Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Domestic Missions

revaspriensma 1With the organization of the Pittsburgh PR Fellowship into an established congregation in 2016 and the calling of missionary-pastor W. Bruinsma to serve as her pastor, the PRC appointed Byron Center PRC to be the calling church for a new home missionary. In September of 2017 Rev. Aud Spriensma accepted the call to serve this position.

Pastor Spriensma works out of the West Michigan area, where he assists Byron Center PRC's evangelism efforts (for example, the bi-weekly Bible study on the gospel of John held at Dorr Public Library on Thursdays) and other PRCs in the area in their evangelism work. But he is also involved in preaching, presenting mission/evangelism programs, and following up on contacts wherever requested and needed - in the PRCA and beyond.

If you are interested in having the home missionary contact you, please visit this page.

May the Lord of the harvest continue to bless these home mission labors of the PRC and her missionary.

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Who Is Jesus?

Would you like to know who Jesus is and why He is the only Savior of sinners?

Pastor Spriensma has developed a series of brief, basic gospel tracts and podcasts explaining who Jesus is as set forth in the gospel according to John. The entire series may be found on this page and here (podcasts). The individual tracts and podcasts are also listed here with the link (with a printable pdf also attached).

1. Who is Jesus? The Word Made Flesh (podcast)

2. Who is Jesus? The Lamb of God (podcast)

3. Who is Jesus? The Bread of Life (podcast)

4. Who is Jesus? The Light of the World (podcast)

5. Who is Jesus? The Door of the Sheep (podcast)

6. Who is Jesus? The Good Shepherd (podcast)

7. Who Is Jesus? The Resurrection and the Life (podcast)

8. Who is Jesus? The Way, the Truth, and the Life (podcast)

9. Who is Jesus? The True Vine (podcast)

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Below you will find some of our home missionary's recent reports on his labors.

Secretary for Domestic Mission Committee: 

Rev. James Slopsema: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What Are We Doing?

Report from PRC Home Missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma

[This report was also published in the September 1, 2019 issue of the Standard Bearer.]

Notice the title of the article, “What are we doing?”  Missions is the work of the church.  In the year 2001, we had three home missionaries, working in three different declared fields with church plants:  Northern Ireland, the eastern United States, and the Western United States.  The calling of the church was to pray for our missionaries and, of course, financially support the work with their offerings.

In the year of our Lord, 2019, we have one home missionary, with no declared field of labor, except of course, the whole of the United States and Canada.  Are we doing anything?  Is it the case that eighteen years ago the PRC was considerably more involved with domestic mission work than we are today?  Have we lost our mission-mindedness?

First of all, the Domestic Mission Committee (DMC) does not jump in today and start a church plant immediately when we receive a call to “come over and help us.”  When we received these requests in the past year, the DMC sent their home missionary and others to investigate whether it was feasible to begin a church plant in those areas.

Second, the DMC, with diminished requests “to come over and help us,” is working with a new approach to establish a definite field of labor.  In this model, our congregations are more involved in starting evangelistic Bible studies in their communities and their outlying areas.  To date, we have or have had nine of our congregations busy establishing these outreach Bible studies in various areas along with teaching men in correctional facilities.  Our congregations are developing contacts that they can pursue or refer to our missionary to labor with.

Is this not the labor of home missions?  The congregations are doing the work of missions, not only praying for and financially supporting the work of paid missionaries.  The PRC, I believe, is becoming more evangelistic and energetic in this labor.  Mission work is a very important calling from Christ to His church, for He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19).  In the Canons of Dordt we have a beautiful statement:  “And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom He will and at what time He pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified” (Canons I, Art. 3).  Again, in the Canons, we read, “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel” (Canons II, Art. 5).

How important this work is, especially for rather isolated churches!  The apostle Paul on his missionary travels preached, and the Holy Spirit established churches that were geographically close to one another:  Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  These churches could encourage and labor together as the churches of Asia Minor.  In the Philippines, our missionaries labor not only with the first church that was organized, but with pastors and churches that are near the first congregation, so that we now have a federation of churches laboring together.  How important this work is for small churches that have been dependent upon synodical subsidy for many years. It is easy for an organized church, whether large or small, to be content with their church life, not bothering to go and seek to save the lost in the communities around them.  It is through missions that the Lord is pleased to add to His church such as should be saved.

You might ask, “Why have Bible studies in our areas when we already have Bible studies within our churches?  Why go out into the communities when others can come to our worship services?”  There are a number of reasons.  First, one cannot expect those who have little or no church affiliation to travel long distances to come to our churches.  It just will not happen.  Second, these community members would not feel comfortable in many of our church societies or services.  Many of them know little of our Reformed terminology or even Bible history that we take for granted and use.  Third, they do not know anyone else that goes to our church and who often huddle in small groups afterwards.  These people from the neighborhood are often intimidated.

The church and her members must obey Jesus’ command to “Go!”  As we live in different neighborhoods, work in the world’s workplaces, shop in their stores, and eat in their restaurants, we must be friendly, approachable, caring about and listening to our fellow human beings and their life situations.  As the Canons teach, “As to others, who have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as if they were.  But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ” (Canons III/IV, Art. 15).  One way to reach those in our communities is to set up Bible studies and personally invite folks to join us in seeking the truth from the Scriptures.

