Bible Studies For Life
August 4, 2019
ACT WITH COURAGE
2 Chronicles 15:1-9
One would think that by now, King Asa would be riding high on the wave of his success. His reign of peace had allowed him to rebuild his cities and strengthen his military. His resounding defeat of Zerah (see chapter 14) enabled him to plunder the neighboring cities and expand his influence. So why would he need encouragement now? The answer is simple: with great success comes the potential of great pride. And great pride comes before an even greater fall! (Prov. 16:18). The prophet’s encouraging words to Asa served to keep the king humble, as well as to keep him moving in the right direction. Three principles of encouragement are evident.
Encouragement comes from God’s promises (vv. 1-2). Prophets are God’s spokespersons. While we do not know who Azariah is (other than as the son of Oded), we do know who the Spirit of God is. For this reason, this prophet was a trustworthy messenger. Notice that the proclamation was not directed solely to the king, but to all of God’s people (v. 2). And although the overall message is one of encouragement, the declaration is filled with conditional promises. The promises of God’s presence, His accessibility, and His continued abiding are all dependent on the cooperation of Asa and the people. The encouragement is found in God’s faithfulness to His promises. If the people did their part, God would do His.
Encouragement comes from God’s faithfulness (vv. 3-7). In these verses, the prophet reminds Asa of Israel’s general historical cycle of oppression—and its accompanying misery—followed by repentance, followed by deliverance (see especially Judges chapter 2; Judges 3:9; 3:15, et al.). Entire nations (regions and/or peoples) were crushed, as were individual cities, all as an act of God’s judgment because of sin (v. 6). It’s important to note that oppression on a national level always trickles down to misery at the personal level (v. 5). Even the daily activities of the average citizen were affected in these days of distress. Judges 5:6, for example, states “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.” The prophet began this section with the reasonsfor Israel’s demise: no vital connection to the one true God; no godly priests setting an example; and no instruction of God’s word (v. 3). He ends this section with the remedy: “Be strong” and “don’t be discouraged” (v. 7). The encouragement is found in God’s faithfulness to reward those who steadfastly seek and serve Him.
Encouragement comes from God’s reward (vv. 8-9). Emboldened by Azariah’s affirmations, King Asa renewed his quest to clean up the kingdom. After approximately 15 years of his reign, there were still “detestable idols” in the land (v. 8). Whether leftovers from the past or newly constructed by resistant, stiff-necked people, there was a concerted effort to remove these pagan altars from the “whole land of Judah” as well as the outlying cities likely inherited from his father’s reign before him (see 2 Chr. 13). While the altars to false and foreign gods were being destroyed throughout the land, the altar of the Lord was repaired and rededicated at the temple in Jerusalem. Once accomplished, King Asa took stock of his kingdom and gathered the people together at Jerusalem (see v. 10 ff). Not surprisingly, his kingdom had grown from an influx of defectors from the northern kingdom of Israel (v. 9). These had come not only to escape the idolatrous ways of the north, but to serve the one true God and enjoy the blessings that came with commitment to Him. In this case, the encouragement is found in receiving God’s blessings for doing things God’s way.
August 11, 2019
2 Chronicles 15:10-19
We tend to think of worship as a one-hour ritual each Sunday morning. Even so-called “nontraditional” Baptist churches have very predictable patterns of worship. There is some music, some prayer, a message, and some other elements, usually at the same time, done in the same order, led by the same people. And when the service is over, we all go home until the next time. But God desires more from us than an hour a week devoted to Him. What would it look like if we lived our lives as continual expressions of worship? Our lesson this week provides a glimpse from the life of King Asa. Four characteristics stand out.
