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Ligonier Ministries The teaching fellowship of R. Close Your Cart Loading Search Home Learn. Article Obeying God or Man? Sproul Sinclair Ferguson W. Sproul R. Sproul Books That Influenced R. Blog Home. Events Because Jesus came into the world, men, even in their sin, discovered God's love.

The two words in Greek are sophia Greek and phronesis Greek , and Christ brought both of them to us. This is very interesting. The Greeks wrote much about these two words; if a man had both, he was perfectly equipped for life. Aristotle defined sophia Greek as knowledge of the most precious things.

Cicero defined it as knowledge of things both human and divine. Sophia Greek was a thing of the searching intellect. Sophia Greek was the answer to the eternal problems of life and death, and God and man, and time and eternity. Aristotle defined phronesis Greek as the knowledge of human affairs and of the things in which planning is necessary. Plutarch defined it as practical knowledge of the things which concern us.

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Cicero defined it as knowledge of the things which are to be sought and the things which are to be avoided. Plato defined it as the disposition of mind which enables us to judge what things are to be done and what things are not to be done. In other words, phronesis Greek is the sound sense which enables men to meet and to solve the practical problems of everyday life and living. It is Paul's claim that Jesus brought us sophia Greek , the intellectual knowledge which satisfies the mind, and phronesis Greek , the practical knowledge which enables us to handle the day to day problems of practical life and living.

There is a certain completeness in the Christian character. There is a type of person who is at home in the study, who moves familiarly amidst the theological and philosophical problems, and who is yet helpless and impractical in the ordinary everyday affairs of life. There is another kind of person who claims that he is a practical man, so engaged with the business of living that he has no time to concern himself with the ultimate things. In the light of the gifts of God through Christ, both of these characters are imperfect. Christ brings to us the solution of the problems both of eternity and time.

The Goal Of History Ephesians The secret was a purpose which he formed in his own mind before time began, so that the periods of time should be controlled and administered until they reached their full development, a development in which all things, in heaven and upon earth, are gathered into one in Jesus Christ.

It is now that Paul is really getting to grips with his subject. He says, as the King James Version has it, that God has made known to us "the mystery of his will. It is not something mysterious in the sense that it is hard to understand. It is something which has long been kept secret and has now been revealed, but is still incomprehensible to the person who has not been initiated into its meaning. Let us take an example. Suppose someone who knew nothing whatever about Christianity was brought into a Communion service. To him it would be a complete mystery; he would not understand in the least what was going on.

But to a man who knows the story and the meaning of the Last Supper, the whole service has a meaning which is quite clear. So in the New Testament sense a mystery is something which is hidden to the heathen but clear to the Christian. What for Paul was the mystery of the will of God? It was that the gospel was open to the Gentiles too.

In Jesus God has revealed that his love and care, his grace and mercy, are meant, not only for the Jews, but for all the world. Now Paul, in one sentence, drops his great thought. Up till now men had been living in a divided world. There was division between the beasts and men. There was division between the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian.

All over the world there was strife and tension. Jesus came into the world to wipe out the divisions.

That for Paul was the secret of God. It was God's purpose that all the many different strands and all the warring elements in this world should be gathered into one in Jesus Christ. Here we have another tremendous thought. Paul says that all history has been a working out of this process. He says that through all the ages there has been an arranging and an administering of things that this day of unity should come. The word which Paul uses for this preparation is intensely interesting. It is oikonomia Greek , which literally means household management.

The oikonomos Greek was the steward who saw to it that the family affairs ran smoothly. It is the Christian conviction that history is the working out of the will of God. That is by no means what every historian or thinker has been able to see. Oscar Wilde in one of his epigrams said: "You give the criminal calendar of Europe to your children under the name of history. Clark, in his inaugural lecture at Cambridge, said: "There is no secret and no plan in history to be discovered.

I do not believe that any future consummation could make sense of all the irrationalities of preceding ages. If it could not explain them, still less could it justify them. Fisher writes: "One intellectual excitement, however, has been denied to me. Men wiser and more learned than I have discovered in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern.