And we might then ask, what is our missionary doing?  Your missionary seeks to encourage and inspire our churches in this work by preaching ‘mission sermons’ and doing mission presentations.  The missionary is also available to help the churches set up these Bible studies and pick material to be used. We are also writing material or tracts that will be more easily understood by those with a limited knowledge of the Bible.  Just finished is a series of nine tracts on the subject of the person of Jesus Christ.  It is entitled, “Who is Jesus?”  And when contacts come in to the missionary and the DMC, the New Fields Committee does investigative work to determine if this is where the Lord is opening up a door for us to labor.  The missionary then goes to such contacts and begins a Bible study there.

May the Lord Jesus be pleased to continue to cause His church to love the truth that we have been given and to love our neighbors as ourselves, to seek and to save the lost.  This is our work in home missions.

The Great Divine Intervention (Meditation on Eph.2:4-6)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

The Great Divine Intervention

Meditation on Ephesians 2: 4-6

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love where-with he loved us, even we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

“But God…” These two words in and of themselves contain the whole gospel! They tell us what God has done in what was otherwise a hopeless and helpless situation. The word “but” looks back at the situation described in verses 1-3. What a deplorable, desperate, and heinous condition. “But God…” This is the intervention that makes all the difference. We are now united to Christ and enjoy a wonderful, powerful Christian life. Ours is not the hope that the world will get better; it will not! It is not the case that with more education people will progress in their lives. Nor can a change come because we are willing to change. “But God” is the subject for the whole sentence that began in verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.” What a wonderful and beautiful contrast is set forth before us by divine intervention!

The Author of this great work is God. There are so many wrong ideas about God. God is seen as a benevolent but nevertheless basically weak being who would like to help, but cannot unless we are willing. God, then, is limited by evil and controlled by circumstances. Others see God as powerful but rather distant and austere; He could help but does not care. Over against these false notions, God is sovereign. He is in control of His creation and also in the work of salvation. He has determined all things and has determined the destiny of all the angels as well of all humanity. God is holy, not indifferent to issues of right and wrong, justice or injustice, righteousness or sin. He is opposed to sin and will punish it with death. That is why our sinfulness is so frightful! It is terrible to fall into the hands of an angry God.

“But God” is the subject of the sentence and the predicate is found in verse 5 and 6: “hath quickened us…hath raised us up…and made us to sit in heavenly places.” Apart from God’s intervention, we were hopeless and helpless; “dead in trespasses and sins.” God by His Spirit quickened us in regeneration. God raised us up with Christ. This means that when God raised His Son from the dead, we were in Christ and were raised with Him to new life! Why? As we once were in Adam as our head and representative, God gave His Son to be our new head and representative. What is Christ’s is ours! As Christ ascended into heaven, so His church is also spiritually in heaven. That is where our citizenship is. This will be fully realized at our death. Our souls go up to heaven to rule with Christ. When Christ comes against, they bodily we will ascend up into the new heavens and new earth.

Why would God intervene like this for wretched sinners like you and me? What motivates God to do so? We are told in our text (vs.4) that it is God’s love. The first aspect of that love is His mercy. Mercy is God’s love to those who are in misery. We were in misery because we were dead in sin. God took pity on us and stooped to help us (like the good Samaritan who took pity on the man who was beaten and lying on the side of the road). Notice that God is rich in mercy. That means that He is so filled with mercy like an overflowing river, plenteous (Ps. 103:8). He is able, capable of pitying us although we were rebels and would have nothing of Him. He changes our state from being dead to being made alive in Christ.

God intervenes for us in “his great love where-with he loved us.” As God is rich in mercy, so is He also great in His love. He loved us so much from eternity. He loved us without limit. He loved us with His whole being. He loved us even though we were dead in trespasses. He loved us from everlasting. He loved us eternally. In His eternal counsel He loved us while He saw that we were sinners. Obviously, as is mentioned parenthetically, in His grace. I will not say much about that now, but wait until we get to verses 7-9.

God has quickened, raised us up to life, and makes us to sit in heavenly places all in Christ. How great is God’s love! It was manifested in the giving of His own Son to the death on the cross, so that we could have new life. It is in Christ alone that we have hope, help, and life eternal. We who were children of wrath, children of disobedience are made children of God, servants of the most-high God! How humbling this truth is. How thankful we must be. We look to and depend upon him for all things. We were dead but, praise God, He has made us alive in Christ Jesus! May we say with the songwriter, “Two wonders I confess: the wonder of His wondrous love, and my unworthiness.”

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” (John Newton)

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Our Dark Past - What We Were (Meditation on Eph.2:1-3)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Our Dark Past - What We Were

Meditation on Ephesians 2:1-3

 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

There really is no subject or predicate in these verses. The words, “hath he quickened” are supplied. The subject of this sentence is finally in verse 4, and the predicate in verse 5. We have in these three verses what the Ephesian Christians were and what all Christians were by nature: totally depraved. This is important to know and realize. How can we have a true conception and appreciation of the greatness of God’s power in salvation? The answer is that we measure it by the depth of sin from which we have been saved. The greatness of salvation is seen and understood only on the backdrop of the depth of sin and death that we were in by nature. We have here an example of how to tell the story with the greatest effect.

