November 10, 2013

Ephesians chapter 2

In 1:15, Paul started his prayer for these Ephesians, praying that they would understand the power of God that is needed to raise those who are dead in trespasses and sins to new life in Christ. He says that is the same power that raised Christ from dead.

It will probably take two Sundays to deal with the "first resurrection". We will start with,

Revelation 20:5 " But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

As is typical throughout scripture, when we see an even number line "a thousand years", it normally refers to a perfect and indefinite number:

Matthew 18:21 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

Ephesians 2:5, 6 explains Revelation 18:6, "shall reign with him a thousand years..."

Remember the context of Ephesians, as well as the rest of the New Testament. Three points to keep in mind:

First, Paul was warning about the many Jewish false teachers who were attempting to lead people astray, telling the Jews and Gentiles that they needed to honor the Jewish rites and rituals to be right with God—circumcision.

Second, the early church was facing Nero's wrath against Christians

Third, the early church was facing the overturning of the ancient Jewish social order that had existed for about 1500 years. In Matthew 23, Christ spoke terrible woes upon apostate Israel's religious leaders, and concluded His woes with.

Matthew 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Then in Chapter 24, He promised the total destruction of Herod's great new Jewish temple that was the beauty of the world of the day. In 23:34-39, He promised that destruction upon that generation; that is, within 40 years. He ended His description of that destruction with these words, v. 21:

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

Ephesians was written to strengthen the believers in the faith in the face of false teachers. It was to assure the believers that they were in God's hands as the world of their day came to an end.

Though the circumstances have changed down through the years, the strengthening and encouraging messages have not.

A proper understanding of the New Testament requires that we remember its historical context.

This chapter is a continuation of chapter 1, and should be considered as such. It is obvious that Paul's though stated in 1:15 continues through 2:7. His desire is that the Elect would understand the "exceeding greatness of his power." (1:19.) That is, the great power as seen in the resurrection of the Lord Christ, and in the resurrection of His people who were "dead in trespasses and sins".

About 25 years ago, Paul's letter here, along with Galatians, forced me to reconsider my position about Israel's identity. Paul's explanation of the Old Testament doctrine of God's chosen people countered what I had been taught, as well as went contrary to what is being taught today from the pulpits as well as is in "higher Christian education".

There were several things that forced me to reconsider what I had been taught:

First, the overall context of the entire Scripture–a passage cannot stand alone. "A test without a context is a pretext." As we have seen many times over, the New Testament authors, including Christ, simply explained and applied what had gone before them in the Law, Prophets and the Psalms. Those who try to make the Words of Christ and the Epistles stand alone are headed toward false doctrine.

Second, the historical background of the book or passage, or the current events of that day.

Third, the context of the question or situation being dealt with in a particular letter. Every letter was written to deal with a particular situation unique to that time.

That certainly is not to say the Scriptures are not to us, for they all have modern applications.

As we know, the Word of God is and must be our only source for faith and practice. "Secular" history has been and will continue to be reconstructed to suit those who write history. It is not hard to find fallen men to rewrite history to support their view of the way they feel things ought to have been or ought to be now. They rewrite history in order to control the present and future.

I found that when the Word of God went against what I had been taught and I was confronted with a choice, I felt I was turning my back on good men whom I greatly respected if I gave up what they taught me contrary to God's Word.

Paul had preached the gospel of Grace and obedience to the Word of God in Ephesus, and multitudes of pagan idol worshipers were converted. Then a few years later, he stopped by, and with tears, he warned the Ephesians of the influx of false teachers. With their pleasant words, these teachers would infest the leadership of this church, and would draw many away into apostasy. He then writes this letter to them, emphasizing what he taught while he was among them, as well as sounds his warning again against the false teachers.

The rites, rituals and sacrifices of the Old Testament tabernacle separated Jews and Gentiles, as the Gentiles were not allowed inside the tabernacle. If one wanted to serve the God of Israel, he normally had to convert to Judaism. That law had been firmly intrenched in the Jewish mind for many centuries, and it continued to control even those who were converted to Christ. We see the New Testament authors explaining the true meanings of those rites, rituals and sacrifices, and that they were all fulfilled in Christ. Christ Himself told the woman at the well that the tabernacle was useless since His incarnation.

However, the Jewish religious leaders saw their power slipping away with the increase of the Gospel, so they did their best to hang on to that religious power over the new Gentile and Jew converts. "You must be subject to the Jewish ordinances as given to Moses if you will be a proper child of God."

Paul assured these Christians of their calling in Christ from the foundation of the world, and that calling had nothing to do with their birth. He is dealing with the false Jew/Gentile distinction in order to remove the power of the false teachers he knew would rise up.

It is sad that today there are more than a few Christians who desire to learn the Jewish ways as found in their old Jewish rites and rituals. They continue to believe there is the distinction that the Apostles worked so hard to destroy.

But the real issue since the beginning has been the death Adam brought upon mankind in the Garden, "wherefore by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin."

"It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement;" At that time, individuals will be judged according to their relationship to God the Father and the Word of God. All judgement has been committed to the Son.

All of this to bring us to the First resurrection. The first resurrection is clearly illustrated in Ezekiel's vision, chapter 37.

From chapter 37 to the end of the book, Ezekiel describes the unity of the Jews and the Gentiles and the amazing glories of the Gospel Church, which is the new temple of God. We will only look at the beginning, starting with the first resurrection, vv. 1-14.

Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul continues with what he started in 1:18. That is, the resurrection of the dead. This resurrection is of those who were dead in trespasses and sins, and they are raised to new life in Christ. We will deal with the theological implications of this resurrection as we go along.

We will not abuse the point, though I will remind us of the context of Paul's letter. It is to a people facing not only persecution at the hand of the Jews and at the hand of Rome under Nero, but also the total destruction of the Jewish economy that had been in place for 1500 years. He is assuring them of God's tender care for His people in the most terrible of circumstances.

1:18, Paul prays for the Ephesians that "The eyes of your understanding" be opened that they would understand the power of God Who raised and exalted Christ to His own right hand of all power and authority. That power of God is the same power that raises the sinner from the dead, and exalts him also to sit with Christ in heavenly places. 2:5, 6.

Paul prays that the Ephesians:

1) would understand "the hope of his calling". Or the privileges and benefits reserved for the Saints.

2) would understand "the riches of the glory", the riches laid aside for the saints through Christ.

3) would understanding "the exceeding greatness of his power" that is available to the Saints. That mighty power was exhibited and confirmed in the resurrection and exaltation of "the man Christ Jesus". (1 Tim. 2:5.)

4) would understand that it is the same power that "quickens" those "who were dead in trespasses and sins." Those dead persons were once "children of disobedience" and were held captive by the evil power of the air, Satan.

5) 2:1-6 would understand that the power that raised Christ from the dead also "quickened us together with Christ, raises us up, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

6) 2:7, would understand that the purpose of the church is to "shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."

There are several other things here, but this will do for now.

2:8, "For by grace are ye saved..." It is the operation of God's freely given grace that raises the sinner to life, and allows him to sit with Christ in heavenly places. Through this great incompressible act of God's great mercy and love, God shows His astounding wisdom to the principalities and powers. Ephesians 3:10.

Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;"

We spent two messages in Ezekiel 37on the first resurrection. We should follow up the "quickening" of the first resurrection with the doctrine of the second death. We know by how many times Christ referred to the second death that He considered it far more important that the doctrine of the first resurrection.

We will start with Revelation 20, and refer back to it often. Again, the historical context of The Revelation of Jesus Christ is basically the same as the letter to the Ephesians. Revelation was probably written 67-69 AD, but not after 70 AD.

The time frame of Chapter 20 is very much in question, and I am not even going to try to establish a time frame nor address many of the details of this chapter. However, there are several clear and obvious points to consider.

Vv. 8, 10, "deceived them..."

It is the devil who deceives the wicked to think they can gather enough physical forces to exalt themselves against the Lord and against His anointed. The Deceiver influences the wicked to believe they can free themselves of the law of the Lord. (Ps 2).

V. 9, "camp of the saints... beloved city..." The reference must be to the New Jerusalem, or his holy hill, Zion. (Ps. 2:6.) Christ did not give Himself for a piece of real estate with stone walls around it. He gave Himself for His Church, which is identified as both the "Body and Bride of Christ". How foolish and evil to think otherwise. The Devil

V. 9, the Devil deceived the nations of the world that they could overthrow the King, and take over His kingdom. Christ revealed the motive of the wicked in Matthew 21, Mark 12 and Luke 20. Kill the legitimate Heir and take over the kingdom for themselves.

The spirits of deception are ruling the air today. They are continually looking for "preachers and hearers" to deceive. The end result of the followers of deception is death and hell.

Revelation 20:5 "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

V. 12 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

Let me start by pointing out some books mentioned in Scripture:

Daniel 7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

Obviously, these are not literal books, but they refer to records which are kept by the Lord God. Admittedly, these books can be confusing, so I will just touch on them. There are at least three separate books mentioned in Scripture.

First, one book is the book of physical life, and one's name is removed from this book at physical death. If this book does not exist, then we have no eternal security.

Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Second, another book is the book of spiritual life,

Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

The names of the Elect were written there at the beginning:

Ephesians 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:"

Those whose names are not recorded in this book will be cast into the everlasting lake of fire.

Third, another book is the book of physical deeds

Revelation 20:12 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Now let us look at the First Resurrection and the Second Death

Revelation 20

Re 20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Re 20:14 "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

Re 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

There two deaths taught in Scripture. The first death is physical as the spirit separates from the body.

Genesis 2:16 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Genesis 3:4 "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

2:17, God told Adam that he would die if he disobeyed the Word of the Lord. Then Eve was created for Adam as a help mate in Adam's calling. In 3:4 & 5, Satan came to Eve, with the truth, but not the whole truth. He deceive her with partial truth, or truth removed from its context.

Partial truth is a powerful weapon to lead one into sin, or into following their fleshly lusts. "Thou shalt not surely die", and we charge ahead like a bull in a china shop.

It was true that the fruit was not poison, so there was no immediate death, or separation of the soul from the body. But deceivers leave out the whole truth. The truth was that disobedience results in separation from God, or spiritual death. Both the spiritual and physical death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.

Because Eve did not immediately die, did they think they avoided God's promised death?

Temptation: We see the appealing nature of the offers to violate God's word, as did Eve. She saw the advantage of following the tempter's offer, as we do. Ignoring what the word of God says, we charge ahead with those things that please the flesh.

She passed Satan's offer on to her husband, and he joined her in her disobedience:

Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

"Death". A thought none of us like to think about. But in Adam, both spiritual and physical death became the lot of all men born since him. The initial separation from God brought about by Adam can be restored by "the second man, the Lord from heaven." 1 Corinthians 15:47.

"Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

Adam's physical death took place 930 years after his creation. Genesis 5:3. Physical death cannot be avoided, for it "is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment." Hebrews 9:27.

The Second Death, The lake of fire, hell.

The doctrine of Hell is a very depressing doctrine, and does not appeal to the crowd. It does not make for pleasant teaching nor pleasant hearing, but it is a serious Biblical doctrine.

Revelation 2:11 tells "the angel of the church in Smyrna", "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
Revelation 20:5 "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

The power or the authority of the second death is broken through Christ for His redeemed.

A person is born dead in trespasses and sin, and converting or saving faith in Christ raises the person from the death: this is the first resurrection Ezekiel saw in chapter 37.

Those who have part in the first resurrection have no fear of the second death. The second death is defined as the lake of fire that awaits all who have not trusted Christ as their substitute and savior.

Note: Converting faith vs saving faith. Both terms basically mean the same. The term, saving faith implies that Christ is little more than a life saver, a fire escape or an insurance policy against eternal damnation.

Converting faith means a life-changing relationship with the Lord God through Christ. Conversion is defined in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

In other words, if one's faith does not convert his attitude toward the material things of this world (money), toward his fellow man, toward God, toward God's Word and toward God's church, he has not had genuine, Holy Ghost conversion.

Converting Faith will seek out true Biblical Teaching, and will make it a point to be under that teaching in the public assembly as much as possible.

Those who are converted, or saved, will avoid the "second death".

Revelation 20:14, 15"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

The first death is separation from the body. The second death is eternal separation from the Thrice-Holy God.

"Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
"Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

The first death is one of common discussion, for "it is appointed unto man once to die", and many people make a good living talking about that death. But the last part if Hebrews is avoided: "but after this the judgment".

The subject of the second death, or hell is avoided like the plague—it is an offensive doctrine. The Lord had no concern about offending sinners, and they put Him to death. His words revealed what was offenses of their hearts.

We are told in Revelation 20:14 that "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire," which is "the second death." In Luke 16, our Lord clearly tells His listeners that the second death does not mean that the person no longer exists. The "certain rich man" in hell was very much alive, though he had left his body on earth.

Review up to this point

We are going through the Book of Ephesians. We have finished chapter 1, and are dealing with 2:1-9. V. 1, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." We spent two messages on this quickening, or the first resurrection, from Ezekiel 37:1-14. The other half of the first resurrection is the second death, which is also a lengthy part message.

We could title this message, "Is There a Hell", or "The Reality of Hell"

Revelation 20:10-15,

"10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11 ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Can we bring our finite minds to grasp this judgment day that is coming? Can we really believe that those without Christ will join the devil and his angles in their place of eternal torment, a place of everlasting fire and darkness?

None of us can grasp the reality of what Saint John describes in the Revelation, nor what Christ described while He was here on earth. As we saw last week, Christ spoke a suppressing amount about the place of outer darkness and eternal torment. So we will not cover that again today.

You have probably noticed that the more I consider a passage, the more I see that needs to be developed and shared. As has been said many times, the Word of God is alive. The more one meditates on it, the more there is to meditate on. And I have a difficult time drawing a line in its expansion.

I pray that my meditation on the subject of the second death will be instructive, encouraging, and a blessing. Of course, it revolves around Christ and the first resurrection that is available only through His "grace through faith."

We spent two weeks in Ezekiel 37:1-14, looking at the first resurrection and new life in Christ. Now we are looking at the no life in Christ, and the second death.

Because of Adam's sin, all men are born dead in trespasses and sins. In Christ, men can have new life, which is defined in places such as Ephesians, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;". Ephesians also defines the spiritual blessings of God upon those who have been raised from death dead in trespasses and sins to new life in Christ.

Paul's letters defines that new life in Christ, which we will get to.

"It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment." Everyone must die, which is the first death. Then we must face the judgment of God, as described in Revelation 20:11-15, which we read. Those who have not had part in the first resurrection, that is, born again, will have part in the Second Death, eternal separation from Christ, who is life.

We have discussed the first resurrection and eternal life with the Lord. Now we will consider the very unpleasant apposite to eternal life which no one likes to talk nor think about—that is, eternal death.

Re 20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
Re 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

The second death will take place after the first death at the judgment seat of Christ. There He will separate the saved from the unsaved, and the unsaved will be delivered into "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."

Again, the natural man hates the doctrine of eternal torment or hell. But the Lord clearly preached on hell while He was here. This doctrine holds no fear for those who have been born again.

Last time we saw that hell is described by the Lord as a place of eternal separation from the Lord of Glory, a place of eternal darkness and torment, a place of weeping and gnashing of teach, and it was prepared for the devil and his angles. Matthew 7:13, 25:41.

But the most fearful message that can be preached on hell was preached by the Lord Jesus, and is recorded in Luke 16:14-31

I think the context of our Lord's message is worth considering. His sermon actually starled in Luke 14:1-6, where the Lord joined with "one of the chief Pharisees" for a meal. He confronted the pharisees about works of necessity on the sabbath. 14:7-14, He gave a parable against self-exaltation, and encouraged His host to share his material blessings with the poor of this world.

Luke 14:15-23, He told of "a certain man" who made a great supper. He invited his important friends, but they all made excuses. So the "certain man", being angry that his friends refused his offer, sent his servant to invite the poor and downtrodden to the supper, and to even compel strangers to come to his "great supper".

Note that 14:13 and 14:21 say the same thing. Bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind—the helpless

The Lord's message was directed to His host, "the chief Pharisee" of v. 1, with whom He was eating a great meal. His message against pride was overheard by the Pharisees who were following Him.

The Lord's words to the proud and self-righteous Pharisees was clear: The self-righteous would not be at the great marriage feast of the Lamb, as described Revelation 19.

"7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

Luke 14:25, evidently when He left the important Pharisee's house, a great multitude followed Him. Vv. 25-35, He warns of the cost to follow Him, and the requirement to be faithful to ones' profession.

Among the great multitude following Him, there were Publicans, sinners, Pharisees and His disciples. In chapter 15:2, the Pharisees and scribes murmured against Him because He welcomed and ate with sinners. Welcoming the poor and helpless had been His message since His fancy meal with the "chief Pharisee" in 14:1.

The Pharisees were a very self-righteous religious sect of that day. They looked down on everyone whom they considered to be beneath them. I5:1-10, Christ explained His need to seek out and welcome sinners. In Luke 15:11-32, Christ gives an illustration of the joy in receiving a sinner into the Father's household. (I will not take the time to fit all the ends together that started in 14:1.)

Vv. 11-32 is given in the context of the self-righteous Pharisees. Paul's statement in Philippians 3:4-14 reveals the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees who were now murmuring against Christ.

We must look at Philippians. It is the most precious passage in Scripture for me. In 1977, this passage became mine as the Lord Jesus called me out of my self-righteousness to His righteousness, Ph 3:4-14.

Unknown to me at the time, it was my self-righteous actions that brought me to the position of an associate pastor of a large church. I was scheduled to be ordained in just a few weeks when the Lord issued His irresistible call to me to discard my self-righteousness for His righteousness. He showed me the utter foolishness of my self-righteousness, and I willingly gave it up for His righteousness.

I cannot think of the above passage without being overwhelmed with thankfulness to the Lord my Savour who gave me "the righteousness which is of God by faith", a faith I did not have from within.

Back to the Pharisees:

Luke 15:11-32 is in the given in the context of the self-righteous Pharisees murmuring against the Lord for receiving sinners. Here the Lord rebukes the Pharisees for their anger against His receiving "down and out" sinners. The Pharisees attitude would have been something like this: "We are Pharisees. We have been zealous for the Father from our youth up, and rather than complement our righteousness, you are welcoming in all of these sinners."

Which brings us to Luke 16, and a certain rich man who had an unjust steward.

Christ is still addressing the multitude of 14:25 that was following Him when He left the Pharisees rich home. The Lord's message was directed at the Pharisees, who were well known for their love of money and power. He uses the open covetousness of the Pharisees to warn against the god of mammon, 16:13 "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

The Lord's message directed against the Pharisees service to the gods of their own making starts in 16:1, and is given in the context that started in 14:1. Vv. 1-8, the Lord points out how much more worldly wisdom those who serve money have than those who serve the King.

V. 1, He is was speaking to His disciples with the sinners, publicans, scribes and Pharisees close at hand, 15:1. The Pharisees particularly were looking for anything with which they could discredit Him, 16:14.

In the midst of the crowd, the Lord spoke 16:9. He did not say that money was unrighteous, but that the wrong use of money was unrighteous. The unjust servant was just that: he robed from his master to gain favor with certain other unrighteous men. The steward was on his way out. His goal was to secure the future by unrighteous means. He was looking to the god of mammon for his security. (This parable deals with our modern problem with the "revolving door".)

Vv. 8, 9, Christ is speaking in the presence of the self-righteous Pharisees, and others who knew what kind of men they were. The Lord says that the unjust servant was wiser than the servants of God. That is, the unrighteous plan ahead, and work their well-thought-out yet wicked plans for their material security.

The wicked are wiser than the children of light as they establish evil friendships and lay up material treasures in hope of securing their future:

In Luke 12:18 "And he [a certain prosperous rich man, v.16] said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

The unrighteous use their wisdom to lay up treasures on this earth. On the other hand, the righteous are to lay up treasures in heaven for that eternal glad day:

Matthew 6:20 "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"

16:10-12, 14, confirm what the Lord said in v. 9. From the many parables the Lord spoke in the presence of the Pharisees, they understood that the Lord was condemning them for misusing what they had been given. The Lord had told them over and over that they were losing the kingdom of God on earth, and why. They were unfaithful with the material kingdom of God with which they had been intrusted, so how could they expect to be trusted with more; that is, the spiritual kingdom of God?

Do we properly use what the Lord has provided? Can we expect to be trusted with more?

We will not take the time to go through the various parables, such as the one in Luke 20, where the keepers of the vineyard conspire and kill the son.

16:10-12 is also a clear warning for His disciples of all time.

V. 13 tells us that it is impossible to serve the gods of this world and the Lord God.

V. 14, the Pharisees had probably been with Him since He left the Pharisees home in 14:1, and probably even heard His words to that chief Pharisee. They clearly understood that He was speaking of them and their self-exaltation, self-righteousness, and covetous love of money and the worldly security it offered. So they sought to undermine His teaching by mocking Him.

Observe: The wicked to not counter truth with truth, but try to discredit the teller of truth with what is called "character assassination". That is, rather than confronting truth with truth, which the wicked cannot or will no do, they try to destroy those telling the truth by any means possible. The Pharisees understood that the Lord, thought teaching His disciples, was clearly speaking of them.

