Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) – Paul the apostle; God alone chooses our path.
length: 63:47 - taught on Aug, 21 2018
Tuesday August 21, 2018
Title: Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) - Paul the apostle; God alone chooses our path.
The prescript (1:1-2)
EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
EPH 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we choose our own way and reject the Lord’s way, then the choices that we do get to make will more often than not be bad ones.
There are also parts of our lives that are completely out of our control. The body we are put in, our parents, time and place of birth were all chosen for us. Also, the ministry and gifts that God bestows upon us spiritually are sovereignly chosen by Him. In other words, the works that I am to do, regardless of what job I have, who I’m married to, and where and in what century I live, are all determined by God. I may do those works, or reject them or not seek for them, and attempt my own.
EPH 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Works are independent of circumstances or status or location. The fruit of the Spirit grows where the Spirit is given latitude to work.
Think of the fruit of the Spirit. Virtue is performed in all circumstances. It is precisely that a man can love, have peace and joy under any circumstance that makes him a man of virtue. “If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unprofitable in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God has determined the path that we walk and the choices that are ours alone are simply the baggage that we carry. They do not comprise the path.
(Bon Jovi; It’s My Life)
It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life
Millions of people sing the lyrics to that song and emblazon their conscience with the mantra, “It’s my life.”
We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.
Many people only think of morality as the actions that they do that might hurt or not hurt others. Certainly, that is a part of it, but not the whole of it.
No one can say that what they do is good as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. These people will be all for championing the cause of world peace and love amongst neighbors, but when told that they must be good within themselves, they react rashly, speaking of privacy and how their lives are their own.
People can speak of peace and fairness in society all they want, but until there are enough good men in that society, as God defines good within, then it’s only talk and will never be a reality.
People are not good because the Law tells them to be. Israel proved that over hundreds of years.
If a system is to work, the people within the system must be good within themselves. Look at the Pharisees. They had a perfectly good system, a perfect one in fact, and they messed it all up.
When people say, “It’s my life,” they are mistaken. Do I belong to myself or to another?
And here is the secret to life: I cannot make myself good. Only God can perform such a task. I cannot make myself holy. Only God could do it and it cost Him His life to do it.
Paul opens his letter to the churches: “Grace and peace to you.” That order is very important. Grace first and then peace. Grace is what God has done for His enemy. All of us are sinners. All of us have gone astray. All of us have hated and killed in our souls. The grace of God brought us life in the form of the Son of God as a child. What grace!
A Jewish doctor named Boris Kornfeld languished in a Russian prison camp. One of his cellmates spoke intelligently to him about Christianity and eventually Dr. Boris became a Christian. He spoke to Solzhenitsyn while they were both in the camp, relating the story of his life and his conversion. It was late and dark. He finished by saying, “An on the whole, do you know, I have become convinced that there is no punishment that comes to us in this life on earth which is undeserved. Superficially it can have nothing to do with what we are guilty of in actual fact, but if you go over your life with a fine-tooth comb and ponder it deeply, you will always be able to hunt down that transgression of yours for which you have now received this blow.”
Someone killed the good doctor in his sleep the next morning. These were the last words he spoke.
I don’t quote that for a doctrinal reason. I believe that we do suffer undeservedly when we suffer for Christ’s sake, but that is not because we are innocent. It is undeserved because they are really attacking Christ, and He is innocent. Not one of us is. Only in Him are we pure and clean and forgiven.
If you will know and believe this it will chase away from you a cold heart that judges others. The heart of stone will become a heart of flesh in your experience. It is for reasons like this that Paul writes letters like this.
If I belong to another, to God, then I will have a lot of duties which I should not have if I belonged only to myself.
This is further amplified by the fact that the Bible states that every man is going to live forever. Bon Jovi got it wrong again. If I am going to live only seventy years or so, then there are a lot of things that I don’t need to be concerned about. Who I was and how I lived won’t matter all that much. I’ll be gone and forgotten. My bad behavior, my negative opinion of God, though it might be getting worse, won’t matter soon enough.
If a person lives forever, then the basis of his decisions matters more than kingdoms.
MAT 11:20 Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.
MAT 11:21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
MAT 11:22 "Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you.
MAT 11:23 "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.
MAT 11:24 "Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."
A person might think of many things that will last much longer than him, like a nation or the environment, etc., and so these are more important. People are going nuts about doing what they can to cool off the planet or change the climate because all the polar bears and penguins are going to die, but they fail to realize that they are all certainly destined for extinction, but the people are not.
2PE 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2PE 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
2PE 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
2PE 3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
If a man lives forever, he is more important than everything else by far. Compared to a man, a nation or a civilization or a penguin is only a moment (a splash in the water, if you will).
Every man belongs to God. Every man has a calling to believe in Christ as their Savior, for it is God’s will that all believe and come to a full knowledge of the truth. All believers have a calling to a ministry, their own service of God and His people.
We don’t get to pick and choose. We get to accept God’s will and obey.
GAL 1:11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
GAL 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
GAL 1:13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it;
GAL 1:14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
GAL 1:15 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased
GAL 1:16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
GAL 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.