Tag Archives: Jesus

“One Man’s Sunset; Another Man’s Dawn”+31

Over a two-week period, just over 31 years ago, things started to get a little weird.

I can’t recall all of the moments that led up to me concluding something bad was going to happen, but a couple stand out above the rest.

The Revival Service

It was in June of 1991. The church that I attended was having a week-long series of meetings. My mother and father did not attend the same church as I did, but on the last night of the revival, which was a Friday, my dad came. The evangelist preached on heaven that night and said something that hit me like a brick. He said, “Heaven will never be real to you until there is someone there you want to go see.”

The Movie

In that very same week, my family went to see a movie. It was a new animated film called An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. In one particular scene, an old hound dog, the retiring sheriff, sat watching a sunset with the little mouse, Fievel. The legendary actor, Jimmy Stewart, speaking as Wylie Burp, said to Fievel,

“Just remember, Fievel – one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn. I don’t know what’s out there beyond those hills. But if you ride yonder… head up, eyes steady, heart open… I think one day you’ll find that you’re the hero you’ve been looking for.” – Wylie Burp

The moment he said, “one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn,” I felt a chill and a heaviness that took my breath. I knew my dawn was coming.

Sunset

Early on Monday morning, June 11, 1991, while working 3rd shift as a security guard in a high-security nuclear facility, my dad felt sick. He asked a cleaning person which bathroom was clean, then went in, took off his gun belt, bent over a sink, and died.

It had only been since Friday the 8th that I had heard that message about heaven. That Monday was when heaven became more real than I could have ever imagined. My dad, Terry L. Baker, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He surrendered his badge, took off his gun belt, and laid down – literally.

Dawn

As the sun rose over the horizon, I sped my Datsun 280Z toward the hospital. When I got there, I asked for my dad, but was led to a room where my mother was sitting. In a sobbing cry, she looked up to me and held out a little plastic bag containing my father’s personal items. She said, “This is all I have left…” That was the exact moment when I found out. That was the exact moment it became dawn.

That’s my father and me on the front row. This was 1987 in Milan, Michigan.

It may have been my dawn, but it was one of the darkest moments in my life. My dad and I were terribly close. We worked together, played together, worshiped together, and preached together. In the week before my daddy died, I went up to him and told him that I really felt like something was going to happen. He told me that he would outlive my grandchildren. But in case he didn’t, I had to make sure of one thing – would I preach his funeral?

The Funeral

Some people could not understand how I did it, but I did preach my dad’s funeral. You see, I was 24, but I had accepted the call to preach when I was 16. My dad had been a pastor, a lay preacher for years. It may have been just guy talk at the time, but in a moment of male-bonding, my dad and I agreed that whoever died first, for whatever reason, the other would preach the funeral. That is why I asked my dad that question. I needed to be sure he was serious. His response was, “Of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” So, I did.

My dad presided over a lot of funerals, and he even carried in his Bible a sermon that he used more often than not. The title of the sermon was “The Times I Need Him Most.” So, from his own Bible, from his own outline, I preached his funeral. And unlike I usually do today, I even gave an altar call. Believe it or not, right there to my left, beside the casket, a friend of the family came down to the altar and asked Jesus to come into his life. Never once had my dad led a person to the Lord when he preached a funeral sermon, but this time was different.

The Family Car

There will always be those who think the following is crazy; only coincidence: but God showed up in the limousine as we went to the graveyard. As soon as I got into the car, I asked the driver, who was a Christian friend, to turn the radio on. I wanted to hear some encouraging music. When he did, the DJ on WAY FM out of Nashville played a song by Wayne Watson, The Ultimate Healing. Right after that, the DJ came on the air and said, “I know we usually have songs pre-planned according to a particular format, but I just really feel led by God to play this next song – I don’t know why.”  The song was Where There is Faith, by 4Him. The second verse goes like this:

There’s a man across the sea
Never heard the sound of freedom ring
Only in his dreams
There’s a lady dressed in black
In a motorcade of Cadillacs
Daddy’s not coming back
Our hearts begin to fall
And our stability grows weak
But Jesus meets our needs if only we believe

CHORUS
Where there is faith
There is a voice calling, keep walking
You’re not alone in this world
Where there is faith
There is a peace like a child sleeping
Hope everlasting in He who is able to
Bear every burden, to heal every hurt in my heart
It is a wonderful, powerful place
Where there is faith

Today

Today, my mother’s body is now resting beside my dad’s, but I am comforted with the knowledge that one day I will see both of them again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the meantime, I must carry on in the task that I have been called to do.

