Saturday, March 22, 2008


Ephesians 1:15

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love [6] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Paul prayed that the God would give the Ephesians a spirit of wisdom and revelation and that they eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. He did this so they would know three things: first, the hope to which he called them; second, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and third, the immeasurable greatness of his power toward believers.

The first thing, then, is the hope to which he called them, and to which he calls us. The word “hope”, as used in the New Testament, is not the same as we use the word for now. We use it the same as “wish”. When we hope, we do not have any confidence the thing will happen, but we want it to. But, in the New Testament, “hope” means something that you are certain will happen, an assurance. It could also be interpreted as an “expectation”. It has to do with confidence and anticipation.

Paul has already told us in this chapter that God called us to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be adopted as his sons in Christ, and to be for the praise of his glory. Now, Paul says we are called into a hope. We hope, or expect, to be made like Christ and to be taken into heaven with him.

The second thing we are called to is the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. The Greek here apparently allows two different possible interpretations. This could mean our inheritance, our salvation and eternal life. It could also mean God’s inheritance of us, as in, we are his possession. I think it is about our inheritance, since he is praying that the Ephesians will understand what they have in Christ. There is a similar verse in Colossians 1:12, where Paul gives thanks to the Father, who qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints. Our inheritance is our eternal life.

So, the first two requests are similar. But, the first one focuses on hope and assurance. The second focuses on “riches”, or the scope of our calling and inheritance, the scope of what we have in Christ. We have great spiritual riches in this life. We have the ability to pray, to boldly, or with confidence, approach the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16). We may talk to the creator of the universe because of the work of Christ. We may read God’s word that he left for us to know him. We may fellowship with other believers.

But, that is not the end of it. These riches include the greater things of eternal life. Paul said, now we see a poor reflection, but then face to face. Now we know in part, then we shall know fully. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

The third thing is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward believers. The NIV says “his incomparably great power”. I like the term “immeasurable”, because it is a great thought that the power God works toward us is so great it is immeasurable. “Incomparable” would mean his power is so great there is none with which to compare it. There is no one like him.

Using Paul’s terms, we live now between the time of our calling and the time of our inheritance. We live this life, not in our own power, but in God’s power. So we need to know this power. And, by “know”, I do not mean intellectual knowledge of it, but experiential knowledge. You should know God’s power because you have lived with it and experienced it.

To experience God’s power, you are going to have to spend a lot of time in prayer and Bible study. You have to spend time with him for him to reveal himself and his power to you. There are no spiritual giants, no people of great spiritual power, who did not get there by prayer and meditation of God’s word.

Paul then makes the most incredible statement about this power. It is the same power that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him in the heavenly places. His great power was displayed in defying death and raising Christ intact from the grave and exalting him in heaven, and he works toward us with that same great power. What a great truth to know! How can you know this and not have hope and assurance? How can you know this and not be thankful? How can you know this and not be driven to worship and praise.

F. F. Bruce wrote “God’s glorious and immeasurably great power is at work in believers, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, creating new life in us and making the hope of resurrection real for us”.

Now, beginning with verse 20, Paul transitions from speaking of God’s power in relation to our calling, to speaking of it in connection with God’s exaltation of Christ.

I used to think of Jesus exalted only at the end of time. I thought of him as being the humble man, the preacher, the healer and the guy in the stained glass window carrying the lamb. But, after his death he was “on hold” until the end times.

But, that is thinking as the world thinks. Hebrews 2:8-9 says “at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death…” Christ is exalted now, even though the world does not see it. Paul speaks of this exaltation in 3 parts: (1) his resurrection; (2) his ascension and enthronement over spiritual authorities; and (3) his headship over the church.

His Resurrection

Jesus told his disciples in advance that he would be raised. In Mark 10:33-34, for example, he said he would rise in 3 days. The disciples never got it. It was too incredible. Only God’s great power could do this, and he did it. In doing so, he vindicated Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God, he accepted Christ’s atonement for our sin and he revealed, and Paul now explained, that believers can live triumphantly through that same power. We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We can be new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). We cannot resist the flesh and the world other than by God’s power.

