Ephesians Three: Troublesome Theology

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Ephesians

Perhaps I’m an oddball, but I have to confess that I enjoy having my brain stretched. I like problem-solving, which unfortunately leads to a rotten attitude when confronted with a problem I can’t solve, lol. Regardless, I don’t typically set out to “fight” with someone’s understanding of the Bible so much as I simply want to test my own theology out to determine whether or not it’s strong enough to withstand scrutiny. Along the way I see the other side of the argument, and more than once I’ve had to make adjustments to my beliefs because of errors that I’ve been shown. Semper reformanda, I suppose.

I say all that to say that I found some quasi-troubling material in this chapter. Part troubling for me, part troubling for you, perhaps. The first part has to do with eschatology, or the doctrine of end times. Well, it affects more than that. It really has to do with how the Bible is interpreted and how the Church is understood.

Growing up in an Independent Baptist church that followed classic Dispensationalism, I was taught that the Church was God’s “parenthetical” with His real plan, which was the redemption of Israel. In other words, God pressed the pause button on His original plan and kinda inserted the Church age into human history. Two peoples of God, two plans, total disconnect between the two.

I’ve written elsewhere about my issues with this based upon Paul’s letter to the Romans, and I’ve found a similar problem here as Paul says, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (emphasis mine). And then as if to put the finishing nail into the issue, Paul reminds us that “…this was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Or you could say, this was all part of God’s master plan. While I don’t have the time, resources, or energy (not to mention knowledge, ha!) to compare and contrast convenantal theology with dispensationalism, or even with progressive dispensationalism, I found this passage to be compelling evidence that God’s covenant people is the Church, comprised of both ethnic Jews and Gentiles. This doesn’t mean that God has discarded ethnic Israel totally, though.

To end on a humorous note, this chapter also revealed the source for sloppy evangelism in verse seventeen where Paul talks about “Jesus living in your heart.” Gasp! He said what?? But I thought we were waiting for Jesus to return- you didn’t tell me He was here already compressed into a one-inch figure living in our blood-pumping muscle!

Lol. The Bible actually speaks of our “heart” as being the residence of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And, since the Trinity is not dividable, there is truth to this, given the understanding that when the Bible says “heart,” it is referring to the place of reason, will, and emotion. The role of the Holy Spirit, which is indeed the spirit of Jesus, is to indwell believers and guide us in life. So take care to come to a Biblical understanding of salvation. It’s not about “asking Jesus into your heart,” ’cause He ain’t gonna fit. It’s about wholeheartedly trusting Christ as your Savior, wherein God will give you His Spirit to live within you. Big difference there.

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