Several years ago, I went to the grave, and even though I knew my dad was not there, I read Proverbs 4 aloud. What better words could have been said in remembrance of a committed, consistent, caring, God-fearing, humble father? They were words that I wanted to say out loud because they were being fulfilled.

“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget [it] not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” – Prov. 4:4-5

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. … Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. … My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. … Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:10-11, 14, 20-21, 25-27

Dad (and Momma), I just want you to know that I am still in the fight. I haven’t given up and I haven’t compromised. I wasn’t a fly-by-night wannabe, but a real man of God. My Sword is still sharp. My aim is still true. I even have some “arrows” that used to be in my quiver; you will meet one day.

Don’t worry, even though I know you won’t. I will keep pressing on and fighting the good fight until the time of my own sunset. Then, when this life is over, I hope I can stand there beside you when Jesus says to you, “Well done.” You did good, Daddy. I’ll make you proud.

Tell Mom we all miss her, too.

Your loving son,

Rev. Dr. Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Family, Future, Life/Death, Preaching, Relationships and Family, salvation

Hide Thou Me

I was thinking of the words to an old hymn, Hide Thou Me

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my life in vain,
I’m tempted oft to murmer, to grumble and complain;
But when I think of Jesus and what He’s done for me,
Then I cry, to the Rock of Ages, hide thou me.

There are times when the burdens of life get so heavy; when the struggles get so hard; when no matter what, we still worry; that we have to cry out to Jesus, “Hide me!” Thankfully, He does. Back around 1880 Vernon Charlesworth wrote, “The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.

How different it is for the unbeliever.

Where does the atheist turn when his world is falling apart? When all friends forsake him? When the doctors say, “I’m sorry, but we’ve done all we can do?” When someone sings “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow,” but he knows he won’t see it?”

Where does the unbeliever hide? In drugs? Alcohol? Meditation? Sex? Nietzsche? Nature (which he believes is nothing more than the product of random chance and void of meaning)?

Scripture (Revelation 6:16) speaks of a day when men who chose to run from the Rock will “cry to the mountains and rocks” to “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne…” Ironic, isn’t it?

Oh, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

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The Night Before

Just imagine with me… What would it have been like the night before the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.

For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.

Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.

It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.

They saw Him buried.

Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?

What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?

What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?

It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.

They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…

They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…

the night before.

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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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What Is Salvation, Exactly?

Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday I preached a sermon on salvation. It wasn’t a sermon calling people to salvation, although that was certainly a part of it; it was a sermon explaining what salvation actually is.

To help the congregation, I provided my notes with the intent to keep things moving along and to give everyone something to take with them. That’s what I’m providing for you in this post.

More than 5

As I told my congregation, there’s a lot more to what salvation is than what I could cover in only five points. However, the five points I do share in this outline are pretty important and worth noting.

When you get to the comment section, feel free to add more things that salvation is. As we who are saved know, the depths are limitless.


Opening Text: Acts 16:30 – . . . and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

(Speak to the context of the Philippian jailor’s question)

But there are other questions people ask, like:

  • Does God still love me after what I did?
  • If I was really a Christian, why did I do what I did?
  • If I am a Christian, why can’t I stop sinning?
  • Can I still go to heaven?

First, Let Us Ask: What Is Salvation?

1. It’s a Legal Transaction

We must understand that a crime was committed, and a verdict has been issued: Sin is breaking of God’s Law, and judgment for that is the DEATH PENALTY.

  • Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
  • Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
  • Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

BUT! Romans 5:6 – For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

2. It’s an Appeasement of God’s Wrath: Propitiation

1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

Before we go any further, we need to understand something else: God is Love, but He’s also a God of wrath.

  • John 3:36 – He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
  • Romans 1:18 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Of course, his anger is not an irrational lack of self-control as it so often is with humans. His anger [His wrath] is the … opposition of his holy nature to everything that is evil.[1] To turn away the wrath, the anger of God, will take more than a wave of the hand or any amount of apologizing on our part. On the contrary, Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

(Propitiation: Turning away of anger by the offering of a gift.)

1 John 4:10… [He] loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

3. It Is Redemption

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
  • Galatians 3:13 – Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:
  • Hebrews 9:12 – Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

4. It Is a New Birth

  • John 3:3, 7 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
  • 1 Peter 1:23 – Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

5. It is a Limited Time Offer

  • Genesis 6:3 – And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man
  • 2 Corinthians 6:2 – . . . behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)

So then, what is the answer to the original question?
What must I do to be saved
?

