Category Archives: Bible Study

How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God

A Christmas Sermon Outline

Have you ever been given a gift, or seen one under the Christmas tree, that needed no card or tag informing you who sent it? Maybe the meticulous wrapping was a clue to who the wrapper was.

I know Christmas is still a few days away, but some of you might need something to preach or teach between now and then. Therefore, please accept as my gift of an outline I prepared, “How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God.”

Please, feel free to use it 🙂

“How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God”

I.  Because of When THIS Gift Was Given

·   Galatians 4:4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…”

II.  Because of How THIS Gift Was Wrapped

·   Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

·   Philippians 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

·   Hebrews 4:15 KJV – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

III.  Because THIS Gift Was Truly Free

·   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

·   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…it is a GIFT of God, NOT of works…”

·   Romans 3:24 “Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

IV.  Because THIS Gift Was Exactly What We Needed

A.  To Bring Us Life – Luke 2:11 “Unto you is born, in the city of David, a SAVIOR…”

B.  To Bring Us Joy – Lamentations 3:22-23 “His mercies are new every morning”

V.  Because of the Love that Went Into It.

·   1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

VI.  Conclusion:

A.  Accept the Gift of Jesus

B.  Give Thanks! – 2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for this unspeakable Gift!”

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The Joy of Christmas (an outline)

This past Sunday morning, the third Sunday in the Advent week, I preached a sermon that taught about the joy that was experienced in the Christmas story.

This morning I am uploading my outline from the sermon so that you may have it. But it is also the same outline I’m going to use this morning on our Discord server, FaithChatt.

The Joy of Christmas

Opening Text: Luke 2:10 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

1. Joy Defined: What is Joy?

Examples: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!” “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls…” “Happy Happy, Joy Joy Song” (from Ren and Stempy)

            A. How many words translated as “joy”? 10 in Greek, 25 in Hebrew! If the word LOVE could have multiple meanings (4-5 different words in Greek), then JOY might be much more difficult to define, correct?

            B. Merriam-Webster: The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires DELIGHT; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; a state of happiness or fidelity (bliss); a source or cause of delight.

2. Joy Delivered: Who Were the Recipients? Who Delivered?

            A. Zacharias and the “many” – Luke 1:14 (Gabriel)

            B. Mary (Gabriel, Elisabeth, God) Luke 1

            C. Elisabeth and John the Baptist (Mary, the Holy Ghost) Luke 1

            D. The Shepherds (the angel of the Lord: Gabriel?) Luke 2

            E. The Wise men (Testimony, the star) Matthew 2

            F. To All People Luke 2

3. Joy Described: How they Responded

            A. Khar-ah: cheerfulness, i.e., calm delight

                        1. Matt. 1:14: Zacharias and people

                        2. Matt. 2:10: Wise men (great (megas) – joy)  REJOICED χαίρω chaírō, khah’-ee-ro; a primary verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impersonally, especially as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well.

            Luke 2:10-17: to The Shepherds – they shared the news!

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
― Mark Twain

            3. All people – we’ll get to that in a second…

            B. ἀγαλλίασις agallíasis, ag-al-lee’-as-is; from G21; exultation (a feeling of triumphant elation or jubilation; rejoicing) ; specially, welcome:—gladness, (exceeding) joy.

  1. Elisabeth For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. – Luke 1:44 KJV

            C. σκιρτάω skirtáō, skeer-tah’-o; akin to σκαίρω skaírō (to skip); to jump, i.e. sympathetically move (as the quickening of a fetus):—leap (for joy).

1. Luke 1:41, 44 KJV – And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: … For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 6:23 KJV – Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward [is] great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

            D.  ἀγαλλιάω agalliáō, ag-al-lee-ah’-o; from agan (much) and G242; properly, to jump for joy, i.e. exult:—be (exceeding) glad, with exceeding joy, rejoice (greatly).

1. Luke 1:47 KJV – Mary – And my spirit hath rejoiced (jumped for joy) in God my Saviour. (In reply to Elizabeth’s statement about John)

2. Matthew 5:12 KJV – Rejoice (jump for joy), and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven… (Jesus)

E.  χαίρω chaírō, khah’-ee-ro; a primary verb; to be “cheer”ful, i.e., calmly happy or well-off; impersonally, especially as salutation (on meeting or parting), be well.

