Philemon

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Observation from ESV’s “Introduction to the Letter of Paul to Philemon”: “It would have been difficult for the institution of slavery to survive in the atmosphere of love created by the letter, and in fact the elements of Paul’s appeal found in this letter helped lay the foundation for the abolition of slavery.”

Also:

  1. I love the line about how he’s not forcing Philemon to do this, but he’s appealing to him in love to do this. Man, how much would change if we took this approach?!
  2. I’ve thought a bit lately the connection between money and righteousness. Some of it was prompted by going through Job with our house church. How Job was righteous when he was wealthy and righteous when he lost it all. So money did not impact his righteousness (though it can be a snare). Here is another example with Philemon being righteous and praised while being rich. 1 Tim. 6 mentions those who are rich among you, and how they should be ready to give. I think that’s the piece right there. Riches don’t have to be a snare when we understand we’re a steward of what God gave us, to use for his purposes. So we can bless more people if God blesses us in those ways. Not meant to be horded.
  3. I love the passage “prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you” (Phil. 1:22). Look again at how much prayer is the “engine” that makes things run to Paul. He’s certain he will be at Philemon’s house. Why? Because Philemon will pray and God will respond. Rocking my prayer life–love it

Titus

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Reading through Titus I am excited by the practicality of the message and how Paul emphasizes the idea that our relationship with God is what brings change in us.

1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
-I love the community aspect here. Following Jesus is not only about believing ourselves but also sharing the good news and building up the community around us.

1:15-16 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
-This reminds me, once again, of Matthew 7 where Jesus says that we will be recognized by our fruit. Our actions will expose our belief system plain and simple.

2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
-Saying “No” to sin can only happen when we say “Yes” to Jesus and the grace he has given us.

3:3-7 “We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
-So grateful for Jesus. Without him I look a lot like the descriptions in verse 3.

3 observations:

  1. Titus 1 showed that Titus was to bring order to disorder, and this was primarily achieved through appointing elders. Speaks to me that God isn’t looking for “systems” or “models” to bring order, but God-fearing leaders. Jesus shows the same in pouring into people during his ministry, as opposed to teaching a “system” for ministry.
  2. In Titus 2, we’re shown so much the grace of God does. Saves us but also trains us to live for Him. It’s all by grace, which also will change our lives if it’s truly His grace. Some wrongly think Christian grace is divorced from life change.
  3. Touched by the constant refrain of doing “good works”. Goes with point 2. True Christianity leads to godly works. Conversely, we’re warned of false Christianity that May profess the right things but deny Him in action (ch 1).

God’s kindness first and then His Holy Spirit within us changes everything. It’s only by this power that we can live in this counter cultural way ie no hate, not longer slaves to various passions, avoiding quarreling.
By His spirit we can focus on issues of the utmost importance and then prioritize our time there. There will always be so many voices (both in but especially out of the church) trying to pull us elsewhere.
Titus 3:1-6

2 Timothy

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


2 Timothy 1:5 “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that first dwelt with your gma Lois and mom Eunice and now I am sure dwells with you.”

I love how this shows the importance of multi generational faith and the legacy we leave by bringing children to the Lord as it can ripple through for generations.

2 Timothy 2:4- “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
So much can distract us in the day to day that is not from Him…in the same vein…

2 Timothy 2:22 “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with ignorant controversies who you know breed quarrels.”

Very similar to what was said above, as I read 2 Timothy I am struck by the importance of passing our faith to the next generation.
1:2: “To Timothy, my dear son…”
2:1-2 “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses…”
2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness…”

The whole book feels like a dad passing along wisdom to his son. As a father myself one of my biggest goals in life is to teach the way of Jesus to my children so they can understand it, believe it, and make it their own.

It also colors it a bit to consider this is the final letter of Paul. So it’s his last words, which seemed filled with a heart of leaving a legacy that continues on through the generations. May it be Lord

“Avoid such people.” (2 Tim 3:5)
This stood out big time. It seems a good contrast with 2 Tim 3:10 where Paul essentially says, “You’ve spent time with me so that should help you.”