Others were watching them, and the onlookers knew how the Pharisees ignored God's laws for their own gain. They did such things as cast widows out into the streets and they replaced God's law with their traditions in order to "fill their barns".

Mark 7:11 "But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free."

So in order to justify their covetousness and love of money before the onlookers, they derided, or mocked Christ's teaching against their money god.

Vv. 15, "Ye are". Christ was not fearful to clearly identify and face-to-face confront sinners. He alone can, and did, judge righteous judgment, because He alone knows the heart of man.

His personal confrontation brought the same reaction that we fear–anger and ultimately death.

"Highly esteemed among men..." This may refer back to 16:1-8, where the world considers it wisdom to fraud others in order to secure one's financial future, as did the unjust steward. The vast majority of the rich gain their abundant riches through fraud, schemes and taxing the poor to enrich themselves and their friends.

The Pharisees, typical of the natural man from the beginning, rejected God's righteousness as revealed in the law and prophets. They sought to establish their own righteousness through their mixture of law and traditions.

"Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

Though speaking to the Jews, Paul's words apply to all men:

First, the natural man is self-righteous. Though he may have a zeal for God, that zeal is not according to the true knowledge of God and His Son, Christ Jesus. Matthew 7:21ff.

Second, the natural man establishes his own standard of righteousness. The law of God is build into every fiber of man, for he was created in the image of God. The internal standard he has in his nature causes him to weigh his good works against his bad. If his good is more than his bad, he is righteous in his own eyes.

Third, the law makes all men sinners, and all his self-righteousness is "as filthy rags". (Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.")

Fourth, true righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which God grants by faith in the heart, which is confessed with the mouth.

Self-righteousness was and is prevalent, as people try to serve both God and mammon. Or I should say, they try to serve the Lord God and the god of their belly, as they are controlled by covetousness. That covetousness is in the heart of every man, and can only be controlled by the Spirit of God.

"Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple."
"Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)"

Rather than self-righteous covetousness reigning, we should be covetous for the Spirit of God to work in and through us:

"John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

The "god of the belly" was the Pharisees' god.

From Luke 16:18, we understand that their goal was covetous of what others had, including what we could call "wife swapping".

Though highly esteemed among men, Christ told them to their face that they were an abomination in the sight of God", which only made them more determined to kill Him. Luke 16:15.

Observe: Biblical truth hardens the sinner unless God opens his heart and understanding.

Throughout the New Testament, we see that the Pharisees exalted themselves above all those who did not obtain to their level of self-importance. Though they served their fleshly desires, they claimed Abraham as their father, as did this rich man in 16:24.

John 8:53 "Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?"

16:19 is where I was headed to discuss the second death. Vv. 19-32 is in the context of the very strong words of Christ in vv. 14, 15, where the Pharisees had mocked Christ. So the evidence is that the "certain rich man" was a Pharisee who had served the god of his belly, and had enriched himself at the expense of others. The Pharisees Christ was addressing might have even known the "certain rich man" through Lazarus.

Second Death

Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."

We have looked at the exciting side of "and you hath he quickened where were dead..." "Quickened", that is, the First Resurrection which the redeemed experience when thy are born again, in Christ's words.

The doctrine of the First Resurrection is certainly exciting, but we must not ignore the "second death", as spoken of many times by Christ, and is the major subject of Revelation 20.

I do not particularly care for the doctrine of the "second death" but Christ spoke more on the subject of hell than on any other subject.

Can we ignore or lightly pass over the doctrine of eternal damnation and punishment, particularly when it was a major portion of Christ's messages. To ignore the doctrine of hell is to ignore a key portion of the words of Christ while He walked among His creation.

We must not ignore this place which Christ described as an eternal place of unimaginable torment, flame and totally darkness, a place where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. He tells us that it is the place He created for the devil and his angels. Being eternal torment, it is beyond our finite mind to grasp. We can misquote Paul here, and not be wrong:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that reject him.

Luke 16:19ff

V 14. We are looking at the most graphic description of the place of torment in Scripture, and the Creator of heave and earth give it. This description is given in the context of Christ preaching against covetousness and self-righteousness. Seeking to justify their own evil deeds, the Pharisees who "heard all these things" mocked him.

The context which started in Luke 14:1, strongly implies that the certain rich man in Luke 16:19-32, was a proud, covetous and self-righteous Pharisee who served the god of mammon, v. 13. He lived sumptuously every day, while the bagger who had to be carried to the rich man's gate was totally ignored.

The "certain rich man" had served the god of his belly, and had enriched himself at the expense of others. The Pharisees Christ was addressing might have even known the "certain rich man" through Lazarus.

Vv. 19-21, Christ's description of this "certain rich man" in hell sounds a lot like the rich men described in the first two chapters of James. Those rich men not only exalted themselves, but James rebukes the church for also exalting them, while the church suppressed the poor.

Starting in v. 19, the Lord described the horrible fate of those who serve mammon, or who serve the world, the flesh and the devil rather than serve God.

In this life, Lazarus had to depend on others to carry him to the rich man's gate where he could beg. But in v. 22, the angels met Lazarus and carried him to the place of comfort. The rich man had despised the poor man in life, but the poor man is now comforted while the rich man is tormented.

V. 23, "Being in torments", plural.

We normally think of hell as simply "torment in flame." Yet Christ tells these Pharisees that hell is a place of many torments, more than just flame.

1) Luke 16:23, eternal torment. Even today 2,000 years later, the rich man is being eternally tormented in hell, without any hope.

Mark 9:41 "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."

The Word of God could not be more clear. Five times in this short passage, the Lord said that the fire of hell shall "never be quenched."

2) though the word hopelessness is not used, it an obvious torment. There are more suicides in the military than there are battle deaths. Suicide is rampant among young people. The education system convinces students that all there is to life is what you can accumulate here on earth. The result is that hopelessness reigns, and that hopelessness is so bad that may kill themselves.

Hopelessness leads to drugs, alcohol, self-mutilation and self-destruction of all kinds.

3) v. 23, he could see paradise. This paradise was before Christ rose from the dead, and before He led those captive in paradise to their eternal home with Him. At the very least, today, 2,000 years later, this rich man knows that Lazarus is in a place of comfort. Implied here is that he could than and can now still see Lazarus in his place of eternal comfort.

I am sure that those who are in hell, many by their own choice, will be able to see the glories of the Saints with Christ. Those Saints who they once ridiculed are presently dwelling in their homes prepared by Christ Himself. John 14:3.

4) v. 24, thirst. Obviously, along with the torment of heat and flame, there is terrible and unimaginable thirst.

5) v. 25, memory. "Son remember..." The unconverted rich man was reminded and could remember what it was like when he was on earth. He even now today remembers how he pursued the good things of life for his own enjoyment and comfort. He did not have time for God, nor did he have time for his fellow man.

"Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man (here is the certain rich man again) brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

The certain rich man of Luke 16 was reminded and remembered the good things of life that replaced the Lord. Rather than worship the Lord in"spirit and in truth", (John 4:24) his covetousness served the god of "mammon". Now he is paying a terrible price for ignoring the Lord.

There are multitudes of people now in the everlasting torment of hell who remember friends, neighbors and pastors who presented the gospel to them, and offered them and even pleaded with them to have a part in the first resurrection through faith in Christ. The second death has no power over those who are part of the first resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."

I wonder how those who are even now in that terrible place of torment remember us? Do they remember us as representing Christ to them, or do they say, "He was a Christian. Why did he not warn me?"

We do not have the opportunity to say a word for Christ to everyone around us, but it is to our shame when the unsaved cannot at least see our good works, and thereby glorify our Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16.)

6) v. 26, the place of comfort. The rich man could see, but could not cross over. We can be in total darkness, yet can easily see what is going on in the light, but those in the light cannot see us in the darkness.

The torment here is seeing the eternal comfort of those with the Lord, yet unable to join in that comfort.

7) v. 26, those in hell dwell in eternal darkness. Remember, this is the Lord Christ, the creator of heaven and hell speaking. Can we ignore His words? Can we avoid these unpleasant doctrines He Himself teaches without doing harm to the "whole counsel of God"?

"Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom [that is, the earthly kingdom of Israel] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour."
"Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
"Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

"Gnashing of teeth." "used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell"

Christ was very clear. Those who rejected the words of life are even now dwelling in unimaginable torments in total darkness:

"Psalms 107:10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. 13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. 15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder."

Those who are even now in the place of outerdarkness were content to remain in the kingdom of darkness in this life. But now they live forever in the literal darkness of that kingdom which is the home of the devil and his angels.

"Isaiah 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
"Isaiah 29:18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness."
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
"John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."

Note the contrast:

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

8) vv. 27-29, the man in torment suddenly became concerned about those he had known in life–his family. He pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his family of the terrible place.

He was confident that if one returned from the dead and told his family what was in store for them, they would repent and be converted.

But Abraham assures this man who is in torment that if the living will not believe the Old Testament, Moses and the prophets, there is no hope for their conversion.

When one rejects the Old Testament law and prophets, he denies the Christ of the Bible.

9) v. 31, though one rose from the dead.

Of course, Christ rose from the dead and they did not believe.

"Mt 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

"Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."

The rich man of 2000 years ago did not fear God while on this earth, but he sure does today.

The first resurrection and the second death.

Revelation 20:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Through Christ, the Elect have part in the first resurrection. The rest of the Revelation is pretty much directed to the Elect for whom Christ died:

Revelation 21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

Let us now return to Ephesians 2

Let us again be reminded of the historical context of those to whom Paul writes. Times were very difficult and would get worse. Paul is encouraging the Ephesian Christians in their present terrible distress and for the even worse times that were soon to come. It appeared obvious to them that the evil powers of the air had total control of the situation. The powers of darkness seemed to be in total control of both the civil and religious powers, as they seemed to be carrying out a successful warfare against the Kingdom of God on earth.

Vv 1-3

We cannot leave this section without pointing out some things:

First: "who were dead..." There is nowhere a clearer statement of the total inability of anyone to chose or please God. No stronger language could be used. It certainly does not mean a lack of physical life, as was the case of Lazarus in the tomb in John 11. Those "who were dead" are totally incapable of willing themselves to life any more than Lazarus could. Only the voice of the One who has "the key of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:18) can release those "who were dead" from the grip of their death in "sins and trespasses".

It is obvious that there is a great deal of life, energy and motion around us, particularly when we see the heathen raging and counseling together against the Lord and His Christ. But when it comes to seeing any beauty in Christ, all the human will-power in the world cannot arouse the dead man to see Christ in His beauty, for He has "no beauty that we should desire him".

The sinner is the walking swiftly and happily down the broad road to destruction.

"John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

Second: V. 1, the internal natural state of sin is death.

V. 2, the external natural state of sin is conformity to the surrounding world. In "time past" the sinner conformed to those around him.

