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Friday
Mar252011

Called According to Paul: Ephesians

This is another repost of an old post in the Called According to Paul series. I’m reposting them all, one per week (sort of), so I can link to them in the sidebar under Favorite Posts. An explanation of this series can be found here, and the already reposted pieces are here.

In this post, I’m going to look at all the uses of the word called or calling in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. The first time Paul uses this word is in Ephesians 1:18:

…since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened - so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints… (NET)

I see this as being similar to the other times Paul tell us that God’s call is to something: to righteousness or peace or holiness, etc. God’s call, as the term is used here, is an appointment. Specifically in this case, it’s an appointment to hope.

Next, skipping over to chapter 4 of Ephesians, where the word called or calling is used several times in the first few verses:

I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling….

Here, as we saw, too, in 1 Corinthians 1 and 7 (and other texts), called and calling are being used as near synonyms (or metonymies) for salvation. Those who are being saved are being urged to live in a way that reflects God’s saving work within them, or that reflects their status as ones who are being saved.

Notice, too, that in verse 4, just as in Ephesians 1:18 above, Paul says that our call is to hope.

These posts are getting a little repetitive aren’t they?  That’s not a bad thing, because it means we’re discovering a pattern to the way Paul uses the word called in his writings.

Thursday
Mar242011

Round the Sphere Again: Gospel Truth

The Real Thing
John Piper answers the question “What is the gospel?”

Matthew Barrett at The Gospel Coalition Blog: We need a God who does not depend on us, for “[i]t is precisely because God is free from creation that he is able to enter into creation in order to save lost sinners.”

The Fakes
Trevin Wax charts six counterfeit gospels, showing how each one affects the gospel Story, gospel Announcement, and gospel Community.

Thursday
Mar242011

Thankful Thursday

Some weeks are harder than others when it comes to finding things for the Thankful Thursday post, but this week it was easy. (I hope you don’t get the impression that I don’t always have things to be thankful for, because I do. But life has it’s ups and downs, you know, and sometimes the things for which to be thankful are more easily seen or more easily shared.)

This week I purchased a new car, and so far I’m quite happy with it. I’m thankful for the car; I’m thankful that I had the resources to buy it. I had told my sons exactly what I wanted in a car, right down to the model and color. Of course, I was willing to be flexible and willing to be persuaded that my preferences weren’t the best thing for me. Also, I needed a car immediately, so I’d have to take what was available here right now rather than order a car and wait a few weeks for it to be shipped. But although the dealership had only one car in the model I wanted, it was the exact color I’d specified—what I call gun metal gray, but they call something else. So hooray for that, and a big thank you to my heavenly Father who controls even the colors of cars.

I’m thankful that my domain host finally fixed whatever was wrong that caused my site to return an open DNS page. I hate dealing with tech support over the phone, mostly because I hate waiting on hold for a few minutes, let alone an hour or more. And I waited twice yesterday, but hey, now everything’s back right and for that I’m relieved and thankful to God who worked things out in the end and kept me from getting frustrated.

I’m thankful that God made the seasons and causes the sun to rise and set at just the right time. I’m thankful for the longer daylight hours and the increased energy that gives us all.

I’m thankful for a day home alone. There’s been a lot of coming and going and hanging out around here lately, so I’m thankful for peace and quiet whenever I get it.

How about you? For what are you thankful?

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.

Wednesday
Mar232011

Theological Term of the Week

heaven
Primarily, “the essential and immediate dwelling place of God and the eternal home of His people”;1 also “the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless.”2

  • From scripture:
    In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”  (John 14:2-4 ESV)
    And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)
  • From the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Question 86: What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death ?

    Answer: The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.


    Question 90: What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

    Answer: At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

  • From Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware:

    Yes, heaven too is a real place! The Bible speaks about the final home for believers as a place of never-ending joy and happiness, a place always in the presence of God and his beauty, and a place of great satisfaction and fulfillment.  The early verses of Revelation 21-22 help us see some of the wonder of heaven.