  1. Matthew 2:10 KJV – Wise men – When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

4. Joy to be Determined

Luke 2:10-17: to The Shepherds – they shared the news! “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
― Mark Twain

A. We’ve heard the news

B. We’ve seen the “star”

C. “Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is Lord!”

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Psalm 100 for Thanksgiving

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, I believe it would be very helpful to look at what God’s Word says. People can debate the story of the Pilgrims, their survival, and the relationship they had with the native people after that first deadly winter, but there should be no debate that God deserves ALL our praise, obedience, worship, and thanksgiving.

Therefore, I would ask you to take a few minutes to walk with me through a short Psalm of thanksgiving: Psalm 100.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations. – Psalm 100:1-5 KJV

The Divisions

When I break down Psalm 100, I see it divided into two distinct sets of 3, a middle, and a prelude consisting of three reasons for our thanksgiving, worship, and praise.

The prelude to which I refer is not at the beginning of the chapter, but at the end. It is verse 5 that gives us the reasons for why we should be thankful. However, when delivering this outline in sermon form, moving verse 5 to the beginning keeps us focused on God’s goodness, His mercy, and His immutability throughout the discourse.

Therefore, observe below how the entirety of Psalm 100 could be (and was) preached.

  • Because (“for”) the LORD is good
  • Because … His mercy is everlasting
  • Because … His truth endureth to all generations

            The Christian’s Invitation

            1.  Praise! “Make a joyful noise…”

            2.  Obey! “…serve the LORD with gladness…”

            3.  Worship! “…com before his presence with singing…”

                        A) Know the LORD he is God

                        B) [Know] it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves

                        C) [Know] we are His people and the sheep of His pasture

            The Stranger’s Invitation

            1.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving

            2.  Enter His courts with praise

            3.  Be thankful and bless His name

The Citizen’s Invitation

The reason I think we can divide the psalm into the described divisions is based on the context in which David wrote Psalm 100. The imagery is that of a king and his kingdom. In this case we are talking about the King of Kings who is Sovereign over all the Earth.

Therefore, when we look at verses 1 and 2, we can see actions implored of citizens, while verse 4 can be seen as an invitation to those “on the outside looking in.”

Because the LORD is good…because His mercy is everlasting…because His truth endureth to all generations, the citizens of His kingdom can and should praise, obey, and worship with a joy that only comes with the realization and wonder developed in relationship with the King.

The Middle

Like I mentioned at the first, there is a middle part. This is the part that separates the citizen’s invitation and the stranger’s invitation. It is found in verse 3.

  • Know the LORD he is God
  • [Know] it is he that hath made us, not we ourselves
  • [Know] we are his people, the sheep of his pasture

Proper theology, the biblical kind, is essential to not only knowing who God is, but knowing Him personally. The word translated “know” is the same word used in Genesis 3:7 which described how Adam and Eve felt upon realizing their nakedness – their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Until we open our eyes and see who God is, not a man-made version, then our worship will not only be incomplete, but it will be powerless.

(See Elohiym in Genesis 1:1. See also how Jesus describes the Triune God in Matthew 28:19.)

The Stranger’s Invitation

By “stranger” I mean the one on the outside looking in, the non-citizen. The invitation in verse 4 can be seen as calling out to the ones who long to be part of such a nation of people as the children of God. It is an invitation to “enter the gates.”

When you think of an old, biblical-type city, don’t you think of walled cities with gates? Well, when one was outside the gate, locked outside, entering in without an invitation would be called an invasion, right? That is why Jesus said that “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus IS the Door, the Gate. But, the invitation is there. “Enter with thanksgiving!”

Why enter with thanksgiving? Because you have heard the great noise of the shouts of praise! The joyful roo-ah’ that was the war cry of praise shouted out by the Israelites in Joshua 6:16 and 20 has been ringing in your ears. YOUR king isn’t good. Your king isn’t merciful. Your king is always changing his mind, always unpredictable. Enter? Why YES! Joyfully and thankfully!

Why enter His courts with praise? The stranger no longer has to worry about being brought into the throne room to be judged. The poor and needy, mourning over sin, needs not worry about his countenance when stepping into the presence of Majesty! No, the invitation is to “enter his courts with praise,” because this King is merciful beyond compare and “willing that none should perish!”

The invitation is there, so “be thankful and bless his name.”

And it can ONLY be done, both citizen and stranger, because the LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Are Ghosts Real? What Does the Bible Say?

