Notes on the Book of Ephesians

Taken at a Bible Study Led by Walt Henrichsen

In San Francisco, 19-23 March 2007

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 2. 1

Gratitude and comparison and regret 1

Since Jesus didn’t sin, His sacrificial death was suicide. 2

The horrific possibility of autonomy, sin and death in heaven. 2

Eternal consequences for temporal (and eternal) behavior 4

Is suicide murder?. 6

The concept of praise. 6

Outline of chapter 2 – three contrasts (past and present) 6

The evil world of Satan, demons and children of disobedience (2:1-3) 6

We were children of wrath because of imputed condemnation (2:3) 7

The prince of the power of the air (2:2) 7

Where is the spiritual battlefield?. 8

But God made us alive, so now things are different (2:4-10) 8

The antinomy of love – we must love, but God doesn’t have to. 9

Faith and works (2:8-10) 10

Faith, hope and love in heaven. 10

Resurrection for the unbeliever 11

Already and not yet in the heavenly places (2:6,7) 11

Appreciating Israel and avoiding anti-Semitism (2:11-22) 12

Christ brought peace and unity to the Jews and Gentiles (2:13-18) 13

Short-lived benefits of that peace due to anti-Semitism.. 14

Brief history of Jewish dispersions. 14

Prophets, foundations, strangers. 14

Transcultural Gospel 15

The Church – organized gatherings and organizations. 16

Essentials and non-essentials. 16

Pros and cons of control 17

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Gratitude and comparison and regret

Q:  What is the relationship between gratitude on the one hand and comparison and regret on the other?

Q:  Can you have gratitude without comparison?

Q:  From a Biblical perspective can you have gratitude without regret?

·        We always compare with what could have happened.

·        Thus comparison is an essential ingredient in gratitude.

 

Q:  From a Biblical perspective, how about regret?

·        It’s a force to help you go.

·        You cannot appreciate your inheritance of chapter 1 without understanding your depravity of chap. 2.

·        Chapter 2 makes chapter 1 the blessing that it is.

 

Since Jesus didn’t sin, His sacrificial death was suicide

Q:  If Adam and Eve had not sinned, would they eventually have died physically?

·        Yes, if God wanted them to

 

Q:  Christ did not sin.  Could anybody have taken his life?

·        John 10:18 – if He doesn’t volunteer, there’s no way you can kill Him.

·        Pilot did not have power to take His life.

 

Q:  If this is so, is it also true that Christ committed suicide?

·        Depends on how you define suicide.

 

Q:  How is suicide different from self-sacrifice?

Q:  Was Christ’s self-sacrifice suicide (because He was taking His own life)?

·        Yes – through the hand of others.

·        You can take your life through a driver by jumping in front of a truck.

·        You can take your life through a policeman by pretending to shoot him.

·        Jesus’ sacrifice was different from OT sacrifices, because the sheep did not volunteer to go under the knife.

·        Man made all OT sacrifices for man, but the sacrifice of Jesus was made by God for God.

·        Man is the beneficiary, but he was not involved in the transaction.

·        People did not kill Jesus.  Jesus killed Jesus.

 

If Jesus had not died on the cross, would He have died naturally?

·        Paul said all men die because of sin [Rom. 5:17-19].

·        Since Jesus did not sin, nobody could have taken His life.

·        [It had to be voluntary.  He would not have died naturally.]

 

The horrific possibility of autonomy, sin and death in heaven

·        Romans says there are 3 acts of imputation, and all 3 are expressions of God’s grace [God imputes sin to all men, the righteousness of Jesus to the believer and the sin of the believer to Jesus].

·        The imputed sin of Adam was an expression of God’s grace (Romans 5)

·        Adam and Eve were corruptible; we are corrupted; in our resurrected body we will be incorruptible

 

Q:  Thus, the question – what happens to our desire for autonomy in heaven?

Q:  Is death the necessary consequence or the judicial/decreed consequence of sin?

·        You might say it is the necessary consequence, and the justice of God necessitated the death of man.

·        [This means that] if God had not said to Adam and Eve, “The day you eat, you die,” the day they ate they still would have died, because sin results in death [with or without a decree].

·        Or we could say that God did not have to make it the necessary result, but He decreed it to be so.

·        In heaven if you sin, God may be able to make you die there!

·        This is conjecture [speculation], but it has value if it strikes terror in your soul.

·        God created man with a desire for autonomy, and sin produced the fall.

·        Satan said in the day you eat you will not die (i.e., man decides.)

·        [In reality,] we never make the decision here or in eternity.

·        Autonomy is what makes the relationship beautiful.

·        For example, marriage is choice – to a woman with a will.

 

Q:  When you die and go to heaven, will you cease to have a will and be a robot or a mannequin, or will you have a will?

·        If you will have a will, then you will be able to exercise that will contrary to the will of God.

·        If you say, that’s too horrible to contemplate, [perhaps you can accept it if the worst case would be] having a Gethsemane experience [like Jesus did] with God in heaven

·        [This would be when you] meet the will of God in heaven and don’t want to do it and agonize.

·        If you tell me that death is the natural result of sin in heaven, then it follows that you cannot die, because Paul says you are incorruptible [in heaven – 1 Cor. 15:51-54].

·        But if it is only for this dispensation and not the dispensation in heaven, then God can call you to account in heaven for your willfulness and not kill you.

·        Physical death and spiritual death are both separation from God.

·        If you sin in heaven, then you will be in a different place from the unbelievers.

·        This is hypothetical and speculative, but we can’t pretend to know the answer.

·        If, gentlemen, you will take a will into eternity with you, and if it is possible for you to exercise that will contrary to the will of God, then that alone is sufficient motivation to school yourself in being His obedient servant in the years that you have left before you die!

·        It does not guarantee your chances [of success].  All you do is improve your odds.