Celebration (vv. 10-11). A joyful attitude leads to joyful worship. Everything was going well for King Asa and the people of Judah.The temptation would be to gloat about their victories and rest easy in their prosperity. The verb tense in verse 10 indicates that they gathered themselves together. This was not a forced convocation motivated by obligation, but an agreed upon event. Imagine a scenario where you and your family (and your church family) couldn’t wait to join together for worship and were genuinely excited to be there. Perhaps Asa quoted the psalm penned by King David many years before: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Ps. 122:1). The celebration that day included a massive sacrifice (v. 11). Why was this event a celebration? First, the date places the worship on or about the Feast of Weeks, a Jewish celebration of bountiful harvest. Second, the sacrifices were made from the plunder of the cities Asa defeated. Rather than hoard them away, King Asa presented them to the Lord, who was responsible for their acquisition in the first place.
Dedication (vv. 12-15). Everybody worships something. In this case, the people publicly committed to worship the One True God, and Him alone. The threat of death (v. 13) should not be seen as forcing the people to bow before God (similar to what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced in Daniel 3); rather, it was a prohibition against worshipping the idols and false gods that had plagued the king’s reign. Again, the dedication was jubilant (v. 14), and complete: it was sworn with all their mind, as God had been sought with all their heart (see the similar wording found in Deut. 6:4-5). With their whole-hearted dedication, God reworded them once again with “rest” (v. 15).
Demonstration (v. 16). If you live on principles rather than preferences, you will eventually have to make some tough decisions. In keeping with his deep devotion to God, King Asa was faced with the difficult choice of removing his grandmother from her palace position because of her idolatry. Since her continued pagan worship would be grounds for her death (v. 13), the assumption is that she repented and joined with the singular worship of Asa’s One True God. But the condemnation of her idolatry and the utter destruction of the images associated with it demonstrated that since God is not a respecter of persons, neither can His ambassadors be.
Consecration (vv. 17-19). The blunt declaration that “The high places were not taken away from Israel” (v. 17) is a reminder that the continual pursuit of purity and holiness in worship is indeed a process; especially for a nation. Sometimes progress is measured in inches. Other times, it is measured in miles. Either way, progress is progress…and should be celebrated. While the cleansing of the land was never quite complete, God’s good king was lauded. Two specific commendations are offered: first, unlike those who came before him, Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord, and stayed that way his entire life (v. 17). Second, those treasures through which both the king and his kingdom had been enriched, were consecrated to the God who gave them. The result was an extended period of uncharacteristic peace in an era of almost continual strife.
August 18, 2019
REMEMBER GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
2 Chronicles 16:1-13
One of the great stories of the Bible is that of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:28ff). Jesus was already out there in the midst of the storm when Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Him. Things were going well until Peter took his eyes off the Lord. When that happened, he began to sink. That, of course, is the great lesson we all take from the story: keep your eyes on the Lord, or you are sure to sink.
King Asa’s mistake came in his 36th year of reigning over Judah. He had worked diligently and wholeheartedly his entire life to eradicate idolatry from his kingdom (15:17). But he too, took his eyes off the Lord. In his case the problem was not idolatry, but pride. He still worshipped God; but he quit trusting him. The story plays out in four scenes.
The Request (vv. 1-3). For years, the peace and prosperity of Judah had drawn defectors from the north (15:9). Finally, Israel’s King Baasha attempted to stem the flow. The city of Ramah, just north of Jerusalem, was fortified and fitted with soldiers to effectively close the road heading in and out of the holy city. Alarmed at the new threat, Asa opened the treasuries and went to neighboring Syria, essentially bribing the king into breaking their own treaty with Israel in favor of Judah. This was very effective diplomacy, but not very effective dependence on God. There was no prayer, no seeking of God, no consultation with the prophets. There was none of the confidence in the Lord that Asa displayed earlier in his reign.
The Result (vv.4-6). Syria’s King Ben-hadad knew of Israel’s corruption as well as Judah’s prosperity. He accepted the proposition, took the pay-off, and sent his armies into the cities of northern Israel. Israel’s King Baasha had no choice but to reposition his armies and defend himself, thus abandoning the campaign he had started against Judah. With peace once again secured, Asa de-fortified the city of Ramah and used the building materials the invading army had left behind to improve two of his own cities.