At first when reading that list in 2 Tim 3 of people in the last days, I thought of how much it sounded like those around us at this time. It made me think of the hard ground around us that seems tough to penetrate Gods word. My first instinct is to press on with such people. But here it’s saying avoid them.

I guess 2 things help me put this in perspective:

  1. It’s similar to Jesus saying that we preach the gospel and those who reject we leave alone while those who receive we stay with. We don’t know the response until we share. But if they show hardness, Gods strategy seems to be move on.
  2. I think the flip side of this strategy is that it gives us an opportunity to grow with and love well those who choose Jesus. This is our family and when outreach prevents us from loving well the family we have in Christ, our outreach becomes dismal. Instead, one of the greatest outreach is to love well the family of Christ: “they will know you by your love for one another” “I pray that the church may be one so the world would believe Jesus” (John 13 and 17)

1 Timothy

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


1 Timothy 1:5- “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith”

May this be true for us!

V6 “certain persons, by swerving from this have wandered away into vain discussions.”

If we keep our charge motivated from His love and in purity and sincere it will keep us on the right course

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
1 Timothy 1:12

This really touched me. Paul was judged faithful and appointed, therefore God supplied him STRENGTH. If God has called us to be faithful to a new appointment, He’ll back that calling via giving us His strength.

the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
1 Timothy 1:10

“Enslavers” – this seems a pretty clear reference against enslaving others.
Also note that other vices include “homosexuality”. It is not OK in Gods eyes.

Another thing in 1 Timothy (and the letters of Paul as a whole) is seeing all the injunctions to pray. Think of 1 Tim 2, especially. It’s like God knew we would be bent toward prayerlessness, so He puts in all these goads by His word to get us to pray.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13

Before 2 Timothy, I have found myself reflecting on this from 1 Tim.
While Paul is gone, he urges Timothy to devote himself to Bible reading and teaching. This goes with the devotion to the apostles teaching in Acts 2. We are to devote ourselves to the word – as learners, studyiers, and teachers. Honestly, if more churches just read the Bible out loud more (and don’t leave out passages you don’t like!!) I think we might be in a diff place as a society

^^I’d add: if people read 1 chapter of the Bible each week it’d take nearly 23 years to only finish it once. Most places never go that quick of pace. Which means we need to take in the word more outside of church services while also preaching it at church services much more than we do

2 Thessalonians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


In these letters of Paul I’ve been touched by how much is wrapped in prayer. He talks a lot about his prayer life for these people, shares some prayers in writing, asks for prayer, etc. that’s probably been my biggest takeaway—the place of prayer as a pillar for seeing the body of Christ grow.

2 Thes 2 seems a direct connection to 1 Thes 4. In 1 Th 4, we are told of Jesus returning. In 2 Th 2, we see people jumping the gun wrongfully thinking He already came. So there Paul sets forth conditions that will happen before He comes:

  1. Something must be removed that is in power and restraining deception to spread en masse (many, including me, have seen this as referencing the Roman secular power, which was firmly in place at that time, and coincidentally kept widespread spiritual delusion among the church at bay).
  2. When that is removed, the ultimate culmination of Antichrist will be revealed, even though it is happening to a lesser degree in Paul’s time (many, including me, have seen this as happening when the Roman Catholic Pope took ultimate secular and “spiritual” power after Rome fell).
  3. Delusion spreads and counterfeit Christianity proliferates (continuing to this day)
  4. Jesus returns

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 seems like a great prayer to be praying over one another. Especially as it comes after this section reminding them/us about the judgment and hell. May we keep this eternal perspective. Here is my prayer over us today:

God, please make us worthy of your calling to fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by your power. That your name would be glorified, according to the grace that only comes from you, Lord Jesus.

1 Thes.

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Wow this speaks to me!
We know God is choosing those we share his word / the gospel with when God does a work of His Holy Spirit on their end.

I look at it this way:
We have 2 main “wings” in our witness:

  1. Our words
  2. Our works

We speak the gospel and live according to the gospel by the Spirit within.

But I’m Gods end he converts their hearts as he wishes. Thus we are trying to speak and act in such a way that the Lord would be pleased to convert their heart. That’s what I’m praying for in the family I testified Jesus to yesterday.