·        It will be easier if you learn to submit to Him now without reservation.

 

·        There is a common idea among Christians, “I’ll catch up when I get to heaven.  You can do the Bible study and practice self-denial.  I’ll just put my efforts in getting what I can out of this world, because I’ll have time to catch up and pass you then.”

·        This is how the average businessman in US thinks.  Or people think there’s no hierarchy in heaven.

 

Q:  1:4 says that God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless before Him.  Doesn’t this mean we will be perfect and without blame in a perpetual state [i.e., unable to sin]?

·        I’m not sure if the apostle were sitting with us here today he’d have an answer.

·        I’m not sure if God wants us to know today.

·        For this to be the case, you would have to cease to have a will that could disobey.

·        In that case you’d be robotic.  In that case, I’m not sure.

·        I cannot say that there is no sin [in heaven].  It is possible.

·        I have no idea what the consequence would be of such a scenario [disobedience in heaven].

·        He might say, “Spend the next 100 years on the other side of Pluto.”  I have no idea.

·        I ask, “Is that possible?”  I didn’t say.  I asked.

·        But in asking, I suggest the possibility, not the probability, the possibility.

·        Such a possibility is so horrific it terrifies me!

 

Q:  Why wouldn’t the other possibility [sin and death in heaven] terrify you even more?

·        Because the NT seems to suggest that that will not happen, because we will be incorruptible.

·        Just don’t expect that just because you will be incorruptible, you are not [going to be] accountable.

·        He’ll have ways of repaying you [for disobedience in heaven].

 

Q:  But in heaven there won’t be Satan or evil [to tempt you, will there]?

·        Is the presence of evil that which makes you disobedient?  [No.]

 

Q:  But I already made a decision to follow Christ here [so isn’t my future already fixed]?

·        That’s not the question.  The question is, if you have a will [in heaven], can you exercise that will contrary to the will of God as surely as your wife does that to you.

 

Q:  So, are you saying that life won’t be easy in heaven, so we’d better get used to it now?

·        I don’t particularly like the word ‘easy’, but yes.

 

Eternal consequences for temporal (and eternal) behavior

Q:  What if men quote Ph. 1:6 to you and say, “Sooner or later we’re all going to be perfected,
 so what difference does it make right now?”

·        [You could reply to them:]  “Yes, yes, [but] what if – just conjecture – what if the rewards in the kingdom of heaven are in those areas over which you have no control now?  [What if in heaven] God doesn’t decide for you what your intellect will be, [what] your creative abilities, your gifts, etc. [will be]?   Supposing your reward in the kingdom of heaven will be [that] you get to decide [now] what measure of intelligence, giftedness, creativity, etc. [you will have in eternity], based on how [much] you are His obedient servant now [i.e., you’ll reap in eternity what you sow on earth today.]  Is that a possibility?”

 

Q:  Having autonomy in heaven makes sense, because it is important in every relationship.  If we were robotic in heaven, wouldn’t that be boring?

·        Gentlemen, what I’m suggesting to you is [that] we don’t know.  I beg you in Jesus name, don’t live your life thinking you do know about the things we’re talking about (the possibility of sin in heaven, accountability and what the differences [rewards] will look like.)

·        From our Bible study, we believe there will be repayment, but nobody knows what that repayment looks like.

 

Q: What about the equal payment to workers who started work at different times [Mt. 20:1-16]?

·        This parable is used to illustrate [what happens] when people come into the vineyard [at different times].  These people never asked for a job.  The foreman came and picked them.

·        Eph. 1 says God picked the time we believed.

·        The payment is the same only in the sense that you get into the kingdom; it’s a decision God makes.

·        We have two other parables – about talents and pounds – in which reward in the kingdom of heaven is based on faithfulness to opportunity, not on production and not on the amount of time in the work.

·        The two disciples who would get to sit at His left and right was not a matter for Him to decide.

·        Jesus did not rebuke them for wanting to be exalted.

·        The last shall be first.  [There's] nothing wrong with wanting to be first; just do it God’s way.

 

Q:  So what’s the value of the doctrine of eternal security?

·        My position is not in jeopardy because of circumstances.

·        But all men who believe this also believe that assurance and certainty are not the same.

·        I’m not suggesting sin in heaven will result in death.

 

Q:  How do you reconcile this with Col. 3:23-25, which says if you do wrong it’s going to influence how God will deal with you?

·        Nobody is going to get into eternity and be glad they sinned.  Therefore, don’t do it.

 

Q:  It seems that in chapter 1 the inheritance is through grace [and something else…].  How can you reconcile them?

·        You can’t.  You have the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Any time you think you can understand [reconcile] them, you are wrong.  They are mutually exclusive.

 

Q:  How do you reconcile this with the idea of being made complete?

·        I don’t know, but nobody’s that smart.  Nobody plays chess with God and wins.

 

Q:  So, are you saying you hold to the doctrine of eternal security, but you also hold to the possibility of disobedience in the eternal state?

·        Yes.  I’m saying to you that it’s a possibility.  I’m not saying it is a probability.  I’m not saying it’s my conviction.   I’m saying that the thought terrifies me!  Eternal security is a verity [a certainty].  The other is a possibility.

 

Q:  So are you saying that in this life God tests our obedience and helps us purify ourselves in order to prepare us for the next life, so we can better avoid sin then and so we won’t have to start all over again then?

·        Yes.  That’s my understanding.

 

Therefore, self-purification and abiding in Him now are essential.

·        1 Jn. 3:2,3 says we’ll be like Him, yes, but purified through hope.

·        1 Jn. 3:6 says whoever abides in sin has not known Him

 

Q:  What are the consequences of not purifying yourself now?

·        If you follow the logic of 1 Jn. 3:6, then you are not a believer.

·        When you are traveling and tired in a hotel room and watching a TV program you know you should not be watching, you are not purifying yourself.

