The Westminster Confession of Faith: Of the Perseverance of the Saints. Part 2.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Seventeen: Of the Perseverance of the Saints. Part 2.

3. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; a and for a time continue therein:b whereby they incur God’s displeasure,c and grieve his Holy Spirit;d come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts;e have their hearts hardened,f and their consciences wounded;g hurt and scandalize others,h and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.i

a. Matt. 26:707274. • b. Ps. 51 title with v. 14. • c. 2 Sam. 11:27Isa. 64:579. • d. Eph. 4:30. • e. Ps. 51:81012Song. 5:2-46Rev. 2:4. • f. Isa. 63:17Mark 6:5216:14. • g. Ps. 32:3-451:8. • h. 2 Sam. 12:14. • i. Ps. 89:31-321 Cor. 11:32.

I encourage you to read the portions of Scripture listed in this post.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

\Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Light Exposes the Darkness.

13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13–14 (ESV)

The metaphors of light and darkness are predominant within the Scriptures. They have certainly been predominant within Ephesians 5:7-12. The image of light and darkness is a symbolic theme of ethical dualism. This dualism is present from the beginning of the Old Testament and developed throughout the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul brings to a semi-conclusion his extended thoughts on walking in the Lord (Ephesians 5:1-12). He challenges believers in Christ to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Instead, believers are to expose them.

Paul continues in today’s text to explain that the light of God’s righteousness and holiness exposes the darkness. To expose (ἐλέγχω; elencho) means to reprove, convict and rebuke. When sin is exposed, it becomes visible. To be visible (φανερόω; phaneroo) means to reveal and to make clear. The light of God’s Word confronts and give clear perspective to sin (Psalm 119:105).

The phrase  for anything that becomes visible is light perhaps should read light makes anything visible. The proclamation of God’s clear truth exposes all kinds of evil (Proverbs 6:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It is at this point in the text that Paul refers to this quotation: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” It is presumed this is a quotation from an Old Testament text. However, what particular OT reference cannot be identified with certainty. Many scholars believe Paul was making reference to Isaiah 60:1 which says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

Dr. R. Sproul writes, “The imagery of light and awakening or rising can be found in Isaiah 60:1, describing the restoration of Israel in the end times. There the LORD shines light on Israel, and here Christ is identified with the God of Isaiah 60:1 in shining light on people. However, Paul may be citing a portion of an early Christian hymn well known to the churches, as he seems to do elsewhere (Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-20; I Tim. 3:16). If this is the case, it would be a hymn that has been influenced by Isaiah 60:1.”

Dr. John Walvoord explains the purpose of thoughts: “Verses 7–14 (Ephesians 5:7-14) deal with church discipline. Believers are to walk in the light, and in so doing to expose other believers of any works that are unfruitful so that they too may walk in the light and please their Lord.”

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Book of Ephesians: Light and Darkness.

13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13–14 (ESV)

The metaphors of light and darkness are predominant within the Scriptures. They have certainly been predominant within Ephesians 5:7-12. The image of light and darkness is a symbolic theme of ethical dualism. This dualism is present from the beginning of the Old Testament and developed throughout the Scriptures.

One biblical commentator writes, “Light and darkness together describe the opposite ends of a good-evil dualism that pervades biblical symbolic language. The specific reference of light or darkness in a particular text must be assessed based on its context, but the essential meaning of the dualism remains true throughout both Old and New Testaments.”

While the two concepts are found throughout the Scriptures, I believe it would be wise to focus our attention exclusively upon the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s use of light and darkness emerges out of the creation story when God brings light to the darkness and chaos, thus establishing a link between light and God’s presence and activity (2 Cor. 4:6).

Paul follows the four Gospel authors’ tendency of using the metaphorical meaning of light to describe Jesus (John 1:1-5; I John 1:5-7). Paul also uses the imagery of light shining in the darkness to refer to the gospel of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:4–6). Additionally, those who follow Christ are called “children of the light” (Eph. 5:8). Those who oppose the way of Christ by their actions are described in terms of darkness and night (1 Thess. 5:2–7; Eph. 5:14; Rom 1:21).

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states, “The association of God with light is recurrent in the NT. The apostle John wrote that “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all” (1 John 1:5, nlt). The apostle James referred to God as “the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17). Or God may be thought of as living in light, light that no person can approach (1 Tm 6:16; cf. 1 John 1:7). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; see also 9:5), and “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46, rsv). Jesus told his followers to believe in the light while it was with them (v 35). Such passages emphasize that Christ brought a revelation from God, but he was more than a revealer. He was himself that revelation, according to the apostle John (John 1:1–10). John the Baptist came to bear witness to the light for the purpose of bringing people to believe (vv 7–8). Those who received Jesus, who believed in the light, received the right to become children of God (vv 9–12). Sometimes light is used to express the illumination that happens when people come to the knowledge of God and his salvation (Mt 4:16; Lk 2:32; Acts 13:47; 26:18).”

