Real Life Expository Study Devotional: through the salvation and unity of Jews and Gentiles, God raised unto Himself a chosen people — the Church.

Day 29:  The mystery of salvation and authority of the Church.

 

‘‘And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.’’ Eph. 1: 22 – 23.

Additional reading: Matt. 28: 18; Rom. 8: 38; Phil. 2: 9 – 10; Heb. 2: 7

The assignment God has given this new generation of people — the Church — Christians is soul winning — preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth and testifying of our salvation experiences — ‘‘that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ — that once we had no identity as a people; now we are God’s people. Once we received no mercy; now we have received God’s mercy. Our assignment as the Church of Jesus Christ is to enforce and maintain His victory over the forces of darkness by testifying His goodness and exercising the heavenly authority handed down the Church. To get a clearer picture of this, we must study the above.

The book Ephesians is one of those Paul wrote while in Roman prison. This book reveals the ‘mystery’ of the Church, i.e. God’s secret plan for redemption, which is to form a body to reflect Jesus’ fullness on earth, to bring salvation to all mankind and unite both the Jews and Gentiles and to equip and empower His body to enforce and maintain Christ’s victory and authority over all Satanic powers and influence.

To this end Paul wrote: ‘‘God has revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfil his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.’’ (Eph. 1: 9 – 10 NLT). God’s mystery is that at the right time He will bring everything in heaven and on earth under the authority of Jesus Christ. This authority is to be exercised by His body, which He has united as one, i.e. the Church.

Mystery could best be said to be an event or situation that is difficult to fully understand or explain. It is also an unknown thing or secret. Read this: ‘‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.’’ (1 Cor. 2: 7 – 10).

The mystery in question was concealed from the rulers of this age — Satan and his cohorts. Men of old had no knowledge of this mystery — the hidden secret. Angels also sort to know it, but they too could not comprehend. But it has been revealed in our time through God’s Spirit. Paul explains the mystery more in detail:

‘‘[This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles (consecrated messengers) and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit. [It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel).’’ (Eph. 3: 5 – 6 AMP).

The crux of the mystery is this: that the Gentiles who had no previous dealings with God, and were not partakers of His covenant blessings would be united with the Jews as one body in Christ and become God’s chosen people and share in all of God’s divine inheritance, while enforcing and maintaining Christ’s victory and authority on earth. This event — the salvation of Gentile nations and their unity with the Jews in Christ is a mystery because it is beyond human comprehension.

In a bid to get the Church understand this mystery, which was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit and his earnest desire to have the Church know her glorious inheritance in Christ, Paul prayed:

‘‘For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe him. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.’’ (Eph. 1: 15 – 21 NIV).

Against the backdrop of this great mystery, which he had received the revelation, he prayed God that the Church would have a clear understanding of it too. He prayed that the Church may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know God better, and the eyes of their hearts been enlightened — opened to know the hope of their calling, their inheritance and power in Christ.

Except the Church had a clear understanding of this mystery, the work of Christ on the cross might not be effective as desired. Without this knowledge, the Church could best be likened to a prince going about naked and hungry for lack of knowledge of his princely inheritance. Please note Peter’s description of the Church: ‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ To fit into this description, the Church must have a grasp of Paul’s earnest prayers.

 

So what does the Church share in common with Christ?

 

‘‘And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.’’ The Contemporary English Version puts it this way: ‘‘God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.’’

 

God placed Jesus Christ above all powers in heaven and earth following His mighty victory at the cross — He put all things under the power of Christ. Note this: ‘‘…and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.’’ For the good of the Church — you and I — and not for anyone else, God made Him to be head of everything. It does not stop there; it says that the Church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ! What does this mean?

 

It means that the fullness of Christ — everything that makes Him Jesus Christ, the Son of God dwells richly in the Church — in full measure. This means the Church is the express image of Jesus Christ as He is the express image of God.

 

‘‘God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.’’ This scripture makes it clear that the Church should maximize the fullness of Christ’s potentials in order to continue in the Great Commission while exercising authority over all rulers of this age. ‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’

 

The mystery could be concluded thus: through the salvation and unity of Jews and Gentiles, God raised unto Himself a chosen people — the Church — to demonstrate His power to the ends of the earth and over the rulers of this age — Satanic forces and influences.