Third: Vv. 2, 3. "prince of the power of the air". (Christ called him "the prince of this world" in John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11.)

Christ told His disciples that "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." Therefore, all power in heaven and in earth must be only an extension of His power. And as such, even the ungodly powers and authorities are carrying out His predetermined and divine purpose.

"Psalms 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."

The powers of the air are the fallen spirits who inhabit the air around us. They are continually looking for those who will follow their leading, as we see in Matthew 12.

"43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." (Luke 11:24-26.)

There is enough we could say about this "prince of the power of the air" to bore you to death, so we will greatly restrict our look at him with just these few points.

We will look at the "prince" and the power of Christ over this "prince" next time.

The Evil Prince

Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Note the margin: {desires: Gr. wills}

First: "who were dead..." There is nowhere a clearer statement of the total inability of anyone to chose or please God.

Second: V. 1, the internal natural state of sin is death. While the external state of sin is conformity to the surrounding world. In "time past" the sinner conformed to those around him.

Third: Vv. 2, 3. "prince of the power of the air". (Christ called him "the prince of this world" in John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11.)

Here are some encouraging points about this prince of the power of the air:

Observe 1. This "prince" is not a the king. Paul has already made it clear that Christ is the King and absolute Ruler over the kingdom of God, the kingdom of men and the kingdom of nature–everything that can be named in heaven above, on earth and under the earth. (Eph 1:21.) The "prince" does not have unlimited power now any more than he had in Job 1& 2. Willingly or unwillingly, everything, even the prince of darkness, only does "according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:". Ephesians 1:11.

"Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

As the first church faced the "great tribulation", it would certainly be inclined to doubt that King Jesus was in control, and that all things were working to accomplish His divine purpose.

Note: Even the evil prince and his human followers are unknowingly doing the will of God.

"Proverbs 19:21 [There are] many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."

That is, fallen man has many evil devices in his heart, but he can only do what fits into the counsel of the Lord.

"Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times [the things] that are not [yet] done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"

"Revelation 17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 14 ¶ These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."

We are told by Holy Writ that the evil powers and authorities of this world have been from the beginning and are even now doing the pleasure of the "King of kings". As James tells us, God does not force anyone to sin. Revelation 17:17, He did not force them, but He "put in their hearts to fulfill his will", and join together to war against the King and His subjects.

Why would the desire be given to wicked powers, both spiritual and physical, to war against the King and His followers?

Paul gives us the answer in

"Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."

In order to encourage their boldness and confidence in the faith of Christ, Paul assured the Ephesians that the prince of the power of the air, along with his followers, is subject to the King of kings, and that the King's eternal purpose was being accomplished, even in the horrible day that was soon to come upon them.

Let us quickly look at the Promise of the Father to the Son that all powers and authorities, both spiritual and physical, must be subject to King Jesus. The promise is in

Psalms 110, v. 1, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." (This promise is probably the most quoted promise in Scripture: Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:43, Acts 2:35, Heb 1:13, 10:13.)

Paul says that this promise was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ, Ephesians 1:19-23. Though Christ had all power from eternity past, He had to lay aside that power for 33 years, so He could provide redemption for His people. At the resurrection, He was reinstated on His throne, and from that throne all things will be subdued to Him, as He does according to His sovereign will in the kingdom of men and devils.

Note the promise in Psalms 110. It is the Father speaking to the Son, and He sais, "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool."

How will the Father fulfill His promise to the Son? Clearly not by physical, political nor physical force, for it is a spiritual warfare. The Father subdues and makes Christ's enemies His "footstool" through the drawing of and conviction by the Spirit of God—that is, Holy Spirit conversion. (Jn 12:32, Jn 17:7, 9, 11, 24. Isa 5:26, 7:18, Zech 10:8.) We will see much more of this as we go through Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

Our problem is that we observe the present disconcerting events around us, and strength of the enemy. The result is that we take our eyes off the Lord and His promise of victory in human history over all His enemies.

God is doing "according to his will even in the kingdom of evil men who are serving the world, flesh and Satan with all their heart, soul, mind and might, which includes their money.

Observe 2. The prince dwells in and controls the space round us. God has given him limited power and control of all things, seen and unseen – those things which are outside of the "kingdom of his dear Son".

Colossians 1:12 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:"

The Lord Jesus told Paul, who was on his way to Damascus, that he was "To open their (Gentiles) eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts 28:18.

Observe 3. The prince has united all the various powers of darkness to influence those who are "dead" men to counsel together in establishing a strong and united power against "the Lord and his anointed".

"Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Their kingdom appears to be prospering, which encourages the wicked in their evil deeds. But the Saints were warned by the King Himself, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." John 7:24. "Righteous judgment" tells us that all things are working together for the good of the saints and according to "the counsel of his own will."

Observe 4. The "prince" is in total subjection to Christ, 1:21. So it is sin to attribute any independent power to the "prince", for Christ said that "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth". Matthew 28:18.

Observe 5. The prince is close at hand. He is the prince "of the air, the spirit that now worketh." That "spirit" can only work according to "the counsel of [God's] own will". It is in the sovereign will of God the Father that the "power of darkness" (Lk. 22:53) have been given the lower region to inhabit and work. In the lower region, they are close at hand to work their mischief in the world of nature, as happened in Job. They are close at hand to work their mischief in tempting men, as we saw in James 1:13. God permits the temptations from the world, flesh and the devil, but it is man's sinful nature that causes him to yield to those temptation.

Paul assured the Colossians that the "power of darkness" no longer had authority over those in Christ:

Colossians 1: "12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"

However, as we will see in Ephesians 4 (v. 23), Paul warns that those in Christ can give the devil authority to work in them.

Observe 6. The prince controls the "children of disobedience." Note the order here. It is not the "powers of darkness" that cause the disobedience as defined in Ephesians 2:3. Rather, it is the disobedience of the individual that allows the "powers of darkness" to work their mischief in the individual, and thus into society.

We saw in James 1, that it is man's natural tenancy to sin that permits the evil "powers" to work in him. But "God, who is rich in mercy", Eph 2:4, brought about the new birth, with the new desire to live above sin, thereby striping the "powers of darkness" of their power in the lives of the elect.

Observe 7. The prince blinds his followers.

"2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

Two options:

One: "god of this world" is listed in the Geneva as "God of this world", that is, the Lord God has blinded them. There are several supporting Scriptures for this view:

In John 12, the Apostle John in recounting what Christ did, quoted Isaiah 53. John 12:"37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He [God] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."

That is to say, God blinded the Jews so they would not see the godly truth of Christ. This blindness had to be so they Jews would crucify Christ, and receive the just reward of their evil deed. According to the many ancient prophecies, the old national Israel and with its religious practices had to be removed to make place for the New Israel and its practices. The new wine of the Gospel could not be put into the Old Wine bottles of the Old Israel.

Moreover, Christ had to be crucified in order to open the Kingdom of God to the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike.

Two: "god of this world" according to Robertson, "world" is actually "age", which is not an uncommon usage. Satan did claim the unlimited rule over the world in his temptations with Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:4, is the only place where Satan can be identified as a god. Elsewhere he is identified as simply a lower power, a prince.

The best explanation:

"god of this world" That is, Satan is god to those who subject themselves to the powers of darkness in his realm of authority. (Barnes' on Psalms 82:6.) Thus, "the children of disobedience" are his willing subjects, and he keeps them locked in their deadly path to destruction. Only the One Who has the keys to death and hell can release them from their prison of darkness into His glorious light.

Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

The "god of this world" blinds those "whose god is their belly" to the glorious gospel, and the freedom promise of the gospel. Only the Spirit's call to obedience to the gospel can free the sinner from Satan's area of dominion, to serve the Lord God. It is the Lord God who must replace the "god of this world" with Himself.

First: "who were dead..." There is nowhere a clearer statement of the total inability to chose or please God anywhere in Scripture.

"John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

Second: V. 1, the internal natural state of sin is death. While the external state of sin is conformity to the surrounding world. In "time past" the sinner conformed to those around him.

Third: V. 2. "prince of the power of the air". (Christ called him "the prince of this world" in John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11.)

Fourth: V. 3. The unregenerate are by nature "servants to the desires of the flesh and the mind".

This is called "total depravity". Not that the sinner is totally evil in all his actions. Rather, every area of fallen man is at war against the Lord and His Christ.

"The carnal mind makes a man a perfect slave to his vicious appetite. — The fulfilling of the wills of the flesh, so the words may be rendered, denoting the efficacy of these lusts, and what power they have over those who yield themselves up unto them." (Matthew Henry)

Fifth: V. 3. "We all", that is, both Jews and Gentiles are "by nature the children of wrath, even as others." This does not mean we are wrathful children. Rather, as "the children of disobedience", we deserve the wrath of God.

Psalms 7:11 "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day."

In God's righteous judgment, all men in their natural state are "children of wrath"— heirs to God's wrath.

Ephesians 2:4-10,

"John 11:39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."

In v. 4, Paul begins his account of the glorious change worked by God through converting grace.

2:8, Negative, "Not of yourselves".
2:4, Positive, "But God, who is rich in mercy"

"Rich in mercy", overflowing, and abundant. "His great love" was the reason He had compassion on both Jews and Gentiles.

Vv. 5, 6, the connection between Christ and those the Father gave to Christ at the beginning is so close that His resurrection meant their resurrection. In other words, when the head of Lazarus' body was raised from the dead, all the members of his body were also raised from the dead. Alive in Christ means that we are even now seated with Him in His "heavenly places."

V. 1, "and you hath he quickened". V. 5, "us together with Christ"... V. 6, "and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

I started to count the number of times we are told in the Epistles that the redeemed are "in Christ", but gave up.1:1, 3 will suffice.

V. 7. God's purpose in producing an effecting change in the Elect: "That in the ages to come..." He might show proof of His grace goodness and mercy to encourage sinners in the future that there is hope for them.

"toward us". Both the Jews and the Gentiles to whom Paul wrote were called to salvation in Christ by God's grace through faith. God's purpose in that call is so all creation both in heaven, earth and under the earth could witness God's "rich mercy" and "his great love" throughout all eternity.

Vv. 8, 9. "and that [faith] not of yourselves". A dead man can have no faith, so saving faith must be placed in the dead man by the grace of God.

"Not of works..." Lazarus could no work to raise himself, for he was dead. He had no power nor might within himself to bring himself to life, for he was dead. He could not will himself to live, for he was dead, and already in the process of decaying back into dust. Lazarus was dead, and could do nothing to save himself. When he came forth, he had nothing to boast about.

We can imaging the rejoicing by his family when he came forth.

"Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one

Paul is also saying that God's salvation has nothing to do with one's mental abilities, physical abilities, physical birth, his nationality, his social standing nor his material wealth. Salvation has to do only with the New Birth. All men are equally sinners, and need a Redeemer-God.

