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Getting to Know . . . Ephesians Chapter 2! (Part 1: WHAT WE WERE!)

Friends: My next trip to work with Cedarcroft BIble Chapel is fast approaching.  I will speak both Sundays (Jan. 27 and Feb. 3), as well as teach two Sunday School classes.  For the two Sunday School classes I’ve been asked to cover Ephesians 2.  What a great chapter!

The first Sunday, January 27, is to cover Ephesians 2:1-10.  Let’s look at that text carefully this morning:

Here are some preliminary notes that I’ve taken on this incredible passage:
1. I’ve experimented a bit with colors.  The BLUE represents what we were B.C. (before we trusted Christ as our Savior).  The RED stands for what the Lord did for us.  The GREEN what impact His actions had or is having in our lives.
2. Let’s think about WHAT WE WERE B.C.  Verse 1 says we were “dead in [our] transgressions and sins.”  The word “transgression” (παράβασις) literally means “a going aside, overstepping, deviation” and comes from two words meaning “contrary” and “to go.”

Let’s think about this term TRANSGRESSIONS:  It is used 7 times in the NT: Rom. 2:23 (a breaking of the Law); 4:15 (where there is no law, there is no transgression); 5:14 (a reference to Adam’s transgression) (the Law was added because of transgressions); Gal. 3:19; I Tim. 2:14 (Eve was deceived and fell into transgression); Heb. 2:2 (every violation and every disobedience received its just punishment); and Heb. 9:15 (for the redemption of the transgressions/sins committed under the first covenant.

We were dead in our overstepping, our deviation, from God’s laws!  But, thank God!, those transgressions can be redeemed by the Lord!

Let’s think about the term SINS (v. 1).  The term “sin” is the common word ἁμαρτία and is used 173 times in the New Testament and indicates “wrongdoing, any act contrary to the will and law of God, offense.”  We were DEAD in our transgressions and sins!  Some of us haven’t attended our own spiritual funerals, have we?  We must acknowledge our demise in our sins.

We have interesting ways of describing someone’s death in our culture, don’t we?  They have “passed away,” “passed on,” or simply “passed.”  More colloquially, they have “bought the farm.” People need to realize that before God and before they trust Christ as their Savior, they are DEAD!  They have nothing to offer the Lord.  If they are to be saved, that saving action will have to come from outside themselves!

Prayer for Today:  “Lord, please refresh my mind with Your truth. I need to be reminded of my previous condition of deadness before You.  Thank You for doing what needed to be done to save me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 


 
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Posted by on January 6, 2019 in ephesians 2

 

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Several Quotes from R.C. Sproul (d. 2017) on DEATH

The Pittsburgh native attended Westminster College for its football program—not its Presbyterian affiliation. But he ended up coming to faith early in his college career through the team’s captain. He shared his testimony with CT in 2002, saying:

[The football captain] quoted Ecclesiastes 11:3: “Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” I just feel certain I’m the only person in church history that was converted by that verse. God just took that verse and struck my soul with it. I saw myself as a log that was rotting in the woods. And I was going nowhere.  When I left that guy’s table I went up to my room. And into my room by myself, in the dark, and got on my knees and cried out to God to forgive me.

The author of Chosen By God, The Holiness of God, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, and many other books, Sproul wrote about passing away for Tabletalk magazine in 2011, exploring the gain for a believer to die and be with Christ.

“When we close our eyes in death, we do not cease to be alive; rather, we experience a continuation of personal consciousness. No person is more conscious, more aware, and more alert than when he passes through the veil from this world into the next,” he wrote, six years before passing away in a suburban Orlando hospital.

“Far from falling asleep, we are awakened to glory in all of its significance. For the believer, death does not have the last word. Death has surrendered to the conquering power of the One who was resurrected as the firstborn of many brethren.”

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2018 in death

 

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The Grim Reaper — and Appliances?!?!? (a great commercial)

I think the following commercial is well-done (although there seems to be a lot of online complaints about this company). I cracked up at the line “but I do spin class” (which my wife Linda does)! Your comments?

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in death

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 18

Jesus’ weeping at Lazarus’ tomb produced two reactions from the Jews who were observing. Some said, “See how He loved him!” Others said, “Why didn’t He keep him from dying? He opened the eyes of the blind man!” Let’s look at this section of John 11 once more …

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

There is no record of Jesus responding to those two reactions, either His love for Lazarus or His inaction in preventing him from dying.

We do read the following: “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.” (v. 38). I had never noticed the “once more deeply moved” before.

This seems to indicate that Jesus broke down and wept before He went to Lazarus’ tomb and a second time when He arrived there. John the gospel writer could have written, “And Jesus wept a second time,” couldn’t he?

