Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)
Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
How incredible would your marriage be if you loved you wife as Christ loved the church? Wonderful, you say? Hopefully so. Yet, what if your wife becomes “lukewarm” toward your love, just as the church of the Laodiceans became lukewarm toward Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14-16)? Even that must not deter and diminish your love for your wife. You see, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ continued to love the Laodicean church when it was less than loving, using words of rebuke and chastening to urge her repentance (Rev. 3:19). Christ’s utter and complete sacrifice of himself for His church is the model for every husband’s treatment of his wife. Loving your wife is not about getting something from her in return. It is not about always doing everything she wants. It is about always looking out for what is in her best interest, especially when that means making a sacrifice on your part. Hopefully, she will see your love and honor you for it. But, if she fails to see and value this sort of love, do not stop sacrificially loving her. You must remain true to the Lord, and that includes being a righteous, loving husband at all times.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1–2, NKJV)
Christ suffered for us; “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). His suffering in the flesh compels Christians to equip ourselves with His mind or attitude; the decision to do good and, if need be, “to suffer for doing good” (1 Pet. 3:17; 4:1). Contrary to the “health and wealth gospel” taught by false teachers, being a Christian does not free one from suffering. The devoted Christian accepts a life of suffering for doing the will of God. In verse two, Peter says such suffering includes no longer living to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Our devotion is to the will of God. Even when your former companions in sin think you are odd, and speak evil of you for no longer joining them in sin, remember that you have “ceased from sin” and cannot continue to practice it (1 Pet. 4:3-4, 1). Peer pressure is powerful, but we must see it for what it is; the attempt of sinful people to draw us into sinning along with them. Resist. Suffer (when it comes to that). Live for the will of God. Do not live for the lusts of men.
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,” (Isaiah 61:1–2, NKJV)
Jesus applied these words to Himself as He read from Isaiah in Nazareth’s synagogue (Lk. 4:16-21). God’s Christ was tasked with preaching good news to impoverished souls (Matt. 5:3; 6:20). The Lord God commissioned His Servant to heal hearts that are broken by sin’s sorrow and despair (Matt. 5:4; 11:28-30). Jesus proclaimed liberty from sin’s bondage, and announced the age of divine grace (Jno. 8:34-36; 1:14-17). He came to comfort those who mourn over their sins, as He declared God’s vengeance against His opponents (Jno. 5:22-23, 30; 12:48). Jesus Christ is the great fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, to give blessings to all nations through his Seed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:16). With decisive clarity, we are assured that “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). And so, your opportunity to be saved from your sins is now. Choose the comfort of God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus, not the vengeance of God’s wrath. Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ – now.
You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4, NKJV)
For centuries, armies used banners or flags to identify and distinguish themselves from their enemy on the battlefield. The raised banner was a rally point for combat, giving assurance that the cause was advancing on the field of battle. God has raised the banner of His Christ as the rallying point for salvation from sin, and as our signal to advance against the enemy, the devil (Isa. 11:10; Rom. 15:12). The cause of truth is identified by, and advances under, God’s banner. It does not fly for the sake of “vain parade or ostentation; it was not to be unfolded in an unrighteous or unjust cause” (Barnes on Psa. 60:4). The banner of the cross is unfurled by all who fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). The cause of divine truth will be victorious. Christians, who march according to the authority of Jesus Christ, advance to victory (1 John 5:4; Rev. 17:14).
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39–40, NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews had just recited a list of Old Testament people whose faith testified of their righteousness: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, and many more unnamed men and women (Heb. 11:3-38). Although they “obtained a good testimony through faith,” they “did not receive the promise” –namely, the promise made to Abraham that in his seed “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 39; Gen. 22:18). They died in faith, before Christ came (the One to whom the promise was made, and through whom the promise was kept, Gal. 3:16, 19). Now, Christ has come, perfecting or completing their faith (Heb. 11:40). This great cloud of witnesses gathers to compel us to have enduring faith, because we have, in fact, received the promise (Heb. 12:1; Gal. 3:14).These Old Testament examples of faith forcefully influence Christians to remain faithful. They believed God’s promise, endured in their faith, and now are blessed by its fulfillment. Christians, who have the promise in Christ, must not “draw back to perdition,” but have faith “to the saving of the soul.” We must “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 10:39; 12:1).