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Body Building


Preparation for Work!

Our good friend Ray. S. has yet another thought from the ‘Ephesus Protocol’.

[Edited by: Phil. D.]

Passage:  Ephesians 4:1-16

Focus:  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  Ephesians 4:12

No—I won’t presume to settle here the debate over the practical relationship between grace, faith, and works that has been active within the Christian community for centuries.

But I do want to offer a few thoughts and observations that flow out of this passage that I believe speak to the extreme position of what I’m inclined to call extreme grace’.

There are those who choose to believe there is basically nothing they can do in or of themselves to receive and/or maintain their salvation.  For them it is totally accomplished by the grace of God.  license

I have beheld far too many cases where I think this spin becomes a form of ‘theological license’ for one to live the way he wants to live and still get in on all the benefits of salvation.  This view holds that once the gift of God’s grace is received there is nothing that can be done to revoke it.

In support of this persuasion, Ephesians 2:8-9 is often quoted.  Let me quote it here for our review.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by WORKS, so that no one can boast.”  They would say, “See…there it is.  Works have nothing to do with our salvation.”

Well, I think it is important to point out the technicality that the main idea of that statement has to do with the origin of the gift—pointing to the fact that works could never pay for it, win it, or deserve it.

Rules & regulations2It is not earned or realized by following a bunch of rules, memorizing a bunch of scriptures, or performing a bunch of good deeds.  While it is true that the gift of salvation is made available by God’s love and grace to which we respond in faith, this saving faith is much more than so much mental activity.

In fact, this faith is declared by James (James 2:14-26) to be dead and worthless without works—without practical responses and actions of obedience to the core purposes of the gift.

Furthermore, I think it’s helpful to give heed to the next verse following Ephesians 2:8-9—that is, verse 10.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good WORKS, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  That seems to put things into a balanced perspective.

Our salvation is a gift of God’s grace that is specifically designed by God to equip and program the receiver to do good works.  So there may be some good works without salvation, but I can’t see valid support for a salvation without good works.

 Today’s reading carries some of the same emphasis.

  • Why has God instituted the ministry gifts within the Church? To prepare God’s people for WORKS OF SERVICE.”
  • And the purpose of it all?  So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Even the last word of the last verse of today’s reading is the word WORKFrom him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its WORK.”

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“The word EASY’ only appears once in the New Testament,

and then in connection with the YOKE’.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

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Belief or Doubt ?…That is the question


Belief that is bigger than my opinion…

Passage: Romans 4

This continues the trail we’re following through the letter written to Christians in Rome, by the great scholar Paul (Saul) of Tarsus.

Written by: Ray S. Edited by: Phil D.

Focus:Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God…”  Romans 4:20.

I’m becoming more and more convinced, with time and experience, that one of the most important questions to ask and answer in the course of life is this: “WHO AM I GOING TO BELIEVE?

Who indeed?? Certainly, we are surrounded with a virtual cacophony of truth claims and trying to sort through them all can drive a person loony.  (We’re surrounded with plenty of “loonies”, too.)

You can probably tell how I choose to answer that core question.  Besides my belief that the Bible is TRUE, I am thankful to have a belief that is bigger than my opinion.  Quite honestly, I don’t fully trust me and my own opinions.

We established in our last chat that BELIEF is the hinge on which FAITH turns.  That idea is underscored here again in verse 3 when Paul quotes, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 

Let’s now liken BELIEF to a valve through which FAITH flows—controlling its release and volume.  The idealBelief Valve is to keep that valve open all the time—not part time—not “wavering” by the pressures or constrictions of feelings and circumstances.

Consider a familiar scripture promise like John 1:12 and 13: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…born of God.”  It only makes sense that a person will only embrace a “truth” that they BELIEVE in—that they BELIEVE to be TRUE—which, of course, will have a profound controlling effect on behavior.  Without that, a person’s faith claims, no matter how sensational or convincing they sound, are as phony as a pile of three-dollar bills.  It’s not really Biblical BELIEF.

But the response of real heart-level BELIEF opens the valve of FAITH so as to fulfill the purpose of that TRUTH—releasing divine power beyond what a person can do on their own—releasing divine revelation beyond what a person can know on their own.

Let’s join verse 20 with verse 21as it offers a great description and basis for Abraham’s exemplary FAITH.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief (which closes the valve of FAITH) regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened (the flow was increased) in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  I’m thinking that the phrase,BEING FULLY PERSUADED,” is a simple description of the quality of BELIEF that allows one to become so empowered as to pull off the works of FAITH.

Be reminded that we are required to be faithful—faith-FULL—or full of FAITH.  I have to conclude that if I will simply keep BELIEVING that God’s TRUTH is true, I will be blessed with a very adequate measure of effective FAITH.  It’s simply the LAW—“the law of the Spirit of life through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2).

……………………………….

“One can be a professor of faith without being a possessor of faith.”

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