His ascension and enthronement over spiritual authorities

Verse 20 says God seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. Psalm 110:1 is the prophecy of it. Peter applied it to Christ in his first sermon, in Acts 2:29-36. Paul confessed it in Romans 8:34. It was a vital concept to the early church. This is a position of honor and of power. Hebrews 2:7 says “you (the Father) crowned him with glory and honor”.

He sits next to the Father in the favored position. As Americans, we do not know much about kings other than from fairy tales, and hardly have any rules of etiquette. But, the seat at the right is the seat of honor in the Middle East and in other cultures. If I invited you to my house and wanted to honor you, I would seat you at my right. If I were the king, and you were my son and heir, I would sit you at my right at royal functions. The queen would be on my left if she were there.

The closest we would have to this is being seated at the head table at an important banquet. Those seated closest to the head guy are the most important people.

Paul goes on in verse 21 to spell out this exaltation, though. He did not leave it only to the picture of the throne. Paul said he was exalted far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. There are no earthly powers that are above Christ. Not the president of the U.S., not the secretary general of the United Nations not the leader of an oil rich third world country.

There are no angels above Christ. Hebrews 2 tells us he was for a little while made lower than the angels, but now commands them and is above them.

There are no evil powers above Christ. No demons are above him. The devil himself is not his equal or above him. Colossians 2:15 paints a graphic picture of this truth. It says “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (or in the cross).”

He also is above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the age to come. No one will ever have a name more important, more glorified, than Christ. He is over all, both now and forever. Hebrews 2:8 says “now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control”.

Verse 22 tells us that God put all things under his feet. This is the picture of the conqueror. Every one conquered is at his feet. It is a picture of worship and homage. I think it is also an application by Paul of Psalm 8:6, which says “you have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.”

Later in Ephesians, Paul will teach about spiritual warfare. But, it is important first to know that Christ has conquered and is over all spiritual forces. We do not have the confidence to fight spiritual battles because we are so spiritual, but because Christ is exalted and powerful to defeat his enemies.
His headship over the church.

The third step in his exaltation is that God made Christ the head over all things to the church, which is his body. He is ruler over spiritual authorities as conqueror and judge. He is head over the church as it rightful head. The church is his body and is his fullness. This is not to say that Christ is incomplete, but we are added to him, are given to him by the Father, to be his people, his bride. He is to be the firstborn of many brethren.

But Christ also fills the church. It is by him that the church exists and it exists for him, and he is present when it is gathered.

Today is Easter and we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. His resurrection, and the display of God’s power in doing it, is our hope and our power for living.

Friday, March 21, 2008


The federal district court granted Southwestern Seminary a summary judgment against Dr. Klouda, effectively ending her discrimination suit. Told ya. Courts will not interfere with the religious rules of a religious institution.

The first Catholic church in Qatar has opened. The Emir himself donated the property. Most of the Catholics in the country are immigrants, such as Filipinos, who are Catholic. Until now, they could only worship in secret. This pope can be a diplomat, too.

Southern Baptist leaders have, well, uh, have, oh yea, met about global warming.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Osama\Usama bin Laden sounds like a man trying to stir up someone to kill the Pope.

OBL has issued one of his famous tapes, released to websites which support terrorism. In the tape, OBL said there would be a severe reaction to the publication of cartoons of the Prophet. This probably means riots and vandalism in Norway and Denmark.

Here, though, is they key part. OBL said they were part of a "new Crusade" against Islam and the Pope had played a "large and lengthy role" in this Crusade. “Crusade” in Muslim speak is a charged word, referring to the Medieval Crusades that no one else remembers, but which are important violations to them.

The truth probably is that OBL and other Muslims are mad at him about the 2006 speech where Benedict cited a medieval text that said some of the teachings of Muhammad were evil and inhuman.