Paul clearly brings forward the doctrine that "Salvation is of the LORD" from beginning of time to the final end. (Job 2:9.)

V. 10. "For we are his workmanship..."

"Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure."

"Unto good works..." God's work in the believer is to produce good works that glorify Himself, for He is the One who did the work. Good works cannot save, but the call and work of the Father is "unto good works". The purpose of the new creation in Christ Jesus is for good works that "that glorify your Father which is in heaven".

"Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

As I was thinking on this verse in the quiet of this morning, I was reminded that over the years, I have met more than a few people who have professed Christ with the hope that God would do a good work for them, not in them. That is to say, they professed Christ with the hope that God would give them their heart's desire, be it physical or material. Then when God did not perform the good work they expected or hoped for, they at the least were greatly discouraged. At the most, they abandoned their profession of Christ.

The call to Christ is to equip the believer "unto good works" that glorify God, not so God can do good works for the believer.

V. 10, the Salvation call is to produce in the heart of His people the desires to do good works that will glorify God. The Salvation call is not to produce good works toward or for us by God.

"John 9: 1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

Was it necessary for this blind man to be healed in order to glorify God? Certainly, in this unique case, it certainly was. But this case was unique for Christ was confirming that indeed he was "God with us" in the form of a man.

But since Christ is supernatural healing required to bring glory to God, the key word being required? I know of no place in Scripture that even implies such a thing. Bringing glory to God is always connected with doing good works, as we saw in Matthew 5:16.

Over the years, Lane has been troubled with neurological problems that have grown worse. Every test he has had confirmed the problems. He was contacted recently by the VA about the first cause of these problems. He was stationed for a year at Came Lejeune, as were thousands of other Marines. It turns out that a landfill where many dangerous chemicals where deposited leaked into the drinking water on the base. The results of that seriously polluted drinking water clearly match the problems Lane has experienced since that time.

Let me ask: Is it necessary for a supernatural healing for Lane to be able to Glorify God? Which glorifies God more, and will influence the most people for the Lord. A supernatural healing of the neurological problems, or Lane continuing to praise the Lord and serve God with "good works" despite of the problems?

We know of many physically and mentally handicapped Christians today who greatly glorify God with their good works in their handicap.

The first question of the Catechism,

1 Q. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, {#1Co 10:31 } and to enjoy him for ever. {#Ps 73:25,26 }

But how many see Christianity differently:

"What is the chief end of God?
"To glorify man by fulfilling his desires, and then enjoy man forever"

They have professed Christ, but would never admit even to themselves that their motive was personal gain. "God will do this for me, if I will only profess Christ and do good works".

"Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

We are saved to do good works for Him, not for Him to do good works for us. Is a person saved who came to Christ hoping for good works from God?

Next, we must understand that we were recreated in Christ Jesus to do the good works that are required of us.

There are basic good works required of us all as found in the moral law of God. But each of us have additional unique good works according to our gifts, which are required of us. Mine include developing the implications of God's word.

"Before ordained..." Multiple times, the authors of the letters to the new Gospel Church emphasized our call to Christ in eternity past.

Two points:

One, the Elect have been ordained to eternal life:

"John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him."
"Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."

Two, the Elect have been ordained to good works:

"1 Peter 1:15 "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."

Here we understand that the call to eternal life is just as much a call to the new life of good works in Christ, as defined by Scripture.

There was an old song, "Love and marriage" was written by Sammy Cahan. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1955. It was a very popular song for maybe 10 years. I can still sing it in my mind. The song won the Emmy for Best Musical Contribution in 1956. Peggy Lee recorded it in 1961. As time went on, it became a song of derision against marriage.

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other.

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
It's an institute you can't disparage.
Ask the local gentry and they will say it's elementary.

Try, try, try to separate them, it's an illusion.
Try, try, try and you only come to this conclusion:

Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage.
Dad was told by mother you can't have one
You can't have none.
You can't have one without the other.

All of that to say this: Love and marriage were inseparable until the early ‘60s. New life in Christ meant a firm call to good works until about the same time. Since then, both "love" and eternal life have become stand alone ideas. Love does not require marriage, nor does salvation require good works.

However, every New Testament author gives us the required connection between eternal life and good works as defined by the Word of God.

Paul held firmly to the doctrine of Election or predestination, and he held just as firmly that the purpose of predestination is "unto good works".

The Law of Moses
Ephesians 2:11-13

Paul is writing to the church he founded during his three year stay in Ephesus. Ephesus was a pagan city, which was wholly given to the worship of "the great god, Diana". Thus, this church was primarily made up of Gentiles who had been idol worshipers.

Now Paul is encouraging this church in the faith to strengthen them in their present troubles as well as for the things to come.

* Paul has explained that the doctrine of election and predesignation applies to both the Jews and Gentiles, regardless of social standing or birth.
* He has explained that salvation is only by grace through faith not of works nor of birth, lest any man should boast.
* He has dealt with the doctrine of sin and death, and the doctrine of the first resurrection to newness of life in Christ.
* He has dealt with the doctrine of good works, which is the purpose of redemption, v. 10. He will deal with those "good works"in the rest of the book.

Further development of v. 10 shows us that coming to Christ or serving Christ with "good works" with the hope of receiving something from Christ is totally contrary to vv. 8, 9. Salvation is conversion; that is, conversion from sin to Christ, conversion from the ungodly attitude of wanting Christ to serve us to the attitude of wanting to serve Christ.

Starting with 2:11, Paul explains the mystery of the church that had been hidden from the beginning of the world. In 3:8, 9, he tells them that Christ chose and called him to explain that hidden mystery.

Paul's explanation of the mystery of the church starts in 2:11 and continues through 3:13. We will consider it all together a few verses at a time. Vv. 11-13 is explained in Acts 15:1-35, 2:11 to 3:13 is explained in Ezekiel 37.

[There is nothing as exciting to me as to "discover" on my own what the theologians of the past have already developed, without using those theologians.]

"Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;"

"Who are called... and which is called..." Paul's wording here is important. Paul did not say "who are circumcised" nor "which are circumcised". Rather, he said "who are called" circumcised; that is, called by men and not by God. The Jews were called "the Circumcision" because they were circumcised according to the law of Moses. They depended on their physical circumcision to see them into Abraham's bosom, or paradise. They believed that Abraham himself sat at the gate of paradise and kept out all where were uncircumcised. In Paul's time, the Jews called the Gentiles the Uncircumcision because they were not circumcised according to the law.

Paul's wording here makes it clear that the physical act of circumcision, nor any other "good work" had anything to do with conversion nor with being a child of God. The false teachers were the ones adding circumcision to faith. It is the false teachers of our day who add things such as baptism to faith.

We saw in Acts 20:17-35 that on his way to appear before Caesar at Rome, Paul warned the elders from Ephesus of false teachers who would rise up from among their leadership who would teach that Christ was not enough, and that the Jewish rites, rituals, ceremonies and customs were required in order to please God.

V. 11, Paul is dealing with a problem which the Elders at the church at Jerusalem had to settle in Acts 15.

The problem with these false teachers was common in this first century church, as it is today. How many people believe that Christ is not enough, and they attach strange rituals, ceremonies and various church customs to the gospel, or even to the "good works" required by v. 10?

All of the New Testament authors wrote in the context of the "certain men" who followed the New Testament evangelists, especially Paul, trying to convince the new converts that they had to keep the law of Moses in order to please God.

Acts 15:1-35, the law of Moses and circumcision

We meet the circumcision controversy many times in the various letters to the new Gospel Church, which is the church founded upon the Gospel of Christ. The controversy was settled in Acts 15.

The "law of Moses" in the context of this controversy meant the entire Mosaic law of ceremonies, sacrifices, ordinances as well as the various Jewish customs added to Moses. The law under dispute had nothing to do with the moral laws of Moses.

Let's look briefly at Acts 15:

Robertson says that Paul's triumph at Jerusalem saved Christianity from the bondage of Jewish ceremonial sacramentalism. (RWP, v.5.) Though the Jerusalem council laid sacramentalism to rest, the first Bishop of Rome, c. 360, revived it, and today many Protestants keep it alive.

V. 1, "certain men...down from Judaea..."

V. 5. These men were believers, yet they were still members of the sect of the Jewish Pharisees. They are known today as Judaizers because they sought to make Jews out of the converted Gentiles. Throughout the New Testament, these men followed the Apostles who were spreading the gospel of grace alone through faith alone. These Judaizers were telling the new Gentile converts that they needed to become Jews, and "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." They also sought to keep the Jews in the bondage to the law of Moses

The Judaizers' doctrine was causing conflicts in the Early Church, undermining the gospel of Christian liberty in Christ.

Note vv. 1 and v. 5, where they were dogmatic in their opposition of Paul Gospel of free grace. "Except" and "command".

Some of the Judaizers' doctrine has remained with us to this day in things such as the requirement of "sabbath keeping", circumcision, which has been transferred to baptism, and even in the Christian's desire to keep the passover as practice in Old Israel. Today's Seventh-Day Adventist would fit here, as well as those Christian groups pressing sacramentalism upon their followers.

Acts 15:2, Paul and Barnabas had strong disagreements with the "certain men" who came down from Judaea. They had many heated disputations with these converted Pharisees. To settle the issue, the church at Antioch determined to send Paul, Barnabas and the "certain men" to take the dispute to the elders at Jerusalem.


First, God raised up the Judaizers, and He is the one who placed in their heart the desire to follow Paul, and try to undermine the Gospel of Free Grace. Because of their unholy efforts, Paul had to explain the gospel of grace through faith alone in great detail. He had to explain the mystery of Christ that had been hidden from the saints of old. Though Paul makes great points concerning the gospel of grace through faith alone, he is also just as firm concerning the gospel call to "good works".

Second, the problem of extremism. Christian teachers tend to preach Free Grace in the sense that it means there is no requirement of "good works". On the other hand, Christian teachers tend to preach that "good works" are required in order to gain God's favor, bypassing the "good work of Christ" in the place of the sinner.

Third, a teacher may be as serious as a heart attack, yet be as wrong as one can be, even leading many down the road of a false assurance. These Judaizers were believers yet their message was wrong.

* Though the preacher or teacher may be have the best theological degrees money can buy, one cannot assume that his teaching is true to the word of God.

* Though the teacher may have proper "good works", the most winning personality or the greatest "salvation experience" one can have, it does not mean that his teaching is true to the word of God. Christ Himself issued this warning:

"John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

The most sincere and well-informed teacher or believer can get caught in and promote false doctrine. Admittedly, Scripture warns us many times over that false ideas are intentionally promoted for the personal gain of the pastor.

Fourth, it is very difficult to overcome the way we were raised. Those ingrained traditions will stick with us forever. And they are very difficult to overcome.