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
1 Thessalonians 2:19

I find this profound. Out of so much Paul, Sylvanus, and Timothy could potentially boast of before the Lord, the MAIN thing is those they discipled and raised in the faith. Like a father with his children (spiritual children in this case). If that is the barometer of what we have to boast of, what does our boasting look like? That is, what is the spiritual condition of those we’ve raised in the faith? Takes a lot of time and energy to raise kids. Same with children in the Lord. But our children (spiritual and physical) will be a main thing we point to for Jesus (and He points to for us) to determine how well we’ve been faithful to our mission before Him.

1 Thes 3 (the first section) really speaks to me about Paul-Timothy wanting to be there in person to walk through hard times that the church was going through (even though they already warned the church they’d go through these times). Challenges me to walk through hard times more directly with those I’ve helped in the faith

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Talk about needing the Spirit to fulfill this!

but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

I’m challenged by EVERY. It’s used 2 times here—so absolute. Really speaks to those areas that we sort of hold as “off-limits”. Not so with God

Before moving ahead wanted to touch on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in passion or lust as the gentiles who do not know God.”

Again, spells out God’s will. For our sanctification. And to not fall into the traps of sexual sin in our culture where sexual sin tries to trip us up every day and porn is at our fingertips.

Also, wondering if any of you have any thoughts on the coming of the Lord passage (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This one is tough for me to reconcile when I think about us immediately being with the Lord in heaven after death. This passage certainly seems to imply we are all “caught up” at the same time and I know is commonly the passage argued for this point of view. Any thoughts?

I believe that when we die Christians are instantly with the Lord as disembodied spirits/souls —see Phil 1 about Paul dying and being with the Lord.

And non-Christians are being held in a place of suffering also as disembodied spirits. See Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16.

Whereas 1 Thes 4 references the time of Christ returning. At that time all people (the righteous and the wicked) will be given new bodies (see John 5 and 1 Cor 15). Then is the ultimate judgment where our non-decaying bodies will dwell forever—both heaven and hell are the final destinations given after this judgment —see Rev 20.

The diff is the temporary abode of spirits (now) versus the permanent abode of bodies (later, when Christ returns). We will all be part of that at the same time

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

This is one of those verses, like Colossians 3:23, that I try to hold on to while I’m working. Cool story this week:
On Friday I got a text totally out of the blue from an old coworker that I haven’t seen in about five years. When he texted me I immediately felt the tug of the Holy Spirit, so I decided to lean in and see where he was leading. He ended up calling me and we talked for over half an hour. He shared with me that he has met the Lord through the horrible circumstances of his wife passing away in a freak accident, leaving him with two young boys (he is roughly 32 years old). He said that he set out to disprove Christianity, and had become a believer in the process. He is a very new Christian, and is still in search of a community. I invited him to church and he said that he is going to come, so please pray for Chris that God continues to work in his life!

I never overtly shared my faith with him when we worked together, but he says that he knew I was a Christian. 1Thess. 4:11 comes to my mind because sometimes even just working hard and doing a good job at work can be a witness to others.

Colossians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Colossians 1:13-14 – “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Lives look different after meeting Jesus. As we follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, the evidence of God’s work in us eventually pours out. Paul describes what this looks like in verses 10-12:
“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

Colossians 3:5
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
3:9-10

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Following Jesus is very active. I like this idea that every day I am to actively put to death my “old self” and clothe myself in Jesus’ transforming power.

My friend Ken says, “I’m either praying or I am sinning,” and this passage reminds me of that. My daily/hourly walk with Jesus transforms me and puts to death the sin that is deep within me, and when I slack off I tend to fall right back into my “old self.”

I’m feeling very grateful today for Jesus’ transforming power in my life.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:27-28

Love how both “Christ in you” and being “in Christ” are used alongside each other here. I believe the former speaks to our sanctification (that is, Christ via Gods Spirit lives in us to change us and mark us as His possession). And the latter (us “in Christ”) to our justification—being counted righteous by being clothed/covered in Christ’s righteousness.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
Colossians 2:4

So so much here!! Too much for now. But I share this to point out that it is “plausible” arguments that are said to delude us here. Consider that. It’s not the implausible ones but the plausible ones that can lead us away from Him (partially because they seek to have reason usurp revelation—that is, they seem plausible to the human mind, but completely ignore the need for Gods revelation and for sincere and simple trust in what He speaks.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:3,5

Goes with the comment about Christ in us and us in Christ. We have died in Christ positionally (our justification). But the Spirit in us wants us to put to death sinful habits in our ongoing sanctification.

