The Furtherance of the Gospel

Philippians 1:12-17 But I would you should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 

‘The things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.’ My sufferings for Christ have furthered the gospel by provoking others to zeal for Christ (1:12-19). Everything we do must further the gospel in others’ lives (Mat. 5:16; 7:12), thus must our attitude always be like Christ’s was when He chose to lay His life down (1Pet. 2:21-23) even though He did nothing to please others, only that which God commanded (John 14:10).

‘Palace’ [Greek: praitorion] is the court in Rome where Paul was tried before Caesar. Here it refers to Caesar’s palace. The apostle’s defence caused his doctrines to be known in the palace and all other places (4:22).

‘Affliction to my bonds’ – from 2Timothy 1:16 we see that others were ashamed of Paul in chains. His life had been one of suffering and labour for Christ. Now from all appearances, he was abandoned by his friends and in the hands of ruthless men. He was in prison and in chains, yet he was triumphant overall and unshaken in his faith. He felt no evil and feared no man or devil. Sin had lost its power, death its sting, the grave its victory, and hell its torments. No murmuring came from his lips or bitterness from his heart. He was a man’s man and God’s faithful servant, ready to die for the cause of Christ and the gospel.

Your Love May Abound

Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 

‘That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.’ Five requests for congregations in Philippi (1:9-11): Increased love in knowledge and judgment. Approval of excellent things. Sincerity to the end. Without offence till the day of Christ. Filling with fruits of righteousness.

If we want to increase our love for God, we need to study His Word to get the necessary knowledge of Him and then we will experience this knowledge when discerning between judgement for either blessing or curse when we are doers of the Word and not just hearers (Jas. 1:22-26).

‘All judgment’ [Greek: aesthesis] discernment.

‘Excellent’ [Greek: diaphero] differ. We are to test all things and disapprove of those that differ from the gospel (1Thess. 5:22).

‘Sincere’ [Greek: heilikrines] pure, uncorrupted. The word means without wax, an allusion to finishing cloth with gummy materials hiding flaws until carefully examined by looking through it in sunlight. The Greek might be translated “sun-judged.”

‘Without offence’ [Greek: aproskopos] not striking against; not stumbling; void of offence to God or man; neither stumbling nor causing others to stumble (1:10; Acts 24:16; 1Cor. 10:32; 1Pet. 1:17).

‘The day of Christ’ – In the day when Christ comes to receive saints unto Himself (1:6, 10; 2:161Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2Cor. 1:14).

‘Fruits of righteousness’ – Fruits of that justification which comes by faith and the new creature experience (2Cor. 5:17-18; Rom. 5:1-11).

Grace Be unto You Part 1

Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you…

It is one of the greatest blessings that we can greet one another with, as we see Paul uses to bless his fellow believers from Philippi, but it is also the most misunderstood and overused part of the gospel blessings. Indeed, grace cannot be withheld from man because of demerit, lessened by demerit, or mixed with the law of works; but this does not prove that there are no conditions men must meet to get the benefits of grace. Not one scripture teaches unconditional grace, or that God gives grace to men who disobey the gospel. If so, then God is under obligation to save all, even sinners who disobey if He saves even one (Rom. 2:11). God is under obligation to saints only when they walk in the light and remain true to the gospel (1Jn. 1:7). He is not under obligation to sinners until they come to full obedience to the gospel. Grace teaches men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly here and now (Tit. 2:11-12). If people do not obey its teaching grace can go no further. Anyone may: Receive grace in vain (2Cor. 6:1). Frustrate it in his life (Gal. 2:21). Fall from it (Gal. 1:6-8; 5:4). Fail of the grace of God (Heb. 12:15). Turn it into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4). Sin despite it (Rom. 6:1). Continue or discontinue in it (Acts 13:43). Minister it to others (1Pet. 4:10). Grow or not grow in it (2Pet. 3:18). Receive or reject it (John 3:16; Rev. 22:17; Heb. 12:15; Jas. 4:6).

To be continued…

Followers of God

Ephesians 5:1-4 Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also had loved us, and had given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as become saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 

‘Followers’ [Greek: mimetes] imitators; mimic the gait, speech, accent, and manner of life of another. In 1Corinthians 4:16, Paul advises the Christians to follow or imitate him as he imitated Christ (1Cor. 11:1; 1Thess. 1:6; 2:14; Heb. 6:12; 1Pet. 3:13). Here, it means to imitate God as children do their parents; imitate His acts, words, nature, ways, graces, and Spirit.

‘Given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.’ The twofold sacrifice of Christ: As an offering; the same as in Leviticus 2:1 to show gratitude for temporal blessings received. As a sacrifice for sin (Matt. 26:28; 1Pet. 2:24); the same as in Leviticus 1:9; 3:16.

