Grace and Peace Ephesians 1:1-2 I) God has always been about ______________ A) God showed grace in the ______________ B) God showed grace to _______________ C) God showed grace to _______________ D) God shows grace to _______________ II) Grace leads to _____________ A) Peace with __________ B) Peace in ___________ 1) In our _______________ 2) In our ________________ 3) Against our __________ 4) How do we ______________ peace? III) Grace brings about _____________ IV) _______________ is our response to grace
The author of Hebrews continues to show us how great Jesus is, and how we should respond!
- We are partners in the heavenly calling, all because of Jesus!
- So we should follow Him. He is our example of how to be faithful.
- He is greater than Moses!
- We are the house that Jesus built. We show that we are His by holding firm to our confidence and hope.
- We shouldn’t be like the Israelites, who rebelled (quote from Psalm 95:7-11).
- We need to encourage and challenge each other in order to stay faithful and focused.
Our author continues to show the superiority of the Son!
(1-4) If angels were a part of the giving of the law (Deuteronomy 33:2) and we shouldn’t neglect it, how much more should we heed the message that was given by the Son!?!?!? “How will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” The Son’s message was confirmed by signs and the gifts given by the Holy Spirit.
(5-9) Psalm 8:4-6 and Genesis 1:28 reveal that the Son is greater than the angels because the world is subject to Him, even if that hasn’t yet been fully revealed. Even so, He deserves praise and adoration because of His willingness to become human and suffer on our behalf!
(10-18) Jesus became human and suffered and died so that we could be saved. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 8:17-18 foreshadow his sacrifice for us. Because of His sacrifice we have been set free from the power of Satan and the power of death. We no longer need to fear! And because He lived as we live, we can be assured that He understands the trials we experience in our lives and that He is willing to help us through them!
For worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdxSC1tHJn0
Are you confused about who Jesus is and what being the Son means? Apparently you’re not alone. Here it’s revealed that Jesus as the Son is:
- Communicator (He has spoken to us)
- Majestic (He is the radiance of God’s glory)
- Divine (He is the representation of God’s essence)
- Lord (He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty)
- So, of course He is better than the angels!
And, the author of Hebrews (possibly Paul) goes on to show exactly how much greater than the angels He is! He quotes Psalm 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 45:6-7, Psalm 102:25-27, and Psalm 110:1. The angels are ministering servants. Jesus is King!
Note: once again we see that it’s the Bible that informs our theology. We don’t allow our theology to rewrite the Bible!
This is another one of Paul’s letters from prison, but this is to an individual: Philemon. It starts out very similar to Paul’s other letters. He gives his standard greeting (grace and peace), thanks God for Philemon’s faith and love, and prays for Philemon to have an every deeper faith.
Oh, and speaking of a deeper faith, here’s a way that he can express it! While Paul has been in custody, he’s had the opportunity to evangelize Onesimus, who is an escaped slave. It turns out that he’s escaped from Philemon, Paul’s personal friend. Paul wants Onesimus to stay with him, but realizes that Onesimus needs to make things right with Philemon first. So Paul sends him back, but encourages Philemon to accept him as a brother in Christ and forgive him of any debts he may have incurred. If Philemon isn’t in a forgiving mood, Paul says that he can just charge the debts to him! Paul also utters an important phrase at the end: “I knew that you would do even more than what I am asking you to do.” He really does expect Philemon to forgive Onesimus, release him, and let him return to Paul.
While Paul isn’t trying to set the stage for a slave rebellion, he is showing that there is a better way, particularly for how believers relate to each other. He is truly encouraging Philemon to live out Colossians 3.11: “Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.“
Are we willing to live that way in our own lives?
Paul reminds Titus of the glorious truths of salvation. We are not saved by works. We are saved because the “kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared” through Jesus Christ. And, as a result, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. The Spirit is not only our guarantee of eternal life, but also the force that helps us to live for God in this life. So, Titus needs to keep reminding the church that they now have the power and ability to:
- Be subject to the authorities.
- Not slander others.
- Be peaceful and gentle, showing courtesy to all.
- Because they don’t want to be like they were!
- And avoid controversy in the church, especially about those things that are useless.