The Rebuke (vv. 7-10). With things going so well, the last person King Asa wanted to see was Hanani, the “seer” at his front door. He was not a mystic or clairvoyant, but rather a prophet sent by God as His spokesman. The rebuke he brought was double-edged. First, Hanani pointed out the sin of calling on the pagan nation of Syria for help rather than trusting the Lord for Judah’s deliverance. Second, he pointed out the long-term consequences of his friendship with king Ben-hadad. Had Asa trusted the Lord, eventually both Israel and Syria would have been delivered to his hand! (v. 7) The seer buttressed his argument by reminding Asa of God’s faithfulness in the past against more powerful forces (v. 8). Notice how the punishment fit the sin: because Asa was quick to jump into battle, he would face wars until the end of his reign (v. 9). Like King David before him, Asa was confronted with his sin. But unlike King David, Asa raised his fist in anger, rather than bending his knee in repentance. Not only did he imprison the messenger, but he took his anger out on his people (v. 10).
The Record (vv. 11-13). I guess that some people sweeten with age…and others sour. Unfortunately, King Asa allowed his bitterness to sully the last five years of an otherwise stellar forty-one-year reign. Whether God struck him with the foot disease that he ultimately died with, or simply allowed it to happen, the incident is mentioned to highlight the sad and sudden lack of faith that characterized Asa’s later life. Consulting the doctors was no sin; but ignoring God was. In the end, he failed to trust God in making national decisions as well as personal decisions.
August 25, 2019
LEAVE A LEGACY
2 Chronicles 17:1-13
Have you ever walked through a cemetery just reading the tombstones? Have you ever wondered what epitaph might one day be carved in your own? It’s hard to imagine a life of seventy-some years being summarized in a few brief phrases. In reality, our hope is that some legacy exists beyond our tombstone; some lasting contributions to the lives that come behind us.
Overall, King Asa’s legacy was pretty positive. He fought the idolatry that had plagued Israel and brought a national revival to Judah. But of all the contributions that Asa left behind, perhaps the most significant was his son, Jehoshaphat. In the twenty-five years that Jehoshaphat reigned as king, he took the best lessons from his father and improved them. He then left his own legacy for the generations who would follow. His legacy can be summed up in five words.
Protection (vv. 1-2). Like his father before him, King Jehoshaphat spent the first portion of his reign strengthening his cities and his armies. His primary concern was protecting the southern kingdom of Judah from the northern kingdom of Israel. Thus, the cities between, especially those close to Jerusalem, were fortified and supplied with soldiers. Protecting what his family had acquired in order to pass it on to the next generation was the first part of Jehoshaphat’s plan.
Purity (vv. 3-6). That the Lord was with Jehoshaphat means that God was blessing him. The interesting construction that follows states the reasons for this in four declarations, two positive and two negative: the king did walk in the ways of David, the man after God’s own heart (v. 3; see 1 Sam. 13:14); he did not seek after the false gods that surrounded them. He did seek after the one true God and follow His commands (v. 4); he did not rebel against God like the northern kingdom had (v. 4). The result? “Then all Judah brought him tribute, and he had riches and honor in abundance” (v. 5). Thus blessed, King Jehoshaphat continued his purging of idolatry (v. 6).
Posterity (vv. 7-9). The greatest gift the king could give his people was the knowledge of God. What should have been passed down from generation to generation through the family (see Deut. 6:1-9; Ps. 78:1-7), was now organized by the king’s officials and taught by selected priests throughout Judah. This should not be seen as an attempt to take over the responsibility God assigned to the family, but rather to supplement it and insure “the book of the Lord’s instruction” became the centerpiece of Judah’s moral and spiritual life.