As children of light (Ephesians 5:8), may each of us let our light so shine that people will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Book of Ephesians: Shameful Works of Darkness.

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:11–12 (ESV)

God commands believers in Christ to not participate in the unfruitful works of sin and wickedness. On the contrary, believers are to expose and confront those who carry out such behavior (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2).

The apostle Paul continues by saying that it is shameful to even talk about the things which wicked people do. The word shameful (αἰσχρός; aischros) means to be dishonest and disgraceful. In other words, to participate in indecent behavior. The things done by the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6) are to shameful to even talk about.

However, in our current culture the shameful acts of wickedness performed by unconverted sinners are displayed and portrayed on social media, movies, theater, magazines and in music. The 21st century culture celebrates wickedness in all its forms.

Nineteenth century theologian Charles Hodge writes, “There are two reasons why sins are called works of darkness. The first principle is because the spring from darkness or ignorance of God. The second is because they are committed in darkness.  They shun the light. The exceeding turpitude of these sins the apostle gives as the reason why they should be reproved.”

Dr. John MacArthur adds, “Some sins are so despicable that they should be sealed off from direct contact and not even mentioned, much less discussed, except in order to contradict and oppose them. Merely talking about them can be morally and spiritually corruptive. Positive proclamation of the pure truth in the light of the word exposes all evil (cf. Prov. 6:232 Tim. 3:16).”

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Book of Ephesians: The Unfruitful Works of Darkness.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)

The biblical metaphor of light vs. darkness is found throughout the pages of Scripture (Job 12:24-25; Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 4:12-16; John 1:4-5; 3:19; 8:12; 12:35-36, 46; I John 1:5-7; 2:7-11). Light is symbolic of God’s holiness and righteousness. Darkness symbolizes sin and wickedness. Spiritual darkness also depicts ignorance about God’s will. Therefore, knowledge of God is “light” and the lack of such knowledge is “darkness”

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states, “Moral depravity is sometimes described as darkness (Prov. 2:13; 4:19; Is. 5:20; 60:2). In the NT darkness is generally a metaphor of moral depravity and spiritual ignorance (Mt 4:16; 6:23; Lk 1:79; 11:35; 22:53; Rom 2:19; Col 1:13).”

In today’s text from Ephesians, the Apostle Paul strongly warns Christians to have no relationship with darkness. The phrase take no part (συγκοινωνέω; synkoinoneo) is a present, active imperative or command. The believer in Christ is to have no fellowship or partnership with darkness.

Darkness (σκότος; skotos) is used in the text as a description of moral evil and sin. It is described as unfruitful (ἄκαρπος; akarpos) meaning unproductive and useless. The word works (ἔργον; ergon) refers to the reality that spiritual darkness is associated with specific deeds or behavior.

Instead of participating in the unfruitful works of darkness, believers in Christ are to expose the darkness. To expose (ἐλέγχω; elencho) is also a present, active imperative command. Christians are to reproach, rebuke and reject the works of darkness ((Matt. 18:15; John 3:20; 16:8; Eph. 5:11; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:9; Heb. 12:5; James 2:9; Jude 15; Rev 3:19; Jude 22, 23). Such rebuking is to be done humbly and gently (Galatians 6:1-2) with an awareness of one’s own faults (Matthew 7:1-5).

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Christians, by conducting themselves as “children of light,” expose the “deeds of darkness.” These deeds, however, refer here to the deeds of other believers who are not walking in the light. This is because only God can expose and convict unbelievers’ deeds (1 Cor. 5:12–13). Believers, on the other hand, can expose evil deeds among other Christians within the church. This the Corinthians failed to do (1 Cor. 5).”

No believer in Christ should take it upon themselves to be the self-appointed, self-righteous exposer of other believer’s sins. Such a pride centered so-called ministry can accomplish nothing but anguish within the church congregation. Exposure of other’s sin is to be done biblically, carefully, and humbly (Matthew 7:1-5; 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2).

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Book of Ephesians: The Fruit of Light.

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:7–10 (ESV)

Believers in Christ are to be imitators of God in their life and lifestyle (Ephesians 5:1). We are also to not be sharers or joined with those who rebelliously live in sin (Ephesians 5:3-7).  The reason for this is because Christians are light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8; Matthew 5:13-16). Therefore, God commands us to live as children solely belonging to the light of God.

What does living in the reflected holy light of God look like in our everyday world? The Apostle Paul provides us with some answers.

For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Fruit (καρπός; karpos) is used here metaphorically to signify the deeds and behavior of the believer in Christ. This metaphor is found throughout the Scriptures (Isaiah 5:1-7; John 15:1-11; Galatians 5:16-25).

What does the metaphorical fruit of light look like in the believer’s daily life? Paul says that the fruit of light is in union with all that is good, right and true.