 

Meditation:  For my good Jesus returned victoriously from the cross!

 

Prayer: Help me Father that my eyes of understanding may be opened that I will know the glorious inheritance I have in You.

 

Questions: (1) What is the mystery? (2) What are the components of Paul’s prayer? (3) For whose good did God put all powers  under Jesus Christ?

 

 

 

 

 

Real Life Bible Study

Real Life Bible Study Plan

Memory Verse: ”But the LORD God felt sorry for his people, and instead of destroying the temple, he sent prophets who warned the people over and over about their sins. But the people only laughed and insulted these prophets. They ignored what the LORD God was trying to tell them, until he finally became so angry that nothing could stop him from punishing Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 CEV

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 40, 41; Revelations 12

Real Life Expository Study Devotional:Clearly sir, this chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people is the Church that has been given an assignment. What is that assignment? ‘‘…God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things he has done.’’

Day 28:  The LORD’s chosen.

 

‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ 1 Pet. 2: 9

 

Additional reading: Deut. 4: 20; 10: 15; Isa. 62: 12; Act. 26: 18; Rev. 5: 10

 

I said this yesterday: though Gentiles were so far away and separated from God, we have been drawn near and made to become citizens with God’s holy people. In fact, Gentiles are no more Gentiles — people without God, but are now members of God’s family and together with the Jews that believe are now His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Jesus Christ Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. And guess what that house is? That house is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ — both Jews and Gentiles are now part of His dwelling place — the Church where God lives by His Spirit.

Apostle Peter in his first epistle to the ‘‘Dispersed,’’ i.e. strangers (predominantly Gentile Christians) scattered throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor on account of persecution they faced said: ‘‘All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.’’ (I Pet. 1: 3 – 4 NLT).

Because we have been born again — reconciled to God through the death of Jesus Christ, we have become citizens of God’s Kingdom and partakers of all God’s promises on earth and in heaven. For this reason, we live with great expectation because we have a priceless inheritance in heaven — pure and undefiled — incorruptible — beyond the reach of change and decay. I want to remind you again and again that we were once no bodies. But presently, our identity has changed.

I would again stress exactly what Paul pointed out earlier on but from Peter’s words: ‘‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’’ (I Pet. 2: 10 NLT).

Do you see the connection here? Once we had no identity as a people because we were without God and His mercy. But when we became born again having received the mercies of God through Jesus Christ, we became citizens of God’s Kingdom — now we are God’s people — with an identity.

Exactly what kind of people are we? What is our identity? Now read this: ‘‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’ This is our new identity.

What the bible is saying is that by our faith, we are not like the unbelieving Jews that rejected Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Verses 5 – 8 give a picture of the attitude of the Jews towards the Gospel. Most rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, the Gospel was widely accepted amongst the Gentiles.

I would like to zero in on the word ‘chosen.’ Chosen is derived from the Greek word eklektos meaning out of, to pick, gather. Therefore, it denotes one picked out from amongst many others — people, nations, etc for a particular or special assignment. This explains why after Apostle Peter had outlined our new identity — chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people…; he ended the verse by outlining our assignment — ‘‘that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’’

If you look carefully, you will observe a punctuation mark at the end of the first part of verse 9, and that is a semi colon — it was used to separate the two parts of that verse to establish the relationship between them. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people — with an assignment.

Clearly sir, this chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people is the Church that has been given an assignment. What is that assignment? ‘‘…God has brought you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things he has done.’’ (CEV). The assignment God has given this new generation of people — the Church — Christians is soul winning — preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth and testifying of our salvation experiences that once we had no identity as a people; now we are God’s people. Once we received no mercy; now we have received God’s mercy. Our assignment as the Church of Jesus Christ is to enforce and maintain His victory over the forces of darkness by testifying His goodness and exercising the heavenly authority handed down the Church.

This was the very assignment God purposed to give His first nation, but they failed Him. Will the Church bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ fail God too?

Meditation: So my new identity came with an assignment!