Peace (vv. 10-11). The spiritual blessings and material prosperity that characterized Judah stood in stark contrast to the corruption of the surrounding nations, and they all realized that God was with His people. While they no doubt envied the prosperity they saw in Judah, they more so feared the Lord who was providing it. It seems there is no better deterrent to foreign attack than having the One True God on your side! (see Josh. 6:1; 9:24). In his own way, and with God’s obvious presence, King Jehoshaphat secured peace with even the most volatile neighboring peoples, some of whom offered their own tribute in order to preserve it (v. 11).
Power (vv. 12-13). God’s blessing through the years allowed the king to grow in power and in influence. Because he walked in piety, God rewarded him. Where Jehoshaphat knocked down pagan altars and high places (v. 6), God had him build fortresses and storage cities (v. 12), thus securing the nation and providing tangible evidence for the generations to come of God’s faithfulness to those who are faithful to Him.
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AUGUST 4, 2019
LIVING WITH OPPOSITION
Titus 1:1-5, 10-16
One of my seminary professors, Steve Brown, once gave a lecture in class called “Whoppers from the World.” Whoppers were thoughts, actions and or behaviors that God allowed the world to drop off on the door step of the church to incite a response. Homosexuality would be an example of this. Yet, in our day the church faces another whopper – unfiltered toleration. The world not only tolerates everything but charges the people of God to do the same. Oddly enough, however, in this cultural indoctrination of toleration none, outside of the elect, will tolerate Truth. Paul writes Titus, his son in the faith, (Titus 1:4) and charges him to attack the temptation to toleration by teaching the elect how to Live In Opposition to the teaching and teacher who rebel against the gospel.
SERVANTS HEARTS (1:1-3)
This letter begins with Paul re-stating his apostolic authority in order to encourage and guide Titus’ pastoral authority in Crete. Though an apostle, Paul describes himself as a servant – bond slave – of God (Titus 1:1). Titus is to see all of life as being surrendered to the will and desires of God. Chief among the Lord’s desire is to godliness of His people, the elect. For this to take place Titus will need to nurture as well as protect their faith and knowledge of the truth by reminding them of the hope eternal life (Titus 1:2). This hope is no mere wishing for something to take place. The Christian’s hope is rooted in the trustworthy character of God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and therefore, we are encouraged to live according to His word knowing that all that what he started before time began (Titus 1:2) He will certainly finish (See Philippians 1:6). Titus, and all believers, must keep this hope at the forefront of our minds. We must always and only preach, disciple and live according to the Word of our unchanging God (Titus 1:3).
PURPOSEFUL ACTION (v. 4-5)
Paul and Titus had engaged in ministry in Crete but Paul had left Titus behind (Titus 1:5). It is clear that whatever ministry they had in Crete was unfinished. While growth was taking place in Crete they were like most young churches. They needed strong organization, capable leadership and sound teaching to fulfill their calling of discipleship and kingdom expansion. Paul now says why Titus was left behind: to set in order (set right) what was left undone and… to appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5). The term elder simply means pastor, but it also demands the consistency of godly character.Titus was to establish in every town men who were blameless in life, the home, doctrine and in the community (Titus 1:6-9). To appoint means to delegate authority to someone, to put them in charge or to designate someone as a leader. The work of leading God’s people is too much for one person to accomplish. Titus had to delegate his authority to others in various towns who could accomplish the work with him (Titus 1:5; See also 2 Timothy 2:2).
OPPOSITION ADDRESSED (Titus 1:10-16)
Having reminded Titus of his servanthood and his responsibility to establish godly leadership Paul now turns to false teachers who were infesting and infecting. A truth to be remembered is that wherever the seed of the Lord is, you will find the seed of Satan seeking to undermine the truth and godliness. At the heart of false teaching and teachers in Crete are rebellion and deception (Titus 1:10). Paul qualifies these two attributes describing them as liars and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12). They have an insatiable appetite for false teaching and whatever they want (Titus 1:11,12) and they are habitual liars (Titus 1:12), incapable of telling the truth. Titus is to rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:13), not mildly or with a smile. This impassioned rebuke must should make is very clear to all that false teachers and teaching are rebellion to the Lord and never tolerated in the least. Titus must make the line clear regarding what is to be considered as pure and what is to be understood as defiled (Titus 1:15).