·        When you look at [certain] pictures at the airport, you know you are not purifying yourself.

·        When you go to movies you don’t want your children to watch, you know you are not purifying yourself.

 

Q:  Are you suggesting that such people are not going to go to heaven?

·        No, unless they keep on doing it until they don’t care any more.

·        But many men who profess Christ do not even try to win the battle.

·        The absence of purity is so ubiquitous [present, or seeming to be present, everywhere at the same time], that it requires incredible self-discipline not to be exposed to it.

 

Q:  It’s hard, but nobody’s perfect [right?]

·        If God came to you in a way you knew it was God and He said to you, “If you look at one more of those pictures, not only am I going to kill you, I’m going to send you to hell,” would it make a difference?  If so, don’t tell God you’re not perfect.  That is not your problem.

·        People seem to deceive themselves [into thinking] that they can afford to do it.

·        Observation from John 13-17: Jesus never called disciples sinners.  The disciples never questioned or disobeyed Jesus.  They always tried very hard to obey the Master.

·        Nowadays, people mention eternal security and argue that they can afford to sin and [imply that] they don’t need to purify themselves.

 

Gentlemen, I don’t want us to get too far away from the good news about being dead [what chapter 2 is talking about].

 

 

[Second day’s lunch break]

 

 

Is suicide murder?

Q:  Is it wrong to commit suicide?

·        I can find no [explicit] prohibition to it in scripture.  However, if you believe that the command to not kill/murder applies to suicide, then for you it’s wrong.

 

Q:  [What should a doctor do if] a pancreatic cancer patient is dying and taking morphine through pump?  He needs increasingly greater doses to get it to work, and eventually it will be too much and kill him.  If he asks you to fill the pump, knowing it will kill him, will you do it?

·        Thomas and Dawson will fill the pump.  Robert would if it’s not illegal.

 

Q:  Is that suicide?

·        Pain relief.  That’s what most suicide is: pain relief.  That’s why men jump off a bridge.

·        The only difference between letting cancer take it’s course and filling the pump is that I’m proactive, being precipitous [causing something to happen before it’s expected, warranted or needed]

 

Q:  Yes, it is suicide, but is it wrong?

·        [Some will say that] ‘Do not kill’ includes killing yourself.

 

Q:  What if your wife asks you to ask Thomas to fill the pump?

·        You can never be sure of the patient’s motive – pain relief or suicide.

·        You [also] cannot agree with your wife to do wrong.

 

The concept of praise

·        Lucas asked me to comment on the concept of praise.

·        Everything God does is for men to praise Him, so the whole scheme of His redemption from start to finish has that as its motivation.

·        God sent Christ to the cross before the foundations of the world to die for our sins, so that the whole of the created order would marvel at His grace and His goodness.  That is the great end of redemption.

·        Redemption, in the final analysis is not to get you out of a problem.  The purpose of redemption is to call to everyone’s attention the greatness of God.

·        You, because you are one of the elect, happen to benefit.

 

Outline of chapter 2 – three contrasts (past and present)

·        1-3 We were dead; 4-10 we are alive in the heavenlies

·        11,12 You were Gentiles afar off; 13-18 you are reconciled and at peace with God

·        19-22 You were foreigners; you are fellow citizens

 

A benefit of being spiritually alive

·        He begins with the observation that you were born [spiritually] dead.

·        This means because you are alive in Christ, physical death is the only death you have yet to experience.

 

The evil world of Satan, demons and children of disobedience (2:1-3)

·        [In 2:1,] sin and trespass is the domain in which people live prior to regeneration.

·        Thus, [in 2:2] Paul says [you once walked] according to the ‘course’ of this ‘world’.

·        The word ‘course’ is the word for ‘aeon’ [or ‘eon’; Greek aion; an age or a particular period].

·        The [word for] world is ‘cosmos’ [Greek kosmos; an orderly arrangement; world]

·        The world is the objective system of things, and that is evil.

·        The ‘aeon’ is the world as a world period; that is, the world as transitory [of passing nature; not enduring or permanent].

·        So the word ‘aeon’ Paul talks about here refers to the whole of the world period, the cosmos.

·        For that reason the ‘course of this world’ is intrinsically [essentially, inherently] evil, and to live in accordance with it is to live in sin.

·        Paul tells us that the prince of the power of the air determines and shapes [damages, bends] lives.

·        The [Greek] word for ‘power’ [exousiaz] in the KJV is the word for authority [or freedom to act].
It’s not the [Greek] word for dynamite [or ability or might], dunamis.

·        The [Greek] word for air [aeroz] he’s used the same way as we use the word ‘atmosphere.’

·        For example, we might say in English, “He created an ‘atmosphere’ of fear when he came into the room.”

·        This means that Satan rules over all that is known as the evil authority.

·        Thus, the prince of evil is lord over all the demonic powers, and those demonic powers [evil, fallen angels] have their seat in the air, as distinguished from the [good] angels whose abode is in heaven.

·        Satan is also ruler of the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.

·        The word ‘spirit’ is not Holy Spirit but a collective term equivalent to authority.

·        Satan has authority over that spirit who operates as energy of wickedness in the hearts of men opposed to God.

·        So Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:4, “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

·        Evidently, the power of Satan over the unregenerate is of such a nature that those swayed by his authority are unaware that he is behind it.

·        Still, Paul says that they walked as an agreement with the world system.  They are not passive, but active.  They are the children of disobedience, which connotes [suggests or implies] the idea of [being] willful or defiant.  They knew right from wrong, probably through their conscience.

·        That’s the way you were.  2:3 – “but we were no different.”

 

We were children of wrath because of imputed condemnation (2:3)

Q:  What does “By nature children of wrath” mean?