These harmonies are concealed from me. I can see only one emergency following another, as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalizations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen. Who created it? Why are we here on this puny mud-heap spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am quite convinced that no one has the least idea. It so happens that we are living in an age in which men have lost their faith in any purpose for this world.

But it is the faith of the Christian that in this world God's purpose is being worked out; and it is the conviction of Paul that that purpose is that one day all things and all men should be one family in Christ. As Paul sees it, that mystery was not even grasped until Jesus came and now it is the great task of the Church to work out God's purpose of unity, revealed in Jesus Christ. Jew And Gentile Ephesians And it was in Christ that it was determined that you too should become the means whereby God's glory is praised, after you had heard the word which brings the truth, the good news of your salvation--that good news in which after you had believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, who had been promised to you, the Spirit who is the foretaste and guarantee of all that one day we will inherit, until we enter into that complete redemption which brings complete possession.

Here is Paul's first example of the new unity which Christ brings. When he speaks of us he means his own nation, the Jews; when he speaks of you he means the Gentiles to whom he is writing; and when in the very last sentence he uses we, it is of Jews and Gentiles together that he is thinking. First of all, Paul speaks of the Jews.

They, too, had their portion assigned to them in the plan of God. They were the first to believe in the coming of the Anointed One of God. All through their history they had dreamed of and expected the Messiah. Their part in the scheme of things was to be the nation from whom God's chosen one should come. Adam Smith, the great economist, argued that the whole pattern of life was founded on what he called the division of labour. He meant that life can only go on when each man has a job and does that job, and when the results of all the jobs are pooled and become the common stock. The shoemaker makes shoes; the baker makes bread; the tailor makes clothes; each has his own job, and each sticks to his own job; and when each efficiently carries out his job the total good of the whole community follows.

What is true of individuals is true also of nations. Each nation has its part in God's scheme of things. The Greeks taught men what beauty of thought and form is.

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The Romans taught men law and the science of government and administration. The Jews taught men religion. The Jews were the people who were so prepared that from them God's Messiah should come. That is not to say that God did not prepare other people too. All over the world God had been preparing men and nations so that their mind would be ready to receive the message of Christianity when it came. But the great privilege of the Jewish nation was that they were the first to expect the coming of the Anointed One of God into the world.

That word was two things. First, it was the word of truth; it brought them the truth about God and about the world in which they lived and about themselves. Second, it was good news; it was the message of the love and of the grace of God. In the ancient world--it is a custom still followed--when a sack, or a crate, or a package was despatched, it was sealed with a seal, in order to indicate from where it had come and to whom it belonged.

The possession of the Holy Spirit is the seal which shows that a man belongs to God. The Holy Spirit both shows us God's will and enables us to do it. Here Paul says a great thing about the Holy Spirit.

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The Greek word is arrabon Greek The arrabon was a regular feature of the Greek business world. It was a part of the purchase price of anything, paid in advance as a guarantee that the rest would in due time be paid. There are many Greek commercial documents still extant in which the word occurs. A woman sells a cow and receives so many drachmae as arrabon Greek Some dancing girls are engaged for a public entertainment and are paid so much in advance.

What Paul is saying is that the experience of the Holy Spirit which we have in this world is a foretaste of the blessedness of heaven; and it is the guarantee that some day we will enter into full possession of the blessedness of God. The highest experiences of Christian peace and joy which this world can afford are only faint foretastes of the joy into which we will one day enter. It is as if God had given us enough to whet our appetites for more and enough to make us certain that some day he will give us all.

It is the aim of my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit which brings you new revelation, as you come to know him more and more fully. It is the aim of my prayers that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what hope his calling has brought to you, what wealth of glory there is in our inheritance among the saints,. God subjected all things to him, and he gave him as head above all to the Church, which is his body, the Church which is his complement on earth, the Church which belongs to him who is filling all things in all places.

The supremely important part, the second great step in Paul's argument, lies at the very end of this passage; but there are certain things we must note in the verses which go before. Here there is set out before us in a perfect summary the characteristics of a true Church. Paul has heard of their faith in Christ and their love to all God's consecrated people. The two things which must characterize any true Church are loyalty to Christ and love to men.