AUGUST 11, 2019
LIVING WITH INTEGRITY
Integrity. We speak this word often and live for its expression in our lives daily. But what is it? It is often described as doing what is right when others are not looking. This is true, but only speaks actions, which, themselves can be deceptive. Integrity means wholeness and or completeness. It means every aspect of my life is consistent with what I believe to be true and absolute. Christian integrity is living a life, the whole of it, where Christ is reflected and at the center. Whether at work, church or at home, we must always be the essence of godliness and have as our central motivation the glory of the Lord in and through our momentary witness. Where the false is always present (false teachers and teaching) believers must always reflect the dignity of God and the prevailing power of truth. Paul highlights three aspects of Christian integrity.
IT IS REFLECTED IN OUR SPEECH (2:1)
Paul ends his words to Titus about the false teachers in verse 16 saying that they (because of their teaching and lifestyle), are unfit for any good work (Titus 1:16). Their defiling teaching produces the only fruit it can produce, defiled living. Titus is the spiritual leader in Crete and because of this his life must be worthy of imitation and consistent with the truth, the gospel. Therefore, Paul begins this verse with a command contrasting Titus’ life and action with those of the false teachers. He says But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). He must teach doctrine that is sound; teaching that brings heals and stability to the souls of those he leads. A principle we can derive from this is that correct doctrine leads to godly living, while false doctrine leads to false living. This does not mean that simply knowing truth miraculously makes one godly, but that right doctrine is the central and essential foundation to a life that truly honors the Lord. When we find that believer’s lives and/or affections are out of step with the gospel, telling them to try harder or to simply do better is not the solution. Instead, we must teach and call them to trust afresh, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
IN IT REFLECTED IN OUR ACTIONS (2:2-10)
Paul addresses three groups of people: Older men (Titus 2:2), older women, (Titus 2:3) and bondservants, (Titus 2:9) each with respect to their character in the home. If sound doctrine produces godly living then it must be evident in the lives of those who profess to know it and believe it. Nowhere is integrity truly seen than in the home in the dynamic of roles and relationships. This is true in the whole of the Bible and is clearly true in the context of this letter. Paul has already told us that the chief place of attack for the false teachers is the home; they are upsetting whole families… (Titus 1:11). It is no wonder that the family is always under attack and marriage is at the center of it. Gender confusion is a problem in the church, but also and perhaps more so, is the confusion of the God ordained purpose for each role in the family (Titus 2:1-10). Inherent within this passage is not only the character of believers, but the distinct roles each is to have in order to promote godliness. It must be stated that any teaching that subverts the roles in the home or promotes same gender unions are both false teachings and in opposition to gospel integrity.
IT IS EMPOWERED BY THE GOSPEL (Titus 2:11-14)
The challenge to live for the Lord is increased when we labor in a society that contends against the truth. But we must never forget that we are where we are in Christ by grace alone and that the same salvation we have received is available for all people (Titus 2:11). If any is to live a life of honor to the Lord it will only come about through grace. The grace that saves the sinner is also the grace that sanctifies the saint. This is a powerful statement for the Christian who is struggling with living for the Lord in one or a few areas of their life. It is not effort alone that brings forth a life of righteousness and holiness. It is dependence of the enabling and empowering grace of God in the presence of the Spirit of God within us. False teaching is dangerous because it does not deny Jesus, it dethrones Him and places self-effort and mere motivation at the center. Paul says that the grace of God (present because of work of Christ and available to all) trains us (Titus 2:12). Grace not only erases our sin but empowers our righteous living by continually pointing our passions to the coming of glory of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Therefore, individuals who are truly saved by grace will evidence its empowerment in our lives (See 1 Corinthians 15:10 and James 2:14-26). This reality of the power of grace to save and sanctify must remain central in our affections, not simply because of the hope it provides for us who believe but also the hope it gives for those who, though previously influenced by false teaching, may repent and believe the gospel.