Notice also that the latter part of that list is thoughts and passions that are evil. This completely overturns modern concepts that “if I feel this way” or “if I have this sort of passion” it is somehow good. God forbid! I think much of our sinfulness is in our passions and thought life. We, like Pharisees, claim that our actions prove our righteousness. But God goes much deeper. In fact, even if we give everything for the poor and sacrificially lose our life for others, yet we can still be devoid of love and it all is meaningless (1 Cor 13:1-3). Sobering thought. All the more need for being in Christ and Christ in us.

Let our speech be gracious, seasoned wit salt
4:5

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 3:18

For me, these help me stay on track and are challenging. To always have my speech seasoned with salt. I’m often too harsh and irritable with my wife. Seeking my own way. I do not struggle as much with my kids, but can be too harsh with her and see how it hurts her spirit. Please pray for me for this and to keep my speech seasoned with salt.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

Goes with the “if you’re not praying you are sinning” line. Really speaks to me.

Neat testimony and prayer request:

This morning I read Col 4 and how Paul said to keep praying, then to pray specifically for opportunity and words to speak the gospel. I was so encouraged and made it my point to just pray today for me to share the gospel with some non-believing family members. Well…moments ago we were watching Wimbledon together and one thing led to another and we were having great dialogue. It led to the Day of Atonement and it was a beautiful open door to talk about the gospel. I had to take a bathroom break (where I’m typing this from). But praise the Lord! And pray for more please!

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
Colossians 4:12-13

I’m struck that prayer here is equated with “struggling” and “working hard”. Man, I really wonder as a nation how much it has been prayerlessness that has plunged us into rejecting Christ so much…

We have work to do along these lines, brethren. In fact in 1 Tim 2, men are specifically called out to this task

Philippians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
Philippians 1:28
Wow! May it be said of your church, Lord!

Along the lines of Phil. 1:28, yesterday I was meditating on that passage and had 2 situations it directly applied to:

  • I was talking to a co-worker who might claim she’s a Christian…but it is nothing active with her. She’s a supporter of Pride Month and yesterday, on the basis of Phil. 1:28 I decided to bring up how I was really sad to see a certain “Christian” library supporting pride month so brazenly (though it’s since been torn down, as I understand). This led to a good conversation about the Bible, God’s love, God’s holiness, the gospel, etc. She usually stops those conversations pretty quickly, so I was surprised she was into this one as long as she was (still only a few minutes). But at least we were able to talk some and she could hear a (hopefully) more biblical response to it. She did say at one point, “don’t you think to be more inclusive you sometimes have to overlook parts of the Bible?” On many levels an interesting statement. I didn’t really get to respond to that, but at least she recognizes that it is going against Scripture.
  • I was talking yesterday to a sister in the Lord whose husband seemed to doubt the trinity a few years back. It became a little contentious with him, and it never got resolved. So the sister in the Lord was visiting us yesterday from out of town. There was a point in the convo where it made a lot of sense to talk about God’s Trinity (versus the counterfeit trinity of sin, Satan, system of this world). So on the basis of Phil. 1:28, I made the plunge. I’m so glad I did! She was really touched by all of that. Then asked this morning if I could share more with her on things on my heart. This ended up being a longer conversation on the Trinity and how God as 3-in-1 is at the center of all we do in Christ. She seemed really touched by this.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

This seems like an impossible task, but I love that Paul relates this to what God did for us when he sent Jesus to save us. Sending Jesus was the ultimate act of selflessness.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Philippians 4:7-9

I love this passage from Philippians because it really hammers home the importance of relationship over religion. Paul shows that a works based gospel is essentially trash compared to having an interactive relationship with our creator.
Paul lived an extremely devout life, but it did not produce any fruit in him. Meeting Jesus, however, completely transformed his life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

This really stuck out to me this time around:

  1. He says it as a command. Thus it’s something we can will (with the help of God’s Spirit)
  2. There is a double emphasis: “always”— not sometimes. And then he had to repeat himself to make sure they get it. I can’t think of other times Paul adds that in his commands. He really wants them to get this and do it all the time. What a good God who commands us to REJOICE in Him!

