Posts from March 2014

Thoughts on: Philippians 2

At the end of Philippians 1, Paul wrote that the Philippians, like him, had been giving the privilege of suffering for Christ. Here, as Paul starts chapter 2, he takes a step back and brings some perspective on what it means to follow Jesus. Yes, there might be suffering – though I don’t think I myself nor very many of my peers have had to suffer anything like Paul or the Philippians yet – but there is so much benefit…

Thoughts on: Philippians 1

As Paul starts his letter to the Corinthians, his love and comradeship with them is clear. He is writing to a church that has grasped the gospel of Jesus with both hands, and who aren’t content to just practice their faith privately. No. Like Paul, these are Christians who want to see the gospel spread out to the furthest corners of the globe. Paul calls them “partners in spreading the good news about Christ” – ever since they had heard…

Thoughts on: Ephesians 6

Yesterday, Paul urged us to imitate God as we live our Christian lives. We saw at the end of chapter 5 some of how that works out in inter-personal relationships, starting with how husbands and wives can reflect something of God in their marriages. The first half of Ephesians 6 sees Paul expanding his application to other inter-personal relationships: children and parents; slaves and owners. Children, he says, should obey their parents because the children belong to the Lord; it…

Thoughts on: Ephesians 5

I want to make God proud. I want to be like him. I want to see something of his character formed in me. I want to be holy and righteous. Here in Ephesians 5, Paul urges us to seek exactly that. He tells us to “imitate God in everything we do” because of the fact that we are his dear children. That’s what children do: they copy their parents. How do babies learn to speak? By emulating their parents! As…

Thoughts on: Ephesians 4

It is a marvellous thought: as a Christian I can come into the presence of God with boldness and confidence, because of Christ and my faith in him. There is nothing to fear from God, because of what Jesus has done, if we believe in him. But, writes Paul here in Ephesians 4, that doesn’t mean we have an excuse to live as wantonly as we desire. We can have such confidence because of our adoption into the family of…

Thoughts on: Ephesians 1

As Paul starts his letter to the Ephesians, he reminds us that we who follow Jesus Christ have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Notice that we have been blessed in “the heavenly realms” – there is blessing for following Jesus here today – but it is where God is that we have received every blessing. There can be no greater spiritual blessing than being united with Christ. There is no higher attainment. Of course, it’s…

Thoughts on: Galatians 5

Freedom! What a wonderful word that is. It is, I believe, one of the rallying cries of the gospel – freedom in Christ from sin and death. Freedom from our sinful nature. Freedom to be the people that God always intended us to be. The gospel message is the story of how Christ Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has bought our freedom. But something that I find shocking is how often people taste freedom and then want to return…

Thoughts on: Galatians 4

An author that I am particularly fond of is P. G. Wodehouse, easily one of the funniest writers of the twentieth century. What strikes me is how often in his writings – and others of the time – one comes across the circumstance where a character can’t marry or invest money in a venture or something of that sort because they have not yet come of age. The character is constrained by the terms of the will of their parents,…
The situation in Corinth, as Paul wrote them this letter, was dire. There were those who were coming into the midst of the church and leading them astray – away from the gospel of God and towards a super-legalistic return to Judaism. This was, it seems, one of the major issues in the early church: persuasive speakers who insisted that in order to be part of God’s people, one had to do more than just believe in Christ; that one…

Thoughts on: 2 Corinthians 7

By no stretch of the imagination am I a perfect man. Though I seek to follow Christ with all my heart, and long to be like Jesus, I fall very far short of the mark. I will never attain perfection this side of eternity – but the very fact that God has adopted me – that He is my Father and that I am his child – means that I will keep working to put to death the deeds of…

Thoughts on: 2 Corinthians 1

Sometimes life gets… difficult. A few years ago, I had what came close to burnout, which brought out all of the latent fears and doubts in my life. But God comforted me in my suffering. As Paul starts this second of the preserved letters to the Corinthians, he speaks about something similar.