    …First, heaven is on earth—the new earth that God will make. John pictures the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, showing that our final home will be on the new earth. Believers are in their resurrect bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58), and they are made fully like Christ (1 John 3:2). As people fully remade, in both body and should we will live and love and work on the new earth that God has made, with great joy and great fulfillment. Second, we will reign with Christ forever. Even though we know very little about all that heaven will be, we know that it will be a place of deep satisfaction in the work God gives us, reigning and working with Christ. In our fallen world, work often does not sound like a good thing. But most of us learn over time that the deepest pleasures in life come through great labor and toil. Work with Christ and work for God will be our great joy in heaven. Third, Revelation 22 pictures us as back in the Garden of Eden with its tree of life. But the picture here shows a Garden of Eden better than before with its twelve kinds of fruit and leaves that heal the nations. So, we are not merely brought back to the place Adam was before he sinned. No, we are taken to a place far beyond what he had. Heaven is not merely restoring the world God made in Genesis 1-2. Heaven far surpasses the first creation.

    Finally, heaven is a place of endless joy, happiness, freedom, fulfillment, beauty, and love. Imagine Jesus himself wiping away every tear, so that we never again experience pain, suffering, or sadness. What God has in store for his people is far beyond what we could know fully. But aren’t you glad he’s told us something about heaven?

Learn more:

  1. Tim Challies: The Essential: Heaven
  2. GotQuestions.org: Where is Heaven? What is the location of Heaven?
  3. Blue Letter Bible: Does Heaven Actually Exist?
  4. John MacArthur: Looking Toward Heaven
  5. Russell Moore: When We All Get to Heaven?
  6. J. C. Ryle: Heaven
  7. John Blanchard: Whatever Happened to Heaven? (pdf)
  8. Jonathan Edwards: Heaven, A World of Charity or Love (pdf)
  9. David Fairchild: The Theology of Heaven - Part 1, The Theology of Heaven - Part 2 (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Last Things

1From Whatever Happened to Heaven? (pdf) by John Blanchard

2From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Wednesday
Mar232011

Round the Sphere Again: Books, Books, Books

My rebecca-writes.com domain is still not working, at least as I write this, so if you want to reach my actual site, you’ll have to use http://rebeccawrites.squarespace.com. I spent a long time on the phone with my domain host this afternoon, and I was assured that the problem should be fixed “in an hour or by the end of the day.” I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but it means at least this: I shouldn’t panic yet.

More Free Ones

  • Persis (Tried With Fire) has a list of recent book giveaways. John’s (While We Sojourn) giveaway has already expired, but you can get in on the rest if you hurry.
  • Persis is offering a free book, too.

    I will be giving away a copy of Living for God’s Glory - An Introduction to Calvinism by Dr. Joel R. Beeke.  This was written for “lay-people and ministers who are interested in learning the basics of Calvinism.”   The book includes a brief history of Calvinism and detailed chapters on the doctrines including TULIP and the solas.  There are also sections covering the relationship of reformed theology to the the heart, the church,  our practice, and the ultimate goal - doxology.

    The draw ends on March 30.

  • Violet (promptings) is giving away a copy of a children’s Bible story book. Violet writes that
  • This book would be a wonderful addition to any home, preschool, kindergarten, early elementary school, or church library. It could be used as a book for adults to read to youngsters or for beginning readers to read themselves. If there is a little person in your life who needs a first Bible, the Read and Share Bible would be an excellent choice.

    I’ve entered my name because I think this would be a good addition to my church’s library.

  • And then there’s my own giveaway. Entries slowed way down yesterday when my URL quit working, but you can still enter if you use this link. (As an aside, despite the URL glitch, I have a lot more entries to this giveaway using the Google Documents form than I have in the past when I asked people to leave comments.)

For Toddlers
Someone was looking for books for babies and toddlers in my church library recently and we didn’t have any. Our collection starts with books for preschoolers and go up from there, so I’ve been thinking that I need to order at least a couple of baby books. Conveniently, this list of suggestions for Easter books for the wee ones (Let the Nations Be Glad) came across my feed-reader this morning, giving me a few suggestions already.