‘Sweetsmelling savour’ – An aroma of a sweet smell to God. That is, God was well pleased with the offering and sacrifice of Christ because it made possible the redemption of His fallen creation (Rom. 8:18-24).

‘But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as become saints.’ Six forbidden things to saints (5:5-6): [1] Fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1Cor. 7:2; 10:8; 1Thess. 4:3; Rev. 9:21); [2] Uncleanness (Rom. 1:21-32; 6:19; 2Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19); [3] Covetousness (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:15; Rom. 13:9; Heb. 13:5; 1Jn. 2:15-17); [4] Filthiness [Greek: aischrotes] meaning ugliness, baseness, vileness, shame, infamy; [5] Foolish talking [Greek: morologia] speaking foolishly; idle, stupid talk; [6] Jesting [Greek: eutrapelia] ribaldry; indecency sugar-coated-in mirth to make it more corrupting; coarse jesting; obscene and offensive conversation.

Putting Away

Ephesians 4:25-30 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needed. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. 

‘Putting away’ [Greek: apotithemi] the aorist participle has the sense of “having put away.” We have to be done with the noted sins to be Christians as commanded in Romans 6, 1Peter 2:21-23 and 1 John 3.

‘Lying’ [Greek: to pseudos] the lie. It is the lie that is put away. This has to do with putting away satan who is the father of the lie (John 8:44; 2Thess. 2:11). It was a common thing for the heathen teachers to declare that a lie is better than the truth when it is profitable and less hurtful. Having been brought up in such a loose system of morality, these converts needed this admonition. Part of this verse is quoted from Zechariah 8:16.

‘Angry’ [Greek: orgizo] to make angry, provoke to anger, irritate (4:26; Matt. 5:22; 18:34; 22:7; Luke 14:21; 15:28; Rev. 11:18; 12:17). The reference is to being provoked to sin by satan, but one must not yield to such provoking or give place to the devil (4:26-27). The words “anger” and “angry” are used 278 times in the Bible, but only 12 times in the New Testament The faculty to be angry is God-created and perfectly sinless in itself. The misuse of it and all other faculties is what God condemns. God, Himself has been angry many times because of sin (Num. 11:1, 10, 33; 12:9; 14:11; Ps. 7:11). One must have a cause if he is to be angry (Matt. 5:22; Rom. 1:18; Jas. 1:19). God never de-humanizes or uncreates one in sanctification. Anger is allowed by the gospel (Mark 3:5), but not sin because of it.

‘Corrupt’ [Greek: sapros] useless, putrid, obscene (Matt. 7:17-18; 12:33; 13:48; Luke 6:43).

‘Grieve not the holy Spirit of God.’ Grieve not by doing any of these forbidden things of Ephesians 4:17-5:18.

‘Sealed unto the day of redemption’ – Sealed: For security (Matt. 27:66; Rev. 20:3). To hide, as the contents of a letter (Rev. 10:4; 22:10; cp. Deut. 32:34). To confirm or approve by testimony (John 3:33; 6:27; Rom. 15:28). To confirm ownership (1:13; 4:30; 2Cor. 1:22; Rev. 7:3-8). The Holy Spirit of adoption is given to everyone who repents (1:13; 4:30; Rom. 8:9, 14-16; 2Cor. 1:22) and he who has this Spirit has God’s seal that he belongs to the heavenly family.

Be Renewed

Ephesians 4:23-24 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 

‘Renewed’ [Greek: ananeoo] meaning the whole course of life now flows in a different direction (2Cor. 5:17-18). Be renewed in the attitude of your mind by renouncing its vanity (4:17), its darkness and blindness (4:18) and learning of Christ (4:20-21).

From 2Corinthians 5:17-21 we were given ten personal Gospel blessings: It brings one into Christ (2Cor. 5:17). One is a new creature (2Cor. 5:17). Old things are passed away (2Cor. 5:17). The Greek word for “old” is archaios, meaning ancient, original, old. Such things are no more in one. All things are new (2Cor. 5:17). The life is just the opposite of the old life. All things are of God (2Cor. 5:18). The true Christian does not permit anything in his life which is ungodly and unChristlike (Rom. 6:14-23; 8:1-13; Gal. 5:16-26). One is reconciled to God (2Cor. 5:18; Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:14-18; Col. 1:20-21). He has part in the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18-20; 1:18-24). He has been trusted with the Word of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:19; Mark 16:15-20). He is an ambassador of God in Christ’s stead (2Cor. 5:20; Prov. 13:17). He is the righteousness of God in Christ (2Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-31; 8:4).