·        Rom. 1:18 – the wrath of God is being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness

·        Rom. 2:5 – [those with hardened hearts] are storing up wrath for themselves in the day of wrath

·        ‘By nature’ has to do with that which is intrinsic to the person

·        You’re naturally a child of wrath.  You’re born a child a wrath.

·        You’re born in a state of condemnation.  [It is] not that your nature is a ground of that condemnation.

·        God did not condemn you because you’re naturally evil,
[but] you’re naturally evil, because God condemned you.

·        That’s why we talked earlier about how the imputed sin of Adam is an expression of God’s grace.

·         ‘By nature’ has to do with that which is intrinsic to the person [legally, naturally, not acquired]

·        That’s why babies sin – not because they’re immoral, but because they are by nature the children of wrath, and that’s why babies die.  That’s why I say men are born in a state of condemnation – not that their nature is the reason for their condemnation.  [The reason is God’s grace.]

 

The prince of the power of the air (2:2)

Q:  In 2:2, in “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,” what does “working” mean?

·        It means that he is having his way.  He’s doing his work.

 

Q:  In 2:2, what does “power” mean in “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience”?  Is that a being?

·        It’s equivalent to authority.  The authority that now works in the children of disobedience.  It’s a synonym.

·        He is not a being like the Holy Spirit.  It is the same word [Greek: pneumatoz], but it is not used in that sense for the person of God.

·        It’s another word for the prince of the power of the air.  He is the authority or the spirit that is working in the children of disobedience.

 

Q:  It’s not a spiritual being?

·        Yes, it is, but it’s not the Holy Spirit.  It’s the authority that is now operative in the world, or as the KJV calls it, it’s the power – the prince of the power of the air.

 

Q:  Do we have a way to battle his authority in our natural state without Christ?

·        Has God ever given a man a commandment that he could not keep?  No.

·        Therefore, man’s problem is never ability.  It is always volitional [conscious or deliberate, using the will].  That’s why believing is always volitional, as far as the scriptures are concerned.

 

Q:  What if you don’t know, how can you believe?

·        You can believe.  You can believe what’s revealed.  You can’t believe what not revealed.

·        “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [Rom. 1:21]

 

Q:  You said the power is earthly rule, but isn’t Satan in the heavenly places also?

·        He calls it “the prince of the power of the air” in verse 2.

·        I suggest it to you as opposed to heaven, which is the realm of the good angels rather than the demonic forces.

 

Where is the spiritual battlefield?

Q:  Where do the good angels meet the demonic forces in their battles?

·        I haven’t the faintest idea.

·        We know from the book of Job that Satan has access to the presence of God, so I don’t know.

 

Q:  Could it be that they are both moving around throughout both realms?

·        Somebody once said to me that because of the porosity of matter, it may all be happening right in front of us.

·        The porosity of matter simply means that there is lots and lots of space between the atoms that make up the molecules that make up the objects.

·        The question is: why can you stick your finger through the air, but you can’t stick your finger through a book?  Both of them are porous.

·        Theoretically and ostensibly [apparently, evidently] you should be able to do it.

·        So I don’t know.  It may very well be that the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, that the whole thing may be taking place right in front of our eyes.  We just can’t see it.

·        The porosity of matter simply means that there’s plenty of room for it.

 

But God made us alive, so now things are different (2:4-10)

·        2:4,5 – God is merciful because of His love.  Love is the attribute.  Mercy is the result.

 

Q:  We work for gain.  Is it also true that God is doing all for His pleasure?

·        Yes.  His mercy flows out of His love, and His love is motivated to acquire all praise, honor and glory from the whole of the created order.

·        One of the names that God calls himself is Jealousy.  My name is Jealous.

·        There’s no quicker way to go to hell than to try to share My glory with Me.

 

Q:  Love by definition seeks the best interests of the other person, [so] this applies to God – that He loves us and is seeking the best for us – from His point of view, of course?

·        Yes, but that doesn’t answer the question what motivates such love.

·        He wants to accrue all praise and glory and honor to Himself.

 

The antinomy of love – we must love, but God doesn’t have to

·        In human practice, love is not seeking honor for yourself, but for you, you love me because you are commanded to love me, not because I am lovable.

·        And the reason you cannot not love me is that you cannot afford not to love me.

 

Q:  But if I am loving you for my own interests, I usually don’t call it love [so what do you say?]

·        How else can you love your enemy?

 

Q:  But isn’t there a motivation?

·        The motivation is always personal gain.

 

Q:  Are you confusing motivation and purpose?

·        It could very well be.

·        The purpose of our loving is that we are His obedient servants, and we can’t afford not to do it.

·        The purpose of His loving is to draw attention to His greatness.

·        Love is by definition seeking the best for the other person.  I do it out of self-internet.

·        My objective is to seek your best.

 

Q:  So what if I get to the gate, and God says I elect you to hell?  I know from God’s perspective He seeks my best interests, but …

·        The Bible does not say that God seeks everybody’s best interests.

·        He just simply says you have to seek everybody’s best interest.

·        God does not say He has to love His enemies.  He simply says you have to love your enemies.

 

Q:  So you’re saying God doesn’t necessarily have to love everyone?

·        “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated.”  [Rom. 9:13:]

 

Q:  So in John 3:16 – God so loved the world – He’s talking about the elect?

·        I can’t go there.  I can’t do that.

·        When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How I would have gathered you unto myself, as a hen gathers her chicks, but you wouldn’t let me!”  [Mt. 23:37]  Extraordinary statement – that the Creator or the universe could be successfully resisted by the creature!

·        You cannot marry the two ideas.

·        Nevertheless, there are many things God demands of us that He does not do Himself.

·        For example, forgive or you will not be forgiven [Mt. 6:14,15], but God doesn’t have to forgive.

·        God will not forgive Satan.  He says, “I will have mercy on whom I want to.” [Rom. 9:15]

·        God desires all men to be saved and not perish – absolute statement.

