on occasional blogging (or, "I’m a paintin’ fool")

Well, here we are, with an entry… I am in the midst of renovating the second half of my duplex, sold the other half in November. So my time is cramped for sure. Right now I am in the midst of painting. I have put in three days of painting so far and it looks like another day and a half to go, hopefully Monday and Tuesday of next week. Did I mention that I hate painting? Give me drywall mud any day. At any rate, things are really coming into shape on the reno. One of my deacon’s is helping me. He got the kitchen cabinets installed for me this week while I painted.

In the meantime, we are managing to keep up with our New Testament study guides and sermons as we work our way chronologically through the New Testament. Last Sunday was all Ephesians, the first installment in our study of the prison epistles. It seems to me that in the writing ministry of the apostle Paul the Lord used him to teach Christians concerning Christian living in a progressive sort of way. First he dealt with disciplinary matters as the church was being ‘hewn from the rock’ of Gentile paganism with Galatians and the Corinthian epistles. The Thessalonian epistles were written between these two, dealing with important eschatological questions and pastoral assurances. I suppose we ‘forget’ about those two epistles more than any others of Paul’s, except perhaps Philemon. In Roman’s Paul comprehensively explains the theology of salvation, without a doubt one of the most critical books for our understanding of the gospel. From the disciplinary/eschatological beginnings of Paul’s ‘corpus’ [don’t you love scholarly words?], we move to theology, and then we move to the heavenlies… that is what Ephesians is all about, especially the idea of the heavenly blessings realized now in the church of the Living God. In Colossians we are called to set our affections on things above, especially the pre-eminent Christ. Philippians also gives us high doctrine in the ‘kenosis’ passage, the doctrine of the incarnation. The theology of these books are intended to stir up Christian graces in our lives, real practical Christian living. Theology is essential for this, the contemporary pulpiteer who eschews theology and preaches only ‘practical’ messages can give no solid ground for people to live the Christian life by faith. The only basis for ‘Christian living’ in such preaching is the pragmatic benefit of living a sober life, and the only power is will power, not faith. Paul’s writing closes out with practical matters, four personal epistles written to individuals (Philemon, the two Timothys, and Titus), but high theology intersperses the work. I think Paul was involved in Hebrews as well, but I’ll leave my theory on that one until we get to it.

In Ephesians, our first message was about the Church. Entitled “The Great Mystery Revealed” from Eph 1-3, I discussed the great plan of God, determined before the foundation of the world but only revealed in the NT era, the mystery of the Church. The church is formed individually, when individuals are saved by grace through faith, and corporately, when the Gentiles and Jews are taken from where they were to become one new body, not what they used to be. This whole concept involves the manifold wisdom and love of God, for the blessing of the whole church and the praise of the Lord’s name. This message involves discussing something God wants us to know. After that comes those things that God wants us to do, but those come in the next two messages.

The second message was also about the church, but more involved with our place in it and how we should be functioning. Entitled “One Body“, it covered Eph 4.1-16. The idea of this message was that because of the mystery revealed to us [and in us] (Eph 1-3), there is an imperative for the believer: unite with the body of Christ, especially as it is seen in a local church. There is a call to a mind of unity with the brethren, seven uniting reasons are given (centered around the persons of the Trinity), and gifts are given to the body for the purpose of uniting it in the image of Christ. The whole point of this message is that God has a place for you in a local church and you are obliged to fulfill it.

The third message covered the rest of Ephesians, 4.16-6.24. I called it “The New Walk“. The new walk begins with a renewed mind, the renewed mind displays itself by putting off the old man and putting on the new man, especially for the sake of the body: ex., put off stealing, work, so that you may be able to bless others. The renewed mind involves renewed relationships: marriage, family (parent/child), employment (master/servant). Having changed your mind about how to live, the apostle finally calls the believer to stand against the wiles of the devil, fully equipped with the armor of God.

On Wednesday, we moved on to Philippians (which some think was written last of the four prison epistles). The message for this evening was entitled: “Humility and How to Attain It“. A major theme of Philippians is humility. Paul’s words concerning himself and his devotion to the gospel are an example to us (even when rivals preach it out of envy, hoping to hurt him; or when it might mean his execution). From this, Paul exhorts the Philippians to adopt his mind, by adopting a manner of life worthy of the gospel, and by adopting a mind like Christ. The apostle points to the example of the humility and humiliation of in his incarnation and crucifixion, Christ as the ultimate example for us to follow, leading him to exhort us once again to work (for it is God working in you). My proposition for this message was: “Humility is a state of mind produced by a commitment to self-sacrificial giving.”

Well that catches us up. I will now retreat into my mad dash to prepare for the weekend, then next week, more painting!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3