Ephesians; 1:3 - every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, part 4.
Spiritual over material: The NT tells us to give sacrificially, but not what, when, to whom, and how much.
Our Lord instructed us to love our enemies and to give to everyone who asks us. We are to do good and lend, expecting nothing in return. Can you imagine living this way without the spiritual blessings from the Father as the center of our lives. If we don’t grab on to and love the spiritual blessings that come from the Father, from the heavenlies in Christ, then our lives will be miserable.
This explains why it is so difficult for most people to live in the image of Christ. They don’t know of or care for the spiritual blessings and then try their best to live in this way. It’s dealing with people and material and morals without the spiritual. It’s like trying to run without legs.
Spiritual over material: The church is not to involve herself in world affairs. She is to influence the men and women who are.
The church is not to get into politics. Her doctrines are to influence every politician who will listen as well as every public servant and every man everywhere. The church does this by proclaiming and living in the spiritual blessings (the living waters) from God the Father who has blessed each believer with all of them in the heavenlies in Christ.
1CO 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
1CO 5:10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.
We associate with the immoral unbelievers because we are ambassadors in this world. We do not judge them. God will judge them. We reveal the ministry of reconciliation to them.
1CO 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.
1CO 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?
We are not to associate with the immoral believer in the church. This is not to judge them. It is only to open their eyes to their error. It is done in grace and in love.
1CO 5:13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
In this way, there is influence over the unbeliever with the gospel and there is influence over the believer with truth. Our influence is in the sense of truth, goodness, the ethics and morality of Christ, and not how to govern, do business, invest, etc. The church is only an expert on Christ’s way, truth, and life.
The politician who then knows the truths of doctrine can then use his political expertise properly. The same is true of all professions; schools, local and state governments, regulators, bureaucrats, businessmen, laborers, and on and on. The church is not to become an expert in business or in municipal policy. She is to teach doctrines to the businessman and the bureaucrat and then let them use their expertise wisely.
The church is not to become an expert in worldly matters or involve herself in them. The spiritual blessings reveal the proper use of the worldly blessings.
The real solution to the discord and evil in this nation is not that a few politicians smarten up or that the right person gets elected president, but that a great many, many more American citizens more or less buy into the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.
This nation is in need of a great revival. I believe that the potential exists for it to happen, and not in violence.
I’m afraid that this demands self-evaluation and soul-searching in each man and that he must lay aside the distractions that are all around him and in his hands (smartphone). He must be ready to honestly answer the questions that will arise. As I have recently had discussions with colleagues over the meaning of the word repentance, I see it more and more to mean this - are you ready to look at yourself in light of your Creator? Repentance, a word that applies to a man who sets off in one direction and changes his mind to go in another, as well as to a man who changes his mind from conceiving himself to be self-dependent and innocent of any sin to seeing himself as a sinner and in need. If a man does, the Holy Spirit will be on him with the gospel if he is an unbeliever, and the truth if he is a carnal believer.
This leads us to our next principle.
Spiritual over material: faith is the function of the worthless and bankrupt toward the One who is all in all.
We know that there are no works in salvation and that it is by faith alone. We know that faith in the Christian life after salvation also does not require works.
Faith is believing and faith is also understanding that one is worthless and bankrupt before God and so totally dependent upon Him.
1PE 4:19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come upon you, but suffer for doing good rather than as an evildoer.
Faith doesn’t prevent us from work, it leads us to work in another way; a way with God, dependent on God, and always knowing that none of it would be possible if He didn’t somehow work through us.
Faith is the art of the worthless.
Faith is not reason.
Faith is also not reason. Someone may believe something through reason, but if put in the right situation, reason will go out the door and faith will fail. Reason may tell me that if I am walking on solid ground, a fall will not kill me, but if that solid ground was put in proximity to a steep cliff, and I have a fear of heights, even if I have plenty of room to walk and am not near enough to the edge to fall off, fear will destroy my reason. There are tons of examples of this. A man’s reason tells him that the pretty girl he is dating is no good for him and he tries to break it off, but when she enters his mind again, he might convince himself that she’ll be different this time and tries again. Reason gave him faith to move on, but fear of loss or the temptation of desire or lust destroyed them both.
The same tests of faith happen to a Christian time and time again, and it is for this reason that we return to the scriptures time and time again. Our learning is far less about new things than it is reminders of the old things, like leading dumb horses back to the water, or sheep back to the meadow. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.
Applied faith needs constant care. Applied faith doesn’t automatically remain in the mind. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.
Faith that the spiritual things alone must be the center of our lives does not automatically remain in the mind. We have to be
Faith in Christ as your Savior does not have be renewed. At salvation a person is born-again and regenerated, and that cannot be lost. Faith to live is what is in view here. Faith as a daily function toward everything in life in which the believer applies the spiritual blessings from the Father to his every day, material, earthly world.
Believing is believing. Believing and depending on God more frequently, which means in more situations and in tougher situations is what we would call mature or increased faith.
The Christian will find himself strong in faith and doubting his faith at different times. The solution to this is not removing all doubt as if it could be accomplished by force of human will. Faith is no more a function of self-will than it is of reason.
The solution to self’s tendency toward doubt is being on the right side of faith when doubt arises.
Take the man with the pretty girl. His faith tells him that she is the wrong one for him and nothing but trouble, but she calls and calls him. For days he is strong in his faith, but one day he is lonely. He doesn’t know why, loneliness can come upon a man like hunger, and on that day, she calls. She promises things will be better or it’ll be no harm to go out for a drink or some dinner, and his faith wavers.