Bible Study Notes:
Proof of God's Love and Grace
These notes are from a transcript of the
postings during Bible Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com.
|Father God, we thank you for your Word and
praise you for the wisdom you are going to give us tonight.
satan we come against your wiles and schemes to prevent God's Word from going forth. We bind you and rebuke you in Jesus Name. AMEN
Father in Heaven, open our hearts and minds to the rich blessings of this Your Holy Word
Holy Spirit, we invite you to be our Teacher. Prepare our hearts and our minds to receive the Word. AMEN and AMEN
We are told in Ephesians chapter 1:22-23: "And God placed all things under Jesus' feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
Ephesians 2:6 says - "AND GOD RAISED US UP WITH HIM!" All these things are under our feet too IN CHRIST! What happens when we have a problem? We say, "Woe is me, I am under such burdens, you just don't understand." BUT the Bible says YOU are seated in heavenly places, all of your problems, burdens, fears, diseases are way, way down there below you - under your feet!
So last week we were talking about ruling over our circumstances in Jesus Name. We need to see ourselves seated in heavenly places with Jesus, far above all of our problems, situations and fears. If you can get a vision of what this means - start to see yourself IN CHRIST far above all of the negative circumstances that satan puts upon you, it will revolutionize your life!
Verse 7 tells us WHY we are raised up with Jesus: "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus". What do you think this means?
"Show" can mean exhibit or prove. We are proof of the riches of His grace, and exhibit of His kindness in Christ. US! Seated with Him in heavenly places.
Who are we "proof" to, do you think? Maybe to unbelievers, who see us walking in victory? Maybe to the devil, proof that he hasn't won? Maybe proof to ourselves - of His love.
Somehow I get the feeling that God is really proud of us up there IN CHRIST with Him! Like winners in a game, or trophies. That sounds too earthy maybe, but it makes think He feels proud for us to be there, like a parent applauding a child at a game or recital. In verse 10, we are called God's "workmanship" which has the connotation of a "work of art" in Greek. We tend not to think much of ourselves, but God is making us a work of art!
8-9 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.
Here is one of Paul's themes in his letters, salvation by grace through faith. Grace is God's unmerited favor and attention, His overflowing love that created man and a plan to save mankind from his own destruction.
Salvation is a very interesting concept. Most Christians believed they are "saved" from an eternity in hell and that's all they really know. But salvation is deliverance for the whole man, body, mind and spirit, in this world and the world to come. Salvation has redeemed us, or bought us back from slavery to the devil. Salvation has justified us - declared us "not guilty" of sin. Salvation has provided healing for us. Salvation has brought us peace with God. Salvation has brought us the abundant life that Jesus promised, in THIS life AND in the life to come! We cannot earn this marvelous gift! It is given to us by God and we receive it by faith.
Does this include prosperity? Now that's a can of worms! I guess you need to define what you mean by prosperity. A Cadillac in every garage? I don't think so. But "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus' YES and AMEN to that!
Now the Pharisees in Jesus' day had a habit of doing good works "to be seen of men". Jesus said that they have their reward already. God did it for us, and we cannot boast about earning it in any way. Man cannot boast about our salvation, but verses 7 and 10 lead me to believe that God is mighty proud of what He is doing in us and through us. And we can boast about our God!!!
The writer of Hebrews defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" and we are told in Romans that faith comes by HEARING the Word of God. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark, and it is not believing in a bunch of made up stories. The Greek word for faith is pistis, and it means believing INTO something. In other words, it's not just mental assent or thinking, "hey that's a good idea"; it is acting on what you hear from God's Word.
The first act of faith in a Christians life is believing not only what the Bible says about sin and salvation is true, but ACTING upon it by confession of sin and repentance. Repentance is not just being sorry you've gotten "caught", it comes from "godly sorrow", which is grieving over what you've done wrong, and wanting God to change you. You "do a 180" and begin walking in the opposite direction with God's help.
Faith comes by HEARING the Word. Many times in the Bible, God tells His servants to read the Word aloud to others. Revelation promises a special blessing to those who HEAR the book read aloud. I think if you take the time to read the Word aloud, it adds meaning, forcing you to focus on each word, and hear yourself read it. When I'm studying I like to read the Word aloud. When you read aloud more senses are used and you retain more in memory.
Let's go on to v. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
As I said before, the Greek word for "workmanship" has the connotation of a work of art. "From glory to glory He's changing me, His image and likeness to perfect in me, the love of God shown to the World!"
2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. "
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (NIV)
Hallelujah! The master Creator is at work in you and me! If we would just yield to Him, what works of art we would be! Even more exciting, we aren't a picture hung up on a wall in a dusty museum somewhere, or a statue frozen in time, we are living masterpieces, created in Jesus to do good works.
Our lives display the graciousness and goodness of God. We are examples to the world of His love. He has chosen to use US to be "proof" of His grace!
And notice in verse 10 that the good works we do were prepared for us IN ADVANCE by God "which God prepared in advance for us to do." Now sometimes we fret over the "good works" part, we bring ourselves under condemnation, thinking "I must do this" or "I must do that". But God has it all planned out for us IN ADVANCE if we just submit to His plans and let Him work, first IN us, and then THROUGH us.
In Ephesians 2:4-10, Paul has been telling the Ephesians about what God has done for them in Christ. Starting at verse 11, he reminds them of where they came from:
11-12 "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)--remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."
Most of the believers in Ephesus had been gentiles and were called "uncircumcised" by the Jews. They were separated from Christ, the Messiah who was born of the Jews, they could NOT be citizens of Israel and had no access to the covenant of the promise given to Abraham. They were without hope of salvation and without the true God. Now the Ephesians worshipped idols and had many gods to choose from, but they did not know the TRUE God.
As Christians, we need to remember where we started, and how far Christ has brought us by His love. This is our testimony! "I was once like you lost in sin. But look what Jesus has done for me!"
v. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Paul is reminding the Ephesians that they are now IN CHRIST because of the blood He shed for us on the cross to buy our redemption, not for the Jew only, but for the gentile as well.
God bless you all. Go with the peace of God which passes all understanding. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
Father God we ask you to make the Word we have heard tonight real to us - help us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Increase our faith, O Lord, in Jesus Name. AMEN
Remember, whenever God
gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate
on what you've learned!
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