Is it simply believing there is a God? Answer: No.

James 2:19 tells us: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Is it doing good, or at least more good than bad? Answer: No.

Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; – Titus 3:5 KJV

All one needs to do is …

Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved …”

Romans 10:9, 13 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 10:28-30 – And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand. I and [my] Father are one.


[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Propitiation,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1784.

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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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Filed under Apologetics, Bible Study, Christianity, Jesus

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. 9 (Ephesians 4:8-10) Did Jesus Preach in Hell?

This was a more complicated section on which to comment. Frankly, this could have been much longer if I had focused more on the questionable doctrine called the “Harrowing of Hades.” Nevertheless, I hope what I have written will be of some help or encouragement.


See the source image

4:8-10 8Wherefore he saith, “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” 9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

v. 8: Wherefore he saith, “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

Point One:     

Who is the one that “saith” in verse 8? For the answer we must go to Psalm 68:18; there we find the words of David describing God as a conquering King who spoils His enemies on the mountain and then distributes the spoils as gifts to the people, including to those who are rebellious.

However, one important question that could be asked is: to what extent do we take this comparison? In other words, how specifically analogous is the story of the conquering King to the argument that Paul is making regarding the gifts and the purposes of giving them by Jesus to the Church?

Some have suggested that what is being spoken of is Christ’s ascension to the cross, while others have suggested that after descending to the “lower parts of the earth” Christ rescued those held captive in Paradise and took them “captive” to heaven.

[Note: This teaching is also called “The Harrowing of Hades” and finds support in the Apostles’ Creed: “He descended into Hades.”]

Nevertheless, it would seem the best course of action to simply keep a consistent contextual reading in mind: one that of unity within the Church and individual gifts of grace which Jesus imparts, both to His friends and those who are rebellious, to exemplify His glory and wisdom.

Point Two:     

Beginning with verse seven, the context of Paul’s argument is the supplying each individual the things it needs to function properly in the Body of Christ, the Church. Are there deeper truths to be uncovered? Most certainly? However, we must not carry the analogy too far.

For as long as the author can remember, nearly every time the resurrection of Christ has been preached, the subject of Jesus descending to Paradise and taking the Old Testament saints out of there and up to heaven. The only problem is that there is nothing in the context of Ephesians 4:1-16 that addresses Paradise, hell, heaven, or even death! All that Paul addresses in these sixteen verses is the subject of unity.

Another passage that is linked to this verse is 1 Peter 3:19: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” But what is often never included with verse 19 is verse 20, which reads [emphasis added]: “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water (1 Peter 3:20 KJV).

It is quite puzzling why 1 Peter 3:19 would be used as a supporting text (along with Luke 23:43, Psalm 68:18, and Ephesians 4:8-10) for a teaching claiming Jesus went to deliver the saints, when those to whom Jesus preached were the “disobedient.”  It is therefore illogical to deduce from this passage in Ephesians that Paul was speaking of anything other than the unity of the Body of Christ, the power of God, the Kingship of Jesus the Conquering King, and Christ’s generosity.

v. 10b: …that he might fill all things.

            Building on the image of the king that ascended to conquer his enemies, Paul speaks of Jesus’ all-encompassing Lordship with a parenthetical explanation of the logical comparison being made (beginning in verse 9). This imagery of Jesus’ omnipresent authority and power in this passage can be compared to other verses, such as: Eph 1:20-21(in the heavenly places, far above all principalities); Heb 4:14 (we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens); Heb 7:26 (a high priest became us and made higher than the heavens).

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Unity, Christianity, Theology

A Mini Commentary, Pt 8 (Ephesians 4:7)

OK, so now it gets even better! Paul brings it down to the personal level.


4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

But unto every one of us

            After stressing unity in the Body, Paul now changes direction and tightens his focus onto the individual, including himself. In verses 1-6 Paul addresses the Church as a whole, the Preacher to the congregation. But now in verse seven we see Paul moving away from the plural “you”, using instead “every one” and “we.”

            Christianity is about God’s love for the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, but it’s also about the individual member of the Body. The hope of the believer is not to be swallowed up into God as a Hindu might believe, but to be eternally loved by a personal God, one who has even reserved a special name on a white stone that only the Father and His child will know (Revelation 2:7). Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son, but the offer of salvation is to “whosoever believeth” (John 3:16). The individual is uniquely important and particularly gifted for the work and the health and the unity of the Body.

