Orwell Bible Church

Ephesians 4

Truths given in the first three chapters serve as the foundation for applications in the last three chapters. The spiritual unity believers have in a church through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (vv. 4-6) must be guarded and promoted so that harmony and unity is seen and experienced (vv. 1-3). Christ provides for the unity of the church through spiritual gifts he has given (vv. 7-11). As members of a church minister to one another the whole body matures, is protected, grows, and is more united (vv. 12-16).

The church as Christ’s body must live like Christ in every area of human life (4:17-6:9). Believers must live like believers, not unbelievers (vv. 17-24). The “old man” (v. 22) refers to life as an unbeliever. Christians are not to lie (v. 25), be bitter or harbor grudges (vv. 26-27), should not steal but work (v. 28), and never use improper language but instead speak to edify others (vv. 29-32).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. True unity can only be experienced through salvation from the Triune God. Sin is the root cause of every human problem in every human relationship. Efforts to deal with sin’s effects may bring a temporary appearance of improvement, but they are like putting a Band-Aid on skin cancer.
  2. Christians have a deep responsibility to their brothers and sisters in their churches to strengthen and protect the unity God gives. Sadly, many Christians don’t take what God has done seriously when they don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Strengthening fellow-believers in a church is work, the work of the ministry that every Christian has (v. 12).
  3. True salvation is seen in a night-and-day difference of life from that of unbelievers (vv. 17-32). This is because the change began with being born again, receiving new life in the heart (v. 18; cf. Prov 4:23).

Ephesians 3

Now Paul details his role in God’s plan as one through whom God made known the truth of the church (vv. 1-13) and then in response to this prays for the Ephesians (vv. 14-21).

Paul was Christ’s prisoner (v. 1), a steward of God’s grace (v. 2), and one that God gave truth to and through (vv. 3-7). Paul was responsible to proclaim the riches of Christ’s redemption primarily to the Gentiles so that God would be glorified (vv. 8-13).

Paul then prayed that the full blessings of Jesus Christ through the gospel would be known to and experienced by the Ephesians so that they would glorify God (vv. 14-21).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. The truth of the church—believers of every nationality spiritually united together in Christ—had been concealed but was now revealed through the apostles (this is what “mystery” means; note vv. 5-6, 9-10). This truth was part of God’s eternal plan (v. 11), not a “plan B.” There isn’t a hint in the Old Testament about the church; this was truth God sovereignly chose to conceal to OT saints.
  2. God’s wisdom is made known by the church to all creation (v. 10). This is the church’s reason for existence, so the church must be occupied with that and not get distracted into doing things it shouldn’t.

Ephesians 2

Having laid foundational truths of God’s salvation in chapter one, Paul now in chapter two explains how God saves sinners.

First, God causes sinners who are spiritually dead to be made alive through Jesus Christ (vv. 1-10). Note how unbelievers are described in verses 1-3: spiritually dead in sin (v. 1), controlled by Satan (v. 2), and devoted to living for oneself, gratifying the sin nature (v. 3). Then, “but God,” (v. 4)! Sinners have no hope in themselves, only in God’s mercy and love while they were sinners (vv. 4-5). God causes them to be born again (vv. 5-6), for his glory (v. 7), and solely by grace through faith (vv. 8-9). Believers are what they are by God’s work and thus live for him (v. 10).

Second, though Jews and Gentiles were guilty before and separated from God and one another, through Christ’s death God forgave and reconciled believing sinners (vv. 11-22). God graciously chose Israel and blessed them with promises and Jesus Christ, but Gentiles were far away from and aliens to these blessings (vv. 11-12). Then, “But now,” (v. 13)! Through Jesus’ death hopeless Gentiles who trust in Christ are brought near (v. 13). The One who brought this peace is Jesus, who through his life, death, and resurrection did away with every cause of separation (vv. 14-15a). Jesus causes every believer, whether Jew or Gentile, to become spiritually united in one body forever (vv. 15b-18).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Sinners are hopeless lost, cannot save themselves, and of themselves will not seek salvation (vv. 1-3). Any and every sinner’s only hope is “but God.”
  2. While works cannot save, one who is saved works (vv. 8-10). Salvation is by the free grace of God, but true salvation is never free of works demonstrating and proving that one has been saved. God saves sinners so they will no longer live to sin, but rather so they will live to glorify him in life.
  3. Work through this chapter noting different words and phrases characterizing God’s salvation in Jesus through the Spirit (such as “rich in mercy,” “great love,” etc.).

Ephesians 1

Paul organized the church at Ephesus during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1), spending three years there (20:31). He wrote this letter during his fist imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:16ff). Ephesians has two main sections: (1) The doctrine of the church, chapters 1-3, and (2) The duty of the church, chapters 4-6.