To be good (ἀγαθωσύνη; agathosyne) means to live in a way which benefits others (Romans 15:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11). To be right (δικαιοσύνη; dikaiosyne) means to do what God requires. To be true (ἀλήθεια; aletheia) refers to living in a biblical, historical and eternal reality.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Darkness” describes the character of the life of the unconverted as void of truth and virtue in intellectual and moral matters (cf. 1 John 1:5–7). The realm of darkness is presided over by the “power of darkness” (Luke 22:53Col. 1:13), who rules those headed for “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:122 Pet. 2:17). Tragically, sinners love the darkness (John 3:19–21). It is that very darkness from which salvation in Christ delivers sinners (John 8:12Col. 1:131 Pet. 2:9; cf. Ps. 27:1). The fruit of light speaks of that which is produced by walking in the light (cf. 1 John 1:5–7), namely moral excellence of heart, righteous behavior, and truthfulness (honesty or integrity).”

The believer’s responsibility before God and others is to discern (δοκιμάζω; dokimazo) judge and approve what behavior pleases God. This discernment comes from the Word of God (Psalm 1; 19; 119).

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Walk as Children of Light.

Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:7–10 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul issues still another concluding statement since he began the practical section of his letter to the Ephesian Church (Ephesians 4:1; 4:25; 5:1). It applies to the importance of believers in Christ being imitators of God in their life and lifestyle.

Therefore do not become partners with them. This statement applies to faithful Christians not having any agreement with professing believers who are living in rebellion against God. The word partners (συμμέτοχος; symmetochos) means a sharer and a joint imitator.

I Peter 4:3-5 says, For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Christians must consider the fearful destiny of nonbelievers and refuse to join them in their folly (I Peter 4:3-5). Instead, they should remember their paths as partakers with the Jews in the promise of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:6).”

Believers in Christ are to no longer conform to this fallen world (Romans 12:1-2) because God now calls us salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). We were once darkness (σκότος; skotos) meaning to live in the abode of sin (John 3:19). However, believers are now light in the Lord. Light (φῶς; phos) refers to dwelling in holiness. This holiness is because Christians are in union with Christ.

Believers in Christ are to walk as children of light. The command to walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) is to behave in manner reflecting the holiness of Christ.

1 John 1:5–7 says, This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Let each of us who are in Christ live today reflecting the holiness of the Lord. May we do so as we live in an ever increasing darkening world (Romans 1:18-32). Have a light day.

Soli deo Gloria!   

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Seventeen: Of the Perseverance of the Saints. Part 1.

1. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.a

a. John 10:28-29Phil. 1:61 Peter 1:592 Peter 1:101 John 3:9.

2. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father;a upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ;b the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them;c and the nature of the covenant of grace:d from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.e

a. Jer. 31:32 Tim. 2:18-19. • b. Luke 22:32John 17:1124Heb. 7:259:12-1510:101413:20-21Rom. 8:33-39. • c. John 14:16-171 John 2:273:9. • d. Jer. 32:40. • e. John 10:282 Thess. 3:31 John 2:19.

I encourage you to read the portions of Scripture listed in this post.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

\Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: The Wrath of God is Coming.

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:5–6 (ESV)

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.”  – Martin Luther

Martin Luther and John Calvin both correctly understood that man’s good works do not justify him/her before God (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9-20; Ephesians 2:1-3). However, good works unto holiness are the biblical evidence that an individual is truly justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christa alone (Ephesians 2:4-10; James 2:14-26).

The Apostle Paul strongly challenged the Ephesian Christians to no longer engage in sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness. To do such things was not proper for the believer in Christ. He warned them that those who profess Christ are not truly converted if they live an ungodly life.

Paul then says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” Paul warned the Ephesian believers that there would be deceivers who would seek to mislead them with an empty gospel. Perhaps the empty gospel had to do with living an ungodly life when the Gospel of Christ brings newness of life.

It is because of sexual immorality, among other sins, that God’s wrath is coming. It will surely come upon the sons of disobedience to God.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Paul had taught this truth many times when he pastored the church at Ephesus and it should have been clear in their minds. God never tolerates sin, which has no place at all in his kingdom, nor will any person whose life pattern is one of habitual immorality, impurity, and greed (see v. 3) be in his kingdom, because no such person is saved (1 Cor. 6:9–10Gal. 5:17–211 John 3:9–10). No Christian will be sinless in this present life, but it is dangerously deceptive for Christians to offer assurance of salvation to a professing believer whose life is characterized by persistent sin and who shows no shame for that sin or hunger for the holy and pure things of God. They are headed for wrath (2:2) and believers must not partner in any of their wickedness (5:7).”

 Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Strong Warning.

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:5–6 (ESV)

We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” – Martin Luther

 “I wish the reader to understand that as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. (Galatians 5:6; Romans 3:22.) It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone: just as it is the heat alone of the sun which warms the earth, and yet in the sun it is not alone, because it is constantly conjoined with light.” – John Calvin

Luther and Calvin both correctly understood that man’s good works do not justify him/her before God (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:9-20; Ephesians 2:1-3). However, good works unto holiness are the biblical evidence that an individual is truly justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christa alone (Ephesians 2:4-10; James 2:14-26).