            It also should be noted that the “us” to whom Paul is speaking is the Church, the body of believers. This is an important observation to make because only those within the Body of Christ can experience being part of the Body of Christ.

is given grace

            It is wonderful to read these words! It is much more wonderful know that it’s true! Who receives the gift of grace? It is the Church as a whole? Are those who are in the Church (i.e., baptized into the Roman Catholic Church) guaranteed a gift of grace from the Father? No, it is unto “every one of us” (v. 7a) that grace is given as a gift. The personal aspect of the relationship of the Father to His children should not be overlooked nor discounted.

            Paul will go on to refer back to Psalm 68:18 in the next verse when he describes David’s description of Yahweh as a conquering King. But here what we have is the declaration that the gifts to be given are based not on our good works or position, but in the goodness and graciousness of God.  The noun χάρις (charis) “is related to the verb χαρίζομαι (charizomai), which conveys the general concept of giving generously or forgiving a debt or a wrong.”[1] There are none who can say they deserve grace, for grace is “unmerited divine favor, arising in the mind of God and bestowed on his people.”[2] The idea that grace can be earned is contrary to the reality that the only thing earned by ungodly man is judgment.

There is also no maintaining of biblical unity without grace, for the natural man gives according to merit and expects to receive for the same reason. If God gave us grace according to measure of our good deeds, we would be doomed. But He gives grace to every man, not only to exhibit His mercy, but to manifest unto the greatest example of forgiveness and compassion which, if followed, will help the individuals within the Church to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3).

according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

            Here we find one of those lines in Scripture that seems simple enough, but upon deeper study, especially of the original languages, it is not simple in the least. As a matter of fact, “according to the measure of the gift of Christ” can be understood in different ways, leaving the context to be the only real determiner of the author’s meaning. For example, who is it that is to be giving the graces? Christ? God the Father on behalf of Christ? And what of the “measure” that is spoken? Is grace given to us based on a standard “measure,” that of the gift of Christ? Or is grace dispersed according to how Christ determines to mete (measure) it out? The best way to determine the meaning is to consider the context.

            As has been mentioned earlier, verse seven shows us that God’s concern and work is not limited to the Church as a whole, but it also stretches to the individual and his place in the Body or Building. Not all bricks in a building are the same. And even if most of the bricks in a wall were made exactly alike, the positioning would be unique, for no two bricks could occupy the same space in the wall.

Unto “every one of us” is given grace (not saving grace, but special grace) according to the great architectural design of the Builder, Jesus Christ (“I will build my church” – Mark 16:18). As commentator Ernest Best explained, the giving is not random nor arbitrary, nor is it given in abundance for no reason; “he apportions gifts to believers”[3] in order to accomplish His architectural plan for the Church. Therefore, everyone is given special graces, such as will be touched upon in the next two verses, but they are not all the same, nor in the same amount.


[1] Joshua G. Mathews, “Blessing,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[2] Gary S. Shogren, “Grace: New Testament,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 1086.

[3] Ernest Best, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T&T Clark International, 1998), 377.

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How to be a Free and Happy Nation

Ever wonder what preachers used to preach around this time of the year? Check out a few excerpts from a message preached only 18 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

We could learn a few things.

“A people under a free government will be happy, as long as they are virtuous and wise.  They may become vicious and corrupt.  They are then liable to be influenced by private connections, party spirit, bribery or flattery, promises or rewards, or the artifice and intrigue of crafty and designing men.

When this is the case, they give up their security, lose their liberty, and sink into slavery….

“…Our free government was a happy, but a costly purchase; let it not be lost by drowsy inattention, and implicit confidence…

The day is coming, when liberty and peace shall bless the human race.  But previous to this, truth and virtue must prevail, and the religion of Jesus must govern men’s hearts. Then the horrors of war will cease, and the groans of slavery will no more be heard.  The rod of the oppressor will be broken, and the yoke will be removed from the shoulders of the oppressed.  The scepter will be wrested from the hands of the wicked, and the pomp of  the proud will be brought down to the dust.  The whole earth will rest and be quiet: they will break forth into singing…” 

– from “The Happiness of Free Government and the Means of Preserving It,” preached by JOSEPH LATHROP, D. D. on July 4th, 1794

I think the “vicious and corrupt” are now running the show. As a result of our “drowsy attention” we have elected men and women of the lowest character, thereby giving up our security, our liberty, and the hope of freedom-loving people around the world who look to us as a shining city on a hill.

We are sinking into slavery.

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Filed under America, current events, the future, voting