriate here for the putting on, or clothing oneself with, armour which God is able to supply. Armour is [panoplia; πανοπλία] meaning the total armour, both offensive and defensive. Paul was showing that it needed the whole armour of God to be strong in the Lord’s strength. Each and every part was necessary to win the battle.

The Reasons For The Command To Put On God’s Armour.

Paul wants them to understand the nature of the battle believers face. It is a spiritual battle against evil powers and personalities.

i]. The devil has strategies that have to be recognised and overcome. “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” “Schemes” is [methodeia; μεθοδεία] which is the root of our English word “method”. It probably comes from a combination of “meta” meaning with or after, and hodos = a way. It refers to guile or trickery or evil strategies.

ii]. The real enemy has to be recognised.  Paul is warning that behind the human attitudes and actions, there are spiritual forces at work for evil, Eph 6:11, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”  but

  • against the rulers, [from archē; ἀρχή meaning first, for example, in power]
  • against the authorities, [exousia; ἐξουσία] meaning delegated power or authority.
  • against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, [‘cosmic powers’ is derived from one word, [κοσμοκράτωρ; kosmokratōr], where cosmos is the world and kratos means power.
  • against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 6:12. [‘spiritual forces’ is one word pneumatika; πνευματικὰ. ] There are spiritual forces for good but there are also spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies or in the spiritual realm.

Paul was encouraging his readers to be cognisant of the nature of the spiritual warfare they were engaged in and to look beyond evil people to the evil powers that were at work in or through them. Human strength and wisdom would be insufficient in such a battle.

COMMAND 3. TO TAKE UP THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD.

Eph 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armour of God

The REASON FOR THE COMMAND. “that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” It is as though Paul was indicating that evil was inescapable in an evil world, but could be overcome by trusting in the power of God. It was a matter of standing, having first made provision for the battle.

  • Eph 6:14 “Stand therefore,” [and the preparation required by the believer.] Paul’s words here show that prior preparation has to be made to engage successfully in spiritual warfare. In other words, he is saying “Stand therefore” having made the following preparation. He outlines that preparation in terms of armour,
    • having fastened on the belt of truth, and
    • having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
    • Eph 6:15 and having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace, as shoes for your feet.”

Spiritual warfare can only be won by taking hold of all the armour God Himself provides.

COMMAND 4. TO TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH.

Eph 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Faith shields against all the attacks of the enemy. Paul doesn’t specify here what form those darts take. But included among them would be the accusations hurled at believers by diabolos, the devil, the accuser.

COMMAND 5. TO TAKE UP THE HELMET OF SALVATION AND THE WORD OF GOD.

 Eph 6:17 “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also described the word of God as a sword, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Heb 4:12. God’s word wielded as a sword is powerful and vitally necessary in spiritual warfare. So also is prayer. Believers are to have a prayerful, watchful attitude at all times,praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Eph 6:18.

Paul wrote about being watchful in 1Cor 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” Peter also stressed the need for watchfulness and gave a reason, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8.

No one is above the need for prayer. Paul knew he needed prayer support and was humble enough to admit it. He requested that they pray that he might be given the right words to speak and  also the boldness to speak them, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Eph 6:19-20. If the great apostle knew he needed prayer support, then how much more do we in today’s world. The situations may be different but the spiritual forces of evil at work then, are also at work in our world today and need to be overcome in the ways Paul commands in this epistle.

[Comments on the final greetings section of the epistle may be seen in article No 047 on this blogsite, mentioned above.]

A SUGGESTED PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 6:10-24.

“Dear Lord, I need Your help to live for You. I want to be strong in the strength that only You can provide.  

I put on the armour You have provided for me, so that I can have victory over everything that is opposed to You and to Your presence in me.

By faith, I put on the belt of truth around my waist.

I put on the breastplate of righteousness.

I put on the shoes of readiness to share the gospel.

I take up the shield of faith to extinguish everything the enemy hurls at me.

I place on my head the helmet of salvation

and I take up the sword of the Spirit, Your word to guide and strengthen me.

Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that He may guide and lead me as I pray for all Your people.  

Strengthen me to become the person You want me to be, that I might be doing Your will to Your glory, for the rest of my life.

I ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN!”

Blog No.341 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 10th January 2020.

 

 

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340. Praying Through Ephesians. Eph 5:17-16:9. Being Filled With The Spirit And The Possible Consequences In Lives Lived In Mutual Submission

What Does Living In The Will Of God Really Involve?

Eph 5:17 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

It means being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit and living under the ongoing influence of the Spirit in every area of life. St Paul wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” He, of course, meant being filled with the Holy Spirit. Eph 5:18.

What should be the outcomes, the corollaries, the inevitable results of being filled with the Spirit? What Paul does next is very instructive. He introduces one long sentence joined by a series of participles, rather than verbs, to show that each section is dependent on the main verb, “be filled.” The verb “be filled” is a present tense, imperative [or command] so it could be translated as “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.“  It means then that the phrases which follow are not separate commands based on verbs such as “address”, “sing”, “make melody”, “give thanks”, “submit!” That is important to note when we come to the word “submit” later in the chapter. Rather they are participles connected to the main verb, “be filled.” It gives the sense that if the command “to be filled” is continuously obeyed, then the outcomes in verses 19-21 can characterise the life of the person who is open to God filling him or her with the Holy Spirit.

The Vertical And Horizontal Consequences Of Being Filled With The Spirit. 5:19-21

  • “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
  • singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Eph 5:19,
  • giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 5:20.
  • submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Eph 5;21.