1 Peter 1:13-23.

Note v. 13, "gird up the loins of your mind..." That is, our thoughts must be brought under control to the word of God if we have any hope of claiming our freedom:

"Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

An out of control mind is a terrible task master. I have no doubt but that it lead to an early death of my first wife, as she was unable to stop worrying about everything.

1 Peter 1:18, provision has been made for the Christian to bring his thoughts under control, but the past unscriptural traditions are to be sacrificed to Christ.

Acts 15:2, "they..." Paul was unable to convince the Judaizers of the truth, so the church sent the issue to the elders at Jerusalem.

Vv. 4, 5. The issue was presented at the first meeting which was open meeting, and then the meeting was adjourned.

V.6. According to Paul's account in Galatians 2:1-10, another private meeting took place with Peter, James and John, who were the leaders at Jerusalem. (This is the only record of Paul meeting John.) At this meeting, Paul presented his side of the dispute. He won over the elders to his view of Christian liberty vs the bindings of the law as required by the Judaizers.

Galatians 2:2, "privately to them which were of reputation". That is, to Peter, James and John, the Elders at Jerusalem.

Lesson: It normally unwise to deal with important people in public. We do not want to take a chance on them hardening against the truth because they do not want to hurt their public perception.

As a side note: Galatians 2:3-5, the circumcision of the Gentile convert, Titus, was for the sake of peace, not as a command as the Judaizers taught.

Peter, the first Apostle to the Gentiles, supports Paul.

V. 8, "at the beginning..." That is, tongues at the day of Pentecost, Acts 2. The only time tongues were attributed to the Holy Ghost was when a new group heard and received the Gospel. I put together a booklet on Tongues, so I will not go into it here.

V. 10, it is to "tempt God" to require more of believers than what is required under the Gospel.

Sadly, there is today a move toward sacramentalism among Protestants, particularly Presbyterians. However, adding anything to Christian practices that is not required in the Word of God is a denial of the Word of God. Peter identifies it as tempting God. We all tempt God to one extent or another.

About all the preachers in the MMA follow what is called the Christian Calender, which adds many unscriptural practices to the practice of Christianity. I find it interesting that the Catholic Priest who attends our meetings has the same calender as do the Protestants in the meeting. No one notices that they are following the pagan Roman Calender. Rome undermined the whole gospel with its many pagan addictions to the Christian calender. That is not to say that Papists cannot be saved, for the Pharisees who promoted the "law of Moses" were save. but it is a sad commentary of Christianity when it desires to assume many of Roman's pagan rituals and traditions.

V. 16, the rebuilt "tabernacle of David" promised to King David in 1 Samuel 7:11-16 and Isaiah 9:6, 7, is the Gospel Church made up of both Jews and Gentiles that is

"Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

V. 18, again we are reminded that God is the One who planed all of history from the very beginning of history. and all history is working His plan.

Vv. 19, 20. V. 13, evidently James was the chief spokesman for the elders, and he presents the elder's opinion on the subject. He agrees with Peter's support of Paul's message that the new converts, Gentile and Jews, are not under the Mosaic ceremonial laws and customs. But he does keep the moral code of Moses undamaged, forbidding idolatry, fornication, murder, theft, &c.

V. 23, 24, the Apostles were the representatives of the word of God to this first Christian generation. They notified the churches that the Judaizers were operating without God's authority as they taught a requirement to follow the Mosaic laws of circumcision and keeping the Jews religious laws and customs.

Quickly, v. 20, "pollutions of idols." According to Robertson's NT word Pictures:

* Pollution refers to all idolatrous practices, such as serving the god of the belly.
* Things sacrificed to idols. Meats sold in the market are dealt with in 1 Cor 10:27.
* Fornication, sex outside of Biblical marriage.
* Abstain from things strangled and from blood. "This "necessity" was not a matter of salvation but only for fellowship between Jews and Gentiles. The Judaizers made the law of Moses essential to salvation. (15:1-6.)" "From blood..." The life of the flesh is in the blood. The law against eating the blood is also for good health. Blood will carry whatever disease the animal may have.

V. 29, "meat, blood, things strangled, fornication." "the solution of James is not a compromise, though there is a wise concession to Jewish feeling. ... All the four items in the position of James are mentioned in Le 17:1-18:30."

We must conclude that the moral table of the commandments is summed up by James. Paul and the rest of the New Testament evangelists develop the moral requirements of the commandments.

Ephesians 2:11-13


According to Acts 15, it was the Christian Pharisees who were adding the religious requirements and various Jewish customs and traditions to the gospel of salvation by grace through faith. The main point of contention was the Judaizers insistence that the Gentile converts had to be circumcised, and follow various Jewish customs and traditions.

Their corrupt teaching forced the issue to the elders in Jerusalem. After Paul's private meeting with the elders, it was determined that the gospel required the laying aside of the law of Moses as found in the Jewish religious laws. However, James, speaking for the elders, left the moral laws very much in effect.

The Judaizers followed all the Apostles as they spread the new gospel. They seem to have been especially troubling to Paul, which forced him clearly define and defend the gospel. The church down through the ages has benefitted from Paul's thorough explanation of the gospel. Down through the history of the Gospel Church, Paul's defense has equipped the saints to recognize the various heresies that have infiltrated for the last 2,000 years.

"1 Corinthians 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."

Here we see that heresies have a "sifting" purpose. A "heresy" is a teaching that is so close to the truth that serious examination of the entire word of God is needed to determine the truth:

"Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Because believers are many times unwilling to invest time and effort to search out the truth from scriptures, heresies prevail. An unwillingness or inability to lay aside traditions of the elders also causes problems.

From the time of Abraham when circumcision was first given, true circumcision has always been circumcision of the heart—that is, a heart that has been circumcised, or changed by the hand of God to desire to glorify Him in all that is said and done. Biblical circumcision has nothing to do with fleshly circumcision nor with baptism. It has everything to do with regeneration, conversion and a new heart.

V. 12. The church at Ephesus was made up of former pagan worshipers of the "great god, Diana", and they rioted when Paul preached the gospel. He reminds them that they "had no hope" before God called them to Himself. The were aliens from and strangers from the promises of God as available from God for His people.

I almost do not like to use the word "God" today, for "God" is separated by the world completely from the God of the Bible. That is, the Heavenly Father Who can only be approached through His Only Begotten Son, Christ Jesus.

Christians are the people of hope, but their hope is not in the modern abstract idea of God. That is, a god that is no god at all. Rather, the world's god is a god of the imagination, a god that is totally out of touch with the reality of the God of the Bible.

Let me say this about that:

"no hope" is the condition of those outside of Christ. It is the condition of the world today. Every aspect of the world, flesh and the devil works to keep "hope thou in God" away from the public.

"Psalms 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

What does God say about hope? These points are not in their proper order, and may need to be combined, but here they are, warts and all:

1, hope defined. Christian "Hope" is the expectation of good; it is to trust and to patiently waiting for good. As long as there is life, there is hope:

"Ecclesiastes 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion."

2, hope and comfort cannot be produced by "day dreaming". That is, imagining or wishing things were different. Those dreams are only illusions, disappointments and depression.

"Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but [when] the desire cometh, [it is] a tree of life."

3, the life of the righteous is grounded in the future. Hope implies a future because its point of reference is the God of the future. Hope cannot be based on what happened in the past, but can only be based in our trust in the God of the future.

"Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is."

4, hope has nothing to do with riches:

"Job 31:24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, [Thou art] my confidence;"

5, hope cannot be in our own righteousness:

"Ezekiel 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, [that] he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."

Right living offers hope, peace, blessings and happiness. But committing iniquity wipes out the righteousness that was once done. We will not go into the various iniquities hear that destroy godly hope.

6, hope is not found in one's religious inheritance:

"Jeremiah 7:4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, [are] these."

7, hope is not found in planing for the future:

"Psalms 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity."

"Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD."

That is to say that ones prospects in the future cannot be a bases of hope: "When I get my education and a good job...", or "When I marry that particular person" or "Get that particular job".

8, hope is not found in politics, nor in physical might:

"Isaiah 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because [they are] many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!"

9, hope in anything or anyone other than the Lord must lead to depression:

"Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:

Hope in anyone or anything other than the Lord will bring about great disappointment, and a very sick and depressed heart.

10, hope must look to the One Who cannot be controlled, but Who is in control. Knowing the future is under control frees from worry, nervousness and fretting:

"Isaiah 7:4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah."

11, hope must be accompanied by fear of the Lord:

"Isaiah 32:9 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. 10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. 11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins."

12, Hope must be a quiet waiting on the God of the future–that is patience:

"Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not."

Job's problem was that he did not wait on the Lord:

"Job 6:8 Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! 9 Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! 10 Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One. 11 What [is] my strength, that I should hope? and what [is] mine end, that I should prolong my life?"

We have no idea how long Job sat on the ash heap in his horrible distress. We do know that his mood seems to swing wildly while he was sitting in his distress. We do know it was at least several days.

Here in Job's distress, he lost his hope and confidence. In his hopeless state of sorrow, he lost his strength, and wished for death.

Psalms 37. Let me give a couple of verses:

"Psalms 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass."
"Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."

When we grow weary of waiting upon the Lord, we lose our hope.

"Isaiah 40:27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Comparing Job with Isaiah, we see the danger of losing hope.

Losing hope means losing strength. Isaiah 40:31, strength includes physical strength, power, ability, as well as the physical capacity to produce. Strength here includes spiritual strength which gives us the capacity to act, to endure the testings of life, and cope with various situations.

13, "Hope thou in God" means that He will save us:

"Isaiah 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this [is] our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this [is] the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."

14, hope is linked to faith:

"Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

15, hope is not based in what we can see nor what we may feel:

"Romans 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."

Note that a church service may be a glorious feel good service of human emotion, and thus raise hope to the mountain top. But the fee good emotion will leave, and the valley of depression will set in.

16, hope cannot be based on controllable facts, but based upon what is spoken to us by God:

"Romans 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be."

17, the Christian's hope is based upon patient endurance, and the sure confidence in the One who holds the future in His hands:

"1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Note that if one's hope is restricted within the time frame of life here, then there is only misery.

"1 Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."

18, Christian hope is in the future, not in the present:

"2 Corinthians 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;"

"Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."

19, hope and patience must go together:

Romans 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

20, the main difference from the OT is that the act of salvation has now been accomplished in Christ, so that hope itself now rests in the future, and there is every reason for confidence.

Hope rests on faith in the act of salvation, Ro 8:24-25

21, hope is sustained by the Spirit:

"Romans 8:26 ¶ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

22, hope is an essential characteristic of the Christian life:

"Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;"
"Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."

23, hope goes with faith and love,

"1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

24, for hope to be a godly hope, it must remain fixed on the Everlasting God of hope:

"Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."