There is a loyalty to Christ which does not issue in love to men. The monks and the hermits had a loyalty to Christ which made them abandon the ordinary activities of life in order to live alone in the desert places. The heresy hunters of the Spanish Inquisition and of many another age had a loyalty to Christ which made them persecute those who thought differently from them.

Before Jesus came the Pharisees had a loyalty to God which made them contemptuous of those whom they thought less loyal than themselves. The true Christian loves Christ and loves his fellow men. More than that, he knows that he cannot show his love to Christ in any other way than by showing his love to his fellow men. However orthodox a Church is, however pure its theology, and however noble its worship and its liturgy, it is not a true Church in the real sense of the term unless it is characterized by love for its fellow men. There are Churches which seldom make any public pronouncement which is not based on censorious criticism.

They may be orthodox, but they are not Christian. The true Church is marked by a double love--love for Christ and love for men. It was in ruins; the walls were black and stained with the slime of centuries; around the crumbling altar nettles and rank weeds grew breast high; whilst black mists, charged with rain, brooded night and day about the gloomy scene. Over the doorway of the chapel, but half-obliterated, was its name. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Hate. A chapel of hate is a grim conception; and yet--are we always so very far away from it?

We hate the liberals or the radicals; we hate the fundamentalists or the obscurantists; we hate the man whose theology is different from our own; we hate the Roman Catholic or the Protestant as the case may be. It is the most important stone. This stone holds the building together. When they received it, they spoke it. What they said happened. They also include other people such as Paul himself, Barnabas and Silas. In Jesus, the building grows.

Jesus Christ is the most important stone. He holds together both groups of stones. In him, they grow together. They can grow because they are like living stones 1 Peter They come to Christ. Then God builds them together. They will be like a house where God himself will live. But God is so great that we cannot contain him in a building. In it there was a clear, bright light.

It showed that God was near. God did not make the new building out of stones. All the people together are the family of God. It is present in every age. It is all over the world. And you will understand why he did this. He gives these promises by Christ Jesus. Paul does not finish this sentence in verse 1 but see verse They had put chains on him. Paul wrote this letter from prison. But now he has new understanding.

Now he thinks about himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He thinks about his whole life in a different way. Both good and bad events happen in his life. But Jesus controls his life. He is sure about that. So Paul is in prison. He is there because of them. Moreover, it is for their benefit. Now he is able to tell them the good news. Both share in the promises. God gave these to Abraham. It was dangerous to their religion. But what really put Paul there was what he taught. He must use it in a responsible way. What God made known to him, Paul must make known to other people.

In many religions, only those who belong can understand. They hide it from other people. They are truths that God makes known to us. However, these truths are not just for a few chosen people. They are for everybody. Now he wants us to know about it. He wants them to become one people.

Both groups share that promise. And he made me his servant to tell people his good news. His power worked in me to do this. He gives us these gifts in Christ. His riches are very great. We shall never know how great they are. God, who created everything, hid his plan from his people. He hid it through all the past years. Christ gives us courage and confidence so that we can come close to him. Verse 7 God gave Paul the power to tell people the good news. Paul knew that he was not strong enough. Paul thinks about himself like this because he feels so weak.

He also remembers that he was once an enemy of God. He used to put Christians in prison. God has been so kind to him. So now he thanks God. God has given Paul a gift. No one can measure them. They are like wealth at the bottom of the sea. It is so deep that you cannot bring it to the shore. This wealth is the greatness of God. It is the riches of his wisdom, knowledge, beauty and power.

This wealth is not money and possessions. The death of Jesus has made this possible. But there is even more wealth. We will share the life of Christ in heaven. This wealth is greater than anything that we can think of. Moreover, it is for ever. It means to bring light to something. He has many different kinds of wisdom, which he wants men and women to learn. God wants them to know about it too. There is no other way that everybody can know it. God has made known the secret of his plan to Paul himself. We have seen the complete plan of God.

