This Should Be Every Believer’s Prayer

Ephesians 6:19-20 NIV

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Notice that Paul mentions two concerns: fear of man and content of the message. I think both of these issues are heavy weights on the shoulders of most Christians; and one often proceeds from the other.

Most Christian groups that I have spoken with about these topics affirm that they are generally afraid to share the message of their faith because they are afraid that someone will ask them a question to which they don’t know the answer.

The truth is, no one knows the answer to every possible question, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out.” Besides, if Paul had concerns about these two issues, and he wrote much of the New Testament, let’s be modest enough to say that it’s not dramatically weak to have the same concerns.

Action Point: Let’s commit to study God’s word so that we will have more to draw from when we are sharing the mystery of the gospel, and let’s also commit to pray for each other that God will give us the right words and a measure of courage. Deal?

Now You Are Light: Be Light!

Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

One of the things that was missing from my discipleship as a new believer is found in the verses above: “Live as children of the light . . . find out what pleases the Lord.”

I’m afraid that among Baptists there continues to be an erroneous pride in being known for what we are against over and above what we are for. In other words, we often have an unbalanced emphasis on verse 11: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

In these verses, Paul surely tells us to be separate from wickedness, but he also gives us balance. Notice the pattern: dark, light, light, dark. His instruction isn’t only a message of “don’t do”; there is also the positive imperative to “do.” Holiness isn’t just not doing fruitless deeds of darkness; that’s only one side of the coin.

Some might portion these verses out as a measure of theology followed by a dash of the practical.

The theological: First Paul reminds us that we were once darkness, then he contrasts that with what we are after salvation: light in the Lord.
The practical: First Paul tells us to live as children of the light by finding out what pleases the Lord (and by implication) to do that! In contrast, he says that fruitless deeds of darkness are not how we do what pleases the Lord. Stay away from them, and do the other!

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down . . .

Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV-

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while
you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Dr. Doug Bookman suggests that Judas is an example of this verse in that in his anger at being rebuked by Jesus, he gave the devil a foothold.

When Mary annointed Jesus’ feet (John 12), Judas (and the other disciples) scolded her for wasting the perfume. Jesus then scolded Judas (and the others) for scolding Mary. And the sting of that rebuke is apparently what Satan seized upon: “The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus (John 13:2 NIV).”

Let this be a warning to us all: be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

The Mystery Revealed

Paul reveals an age old mystery: How are Jews and Gentiles related to each other through the gospel?

Ephesians 3:6 NIV –
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are:
1. Heirs together with Israel (see 1:3-14),
2. Members together of one body (see 2:14-16), and
3. Sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (see 2:12-13).

I think this mystery is difficult for some on both sides of the Jew/Gentile divide to accept. Difficult to understand, perhaps. But it shouldn’t be difficult to accept.

Our Good Works are to His Credit

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Good works are:
1. What Christians are to do as the result of Him working in us.
2. Designated for us in advance.

God has prepared certain good works for us to do and His work in us gives us the ability to do them, which means there is no room for boasting on our part.

That we have nothing to boast about isn’t a new idea introduced in this verse. In fact, it is a followup: In the two verses prior to this (2:8-9), we see that our salvation is a merciful gift from God so that we can’t boast. Interestingly, the good works we do, like our salvation, are to His credit. It’s a package deal. God alone gets the credit for our salvation and our good works.

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