Thru Eph in 150 Words or Less, 1: New Man, New Creation

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Ephesians by Eric RedmondThe New Man (Eph. 2:15) – the Church – is the visible, earthly demonstration of the renewal Christ will make of the full creation (Eph. 1:23; 4:10). Every believer, and every local assembly of believers, would do well to think conscientiously, intentionally, soberly, humbly, and longingly of what it means to be an example to the world, in miniature and incomplete form, of the glory coming in the renewal of all things–that is, to think and do what it means to be renewed and put on the new self (Eph. 4:23, 24).

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Spurgeon: Salvation as Theodora and Dorothea

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Ephesians by Eric RedmondSalvation may be called Theodora, or God’s gift: and each saved soul may be surnamed Dorothea, which is another form of the same expression. Multiply your phrases, and expand your expositions; but salvation truly traced to its well-head is all contained in the gift unspeakable, the free, unmeasured benison of love.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “All of Grace,” Sermon on Eph. 2:8.

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SBC REGARDING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG

Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr.

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SBC REGARDING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG

From “Hearty Support” 1863 to “Discontinue the Display” 2016

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

At the near beginning of the 21st Century, The Southern Baptist Convention recently made the decision to address a heretofore unaddressed aspect of her history, and that is the SBC’s historic identity and complicity with the Confederacy. A vote was taken to ask Christians to discontinue the public use of the Confederate Flag (CF), in order to show solidarity with other Christians, including African Americans.

Perhaps this was one of the most heart wrenching and gut checking decisions ever made by the SBC. Why? Because the SBC and the Confederacy were connected at the hip historically, emotionally, psychologically, philosophically, geographically, politically, and even genetically. This connection is deep, intertwined, and multi-layered. Many in the SBC literally have the blood of Confederate Soldiers running through their veins.  That made…

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Calvin: “Yet I vouchsafe to come to you.”

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Ephesians Banner“Now if it is demanded why God pities the one part and forsakes and leaves and abandons the other, there is no other answer but that it so pleases him. Upon the preaching of the gospel in a place, some will be affected with lively faith in their hearts and others will go away as they came without benefiting at all, or else they harden themselves against God and betray the stubbornness that was hidden in them before. What is the reason for this difference Even this, that God directs the one sort by his Holy Spirit and leaves the other sort in their natural corruption.

You see then that the thing in which God’s goodness shines forth most to us, is that by the preaching of the gospel to us we have, as it were, a token that he has pitied us, loves us, calls us and allures us to him. But when the doctrine preached to us is received by us with heart and affection, that is yet a further and more special token by which we perceive that God intends to be our Father and has adopted us to be his children. Not without reason, then, St. Paul says in this passage that we are blessed by God even according to his election of us beforehand. For it is not that we have come to him; it is not that we have sought him. But the saying of the prophet Isaiah [65:i] must be fulfilled in every respect, namely, that God shows himself to such as did not seek him, and that such as were far off see him near at hand, and he says to them, ‘Here I am, here I am. Although you have despised me, yet I vouchsafe to come to you because I have a care of your salvation’. Thus we see what St. Paul was aiming at in this passage.”

John Calvin, Sermon on Eph. 1:3-4

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Calvin: Exciting the Ephesians to Gratitude

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KTB Ephesians“That the Ephesians, when assailed by these calumnies, might not give way, he resolved to meet them. While he argues so earnestly that they were called to the gospel because they had been chosen before the creation of the world, he charges them, on the other hand, not to imagine that the gospel had been accidentally brought to them by the will of men, or that it flew to them by chance; or the preaching of Christ among them was nothing else than the announcement of that eternal decree. While he lays before them the unhappy condition of their former life, he at the same time reminds them that the singular and astonishing mercy of God appeared in rescuing them from so deep a gulf. While he sets before their eyes his own commission as the apostle of the Gentiles, he confirms them in the faith which they had once received, because they had been divinely admitted into the communion of the church. And yet each of the sentences to which we have now referred must be viewed as an exhortation fitted to excite the Ephesians to gratitude. (John Calvin, “The Argument,” Commentary on Ephesians)

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Study Guide for Exploring the Workmanship of Christ

On June 30 I launch my new book: Ephesians: A 12-Week Study. It is one of the new additions to the outstanding study guide series from Crossway Books: Knowing the Bible. I am excited about this study!