We aren’t told the details of Jesus’ “once-more-being-deeply-moved,” but perhaps it was more than tears of sympathy. Perhaps there was also anger at the devastation that death had brought to those He loved.

But this was not the time for explanations. This was the time for action and Jesus commands those at the tomb, “Take away the stone.” (v. 39).

Not to over-spiritualize, but I’ve got some stones that keep me in a kind of deadness of unbelief. How about you? When things happen to me or my family that Jesus could have prevented, the easiest course of action is to doubt the Lord and His love for me. Am I the only one with these kinds of stones? (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in doubt

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 16

When I was a pre-teen, I could earn a week of summer camp by memorizing Bible verses. The first verse on my list, of course, was John 11:35, “And Jesus wept” (in the KJV, of course).

Why does Jesus weep? Let’s read over our text again to answer that question . . .

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

Death, any form of death, is devastating. We were not created to die. Death is an enemy, an invader, an invited invader because of our sin! Because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden, death has come upon all mankind. And the process culminating in death is allowed by God in most situations.

Jesus allows that process to reach its overwhelmingly grievous conclusion here in John 11. He could have prevented it. But He chose not to.

However, He was moved by the destructive effects of death. He sees Mary and the mourners weeping (loudly, no doubt), and He joins them in weeping.

Why? He knew within moments that He would gloriously raise Lazarus from the dead. But His omniscience does not overcome His humanity — and He weeps. He is personally driven to tears by the brokenness that sin and death inflict upon His world. And He takes the time to weep.

Could it be that Jesus still weeps? In heaven? Over those things that tear us, that break us down, that hurt us . . . and Him? (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in weeping

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 12

Why doesn’t the Lord always answer our prayers the way we want Him to? Could it be that He is wiser and His plans, often unseen and misunderstood by us, are far more critical than our relief or the resolution of our trial?

There is no doubt that Jesus purposely allowed His friend Lazarus to die. He did not come to His friend’s aid when He was summoned nor did He speak or think his friend’s healing into existence. He let him die.

When He arrived in Bethany, there was no doubt that Lazarus was dead. He had been in the tomb for four days. Let’s look over our section of this story one more time …

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Sometimes our greatest struggle with the Lord is not with what He does but with what He doesn’t do. And Martha doesn’t understand why Jesus wouldn’t drop everything and sprint the two miles to Bethany to rescue His friend.

Martha’s heart was stuck in the now. And Jesus seems to direct her attention to “the resurrection at the last day” (v. 24). But Martha did not realize she was speaking to “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25)! Rather than being a future event, the resurrection and the life is a Person, the Lord Jesus!

Far more is involved here than one man’s death. We read that Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (vv. 25-27).

Belief in Jesus is more vital than escape from physical death.  And the Lord who has the power over physical death sometimes uses the fact of physical death to save one from eternal death.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2017 in death

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 11

Distance and time should not inhibit the Lord from helping His friends, right? In at least one other miracle, Jesus simply spoke words and kept a centurion’s son from dying (see John 4:46-53). He actually sent the centurion away (rather than agreeing to his request to “come down before my child dies”) with the short command, “Go and your son will live.”  On his way home, the centurion is told that his son is fine and he is convinced that the exact time Jesus spoke those words, his son was healed.  And he and his whole household believed (v. 53).

Why didn’t Jesus simply speak a word when He heard that Lazarus was sick? He didn’t have to go there to heal him. And when He learned that Lazarus had died, why didn’t the Lord simply think Lazarus’ life back into him?

He had the power over sickness and death. Why didn’t He use it? Let’s look at our text one more time ….

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha’s statement, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” was truer than she probably realized.  The text seems to indicate that Jesus had to refrain from rushing to Lazarus’ side, for His compassion would have virtually forced Him to keep His friend Lazarus from dying.  Although this is a bit of speculation, I imagine that Martha’s words might well have dug into Jesus’ soul — “Lord, if you had been here . . .”  But there was a deeper purpose that needed to be fulfilled.

Martha doesn’t just say to the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  She adds, “. . . even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (v. 22).  It sounds like she is saying, “You didn’t come when we summoned you.   Could you at least now ask God to raise my brother?”

Jesus doesn’t apologize to Martha or make excuses why He didn’t come when summoned.  He makes a strange declaration:  “Your brother will rise again.” (v. 23).  I guess discussing eschatology at a funeral makes sense, but it probably wasn’t what Martha wanted to hear.  Martha gives the right response when she says, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (v. 24).  But Martha’s heart was stuck in the now!

My heart gets stuck in the now.  How about yours?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in catastrophe

 

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