·        This is an antinomy, a seeming paradox, and a contradiction of terms.

 

Faith and works (2:8-10)

Q:  2:10 says we are created for good works; are these eternal or temporal?

·        For sure he’s not saying that our salvation is the product of good works.

·        We are the work of God created anew by Him for the purpose of doing those things that God calls good.

·        Justification is never an end in itself.  It is always a means to move a man into sanctification.

·        It was never His objective to leave us as wretched sinners, but that we become holy saints.

·        So it is His objective in the process that we do good works.

·        Thus, good works are a necessary evidence of regeneration.

·        In some places in the Bible faith is a condition.  In some places a gift [from God].

·        In [1 Cor. 12:9], it is one of the spiritual gifts.  Here it is a gift [from God], not a condition.

·        So grace is the explanation of the salvation.  Faith is the means by which God brings it about.

·        The great end is redemption.

 

Q:  Why isn’t faith a work?

·        Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness. [Rom. 4:3]

·        It’s what we do.  Why isn’t it a work?

·        Paul says, “Because I said it’s not [a work].”

·        Here [2:8], faith is a gift.  In Romans it’s a condition.

·        We can’t explain it, but it’s true.  Some men are given more faith than other men are.

·        Faith can also be content – the faith of our fathers, the faith once delivered to us.

·        The theologian says that it is the only condition [for salvation].

·        It’s not the ground of our salvation.  The propitious death of Christ is the ground of our salvation.

·        But what must we do to receive such a gift?  We’ve got to believe.

·        Believing strikes at the heart of every relationship.

·        You can’t have a relationship with anybody unless you believe him.

·        So God says that’s the basis on which we are going to relate with each other – you’ve got to believe Me.

·        Except He knows who will believe and who won’t.  He decided.  It’s a gift.

 

Q:  So can I say that man relates to God by faith, and God relates to man by grace, because He would not have faith in us [because He knows]?

·        Correct.

 

Faith, hope and love in heaven

Q:  1 Cor. 13:13 – “And now these three abide: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”  Why is love the greatest of these?

·        Faith and hope we do not emulate God.  Love is the only common attribute we share with God, because God doesn’t have faith or hope because He knows.

 

Q:  So will we have faith and hope in heaven?

·        You can’t be certain of the future, so yes.  1 Cor. 13:13 says these three things abide.

·        We carry these three into eternity with us – faith, hope and love.

·        The greatest is love because it’s the one thing we share with God.

 

Q:  So he who believes will be spiritually alive [in heaven]?

·        We will never be more spiritually alive than we are now.

 

Resurrection for the unbeliever

Q:  So what happens to the unbeliever when he dies?

·        Death is separation.  Sin separates.

·        Two men are in business.  One cheats from the other.  Separation takes place.

·        So we say that physical death is the separating of the real you from your body.

·        If there’s an auto accident, and the individual in the automobile is thrown from car and he’s alive, then the newspaper says Mr. Jones was found fifty feet from the automobile with a broken back.

·         But if Mr. Jones is dead, the newspaper says the body was found fifty feet from the automobile.  It doesn’t say Mr. Jones [was found], because even the pagans know that Mr. Jones isn’t there any more.

·        Death separates.  Spiritual death and physical death are the product of sin

·        So the non-Christian is born physically alive and spiritually dead.

·        When he dies physically, he will remain spiritually dead and physically dead, even though he will be resurrected into hell, because the death is separation from God.

 

Q:  What about the resurrection of the body?  Will they be given a body to face judgment, or will only their spirit face judgment?

·        The body and the spirit [will face judgment].  Rev. 20 – the great white throne judgment – says there will be the resurrection of the just and the unjust.

·        They too will have an incorruptible body, even though they’d rather not.

 

Already and not yet in the heavenly places (2:6,7)

Q:  In 2:7 it says that in the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of His grace.  Is that in the future [here] or in the coming ages?

·        The latter.  Throughout all eternity in every part of His created order, He calls attention to His greatness.

 

Q:  2:6 “seated in the heavenlies” means that begins now [already], and then 2:7 is the future?

·        Yes.  Already and not yet.

 

Q:  So can the angels see it better now, since they are seated in heaven?  They can appreciate God’s greatness and mercy than we can now?

·        Yes.  Heb. 12:1 says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  What is the author saying?

·        The witnesses are those great OT men of faith, rather than the angels.

·        They are now watching us from heaven in our struggle.

 

Already and not yet concept in Colossians 3

·        In Col. 3:1-4 at the beginning of the section about putting on the new man, Paul says, “you died and your life is hidden in Christ …” And the glory will be revealed.  This seems to be talking about the ‘already but not yet’ concept.

·        One of the reasons I tried to give careful study to the book of Ephesians was that for years I heard men revel in the greatness of their position in Christ.  The ostensible present reality of being in the heavenlies with Christ is part of that which so excites them, and they go back to it again and again as their love letter from God.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say to you [that] having studied it, I’m still not moved.  It just has never really done that for me, and I’ve always felt that that was a lack in my own life.  It was just some defect for me that somehow I should be able to reflect on that I am already – true not yet – but already in the heavenly places with Christ, and that should have a huge impact on my walk with God.  If it has an impact on me, I haven’t been able to discover it, so I don’t know.

·        Some people say the purpose of the circular letter was for that reason.  If so, then I missed it.

·        I’m very reluctant to say they are wrong.  I’m far more prone to say I’m wrong.  There’s something I just don’t see.  There’s a defect in me.

·        In Eph. 6 it says we are doing battle in those heavenlies.

 

Q:  Is this mystery revealed to angels and all creation after the death of Christ?

·        My sense is that any mystery that’s been revealed to us is well known everywhere else.