AUGUST 18, 2019
LIVING TO DO
Paul has called Titus to remind the believers at Crete of their gracious salvation (Titus 2:11-14). He has grounded their eternal hope in the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ which brought grace to bear upon their rebellion (Titus 2:11-14). This grace is not static or lifeless, but dynamic, full of power enabling believers to live lives of godliness in a godless world (Titus 2:11-12). Therefore, because of what Christ has accomplished and the Spirit of the Lord empowers, believers at Crete are to understand that all of life is worship. Worship is not simply the isolated praise one gives to the Lord. Worship is the active and intentional living for God in every area of our lives. Living to do is living life coram deo: in the presence, under the authority and for the glory of God.
GOOD DEEDS (Titus 3:1-2)
In our day of polarizing politics this word of Paul to Titus is crucial. The mention of the need to submit to governing authorities clearly evidences that some Cretan’s assumed that their freedom in Christ permitted their freedom to reject the government. This is not so. We know that grace enables and empowers our righteousness and therefore, the ability to be submissive to governing officials, even those whose behavior is harsh, is a Christian good deed – actions that reflect the glory and honor of the Lord (Titus 3:1, See also Romans 13:1-7). Only when the government establishes laws that clearly contradict and undermine the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God can a believer honorably disobey (See Acts 5:29). Our purpose in the world is to transform it by the love of God revealed in the message of the gospel of grace. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that “we can disagree without being disagreeable.” Thus, our disposition before the world must not be one of contention rather a desire to reflect the Person of Christ in peace and humility (Titus 2:3). If this is to be our way among those outside the church how much more should we reflect this disposition towards one another, in all things – political and otherwise?
BASED ON HIS MERCY (Titus 3:3-7)
The command to deal with outsiders kindly is underscored with the reminder of where we were and how we behaved before Jesus invaded our lives. Don’t forget to remember (Titus 3:3)! A significant way to ensure that we are relating to the world as a reflection of Christ is to never forget that we struggled in the same ways with the same sin. Paul uses words that are as descriptive as they are damning (Titus 3:3). The only difference between us and the unbeliever is not being sinless, but Christ and His disposition towards us. We are saved by His kindness (Titus 3:4), the same kindness we are commanded to show to the world (Titus 3:2). It was not because of anything in us or from us that prompted God to act kindly towards us. It was pure and unadulterated kindness poured into us by the Spirit from the reservoir of His mercy that has taken away the eternal dirt and stain of sin (Titus 3:5). It is because of Him and Him alone that we have been transformed, changed and given a hope that transcends this life. (Titus 3:5). It was not anything I did or could do. He loved us in spite of us and now remembering this truth, we are enabled to love people in spite of the way they act or treat us.
DONE ON PURPOSE (Titus 3:8-11)
Paul tells Timothy that the Cretan believers should be careful to devote themselves to good works (Titus 3:8). To be careful is to ponder and to keep thinking about something.There is to be a consistent and empowering intentionality in our living each day for the honor of the Lord. Just as a person gains muscle by sticking to a plan, so too must a Christian be as purposeful in our plan for growing in the Lord. A plan promotes good practices and habits, as well as guards against hindrances. Paul calls the Cretans to be careful in this way so that they are aware of the conversations and issues they need to reject (Titus 3:9). Nothing and no one should be allowed to hinder the work of the Lord in the church. So adamant is the Lord about this that Paul provides specific instructions as it pertains to divisive people. If a person continues to cause division they should be warned and called to repentance no more than twice. After the second time, they should be rejected since their lack of repentance and change shows the true and spiritual nature of their heart (Titus 3:10).