Paul begins by praising God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for their sovereign, gracious work of salvation (1:3-14). He then thanks the Lord for the Ephesians and prays they will better understand the riches of Christ’s salvation (vv. 15-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Election (vv. 4-5, 11) is God’s choice before the foundation of the world to bring some sinners to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is of individual sinners, not merely the plan of salvation. God’s choice was not based on any “foreseen” human act, but solely his grace, love, perfect will, and good pleasure (Eph 1:4-5, 11; 2 Tim 1:9). Election is not based on faith, it results in faith.
  2. The right response to the doctrine of election—and any and every aspect of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ—is humble praise and thanksgiving. Believers should ask the Lord to better grasp their salvation (1:18-21). Right knowledge is essential for right worship and right living.
  3. God saves his elect as the gospel is preached to the lost and they repent of their sins and trust in Christ (v. 13; cf. Acts 13:48). The gospel must be preached to the lost—this is an issue of obedience to Jesus’ command (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:47).
  4. Any and every spiritual blessing is found only in Jesus Christ, granted only by the Father’s love and good will, imparted only by the Holy Spirit, communicated only through the gospel message, and received only by faith.

Romans 16

Paul closes his letter to the Roman church by greeting those he knew there (vv. 1-16), warning of false teachers (vv. 17-20), and relaying greetings from brethren in the church at Corinth where he wrote from (vv. 21-23).

Paul said that a Christian woman, Phoebe (v. 1), is “a servant of the church in Cenchrea.” As the Greek word here for “servant” is the same used for “deacon” (cf. 1 Tim 3:8), some suggest Phoebe was a female deacon. However, as she carried this letter to the Roman church she was a servant of the Lord, assisting and helping. The same word is used of the government (13:4), preachers of the gospel (Eph 6:21), even Jesus (Rom 15:8)! Similarly, though Andronicus and Junia are called “apostles” (v. 7), the word in this context has the sense of “messenger” or “missionary” (cf. Acts 14:14).

In verse 25 “mystery” means truth previously concealed but now presently revealed, which Paul’s closing statement in verses 25-26 makes clear.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Serving the Lord does not require holding an office or formal position. In fact, the office or position comes to those who have demonstrated that they are servants. One of the worst things a church can do is put someone in leadership with the hope that it will encourage them to get serious about the Lord!
  2. Though the world does not remember the Christians’ names in verses 3-15, the Lord does. The world glories in appearance, ability, money, and knowledge, but the Lord does not (Jer 9:23). Rather, the Lord delights in one who loves him and lives for him (Jer 9:24) as these listed in Romans 16:3-15 did.
  3. The church is responsible for guarding the church and the gospel against false teachers (vv. 17-19). Jesus’ commands regarding such are to examine (“be wise in what is good, simple concerning evil,” v. 19b), identify (“note,” v. 17), be separate from (“avoid them,” v. 17), and stand in hope (v. 20).

Romans 15

Continuing from chapter 14, Paul concludes how mature and immature believers (“strong…weak”) should interact with one another by teaching that they must edify one another for God’s glory (vv. 1-13). Christian must bear with and receive one another so that they please each other for mutual edification (vv. 1-6), following the example of Christ who did not please himself (v. 3). Christians must also serve each other for the glory of God (vv. 7-13), again following Christ’s example who served others (v. 8).

Paul then describes the character of his ministry in verses 16-21 and tells the Roman church his hope to visit them soon and gain their help to then spread the gospel to Spain (vv. 22-33).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. It is not God’s will for “weak,” immature believers to continue in immaturity. While they learn and grow mature believers (“strong”) must bear with immature believers (“weak,” v. 1).
  2. Believers must please each other for mutual edification and hope (vv. 2-4).
  3. Believers must be like-minded so they glorify God together (vv. 5-6).
  4. Mature believers (“strong”) must serve immature believers (“weak”) by accepting them, just as Christ accepts every believer, so that God is glorified (14:1; 15:7-12).

Romans 14

Romans 14:1-15:13 addresses how Roman Christians should view and interact with one another in light of different beliefs about things God created. The two issues were believers (1) looking down on and criticizing one another so that they did not edify but tore up one another, and (2) focusing on themselves so that they did not glorify God in their worship.

This passage (14:1-15:13) talks about two basic groups of people, the strong and weak in faith. “In faith” points to the fact that the issues here are not mere opinions or “personal convictions.” Faith has content, something from Scripture that is believed to be true. A “strong” Christian is one strong in his faith, a mature believer, and a “weak” Christian is an immature believer.