First, he shows his plan to Paul. This is by the spoken message. So they see the immense wisdom of God too. God is working out his plan in history. The whole world is included. Verse 12 Paul has been speaking about the great plan of God in history. But in this verse, Paul explains what this means to Christians now.

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We can now come straight to God. We can come without fear. We can come at any time. It is like a little child who runs to his father. That is how it is with us. Praise God! Verse 13 Paul is suffering and he is in prison. Paul knows that there is a reason for this. It will benefit his Christian friends. He warns them not to be sad or afraid. Paul is certain about this.

There is no better way for God to achieve his purpose. Then your lives will be like plants with roots in the ground of his love. You will be able to understand that his love is immense. It is so very wide and long and high and deep. I pray that he will fill you with the whole nature of God.

He can do so much more than we can ever ask or think.

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His power is very great and it is working in us. However, sometimes they would kneel. This would show a great desire to pray. Ezra prayed like this Ezra Jesus prayed like this. He fell to the ground in the garden. Stephen prayed like this just before he died Acts He is completely loving.

He is completely powerful. He provides everything that we need. He looks after us. He corrects us when we go wrong. A human father does all that he can for his children. Our Father in heaven is much greater. His ways with us are perfect and complete. It is his greatness. We see it in the powerful way that he made everything. He made it all out of nothing. Moses climbed Sinai Mountain to meet with God. There was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud over the mountain.

Thunder is the loud noise that we hear during a storm. The noise was very great. It caused everyone in the camp to tremble with fear. The inner person is the place where we experience our feelings. We can be happy. We can be sad. We can be angry. We can hate people. The inner person is the place where we think about things. It is where we make decisions. It is the centre of a person. He works from there to change us. There he gives us his love. It is as if we have deep roots. It is like the roots of a strong tree. They go down deep into the soil.

His love gives strong life to the roots. He holds us firmly. In Christ, we are safe and we can grow. It is also like the firm rock under a building. With hard rock underneath it, the building cannot fall down. Verse 18 The love of God is wide. It is for everyone in the world. So it is for them. It is long enough for all time and every age. The root is love in the inner person.

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It is not love in the head and the mind. It does not mean knowledge in the mind. Also, a person does not receive this love only for himself. We share this wonderful love with each other. Our minds are not large enough to understand it all. It is beyond our best prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes. This love is more than to know something in our heads. His love is with us in our joys, difficulties and suffering too.

But God is completely powerful and he lives for ever. It is not possible to contain him inside any human person. In verse 19, Paul is asking that we receive all that we can of God. It is so that God can enter into us. Also, we must go on and on receiving him. Christ now sits at the right side of God. Only at the end, in heaven, shall we be like him.

We shall then be perfect and complete in his love. God knows what we ask. And he knows it even before we ask. He knows our thoughts. He knows what we imagine. He knows what we dream. He has the power to go beyond any of these. His thoughts and his ways are greater than ours. He is able to do much more than we can ever ask or imagine. The power comes from Christ. Paul writes about the same power that raised Jesus from death.

The same power put Jesus at the right side of God. And it puts us there with him. It will be for ever and ever through all the ages. He gave it to us by Jesus Christ. What Paul teaches in chapters is about how to live as Christians. So I am asking you to live good lives. God has called you, so your lives must give him honour.

And you should show love to people who do not agree with you. And you must try hard to stay together. In the same way, there is one body and one Spirit. He is over all. He works by all and he lives in you all. The name of Jesus is a statement about who he is. He is great and powerful. We are united with Jesus. We are with him at his side. We represent his name in our daily lives. In Ephesians , Paul speaks about the hope that we have in Christ. He now urges his readers to live as Christ taught us. Verse 2 Paul now lists 4 qualities. All people are of equal value to God.

So no one Christian is more important than any other Christian is. To be humble means to recognise this. We should not be proud. We should not think that we are more important than other people. They did not want to be humble. To be humble was to be weak. They used a plant to describe it.

This plant kept close to the ground and it always seemed to be trying to hide itself. They did not think that to be humble was a good quality. Neither do many people today. A Christian should not have too great an opinion about himself. But he will want to know himself as he really is.

