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Ephesians; 1:4 – Elected to be blameless. Humility and obedience are the only way.

EPHESIANS-1-190301
length: 60:00 - taught on Mar, 1 2019
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Title: Ephesians; 1:4 - Elected to be blameless. Humility and obedience are the only way.

 

We are to be blameless and holy so as to be lights in the world, PHI 2:15.

 

PHI 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out [bring to its ultimate completion: Christlikeness] your salvation with fear and trembling;

 

PHI 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

 

Bringing salvation to its natural and ultimate conclusion, Christlikeness, is God’s good pleasure.

 

We could confidently say that Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit in verse 13. Not that distinguishing which member of the Trinity is working is an issue since all three are working on our behalf. Yet it is the Holy Spirit within that empowers and guides us, and what pleases Him, what is good and pleasing to Him, is that we mature to Christlikeness by being excellent students of the Word of God and excellent executors of the life of Christ taught us in the Word.

 

Also, all the verbs in vs. 13 are present tense, meaning that the work is not one work or an occasional work, but a constant working of the will of God in all things.

 

JOH 15:8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

 

JOH 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

 

JOH 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.

 

Performing the work of God, sacrificially, in divine love and obedience demands a certain type of soul, mind, heart, and spirit. To begin the work the proper truth and motivation must be in us and we must love to do it. However, the soul of the beginning act must be the same soul afterwards, in other words, doing God’s good is moving towards advanced ground. Often it is easy to take advanced ground and much harder to hold it. We do good and sacrifice for others and they take, but remain unchanged and ungrateful. Doubt about the effort mingles with the pure faith that begun the work and the advanced ground is lost and a less extraordinary life is retreated to.

 

The word abide, meno, means to remain and not leave. Abid in My love, abide in Me, abide in My word, all referring to constantly living in the word, walking with Christ, and walking in His love.

 

So, we advance and retreat, advance and retreat, and instead of having consistent fruit in our lives, we have a little here and a little there.

 

PHI 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out [bring to its ultimate completion: Christlikeness] your salvation with fear and trembling;

 

PHI 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

 

The pleasure of the Holy Spirit is a habitual doing of His will.

 

Therefore, in verse 12 we have our responsibility and in verse 13 we have God’s responsibility. It is not a “let go and let God” affair, but a “take hold with God” affair.

 

As in salvation, so in the Christian life, there is an element of mystery to our relationship to God; our free-will and His sovereign will.

 

Often, verse 13 is read on its own and statements made about how God is going to do all things in us and through us despite us. But the reality of the NT is also in verse 12 in the word, “obey”. “If I don’t obey God, is He going to mature me and produce fruit in me, despite me?” It is very clear in the scripture that the answer is no. Verses 12 and 13 should always be read together. Kenneth Wuest puts it well:

 

“It is a mutual cooperation with the Holy Spirit in an interest and an activity in the things of God. The saint must not merely rest in the Holy Spirit for victory over sin and the production of a holy life. He must in addition to this dependence upon the Spirit, say a positive NO to sin and exert himself to the doing of the right. Here we have that incomprehensible and mysterious interaction between the free will of man and the sovereign grace of God.” [Wuest]

 

PHI 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

 

PHI 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

 

A clear barometer to failure in vv. 12-13 is complaining or disputing.

 

PHI 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

 

“grumbling,” a word that was used for the cooing of birds is an onomatopoeia, a word whose sounds resembles its meaning. It is gongusmon. It refers to outspoken dissatisfaction.

 

PHI 2:15 that you may prove yourselves to be [that you may be]blameless [amemptos: another synonym of amomos] and innocent [literally: unmixed], children of God above reproach [amomos] in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

 

The verb is not “prove” (as in dokimazo or peirazo) but the verb ginomai which means to become.

 

“Obey, bring to completion your salvation, which God will work in you, and do all things without complaining or disputing so that you may become [ginomai] blameless, and innocent children.”

 

PHI 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

 

So, we are elected that we should be blameless and we become blameless when through humility and obedience we grow in respect to Christlikeness, while we hold fast to the word of God.

 

As in Ephesians and Colossians, Paul through the Holy Spirit is describing, commanding, and entreating the recipients of each of these letters to live the unique spiritual life of the church age, that was a mystery in all ages before the church.

 

If we do this, the guarantee is that we will be lights in the world, PHI 2:15. Jesus told us that we are the light of the world, but then He commanded us to have our light shine in such a way that people see our good works. 

 

Lights in the world = phosteres en kosmo. Phoster refers to a luminary, like a heavenly body.

 

The Greek word phos means light. Phostermeans a luminary or object that emits light. The imagery is better than simply using phos (light). We are stars shining against a dark landscape. We’re not spotlights or even trying to shine so as to be seen, but we are simply being who we are, luminaries in the world.

 

MAT 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

 

MAT 5:15 "Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.

 

MAT 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

 

Christ was clear to warn us not to do good works for the sole purpose of being seen by men. We do them because we love Him and so love His works. When we do them as a rule of life because election, predestination, adoption as sons to holiness is our life, then we do them often enough that people are going to see them. In this way, more people will see your good works than if you determined to do them only when people are looking.

