The chosen in Christ

Paul’s words in Ephesians 1 are clear. Nevertheless, a story about a letter can perhaps provide a fresh appreciation for his message and what it means for us.

Although I certainly did not graduate with a degree in chemistry and chances are you have not either, let’s pretend we did. Now imagine receiving a letter from our alma mater’s chemistry chairperson: “The president of our university chose us in chemistry before our chemistry program ever began to be educated and prepared for employment.” Continue reading “The chosen in Christ”

How to be blessed by a study of Ephesians

The Epistle to the Ephesians is filled with great teachings about the church, grace, redemption, holiness, unity and more. Yet, to really get the most out of the epistle, we must slow down and notice the small words. There we will find buried treasure.

It’s easy to go too fast when we study the Bible, hoping to catch the major principles. But, we can look at the first chapter of Ephesians and learn the error of our ways. Paul is very precise as a writer and each word is loaded with power. Continue reading “How to be blessed by a study of Ephesians”

Church appreciation 101

Almost a decade ago a truck driver leaned on his dolly at my front door. In the midst of moving boxes into our house a short conversation ensued. “No, I don’t go to church anywhere. I don’t think that’s necessary. I might not be a saint, but I am OK with God.”

The apostle Paul, however, offers an entirely different view in Ephesians.  He would counsel us that spiritually independent free spirits are not in the stream of what God is doing in this world.

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An audacious plan

by Barry Newton

Oil and water, the Hatfields and the McCoys, opera and rap; some combinations just conjure up incompatible images. Yet, scripture would suggest such differences are multiple magnitudes less than the irreconcilability of God and evil. Can there be any greater diametrically opposed forces?

It is precisely because of this incompatibility that God’s eternal plan appears so audacious. While people might like to imagine themselves on a good footing with God, evil forces persistently corrupt humanity, bringing spiritual death and placing people under God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). Therefore, God’s plan to organize under Christ the things in heaven and the things on earth is nothing short of incredible (Ephesians 1:9-10). Continue reading “An audacious plan”

Unity: but why can’t we?

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Christian unity faces a very straightforward question capable of either promoting or tearing at oneness. What question wields such power? “But why can’t we __________?”

If used to empower unity, the form this question simply needs to ask is: “But why can’t we just follow God’s teaching for the church instead of embracing human tradition and ideas?”

More commonly, however, we might encounter a different version of this question. This alternate version could be built upon noble intentions to solve a perceived problem. “But why can’t we ____________? I think this would be so good.”

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God’s unity: It’s a lifestyle matter

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Having read how Jesus prayed for all of his followers to be one, perhaps the idea of unity causes our minds to glide into the rut of only reflecting upon the fractured state of Christendom.

While in his prayer Jesus focused upon a unified fellowship of disciples, Paul would later develop another dimension of unity– how we live each day.

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Unity: the one church

An understanding of Ephesians suggests that, while this letter teaches us God creates one church (Ephesians 4:4) through Christ, it is not overtly helpful in identifying who belongs to Christ. After all, Paul was writing to Christians who knew how they were added to Christ.

Immediately, some will object. Doesn’t “for by grace you are saved through faith (pisteos)” (Ephesians 2:8 NET) acutely capture the essential core of how we must respond to be saved?

Given the context of Ephesians, I would suggest such an interpretation fails to grasp Paul’s meaning.

Continue reading “Unity: the one church”