 

Appreciating Israel and avoiding anti-Semitism (2:11-22)

Q:  What is the significance [of this passage] for us 21st Century Gentiles?

·        I’m not sure.  Immediately apparent is the fact that we are hugely indebted to the Jews.

·        We, having been so instructed, should with the rest of creation marvel at the manifold wisdom of God.

·        The problem is that we are not very excited about being reconciled to the Jews.

·        The issue seems so far off to a lot of Christians.

·        1st century Gentiles were grateful that God took away the cultural requirement [to follow the Mosaic Law].  Otherwise it would be very hard.

·        God used the rejection of the Jews to bless the Gentiles instead of blessing the Jews to bless the Gentiles, like in the OT.  That will happen in the Millennium.

·        The church is a mystery.  God used the rejection of the Jews to bless the Gentiles.  That was never known in the OT.  That is one of the mysteries.

·        The church has so thoroughly discredited Israel, having stripped her of all the covenants and promises and left her with nothing but the curses that we tend to lose sight of how indebted we really are to them.

 

Q:  Are we obligated to pray for the Jews?

·        I’m not sure any more than we’re obligated to pray for the salvation of all people.

·        I think it’s wise we never lose our sense of wonderment at the uniqueness of the Jews.

·        What race of people has been so maligned and scattered across the face of the earth and maintained through all those centuries their identity?

·        Not the Jebusites, Hittites, Midianites, Goths, Visgoths, Vandals, but the Jews, yes.

·        From my point of view, gentlemen, it is supernatural that the Jews even to this day are so thoroughly vilified [slandered, reviled, defamed] and hated by everyone.

·        You might say the Arabs hate them because they’ve got Palestine, but the Arabs hated them long before Palestine, long before 1948.

·        The Muslim people actively participated with Hitler in trying to exterminate the Jews.

·        You ask yourself, why?  Why such a universal hatred.  Even Shylock [a central character, a Jew, in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice was portrayed as greedy and worthy of dislike], … and Mel Gibson’s Passion movie [also portrays Jews negatively].

·        It’s an undercurrent.  From my perspective, it just seems irrational.

 

Q:  Is this the punishment of God, like the Catholics say?

·        I don’t know.  All I know is that God said to Abraham, “I’ll bless them that bless you, and I’ll curse them that curse you.”  So I want to be on the blessing side.

 

Q:  Do you know if any country besides the US supports Israel?

·        There’s no doubt that the United States historically has been Israel’s best friend, along before ’48.

·        The Jews learned that almost unique from any other country, they could come here without being persecuted and vilified [slandered, reviled, defamed].

·        But even so, in our [American] culture there’s an undercurrent of anti-Semitism.

·        It’s just that the law so thoroughly protects them, which has not been true historically [in other places].

·        The UK and the French recognize them [the State of Israel].

·        Whenever Israel is up for a vote in the United Nations, you’ll note that they lose that vote by a wide, wide majority always, no matter what the issue is [that is being voted upon].

·        No matter what the issue is, they always lose – not enough friends.

·        Even our former president, Jimmy Carter, says that the Middle East is Israel’s fault.

·        That’s an extraordinary statement for a bright, educated former president of the United States to say.

·        I think it’s astounding.  Of course, if you’ve done any reading at all, you know how thoroughly he’s been taken to task [challenged] for that, but he stands by it in his own right.

 

Q:  Isn’t he [Jimmy Carter] a Baptist?  How could he go to church all those years and be against it?

·        Because the Church has historically been anti-Semitic.

·        The Church from the patriarchs forward has been anti-Semitic.

·        The only Christians that are not anti-Semitic are renegade [having rejected tradition] laymen who take the prophecies of Israel literally, but they are in a minority.

 

Q:  Was that starting with the Darbyites?

·        He was certainly / the Brethren were the first to formulate it into a theology.

·        The Brethren Movement – Darby, Scofield and Gabelline (?)

·        They were sympathetic [to the Jews].  They formulated it into a theology called Dispensationalism.

·        Remember, that’s 19th century theology, but that undercurrent of feeling was seen in laymen who took exception [disagreed] with the allegorical [hidden spiritual meaning] interpretation of scripture.

 

Q:  But how do the covenant theologians ever explain Romans 11?

·        Most of those who try to do justice to the passage say that at the end Israel will be saved through the Church.  It has to be through the Church.

·        The reason why we don’t have an appreciation for Israel is that the Church from the beginning stripped Israel of all the promises and of all the blessings and left her the curses.

 

Q:  [Don’t you think maybe] Carter had an issue with politics in Israel, not necessarily anti-Semitism – like building settlements in Palestinian territory?  [To some people] that seems like it’s egging on the Palestinians [to have conflict] – like I’m going to go build a house in your front yard.

·        I don’t want to go down this road, but let me remind you that at the peace accord that he himself [Carter] negotiated, Israel said that they would surrender all of that [land] for the recognition of Israel as a nation, and that is something the Muslim world will never do.  But let’s go on.

 

Christ brought peace and unity to the Jews and Gentiles (2:13-18)

Q:  In 2:14 it says, “He himself is our peace.”  Any comments on why Jesus is our peace?

·        He is our peace in the sense that He is the one that brought it.

·        The Jews and Gentiles are at peace with each other because they are at peace with God.

·        Cross-reference: 2 Cor 5:16 says we no long no any man in the flesh [from a worldly point of view]

·        In Christ all racial distinctions are obliterated.

·        All distinctions between people – bright and dull, good-looking and ugly – are obliterated.

·        We now see people as God sees them, and Jesus is the one that made that possible.

 

Six things based on the blood of Christ (2:13-18)

·        The Gentiles are brought to God.

·        The Gentiles gained peace with both God and the Jews.

·        That which separates Jew and Gentile no longer exists.

·        The Mosaic system was cancelled.

·        Jew and Gentiles are one as part of the body of Christ.