The following are notes that I used for the sermon I preached at Bethlehem Baptist and taught on Discord.


Question: Do Ghosts Exist? (preached 10/24/2021 @ Bethlehem Bapt., Warthen, GA)

It depends on your definition.

  • an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.  – Bing.com
  • the soul of a dead person, a disembodied spirit imagined, usually as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, as wandering among or haunting living persons. – dictionary.com

Are there SPIRIT beings?  Yes.

Are there disembodied spirits of the dead roaming the earth, haunting houses, abandoned mental institutions, and cemeteries?   NO.

So, what about the souls of the dead wandering about in limbo? What about the Civil War soldiers on the battlefield? Ol’ Green Eyes? The Lady in White?

If the Bible is true, the spirits of the deceased cannot remain on earth to “haunt” the living.

  • Hebrews 9:27 – And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
    • (Believer) 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
    • (Believer) Philippians 1:21-23 – For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain. But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
    • (Unbeliever) Luke 16:22-24 – And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
  • However, there are two examples recorded in Scripture where the dead DID come back, but in each were specific situations that fulfilled God’s plan.
    • Samuel (1 Samuel 28:15)
    • Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-8)

If the dead don’t come back, if ghosts don’t exist, then what are people witnessing?
            (Don’t allow experience to be the sole determiner for what is real or not)

Answer: Angelic beings, either angels or demons

  • Angels are “ministering spirits”
    • Psalm 103:20-21 KJV – Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
    • Psalm 104:4 KJV – Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
    • Daniel 9:21-23 KJV – Yea, whiles I [was] speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed [me], and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew [thee]; for thou [art] greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
  • Demons (fallen angels) do the will of the Devil
    • 1 Peter 5:8 KJV – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    • 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV – For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

What about “hauntings”?

Aside from the endless movies about ghosts and monsters of all types, especially around this time of year, did you know that since 1991 there have been 42 “reality shows” on television that focus on the paranormal?

  1. Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories (1991-95) with Leonard Nemoy
  2. Sightings (91-97)
  3. Haunted History (2013- ): Are voices, spirits and apparitions trying to tell us something about past events? 
  4. My Ghost Story (2010) – a documentary – “Frightening insight, through firsthand experiences, with the paranormal. These stories prove that ghosts are omnipresent.”
  5. Ghost Hunters – “Meet Jason and Grant, plumbers by day – ghost hunters by night! Ghost Hunters follows a group of real-life ghostbusters as they investigate haunted houses throughout the country.”

The funny thing about all the “ghost hunting” videos is that there’s always a “Did you hear that?” moment. There’s always a chill, a smell, a noise, a shadow, etc.

However, there are things that have been caught on film, noises that have been recorded, and things that have moved. It’s not ALL a joke or in people’s imagination.

  • I believe that most of what people see or experience is nothing more than their imagination, something easily explainable in the light, or nothing more than a hoax.
  • On the other hand, plenty of sane, logical people have witnessed things that do not have a natural explanation and were not fake.

KEY POINT: There are EVIL SPIRITUAL forces at work in the world.

  • Ephesians 6:12 KJV – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
  • Daniel 10:10-14 CSB – [10] Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. [11] He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling.  [12] “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. [13] “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia. [14] “Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days.”

A verse to remember: Ephesians 4:27Neither give place to the devil.

Unfortunately, around this time of year a whole lot of people are giving place to the devil. There is NO QUESTION that much of what our culture now has to offer is giving Satan a foothold in the lives of so many, starting with our children.

That’s why we need to discuss these things – like ghosts, Halloween, horror movies, dark music, and even the “Squid Games” – in the light of Scripture.

CONCLUSION… What we believe about ghosts and the paranormal says a lot about what we believe about God and his Word.

1. If you believe in ghosts, but you don’t believe in demons, then you don’t believe the Bible.

2. If you believe the disembodied spirits or souls of the dead can still roam the earth looking for closure or peace, then you don’t believe the Bible.

3. If you believe mediums can truly talk to the deceased, whether by crystal balls, séances, dreams, or signs, then you don’t believe the Bible.

4. IF you are a Christian, and you say you believe God and his Word, then you – and ONLY you – can repeat a line from the greatest documentary ever made on the paranormal – “Ghost Busters.” It’s the line that goes, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!

Why? Because the Bible says in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is he that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

But if you think THAT is great news, then let me conclude with something else Jesus said!