Your little boy runs in and says, “Our team won the game, even though key members were sick. It was a close game; the other team was ahead the whole game, etc. etc.” Or your little boy comes in and tells you of the disadvantages, difficulties, hardships, and only then when he had painted the bleak, bleak picture, he finally announces the startling fact, “But our team won!”

The Apostle Paul , by the Holy Spirit, instructs the Ephesian believers in the wonder and power of God in their salvation by painting the dread dark picture, “and you being dead by your trespasses and sins.” This spoke of the whole congregation in Ephesus. Each and every one of them had been dead. But not only they, but we also: all Christians who read this letter. This was all the churches in Asia Minor and is the church today!

We were “dead in trespasses and sins”. The word “trespasses” emphasizes that one has stepped over the boundaries of God’s law. The other term emphasizes that we have “missed the mark.” It is not that we almost made it, but we have missed it. There is not a lot of difference in the two terms, but both terms emphasize our actual sins. We were dead, as is evident from our trespasses and sins. Here we have the very heart, awfulness, and hopelessness of our state and condition, apart from the grace of God. Each and every one of us performed sinful acts, not in ignorance but willingly, knowingly, defiantly, and in rebellion against God.

Dead in sin does not mean that we were inactive. Sinful man is very active. It means that we were not only separated from God but also stand in opposition against God. Sin bears more sin. It is endless. This was true of Abel as well as Cain. It was true of each of us. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “I am carnal, sold under sin. I find in my flesh no good thing. Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. 7:14-24)? Our death was revealed in that we walked and lived in these sins. This puts away any self-righteousness, pretended goodness and virtue, hypocrisy, and Phariseeism! Do you know this of yourself? This is not very flattering, is it?

The standard of our life and walk is found in the course of this evil world and the prince of this world. In other words, we were no different from all others who are sold under sin. It is so easy to speak of the fallen human race, but you and I are part of that human race by nature. Apart from the grace of God, we too would have developed in sin and rebellion. The ruler of this world is Satan, an opponent to God and a liar who always lies. Satan is a ruler or leader of a host of demons who live in the air. These demons all seek the same thing, namely, the downfall of the church. Satan and demons work in the sons of disobedience. It is not the case that man is basically good. Mankind is sinful, opposed to God. We had our walk among them. We lived like them. What a horrible walk! It is a death walk! Do you see yourself there? By nature, we are children of wrath. God’s wrath is expressed in punishment: death!

You ask how this is possibly true of Christians. The answer is that, by nature, Adam’s fall and disobedience were imputed to us. We were children of wrath. By our actual sins we give evidence of this. What an awful picture! We were “even as others” (vs.3), dead in trespasses and sins.

I cannot end this meditation on this hopeless condition. Paul goes from the past tense in these verses to the present tense. We were dead, once walked in sin, and were by nature children of wrath. “But God…hath quickened us together with Christ” (verses 4 and 5). This is the gospel! This truth of our depravity must humble us and make us extremely thankful that God did not leave us in our sins. In my next meditation, I plan to speak more about this phrase, “But God…”

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Knowing God's Power in the Exaltation of Christ

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Knowing God's Power in the Exaltation of Christ

Meditation on Ephesians 1:19-23

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

These verses in our pericope are the last part of a long sentence beginning in verse 15 and ending with verse 23. Paul prayed that the Ephesian believes might know God and the scope of what he does for us. Our faith is not a blind faith, but faith is a certain knowledge and a therefore a deep-rooted assurance. God wants us to know him, the hope of his calling, the riches of his inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of his power. May we know what is the exceeding greatness of his power!

What is that power of God? It is seen in the exaltation of Christ. Speaking of Jesus’ exaltation, Paul referred (1) to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, (2) to His ascension and enthronement over all , and (3) to His headship over the church His body. Since the church is Christ’s body, what is true of Christ is also true of His church! God’s power can be known in Christ and then also as it works in us. In the above verses, there are many different Greek words for power. First, we have the Greek word from which we get our English word “dynamite”. It means the power of strength in the sense of ability, ability to do something. Another Greek word means inner power, the inner energy of God. A third word for power is that which means the strength of authority. A fourth Greek word is simply strength, that is the power to do something. The apostle heaps word upon word and phrase upon phrase to express that power of God. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is a greater power of God than even that of creation!

There are some who believe that in knowing the truth they have it all. While sound theological and doctrinal knowledge is important, this knowledge is given to us that we know God better and thus live in His power and be victorious over sin in this life. The salvation of the soul is a resurrection, the recovery of a person from the dead. Without God’s mighty strength, not one individual would ever triumph over sin, live a godly life, or come at last to the reward God has for all His own in heaven.

God raised Jesus from the dead. What power on earth could possibly accomplish this miracle? Obviously, there is none. Only a heavenly power could and did raise Jesus on the third day. God thus vindicated Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah and declared that Christ’s atonement for sin was accepted. As God raised Jesus from the dead, so also by His Spirit He raises us from the dead with a birth from above. As Jesus Christ was victorious over Satan, sin, and death, all those who are united to Christ by faith can live triumphantly through that power!

What a sinful world we live in which tempts us to join in its wicked ways and persecuting those who refuse. How are we victorious over that great enemy? The answer is, we can only gain the victory through the power of God that transforms us “by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). It is what makes us “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17).

