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December 18, 2020 7:00 am
We may feel good about ourselves when we get a raise at work. Get a good grade on a test at school or win a championship game out of the sports field, but how often do we remember that as believers are true accomplishments and victories come to the very power of God in us. Let's learn together to walk in resurrection power.
Welcome to the Bible study hours with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly as Dr. Boyce brings his teaching on the first chapter of Ephesians to a close learn that the glory of Christ is an overarching theme of Scripture and that God calls his people to live in a way that displays that glory. A person does not have to read much of the New Testament to realize that large portions of it are future oriented. We read about the past work of Christ in providing salvation for us by his death on the cross but we are also told to look forward to that day when he will return in glory and subject all his enemies to him self forever. We read in the New Testament.
What was perhaps one of the earliest Christian prayers. First Corinthians 16 and Revelation 22, or Jesus.
Obviously the early church in its life as well as in its theology had this future orientation. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency in some Christian circles to so emphasize these future aspects of the faith, principally the return of Christ in glory to subject his enemies that something of his present exultation over all the forces of evil is been lost. There is a tendency to say well when Jesus comes. Then he will reign forever.
Actually, the Bible also teaches us that although is the author of Hebrews says is yet we see not all things put under him. Nevertheless, we do see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor.
Paul had in mind as C came to the end of this great first chapter of Ephesians 8. Been thinking of our salvation, which has the indicates of the opening portion was grounded and is grounded in the eternal election of God in all eternity and accomplished in history by the work of Christ applied to the individual by the Holy Spirit on the basis of that he has syndicated his prayer for the Ephesian Christians saying he prayed that they might know God and that they might know the fullness of these great doctrines in a personal way. One aspect of the knowledge of the desired for them was the knowledge of the power of God demonstrated in Christ of his resurrection and his exultation and his present glory as he began to think along those lines.
Paul's wind expanded as it would seem to think of Christ in all his glory and the sea ends the chapter on that note, just as he began with the glory of God in election.
At the start when Paul talks share of the exultation of Christ. He thinks of it in three areas in the resurrection and his ascension to heaven and exultation over all the evil forces of this universe and thirdly is being exalted is head of the church.
I was interesting to pause and think how Paul gets into this because as we read this, it would seem that he didn't set out initially simply to say that Jesus Christ has been glorified.
Overall, Paul has been speaking immediately before this, as I indicated of his prayer for the Ephesians in his prayer concerning the fact that in an experiential way, they might know the power of God in their lives is on the basis that he gets to talk about Christ exultation and that means the power is a chief concern of Paul's. As he prayed for the Ephesians.
When we looked at this earlier. I pointed out and rightly so, that Paul is also concern for knowledge several times over. He prays that they might know God better and that they might know the hope which is called the riches of their inheritance in such things. Knowledge is a very important thing. Other things are based upon a Christianity is a religion of mileage but is not a religion of mere knowledge. That's the point.
These verses make it's not mere knowledge of that sense of Christianity being for example, a philosophy which is something by which we try to live, but that's all there is to it. Christianity is much more than that Christianity is the knowledge of what God is done, but it is also an experiential appropriation of the power of God working through that knowledge.
An individual Christian lives. I read various letters of Paul with this matter, power or strength in mind, I sense that Paul was very concerned about that in his day lived in a Roman dominated world.
Romans were strong in their power was anything they were proud of was Roman might in the world that was conscious of that Paul speaks often of that over writing an irresistible power of God seen in the resurrection of Christ, and now as he praised also to be seen in individual Christians. You see, what you say something in Christianity, we begin with the knowledge of what God is done and we grow in, but we grow in that, in order that we might go on leave these things out in a transforming way in the midst of a society, his and ours, which also obviously need that transformation I think of three areas in which the power of God in Christ to see the first is the resurrection. The obvious one, Jesus Christ was here on earth. He spoke of his resurrection he tried to prepare his disciples for it saying is were told in Mark Tanis and also in other places that he was going to go up to Jerusalem and that when he went up to Jerusalem, he would be arrested and beaten, spit upon, abused and then crucified. But he said on the third day I will rise again is astonishing prophecy. Make it was an apparently impossible thing to have happen for centuries for millennia, men and women had, and had died and as far as anybody could see that was the end of yet here was Jesus saying that he would die, as indeed all of us, but that after you died indeed three days after God's father God of glory to God of the Old Testament would intervene and raise him from the dead, all you look at a claim like that and you say what earthly power could possibly achieve such a resurrection, and the answer is no earthly power could but heavenly power Canon did so on the third day Jesus was brought back from the tomb by that act, God vindicated Christ's claims gave evidence of our own eventual resurrection showed that there is a power available to enable anyone who was united to Jesus Christ by saving faith to be victorious over sin.