Luke 10:17-20 – And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. [18] And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. [19] Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. [20] Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

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Heaven is a Personal, Permanent Place!

I preached on Heaven this morning. Want to watch the sermon (and me singing a song beforehand)? Well, to borrow from a funny guy, here’s your video.

(Oh, btw, please pardon the choppy internet service)

Click on the picture to watch the video. Thanks!

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Church, Life/Death, Preaching

Are You a “Nerd”?

In an effort to get a better understanding of the the word, I did what any self-respecting scholar would do: I “googled” it. Well, actually, that’s not correct, I “binged” it.

Anyway, I found several different definitions for nerd. Some of them, quite frankly, seemed a little harsh.

  • (Noun) a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious.
  • (Verb) engage in or discuss a technical field obsessively or with great attention to detail.
  • A person, especially a man, who is not attractive and is awkward or socially embarrassing.
  • A person who is extremely interested in one subject, especially computers, and knows a lot of facts about it.

So, to sum it up, a “nerd” is not a good thing until you need one . . . or until one becomes a billionaire and his looks and social skills no longer matter.

On the other hand, being called a “nerd” could be sort of a compliment.

Called Black by the Pot

There’s an old saying about an iron pot and an iron kettle. If you have seen them you know what they look like – they’re both jet black. Well, when a black pot looks at a black kettle and with smug indignation points out said kettle’s blackness, what you have is either hypocrisy or irony.

I R O N y …. see what I did there? 😉

So, when just the other day I was told by gamers and Discord server owners that I was a nerd, well … this kettle had to laugh at the pots.

I’m on Discord!

By the way – and this is important – I am taking part in a brand new mission field!

If you are a gamer, then you are familiar with Discord. Believe it or not, this is one of the greatest mission fields we have seen in our lifetimes. No joke.

If you would like to check out what I’m doing, along with a list of growing content on our server, FaithChatt, then click the link below and join in! Currently I am doing a Bible study through the book of Ephesians every Friday morning at 9 a.m. (Eastern).

discord.gg/faithchatt

Back to the NERD Stuff

Anyway, last Friday morning while teaching in Ephesians on Discord, I began talking about my love for watches. The purpose was illustrate how that when we are really into something, we talk about it. We talk about what we know.

Photo by Matilda Wormwood on Pexels.com

It wasn’t long after I started with the analogy that I heard muffled laughter . . . snickers (not the candy kind) . . . and the hint of a conversation going on in the chat room. That’s when these guys, the ones who know all about “bots” and “bumps” and “boosts,” said, “You’re a nerd.”

Riiiiiight.

That’s when I really got to thinking …. am I a “nerd” about Jesus? Are you?

You see, when it comes to so many things we get excited about, we are quick to tell people all about it. Just a tiny opportunity is all we need.

Are we that way about Jesus?

Can we go on and on about who He is? Can we boast about His stats? Are we so familiar with Him that we can talk for hours about all the quests we’ve been on and the battles we’ve won?

And for all the watch lovers out there like me, you get so excited about those man-made jeweled movements that tell time, but what about the One who created time?

Are we nerds about Jesus?

Why not?

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Sunday’s Sermons from the Back Porch

Good Monday morning! I pray you are doing well and are excited for what God has in store for us, today!

I know, it’s a Monday.

I know, there are a lot of sad things going on in the world.

But, you know what? We can still find encouragement in God’s Word! That is why I want to share with you the Facebook videos from yesterdays messages I preached from my back porch.

Why the back porch? Because we had cancelled in-person services last week because of COVID-19 cases. Hopefully we will be back together as a congregation this Sunday.

In the morning sermon I preached from Ephesians 1:3-7 and outlined 5 benefits that come with being “in Christ.”

In the evening video I continued our study into the the book of Romans. Good stuff. Really good stuff 😉

Please pray for those who are sick.

Please pray for the poor souls in Afghanistan.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt. 16 (Ephesians 4:16)

Sorry for the delay, but here is the final instalment of the mini commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16. I pray the whole series has been informative and a blessing in some way.


