CHRISTIAN GROWTH Series—Part4—FINAL
...that We Might Come through Our Trials Better Persons for God's Kingdom
My inclination is to dig into each verse--and word--to see the depth of each statement. But I realize we cannot always do just this. We need to see the depth of the words as they relate to the whole. In viewing the whole, we can examine the foundation of our faith, as well as see its end. It's like getting to know Jesus in a whole new dimension as the Author and the Finisher-- the "Beginner" and the "Perfecter"of all we believe in and have given ourselves to.
And, to stay related to what we're learning in this mini-MASCHIL series, we're taking this long deep look that we might grasp more clearly what Paul is directing us to pray in our discipline of intercession.
Our prayer guide is now in his letter to the Philippians. We place the verses here in a structured form to emphasize the points of the petition. After we take a brief look at them, we're going to jump above all of Paul's Church Epistles and see how Philippians relates to each of them. Then we can better understand why we're learning to pray what these two verses lay Out for us.
How vital and important this prayer is! In taking us toward the day of Christ, it reaches inside us. It whips our love into shape so we won't follow emotional responses that ignore facts and lead us to make poor moral judgments. It strengthens the part in us that discerns so we won't make choices that take us off the right paths. It reaches into our inner parts to discover any offensive elements that will disqualify us in the final day.
We want to keep in mind that toward which we are moving. It is the
day of Christ. We can have no sufficiency or strength to
arrive whole at that day unless we come God's way. Indeed, unless we have
embraced His way, all hope of deliverance will vanish as that day comes
Just as it is significant that the Lord Jesus addressed seven churches in Revelation 1 and 2, so it is significant that Paul sent letters to seven different churches. The order in which these letters, or Epistles, occur never varies in any of the ancient manuscripts--Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, concluding with I and II Thessalonians. These are the only Epistles addressed to churches. The others are to people in general and to individuals. It becomes apparent the Church Epistles are inter-related. The truth flowing in one proceeds with order on to the next. The precision in this convinces us the order in which we find them is divinely inspired.
Paul's Epistles contain things even the Lord Jesus could not speak while on earth. What is presented in Romans Truth, Ephesians Truth, and Thessalonians Truth could be known only after His death, resurrection and ascension back to the Father. The power of the truth laid out in these Epistles comes out of His resurrection. Its release in us depends on His present ministry in the heavens.
The understanding flowing in Paul's Epistles takes what is revealed from
the heavens and makes it practical for our everyday living. Amazingly,
these Epistles take us up to the day of Christ. In
them is a treasure of truth ready to burst upon us, as the Day toward
which they point also prepares to burst upon us.
What we have is.
In chapters 1 through 8 Paul presents the understanding that we are all sinners by nature, that the Lord Jesus has taken our sin upon Himself, and through His death and resurrection has made the way open for us to come to God. The power of this revelation is that His death and resurrection become our death and resurrection. Chapters 9 through 11 present us with the amazing insight regarding the grafting back in of Israel who, though chosen of God, has for this time rejected His grace offered in Christ.
• In Romans, to both Jew and Gentile, Paul said, He that spared
not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with
him also freely give us all things? (Rom 8:32). Only in Christ
Jesus is there hope--but oh, what a hope this is!
Because the Corinthian believers failed to embrace the preaching of the cross (I Cor 1:18), Paul's letters to them are full of reproof, with a call for repentance. To overcome the power of carnality that tried to rule in the Corinthian believers, he presented some of our most important instruction regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in the church--I Corinthians 14 and 15.
• To the Corinthians Paul said, Now we have received, not the
spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might
know the things that are freely given to us of God (I Cor 2:12)
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as
unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. . . For ye are yet carnal... (I Cor 3:1,3). Carnality, because of failure to embrace the
Cross, will hinder our opening up to the fullness of God's grace given
us in Christ Jesus.
