June 4, 2011

Prisoner For Christ III: Praise, Prayer and Unity In Christ

Having studied the first three chapters of Ephesians in detail I will offer up (3) three life applications or actions that can be taken from Ephesians 1-3 which is the theological/doctrinal portion of Ephesians. Later I will give some applications for Ephesians 4-6 which are the imperative or directly applicable portion of Ephesians. I’ve chosen two applications out of chapter 1 because it is so theologically dense and rich with spiritual purpose and overtone. These first two are conspicuous in the introduction and visually unavoidable. the third I have taken from chapter 2 and deal with the idea of God's household.

Praise of God [Doxology] (Ephesians 1:3-14)

As aforementioned, praise shows something of the nature and condition of a person’s heart. The heart is what God is primarily concerned about. God didn’t want dead smoking carcasses in the Old Testament sacrificial system, He wanted changed hearts and change lives. We see this in Paul’s verbal (and written) praise of His Lord Jesus (ours too). Paul praises Him for the things He has done and by implication of the text, what He will do in the future also. By praising God in the way that he did, Paul ultimately brings glory to God. This seems to be one of the primary, if not “thee” primary purposes for the “summing up of all things in Jesus Christ (v.10)”.

The death and Resurrection of Jesus was to save humanity from their sin and ultimately damnation by granting them salvation. Salvation offered by God’s mercy and grace alone since man can do nothing to warrant that forgiveness and salvation that is imputed to them by faith in the work of Christ on the Cross and His subsequent rise from death by the power of God through/with the Holy Spirit. This brings glory to God. This power is part of the hope that we have within us. The same power that raised Christ from the dead (1:18-20). This idea of course was a reassuring and a steadying influence to the people of Ephesus who were plagued by the culture surrounding them and the threat of “powers and principalities” or “hostile spiritual powers” (i.e.: magic, Artemis, cults, etc.).I personally strive to make sure I give praise to God for who and what He is and what He has done and will do for all believers and myself since we are all “family”

Prayer to God (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Prayer life should be an overflow of who we are in Christ. It is not to be just a verbal or mental utterance of intellectual assent but and actual relationship with Jesus. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. You will know them by their fruit. A person that is truly in the Lord Jesus Christ will manifest at least minimal signs of actually residing there. Paul shows this in an abundance of praise and prayer life in relation/relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. This type of prayer that is a prayer of thanksgiving and supplication which asks for things like revelation and knowledge also bring glory to the Father. It appears to be in line or aligned to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. Seeing the truth of what God has already done acknowledges God in a reverent way that brings Him honor.

God’s Household and A Call to Unity in Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22)

I am figuring that it is not ironic that the two aforementioned applications can contribute to this third one. The beginning of Chapter 2 starts out describing how we are dead in our sins and there is nothing we can do to remedy this situation. It is Christ that makes “us alive”. It is in Christ that we are remade and become a new creation so that we can “walk” in the way of Christ and not in the way of the world. Christ literally annexes/intervenes in our lives and does for us what we are/were incapable of doing for ourselves. In my case this was especially true and pronounced in my life as I quite literally had a Damascus Road experience at my conversion. I was forcefully (in a spiritual and physical manner) removed from my previous life in the “world”. I had become so seared in conscience that I would have recognized my need to Christ unless He did smack me upside the head. It is through the fellowship and family of the Body of Christ that I am kept strong and am able to stay the course.

I do not believe this is an accident. I believe that the need of the family body both in the individual household (my wife, children) and the large household (the Church) serves a symbiotic function of keeping the fire stoked. It is the old analogy that a hot coal will stay hot with other hot coals but if you remove the coal from the fire and the corporate heat of the other coals and move it off by itself, it cools quickly and becomes cold much faster individually. The same applies with the relationship of the Church and the individuals. It is why we are called by God to be reconciled to one another. It is here that we see God’s household encompasses the smallest individual family unit (The Little “c”: Husband & Wife) all the way up to the large congregations of believers (The Big “C”: The Church) or dare I say: The Kingdom of God en masse. His household pervades all aspects if It produces a synergistic unifying effect when all are moving in the same direction with the same mind-The mind of Christ (God). We have a better chance of staying strong in the faith with a unified front in Christ rather than everyone going rogue in different directions. All of this work is done by Christ for we are all His workmanship. Besides, doing things rogue on our own shows and innate selfishness…and that is not what love is about….it is not what Christianity about. We see this strongly in the latter portions of Ephesians in the imperative section (Chapter 4-6).

Above all we are to do all things in unity. In Christ. We need to since we are all soldiers fighting in a war in a Kingdom where the King's subjects are in rebellion to the King. If we do not unite together in Christ the rebellion tears us apart too as we will fall victim to the assualt of sin and our own depraved nature.

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