Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ephesians 2:15 comments: Christ brought Jew and Gentile together

15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

There is rebellion and war between the natural man or woman and God.

Romans 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

The natural man or woman is incapable of receiving the things that God offers to mankind through His Spirit.

1Corinthians 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The “natural man” who figures so prominently in popular songs from the 1960’s onward as an ideal is a complete idiot and totally separated from the God who created him or her and bound for damnation, the natural man’s natural destiny. In popular culture what started as rebellion against the humanism and power/control games of the established, organized churches ended up being a glorification of man’s rebellion against God. Both the unrepentant sinner bound for Hell who glories in their “natural man” state and the hypocrites in church pulpits and pews who deceived them shall give an account of themselves before God, I assure you.

When an unsaved person comes into your church and he learns from you that he must do such and such or that he must change such and such to be a Christian you are teaching him pure humanistic self-help drivel. Only God changes a person’s heart through His words in His Book, read, heard, and preached. It is not an act of the good intentions of any man. This is why so many people come forward who desire to be cleansed of drug and alcohol addictions, sexual obsessions, and a ruined life who never come back to church. Churches in America are simply good at taking a “natural man” or woman and covering them with a gloss, a sheen, a veneer of Christian principles and ideals which they have no hope of claiming as their own, leaving them frustrated and discouraged.

Only when a new believer is taught to speak to God in prayer and to let God speak to them and change them through His words daily and often does he have any hope of being anything but a natural man who is simply now even more confused and disappointed. In fact, there are even a lot of natural men preaching from fundamentalist pulpits these days. Their criminal rap sheets for abusing those weaker than themselves is proof of that.

So, it is impossible to depend upon either the will or the mind of the natural man or woman to receive the things of God. God alone, as Jesus Christ, without our help or assistance, abolished the enmity between us which was proven by our inability to follow the standards of righteousness which He set down in the form of the Law given to Moses. Read Genesis 15 to see how God established a covenant with Abram (Abraham) without Abram’s works other than simply believing God.

The Law given to Moses established our inability to do God’s will on our own.

James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Our inability to obey God is proof that the Law itself leads us to Christ.

Galatians 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, in this eighteenth century commentary on the whole Bible, said that for verse 14 and 15 that the middle wall of partition was between the Jew and the Gentile and that this twain, made one new man, was the Jew, God’s chosen people, the remnant in particular who obeyed the Law and followed Christ, and the Gentiles who believed, both together being made the Church, Christ’s body on earth. He also made note of the enmity between God and the sinner and how Christ reconciled that enmity. Commentator John Gill also viewed the two or twain as being a reference to the Jew and the Gentile who believed becoming the Church.

There are only three types of people in this age. There are unsaved Jews, unsaved Gentiles, and the Church composed of believing Jews and Gentiles. See 1 Corinthians 10:32 for that division.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ephesians 2:14 comments: Christ, our peace with God

14 ¶  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Christ is mankind’s peace with God.

Romans 5:1   Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.


Christ, the physical, visible image of the invisible God, (John 1:1; John 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3) not a separate person as in a different God or another God, but the angel, or appearance, of God (Galatians 4:14; Acts 27:23; Judges 2:1), God in the flesh, the Son of God, or the body of God, if you will, has broken down the division, the barrier, between God and man.

Theology 101 requires us to know who God is and of what He is composed. God, creator of all that exists (Genesis 1:1) is one person with three parts (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 2:2; 1 John 5:7); a soul, the seat of will and self-identity (Job 23:13; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) or God the Father, a spirit, the agency of activity and power throughout the universe or the Holy Spirit, and a body, God the Son, the very WORD by which all things were created and the physical form in which God dwelt among men (John 1:1-18; Genesis 1).

These three parts of one God can act independently in space-time of each other and yet still be the same God. Mankind and the higher animals also have soul, spirit, and body (man – 1 Thessalonians 5:23, for the beast’s soul and spirit – Numbers 31:28; Job 12:10; Ecclesiastes 3:21) but in our case, if one is separated from the other we die physically.  Plus, we haven’t created anything except, usually, a mess.

In religions like Islam and modern Judaism there is no way to bridge the gap between God and man. Man continually tries to do it with his works but their God does not do anything but tell them how he wants them to behave and judge them if they don’t obey, if he’s not simply a disinterested deity. In Islam in particular there is no expression of any love from their God for man at all.

In Roman Catholicism, the ecclesiastical organization called The Church is supposed to be that bridge, with The Church reaching out to God and fulfilling his will on earth. All of these religions are humanistic in their approach. Essentially, they are man reaching out to some concept of God to be approved and accepted. This is also true in many Protestant faith traditions including the Independent Baptist, in many cases.

In Biblical Christianity, God, coming to earth in the form of a human being, bridged that gap. God did all the work. Mankind receives and mankind believes (John 1:12, 13). After that, saved mankind is predestinated to eternal life. As God did all the work, mankind can take credit for nothing (Ephesians 2:8,9).

As the saved man speaks to God in prayer and as the saved man allows God to speak to him through God’s words in His Book and through Biblical preaching (not Sophistry)  God changes him from the inside out and sanctifies him, or sets him apart for God’s purposes. This can be somewhat different for each person depending on God’s calling and on the degree of faith given to him. And yes, faith is a gift from God and is not generated from inside of man by his or her own will.