AUGUST 25, 2019
I have always understood the letter of Ephesians to be Paul’s doctrine of the formation of the church in the world (chapters 1-3) and the function of the church in the world (chapters 4-6). It is Paul’s letter that speaks to the unity of the church: how it is formed and how it is to be expressed in the world through proper relationships with believers and unbelievers. The verses we are considering in this lesson are the foundation to all that Paul is going to write, centering the spiritual life in the sovereign work of the Lord. Actually, verses 3-14, in the Greek, is one sentence of exultation to the Lord. There is no period in this passage until the end of verse 14. It is as if Paul becomes lost in wonder and amazement as he rejoices in the fruits of God’s amazing grace.
YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN (Ephesians 1:3-6)
To be chosen for a job, a team, to be a spouse is an amazing reality. It means that from all of the possible people who could have been selected, we were chosen. Paul provides a truth that is infinitely more amazing: God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Before the world began he loved you. What an amazing and comforting truth. Of all of the people in the world, all underserving, ourselves included, God called your name and in choosing us He adopted us to be a part of His eternal family (Ephesians 1:5). With this in mind Paul begins with the word blessed, a word of praise to the Lord blessing His name. Blessed means to eulogize or to speak well of. God is worthy to be spoken well of, praised, because of the marvelous and mind blowing choosing of us for salvation before the world began. Not only this, but this blessed God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). He has already, in the past, blessed us with every blessing so that we have now, every blessing of God available to us! This privileged position is not to be taken lightly. He has chosen us for the purpose of holiness (Ephesians 1:4) – to reflect His character as we live our lives in an exultation of praise for His saving grace (Ephesians 1:6).
YOU HAVE BEEN REDEEMED (Ephesians 1:7-12)
The need to be redeemed speaks to our being held captive. Sin held us bound, destined for an eternity separated from the Lord. In Christ, however, we have been redeemed, set free from the bondage of the penalty of sin (Ephesians 1:7). In the moment of our confession of faith in Christ all that held us in contempt with the Lord – every act, thought and affection that was in rank rebellion against Him – in that moment of spiritual clarity, the blood of Christ was applied to our account. This was not because of our works, but because His grace lavished on us the ability to see the eternal plan and purposes of the Work of Christ for the elect (Ephesians 1:8-10). More, Christ’s redemption not only cleansed our sin but changed our status from strangers (Ephesians 2:12) to sons and daughters with a legitimate right to His inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). Because of grace we now and will, at the coming of the Lord, be treated like we have always had a legitimate claim to all of the promises of God. The only worthy response to such a wonder as this is praise (Ephesians 1:12).
YOU HAVE BEEN SEALED (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Believers are also called to rejoice because they have received the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). This is the blessing of God promised in Ezekiel (36:26-27; 37:14) and in Joel (2:28), which was initially poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Now, after hearing and believing the gospel, these Gentiles received and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Paul uses the word sealed (Ephesians 1:13) to signify the permanence of the gift of salvation, indicating the Spirit to be God’s seal of ownership over us. The presence of the Spirit is the down payment and the guarantee of God’s promises to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:14. See also, 2 Corinthians 1:22). This does not mean that believers are free from moral responsibility. While salvation is complete and certain at the moment of faith, Christians are to live as those who are under the ownership of the Lord who chose them to reflect His character in the world (Ephesians 1:4). The Spirit of God is God within us, empowering, instructing and guiding us to live lives of praise to the glory of the Lord (Ephesians 1:14).
It is helpful to see the doctrine of the Trinity at work in salvation as Paul understands God. It is God the Father who chooses us. God the Son who redeems us and God the Holy Spirit who seals us. From start to finish it is the Lord. We do not see the term trinity in the Bible, but if we are ever in need of a text to proves that God is Three in One, this great hymn of praise is a great place to start.