Now that's what Paul is thinking of as he writes Martin Lloyd Jones in his commentary breaks is down obvious way thinking of the enemies that opposes of the Christian life talks about the world. First of all, worldliness world system which is notes rightly bombards us constantly in a variety of ways the world presents its system and its values to the television. We read about in the newspapers is in the magazines.
It's in the standards of the companies for which we work.
It's in casual conversation is values that say well what's important in life is getting ahead in material things and be first in all about then getting to the top and finding recognition and Lloyd Jones asked how the world are we find a victory over that kind of a system. How are we to be renewed from within.
As Paul writes in Romans 12, so we might prove the perfect and acceptable will of God is only one why it's by God for that power demonstrated in the resurrection.
That's what Paul would say that's what God would say that's what God wants us to be like God wants us not to be conformed to this world but be transformed from within him, so that we represent in our something different in the midst of the selfish corrupt world system Lloyd Jones also talks about the flesh in the Bible. The flesh refers to human nature as it is, apart from the grace of God in Christ refers to the unregenerate individual and that is with us.
You see the Christian life expresses itself in laziness kind of laziness that makes it difficult for us to read the Bible and pray come to church and fellowship with Christians and do what we ought to do. It expresses itself in selfishness. So we serve ourselves before we serve others in a variety of ways or bad habits, simple habits, we just can't break. We asked where the world we find the power to break that hold our fleshly nature has upon us. Not going to find it in the world. The world doesn't have anything to offer. Where are we going to find victory over such bad habits is only one answer. It is through the power of God displayed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That alone is adequate. Then we think of the power of the devil, the world, the flesh and the devil, that's what rate collects of the church refer to. That's a formidable enemy or adversary.
Paul writes about the devil later on in this very letter he says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil and that heavenly realms.
He says not put on the armor of God so you can stand against the devil's schemes. Where are we going to find victory over adversary is formidable is that only one answer by the power of God demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We think about the resurrection, we have to ask ourselves this is a practical matter, this is not high-level shall theology this is where theology comes down where the rubber meets the road. We have to ask ourselves is there anything about the power of God in the resurrection of Jesus Christ seen in my life anything there so evidently of God. Somebody standing by looking on from the outside would say I don't see how they could have done that.
I don't see how they could've changed. I don't see how they could accomplish that moral or spiritual victory unless it's by a power beyond themselves. So you say when Paul thinks of power and glorification of Jesus Christ is thinking about it in those terms.
Secondly, he talks about the power of God exerted in Christ when he seated him in his right hand in the heavenly realms above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given but only in the present age but in that which is to call that's important to because you see when we begin to think about the spiritual battle in which were engaged just world just a flash. We talk about that we can say well maybe if there's such a thing is resurrection power while we can be victorious over that. The only thing not only of those things, but of the power of the devil in the demonic forces that are clustered around him.
The very sort of thing Paul talks about later on here in the six chapter powers in the heavens. Those evil forces when we begin to think about that we say, well, then, is the power of God demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ enough balls answer the power of God seen in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to see, not merely in the resurrection, because God's work in Christ stopped not with that went on as he says that glorification of Jesus. Above all, of the spiritual forces of this world. When Jesus is exalted above all rule and authority as the text says. That includes earthly powers and angels, all of that, but chiefly it involves evil demonic hostile forces that are arranged behind the political powers of this world and he says you say we can be Pretorius there as well because God is exalted Jesus master our Lord whom we are united by saving faith that position and thirdly he talks about what God has done when he has appointed head over everything for the church. This carries on the earlier idea. It says that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and exalted him to heaven and gave him a position above all rule all authority and power block for the sake of the church is a phenomenal statement. This is the first time in the letter that the word church is been mentioned yet in a certain sense the book has been about the church from the beginning and it continues to be about the church to the end talks about the origin of church the nature of the church.
The standards of the church in relation in practical terms of the church of Jesus Christ which master what Paul is saying you say is that in a certain sense. All of this is for our benefit. We might really live as people of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this present age is a phrase here that has created great difficulty for commentators and the reason is obvious and simply that linguistically can be taken in a variety of ways to phrase constitutes verse 23 church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
What does that refer to what is the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. The three possibilities.
The first text that were fullness is referring not to the church but as referring to Christ himself, so we might read it this way, the church, which is the body of him that is Christ who is the fullness of him that is God who fills all all now first glance it's a very attractive possibility certainly were told elsewhere in Scripture. The God fills all in all and we are told the Christ is the fullness of God in the sense the Jesus Christ reveals the fullness of the divine nature and himself. Yet when you begin to study it in terms of other scriptures.