·        Both are given access to the Father by the Holy Spirit.

 

Short-lived benefits of that peace due to anti-Semitism

·        We can’t practice that unity now, because there are no Jews in our world.

·        If Church history is any indicator, a huge amount of the blame rests with the Gentiles, not the Jews.

·        Not that the Jews were blameless, but the healing that Paul envisioned, in reality, never came about.

·        Most of the churches he ministered to were made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

·        That quickly came to an end after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

·        The believing Jews migrated to a little community called Pella on the east side of the Jordan River and just kind of withered away from there.

 

Brief history of Jewish dispersions

Q:  What was the political reason behind the destruction of Israel [in 70 AD]?

·        Israel rebelled.  They revolted, so at that point Rome showed no mercy.

·        Everybody was killed [or dispersed].

·        Stone by stone, the city was destroyed.  The temple was destroyed.  Everything was leveled.

 

Q:  When did we get Jews dispersed around the world?

·        There have been dispersions of the Jews through the centuries.

·        The Assyrian [dispersion of 721BC], and then the Babylonian [captivity starting in 605BC].

·        There were settlements of Jews all over the Roman Empire, even when Rome and Israel were on friendly terms.

 

Q:  So after 70AD, not until after World War 2 did it become a nation again?

·        It became a nation [again] for the first time in 1948.

 

Q:  Is there a strong believing Jewish church currently?

·        I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in our country there is a small group called the Messianic Jews that gather. 

·        As a matter of fact, San Francisco is headquarters for one of those groups, called Jews for Jesus.

·        There are little groups of these people in various cities.  They are definitely a minority in a minority in a minority.

·        They are usually people who converted in this age.  They weren’t continuing anything from the past.

 

Q:  Didn’t you mention once before that after 140AD or so they just gave it up – the Jewish customs – the second or third generation [of Jewish] Christians, because the parents wanted to pass on the Christian faith, so the Jewish faith became less and less important?

·        The Jewish faith was always important to the Jew but never important to the Gentile.

·        I don’t know the degree the Church tried to emulate the customs of Israel in the early Church.

 

Current Christian work to help Jews

·        You can go online to CJF Ministries to see some work being done today.

·        Some Christian groups are going over to Israel to provide all kinds of help.

·        Israel knows that a small segment of Christianity is firmly in their corner.

 

Prophets, foundations, strangers

Q:  Is 2:20 talking about the OT prophets or NT prophets?

·        I can’t be dogmatic on it, but my sense is that it’s talking about men living in the NT times.

·        I cross-referenced it with Eph. 3:5, which definitely seems to refer to the NT prophets.

·        Also, the mystery was not revealed to the OT prophets.

·        Some people say that 2:20 is about both OT and NT prophets – I would not argue with that

 

Two types of foundations

·        Eph. 2:20 – foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone

·        1 Cor. 3:11,12 – Jesus is the foundation

 

Q:  In 2:15, what does, “The two become one” mean?

·        Both come to God in the same way.  The Jew and Gentile and regenerated the same way.

·        They have the same position and are both equal in Christ.

 

Two types of strangers

·        Peter and Paul talk about strangers and pilgrims in a different way.

·        1 Peter 2:11 says you are strangers and pilgrims [in this world].

·        Paul says you are no longer strangers and foreigners [in Eph. 2:19].

·        It’s used in different ways and different contexts, and that’s how I’d understand the foundation.

·        So here it’s emphasizing the mystery [that Gentiles can be included in God’s program].

 

Q:  Can you comment on the ‘prophets’ in 4:11,12? Are NT prophets different from OT prophets?

·        Agabus was able to predict [famine in Acts 11:28].

·        1 Cor. 14 seems to be about proclamation rather than predicting.

·        There are prophets in the NT who are women.

·        We cannot judge NT prophets like in Deuteronomy [who tried to predict – Dt. 18:20-22 says they had to be 100% accurate or else they were presumptuous and not to be feared but rather killed], because the NT prophets were not trying to predict.  It seems like in 1 Cor. 14 they were proclaiming the scriptures, not prophesying the future.

 

 

[Second day’s afternoon break]

 

 

Transcultural Gospel

Q:  Are 2:15 “one new man” and 2:19 “household of God” the same?

·        Yes.  Synonyms

·        2:21,22 – God by dwelling in each of you by His Spirit collectively makes you His temple.

 

Q:  Was Paul saying that the Gospel was transcultural to counteract the Judaizers?

·        Yes.  In Rom. 11:11,15 Paul twice says the Jewish loss was the Gentile’s gain, because of the Gospel being transcultural.

·        Paul never prohibited the Jewish Christian from practicing OT Judaism.

·        He only insisted that it not be a requirement for Gentile converts.

·        So when Paul went to Jerusalem in Acts [21:17-26], and he was in trouble with the Jewish community, he said, “What should I do?” and they said, “Go to the temple and go through the rites of purification and offer sacrifices,” which Paul was happy to do.

·        I don’t think that he ever said a Jew practicing OT rites was prohibited.

·        He just simply said they were not normative for the Christian Gentile.

 

The Church – organized gatherings and organizations

Q:  So in 2:16 the church is a body, but in 2:20,20 it is a temple of the Lord?

·        Yes.  2:21,22 “in whom” refers to Christ, so he’s simply changing analogies.

 

Q:  Can you use this as a true definition of church?

·        Yes, but everybody would.  I don’t think anybody would disagree with that.

·        Those who argue for an institutional presence do not argue that there’s no such thing as a Church universal.  All agree with that.

 

Q:  Can you define when an organized gathering becomes an organization?  Is it when the organization becomes an entity in and of itself that’s greater than the people?  How do you know when you cross the line?

·        I’m not sure I would be able to give you all the indicators, but certainly one strong indicator is when you move from organizing to controlling.