 

In contrast to our calling to blamelessness (amomos), false teachers are called momos, blemished.

 

False prophets and false teachers are blemished [momos].

 

2PE 2:13They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes [momos], reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,

 

2PE 2:14 having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;

 

There is a definite and dominant ethical quality about the divine election. We are elected by a God to a heavenly quality.

 

His election of us is His will for us. His will is His highest and best and not a much-watered down version of our own.

 

Some believers get antsy about this aspect of election as they entertain fear of the words holy and blameless. But they simply fail to see and understand what beauty there is in God’s highest and best - nothing of the world or flesh is in it. It is given by grace and God is patient and forgiving and merciful and He will see us through, but do not ever water is down to make it more palatable to your flesh or the world economy. They have nothing in Him and nothing in His election.

 

No other way of life is fitting for those who are chosen and destined by God the Father. It is the only life fashioned for the elect.

 

COL 1:13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

 

COL 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

The imagery of vv. 13-14 is that of enslaved people being set free through payment (redemption) and being transferred en masse to the kingdom of the Son. Every believer is now and forever more a member of His kingdom.  

 

COL 1:15 And He is the image [eikon -exact image as a stamp from a press] of the invisible God, the first-born [prototokos - priority and sovereignty] of all creation.

 

The attack from Gnosticism, which continued through all church history, is that Jesus was a created being. Paul is refuting that here. He is the creator of all things and so is before all things. As the image of God, He is eternal. He is God the Word, JOH 1:1, and He is the Word become flesh, JOH 1:14.

 

COL 1:16 For by Him [the: definite article] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created by Him and for Him.

 

It doesn’t say He created “the rest of the things” after He was created. He created all things. These plain words cannot be interpreted any other way.

 

HEB 1:8

But of the Son He says,

“Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,

And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.”

 

As creator of heavens and earth, He is creator of all things visible and invisible. As creator of all angels (thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities), Paul knocks out the angel worship that was being taught in Colossae.

 

COL 2:16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day — 

 

COL 2:17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

 

COL 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

 

COL 2:19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. 

 

There always has been and always will be lies about God and man’s relationship to God. Yet, God has marvelously preserved His word, giving us clear passage through all the nonsense.

 

COL 1:15 And He is the image [eikon - exact image as a stamp from a press] of the invisible God, the first-born [prototokos - priority and sovereignty] of all creation.

 

COL 1:16 For by Him [the: definite article] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created by Him and for Him.

 

COL 1:17 And He [Himself: pronoun used for emphasis] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

 

Everything and everyone owe their existence to Him and are dependent upon Him.

 

The pronoun used by Paul, “He Himself is” emphasizes His person. He is a He, a person, who is divine and is before all things and holds together all things.

 

He is the One who maintains order and keeps chaos at bay. All natural law is held by Him. All cycles that make life possible, all heavenly bodies, all physical laws that make life on this planet are all held together by Him.

 

Next the personal pronoun is used again and again for emphasis on the person of Christ as the head of the body. The pronoun is used again in reference to His preeminence (first place in everything).

 

He Himself is before all things (Creator of the world) and He Himself is the head of the church (Creator of the church) that He Himself might be preeminent in everything.

 

COL 1:18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning [Greek arche: originating power, author, or ruler], the first-born from the dead [the originator of a new spiritual life]; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

 

The Creator of the world is the head of the church. He is the origin, the seat, the authority, the sustaining power, the meaning, and the new life of all things. The world exists due to Him and He has allowed certain sinful and evil challenges to His authority to exist within it. He is also the reason for the church, the light in the world that shines forth His gospel and His truth.

 

COL 1:19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,

 

“Father” is not in the original. It reads, “For in Him He was well pleased that all the fullness should dwell.” It is definitely the Father who is implied as being pleased. That all the fullness (pleroma) was in Him was Paul’s direct attack against Gnosticism that had so influenced the Colossian church.

 

This Gnostic pleroma was the emanation of God in creation and in revelation to angelic mediators. All of it combined they called pleroma. Each of these mediators retained something of the divine being, but in all cases the pleroma was diluted and darkened by mixing with foreign substance. One emanation led to another which had less of the divine and so on down to the last emanation which had almost none of it. It’s not a novel concept. It’s just like a family. God becomes a patriarch like Abraham. Isaac has a DNA most like his father’s and Jacob less so, and Joseph less so, and so on. The Gnostics simply put Jesus into one of these emanations as an angelic mediator. The cults continue to do the same thing.  

 

Paul states clearly the incredible and transcendent truth about Jesus Christ. He is the exact image of the invisible God and sovereign of all, vs. 15. He is the creator of all things, before all things, and the sustainer of all things, vv. 16-17. He is the head of the body, the first-born from the dead, the preeminent one, and unlike some angelic mediator who could not reconcile man, being neither human nor divine, but Jesus, God and creator, is also a man who fully reconciled all things to Himself.

 

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