Ephesians Chloe Image.pngThe key idea in Ephesians revolves around Eph. 2:10: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” From start to finish, Ephesians reveals that the church – and every believer – is a work of God beginning in eternity past and finishing in the day of glorification. God creates the church on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross, and all blessings toward believers come through our mysterious union with Christ. The power Christ gives is for both the heavenly and earthly realms, as he calls us to walk in all of the supernatural provisions he has made for us. These provisions affect marriage, family, work, personal ethics, membership (4:25!), giving to the poor, overcoming bitterness, ceasing of slander, purity and sexual morality, church growth, officers in the church, and much more! A deep understanding of Ephesians is essential to Christian maturity and church ministry.

A few of you have offered to help promote the book. Let me tell you some ways you can help: Like the book on amazon.com; (see the link above). Between now and August 30, please use the hashtags #ktbeph, #ephesians, and #biblestudy in order to create traffic for the book on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I will be making posts you can repost, retweet, share, and like. I soon hope too to blog through the book.

Also, to one organization I am pitching a proposal for a project to equip many under-resourced churches with the resource at little to no cost. Pray for favor and funding for this endeavor.

Thank you for following A Man from Issachar and my musings. You have been a blessing to me.

Blessings,

ECR

 

One Glass Ceiling Shattered; One to Go

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Candidates(It is 10:05 PM ET.)

Tonight America bested one glass ceiling, and I am glad for it. I am not saying that I would vote for Hillary. However, it is a good thing to put the glass ceiling thing behind us so that it will not remain an issue in future Presidential campaigns.

I think Sanders should go all the way to the convention with his campaign. Why not? He will not fracture his party by doing so. He might secure a cabinet position for himself by staying in the race; Hillary might have to promise him a post in order to get Sanders to encourage his supporters to get behind her.

I cannot vote for Trump. He is racist (and not simply a racial opportunist). It is to our shame that he is a primary candidate for the Oval Office.

Would someone tell Hillary to soften her demeanor during the remainder of her campaign? She still comes across as an angry candidate. She needs to distinguish herself from Trump.

Now, let’s go get past that glass other ceiling: Let’s write-in Condi Rice as a candidate and get her to the White House.

Baptist Press: Target CEO’s civil rights comparison rebuffed

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Target

Baptist Press kindly asked for my thoughts on Target’s CEO’s comments comparing the issues around offering transgender bathrooms to the issues during the American Civil Rights Movement. These are some of my comments:

“The important comparison is not the progressive nature of Target’s policies, for one day Target may allow employees to serve food without washing their hands in an effort to be progressive on public sanitation,” Redmond said. “… It will be to our shame and to the detriment of all members of society, including those self-identifying as transgendered, to ignore what is innately human, and its significance for members of a citizenry to live ethically toward one another.”

You can read the entire article here, along with some thoughts from my good friend, Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic.

Thank you, Baptist Press, for offering an alternative view to the popularly accepted stance on the transgender bathroom issue, even as the President pushes acceptance of the transgender ideas with threats.

The Need for Love Today – MTS Commencement Address

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The Need for Love Today

The Moody Theological Seminary—Michigan 2016 Commencement Address

© Eric C. Redmond, 2016

Grammy Award winner Stevie Wonder, on his Songs in the Key of Life album, explores the highs and lows that make up life. It includes memorable hits like “Sir Duke,” “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” and the socio-economic critique, “Village Ghetto Land.” The 21-song, 2-volume Motown set won record of the year in 1976, was 57th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Albums of all Time list in 2005, and was voted Top Album of All Time by Yahoo’s Music Playlist Blog in 2008.

One of the most famous works on the album is the first song, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” You might be familiar with it first two stanzas:

Good morn or evening friends / Here’s your friendly announcer

I have serious news to pass on to everybody

What I’m about to say / Could mean the world’s disaster

Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain

It’s that Love’s in need of love today

Don’t delay / Send yours in right away

Hate’s goin’ round / Breaking many hearts

Stop it please / Before it’s gone too far

 

The force of evil plans / To make you its possession

And it will if we let it / Destroy everybody

We all must take Precautionary measures

If love and peace you treasure / Then you’ll hear me when I say

Oh that / Love’s in need of love today.[1]

Wonder presents a rather novel thesis in the song. The status of love between and among people is at the point of critical need, such that it could end the world as we know if we do not turn to morn over the situation right now. Hatred in the world and “the force of evil” plans to destroy everything, already breaking the hearts of many. Everyone must take precautionary measures by sending “Love” all of the love you and I can so that we can rescue our world. Wonder ends his urgent call by saying, “Just give the world love.”