Prayer: Though I never knew that my new identity came with an assignment, I ask for an understanding of my role in this assignment.

Questions: (1) What is our new identity? (2) What is the assignment? (3) What role can you play towards achieving this assignment?

Real Life Expository Study Devotional:Gentiles are no more Gentiles — people without God, but are now members of God’s family and together with the Jews

Day 27:  The Jews, Jesus and the Gentiles.

 

‘‘And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 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.’’ Eph. 2: 1 – 2.

 

Additional reading: Eph. 4: 18; 6: 12; Col. 1: 21; 2: 13; 3: 6

Paul sounded a note of caution yesterday: ‘‘Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.’’  He declared to the church in Rome that at a time they were Gentiles that the Jews who received the promise of God first were rejected for their unbelief, but they were saved because of their faith in Christ. However, he warned that their salvation should not be a reason for them to become proud or begin to look down on the Jews.

Describing the saved Gentiles who were members of the church in Rome as wild olive tree, Paul said: ‘‘You Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut off from it. And because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree. But don’t think that you are better than the branches that were cut away. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.’’ (Vv. 17 – 18 CEV). The Gentile who now believe in Christ by faith and were now members of the body of Christ, i.e. the church were simply described as wild olive tree that was grafted in — ‘‘…made to be part of a cultivated olive tree…’’ By simple deduction, Paul said that before conversion and before being made to be part of the cultivated olive tree, Gentiles lacked character, were not under control — were wild by nature.

It was against this backdrop that Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus reminded the brethren thus: ‘‘And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 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.’’ (Eph. 2: 1 – 2).

The best description for anyone in this state is a wild person lacking the righteous character of God. Paul said this was our state — dead in sin and trespass — completely given to sin and completely unaware of anything good — we had gone wild till we became part of the cultivated olive tree. We were quickened — brought back to the life of righteousness and holiness — spiritually dead, i.e. separated from God because of sin but when we accepted Christ through faith, our dead spirit man that was separated from God became alive and all Gentiles became part of the Household of God.

Interestingly, Paul made a remarkable statement: ‘‘All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.’’ (V. 3 NLT). When Paul said, ‘‘all of us,’’ he was simply referring to his fellow Jews. So it was not only Gentiles that lived riotous lives, even Jews did. They also needed to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ and not by dead works, (Vv. 4 – 7).

But permit me to say that though both Jews and Gentiles lived riotous lives, the Jews remained God’s chosen race, the Gentiles were simply a bunch of people without God — had no previous dealings with God — neither they nor their ancestors. It was by God’s demonstration of grace on account of His love occasioned by the Jews’ rejection of the Gospel that Gentiles were made part of the cultivated olive tree. By this action, both Jews and Gentiles became one that which separated these two separate people was dislodged.

Now read this and compare Paul’s declaration here with that recorded in Romans 11: ‘‘Therefore, remember that at one time you were Gentiles (heathens) in the flesh, called Uncircumcision by those who called themselves Circumcision, [itself a mere mark] in the flesh made by human hands. [Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messiacnic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenant]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God.’’ (Eph. 2: 11 – 12 AMP). Paul was simply telling the church in Ephesus and by extension all Christians that they needed to know their state in time past so as to appreciate the goodness of God and continue in it.

According to Paul, all Christians were at a time Gentiles — heathens, called Uncircumcision by the Circumcision, i.e. the Jews. And because they were Gentiles, they lived apart — separated and completely excluded from all part in Christ and in God. As a matter of fact, all Gentiles were estranged and outlawed — God had no feelings of affection towards Gentiles and we had no legal rights to God’s promises to Israel. Gentiles we strangers and had no share in God’s covenant relationship with Israel. This is simply what Gentiles were in time past — a no body.

Then something happened: ‘‘But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ have been brought near. For He is [Himself] our peace (our bond of unity and harmony), He has made us both [Jews and Gentiles] one [body], and has broken (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us, By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled]; that He from the two might create in Himself  one new man [one new quality of humanity out of the two], so making peace.’’ (Vv. 13 – 15 AMP).