The Apostle Paul strongly challenged the Ephesian Christians to no longer engage in sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness. To do such things was not proper for the believer in Christ.

Paul then states in today’s text that those professing believers who continue to engage in such activity have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. In other words, those who continue to consistently sin and not put off their old self and put on their new self (Ephesians 4:22-24) are truly not converted. They remain lost and objects of God righteous wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Paul sternly warned believers that the reason they are to abstain from evil deeds (specifically, immorality, impurity, and greed; cf. vv. 3 and 5) is that those who practice them are not a part of God’s kingdom. Those who have no inheritance in the kingdom have not been “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” as 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 so clearly demonstrates. A greedy person … is an idolater (cf. Col. 3:5) in the sense that greed, like idols, puts things before God.”

I encourage you to read Romans 6-8 and James 2:14-26 to grasp the importance of holiness as an evidence of one’s conversion by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believers in Christ are not only to communicate the gospel but also live by the gospel.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Proper Speech.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul transitions from the subject of sexual immorality to the issue of the tongue. Proper speech is an essential characteristic of the Christian.

James 3:6-12 says, And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”  

Ephesians 4:4 begins with the words Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk.” Filthiness (αἰσχρότης; aischrotes) means obscene, shameful and indecent speech. Foolish talk (μωρολογία; morologia) refers to speech lacking in understanding and wisdom. Crude joking (εὐτραπελία; eutrapelia) is vulgar and indecent speech. It is speech which is not worthy of praise. It is not speech praising He who is worthy.

This type of speech the apostle says is out of place (ἀνήκω; aneko) meaning unfitting and improper. It is impropriate for a believer in Christ. Within the immediate context, Paul may be referring to sexual innuendo and crude joking involving sexual relationships.  

How often do we use phrases and terms which are common in our culture? Are these words which build other believers up in their faith? Does our speech commend to unbelievers that we are holy men and women of God? Language in our culture can often times be quite vulgar and obscene. Believers in Christ must resolve to speak in a proper and God honoring manner.

One manner of speech which is God honoring is the giving of thanks. Thanksgiving (εὐχαριστία; eucharistia) is the expression of thanks and words of gratefulness (Acts 24:3; 1 Cor. 14:16; 2 Cor. 4:15; 9:11; Eph. 5:4; Php. 4:6; Col. 2:7; 4:2; 1 Thess. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:1; 4:3; Rev .7:12).

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Improprieties in speech—obscenity (aischrotēs, “shameless talk and conduct”), foolish talk (mōrologia, lit., “stupid words”), and coarse jesting (eutrapelia, “vulgar, frivolous wit”)—are out of place for Jesus’ followers, because such vices often harm (cf. 4:29), whereas thanksgiving is appreciation for others and is helpful. Paul was not intimating that humor itself is sin, but that it is wrong when it is used to destroy or tear down others.”

Take time today to examine the programs you watch in visual media and the mobile apps you access. What is the content of the speech? Does it honor God? Are you being influenced by such speech?       

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Not even Named!

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3 (ESV)

Believers in Christ are to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). Patterning our lives after God’s character is to impact all areas of life and living (Ephesians 4:1-32). The Apostle Paul continues to explain what this pattern of life is like.

There are behaviors that must not even be named among you (ὀνομάζω; onomazo). This means that there are behaviors that are never to be associated with a believer. Only what is proper (πρέπω; prepo) or fitting is to characterize a saint’s lifestyle. Paul continues to explain what a proper lifestyle is for the Christian.

There is to be no sexual immorality (πορνεία; proneia) in the Christian’s life. There is to be no engagement into what God identifies as illicit sex. This is known as fornication. It includes sexual sin of a general kind, that includes many different behaviors (Matt. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7:21; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:3).

There is to be no impurity (ἀκαθαρσία; akatharsia) in the Christian’s life. This refers to moral filth. It is another word for sexual impurity (Rom. 1:24; 6:19; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 5:3; Col. 3:5; 4:7).

There is to be no covetousness (πλεονεξία; pleonexia) in the Christian’s life. This is greed and avarice. It is wanting more than what one possesses. It is wanting what someone else possesses.

This emphasis on proper sexuality in marriage between a man and a woman was a striking condemnation of the Ephesian culture. Ephesus was filled with all manner of sexual immorality dedicated to the worship of the goddess Diana.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “In absolute contrast to God’s holiness and love, such sins as these exist (also in v. 5), by which Satan seeks to destroy God’s divine work in his children and turn them as far away as possible from his image and will. As do many other Scriptures, this verse shows the close connection between sexual sin and other forms of impurity and greed. An immoral person is inevitably greedy. Such sins are so godless that the world should never have reason even to suspect their presence in Christians.”

Repent and forsake any hint of sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness in your life. Do so today. Do so every day.  

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Be Imitators of God.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul issues forth his third therefore since he began the application section in Ephesians 4:1. Be reminded that the word therefore indicates a conclusion.

God has justified sinners by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 1-3). Therefore, believers in Christ are to walk and live in a manner worthy of God’s calling unto justification (Ephesians 4:1). Believers in Christ are to no longer live like the unconverted (Ephesians 4:17).