4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

From whom the whole body fitly joined together

            Here is where the metaphor of the body can get a little tricky, at least compared to the way things naturally work. When a human is conceived, his DNA is already present, passed from both the mother and the father. The “blueprint of life” dictates how a child will look, how big he will be, his color of skin, etc. But Jesus, the Head of the Body, is the one who oversees the construction and placement of body parts. The mind, the Person of God, is eternal; the Body – both when He walked the earth and when He left and sent His Spirit – came into being by the will of God. There is no accidental deformity withing the Body of Christ! There are no mutations, missing parts, or inadequate ones! The WHOLE body is FITLY joined together! Hallelujah!

            Are you intimidated, discouraged, or feel out of place in the Body of Christ? Don’t feel that way! You were designed and created to fit exactly where the Head wants you. You have a purpose for which no other part in the body can fill. You are unique and designed by God.

and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,

             Here we see that not only is every person who is part of the Body a specially designed member created for a particular purpose in the overall growth of the Body, but each has a part in the unifying of the Body into a cohesive whole.[1] Paul implied this same thought in his letter to the Colossians: “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Colossians 2:2).

according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,

            Now, despite the lofty example of Jesus, God “knows our frame,” that we are nothing but dust (Psalm 103:14). Therefore, notice that Paul says, “…the measure of every part.” The measure of one part of the Body, one Christian, is not going to be the same measure of another one. Too often we find ourselves comparing our spirituality to that of other more “godly” believers. In doing so we often find ourselves discouraged from not measuring up to their likeness. Look, we are all dust, and the most that we can ever be is only because of God’s grace.

            But the encouraging hope is this: what we have and all that we are, yielded to the will of the Head of the Body, is guaranteed to be effective toward the purpose for which we have been designed.

maketh increase of the body

            Simply put, a healthy member of the body, no matter the importance, will, if effectually being used, make increase to the Body. Does that mean that one must lead others to Christ in order to “make increase”? Possibly, but whatever the purpose, if doing what it’s designed to do, will contribute to the other members’ edification.

unto the edifying of itself in love.

            Herein lies the overall purpose of the gifts God gives in Christ through the Spirit: the edifying of the Church – the building up into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are many within the Body of Christ who think the edification of the individual member takes precedent over the body as a whole. This can be seen in the doctrine that promotes “prayer language,” or private times of prayer that consist of ecstatic speech, unknown tongues, or what is technically referred to as glossolalia. Yet, Paul addressed this very topic in 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.

            Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” He did not argue that it could never happen; he just said that if he did pray in such a way, he would not understand what was being said. Furthermore, in verses 15 and 16 he states that he would rather speak and sing in an understandable language so that everyone could benefit, especially those who “understandeth not” (v. 16). But it is in verse 17 where the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Corinthians cross paths: speaking in a prayer language might encourage the one praying, but “the other is not edified.” He gave (v. 11) … for (v. 12) … till (v. 13) … that (v. 14) … may (v.15) … edify (v. 16).


[1] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1675.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt. 15 (Ephesians 4:15)

Well, we are getting down to the end of this mini commentary. I do hope that it has been not only beneficial, but also a blessing in some way.

I will be posting today and tomorrow, but that will be all in the commentary on Ephesians. Next week I may take a few days to share another commentary I did, that being on Romans chapter 1. Considering I just started a new series through the book of Romans on Sunday nights, that might not be a bad idea 😉

Should you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.


4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

But speaking the truth in love,

            Here is where so many go astray: they speak truth, but not in love. We can only wonder how many good Christians have been wounded, crushed, or shipwrecked by loveless truth, that being judgmental, self-righteous legalism. Correction without love is no better than vengeance or sadism. Advice and instruction without love is more likely to imbed bitterness than wisdom.

            But let us notice the progression of the Apostle Paul’s thought, beginning from verse 11 until now.

He (Jesus) gave [gifts] (v. 11) … for the perfecting of the saints (v. 12) … for the work of the ministry (v. 12) … for the edifying of the Body of Christ (v. 12) … till we (both individually and corporately) attain maturity and stature, Christ being the Standard measurement (v. 13) … that we be no longer children (v. 14) … but may grow up [to be like Christ in all things] (v. 15).

            Notice that it is only after all that precedes in verses eleven through fourteen that we can come to the place where we know what and whom Truth even is, much less be able to speak it in love. We speak the truth in love when we are taught the truth about who we are and what it took for Jesus to spare us from the wrath of God. We speak the truth in love when we know who Love is and have a relationship with Him! We speak the truth in love after having been around the One who loved us when we were unlovable. We speak the truth in love because our hearts have been softened and conformed to the heart of Christ. We speak the truth in love as parents or guardians would warn their little ones of strangers.