·        Lucas – and we’re all indebted to him for this – graciously organized this event.

·        I’ve never sensed him trying to control it.  It’s simply what everybody wants.

·        So, the beautiful thing about non-institutional Christianity is we don’t have to agree on doctrine,
but the moment you organize, doctrine becomes very important.

·        We must as followers of Christ make a clear distinction in our own thinking between those things on which we disagree and those things with which we disapprove.

·        I would expect you to disagree with me on many things.

·        I would hope that you disapprove of me in few things.

·        When you institutionalize or create an organization, those lines blur.

·        So for example, we become a Reformed Dispensational Baptist denomination.

·        Somebody says, “I think we ought to baptize infants.”

·        [Another says,] “Not in this fellowship are you going to,” and so we’ve got now two denominations, and so it goes.

·        Now, whether I baptize infants or whether you baptize infants, we may not agree, but what difference does it make?

 

Essentials and non-essentials

Q:  Did you say that the difference between a doctrine and a command is simply that a command is something that’s clear-cut?

·        Yes.  Unambiguous, stated in the imperative.

 

Q:  Even with disagreements, if we disagree on essential matters, such as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that would also break our unity, regardless of whether we have an institution or not. [Right?]

·        Yes.  I suggest three circles:

·        Inner circle – the non-negotiable essentials

·        2nd circle – important, but not essential

·        3rd circle – unimportant

·        Everybody has the three circles, and everybody has got to decide what fits into what.

·        The more you put into the inner circle, the more myopic [narrow in view and lacking in foresight and discernment] you will become, the less attractive you will be to the non-Christian and the more you will drift toward being a sect.

·        So you’ve got to be careful to not put too much in there.

·        But you are void of anything in your walk with God if you don’t put something in there.

 

Pros and cons of control

·        In the early Church, the non-negotiable essentials were quite limited.

·        And as things developed they put more and more things there.

·        Yes. Control.  Always control.

 

Q:  Control is a bad thing?

·        No.  Control is essential in some matters.

·        That’s the reason why [Roman] emperors called themselves gods,
And why in Europe they called them the divine right of kings
And why in your country [China] your government countenances [tolerates] no argument.

·        Control is very important.  No country can survive, no institution can survive without control.

·        As head of your home, you’ve got to have some control.

 

Q:  So institutions are neutral – not good or bad?

·        Right, it is not commanded in the scripture, but it is permitted.

 

Q:  Is the Lord’s great commission better served by organized activities or just by individuals running around and [serving individuals]?

·        Again, there’s strong disagreement.  We all know that five fingers are not as powerful as a fist.

·        For that reason there are seemingly compelling reasons to organize.  It just depends on whom you ask.

·        Gentlemen, I spent the first 20 years of my Christian ministry in an organization.

·        One of the primary reasons I left it was I didn’t want to spend my life trying to talk godly men into doing what they didn’t think it was the will of God to do.

·        I was never at any time angry with the organization or mad at it.

·        I just said to myself, “I don’t want to live there.”  Another mans says, “I do.”

·        And I say, “Be ye warmed and filled.”  It’s just what you think God’s called you to do.

·        Every man who’s involved in leadership in an organization knows the nature of what I’m talking about.

·        I didn't think they were wrong.  I said I don’t want to spend my life doing that.

 

Q:  What’s non-negotiable?

·        The commandments, the person of Christ, the authority of scripture.  I think I’d stop there probably.

 

Q:  How about the Virgin birth?

·        If you tell me the Bible teaches it, then I tell you [that] you are obligated to believe it.

·        You’re obligated to believe whatever the Bible teaches.

·        We may differ in what the Bible teaches – like infant baptism.

·        When Jesus said, “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you can have no part of me” [Jn. 6:53], did He mean that literally?  Why not?  I love a literal interpretation of the Bible.

·        Our Catholic friends say ‘yes.’  I don’t agree with them, but I freely confess they may be right.

·        I don’t think they are; otherwise I’d be one.

 

Q:  You’re always going to have some level of control, but when the control moves from the inner to the second or third circles [then you back away]

·        No.  I am not going to control whether or not you believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

·        I’m just simply saying to you I consider it essential.  It’s a non-negotiable.

 

Q:  But what if I told Lucas I didn’t think the Bible was the Word of God?  Ephesians is nice, but it’s relative.  I think Lucas might not invite me back.  So there’s some degree of control, isn’t there?

·        Well, I’m not sure.  We may be quibbling on words [evading a point], but there’s a commonality.

·        Why in the world would you want to come to a meeting of hardheaded bigots who think that the Bible is truly the Word of God when you know it isn’t?  Why would you want to come?

·        So it’s not so much that I want to exclude you, but why would you want to be part of it?

 

Q:  If a man says that only those who go through theological seminary can preach the Word in the congregation, will you treat him as a heretic?

·        [No.  This is] strange, but not heretical.

 

Q:  When did seminary start?

·        It’s good.  It’s great, wonderful!  Why would you not be pro-seminary?

 

Q:  But is seems like a modern think – in the last few hundred years.

·        Education is a modern invention.  Public education as we know it didn’t exist 200 years ago.

·        Seminary did.  That’s why a lot of schools came into existence – Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge

 

Q:  2:15 ‘enmity’ seems like a very strong word describing the law of commandments [doesn’t it?]

·        He uses the word ‘enmity’ twice.

·        In 2:16 the enmity is between God and man.  In 2:14,15 the enmity was between Jews & Gentiles.

·        In Dt. 23:6 Israel was commanded not to seek the peace or their prosperity of the Gentiles all their days forever.

·        That seems like it might have been part of the enmity.  They were just commanded to be that way.

·        In Dt. 4:19 God says that He chose Israel to worship Him, and He gave the heavens to the heathen to worship.

 

 

[End of second day’s discussion]