Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paul’s Celebration of Church Membership, Ephesians 1-3

I’ve been reading through the epistles of Paul lately, reading them in the order they were written as listed in the Bible Dictionary just to see if that could give me a different view.   The last few days I’ve gotten to Ephesians.

The first three chapters of Ephesians seemed kind of odd to me until I realized that Paul was enthusing about and celebrating the spiritual privileges and blessings of church membership.  These are good things for us to remember at those times when we begin to take our church membership for granted or we’re just not “feelin’ it.” 

“he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (1:4)
”he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (1:6)
“we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (1:7)
“he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:8)
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will” (1:9)
“in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ” (1:10)
“we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11)
“ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (1:13-14)
“eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (1:18)
“the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (1:23)
“when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (1:5)
“hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6)
“we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (2:10)
“ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (2:13)
“ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (2:19)
“built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (2:20)
“partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (3:6)
“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (3:12)
“unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (4:7)

If you look at the verbs, you can see all that God has done for us—redeemed, gathered, sealed, enlightened, filled, quickened, raised, built, made nigh, created..
Stop and think about those things for a moment.  Can you remember and feel them in your life?

Paul also noted to the Ephesians what they had escaped in their conversion, noting how they had once been without hope and without God in the world, as well as other points of the fallen condition.  What a terrible thing!  How wonderful it makes conversion seem!

I notice that the blessings listed are all spiritual.  They are not something you can see unless it comes to good works, good words, and avoiding evil.  No one can give them but God, which means that no one can take them from us except our own sin.

A thought aside: I’ve noticed that sometimes when I get sucked too deeply into fantasy movies or books that depict magic or super strength that I begin to wish that the power of the Spirit were more dramatic.  It is when I pull back that I realize there is a reason the Spirit is so quiet.  Peace is quiet.  The quiet influence develops our sensitivities.  Quiet improvements give us refinement.  Quiet and small impulses to serve help us express love even when we don’t have much.  Quiet spiritual gifts don’t attract the attention that might puff us up with pride.

Today let’s think about the difference God has made in our lives and the blessings we’ve enjoyed so far because of all Christ has done for us.