As we have continued to enjoy this melody for the last 40 years, it would seem that no one took the responsibility to lead the way to strengthen the place of love in the world. The force of evil led us through two gulf wars, and the increases in global terrorism and human trafficking. Many more hearts are breaking daily, as evidenced by the climb of the divorce rate in the west, the number of children in foster care systems, the increase of absentee fatherhood, and the rise of a millennial generation that rejects commitments to a relationship largely because they have not seen a so-called committed relationship work, or because they were harmed by the guise of one in their growing-up years.

The rhetoric of our public discourse continues to degrade into personal slurs like “Lucifer in the flesh”[2] rather than offering respectful disagreement over conflicting ideas. Even the disappearance of cards that say “I’m sorry” from the racks of greeting card displays shows that mending fences is passé. Instead of mending, it is easier to block people from a social media page, or to cloak hate in group posts, texts, and emails while saying everything except the name of one’s object of scorn. Yes, our world is in greater need of love today than in a previous day. Before hate wins in your home, your town, your nation, and your world, someone needs to step up to the plate, accept Stevie Wonder’s challenge, and show us the way of love.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the congregation of Corinth 1900 years before Wonder recorded Songs in the Key of Life, the hatred in their world had spilled into their baptismal pool. Divisions and disregard for the religious health of their fellow members clouded their judgments on small matters. So great was their apathy that they called for curtailing sex in marriage – (?) – while they applauded an adulterous affair among their members.[3] Yet rather than suggest that congregants take their ills to the municipal courtroom (or court of public opinion), the Apostle Paul told this church that the number one thing they needed to do is love—but not with just any love, but with the acts and feelings that are the love of Christ.

As graduates of MTS, certainly you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 and its placement in the middle of the discussion on the role of supernatural gifts within the local assembly. Even you who are not seminarians or church goers are familiar with lines of the chapter that have become part of American cultural literacy: “Love never fails,” and “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13 is a popular piece for readings at weddings. The literati among us also know Jonathan Edward’s classic, Charity and Its Fruits, with its final chapter, “Heaven is a World of Love,” is an exemplary Puritan exposition of this very passage.

What is not so popular or familiar, however, is the character of the love Paul reveals to his hearers. This love excels all of the supernatural gifts within the congregation of Corinth, and of every congregation. This love also excels all concepts of love we promote in the world—from the puppy-love of two children who first begin to notice that “Yuck!” affection for the girl or boy in class, to the one-night stand of two colleagues, to the 1960’s anti-war slogan, “Make love not war.” It is far greater than the new parental love that removes the word “No” from teaching children ethical parameters, and offers much more than the marriage alternative now codified in Obergefell. v. Hodges. Paul’s love is more than gaining warm tingly feelings, making people happy on the inside, or keeping you from being alone when you come home from work. Warm-fuzzies and recreational partnerships will no more address evils in the world than will building an Iron Curtain-like fence along America’s southern border; every day Evil tells us where we can take the warm-fuzzy fences of our lusts and our visions of Presidential grandeur.

No, what Paul proposes is much greater, and more powerful than any wall, dropping of bombs, or embargo, and it is more powerful that the hope most people have of finally experiencing “real love” one day. This love has an enduring quality: It “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” in verse 8. It doesn’t throw in the towel when caring for a love one’s terminal disease curbs our fun for years on end. It doesn’t drop out of parenting when nothing will bring a wayward or rebellious child to reform or reconciliation. It envisions a brighter future for the addicted spouse when there are no promises of light at the end of the tunnel. It has hope for the daughter who has become a cutter and thrown away her full-ride to college, and continues to act on that hope because the daughter’s turnaround is within the realm of “all things.” Our world needs this enduring love.

This love is more excellent than operating in self-serving passions. It is beyond thinking firstly of one’s own personal comforts, one’s own desires, and one’s own promotion. Instead verses 4 – 7 tell us this love is “patient and kind,” which means love acts with patience and kindness consistently. This “love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” Real love does not smart-off at me in the store because a worker does not like me changing my order as a customer (as someone did to me recently). It does not curse at teachers who are authorities in their classrooms, neither does it try to get in the last word in every argument, and it certainly does not plan to “go up one side and down the other” of a person, or do-in or undo anyone. This love and rudeness in any form cannot coexist in the same person. This love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing,” which includes not laughing at, minimizing, taking advantage of, or ignoring the wrongful treatment of any person. Instead, Paul says this love “rejoices with the truth.”