Believers in Christ are also to be imitators of God. An imitator (μιμητής; mimetes) is a person who does what others do. In this particular context, the person believers are to imitate is solely none other than God.

We are to imitate God because we are His beloved children. Beloved (ἀγαπητός; agapetos) means to be the object of God’s self-sacrificial love of the will (Ephesians 2:1-10). Beloved is another word for grace. It is on the basis of God’s gracious love that believers are His offspring. He is our heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9).

It is because we are God’s children by grace that we are to live lifestyles of grace. Believers are commanded to walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) or behave in love (ἀγάπη; agape). Paul sets forth the character of this type of love life in I Corinthians 13:1-8.

We live in love as Jesus Christ loved (ἀγαπάω; agapao) us when we were spiritually dead sinners (Ephesians 2:1-3). The phrase gave himself up for us (παραδίδωμι; paradidomi) refers to Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross on behalf of sinners (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-10; I Peter 2:24-25).

Christ’s substitutionary atonement is compared to a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. A fragrant offering (προσφορά; prosphora) is a sacrifice and presentation to God (Acts 21:26; 24:17; Rom. 15:16; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:5, 8, 10, 14, 18). A sacrifice (θυσία; thysia) is another word for an offering to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 13:1; Acts 7:41; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 10:18; Eph. 5:2; Php. 4:18; Heb. 5:1; 9:26; 10:1; 13:15, 16; 1 Peter 2:5). This is what our lives are to be unto the Lord.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Christ’s offering of himself for fallen man pleased and glorified his heavenly Father, because it demonstrated in the most complete and perfect way God’s sovereign, perfect, unconditional, and divine kind of love. Leviticus describes five offerings commanded by God for Israel. The first three were: 1) the burnt offering (Lev. 1:1–17), depicting Christ’s perfection; 2) the grain offering (Lev. 2:1–16), depicting Christ’s total devotion to God in giving his life to please the Father; and 3) the peace offering (Lev. 3:1–17), depicting his peacemaking between God and man. All three of these were a “pleasing aroma to the LORD” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 2:2, 9, 12; 3:5, 16). The other two offerings, the sin offering (Lev. 4:1–5:13) and the guilt, or trespass, offering (Lev. 5:14–6:7), were repulsive to God because, though they depicted Christ, they depicted him as bearing sin (cf. Matt. 27:46). In the end, when redemption was accomplished, the whole work pleased God completely.”

May each of us strive today to please the Lord as children of God. This is our great privilege because of our gracious position. With great privilege comes great responsibility.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: How can We Please God? Part 2.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

The Holy Spirit of God is grieved when believers in Christ sin (Ephesians 4:30-31). It stands to reason that the Holy Spirit of God is pleased when believers in Christ seek to live holy lives (I Peter 1:16).

What are behaviors and attitudes which please the Holy Spirit of God? The Apostle Paul provides a sampling of a Christ-like life in today’s text. We have thus far seen that to be kind to one another pleases God.

Tenderheartedness pleases God. To be tenderhearted (εὔσπλαγχνος; eusplanchnos) means to be compassionate and to behave with dignity. It is the opposite of being hard hearted and unfeeling.

Forgiving one another pleases God. To be forgiving (χαρίζομαι; charizomai) is a present, active participle. It is a behavior which is to be consistent in the Christian’s life. It means to cancel a debt. In other words, we do not hold a grudge against another believer when they have sinned against us. While we may never be their best friend, we resolve to not be their worst enemy.

This attitude and behavior of forgiveness should be done in light of all that God has forgiven us. This has been accomplished by the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Those who have been forgiven so much by God should, of all people, forgive the relatively small offenses against them by others. The most graphic illustration of this truth is the parable of Matt. 18:21–35.”

Who is it that has sinned against you? Resolve today to no longer be unforgiving towards them. Continue this resolve when feelings of anger begin creeping into your mind, emotions and will.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Of Good Works. Part 4.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Sixteen: Of Good Works. Part 4.

7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others;a yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith,b nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word,c nor to a right end, the glory of God;d they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God.e And yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.f

a. 1 Kings 21:27292 Kings 10:30-31Phil. 1:15-1618. • b. Gen. 4:3-5 with Heb. 11:46. • c. Isa. 1:121 Cor. 13:3. • d. Matt. 6:2516. • e. Amos 5:21-22Hosea 1:4Hag. 2:14Rom. 9:16Titus 1:153:5. • f. Job 21:14-15Ps. 14:436:3Matt. 23:2325:41-45.

I encourage you to read the portions of Scripture listed in this post.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

\Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: How can We Please God?

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “God is grieved when his children refuse to change the old ways of sin for those righteous ways of the new life. It should be noted that such responses by the Holy Spirit indicate he is a person. His personhood is also indicated by personal pronouns (John 14:17; 16:13), his personal care of believers (John 14:16, 26; 15:26), his intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), feelings (Rom. 8:27), will (1 Cor. 12:11), speaking (Acts 13:2), convicting (John 16:8–11), interceding (Rom. 8:26), guiding (John 16:13), glorifying Christ (John 16:14), and serving God (Acts 16:6–7).”