• To the Galatians he said, Are ye so foolish? Having begun
in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)
It was necessary that they know the only way in which they could come
to their completion. It was through the power and work of the Holy Spirit.
Unlike the gospel, which was never hidden, the mystery was always hidden. It was never before revealed. Ephesians Truth lays out how both Jews and Gentiles alike are gathered out and made one new man in Christ--Eph 2:15.
The amazing height to which the Ephesians Truth goes is that God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus--Eph 2:6. This is called positional truth. The "togetherness" of Ephesians reaches in two directions. We are together with Christ in the heavens. We are together with all believers in His body on earth. The Epistle shows us the possibility of this becoming the actual condition in our lives.
• In Ephesians, to both Jew and Gentile, Paul said, But God,
who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when
we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by
grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made
us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages
to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness
toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-6) There is so much
drawing us together in Christ that we dare not promote division
as His day approaches.
Philippians is full of wonderful exhortation--to follow the examples of both Christ and Paul. Its word reaches into our inner man and brings us to a practical realization of the life of Christ within. Failure to allow His life to find expression in us will lead to failure in the day of Christ.
• To the Philippians Paul said, Let this mind be in you, which
was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:5) And, I beseech Euodias,
and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
(Phil 4:2) This is what is behind our praying for this month--that
Christ's mind be formed in us that we might become one in Him as
His day approaches.
Proper doctrine and understanding are important. Without them, the way is opened for wrong conduct that will bring us to a poor place in the final day, not able to withstand the guile of the wicked one.
• To the Colossians Paul said, For I would that ye knew what
great conflict I have for you... He wanted them to come to the acknowledgment
of the mystery of God (Col 2:1,2). Paul's concern sets the
example for us.
Through Romans Truth, we are justified in Christ. With Ephesians Truth, we are sanctified in Christ. In Thessalonians Truth, we are glorified with Christ. There is no more reproof or correction. There is all praise and thanksgiving.
The Thessalonian Epistles come last, though written first. There are no "Church" Epistles beyond them, because there is no higher truth to be taught. The consummation is reached.
• To the Thessalonians Paul said, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thes 5:23). Before that day, a perfection in every area of life can become ours in Christ.
WHAT WE FIND in the Thessalonian Epistles brings us to the highest Form in the School of Grace, where the Holy Spirit is the great Divine Teacher. Thus, the Church of God is led from the depths of degradation in Romans to the heights of glory in Thessalonians, caught up to be forever with the Lord to live in the glory of His Kingdom--in Him and with Him.
We must have Romans Truth in our foundation to rise into the heights of Ephesians Truth that we might reach the glory to which Thessalonians Truth points us. It is interesting to note that the higher we go in perceiving the truth into which the Holy Spirit would lead us, the more practical becomes the result of its working in our lives--and the more vehement becomes the enemy's determination to stop us.
Thus, we are learning to pray with new discipline.
WE'VE SAID ALL THIS to gain a clearer understanding as to where
we are going as we return to our prayer from Philippians. We take note
of the three petitions again, especially the last one. It brings us to
the day of Christ--that time when He makes
His bold appearance again on earth to claim fully the inheritance given
Him by His Father. This is clearly laid out in the covenant promise of
In the third part of the petition, there are three important terms needing our understanding if we will learn to pray effectively.
Its meaning seems to have developed in the market place. A woman needing a pot to carry water or to prepare her food would test the worth of a vessel before buying it by holding it up to the light of the sun. It was the practice of some merchants to sell marred and cracked pots that had been covered with a veneer of wax. Holding the vessel up to the sun would reveal any flaw. Our English word sincere comes from this understanding. Sincere means "without wax," from the Latin sin, "without" and cere, "wax."
Thus we are learning to pray that all hypocrisy will be removed. This is everything that makes us appear right on the surface of life while concealing flaws that will make us fall when the heat of the final days comes on. This calls for a transparency, both before the Lord and before other believers. It opens us for dimensions of grace not known before.
© Berean Ministries
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