The devil works to keep man in bondage to false hopes:

* hope in politics
* hope in the legal or judicial system
* hope in physical might and good health
* hope in medicine to cure what ails us
* hope in education. "If I can just get a good education and make a lot of money, my problems will be solved".
* hope in government hand-outs, food stamps, welfare
* hope in knowing the truth about conspiracies
* hope in serving the god of the belly–that is, the god of sensual pleasure

Whatever hope one can name that is "without God in the world" is offered to men, and those without God in the world are ready to grasp any hope, except the hope found with God.

"Psalms 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

The end result of "no hope" is depression, uneasiness, and a cast down countenance. A person's hopelessness is revealed in his face. His cast down spirit cannot be hidden from public view. Where is the peaceful appearance on his face? To me, pictures of Putin are a very obvious example of no hope.

Those who have "no hope", wish for death, and many find it by taking their own life.

We are all familiar with Job. Having lost everything except his life and his wife, he speaks from his place of human hopelessness:

"Job 23:8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: 9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. 11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. 12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. 13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. 14 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him."

In the midst of his loss of all things, he refused to give up his trust in his Redeemer. He knew that his Redeemer lived, and he knew that his Redeemer knew where he was, and in the end, the trial of his faith would result in his good, and the glory of God.

Over a thousand years later, Peter quotes Job:

"1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

The Christian's hope is not in material nor physical things. Paul lists a good number of the saint's hopes in the next several verses:

* Ephesians 2:12, knowing we are heirs to the "covenant of promises" given by God through Christ Jesus.

* v. 16, forgiveness of sin and peace with God through Christ

* v. 16fellowship and communion with God through Christ.

* the assurance that He brought us to this place in our life, and He knows where we are.

* that He will not place more on us than what He will give grace to handle.

* though our trials may be like fire in our bones, the end of our trials is the glory of God.

Zechariah 9:12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;"

"Prisoners of hope..." One can be a prisoner of the various false hopes this world has to offer, and travel the road of disappointment, depression, uneasiness, distresses and the cast down countenance, and even down the road to desiring death as Job did, and even obtaining death as so many have done by killing themselves.

"Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"

Having the same hopelessness as the world has without God will lead to the same results their hopelessness produces.

One will either be a prisoner to hopelessness and depression, or Godly hope of faith in the God that leads to joy unspeakable:

"1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"

Ephesians 2:11-13

In this section, Paul reminds the Ephesians of what they were before they were converted.

1) uncircumcised and looked down on by the Jews.

2) without Christ... The most sad and deplorable condition possible, as he goes on to explain.

3) alienated from the people of God, with no rights of citizens of the kingdom of God.

"commonwealth" The word means administration of civil affairs, citizenship, rights of a citizen. Members of the old nation of Israel naturally had the physical rights of citizens of God's kingdom on earth, but even those "Israelites" had to have the circumcised heart in order to claim the heavenly rights of God's people. They could only approach their King through the law of v. 15.

Paul has made it quite clear that only the grace of God through faith in Christ makes one a citizen of the Kingdom of God. No human works can be added to that faith, not birth, circumcision, baptism nor any other good works that might be done in the name of Christ.

"John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

4) Ephesians 2:12, 13. Strangers from the covenants (plural) of promise...

The Gentiles were strangers from God on two counts: One, they were non-Israelites and, two, they were lost sinners. The Israelites were strangers from God on only one count: They were lost sinners.

It is "the blood of Christ" that joins Jews and Gentiles as common heirs to the promise given by God to Abraham. (We have looked at those promises in Gen 12.) Furthermore, "the blood of Christ" made both Jews and Gentiles "accepted in the beloved", and joint heirs with Christ. (Eph 1:6)

"Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together."

2 Corinthians 1:20 "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."

Galatians 3:6-8 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."

Galatians 4:7 "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

The Gentiles of old had no right nor title to the commonwealth of Israel which had the promises of God as given to Abraham. But now by grace through faith, and through "the blood of Christ", the promises given to Abraham belong to all who have been saved.

Even in the Old testament, the promises of God had to be claimed by faith, for it was unbelief that kept the Old Testament people of God out of the promised land of Palestine, Hebrews 3:19, 4:6.

5) having no hope... We saw last time that hopelessness is the most miserable condition a person can be in. Job, in his hopelessness cursed the day he was born and desired death. We are living in a generation of no hope, because the world and the devil have done all they can do to remove the Biblical hope what once was so common in Christianity. And of course, the flesh welcomes that removal of "hope thou in God', because it allows man to be his own god.

6) and without God in the world... Everyone has a general knowledge of God, but He can only be truly known through His Son, Christ Jesus. And the world is doing all it can to separate their idea of God from His Son. The world's problem can be summed up: without Christ and without God in the world.

V. 13. Typical of the word of God, God paints a most terrible and depressing picture of fallen man. The dark clouds roll and threaten, and then the light of God shines through:

Ephesians 2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

"the blood of Christ" places all men on equal footing before God. All are sinners in need of the His cleansing of the blood.

Faith makes one a member of God's new human race, which is found in the Gospel Church, of which Christ is the head.

Christ reconciled His people with the Father. His deposit into our account equals what we owe to the Father for our sin.

"2 Corinthians 6:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Who enjoys reconciling a bank statement? The internet has made it much easier, where you can log into your account and get a daily record of deposits and withdrawals.

Note v. 18: hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation... Our reconciliation places an obligation on us to work to see that others enjoy the same reconciliation with the Father through Christ that we received by faith.

The Hidden Mystery Revealed

Ephesians 2:14-22, which actually goes to 3:14

The mystery of the Gospel was given by the ancient prophets, yet its understanding was hidden from them. Peter was the first to present the gospel to the Gentiles, but he was not called to explain the ancient mystery. In Acts 9 the Lord called Paul. Ephesians 3:1-7, Paul tells the Ephesians that he was not only given the task of evangelizing and starting new churches, but he was given supernatural understanding to explain the ancient mystery.

Ephesians 2:20. Every Christian doctrine must be built upon the foundation in the New Testament Apostles and the Old Testament prophets. When the Old Testament law and prophets are ignored, the Christian faith can become anything but Christian. In fact, we can say it becomes pagan under the name Christian, as the Apostles' doctrine is greatly corrupted beyond recognition..

God's people are not being taught the entire word of God, particularly the law and the prophets upon which the gospel is based. Not knowing the prophets, even those who profess to believe the Bible are easy prey to the many winds of false doctrine that have been blowing since the beginning of the Gospel Church. Our day certainly is not unique in history.

There are many examples of that corruption. Probably the most important is the corruption of the Gospel as found in the "Sinner's Prayer": That is, "Ask Jesus into your heart", or "Turn your life over to God", and numerous other foolish ideas which avoid sin, repentance and conversion through faith in the substitution of Christ. Without those things, another god is being sought.

A prayer never saved anyone, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;" The prayer with the mouth only confesses what the man in his heart is doing. In other words, one must understand and trust in the redemptive work of Christ, or there can be no salvation.

Easy Believeism:

The modern, damming gospel offers eternal life without understanding the redemptive work of Christ, and the required trust in that redemptive work. Eternal life is offered with no understanding of sin, no conviction of sin, no genuine repentance, and no submission to the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and master,

The modern sinless gospel is sending great multitudes of people to eternal damnation. The true gospel is clearly illustrated in the sacrificial laws of Moses.

According to the Law of Moses, the blood of an innocent victim had to be shed. In that sacrifice, the sinner was showing that he knew he was a sinner, and that he should die for his sins. But he was depending on the required innocent victim to die in his place.

God made the first animal sacrifice for Adam and Eve to cover their sin. He also gave a one-sided covenant to Adam that one day, the Perfect Sacrifice for sin would come. By one-sided, I mean that no matter what man did, God was going to provide that Perfect Sacrifice. That covenant can be traced to Christ through Noah, Abraham and David.

From that time in the Garden, the sinner knew that his sacrifice was looking forward to the coming Messiah, and the Messiah's sacrifice would remove his sins. The Book of Hebrews fully explained that Old Testament covenant in the light of the Sacrifice of Christ.

2:15. The modern salvation message is as far divorced from the Old Testament law as anything can possibly be. In fact, the implications of the "Sinner's Prayer" without the understanding Moses is beyond foolish . In light of the book of Hebrews and the Old Testament law of the sacrifices, the "Sinner's Prayer" would go something like this: "Ask the bullock to come into your heart", or "Turn your life over to the bullock".

The gospel is built on the Old Testament sacrifice of an innocent victim in place of the sinner. The gospel is that God the Father took on the body of flesh, and "the man Christ Jesus" lived a perfect life. His sacrifice "abolished the enmity..." God's call provides the grace to turn the sinner's heart to faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice, and to submit to the Lord Jesus. Then the wall of the Old Testament sacrificial laws that separated Jews and Gentiles, and that separated the sinner from the Father is removed through Christ's sacrifice.

Ephesians 2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

"the blood of Christ" places all men on equal footing before God. All are sinners in need of the His cleansing of the blood.

Faith makes one a member of God's new human race, which is found in the Gospel Church of which Christ is the head.

Christ reconciled His people with the Father and with one another. His deposit into our account equals what we owe to the Father for our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

"Vv. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."

Reconcile... to call back into union and friendship the affections which have been alienated; to restore to friendship or favor after estrangement; as, to reconcile men or parties that have been at variance.

"Ephesians 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"

Example: Husband and wife, family members need to reconciled. For several years, Jessica withstood me for remarrying after her mother died. But the birth of their first child 4 years caused her to reconcile, and we have a very good relationship now.

We have been reconciled to the Father which means we are to try to help others to be reconciled to the Father also.

Christ made it clear that now the approach to the Father is available for whosoever will:

"John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him."

Ephesians 2:20. Every New Testament doctrine must have its foundation in the Old Testament law and prophets.

Many references have been made to the Bereans in Acts 17:10-13. Though the people at Berea "received the word with all readiness of mind", they still "search the scriptures daily" to make sure "whether those things were so." After searching the scriptures, "many of them believed."

The first church where I was a full-time staff member in 1970 was named the "Berean Gospel Temple". The name implied that they searched the scriptures, but as I look back, I see they did not search the scripture, for many unscriptural practices and doctrines were common. I was there for about a year and a half.

"Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,..."

Let us look at a prophetic foundation upon which the Gospel Church is built as explained by Paul through supernatural revelation. The gospel of Christ could not be more clearly illustrated.

I realize that I give far too much detail, but I get excited as I see how the entire word of God fits together to present one united message. I feel as though the clear picture of Christ is compromised when details are ignored. We have seen how the gospel is easily corrupted without the details given in the law and prophets. So please bear with me as I give too many details as we look at the clear presentation of the mystery of Christ from a major prophet.

