He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible , whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning , the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ( Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

And You Were Dead

The opening phrase for chapter 2 of Ephesians frames Paul’s theology for justification by grace alone through faith alone. That phrase describes something that should be impossible and remains impossible apart from a supernatural intervention. It holds in itself a contradiction of the natural order of creation we can observe. Sane people don’t normally write letters to people who “were” dead.

But that is exactly the state in which we are when the Holy Spirit comes to us. Paul leaves no room for doubt when he describes the work of salvation in verse 8-10. It is no work of our own goodness or will that makes us suitable for salvation. Only the gracious act of God can reveal to us the reality of who Jesus is by the work of the Holy Spirit.

This helps us to understand faith as a word and as and idea. James helps us to understand how real faith is evidenced by works, but it is not produced by works. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that righteousness comes only by faith, and it is always God who is the primary actor in giving faith and making righteous.

Scripture Readings

Ephesians 2:1-10 James 2:14-26 Hebrews 11:1-19 Colossians 1:15-20

Pray

Ask God to work to open the eyes of the lost people to faith in Christ and that he would open our mouths to tell them of his goodness and how they can be saved. They are dead. And we were dead. Only Jesus can make us alive together in him.

 

 

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”

Psalm 51:7-8 (ESV)

Hebrews 10:26-39 (Psalm 51)

Of Bleach and Broken Bones

The smell of bleach tells you something has been recently cleansed. You and I might wrinkle our nose at the smell, but we know what it means. If you had never smelled bleach, then you would have no idea that it is used to cleanse things. I am not familiar with hyssop, but I imagine the smell of it had a similar association for David when he was writing Psalm 51.

If you have never broken a bone, then you don’t know the deep throbbing ache that just doesn’t stop. It gets worse whenever you try to use the bone that is broken or whenever someone or something presses upon it. You can tell that something isn’t right, even if outward appearances don’t show you what is wrong. I think David must have known about broken bones. As a warrior and a king, I doubt he was a stranger to that type of injury.

 I think this is evidenced by the fact that he used broken bones to illustrate the sense of divine judgment the believer experiences when in rebellion against God. I have broken bones at least three times and perhaps a fourth. I have known the acute sense of being in rebellion toward God far too many times to count.

It is important to remember that David wrote this as someone who believed in God, was called by God, anointed by the prophet of God, kept by the promises of God, and still he committed grievous sins against God. As I began preparing for a sermon on the second section of Hebrews chapter 10, this Psalm came to my mind. It was a sermon from this Psalm that God used to call me back from a long period of rebellion. It remains one of my favorite chapters of Scripture.

  • Hebrews 10:26-31 serves as a dire warning, specifically to believers, against continuing in willful or deliberate sin against God’s clear commandments.
  • Hebrews 10:32-39 reveals to us the strategy for escaping such temptation is to remember what God has already done in delivering us. He must be the source of our confidence to continue in love and obedience.
  • Psalm 51 and the life of David show us a picture of how God does not excuse the sin of his people. He is faithful to keep us in accordance to his promises, but real faith means we respond to his discipline by learning obedience from it and teaching others to do likewise.

 

“Am I Not Free?”

Scriptures for this Week’s Sermon:

1 Corinthians 8:8-13

1 Corinthians 9:1a, 19-23

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Christian Liberty, Conscience, and the Coronavirus

If you had asked be three months ago what issues would be a possible source of division in worshiping together as a church, I would not have thought to list wearing masks in public.

I am thankful that the church that we read about in the New Testament was not free from cultural division and controversy.

As we come back together in worship, we need to be encouraged and strengthened for good works. That is one of the reasons we come together (Hebrews 10:23-25). Let us pray that we will use these instructions to the church on how to navigate present issues of conscience and be built up together.