Our second great adversary is our own flesh, that sinful nature that you and I must fight against day and night. What an enemy it is! So often we are not active as we should be in reading God’s Word, praying, or performing good works. Our sinful nature also locks us into sinful patterns of behavior. How can we triumph over these strong forces? It is only by the power of God displayed in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Our third enemy is the devil and his host of fallen angels. No wonder Peter writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil ,as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he might devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Pet. 5:8). Because of this, we need to be enlightened with respect to the power of God working in us. Nothing else can enable us to stand against the wiles of the devil.

In Christ’s exaltation, all things are placed under His feet! Christ’s exultation over all rule and authority involves all earthly powers and heavenly things. How are we to be victorious over Satan? James tells us: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You and I cannot resist Satan in our own strength. If we submit ourselves to God, His power which was demonstrated in the exultation of Christ above all rule and authority now flows through us. The devil will flee as he fled from Christ at the conclusion of the temptation in the wilderness.

The exultation of Christ consists in God in His power giving Him to be “the head over all things to the church.” Christ is the organic and legal Head of the church. We are subject to Christ as the body is subject to the head. Christ and His church belong together. The church cannot be without Christ as the Head. This is absolutely impossible. Christ also cannot be without the church. Christ fills all things in the church. What a close relationship we have. We live, move and have our being in Christ Jesus raised from the dead! The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is a power that is to us-ward who believe. You believe, don’t you?

Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

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A Prayer for God's People (Ephesians 1:15-19)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Prayer for God's People

Meditation on Ephesians 1:15-19

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

The Apostle Paul prayed for those whom God had brought into a saving relationship through Paul’s ministry. Why this prayer? If God is in charge of everything and has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, what is the point of praying? In fact, what is the point of doing anything? Why should we witness? Why study the Bible? Why do good works?

The reason is that God uses means like prayer, witnessing, Bible study, and good works. It is through prayer that God brings blessing. We cannot think of a man being a good pastor if he does not visit the families in his church. Likewise, a man is not a good pastor if he does not pray for the lambs and sheep of his flock. The prayer of the Apostle Paul is that God, who has planned and accomplished the salvation of His people, works out that salvation so that they grow in knowledge of Him. The fact that it is God who works gives confidence for prayer. What a prayer this is!

First, Paul prayed that God might give the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge in order that they may know Him. But did not they already have the Spirit? Did they not already know God? Yes, of course they did! Without that Spirit and knowledge, they would not be in the fellowship of Christ. The idea is that God may continue to let that Spirit of wisdom and revelation dwell in them. This is in the way of prayer! It is in the way of the prayer of the Apostle but also in the way of the prayers of the believers themselves! Are you praying for that for yourself and your children?

It was not only a prayer that the Spirit may continue to dwell in them, but also that they may increase by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of God. God reveals Himself - in nature, in the Scriptures, but especially in Christ Jesus. It was a prayer that the Holy Spirit would increase His operation in them, so that they might know and understand God’s revelation of Himself in Christ. It was not only knowledge about God, but it is to be a personal and experiential knowledge. Knowing God and knowing about Him are quite different! It is not only an intellectual knowledge but a spiritual knowledge of God. It is knowing God in love. This knowing is a matter of grace. We want to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3). It is to grow in our knowledge of God in His names, attributes, and wonderful works. Do you desire this growth in knowing God?

Secondly, Paul prayed that the Ephesians might not only know God Himself, but also those elements of salvation He has achieved for His people. He makes three requests: (1) That they may know “the hope of his calling,” (2) that they may know “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” and (3) that they may know “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” Do you know the scope of your salvation?

God has called His people to a glorious hope! That hope is the certainty of the forgiveness of our sins, our adoption as God’s children, Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, and our final destiny of body and soul dwelling with God in the new heavens and earth. God has effectually called us to that by His Spirit and Word. It is certain because it is grounded in what God has done for us in Christ. It is a “living hope” (I Pet. 1:3), a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and a hope that is “sure” (Heb. 6:11).

What a riches are prepared for us! Of the scope of those blessings we know so little. But we know enough of the blessings that we already possess, that we long for that which is yet coming!

May we know the incomparable power of God to us who believe. It is a power that raised our Lord Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to glory and power. It is a power that now also is given and works in Christ’s body, the church. We know that power by experience. How are we to experience that power? It is only by knowing God. That is why the Apostle Paul prayed for that first.

If we are to know God, we must spend time with Him in Bible study, prayer, and meditation. You cannot get to know a person without spending time with him or her. So also you cannot get to know God without spending time with Him. Do you sit at His feet in loving devotion and ardent desire to know Him better, to know Him as your Father and the God of your salvation?

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in him always and feed on his Word. Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek. (George Stebbins, 1846-1945)

 

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Our Destiny in Glory

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Our Destiny in Glory

Meditation on Ephesians 1:11-14

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

We already have an inheritance, a glorious inheritance! God planned and determined that inheritance beforehand. Jesus Christ purchased that inheritance for us. The Holy Spirit applies that inheritance to us, in fact, He is the seal of that inheritance. We have obtained this inheritance because we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit has united us with Him. That inheritance is now in heaven and will finally cover the whole universe. We have this inheritance now and can never lose it. God works all things in heaven and on earth, not only in the creation of all things, but also as to the development of all things. Although God did not create sin, there is the development of sin. God is sovereignly in control. There is also the development in regard to salvation from sin and our final glory.