‘Put on’ [Greek: enduo] to be clothed with, put on (Matt. 27:31; Mark 15:20; Luke 15:22); be clothed with (Mark 15:17; Rev. 1:13); be clothed in (Rev. 15:6; 19:14), and arrayed in (Acts 12:21). Anyone clothed with this power will be able to confirm what he lives, and this is the only normal New Testament program (John 14:12; Mark 16:16-20). The new nature must be put on and it must manifest righteousness and true holiness (4:23-24). Salvation is a hope and not actually an unforfeitable possession until the next life (1Thess. 5:8; Rom. 8:20-25; 2Thess. 2:16; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13). Eternal life is also a hope now, even though we possess it (Tit. 1:2; 3:7; Heb. 3:6; 6:11, 6:11, 18-19; 1Pet. 1:3, 13). It will not actually be an unforfeitable and an eternal possession until the next life and at the end of a life of sowing to the Spirit (Matt. 7:13-14; 18:8-9; 19:28-29; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Rom. 2:7; 6:21-23; Gal. 6:7-8; 1Tim. 1:16; 4:8; 6:12, 19; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; 1Jn. 2:25; Jude 1:20-24; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29).

‘The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ This is the Spirit and nature of God in renewed man (4:23-24; 2Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:9, 14-16).

‘Holiness’ [Greek: hosiotes] A normal Christian life consists of holiness (4:24; 1Thess. 4:7; Gal. 5:19-24; Heb. 12:14).

The Truth is In Jesus

Ephesians 4:20-22 But you have not so learned Christ; If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts 

‘But you have not so learned Christ.’ Life of saints must contain the following: Learn Christ – get to know Him (4:20; Matt. 11:28-30). Hear and be taught by Christ (4:21). Put off the old man (4:22; 2Cor. 5:17). Be renewed in mind attitude (4:23). Put on the new man (4:24; 2Cor. 5:17). Put away lying and speak truth (4:25). Feel anger without acting on it by sinning (4:26). Give no place to the devil (4:27). Quit stealing (4:28). Work for a living (4:28). Give to the needy (4:28). Use the tongue right (4:29). Grieve not the Holy Spirit (4:30). Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice (4:31). Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving as Christ (4:32). Be followers of God (5:1). Walk in love, as Christ did (5:2). Let not fornication, homosexuality, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and sexual jesting be once named among you as becomes saints (5:3-4; cp. Mark 7:19-21; Rom. 1:18-32; 1Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5-10).

‘The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.’ The “old man” is the spirit and nature of the devil (2Cor. 5:17). Therefore, because we do not know any man after the flesh, not even Christ, it is vain for any man to profess a relationship with Christ according to the flesh, while he is unchanged in heart and life and dead in trespasses and sins. Two old things pass away:

[1] The spirit, nature, and power of sin the old man, which is nothing more nor less than the spirit, nature, and power of the devil working in men of disobedience (2:2; John 8:44; 2Cor. 4:4; 1Jn. 3:8; 5:18). This is what the Bible calls: The old man (4:22; Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9); Sin (John 1:29; 8:34; Rom. 6:4-8:2); The body of sin (Rom. 6:6); The power of satan (Acts 26:18); The body of this death (Rom. 7:24); The lusts of the flesh (2:3); The lust of the eyes (1Jn. 2:15-17); The pride of life (1Jn. 2:15-17); The works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19); The world (1Jn. 2:15-17; Jas. 4:4); Vile affections (Rom. 1:26, 29); The lusts of the mind (2:3); The lusts of sin (Rom. 6:11-12); The motions of sins (Rom. 7:5); The law of sin and death (Rom.  7:7-8:2); The carnal mind (Rom. 8:1-13); The god of this world (2Cor. 4:4); Spiritual wickedness in high places … rulers of darkness (6:12); The lusts of your father (John 8:44); Sin that dwelleth in me (Rom. 7:17); The course of this world (2:2); The body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 8:1-39).

[2] Outward sin or transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4; Rom. 4:15; Jas. 1:13-15). The outward acts are listed in Mark 7:19-21; Romans 1:18-32; 2Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-10.

Both outward and inward sin must pass away or one cannot claim to be in Christ. The theory that only outward transgressions are forgiven and one is still under the control of the old man (the devil) is one of the most erroneous doctrines in Christendom (4:24; 2Cor. 5:17-18; 1Jn. 5:18; Rom. 6:6-23; 8:1-13).

Speaking the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, make increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 

‘But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.’ The truth recommended by Paul is the whole gospel which centres around Christ and building the body of Christ into a working unit to throw off all error or waste to sustain itself like the human body (4:15-16).

In 1Corinthians 12:13-30 we see a brief description of the body of Christ and the members’ roles described. All that is in Christ make up the body of Christ (2:19-22; 4:1-6; Col. 1:18, 24). 1Corinthians 12:13 explains that “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” This shows how the body of Christ is constituted. The Spirit is the agent that brings one into the body of Christ by the new birth. This is not a baptism into the Spirit, but into the body of Christ. The body here is the element one is baptized into. The Spirit is the agent that does the baptizing into the body. The believer is the candidate. If it were the Spirit baptism, Christ would be the agent and the Holy Spirit would be the element baptized into.