The Holy Spirit of God is grieved when believers in Christ sin (Ephesians 4:30-31). It stands to reason that the Holy Spirit of God is pleased when believers in Christ seek to live holy lives (I Peter 1:16).

What are behaviors and attitudes which please the Holy Spirit of God? The Apostle Paul provides a sampling of a Christ-like life in today’s text.

Be kind to one another pleases God. The state of being verb be (γίνομαι; ginomai) is a present, middle imperative verb. This means the God is commanding believers to personal obedience. This is to be an active obedience. It is to characterize the believer’s existence.

What is the believer in Christ to be? Kind! Kind and kindness (χρηστός; chrestos) means to be loving and gracious (Luke 6:35; Rom. 2:4; Eph. 4:32; 1 Peter 2:3). Kindness is a characteristic of self-sacrificial love of the will (I Corinthians 13:4).

God’s command for the believer in Christ to be kind is specifically to be directed towards other Christians. Believes are to keep on becoming kind to one another. We are to be useful to one another.

Kindness can be evidenced in a variety of ways. For example, it may involve picking up an individual’s groceries when they are housebound. It can involve mowing an individual’s grass or raking their leaves. It can also be picking them up for church. These are but three of hundreds of ways we can be kind and useful to one another. How may you be kind today to a fellow believer in Christ?

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: Learned, Heard, and Taught! Part 2.

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,” (Ephesians 4:20–21 (ESV).

Believers in Christ are to no longer be callused, sensual and greedy (Ephesians 4:19). That was the way, to a greater or lesser extent, we used to live. It was our life prior to our justification by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-5:11). It was our living prior to our sanctification unto holiness by the Holy Spirit (Romans 6-8).

The Apostle Paul gives his readers three words describing the new birth (John 3:1-8). He provides three phrases describing the inner change which God has accomplished in our souls. First is the word learned; But that is not the way you learned Christ!  

The second word is heard; But that is not the way you learned Christ! — 21 assuming that you have heard about him.

To hear (ἀκούω; akouo) means to listen, accept, and respond. Within the context, this is an active and personal listening, acceptance and response by the individual believer in Christ.

True saving faith involves all three characteristics of hearing. To be truly converted, the individual must not only know the facts about the person and work of Jesus Christ, but they must also accept these facts as true. Finally, they must embrace, and trust in Who, and what, Jesus Christ is and what He has accomplished. Such a trust involves not only embracing Christ as Savior but also submitting to Him as Lord. God calls believers to be loyal to Christ as their King.

Have you personally listened, accepted and responded to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is He not only your Savior, but also your Lord?

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: The Fallen World.

17 “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” (Ephesians 4:17–19 (ESV)

Ephesians 4:17-19 is not only reminiscent of the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1 but it is also reminiscent of what Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-32. The Apostle Paul, in outlining the pattern of behavior the Ephesians Christians should continually avoid, he is also reminding them of their prior pagan condition (Ephesians 2:1-12).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “While the letter to the Romans shows God as giving Gentiles over to a reckless and wanton life (Romans 1:24-31), Ephesians presents the same progression from the human side: those who have turned aside ‘have given themselves up.’ Similarly, in Exodus, God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21; 7:1-3, but Pharaoh hardens his own heart (Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34).”

Sin and sanctification are not stationary. With a sinful thought pattern and lifestyle, the sinner digresses into further and further wickedness and sinfulness. The same is true for the spiritual Christian. With a righteous thought pattern and lifestyle, the believer in Christ progresses into further and further holiness (2 Peter 1:3-11).  

Which pattern of thinking and behavior characterizes your life?

Soli deo Gloria!  

Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: The New Life in Christ.

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Ephesians 4:17 (ESV)

Today’s text is reminiscent of Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Not only are believers to live in a worthy manner evidencing God’s sovereign call unto their salvation, but also to no longer live like the unbelieving world of which they once belonged.

In his personal communication to the Ephesian believers, the Apostle Paul invoked his apostolic authority when he wrote, ““Now this I say and testify in the Lord.” Paul was not just communicating to these Gentile believers in Christ on a personal level, but he was also testifying on behalf of the sovereign God of the universe. What he would go on to say carried with it the supreme authority of God.  Therefore, what Paul would write was not to be ignored then, nor is it to be ignored now.

Believers in Christ are to no longer live as they once did when they were unconverted. To no longer walk (περιπατέω; peripateo) is a present, active infinitive verb. It means to no longer behave in a certain or particular way. It refers to how one perpetually conducts their life and living.

Believers in Christ are to no longer walk as the Gentiles do. The word Gentiles is a euphemism for heathen or pagan. A Christian is to live a holy life (I Peter 1:13-16; Colossians 3:1-4). The Ephesian believers, who were Gentiles (2:1–2, 11–12), were to no longer live as they once did and as their unconverted neighbors and loved ones were still living. They were to no longer be conformed to this fallen world (Romans 12:1-2).