We have a lively hope in Christ Jesus. As the Old Testament saints looked forward to Christ’s coming, so we in the new dispensation look back at what the Lord Jesus has done and look forward to what He is doing and will do. The hope has three elements. First, there is expectation. The object of that expectation is the glory that is to be revealed in the future. Second, there is certainty. It is not merely a wish. For example, I might wish for warm weather. Rather, real hope is certainty not only of the existence of that glory, but also the revelation of that glory. We also have the certainty that we will have a personal part in that glory. Third, our hope implies longing. In distinction from longing for things of this world, we have a longing for the things of heaven and in the eternal future. Do you have this? Is it evident to others? We have hope only when we are in Christ, when we believe in Christ and as we live in the sphere of Christ.

Verse 13 undoubtedly presupposes a verb, so that we would read, “in whom ye also are.” How can we be so sure that we are in Christ? The answer is our faith. It is by the hearing the word of truth: we hear the gospel of salvation. How do we hear that gospel? The Holy Spirit directs the preaching of the gospel to our ears. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring tidings of good things” (Romans 10:14,15).

How beautifully the truth of the work of the Holy Spirit is set forth in our text. The Holy Spirit not only directs where the preaching goes, but the Spirit also gives new hearts that are receptive to and understand spiritual things (I Cor. 1:17-25 I Cor. 2:9-12). We call this the internal call. The Spirit of Truth applies to our hearts God’s Word. It is called “the word of truth.” The Holy Spirit does not call attention to Himself, but to Christ. The “truth” is the word that is in Christ Jesus and revealed in the Scriptures. It is called “the gospel of your salvation.” Gospel means ‘good tidings’. They are indeed good tidings: the tidings of salvation from sin, corruption, and death, from the guilt of sin and all that is connected with sin and death. They are the tidings of a righteousness that is given to us and the hope of eternal life. We not only hear these tidings, but by God’s grace, believe them.

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. A seal is a mark of authenticity. It is like the seal put upon our currency or on one’s wedding license. It cannot be altered. Those who believe in Christ can never be lost. This is so because the seal is the Holy Spirit of promise. It is through the Holy Spirit that the promise is realized. “I will be your God, and the God of your seed after you.” It is the promise of Christ and all that is in him and effected by him. It is the promise that is given to the saints: the forgiveness of sins, our adoption as children, righteousness, and eternal life. That promise is sealed by the Holy Spirit to the hearts of the believers. The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance. We have a down payment of the final glory that will be ours, the salvation perfected in body and soul in the new heavens and new earth.

What is your response to this? Does it make you glad? Is there praise to God on your lips? If you have not noticed yet, the phrase “the praise of his glory” is mentioned twice in this pericope: vs. 12 and vs. 14. God’s purpose in all of his plans and now in our salvation is his glory”. What a doxology!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

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The Mystery Revealed (Meditation on Ephesians 1:8-10)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

The Mystery Revealed

Meditation on Ephesians 1:8-10

 ...[A]ccording to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.

I had to smile when contemplating this text. It was a text that many years ago had been given to a young man for his classical examination for ordination. I was one of the sermon critics. We had to bring the sad report that in his sermon, the lad had completely missed the point. In his sermon, he concluded that it is still a mystery to him why God chose him to be saved. Now while that is true for each of us sinners, that is not what the chosen text was about. We read in verse 9, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” What mystery did God make known? The answer is that in the fullness of time, God would gather together all things in Christ.

God, in the riches of His grace, showers or abounds that grace unto us or even into us. How can we know that? The answer: “in all wisdom and understanding.” According to the context, the grace of God has abounded into us exactly in all wisdom and prudence. Prudence or understanding is one of the fruits or results of wisdom. By wisdom, the person who knows God is given understanding of God’s will. This is not just an intellectual knowledge of the head, but heart knowledge. Knowing God and His will, we therefore know the way of salvation. It is very practical. Such a person walks in that way. He or she has discernment or distinction between the truth and error, between the way of the will of God and the way of evil, between the way of salvation and the way of destruction. This is not dead orthodoxy. In contrast, this is a true, living faith! God gives that to each of His people by the Holy Spirit.

God has made known unto us the mystery of His will! The entire knowledge of salvation, which was not known before the coming of Christ is now clearly made known. In the Old Testament times, God revealed that He would presently bring salvation in many ways: verbal prophecy and all kinds of signs, wonders, and types. God’s people understood that too. And as far as the mystery of God’s will was pictured in the old dispensation, the Old Testament saints were saved by faith.

So the mystery of the will of God does not refer to the fact that nothing at all was known in the old dispensation. It refers to the fact that with the coming of Christ, and only with the coming of Christ would God’s work and purpose be clearly revealed. Although there were prophecies, signs and wonders in the Old Testament, the will of God was still a mystery. It could not clearly be discerned. Who is the promised Mediator? How will He save? What will He save His people from?