Some important points to note with this passage: (1) Paul does not identify who’s who here (whether Jew or Gentile). (2) The issues here deal with things God created, food and days. That must control application. Many Christians today wrongly say this passage deals with things that don’t matter, and then apply it to issues such as clothing, music, dancing, smoking, drinking, etc. things God has revealed truth about. (3) The strong in faith are correct, because God has spoken to the issues of food and days, (14:14, 20b; 15:1; cf. Mark 7:19; Acts 10:15; 11:9; Col 2:16–23; 1 Tim 4:1–5). Note that Paul says he is “strong” (15:1), a mature believer. (4) The strong in faith can cause the weak in faith to doubt, possibly resulting in their apostasy.

Christians (1) must not have a worldly assessment of and actions toward one another but a Christ-transformed outlook and actions (12:1-2), and (2) they must show a Spirit-controlled acceptance of one another to edify the church and glorify God.

In 14:1-13 Christians must accept one another because God accepts (vv. 1-4) and judges all believers (vv. 5-13). When Christians are controlled by the Spirit they will walk in love with one another (vv. 14-15), show the fruits of the Spirit (vv. 16-17), please God and be a blessing to others (v. 18), and will strive for peace and edification with believers rather than tear them down (vv. 19-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Don’t despise or judge one another (vv. 3, 10, 13a).
  2. Don’t be a stumbling block or cause another to fall away from the faith (v. 13b).
  3. Be controlled by the Spirit to love one another (vv. 14-18).
  4. Pursue what enables peace and mutual edification (vv. 19-23).

Romans 13

How should believers live in relation to the government and unbelievers? Chapter 13 details God’s will for these areas.

Christians must submit to government because God established it (v. 1), so to resist government is to resist God (v. 2). God established government to regulate human behavior (vv. 3-4). The right thing to do (v. 5) also involves paying taxes (v. 6) and having a right attitude and actions toward governing officials (v. 7). Don’t forget that when Paul wrote this Nero was the Roman emperor, a wicked ruler!

Christians must also fulfill their obligations (v. 8) and love others by living righteously among them (v. 9). The outcome of this kind of love is Christ-likeness (v. 10). Christians must live for Christ because Christ is coming (vv. 11-12a), so they must not live like the world but a holy life (v. 12b). Christians must not be controlled by their sin natures but by the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 13-14).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. God’s will for Christians in relation to human government is submission. Why has this always been hard? Because there have been bad rulers and Christians still have their sin natures. Why is it we too often think of “exceptions” to this (such as Acts 5:28-29)? While there are such, more often than not the problem is our hearts! Pray for grace to obey! Think about Jesus when he was on the earth, and how he interacted with human governing authorities!
  2. God’s will is clearly given in the Scriptures (cf. vv. 9-10). Along the lines of the first point, put your focus and effort on showing you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul by obeying him!
  3. Jesus is coming (vv. 11-12a)! Does this fact affect how you live now? There is a right and a wrong way to live. Live like Christ!

Romans 12

How should believers live? Paul addresses this in chapters 12-16. He begins with a foundation in 12:1-2. Those who have received God’s mercies must live a life dedicated to living like Christ (12:1), not like the world (v. 2).

Christians must be humble, not allowing differing gifts to be a source of pride but rather faithfully serving through such to edify the church (vv. 3-8). Six marks of a righteous, transformed life are then listed: righteous love (v. 9a), values (v. 9b), brotherhood (v. 10), effort (v. 11), devotion (v. 12), and care (v. 13). Christians must have righteous desires toward those who hate them (v. 14), righteous affection toward the saints (v. 15), and righteous attitudes toward every believer (v. 16).

Even when persecuted, God’s will for suffering believers (vv. 17-21) is that they do not seek revenge but show grace by doing good (v.17b), being peaceful (v.18c), and showing compassion (v. 20a). Persecuted saints must trust the Lord, leaving persecutors in God’s hands either to judge them (v. 19b) or to change their hearts (v. 20b).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christian, think about God’s mercies toward you (v. 1)! Review from chapters 1-3 how lost you were and from chapters 4-5 about the salvation Jesus gave you. Think back to chapters 6-8 how you then should live, no longer giving yourself to serve sin but righteousness, participating in the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart. What did you deserve? What have you received? What is the only right response?
  2. Christian, every day and throughout your day you must live out verses 1-2. What is said there is not a one-time crisis moment of dedication, but a life-long worshipful response with every aspect of your being to God. You must do this!
  3. As you grow more like Christ and less like the world you will better know and understand God’s will (v. 2). Consider the different people and life situations in this chapter: what is God’s will for you for each of these? You won’t know that if you think like the world! Change your thinking to Christ’s!