I’ve been enjoying these shorter books by Paul- some of my favorites. They have allowed me to just listen daily to them each time through on my way into work and really meditate on the words. It’s much harder to do that when we are in those longer books.

Anyhow, specifically in Philippians I really appreciate Paul’s perspective on life after all he has endured. It challenges me and inspires me. It’s eternal. “My desire is to depart and to be with Christ for that is FAR better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (1:23-24)

I catch myself quickly drifting into this temporal perspective a lot of living for this world. Yet, Paul is very focused on the fact this world is not his home and that he would much rather be with God (he understands well his power), but knows he has a purpose here to complete (v 25- “convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in faith so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus because of my coming to you again.”

Ephesians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Ephesians 1~
I’ve recently been struck with how Paul introduces a lot of his letters: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 1:2). I generally fly by that part, but pause for a moment. It sounds like Paul is giving a personal greeting from God/Jesus as if he were right there with them. If I wrote and said, “Shana sends her grace and peace to you both,” that makes sense because you’d expect me to be in that close of contact with Shana. But here Paul does this with God Almighty! There is a sense of personal communication and intimacy that this really seems to speak to for me.

Love how Jesus’ person and work is the basis of their position before God and the beginning of Ephesians. If you lean all on Jesus and His atoning work, then you can never falter. If it’s your work you are leaning on, talk about unstable!!
I also love how God leaves us with a “stamp”, if you will, that we have truly trusted in Jesus: the Holy Spirit. He indwelling in us is our “seal” and “guarantee” of our inheritance. He enters us when we receive the gospel (Ephesians 1:13). And then He becomes the evidence (to others…but also to us) that we have truly received the true gospel. Again, the Spirit is a life separate from your own sinful life. So we have 2 lives in us (I think of our wives when they were pregnant–a life inside a life). Thankfully, the Spirit is the greater life of the 2 (see Rom. 8 ) so He always finds ways to poke Himself out of us. In this sense, again, it’s not reliant on us, but the Spirit within us to prove our position is unwavering in Christ.

I’m struck by how far away we all were from God before Jesus atoned our sins. It reads so hopeless: dead in our transgressions; far off from God; following the spirit of this age; etc. BUT GOD… steps in and all is made well. I’m deeply thankful for the gospel

“one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and IN ALL.” (Eph. 4:6)

This is talking about God being in all believers. It’s a powerful thought that the God over all would now condescend to live inside us little grasshoppers (compared to Him).

It’s also powerful that Paul talks about God (the Father) being in us, whereas earlier it talks about the Spirit being in us and Christ being in us. Shows very early on a solid trinitarian understanding of God in the church–which should be true today!

Also speaks to why they were called a temple (God lives in us).
And I think the picture of Eve coming “from Adam” but then Adam going “in Eve” (via his seed) is a powerful allusion to how we are in Christ and yet Christ is in us too (Paul actually draws from this in talking about husband-wife / Christ-church in Eph. 5). I could go on and talk about how Adam was put to sleep, and his side was pierced…just like Christ was put to sleep (temporary death) and his side was pierced on the cross…and from that the Spirit goes out to the church to form her and be inside her, that we might produce Christ’s offspring (so to speak) in discipling the nations!!

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Ephesians 5:5
Wow. This challenges me bigtime. How far we’ve fallen from upholding his righteous standard.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Ephesians 5:24

This is another one that really challenges me to consider. “Everything” is a big word. I can see how it had been abused to mean slavish obedience (as opposed to yielded heart that can pose questions, give input, and even disobey when it’s clear Christ the heavenly husband is speaking contrary to the earthly husband). Saying that, I see a more flippant “egalitarian” ethos we fight against today. I think it really can do harm in speaking to the greater picture of Christ and the church.
Of course, men, our calling is no easier:

  • love her completely sacrificially (not as a doormat, but a sacrificial leader)
  • love and cherish her as you do yourself
  • wash her by your words—especially pointing to Gods word.
    Surely such service would go a long way in raising up wives who wanted to submit in everything.