When Jesus Christ, was on earth, He taught the people to know God by His teaching and miracles. But why was the cross necessary? Do you remember the grief of the two on the way to Emmaus? “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21)? What despair! They did not know what to make of Jesus’ death or the women’s report of the resurrection. Jesus had to open up to them the Scriptures to show them the necessity of the Messiah’s death. After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, He poured out His Spirit as He promised. His Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Suddenly, the disciples understood why Jesus had to die. They understood that His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly kingdom. Then the disciples were able to be bold in preaching the gospel which before had been a mystery. By his Word and Spirit, Christ is gathering all the citizens of His kingdom.

But the mystery of the will of God also is revealed in regard to the ultimate purpose of all things. The Apostle Paul continued to write in our text, “according to the good pleasure of his will, which he hath purposed in himself” (that he set before him). What is that purpose of God? We have it in verse 10, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are one earth; even in him.” God delights in His own eternal counsel. It is according to His counsel that He does all things.

The contents of God’s counsel are set forth. Why was there the fall into sin? Why were there the flood and the saving of Noah and his family? Why was Abraham chosen? Why did God have His people as slaves in Egypt for 400 years? Why did His people have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years? Why did their dwelling in Canaan end with the captivity in Babylon for 70 years? Many would question these things. And we can go on with events today. Why is there this Covid-19? Why does the extreme wickedness of the world continue to develop? Why must there be tribulation and the final era of the Antichrist? Could and cannot God prevent so much misery?

The answer is that God is in charge, working all things in these various eras for the gathering and salvation of His people. The fullness of times in verse 10 is the whole New Testament era, and especially that very last time, the very end of the fullness of times when Jesus returns.

God works all things in time and history so that Christ will be the head of the whole world. He is not Head only of His church or of the angels, but all things in heaven and on earth. Adam was the head of the earth, but not of heaven. But when all things will be fulfilled, then all things in heaven and on earth will be united in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a gospel we have to tell to our children and to the world around us. We are able, because God has made known the mystery of His will. What comfort we have in the various trials we have to endure. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Christ will come to make up his jewels.

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Redemption by Christ's Blood

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Redemption by Christ's Blood

Meditation on Ephesians 1:7

 he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

In this verse we focus on Christ’s principal work, which is redemption. All the persons of the Trinity are involved in this work, but Christ’s role is central. The work of the Father was primarily in planning our salvation. The work of the Holy Spirit is in applying it to individuals. It is the second person of the Trinity who came down from heaven and assumed our sinful flesh to redeem us by His death upon the cross.

Redemption is central to Christianity. What a precious word it is on our lips. How many Christian songs sing of our Redeemer.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed thru his infinite mercy, his child, and forever I am. Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever I am. (William Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921)

In the Greek language, there are three words for redemption. The first word comes from the noun for a Greek market place. It means ‘to buy’ or to ‘buy in a marketplace’. This word emphasizes the price Jesus paid for our salvation. Redemption is deliverance from a life of sin and death. Deliverance by payment of a price was common in the Old Testament period. A kinsman-redeemer would purchase back the property that was lost through debt and restore it to the family. Boaz did this for the land that belonged to the husband of Ruth.

Another New Testament word for redemption is the same word as the first but with the prefix ‘ex’, meaning ‘out of’. The word means ‘to buy out of the marketplace. This has the thought that one thus purchased might never be returned to be sold on the marketplace again . This is a wonderful thought for Christians because it has to do with the effective and permanent nature of redemption. We have been redeemed from sin, and the promise of this word is that we might never be sold under the power of sin again. Think of the example of a slave purchased, and then the owner tires of the slave’s performance or abilities and thus sells him again. A slave’s position was never secure. This is not the case with Christ Jesus. Jesus purchased us so that we might be taken out of the market place and never have to return.

A third word for redemption in the New Testament is unrelated to the other two terms. It means ‘to loose, set free or deliver’ by the payment of a price. This is a beautiful and encouraging thought. Not only are we bought out of the marketplace of sin, never to be returned there, but we are set free. A slave could be bought on the slave block, never to return there, but always remain a slave for the rest of his life. Jesus buys us from sin to set us free! Again there is a hymn that describes this:

Free from the law, O happy condition! Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace redeemed us once for all. Now we are free, there’s no condemnation! Jesus provides a perfect salvation; Come unto me, O hear his sweet call! Come, and he saves once for all.” (Philip Bliss, 1838-1876)

What was the cost? What was the price for our redemption? How was it paid and to whom was it paid? We read in our text, “in whom we have redemption through his blood” That “in whom” refers to Christ. In eternity Christ was declared the Head of His people, to be the Head of the church. In the fullness of time, Christ came into our flesh to shed His lifeblood on the accursed tree. And therefore we have redemption. It means that we are freed from the guilt and the power of sin. And that freedom is through His blood. This phrase means the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the shedding of His blood. He gave up His life willingly. He gave up His life in the love of God. He gave up His life as the Person of the Son of God in human nature. This is the forgiveness of sins.

Could not we be forgiven in some other way? The answer is, “absolutely not.” For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus paid the penalty for our sins to the righteous and just God. The sinner must die. But Jesus died that death for us. Not only that, but He procured the perfect obedience that is demanded of us. This is the only way of salvation! We are sinners. Because it was the person of the Son of God that shed His lifeblood willingly, and in love to God, and in perfect obedience, we are forgiven and much more! We will be united with Him. And we will have eternal life and glory. This is all of God’s rich grace. How you and I should sing God’s praises each and every day in gratitude.