Those who don’t speak the truth in love haven’t spent time with the Lover of their souls.

may grow up into him in all things,

            Here the sense is that of gradually growing stronger, gradually growing in size, or gradually increasing in likeness. In another sense it could be said that we are meant to grow into, by gradually adding and reproducing, the frame of the body pre-ordained by the Spirit-imparted blueprint found in the DNA of Christ’s blood!  

which is the head, [even] Christ:

            In both a metaphorical sense and a literal sense, the Church is the body of Christ. But make no mistake, as with us, the body is not the person. The Church is the Body of Christ; His hands and feet in this world. Yet, the body is only the tool of the brain, and that brain is in the head. Take away the head, and the body, mature or not, will die and rot.  In the same way, without our Head, the Church at most is a dead body flopping around as the nerves sense the last electrical impulses of life.

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A Mini Commentary, Pt 14 (Ephesians 4:14)

4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

That we [henceforth]

            Henceforth is not a word we use very often these days, and it was not a word used by the Apostle Paul; it was added by the translators for clarification. But the truth expressed in the above three words is that staying the same in the Christian walk is not an option. And, glory be to God, Jesus is the One who can change even the vilest sinner into a saint! God gives us those who can preach and teach His Word so that we can grow spiritually, mature in the Faith, and effective parts of the Body (v. 16). It doesn’t matter from where we come; Jesus can change us!

be no more children,

            To the child, being childish is natural. To the adult, being childish is the sign of immaturity. There is nothing wrong or unnatural for a baby to want milk, but it is entirely unnatural and a sign of severe growth problems for one who is physically or apparently an adult to shun meat and vegetables. Unfortunately, many believers have never even felt the sensation of chewing!

tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine,

            The metaphor is that of a ship on the sea, taken up by one wave and crashed down by another, driven by the shifts of the wind rather than a solid rudder.  Without sound instruction, immature children (babes) in the Faith will be like little sail boats on the sea without any tools with which to navigate. They will bounce from theology to theology, doctrine to doctrine, movement to movement, without every really knowing where they are supposed to go.

            If all one cares to do is float about aimlessly for his entire life, then a rudderless boat will do just that. However, if a watercraft was built for a purpose, owned by One who sends ships across the treacherous seas rather than set them assail to drift, then a rudder, a guide, a means to navigate is critical! There must be rations, supplies, tools to mend torn sails, fuel for the engines (if applicable to this metaphor), and a weighty Anchor when we are told to “be still and know that I am God.”  Thank God for the gifts He has given to equip us! Thank God for the “fulness” of Jesus Christ!

            But this metaphor also applies to those who might be agitated, distraught, confused, torn, and about to sink. Many a soul is troubled from false teaching, bruised from the tossing back and forth, even the tossing through the night as worry and doubt deprive the poor one from sleep. Why would anyone shun the gifts to the Church? Why would anyone choose to be rudderless and without conviction on the tumultuous sea of relativism?

by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

            We have the “gifts” (v. 11) for our “perfecting” (v. 12), till we all come into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13). We have them because we do not want to be tossed about and carried away with every knew (or old) wind that comes out of the mouths of deceivers. The waves and the winds are the metaphor, but what are the realities?

  • Sleight of men

            It might be difficult to deduce it from the King James rendering of the original Greek, but the Greek word translated “sleight” is the word κυβεία (kybeia G2940), pronounced koo-bi’-ah. Its meaning has to do with dice (cube) playing, rolling the dice, playing with “loaded dice” to cheat. It means craftiness and/or trickery, and implies anything that is meant to take advantage of another.

  • Cunning craftiness

            Craftiness, cunning, but also a specious wisdom (superficially plausible, but actually wrong; misleadingly attractive in appearance).[1] It cannot be said enough that what may sound good to itching ears may actually be a lie.

  • Lying in wait

            The rendering here is totally adequate to describe the above who both knowingly and without concern preach or teach false doctrine. Like predators; like snakes in the tall grass; like sharks just under the surface; like spiders in their webs; these thieves, abusers, and murderers of hope, peace, joy, and truth wait for those who are weak, unsuspecting, and most of all, unlearned and naïve. Satan, the father of lies, has bred and trained them to take down even the strongest prey, but how much more those who disregard or malign the gifts of God through Jesus by the Holy Spirit to the Church!


[1] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

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