Galatians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


Gal 1:3-4 ~ “the Lord Jesus Christ…gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age”

The first part is identical to what we see elsewhere about the gospel: Christ died for our sins.

The last part adds a little extra “coloring”, if you will. Receiving the gospel means we are delivered from this present evil age. I think of churches affirming LGBT, etc. How many churches are cozy with this present evil age? Versus being delivered from it. God help us

Galatians 2:20
” I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Not I, but Christ. This is a verse that has become one of those foundational scriptures for me. My aspiration is to let less and less of my human self be on display, and let more of Christ shine through me.

I think that when I rest in the confidence of God’s love for me and the assurance of my forgiveness Christ shines through me and people meet Jesus in me. When I rely on my own power and try to do things on my own I end up making a mess. This reminds me of Romans 7 where Paul describes wanting to do good but evil being alongside him. Who can rescue us? ONLY Jesus!

And amen to all this. I like the analogy Watchman Nee gives of Gal. 2:20. He knew a lifeguard in China who was watching a man drowning. Others were frantic and tried to get the lifeguard to do something. But the lifeguard was trained to wait until they sink to then save them. He did this and saved the life. He explained that if they’re still struggling, they can take you down with them. But once they’ve lost all their strength, then they will rest in your power. What a picture of Gal. 2:20! Not I = coming to an end of ourselves. But Christ = That’s where true Christianity begins.

So much in this short book of Galatians. Paul is astonished they are so quickly deserting Christ and turning to a different gospel (1:6)

Yet, this heart is in all of us, right?! “Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

This is part of why I love ch. 5 so much. It calls us to not return to our old life because even though it beckons it’s death. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)

And that we must be in the Spirit and not in the flesh to live out his ways (5:16-25). As Romans so beautifully captures though, there is an ongoing tension between the flesh and spirit but the life in the Spirit brings life and peace and this is what we are called into as His children.

The thing that sticks out to me the most from 2 Corinthians and Galatians is the need for revelation.

In 2 Corinthians the Jews weekly heard the Bible read, but a veil was over them. Not until they turned to Christ was it removed.

In Galatians, Paul says: “I did not receive it [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12)
In both cases, it had to be an act of God upon their soul that opened up the understanding. I often think if I only give someone X fact, then they’ll see. But God pulls me up short on this. It needs to be a work of Him on their soul. Our words play a part. Namely, I think we have a job to plant the seed of God’s truth/word/gospel in every soil we encounter…and in time we’ll see the ones that actually received it by the fruit that comes up later.

I agree. I have, at times, tried to get all of my facts and biblical data in order so that I can present a compelling argument for Christianity, but that approach has always fallen flat for me. It is obviously important to be educated on what we believe, but I agree that many times this leaves God mostly out of the process. For me personally I have found that “knowledge puffs up but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). This is one of those verses that when I read it I feel like it was written specifically with me in mind hahaha.

I also very much agree that we are to sow seeds and provide fertile soil and then let God perform the transformation. Matthew 7 is a chapter that has been on my mind a lot lately, especially when Jesus says that “by their fruit, you will recognize them.” The evidence of God’s transformation is in the fruit that is produced. The evidence of how closely we are keeping in step with the Spirit is how much we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

It is so freeing to know that the fruit of the Spirit is not a list of things that we are supposed to do, but rather it is a list of the things that God will do in us if we stay in touch with him.

The final chapter of Galatians continues this theme, and I was encouraged by reading it.
” A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:7-9

Overall this is a somewhat simple concept. Wherever we spend our time, money or energy will show what is actually important to us. It reminds me of that verse from Matthew that says “where your treasure is your heart will be also.”
Despite the simplicity of this sowing-and-reaping concept, this DOES NOT mean that this is easy. I am encouraged by verse 9 because I feel like Paul knows that following Jesus is counter cultural and can be tough. I like to think that the people of the Galatian church read Paul’s letter and felt encouraged enough to keep doing the right thing and not give up.