So, if you’re reading, Benedict, keep glass up on the Popemobile.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beautiful, Scandalous Night

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

S. Hindalong

Candidate Obama has decided that ties to one major rascist might be enough. So, he has removed the endorsement of the New Black Panther Party from his website. (Pause here and try to image John McCain making this announcemnt about the Aryan Brotherhood or some other white supremist group.) I guess this is a follow up to his call for improved race relations. Seriously, you had an endorsement page for the New Black Panthers on your website, but you claim to be a candidate for all Americans?

It was one thing for Obama to speak in generalities and vagueness, but his is disseminating. His spokesperson said it “has nothing to do with us.” It is YOUR website, THAT is what it has to do with you. You were advertising their support! You used it because you thought it would attract some voters who resonate with them. Now that there is a backlash, you don't know them. This is why people don't like politicians. They say the dumbest things and want us to believe them.

You may not have followed the New and Improved Black Panthers, since they do not get the same publicity the Old Black Panthers got. So, here are some things you might like to know.

First, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as an extremist hate group. That is a good way to convince white America you are a candidate for all people: publicize the support of a group that hates whites and Jews. he Anti-Defamation League calls them “the largest organized anti-Semitic black militant group in America. Since Blacks and Jews have had problems in America in the past, and since Jews often vote Democrat, this is, again, pretty poor judgment by Obama.

My favorite stance by the Panthers is a demand to release of all black prisoners from American jails. I can't imagine that many Blacks would support this, and pretty much no one else.

There is a lot more, but I'll stop with their demand for a separate Black country within the U.S. I just thought I'd point out, both to the Panthers, and to Obama, that white guys tried that back in the mid 1800s and it didn't go over well. We call it the Civil War. Just thought I'd mention it in case you forgot. Ain't gonna happen.

Clinton must be pretty confident this is all going to explode and blow Obama to pieces. Otherwise, she would be running campaign adds with these statements on it. I was just hoping this stuff wouldn't come out until the general election, and the Republicans could use it first. They'll use it, but they won't get first blood. You know what they say: the first cut is the deepest.

So, here is the question. Is Obama a rascist and a hate monger underneath the smooth exterior? Does he go to his church because he agrees with his pastor? Does he really denounce all that America is about? Does he agree with his wife that he has been ashamed of America? Does he agree with the Panthers that Blacks should overthrow America as we know it? Or, is he just not able to control those radicals who are flocking to his campaign?

If it is the first, and people find out, he has lost. When he says he can understand the roots of his pastor's rage, you have to wonder if such a half hearted disavowal is really an endorsement. If the second, he looks incompetent and inexperienced. He is inexperienced, but cannot afford to look like it.


1. I got invited to a Maundy Thursday service. On Wednesday.

2. My church is having an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A Chinese blogger is on trial this week for blogging, being charged with subversion. The Law Blog has a report.

At least I don't have to worry about that. I may get kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention, but no arrest.
Expository Thoughts is doing a chronology of Jesus' last week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The day before his death, Owen wrote to a friend, “I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love—which is the whole ground of my consolation…. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm; but whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable. Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.”

When his friend, William Payne, came to tell him that Owen's "Meditations on the Glory of Christ" was coming off the press, Owen replied, “I am glad to hear it; but, oh brother Payne, the long wished for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing, in this world.”

"I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial." Barack Obama.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I just left the office to take the Little Woman some lunch at work, and it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue with only a few wispy white clouds. It is warm, but not hot. A gentle breeze is blowing. It smells like Spring.

Ecclesiates 11:7 says "Light is sweet, and it pleases the eye to see the sun". I might not make it in Seattle. This West Texas boy loves the sunshine.

I was right, I was right. Obama won the caucuses and ended up with more delegates than Clinton from Texas.

He has also won Mississippi.

Dawn Wells went to jail for reckless driving and had marijuana in the car. And you thought Ginger was the party girl. Now, when someone says "Ginger or Mary Ann", you'll have to say "Dude, Mary Ann".

BTW, Dawn Wells is 69. (Pause here for groaning noises from Baby Boomers.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

When all created streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied
And glory in Thy Name.

John Ryland, Jr.