If Christians would seek to please God in whatever part they are to have in Christian congregations or the body of Christ there would be no confusion or strife about anyone’s service to God’s glorification (1Cor. 10:31).

And He Gave Some… Part 1

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers 

‘And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.’ Five kinds of ministers: [1] Apostles. [Greek: Apostolos] a delegate, one sent with the full power of attorney to act in the place of another, the sender remaining behind to back up the one sent. In the case of the New Testament Christians, it means God sent them to do what He, Himself would do if He went. They were the ones who either wrote N.T. books or ministered the gospel of Christ to the congregations. It is found 81 times and translated apostle 78 times; messenger twice (2Cor. 8:23; Php. 2:25); and once he that is sent (John 13:16). Twenty-four apostles are recorded: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Matt. 10:2); James, son of Zebedee and John his brother (Matt. 10:2); Philip and his brother Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3); James, son of Alphaeus and Judas his brother (Luke 6:16) and Matthew, son of Alphaeus, perhaps brother of James and Judas (Mark 2:14; Luke 6:15). Thomas (Matt. 10:3), Simon Zelotes, brother of James and Judas, according to tradition (Luke 6:15). Judas Iscariot (Matt. 10:4), Matthias (Acts 1:26), Barnabas (1Cor. 9:5-6; Acts 13:1-3; 14:4, 14; Gal. 2:9), Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7), Apollos (1Cor. 4:6-9). James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:6; Jas. 1:1). Silas and Timothy (1Thess. 1:1; 2:6), Titus (2Cor. 8:23), Epaphroditus (Php. 2:25), Paul (Gal. 1:1; 2:8), Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1). We are warned to watch out for false apostles (2Cor. 11:13; Rev. 2:2), they are those that will try to add or take away from the written Word of God (Rev. 22:18-19). [2] Prophets. Prophets were those who spoke for God (Heb. 1:1; Acts 3:21). They were the Old Testament authors and receivers of God’s word during the O.T. period, the last one was John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11-13; Luke 16:16), even though some individuals were still operating under the name ‘prophet’ during the shift from Old to New Testament, the office ended with John the Baptist. To prophecy during the New Testament meant to edify, exhort and comfort (1Cor. 14:3) and is classified with the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor. 12:4-11, 28). Directions for the exercise of this gift are found in 1Corinthians 14:1-40. The office was next in importance to apostles (4:11; 1Cor. 12:28). We are warned in the New Testament to watch out for all the false prophets (Matt. 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2Pet. 2:1; 1Jn. 4:1), they are those that will try to add or take away from the written Word of God (Rev. 22:18-19).

To be continued…

He that Descended… Also Ascended

Ephesians 4:8-10 …and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 

‘Gave gifts unto men’ – Psalm 68:18 reads, “Thou have received gifts for men.” The Hebrew here suggests that the gifts which He gave were received in man; that is, by virtue of His incarnation, He received these gifts to give to human beings. They are really gifts of God to people. Eight gifts of God: [1] Christ (John 3:16; 4:10); called the heavenly and unspeakable gift (2Cor. 9:15; Heb. 6:4). [2] The Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33, 38-39; 5:32; 8:20; 11:17). [3] Salvation (Rom. 5:15-18; Eph. 2:8-9). [4] Eternal life (Rom. 6:23). [5] Grace (3:7; 4:7). [6] Spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6; 1Cor. 1:7; 12:4-11, 28-31; 1Tim. 4:14; 2Tim. 1:6; Heb. 2:4; 1Pet. 4:10). [7] Ministers (4:11). [8] All good things (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13; Php. 4:17; Jas. 1:17).

‘He also descended first.’ Before He ascended to heaven, He descended to hell (Ps. 16:10; Matt. 12:40). He descended, not only from deity to humanity and from humanity to infamy and death (Php. 2:5-11), but also into the lower parts of the earth – into hell itself to conquer hell and liberate captive souls from satan (4:8-10; Ps. 16:10; 68:18; Matt. 12:40; Heb. 2:14-15).

‘Lower parts of the earth’ – Proof that hell is located in the lower parts of the earth, not on the surface of the earth as the grave (Matt. 12:40; Ps. 16:10; 63:9; Job 11:8; Deut. 32:22; Isa. 14:9; 66:22-24; Pro. 9:18; 15:24; Ezek. 31:14-18; 32:18-24). Hell, here is contrasted with the highest heaven as being the lowest and deepest part of the earth. It could not possibly refer to the grave on the surface of the earth.

‘That he might fill all things’ – That He might be the fountain of all spiritual, physical, and material gifts to human beings, dispensing them to all people liberally according to their needs and wants (Jas. 1:5-8, 17; Matt. 7:11; 21:22; Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-15; 15:7, 16; Ps. 34:9-10; 84:11).