Paul described the unconverted life as being futile of one’s thinking. Futility (ματαιότης; mataiotes) means useless and empty (Romans 1:21; 8:20; 2 Peter 2:18). Proper and healthy thinking entails receiving God’s revelation which guides people into proper conduct. People will not live correctly if they are not thinking correctly.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “First, unbelievers are intellectually unproductive. As far as spiritual and moral issues are concerned, their rational processes are distorted and inadequate, inevitably failing to produce godly understanding or moral living. Their life is empty, vain, and without meaning (cf. Rom. 1:21–281 Cor. 2:14Col. 2:18).

This text so applies to our world today. We witness so many unspeakable acts of violence and unrighteousness. The only way for these things to ultimately be overcome is by the truth of the Gospel and its subsequent impact in the converted sinner’s life.

Let us resolve to follow God’s direction from today’s text. In what ways has the world influenced your thinking? Ask God to give you a renewed mind through a daily of Scripture. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Of Good Works.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Sixteen: Of Good Works. Part 1.

1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, a and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention’s

a. Micah 6:8Rom. 12:2Heb. 13:21. • b. 1 Sam. 15:21-23Isa 29:13Matt. 15:9John 16:2Rom. 10:21 Peter 1:18.

2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; a and by them believers manifest their thankfulnessb strengthen their assurancec edify their brethrend adorn the profession of the gospele stop the mouths of the adversaries, f and glorify God, g whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, h that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.i

a. James 2:1822. • b. Ps. 116:12-131 Peter 2:9. • c. 2 Peter 1:5-101 John 2:35. • d. Matt. 5:162 Cor. 9:2. • e. 1 Tim. 6:1Titus 2:59-12. • f. 1 Peter 2:15. • g. John 15:8Phil. 1:111 Peter 2:12. • h. Eph. 2:10. • i. Rom. 6:22.

I encourage you to read the portions of Scripture listed in this post.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

\Soli deo Gloria!

The Book of Ephesians: True Church Growth.

14 …”so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:14–16 (ESV)

What is the purpose for which pastors labor and strive in serving the Lord in their local church? What are pastors looking forward to witnessing among their congregations? The Apostle Paul provides the answer in Ephesians 4:14-16, in both negative and positive terms.

The equipping ministry of pastors is important because when congregations attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, a discernable pattern of character and behavior will appear in people.

First, Paul concludes that congregations will no longer be children, in the spiritual and biblical sense of the word. In other words, they will become mature, spiritual adults. Second, the apostle then states that mature Christians will also grow up in every way in Christ.

The only way for this spiritual growth to occur is for people to be joined to Christ. If they are not, the congregations may be large, but they will be dead.

Paul labors this point when he says, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Paul uses the metaphor of the human anatomy to describe the church and how it should function.

The phrase from whom refers to Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:15). The church’s life source, not only for justification but also for sanctification, is the person and work of Jesus Christ. This completed and ongoing work by Christ is applied to the whole body, or the entire church. No one is to excluded or exempt from the necessity of being in Christ.

The word joined (συναρμολογέω; synarmologeo) means fit together. The phrase held together (συμβιβάζω; symbiazo) means to be united or to brought together to be a unit. Both verbs are present, passive participles. In the context, this means that Jesus Christ alone does the work of not only fitting the church together, but also keeping it together.

This joining and unifying work by Christ extends to every joint (ἁφή; haphe) or ligament of the church. Ligament is another word for tendon, sinew, or muscle. The phrase with which it is equipped (ἐπιχορηγία; epichoregia) refers to provision. Jesus Christ provides the spiritual muscles the church needs.

The result of this work by Christ is for the church to function properly at its fullest degree. This results in true church growth that is constructed, not of brick and mortar, but rather on the love sourced in Jesus Christ.     

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The phrase “in love” occurs three times (vv. 2, 15–16), thus pointing to the way unity is maintained. Significantly the word “measure” (metron) is also used three times in this context (vv. 7, 13, 16). Each believer is to function in Christ’s body by God’s enabling grace in accord with the measure of the gift Christ bestowed on him (v. 7). When each believer accomplishes that measure, then the church grows properly (v. 16), coming ultimately to the measure of Christlikeness (v. 13). Stunted growth comes when one does not allow his or others’ gifts to function.”

True, godly, and biblical church growth occurs when every member of the local church fully uses their spiritual gift(s), in submission to the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with other believers (cf. Col. 2:19). Any other definition of church growth is a sham or an insufficient substitute.

Many people evaluate church growth strictly by the church’s physical size; be it building(s) or number of people. The Bible evaluates church growth in an entirely different way. Let us not forget this this biblical truth.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Book of Ephesians: The Purpose of Pastoral Equipping. Part 2.

