Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

To Choose or Not To Choose

To Choose or Not To Choose

In recent weeks, I have been in a Bible study with a group of men at Urban Hope Church.  We have been studying the book of Ephesians.  I’ve read this many times over the years.  Each time I do, I discover something new.  This time through, I’m very aware or the idea of choosing.  So, with that in mind, I’m writing this.  What follows below is the text of the first chapter of Ephesians as found in the New Living Translation of the Bible.  After that, I’m breaking down this chapter to share my thoughts.

EPHESIANS 1

Greetings from Paul
1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,* who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.* 7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth. 

11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. 12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.* 19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else— not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Arterburn, Stephen; Stoop, David. The Life Recovery Bible NLT (LRB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 68364-68405). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

EPHESIANS 1
Greetings from Paul
1This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus,* who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This idea of choosing or being chosen does not start with me.  Paul points out that God chose him to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Quick note: Along the way, I’m adding end notes to provide definitions of some words that might not be familiar to you.)

God chose Paul.  Now it’s our turn to choose.  Look at the phrase above: “…who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.”  Before we can be a faithful[i] follower of Christ Jesus we must choose to follow.  Virtually every action we take in life has choosing to do that action just before the action itself.  Choosing to follow Jesus involves the same process.  Choosing (or not choosing) becomes the pattern of Ephesians[ii] as we will now see.  The indented portions are my commentary or insertion of words to make my point.

Spiritual Blessings
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose to bless us with every spiritual blessing[iii] in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

4Even before he made the world, God chose to love us and chose us in Christ to be holy[iv] and without fault in his eyes.

5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

5God chose to decide in advance to adopt[v] us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.*

6So we choose to praise God for the glorious grace[vi] he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.*

7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he chose to purchase our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

8He has chosen to shower his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

9God has now chosen to reveal to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth.

10And this is the plan: At the right time he will choose to bring everything together under the authority of Christ— everything in heaven and on earth.

11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

11Furthermore, because we have chosen to be united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,* for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.

12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to choose to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you chose to believe in Christ, he chose to identify you as his own* by giving you the Holy Spirit[vii], whom he promised long ago.

14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

15Ever since I first heard of your chosen strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your chosen love for God’s people everywhere,* 16I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom* and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.

18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.*

18I pray that you will choose to allow your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he chose to call— his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.*

19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

19I also pray that you choose to seek to understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who choose to believe him. This is the same mighty power 20that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

21Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else— not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Arterburn, Stephen; Stoop, David. The Life Recovery Bible NLT (LRB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 68364-68405). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Take a moment now to go back to the top and read this chapter with a new understanding that it is your choice to choose or not to choose to follow Jesus Christ.

To be continued…



[i] consistently trustworthy and loyal, especially to a person, promise, or duty
[ii] a book of the Bible, originally a letter to the church in Ephesus and traditionally attributed to St. Paul.
[iii] help from God
[iv] devoted to the service of God
[v] to raise a child of other biological parents as if it were your own
[vi] the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God AND the condition of being free of sin, e.g. through repentance to God
[vii] the third person of the Trinity, understood as the spiritual force of God

No comments:

Post a Comment