Love intends to conquer base passions and decrease self so that the church can be the very presence of Love on earth. This is who we are to be—not simply believers intent on having nice friendships, a few prayers, and time of study. The goal of all of our shepherding, preaching, teaching, counseling, singing, praying, fellowshipping, and meeting together for business matters is that we love one another, and that our love so displays the power of Christ in lives that the world takes notice of our uniqueness in society and comes to us to seek this love—love that comes only from calling on the name of the Lord.

When we see that love is more than feeling, and is selfless actions for the greatest good of others, it puts personal, social, and all moral evils into perspective. The Black Lives Matter movement is an issue of love: Lethal use of force would not have a twinge of prejudicial association, and protests would not devolve into attacks on law enforcement, because all sides would be looking for selfless solutions with endurance and hope rather than acting out of impatience and fear. The Flint water crisis is a matter of love: We need officials who do not cover up wrongdoing for the sakes of their jobs, but who, instead, consider what is kind towards its citizenry and make sure their own happiness rests in being truthful.

Even a man being knocked out in a Chicago street, robbed of his possessions while down, and then run over by a taxi while people watch and do nothing[4] is a matter of love—not simply of sympathetic feelings toward one who is down, but it is someone having the courage to step up in the situation at risk of life, fending off pilferers, and identifying the culprits. The ethos that denigrates righteous reporting as “snitching” is the getaway driver for moral evil, and only will stop the car in the face of the lawman known as Love.

This is so, because love not only is about selfless acts and feeling toward others. Love is about a person, for Paul is personifying love. Love cannot be patient or kind; people are patient and kind. So if real love—the love you long to experience, the love that should characterize every Christian worker and every member of a church, the love that should be the evaluation grid of our ministries at the end of each day, and the love that is stronger than legislation (for even where structural justice is needed, its legislation cannot change hearts)—if real love sat in our pews Sunday to Sunday, it would have all the features of the actions of love. It would show the world what it means to stand in the very presence of God the Father for all of eternity, for, as Paul says, through love we will “see face-to-face” rather than “through a glass darkly,” and through love we will “know fully even as [we are] fully known.”[5] The only person who has shown that love daily in full measure is Jesus.

Jesus is patient toward our sin and kind toward transgressors. Jesus did not envy people’s accomplishments or looks, or boast of his divine abilities to the detriment and shame of others.

Jesus was not arrogant or rude when people accused his momma of being a whore and spat on him—things that would have been causes for fights for the rest of us. Rejection by his own people did not make him irritable or resentful for leaving his glory in heaven to come down to them.

The narrative of Jesus’ life cuts through wrongdoing in the temple and made Zacchaeus pay back stolen money fourfold—something many white-collar crooks in the modern world need to do. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). Jesus rejoiced in the truth.

Surely when he went to the cross to die in the place of our sinfulness before God, experienced and satisfied the very wrath of God in our place, and then got up from the grave by defeating death with his righteousness, he bore for us all things, he believed for us all things, he endured for us all things, and he hoped in us all things.

You sir, you ma’am who came to celebrate a graduate, should put your hope for experiencing real love in Jesus. Only he has the power to forgive you of your lack of acts of love, and to overcome eternal death for you so you can enjoy real love in this life and the life to come. Only his love working in you can transform the pride that rules your marriage into meekness so that his love also can create the bedroom experience—the love—you really want nightly, or sustain you in a marriage when selfless sexual love is absent. Only by knowing the fullness of his love can we let go of bitterness over dashed hopes and hatred of those who have abused and misused us unjustly, and find a life of joy and peace. Ask your graduate to show you the way to this real love that comes only through knowing the Christ.

Yes, the world is in need of love today.

It needs love to permeate everything within the church so that we can mend hearts and keep evil at bay.

Don’t delay; send yours in right away.

Love is the heart-fixer;

Love is the hate-stopper;

Love is the hope-giver;

Love is the evil-defeater.

MTS 2016 graduates, go love the people you serve with the actions and feelings of our Savior.

Make sure you, and your ministry, just give the world Jesus.

 

[1] Wonder, Stevie. 1976. Songs in the Key of Life, vol. 1 & 2 vol. 1 & 2. Los Angeles, CA: Motown.

[2] See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/29/us/politics/out-of-office-ex-speaker-john-boehner-gleefully-releases-mute-button.html?_r=0, accessed April 30, 2016.

[3] 1 Cor 7:1-5.

[4] See http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-bartender-death-lawsuit-0421-20160420-story.html, accessed April 30, 2016.

[5] 1 Cor 13:12.

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