I will sing of my redeemer and his wondrous love to me; On the cruel cross he suffered, from the curse to set me free. I will tell the wondrous story, How my lost estate to save, In his boundless love and mercy, he the ransom freely paid. I will praise my dear redeemer, his triumph power I’ll tell, How the victory he giveth over sin and death and hell. Sing, O sing of my Redeemer, with his blood he purchased me; On the cross he sealed my pardon, paid the debt and made me free. (James McGranahan, 1840-1907)

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Divine Election

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Election

Meditation on Ephesians 1:4-6

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In Eph. 1:3, we saw that God “has blessed us…with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” How does such blessing become ours? Is it because we are so good and lovely? How can we possess the blessings God has for us? The answer is found in verses 4-6. Verse 4 begins with the word “according”. The Greek word can also be translated "just as" or "because". It links verse 4 to verse 3 as an explanation for verse 3. Spiritual blessing is ours because God chose us in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. Why would God do that? These verses emphasize the sovereignty of God in regard to salvation all the way through. The blessings of salvation come because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to some people, and for that reason only!

There are various views that people hold about election. There are those who deny the truth of election outright. Others acknowledge that election is taught in Scripture, but it is an election based on foreknowledge. God elects some because He knows beforehand of their willingness to believe. It would be like a captain of a softball team choosing members for his team based upon his knowledge of their ability to play. John Calvin put it like this:

How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us. (Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians).

We believe in God’s sovereign election. We are hopelessly lost in sin. Instead, God in His mercychose us (vs. 4), “in love having predestinated us to the adoption of children” (vs. 5), “according to the good pleasure of his will” (vs. 5). God accomplished our salvation by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. God made us capable and willing to respond to Him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and heart to the truth and glory of the gospel. All the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ!

What are some of the blessings of election for you and for me as believers? First, election eliminates boasting! This is contrary to the human nature. We like to think that we did something. All the glory of all our salvation is in our Triune God! This is the purpose of election as we read in vs. 6, “to the praise of the glory of his grace…” Second, election gives assurance of salvation! If my salvation were based upon my feelings or my works, I would be one of the most miserable people around. My feelings are so fickle and my obedience so small. Our salvation would be as unstable as you and I are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. Because our faith is grounded in God’s election, we can be assured of our salvation.

Third, election leads to holiness! We read in verse four, “he hath chosen us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do.” It is like that phrase of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” In verse 4, the purpose of election is holiness! John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness” (Stott, God’s New Society, p. 38). The glory of God is revealed in us as we live positively in holiness, and negatively, without any fault. We stand before the face of God and reveal His virtues. This is the purpose of our election.

Finally, election promotes evangelism! There are those who think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. The argument goes, “If God is going to save certain individuals anyway, then He will save them, and therefore evangelism really is not that important.” What folly that is! The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which He calls those elect persons to faith. God uses the proclamation of the gospel to sinners (Lord’s Day 31). God is pleased to use the testimony of believers and their godly obedience that “others may be gained to Christ” (Lord’s Day 32, Q.A. 86). We do not know who the elect are, but we sow the seed of God’s Word, leaving the harvest to Him.

What a blessed truth for you and me to ponder and celebrate again! God loved me eternally!

Oh love of God, how strong and true, Eternal, and yet ever new, Uncomprehended and unbought, Beyond all knowledge and all thought. (Virgil Taylor, 1847)

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A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

Meditation on  Ephesians 1:3 

Blessed  be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

My wife Alva always helps me with my writing, correcting the use of tenses, past and present. She also often tells me when my sentences are too long. It is a good thing that she was not there to try to correct the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit. Our text is the introduction of one long sentence beginning in verse 3 all the way through verse 14. English translators generally break up the words for ease of reading, but in the Greek Paul simply began with a note of praise to God for “every spiritual blessing” and then kept going, adding phrase upon phrase, and doctrine upon doctrine, as he listed these benefits. We could call it a golden chain of many links.

Eph.1:3 is a sort of doxology, with the object: God. The apostle expresses praise to God. And he does that because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. If we look carefully at this long sentence (vs. 3-14), we will notice the interconnecting doctrine of the Triune God.  The work of God the Father is described in verses 3-6. The work of the Lord Jesus Christ is listed in verses 7-10. The application of this work is by the Holy Spirit, found in verses 11-14. Or we could look at these verses temporally. There is the past blessing of election in verses 4-6. The present blessing of adoption is found in verses 5-8. The future blessing  is given in verses 9-14, when God will gather together in one all things in Christ in which we have an inheritance.

When we read these verses,  do we break forth in praise? Our worship services begin and end with a doxology. So should our prayers, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. God is worthy of praise now and always for who He is and what He does. He is not only the Triune God, but He is also the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This means that through our Lord Jesus Christ He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Our Lord Jesus Christ is personally the Son of God. He is also the Son in His human nature, as He appeared in the world. As the Christ, He came in your and my flesh. The name “Jesus” means that “Jehovah saves.” Jesus took all our sins upon Himself, and with those sins walked the way of the cross. He merited for you and me righteousness and eternal life. As the “Christ”, He was appointed and sent by God. He revealed to us the Father. He took upon Himself our sins and removed them. He rules in us by His Spirit and Word. That is why He is called “our Lord”. This is why the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the object of the apostle’s praise, and ours!