It doesn't seem to be entirely accurate.
Scripture never anywhere else says that Christ is God's fullness and says that the fullness of God dwells in Christ, which is to say Christ is fully divine, but not that Christ is the fullness of God in the sense that somehow God is subsumed in Jesus Christ, that would be a wrong idea. It's a small point in the technical one, but perhaps indicate or not to take it that way.
The second possibility is to take the fullness as referring to the church and to take it in an active sense, that is, the church fills or completes Jesus Christ. I would first like that's a shocking idea and obviously it can't be mentioned in ontological sentences. If here were talking about the essence of the Godhead, and as it were saying that somehow we are creatures make up or complete the essence of deity, that's obviously but what's involved. That's not what the proponents of this view mean simply dealing with the image of the church is the body of Christ of the bride of Christ which Paul develops in this very letter saying just as use the image head is not complete without the body and husband is not complete without his wife or a wife without her husband so Christ is not complete. The part from the church which is his body, is a view that appeal to John Calvin. He wrote by this word fullness he means that our Lord Jesus Christ even got his father count themselves imperfect and must were joined to them shocking to hear Calvin say that that's what he thought. It is his will that was joined to him. Yes, even on the condition that he should be perfected in us by our being united in that matter is of a father should say my house seems empty to me when I don't see my child and it her husband would say I seem to be only half a man when my wife is not with me Martin Lloyd Jones also holds this in a guarded fashion. He says there is a sense in which we as the church or his fullness head alone is not complete had needs a body and you can think ahead without a body. So the body in the header one in this mystical sense, we are part of the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ. While that's possible.
However, I think that this third possibility in the light of the chapter is the right one. This takes the word fullness is referring to the church but treats it, not in an active sense, but in the passive sense that is, it is not the church which fills or completes Jesus Christ, but rather the church which is filled by Christ. He fills us. This is the view that John Stott holds in his interpretation of this chapter, I think it's the right one. I think it is for several reasons. First of all because of the analogy of Scripture when you come to a difficult passage. Great principle of interpretation is to see what other passages say what kind of light they throw on it and when you study other related passages.
You never find anywhere else that the church is said to Philip, or complete Christ, but you find many many times that Christ fills the church and then also because some of the flow of the passage. Here Paul is talking about the need for power in the church to be saying that the reason church has the promise of this power is the Jesus Christ is exalted the power of God is seen in him and what Jesus fills us. Jesus fills the church in the power of God and Jesus fills the church also and we become a transforming element in this decaying world. I wonder if that really is the case with us all its easy to talk about power. We said oh yes yes power of the gospel power of the cross, but is that mighty power of God working of his mighty strength, that's the language Paul uses is that seen in us all that is. Then we really will be what Jesus said the church should be will be salt of the world, and Weitzen many good things will happen just because the church of Jesus Christ is here this power that is the manifest itself in the church is not the power alarms, not political power spots the power to force the power of transformed personalities, redirected priorities, new values, which is God blesses spillover influence. At times a whole culture. They were given in his great classic. They decline and fall of the Roman Empire has a section in which he writes about the influence of the church of the Roman world and he does it very moving language languages so moving that Winston Churchill on one occasion memorized just so he could have it always in his mind.
This is what Gibbon wrote while that great body, the Roman Empire was invaded by open violence or undermined by slow decay of pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men grew up in silence and obscurity drive new vigor from opposition. Then finally corrected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the capital or was influence of Christianity confined to the period of the limits of the Roman Empire after the revolution of 13 or 14 centuries, that religion is still professed by the nations of Europe. The most distinguished portions of humankind and arts learning as well as alarms by industry and seal of the Europeans.
It is been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa and by the means of their colonies has been firmly established from Canada to Chile world unknown to the ancients. Edward Gibbon was no friend of evangelical Christianity.
He bemoans the decline of the Roman Empire and attributed part of that fall Christian influence, but it was an honest historian and he recognized it as he looks at Christianity in those early days was that client, humble, pure infusion of the life and power of Jesus Christ that eventually turning the entire known world around.
We need that in our day will happen in our strength, but it can, by the power of God in Jesus Christ as he feels his people of his prior our father when we read the section like this we find it hard to be glib, as we say at times all yes answers power in the blood power in the cross and there is our father, we must examine ourselves and ask whether the power of the exalted Christ is really seeing in us in the way we live our lives. Father forgive us for that is not true. We know that many times often. Maybe even most of the time we live just like the world of forgiveness for that by your power enable us to be what we must be salt in the world light in the world know our father, bless many pricing you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.
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