Romans 11

Having explained in chapters 9-10 why all Israel isn’t saved, that begs a question: Since Israel has rejected God, is God done with them? Paul answers in chapter 11 with a resounding NO! Though Israel is currently set aside, God will restore her. God’s rejection of Israel is neither total (all Israel) nor final (for all time).

God has graciously saved some Israelites but has judged the rest (vv. 1-10). Israel’s spiritual status depends on God’s choice and their response to the gospel. While God has graciously saved some Jews (“a remnant,” “the elect,” vv. 2-6), he has judged unbelieving Israel by hardening them in their unbelief (“blinded,” vv. 7-10).

God has temporarily set Israel aside but he will restore her (vv. 11-36). Israel’s current status is not their permanent status (final, for all time). Because most Israel did not believe in Jesus, the blessings of the gospel are now made directly available to the world (vv. 11-15). This demands that Gentile believers should be humble, not proud (vv. 16-24). God will, however, turn his attention back to Israel resulting in their salvation (vv. 25-32). Israel will continue in blindness until the full number of Gentiles are saved, after which Israel will be saved (vv. 25-27). Then God will fulfill his promises to Israel and show them mercy (vv. 28-32).

The right response to these truths must is to glorify God (vv. 33-36), for his infinitely wise plans (v. 33) are above human understanding (vv. 34-35) for he is the source, support, and end of all things (v. 36).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. God never breaks, goes back on, or revokes his promises. Never. Israel’s future is certain because God’s call is irrevocable (v. 29)—impossible to be changed, unalterable, and unconditional. God’s gracious promises are always fulfilled.
  2. The “remnant” (v. 5) refers to a small number of Israelites (Jews) who have trusted in Christ. That must encourage Christians that God is faithful to his promises to Israel and someday will fulfill everything he promised to them.
  3. Sadly, Christians can become proud of their salvation (v. 25)! This must be repented of. Consider that you were lost, that in yourself you had no hope, and it was only by God’s rich grace and mercy that you heard must less believed in Christ!

Romans 10

Continuing from chapter 9 why all Israel hasn’t been saved, Paul gives another reason why all Israel hasn’t been saved: they relied on their righteousness instead of Christ’s righteousness (9:30-10:21). Most Israelites did not attain salvation, but many Gentiles did because they believed in and trusted Christ (9:30). Unbelieving Israel, however, is lost because they trusted in themselves (9:31-33). Israel depended on their own righteousness (their keeping of the Law) when they should have depended on Christ’s righteousness (his keeping and fulfillment of the Law, 10:1-4).

Scripture says that salvation is not by the works of the Law but by hearing with faith (10:5-13). Israel did hear the gospel, but they did not believe it (10:14-21). Israel’s problem was not not knowing, but not believing.  

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. The only way the lost can be saved is by hearing and believing the gospel message. God is sovereign in salvation and has ordained the means by which he saves—through Christians giving and teaching the gospel. Sinners and saints are responsible!
  2. Paul longed to see his fellow Jews saved! Do you long for the salvation of souls? Is that seen in devoted prayer (v. 1)? Evidenced by bringing them the gospel (v. 14)?

Romans 9

Chapters 9-11 explain why most Jews didn’t believe the gospel Paul preached and addresses the Gentile tendency to look down on Jews. Romans 9:1-29 focuses on God’s sovereign election of some Israelites to salvation. Romans 9:30-10:21 focuses on Israel’s rejection of the gospel because of their unbelief. Romans 11 focuses on Israel’s present and future.

Paul begins by expressing his longing for all Israel to be saved (9:1-5) yet teaching that all Israel hasn’t been saved because God didn’t choose to save all of them (vv. 6-29). God saves those whom he chooses to save (vv. 6-13). God the Creator has the right to show mercy to whom he pleases (vv. 14-29). This is consistent with Scripture (vv. 15-18) and God’s character (vv. 19-29).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Salvation is entirely of the Lord, from beginning to end. Sinners deserve only one thing, judgment. The fact that any are saved is due entirely to God’s mercy. God is not obligated to show mercy. The fact that he does is astounding. Meditate and think on, submit to, and give thanks for God’s sovereign grace and mercy!
  2. God chooses to save some sinners based solely on his sovereign will, compassion, and mercy. The rest of sinners continue willingly in their sin, and God lets them go that way (v. 18). God endures rebels (v. 22) yet shows mercy to his elect (v. 23). No one can find fault with God (vv. 19-21) for no one deserves salvation.
  3. A right consideration of the doctrine of election should cause believers great joy, faith in the Lord, humility, faithfulness, zealous labor, personal holiness, and confidence in evangelism.
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