14 …”so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:14–16 (ESV)

What is the purpose for which pastors labor and strive in serving the Lord in their local church? What are pastors looking forward to witnessing among their congregations? The Apostle Paul provides the answer in Ephesians 4:14-16, in both negative and positive terms.

The equipping ministry of pastors is important because when congregations attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, a discernable pattern of character and behavior will appear in people.

First, Paul concludes that congregations will no longer be children, in the spiritual and biblical sense of the word. In other words, they will become mature, spiritual adults.

Second, the apostle then states that mature Christians will also grow up in every way in Christ. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”

The word rather (δέ; de) is another word for the contrasting conjunction but. Mature believers in Christ, along with no longer being children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes, will grow up.

The phrase we are to grow up (αὐξάνω; auxano) means to increase. This pertains not only to plants and animals, but in this context to humans (Luke 2:40; 12:27; Col. 2:19; Matt. 6:28). Believers in Christ are not be stationary in their relationship in Christ. We are commanded to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God (2 Peter 3:18).

The text says we are to grow up in every way (πᾶς; pas). This entails our entire life. In other words, this refers to the totality of our life in Christ.

This perpetual perspective in our growth in Christ is prefaced by the phrase speaking the truth in love (ἀληθεύω ἀγάπη; aletheuo agape). Rather than this being a personal comment by Paul to the Ephesians, it is rather a perspective on life from God. It literally means truthing in love. This has the idea of maintaining truth in self-sacrificial love of the will in both speech and life. This refers to not only speaking the Gospel, but also living out the Gospel.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Evangelism is most effective when the truth is proclaimed in love. This can be accomplished only by the spiritually mature believer who is thoroughly equipped in sound doctrine. Without maturity, the truth can be cold and love little more than sentimentality. Christians are to be completely yielded and obedient to the Lord’s will, subject to his controlling power and Christ like in all areas of their lives (cf. Gal. 2:20Phil. 1:21).”

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Book of Ephesians: The Purpose of Pastoral Equipping.

14 …”so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:14–16 (ESV)

What is the purpose for which pastors labor and strive in serving the Lord in their local church? What are pastors looking forward to witnessing among their congregations? The Apostle Paul provides the answer in Ephesians 4:14-16, in both negative and positive terms.

First the negative. A purpose clause begins vs. 14 with the key words “so that.” These two words form a purpose clause for everything the apostle stated from vv. 11-13.

The equipping ministry of pastors is important because when congregations attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, a discernable pattern of character and behavior will appear in people.

Paul concludes they will no longer be children, in the spiritual and biblical sense of the word. In other words, they will become spiritual adults. As such, equipped people will not be tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind. Paul uses two nautical terms of which he was most familiar: the waves and the wind.

First, mature believers will not be tossed two and fro by the waves. Mature believers in Christ should not be like immature infants who are easily swayed and confused, like being tossed back and forth in a boat by the waves of the sea (cf. Luke 8:24; James 1:6).

Secondly, mature believers will not be carried about by every wind. Carried about (περιφέρω; periphero) means to be blown about, be carried here and there (Mark 6:55; 2 Cor. 4:10; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 13:9). It literally means to be “whirled around,” or to experience a violent swinging that makes one dizzy. Not an enjoyable sensation.

When next we meet we will see what forces and influences are prevalent in this fallen world which causes such discomfort. It is against the adversaries that Christians need to be equipped.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Book of Ephesians: Until we all Attain the Fullness of Christ.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11–13 (ESV)

How long will God choose to use those who equip the saints to do the work of ministry (vs. 12)? The Apostle Paul provides us with the answer in Ephesians 4:13.

Ephesians 4:13 begins with conjunction until (μέχρι; mechri) meaning to the point of conclusion or to the degree of completion. The equipping of the saints is to continue until something has been accomplished.

Until we all attain. By using the personal pronoun we Paul includes everyone within the church, including himself, in this task to be completed. In case anyone may question this all-inclusiveness, the apostle adds the adjective all. No one in the church is exempt from this process. Paul lists three things that are the biblical goals for those who equip the saints and for the saints who are the equipped.

First, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. The church is be united in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God: Jesus Christ.

Second, the church is to be united in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in order to attain maturity, or mature manhood.  

Third, the church is to be united in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in order to attain maturity, or mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What exactly does this final statement mean?

To the measure (μέτρον; metron) specifically refers to a unit of measurement, such as length or volume. It is attached to the corresponding word stature (ἡλικία; helikia) which can refer to the height of a person, their age, or life-span. In this context, it is best to understand it focused upon the idea of maturity.

Paul continues by saying that this measurement of maturity is singularly focused upon the person of Jesus Christ. Fullness (πλήρωμα; pleroma) means a total quantity or completeness.  

Pastors who equip their congregation are to do so until they have such a complete faith and knowledge of the Son of God, and achieve a mature personhood, that they can be described as possessing and displaying a complete Christ likeness. A pastor’s work is never done when people in church fall so far short of this goal.

Take the opportunity to personally thank your pastor for all the work which he does each and every week. He will be blessed by your encouragement.

Soli deo Gloria!