He will look at the life of Christ. He will see then how weak and selfish he is. He will see the great difference. Then he will have a true opinion about himself. Because he thinks like this, he will respect other people. He will be kind towards them. Jesus was humble when he became a man Philippians A Christian should be humble in every way.

However, a Christian can think well about himself and he should do so.

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But this is only when he understands the truth about himself. Yes, he has become the kind of person that God wants. This means that God does not want you always to think that you are a bad person. He wants you to think about yourself for less time. This means to be under control. It is like a horse. He is strong but in perfect control.

It is like a strong man who is able control himself. He uses his strength for good purposes. He is gentle with other people. He will be kind to them. It is like Jesus. A gentle person will not worry if someone hurts him. And he will not worry if someone does something wrong to him. It means not to give up when things are against you. Suppose someone acts wrongly towards you. You must not do the same to them. This is what God is like Romans He does not act badly against us when we act badly against him. The fourth quality is to be tolerant.

This is to practise patience in daily life. It is to be patient with the faults of another person. You continue to love a person when he does the wrong things. That means things that you do not like. Paul wants his friends to have these qualities only in love. Paul has already prayed for his friends Now he prays that Christians will have all these qualities in love. By Christ, we have unity. We should be united in the Spirit of God. This does not happen to us by our own efforts.

However, we must work hard to keep it. We do this as we live in peace. The peace is the peace that Christ has given to us. We also live in peace with each other. It is a body of people - men, women and children. God has joined everyone together. Each person belongs to the other people. It is a group of people who work together for God. It is like the different parts of our physical bodies. Our bodies have many different parts. These parts all belong to each other. All the parts work together.

There is only one body because there is only one Spirit. He joins the people together. It is a body. It is alive and it is always growing. This hope is that one day we shall all be like Jesus. We will live close to him for ever. It does not matter who they are.

They can be black or white people. They can be rich or poor, great or small. Jesus Christ joins them all together and he keeps them together with him. All who love God share the same truths. All Christians share together in this. We are not sure what Paul is referring to here. We live in a world where God is at the head of everything.

This is what Christians believe. God is in control of everything. God keeps everything going and he holds everything together Colossians God is in all Christians. He knows about everything that happens. This same God is in us. He is working out his plan by us. In verses , we see the Three in One God. And he gave gifts to men. He fills everything that exists. He gave some people the gift to tell out the good news about Christ. He builds them up into one body in Christ. But it does not mean that we are all alike. It does not mean that we all have the same gifts.

No one has all the gifts but each member has some gift. All gifts come from God, so we cannot be proud of our gifts. We did not give ourselves the gifts. God gives this to everyone who believes in him. These help us to serve him. Christ gives us what he chooses to give us. He gives from the rich wealth of his gifts. Paul now refers to a verse from the Psalms Psalm He is explaining what this verse means.

The person who won the war would take valuable things from his prisoners. He would return home with his enemies as prisoners. He would then give the valuable things to his own people. After winning the war, he takes the prizes of war gifts. He can now give them to his own people. Then he returns to be in the most high place with his Father.

In that place, he is able to give good things to his people. Of course, the gifts that Christ gives to us come from God. They do not come from the enemy. As he returns to the Father, Christ brings with him his enemies. He has defeated them. Now they have no power over us. He also gives gifts to his own people. This is what Acts means. This is more difficult to understand. One possible meaning is this. He returned to the Father. It could be what Peter says in 1 Peter Another possible meaning is this. First, he came to earth from heaven as a baby. There he suffered the worst pain possible Philippians There may be doubt about the exact meaning of these words.

Jesus was here as a man on the earth. His body could be in only one place at one time. Everywhere Jesus is King. He is King in the heavens, on the earth or under the earth. Everything and everyone will be under his authority. These people have different gifts.

Here Paul describes the gifts that God has given to these people. Now it can grow. They would include Matthias who replaced Judas. They include people such as Paul himself, Barnabas and Silas. People saw the wonderful events that took place. The results were powerful actions 2 Corinthians