God came to us. We didn’t go to Him. Christ stepped across the divide between God and man/womankind when we had no capacity or will to do so. Christ tore down the wall between God's people, the Jews, and the Gentiles. Our works before salvation, as good as they may be in the eyes of the world, are nothing but trash and totally ineffectual in achieving our union with God or making peace. Only Christ’s works and Christ do that.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ephesians 2:11-13 comments: near to God by the blood of Christ

11 ¶  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

The Circumcision is a reference to the Jews and the Gentiles were called the Uncircumcision, as a reference to the practice that signified God’s covenant with the Jews. This is done in the flesh. God performs a Circumcision of our flesh from our soul and it is entirely God’s operation.

Colossians 2:11  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 ¶  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Here, using parallel phrasing we find the definition in the Bible of the word “strangers” as being aliens, a word we know to mean foreigners. Another phrase which defines strangers is coming up in verse 19. We were not part of the commonwealth of Israel and we were strangers to the covenants that God had made with His people and the promises resulting. We had no hope and we didn’t have God.

Without God we have no hope. Mankind will not make the world a better place. He will not create a utopia. The most man can do without God is to redecorate the waiting room to Hell. This is our condition. It’s also the condition of every so called Christian or unbeliever who is depending on His own goodness to guarantee him eternal life. 

I have met many good people who weren’t Christians; many atheists and agnostics who have more character and are kinder than I am. And it’s a terrible tragedy that they are going to Hell and I’m not. But, that’s the way it is. Period. Done Deal. In my unsaved state I knew sexually immoral people, liars, thieves, drunks, and murderers who, if they liked you, would give the shirt off their back or the contents of their wallet or smackdown someone who would speak badly of you. And you know what, without Christ, they died and went to Hell just as they were; sexually immoral people, liars, thieves, drunks, and murderers.

I can think of names, fine people by mankind’s standards, kind people by any standards, loyal friends. Just as dead in their sins and without hope and without God as they could be. I’ve met good Muslims, good Catholics, good Protestants, good Baptists, and good Hindus and pagans. I can give you their names. It hurts me that they are going to burn in Hell forever without Christ.  Now, I know you are going to say, well, they weren’t good if they weren’t saved but you know what I mean. If you’re honest and you have ever known people who weren’t Christians you know that there are some really nice people who are lost as a goose in a horse race and some Christians who aren’t worth the shot and powder it would take to blow them into the lake of fire.

13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Paul is talking to the Gentiles here who were not God's people as Israel was.

Now, presently, IN Christ, with this change in position of not being in Adam, you are brought near to God by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ, not you, not your church, or any ritual brings you near to God. You are not near to God by being on your knees in front of the benches in front of the pulpit. You are brought near to God by the blood of Christ.

Acts 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Hebrews 9:12  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 13:12  Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

Revelation 1:5  And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Just because sometimes you who believe don’t feel close to God is irrelevant. Your feelings have nothing to do with it. You believe, He saves you, His Book sanctifies you, and He uses you for His purpose. Sometimes you need to come apart from where you are, whether it be apart from your seat to come forward from your pew, or from your easy chair at home, to fall on your knees, because you have sinned or are hurting and you feel like God is so far away. But, never forget that you are now His child, no matter what.

I have things in my head and running around in my mind on any given day that make me sick of myself and of how selfish and sinful I am.  I’m ashamed. But, I must never forget that the deed is done. I’m saved. God owns me. It’s stupid to doubt your salvation if you believe. It’s arrogant to doubt other people’s salvation if they don’t act like YOU think they should act. But, regardless, you or they who believe according to Romans 10:9 are saved. Period. Done. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ephesians 2:8-10 comments: so you think you're all that and a bag of chips, do you?

8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Faith is the gift of God.  By God’s grace, His unmerited favor to us through the faith He gives us, we are saved. It’s all God’s work. He does it. We need to never forget that we can’t take credit for any of it ourselves. Remember that when we are telling someone else about Christ. We need to quit elevating ourselves. It’s an all too human trait.

God gave enough faith to every man to have the ability to believe, therefore no one has an excuse.

Acts 11:17  Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18  When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

You believe, and God will do the rest. Quit trying to sing both parts.

9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

God has arranged so that no man can applaud himself when it comes to salvation. I have nothing with which to commend myself to God except what He has placed in me. I am a selfish, hot-tempered, impulsive, childish, morally bankrupt idiot who has completely failed in every aspect of his life and has no value outside what God has given me.

I know several financially successful people who are drunks or drug addicts or both, who live in loveless marriages, whose children detest them, and whose private lives are lived, as Thoreau said in Walden, “in quiet desperation.” But, they keep up a good show of respectability, success, and contented self-righteousness. They would do better to admit their inadequacies and turn to Christ. It is so much sadder when a Christian is in the same boat.

 No matter how spiritual and Godly you think you are you can’t boast, so quit boasting. We need to be witnessing for Christ, not for our own self-righteousness. We have a lot of Christian boasters in this country.  Works didn’t save you and can’t keep you.

10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Once saved, always saved as we are His workmanship not our own. God has made us so that we can do good works after we believe and trust in Christ. God expects us to walk in good works. It’s not guaranteed that we will. Here’s a thing ordained that doesn’t come to pass.

1 Corinthians 9:14  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15 ¶  But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Nevertheless, it is God’s will for our lives that we do good works as per His standard of good.  A Christian is ordained to do good works but he might not do many good works. It doesn’t mean he isn’t saved, just that he’s a terribly immature Christian. Also remember, the fruit  or proof of the Spirit list in Galatians 5 does not include church attendance, door knocking, wearing a tie or a dress, or going to Bible conferences although these things can be good and useful to God if done with the right attitude.
The proof that you are a heaven-bound Christian is not about what political party you vote for, how many guns you own, or how you don't drink alcohol, play the lottery, or keep your lawn mowed. The proof or fruit of the Spirit of God dwelling in you is different than that. Can another person tell you are saved by your attitude?

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,   23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.