But let us speak a moment of the “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” In the Greek it is literally, “he hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” The term is singular, referring to the separate spiritual blessings which we have in Christ. What are those blessings? They are the separate spiritual blessings such as forgiveness of sin, righteousness, new life, our adoption as children of God, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. These blessing are numerous. Do you each day think about them and praise God for them? There is a chorus of a hymn that goes: “Count your many blessings, name one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done…”

When they are called “spiritual blessings, they are contrasted with natural or earthly gifts or blessings that God gives. These are spiritual blessings because they are given to us by the of Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle adds, “in the heavens.”  They are heavenly blessings because Christ is in heaven. Christ is exalted, no longer on earth. From heaven, Jesus  our Savior is pouring out on God’s children the benefits of His cross and resurrection. Because we are engrafted into Christ, what is His is ours. His glory is ours. We are “in him” by faith. We are members of His body. These blessings are ours only in Jesus Christ! Each day may we think on this blessing and “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

In our earthly pilgrimage, we encounter many trials and troubles. Maybe it is a life-long illness, the death of a loved one, the loneliness inflicted upon us by Covid-19, a rebellious son of daughter, or a spouse who has forsaken us. In our tears, we look up to praise God for who He is and what He is doing for us. He hath “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ!”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy  you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

 When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold; Count you many blessings- money cannot buy, Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great of small, Do not be discouraged- God is over all; Count your many blessings- angels will attend, Help and comfort give you  to your journey’s end.

Edwin Excell (1851 – 1921)

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A Description of God's People

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Description of God's People

Meditation on Ephesians 1:1,2

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A blessing was spoken by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus. This letter was written while Paul was in prison, either in Caesarea or in Rome. Paul could have begun his letter with a rehearsal of his many accomplishments or even a reminder of what he had personally endured to bring the gospel of Christ to Asia. Paul did not this. Instead he introduced himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”

He was an apostle. The Greek word literally means ‘to send’. Paul was appointed by the Lord Jesus to go and proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was an apostle “by the will of God.” This means at least two things. First, this letter that is written is not to be regarded as other letters might be, just a friendly letter by a man or woman. This is God’s own revelation . It is from God. Therefore it is all true; it speaks with authority. Second, this letter told his readers how Paul came to be an apostle. It was not by his own will but “by the will of God.” Indeed, if it had not been for God’s sovereign and efficacious will , Paul would not have be an apostle. He would not even have been a Christian! Left to himself, apart from the grace of God, he fought against God and attempted to destroy His church. Is this not a picture of each and every one of us?

The Apostle Paul wrote to believers at Ephesus. He identified them as “the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This phrase contains three definitions of believers, what constitutes a Christian.

First, Christians are saints! The Apostle Paul could have addressed them as the church of Jesus Christ. But he did not. He called them saints. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a saint is one of a few particularly holy persons who has proof of at least one miracle, declared by the church to be a saint by ecclesiastical procedure. This is false. To be a saint means that a person has been redeemed and sanctified. This is true of all true believers. Ephesus was a capital city, an old city, that is now in ruins. It was a city that was very idolatrous. These believers were those who were set apart from the world. It is something that God does quite apart from human merit. They are set apart by God in sovereign election, by the redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is set apart when God reaches down through the person and power of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and thus draws him into the company of God’s church. Every true believer is a saint, set apart from the world. It is not that we are taken out of the world. We are still in the world, but removed from belonging to the world. We belong to God and are set apart to holy service for God.

Second, believers in Jesus are called “the faithful.” There are two ideas in this. The first and primary meaning of the word “faithful” is exercising faith. A Christian is one who has heard the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and who has then exercised faith in that gospel or believed it. There are two parts in faith. Faith is a sure knowledge of all that God has revealed in His word. Believing, there is a certain assurance or confidence that not only to others but to me also is freely given forgiveness of sins, righteousness and the hope of eternal life. There is a second idea, that of perseverance and the preservation of the saints in Christ Jesus. They “continue in faith.” Because God is faithful, he preserves His saints. He does not let them fall away. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Therefore, a true believer perseveres; he runs the race set before him. He fights the good fight of faith. He will receive the crown of righteousness when God takes him out of this vale of tears.

Third, believers are “in Christ.” I will not say much about this now, but this is an idea that is characteristic of this book and of Paul’s writings in general. The phrase, “in Christ” or “in him” occurs nine times in the first three chapters of Ephesians and occurs 164 times in all of Paul’s writings. It describes the sphere in which the faithful are placed. To understand a little of what this phrase means, there are numerous images to teach us. There is the union of a man and woman in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33), and the union of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-17). We have the picture of Christ as the foundation of the spiritual temple and believers as lively stones built upon Him (Eph. 2:20-22). Finally, there is the picture of the human body. Christ is the head, and believers are the members of the body in one organism (I cor. 12:12-27).

From the brief introduction to this letter, what a beautiful description we have of believers: ourselves and our fellow believers in the church! May we keep this in mind as we live our lives and as we deal with one another in the church.

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