As we seek to apply those truths to our own lives, we may have trouble relating to the controversies Paul is referring to on Crete. One modern day example could be the return of Christ. Yes, it’s going to happen, but do we need to fight about how it’s going to happen? 🙂
Paul reminds Titus that he has the authority to challenge those in the church, and Paul’s ethical lists remind us that there are some things that are universal regardless of gender or age:
- We should exhibit self-control in general.
- But we should specifically exhibit self-control in drinking.
- And with our speech.
- We also need to love.
- We need to be honest.
- We need to keep the faith.
- Our good example will have a profound impact in our homes (especially with unsaved spouses), as well as in society at large (as we see with slaves and masters).
All of this is made possible because of the grace and salvation that we have experienced through Jesus Christ, who “gave Himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly His.” We live differently now because we are living for Him!
(1-4) Paul’s introduction is a little different because of the situation. He’s writing to another protege in ministry, whose job was to help get churches up and running on the island of Crete. Paul, as his mentor, is not just an evangelist, but is there to “further the faith of the chosen ones and the knowledge of the truth that is keeping with godliness.” This expanded definition of his ministry makes a lot of sense when we consider these letters he is writing to various churches!
(5-9) If Titus is supposed to appoint leadership, he needs to appoint godly leadership! Paul’s guidelines fall into three categories: leaders must have godly character, leaders must have a godly household, and leaders must be faithful to the truth. Faithfulness to the truth is important because elders must be able to confront false teachers and recognize false teaching.
(10-16) Paul identifies false teachers as those who ferment controversy, promote Judaism (i.e. the idea that keeping the law is what keeps you saved), and teach for money. Apparently this kind of deception comes naturally to the natives! It seems that there were some that still taught that the dietary laws were in effect, but this emphasis on the unimportant aspects of the law didn’t affect their overall morality. They were still “detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed.“
Is there an overall truth to take away from this, other than the obvious applications for choosing church leadership? Perhaps this: know and live the truth well enough that you can tell when others don’t know and live the truth!
(1-8) Ministers have a solemn responsibility before God to preach and to teach the Word. Unfortunately, this will get harder and harder in the last days, because many won’t want to hear the truth. Timothy needs to continue to be faithful, because Paul isn’t going to be around to help and encourage him anymore. Paul is convinced that he will receive the crown of righteousness from Jesus Himself, but so will all who love His appearing!
(9-15) Paul reiterates how alone he is, and how much a visit from Timothy will mean to him. He asks Mark to come too, which reveals to us the importance of reconciliation in our relationships (Acts 15:37-41). Having that type of conciliatory spirit shouldn’t make us naive, however. Some people show themselves to be antagonistic (Alexander), and we need to take that into account when dealing with them. However, it’s God who is responsible for vengeance, not us!
(16-22) Paul reminds us that God will strengthen us in the midst of disappointment and persecution, and will watch over us until the end. We can actually think of his words here as an appropriate doxology for the end of each day: “May You deliver me from every evil deed and bring me safely into Your heavenly kingdom. To You be glory for ever and ever! Amen.”
We have some life lessons here from Paul’s words to Timothy:
- In one sense the last days started with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All generations have looked at Paul’s words here and seen the truth of them in their day and age. They ring especially true today: “they will maintain an outward appearance of religion.” So many are so convinced of their understanding that it has become a faith for them, whether it be about the environment, sexuality, or politics. Hopefully that’s a sign that Jesus is going to return soon!
- There is a fine line between trying to witness to people and being badly influenced by them. We are reminded here that there are a lot of people that we should stay away from: “avoid people like these.“
- If you actually believe in two sexes (!), you realize that there are differences between them. A woman’s capacity for caring, compassion, and understanding, can make her susceptible to less scrupulous characters. We see it all the time with women who are abused and in bad relationships. I believe that is the basis for Paul’s arguments here. But there is hope, because…
- Those who deceive will eventually be unmasked. Jannes and Jambres are the names given to the magicians who opposed Moses (Exodus 7:8-13), but they were eventually shown to be charletans.
- We should pay attention to what is going on in the world around us, because the faithfulness of those being persecuted for their beliefs will help us to remain faithful.
- We need to continue to resist false teaching, and it all comes back to Scripture. We wouldn’t understand salvation without them, so we can trust them to guide us in all other areas related to living for God!