"2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

What part of "all scripture" is unnecessary to furnish us unto all good works?

Ezekiel 37, 38, 38 show us that God's warfare against evil and wickedness in this world was transferred from a literal warfare of blood and guts to a spiritual warfare. Ancient Israel took the physical land of Palestine with a literal sword. We will see in Ephesians 6, that God's people today are to conquer the world with the spiritual sword, the Word of God.

Our marching orders are given:

"Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Did our Leader give an order that was impossible to fulfill?

"1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."

Our weapons for victory are provided:

"2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

Note that the major battle ground for this warfare is the mind and imagination.

"Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

We will develop chapter 6 when we get there.

"Joshua 10:25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."

Our goal is to conquer the world for Christ.

"Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."

Our victory is assured, if we will follow the Captain of the Lord's host, or army.

"2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."

How foolish to think that Christ would command His followers in Matthew to go Christianize the nations without giving them to means to do it, and the assurance of victory. Many people have cut Matthew 28:19, 20 out of God's word because it does not fit their depressing and hopeless theology.

We saw in Ezekiel 37:1-14, that by the breath of the Spirit of God, a mighty army was raised up from a disorganized pile of dry bones. That mighty army is the New Testament Church which was brought forth out of the dead bones of Old Testament Israel:

"Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

The book of Acts records the rapid expansion of the Gospel of Christ in the old Israel, which was the foundation of the new race of God's people, the Church.

The life to the dead bones was brought about by the preaching of the gospel of Christ, Ezekiel 37:4. Just as God breathed life into Adam, so He breaths life into the Elect, the New Army of God, the Church. Who can bring himself to new life out of death in trespasses and sins?

1 John tells us of the battle between the spirit of the anti-Christ and the spirit of the Christ. That war and the Gospel victory was prophesied in Ezekiel 38, 39. The apostles tell us of that warfare, and they assure us of victory if we will properly use the weapons of victory provided in places like Ephesians 6.

The great temple of Ezekiel's vision after the Spirit provided victory in chapter 39 is the church wherein the Spirit of Christ dwells, for there can no longer be blood sacrifices. Hebrews 10:29.

Again, too many details, but those who do not understand the scriptural origin of false doctrine are in danger.

Keil (1807-1888) on Ezekiel 37:

37:26. Thus does this prophecy of Ezekiel span the whole future of the people of God even to eternity. But the promise in which it culminates, namely, that the Lord will erect His sanctuary in the midst of His restored people, and there take up His abode above them for ever...

There two completely different views of Ezekiel chapter 37 through the end of the book.

First view: Those who follow the "Jew's religion" expect the Messiah to come back to reestablish the literal kingdom of David. He will physically rule over a restored Palestine, rebuild the temple on a literal Mount Zion and restore the law of Moses which requires the sacrificial worship, contrary to Ephesians 2:15, and Hebrews 10:29.

The restored kingdom and law of Moses will demand the death penalty for failing to worship the Messiah-King ruling from Jerusalem.

Included in the literal understanding is the belief that 37:24, "And David my servant shall be king over them" requires a literal resurrected David to personally reign over God's covenant people from Jerusalem. (John 11:43: "Lazarus, come forth.")

They believe that Christ Himself must reign from Jerusalem during the coming 1000 year millennium. And thus we have two rulers, a physically resurrected David and a physical Christ sitting on the same throne of authority over the restored literal Israel. An impossible situation.

Though I was raised in the literal school of thought, I could not accept it. About 15 years ago, I got a book out of my dad's library. It was an 1858 commentary by Patrick Fairbairn on Ezekiel. His explanation is the only one that makes since in light of v. 24.

Second view: On the grounds of the New Testament explanation by the Apostles, particularly Ephesians, we see the fulfillment of Ezekiel is the Gospel Church. In this view, the temple's sacrificial worship is replaced by the everlasting and perfect sacrifice of Christ's atoning sacrifice. He abolished the Old Testament form of the kingdom of God, including the old covenant land of Canaan, and His kingdom now claims the whole earth as the new Kingdom of God. Ephesians 2:20, that new Kingdom is built on the Jesus Christ, and must spread over the whole earth through the preaching of the gospel of redemption and peace with God and man.

"1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

As we saw in Romans 4:13, Godly worship under the covenant is spiritual worship, and is to spread over the whole earth.

The new Mt Zion or the New Jerusalem is wherever Christians worship God in spirit and in truth. Revelation 21:2 ("And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.") identifies the New Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ, which according to Paul is the Church.

"2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ."

Where two or more are gathered in Christ's name, they represent the new Mt Zion, or the New Jerusalem. A husband and wife joined in common worship of the King represent the New Jerusalem. As we go about our daily activities, we are ambassadors of the new Kingdom of God on earth, or the New Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 37:15-28 After the first resurrection of Ezekiel 37:1-14, we have the mystery of the uniting of two groups of people into one. They have only one King over them. And that King was to be a son of David. The united people would dwell forever under that glorious King in the land given to them from the beginning.

Ezekiel 37:15ff contains one of the most glorious prophecies of the magnificent splendors of the Kingdom of God which was to be established under the rule of "David, my servant". V. 24.

"Ezekiel 37:15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. 21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all (1): 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more (2) with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: (3) and my servant David shall be their prince for ever (4). 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant (5) with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. (6) 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.(7)"

Note 7 everlasting promises.

There are more New Testament fulfillments of the requirements of this prophecy than we can possibly look at. If you will mediate a few moments on each point, you will be reminded of may more than what I list here.

First, v. 17, they shall become one. Ephesians 2:14-19. The whole of the true covenant people had to be united, or formed into one body in brotherly harmony with one another, and with one mind one with another.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, [be ye] all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, [be] pitiful, [be] courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."

Second, v. 22. Ephesians 2:12, 19. Ezekiel tells us that there can only be one body, or one household, for they have only one Head, one body, one temple, one high priest, one king, one location and one commonwealth/household or nation.

"Psalms 48:1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. 2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."

"Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

"Hebrews 3:6 But Christ (identified as the Son of David) as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."

"Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

The 12 tribes broke up under Jeruboam as a chastisement upon the house of David. Their continuance in sin caused them to be scattered to the four winds.

The re-gathering as recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah cannot be the fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy, for that re-gathering was under Cyrus and Darius, kings of Persia, Ezra 4. That re-gathering was not "everlasting".

Persia owned the land, and the king gave permission to rebuild the temple, and even helped finance the rebuilding.

A speaker on NPR mentioned in passing the other day that when the US overthrew the Shaw of Iran, (which is Persia) he was the last of the line of the Persian kings.

Ezekiel told the Jews that the re-gathering had everlasting and to be to their own land, but the literal land to where they re-gathered was never their own land again. Even in Christ's day, it belonged to Rome.

The modern re-gathering was because Brittan bulldozed the inhabitants off the land, and gave it a name, Israel. That re-gathering has resulted in anything but everlasting peace. Rather, everlasting war and bloodshed

Third, 37:24, Ephesians 1:19-23 (v. 22 "And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,") Ephesians 2:14-19. The people of the covenant must be united into one nation in one land and under one king. They had to be united in a brotherly union, and that union must be connected with the house of David, for "my servant David" must rule over them.

"Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?"

The covenant with His people is an "everlasting covenant of peace". That covenant is with the spiritual seed of Abraham, not the literal seed of Abraham.

Galatians 3:6-29

"Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Fourth, vv. 23, 24. The covenant had to include forgiveness of sin, and conversion from the idolatrous heart to a heart that loves God and desires to please Him. This re-gathered people will willingly do His judgments and statutes.

"Hebrews 8:10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Romans 11:27

Fifth, v. 23, "out of all their dwellingplaces". Ephesians 2:17. Their salvation takes place no matter where in the world they might be located, and they are drawn to a central location, which is Christ.

"John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me."

Sixth, v. 25, the thought of "for ever" is used 7 times in this short passage. Ephesians 1:21-23 speaks of Christ's everlasting dominion "over all things to the church." That is, only the Elect understand that during this point in history that Christ has total dominion over "all things" in heaven, earth and under the earth. Only a spiritual understanding of Ezekiel 27 will work, for the seed of David must reign over God's heritage for ever and ever. .

"1 Peter 5:11 To him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

"Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

Seventh, vv. 25, 26. Ephesians 2:22. The "tabernacle" and the "sanctuary" of God with men was a key part of the mystery of the gospel church.

"John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
"1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
"1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
"Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
"Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;"

Eighth, v. 25. Ephesians 2:5, 6. Ezekiel speaks of an everlasting home for the covenant people, where they are ruled by "my servant David" for ever.

"Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."

The "better country" is the everlasting, heavenly city where the King of kings rules unchallenged.

Finally, v. 28. The Lord must sanctify His covenant people. Ephesians 2:10. It is the godly life of His people in the midst of the heathen that shows the glory of God.

"Romans 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
"1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:"
"1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
"Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

Only the Son of David can bring in everlasting righteousness and justice. Only the Son of David can "sanctify" the covenant-people. Only the Son of David can provide hope in a world determined to remove all hope in God through the blood of Christ. Only through the Son of David can the blessings of God flow to His people.

Ezekiel's prophecy was not new, for it had already been unfolded in chapters 34 and 36.

That there can be no adequate literal fulfillment of this prophecy is clear. There was a limited return and uniting of the tribes of Israel in a land that was not their own, but that return fell far short of fulfilling Ezekiel 37.

Ephesians 2:14, 15 "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;"

The mystery was the coming of "the everlasting Father to dwell among His creation. He came to willingly offer His body for the sacrifice for the sins of His people. Though that sacrifice, He united two nations into one under one King. The old fleshly kingdom of God named Israel was removed, to be replaced with the new spiritual kingdom, named the Israel of God. Through His sacrifice, He brought everlasting righteousness and justice.

The mighty and wondrous workings of the Eternal God to bring about this unity and forgiveness of sin shows "the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us, Jews and Gentiles, through Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:7.

Only the Son of David can "sanctify" the covenant-people. It is only through the Son of David that the blessings of God can flow to His people.

Let me conclude Paul's explanation of the mystery with this:

The question of who was the true seed of Israel and heir to the promises of God to Abraham was settled very early in church history, and remained settled until the early well over 1500 years.

Justin Martyr [AD 110-165] Before AD 160, Justin had a very lengthy argument against the same Jewish thought that Paul spoke so much against; that is, the Jewish idea was that a physical race was the heir to the promises given to Abraham.

Justin's argument clearly applies to any idea that a physical race of any kind is heir to the promises of God, whether that race is the white race, the black race, the green race or a yellow race that might claim to be able to trace a linage back to Abraham.

Using an abundance of Scripture, Justin proved that the promises have always been, are and will always be claimed by faith. I will not bore you with his many points of proof.

What more can we say??