January 8, 2011 by Dwight Bernier
Throughout this series on hearing from Jesus in His Word, we’ve walked through a fairly systematic approach to reading Scripture. Now, while this approach will not be as simple with some passages (i.e. Proverbs, Chronicles, parts of the Pentateuch), if you bring into the passage greater context of who God is and what He’s done, then those passages will work. But that is also why we have great commentaries and helps to reading the Bible – because sometimes it’s not easy to understand. Even Peter said that about Paul’s writing! But we also have the Spirit to teach us and point us to Jesus (John 14, 16).
Before giving the final two questions, I wanted to wrap up with saying that this is a fairly in-depth reading of Ephesians 1. I understand that for many of you (including myself some days), you just don’t have the time to read and list out things in this depth. To that I would say a few things. First, don’t feel like you have to finish a certain amount by a certain period of time. God wants you to know Him. He is not giving you check marks or smiley faces on some big chart next to His throne each time you hurry through a passage to say that you did it. (And trust me, I’m guilty of this as well.) Second, read slowly and capture as much as you can from the passage, stopping to pray about something you’ve never seen before, have a hard time believing, someone comes to mind, you find you’ve been sinning, etc. It’s okay to stop and pray through Scripture. Third, you can still use this method of questioning but by reflecting upon what impacted you most. Maybe what impacted you most from Ephesians 1 is that God is Father (who is God), He predestined you for adoption through Jesus (what He’s done), I am now a child of God (who I am because of who God is & what He’s done), & now I am called to live as a child of the Most High God and not as an orphan (what I am called to do). If that is what you left Ephesians 1 with, that would be most beneficial in your relationship with your Father.
Now… on to the last 2 questions in our study of Ephesians 1, which actually follow up and are antithetical to questions 3 & 4. These questions are really meant to bring us back to the glory of God and what He’s done for us in Jesus. So, here they are.
1 – Who am I/would I be without God in this passage? (Take the answers you got to question 3 and put them in reverse)
- Sinner condemned (v. 1)
- Unfaithful (v. 1)
- Recipient of wrath (vv. 2, 6, 7)
- At war with God (v. 2)
- Cursed (vv. 3, 6)
- Forgotten (v. 4)
- Unholy (v. 4)
- Unloved (v. 4)
- Destined an orphan (v. 5)
- Slave (v. 7)
- Separated from Christ (v. 10)
- Without an inheritance (vv. 11, 18 )
- Not kept for God (v. 13)
- Object of God’s wrath (v. 19)
- Left for dead (v. 20)
- Not a part of God’s community (v. 22)
The answers to that question should make us rejoice that God is in this passage and that God has worked powerfully toward us who believe, with His immeasurable might. Now, we move on to our final question.
2 – Can we do what we’re called to do without Christ?
The simple answer is ‘No’! But we should take the time to look back at our answers to question 4 “What am I called to do in this passage” and now ask, ‘Can I do this without Jesus’? If the answer is ever ‘Yes’, then we’ve moved past the gospel and our need for a Savior. So, I’ll ask the questions:
- Can I live as a saint where I am without Jesus? (v. 1)
- Can I receive & give grace without Jesus? (v. 2)
- Can I receive & give peace without Jesus? (v. 2)
- Can I bless (because I’ve been blessed) without Jesus? (v. 3)
- Can I be holy & blameless without Jesus? (v. 4)
- Can I live as a son of God without Jesus? (v. 5)
- Can I make much of God’s grace without Jesus? (v. 6)
- Can I live forgiven without Jesus? (v. 7)
- Can I be hopeful for Christ to unite all things in Him without Jesus? (v. 10)
- Can I live for the inheritance to come without Jesus? (v. 11)
- Can I exist for God’s glory without Jesus? (v. 12)
- Can I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ without Jesus? (v. 13)
- Can I be secure in what God has done without Jesus? (vv. 13, 14)
- Can I rely on God for revelation about Himself without Jesus? (vv. 17-19)
- Can I lift up Jesus & worship Him without Jesus? (vv. 20-21)
- Can I put no man in the church above Jesus without Jesus? (v. 22)
- Can I be the body of Christ without Jesus? (v. 23)
The answers to those questions should make Jesus really big and our religious tendencies and fixations very useless. For we can not earn our way to our identity. It has to come through Jesus.
May your reading be hearing from Jesus about who He is, what He’s done, who we are because of Him & what He’s calling us to do. May we repent from our reading just to read. May Jesus be lifted up in our hearts in 2011 and for all of eternity!