Through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross, Gentiles that were no bodies and were so far away from God have been brought near God. By this too, both Jews and Gentiles have been united and have become one people — God through Jesus Christ has created for Himself a specie of people out of Jews and Gentiles — the wall that separated these two people have been broken by His death.

So what benefit is this to Gentiles? ‘‘So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his spirit.’’ (Vv. 19 – 22 NLT). What a blessed conclusion!

Though Gentiles were so far away and separated from God, we have been drawn near and made to become citizens with God’s holy people. In fact, Gentiles are no more Gentiles — people without God, but are now members of God’s family and together with the Jews that believe are now His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Jesus Christ Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. And guess what that house is? That house is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ — both Jews and Gentiles are now part of His dwelling place — the Church where God lives by His Spirit.

Meditation: Can anything be more refreshing than this; that though I was a no body, by Christ I have become unique in His sight. That though I was estranged and outlawed from all rights, I am now a citizen and have all rights to every covenant and all blessings!

Prayer: Thank You for giving me dignity, which I never had. Thank You for drawing me to Yourself and restoring me, something I could never have done.

Questions: (1) Briefly describe the state of Gentiles as above without Christ. (2) What are the benefits of Jesus Christ and the cross? (3) What is the make-up of the Church?

Real Life Expository Study Devotional:Day

The Gentiles now the church of our Lord Jesus Christ was a wild olive tree that was joint to a cultivated olive tree, therefore, we must not be carried away, pride must not have a place in our hearts because if we do not continue in God’s goodness and in the faith of our Lord as taught by the apostles, we will be rejected — cut off too

Day 26:  But watch it!

 

‘‘Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.’’ Rom. 11: 20 – 21

 

Additional reading: Prov. 28: 14; Isa. 66: 2; Eph. 6: 5; Phil. 2: 12

God rejected His first church (the congregation of Israel that came out from Egypt), which He raised through Abraham because they sought after God through the works of their hands. Can God also deal in the same measure, if His second church, which He has raised through His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ fails Him?

It is a fact that the rejection of Israel ushered in the salvation of all nations just as God promised Abraham that through him all nations of the earth will be blessed. However, this is not to say that those who believe now should go on sinning that grace may abound. Paul was quick to warn: ‘‘Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.’’

‘‘Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded [hypselophroneo … to be lofty in mind, i.e. arrogant], but fear [phobeo … to frighten, to be in awe of, i.e. revere, reverence]: For if God spared [pheidomai … to be chary of, to abstain, or to treat leniently] not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.’’

Paul warned that the church should not be arrogant — proud, rather we should live in reverence or awe of God knowing that if God did not shy away from taking a severe action against Israel (the natural branch) or treat their unbelief with leniency, the church will no wise get a better treatment — God will not be lenient, will not be cautious, will not be reluctant to deal decisive with anyone who went against His divine order.

‘‘…So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.’’ (NLT). ‘‘So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green. If God didn’t think twice about taking pruning shears to the natural branches, why should he hesitate over you? he won’t give a second thought.’’ (MSG). This warning is clear enough.

Before now, Paul had made a distinction between the natural branches, i.e. the Jews and the Gentiles he described as wild olive tree that was grafted into the main body to partake of the riches of the natural branches. Still talking in the same vein, he declared: ‘‘You Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut off from it. And because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree. But don’t think that you are better than the branches that were cut away. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.’’ (Vv. 17 – 18 CEV).

The Gentiles now the church of our Lord Jesus Christ was a wild olive tree that was joint to a cultivated olive tree, therefore, we must not be carried away, pride must not have a place in our hearts because if we do not continue in God’s goodness and in the faith of our Lord as taught by the apostles, we will be rejected — cut off too, God will not bat an eyelid about it. We must not think that we are in any way better than the Jews — why? ‘‘..Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.’’

The church must, therefore, watch it as it stands the risk of being cut off. The life of every member of the church should be in holy reverence of the LORD if Christ is to receive her as His bride on the last day.

Meditation: So I risk losing eternity if I do not continue in the goodness of God and in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer: My strength may fail me but I pray that You help my faith by the Holy Spirit.

Questions: (1) How did Paul describe Gentiles? (2) What must the church do to inherit eternal salvation?