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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Embarking on Ephesians: Life in Christ

Last month I went to the National Pastor's Conference where I got to see a number of incredible Christian speakers and thinkers. One of the highlights for me was seeing Charles Colson speak. You may know of Colson from his incredible ministry to people in prison called Prison Fellowship. He got started in that ministry after going to prison himself after taking part in President Nixon's Watergate scandal. He was one of Nixon's top advisors at that time. He has since become a profound Christian thinker and author. He gave a very impassioned speech at this conference in which he talked about some devastating developments in our current church culture. Specifically, he said, people don't know what they believe anymore. We have become a Biblically illiterate society and we are beginning to forget what we believe and why we believe it. Whereas, throughout the history of the church Christians were willing to die for the truth of their faith, in our day and age people just write off Biblical doctrine as "divisive" and "close-minded" and don't take the time to learn what they believe. People have started to believe that it is not what you believe that is important, but it is how you live that matters. The phrase that gets tossed around is that the church should be more concerned with deeds not creeds.

But, as Colson points out (and I agree) this is a false dichotomy. He asked the pointed question, "How can we live the faith if we don't know the faith?" The Bible never talks about good works apart from what is believed. It is the faith of the Christian that leads to the deeds. And nowhere is this made more clear to us than in the letters of St. Paul, the author of the majority of the New Testament (he wrote all the books between Romans and Philemon). Time and time again Paul demonstrates that we can only live the Christian life (do the deeds) because of what God has done for us and to us in Christ (because of the creeds, that is, what we believe).

We have discussed how disciples are to sit, study, and serve. It is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are doing what we can in all three areas. I fear that all too often the "study" gets left behind. When that happens, the sitting and serving are less fruitful. So, for the next few months, we are going to be taking a closer look at our faith and life in Christ by examining Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We will learn who we are because of Christ and what that means for our life. We will see how who we are effects what we do. We will get a better picture of what we believe and why we believe it. It is my prayer that this look at Ephesians will enrich your faith in Jesus and strengthen your walk with Him!

Pastor Bob

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