We note from the above, that being filled with the Spirit has both vertical and horizontal outcomes.

* The vertical [to God] outcomes and responsibilities are singing and making melody to the Lord and giving thanks to Him for everything.

*The horizontal [to one another] outcomes and responsibilities are addressing one another in Psalms, hymns etc and submitting to one another in Christ. We could summarise these verses 19-21 in this way,

  • Ministering To One Another While Focussed On Praise To God, Eph 5:19 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”,
  • Ministering To The Lord In Praise And Thanksgiving. “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, 5:19-20.
  • Ministering To One Another, In Mutual Submission to one another and to Christ, Eph 5:21 “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Mutual Submission In Practice, In The Body Of Christ. 5:22-6:9

The passage from 5:22 to 6:9 really follows on from the main command in verse 5:18 “to be filled with the Spirit.” It spells out in detail what mutual submission should look like in its practical application. There is some conjecture as to whether verse 22 begins a new sentence, or is a continuation of the wording in verse 21 such as “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to husbands as to the Lord.” However what is more certain, is that there is no verb in many Greek manuscripts, so that the verse reads, “wives to husbands as to the Lord”. That is less confronting to many people than the “Wives be subject to your husbands” found in many translations.

We note in passing that it is not the subjection of women as a class to men as a class. Rather it refers to the relationship of husbands and wives as they live in mutual submission to one another as part of the general command to believers to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Because I have written previously about this latter part of Ephesians chapter 5, I will not dwell on it here. You can see my previous article No 045 on this link

https://jimholbeck.blog/2011/11/22/045-outline-of-ephesians-521-33-mutual-submission-in-the-body-of-christ/

However, we need to see that the theme of mutual submission continues into chapter 6 of Ephesians.

Mutual Submission. Children and Parents. 6:1-4

Children and parents. 6:1-3

The obedience that children are to render to their parents has a context. It presupposes that both parents and children are “in the Lord” and all are submitted to His rule over their lives. Eph 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” If parents are exercising their God-given privileges and responsibilities, then the children should feel safe and secure to submit to them in obedience.

The obedience required of children is also based on God’s revealed will in His word in the Decalogue [the Ten Commandments] quoted here by Paul. Eph 6:2 “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” The basis for rendering obedience is here seen as the need for the relationship to go well for both parties, and for the future protection and welfare of the children.

It has to be noted of course that the children’s submission to Christ may sometimes have to overrule their submission to parents when the latter refuse to be submitted to Christ themselves and in doing so, abrogate their responsibility as Christian parents.

Parents and children. 6:4

The responsibility of mutual submission is applicable also to the parents. Here Paul demands that fathers not provoke their children to anger, Eph 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  The word for “provoke to anger” is [parorgizō, παροργίζω] which is only used twice in the New Testament as a verb and once as a noun, as in Eph 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The latter verse gives an indication as to what is involved in the submission of parents to their children. There may be cause for parental anger at times, as the word for “be angry” [ὀργίζεσθε be angry or as NIV translates, In your anger ] suggests. However prolonged unrepentant anger [parorgizō, παροργίζω] later in the verse, is not appropriate for Christian parents. Misplaced anger can be a provocation for children to respond inappropriately.

The appropriate model for child-raising is then introduced by Paul, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  6:4. The word for “discipline” is [paideia; παιδεία] which is used in relation to children and to adults. For example, the writer to the Hebrews wrote of discipline using this same word, Heb 12:9 “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” True discipline always has a positive motivation in the one exercising it, leading to a beneficial result for the person being disciplined.

“Instruction” is [nouthesia; νουθεσία] and is only found twice elsewhere. In 1 Cor 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” and in Titus 3:10 where it is translated as warning, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” We can learn a lot from the successes and failures of those in the past, including our own. On the basis of what we have learned we are able to warn others of the consequences of behaviours that we know will be detrimental to those behaving in such a way.

No wonder Paul advises his readers to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mutual Submission. Bondservants and Masters to each other and to God as Master of all. 6:5-9

Paul is saying that everyone is accountable to God, including masters and bondservants.

He addresses first of all, the accountability of bondservants to masters but in doing so shows that their service, is in reality, to the Lord as master, and not just to their human masters. Notice these phrases in the following verses, “as you would Christ”, “bondservants of Christ”, “as to the Lord.” Eph 6:5  “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ 6  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7  rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8  knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”

Paul then addresses the masters and reminds them that they too are accountable to God and have responsibilities to their bondservants. Eph 6:9 “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” There is One master for bondservants and their masters, who shows no partiality. The masters in the treatment of their bondservants must not be threatening to them because the One true master now in heaven did not threaten, even in extremely difficult circumstances, [“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Pet 2:23]

A Suggested Prayer Based On Ephesians 5:17-16:9

How can one condense all the teaching in this passage into one simple prayer? Not easily! The passage began with the need to understand what the will of the Lord is. It then moved on to the need to keep on being filled with the Spirit to be motivated and enabled to fulfil our responsibilities to God and to one another in Him. A major part of that was living in submission to Him and to one another, in Him.

‘Heavenly Father, I want to live in the centre of Your will for me. I open every area of my life to You, and ask that You might keep on filling me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can submit myself to your rule over my life.  I want to be motivated and empowered by Your Spirit to humble myself in my family and working life, in ways that will be a blessing to others and will bring glory to You. I ask these things in Jesus’ name, and for His sake. AMEN.”

Blog No.340 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 6th January 2020

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