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  • You know, I've commented before about Paul being a bit verbose in his writings, but you really can't blame him. Here he is, trying to get past generations of traditions (or prejudices if you prefer) with his fellow Jews who have been taught not to affiliate with Gentiles. It isn't an easy task, to be sure, about the same kind of task Martin Luther King Junior had to overcome when trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. That was sixty years ago, and we are still trying to convince people to deal with other people on the merits of their behavior and not their outward appearance.

    This is what the letter to the Ephesians is all about, trying to get the Jews to understand the old laws of separation no longer apply. How effective was he? Well, unfortunately, not only are Jews still leary of associations with Christians, but even the Christians have problems dealing with other Christians. Methodists disagree with Calvinists, who won't respect the Baptists, etc. And don't get me started on the Catholic versus the Protestants or the Muslims versus the Jews.

    This is a complicated issue for us, to be sure, but one that bears investigation and meditation over and over again until we all get it right. When will that be? God only knows.

    From Paul, the apostle chosen by the Lord Jesus, to the church at Ephesus and those who love the Lord Jesus, who is the Messiah and the salvation of all mankind.

    I thank God and his Messiah who has given us all the most excellent gift of heaven, the Holy Spirit, according to the plan He laid out for us even before He formed the world so we could come before Him a holy people, freed from sin by His mercy and grace through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus. In Christ, we are given forgiveness through his perfect blood, the sinless sacrifice which had come to give us a new commandment, that we love one another as He loves us.

    God has given us perfect wisdom and understanding of His will through this revelation of the Messiah, that through this sacrifice we are gathered together as one family under Jesus, a family defined in this world and the next as those who love the Lord with all their heart, and shuns no one for their heritage or birthright. For we are the heirs of Christ, all those who love the Lord and keep his commandment.

    And while some believed in the coming of the Messiah as prophesied, and as such have rejoiced all the more at the fulfilling of the prophesies, and have received the Holy Spirit as a seal of their love and devotion to God, there are also those who have received the Holy Spirit in faith, previously unaware of the promises, but now in the abundance of belief and faith by the mercy and grace of God, who's plan of salvation is now made clear to us in our redemption through the blood of Christ.

    I give thanks for you always, rejoicing in your knowledge of the truth and in your acceptance of the shed blood of Christ, which is the cornerstone of our salvation. I pray always that the Spirit will grant you the wisdom through His revelation of the will of God toward us all. For when your eyes are opened and you are given complete understanding, you will know the exceeding grace and mercy He has given us in this redemption. You will know completely the will of God toward you and all those who believe according to the power of the Holy Spirit.

    For He brought this power through Jesus, our Messiah, when he raised him from the dead and sat him at the right hand of the father in heaven. Christ's power is given in the Holy Spirit above all states and sects and worldly power and might, and he has dominion over all things, not only in this world, but in all worlds and the heavens, not only today, but in the days yet to come.

    Christ has laid claim to the universe and all that it encompasses, and all things are under him, even the church, which is his body now on earth.

    He has given you all things, and has redeemed your bodies from corruption. For before him you were dead in your sins without hope of salvation. Before him you walked in the darkness of this world, under the rule of Satan, who deceived you and corrupted your faith, and led you to be disobedient children who followed after the lusts of the flesh and of greed and corruption.

    But God, in his mercy and goodness, and in accordance with his plan, has shown his great love for us. While we were dead in our sins, he redeemed us himself in the form of Jesus, the Emmanuel, who sacrificed himself in order to give us eternal life. For we are saved by grace alone, and not by anything we might have done.

    He has raised those who believe from the grave, and has made a table for us where we will all sit together in praise and glory, so that in the ages to come we will glorify the goodness and mercy of God. For it is by his grace we are saved, and not by works or deeds, so that no man can boast of his salvation. Salvation is the undeserved gift of God through our Lord and Savior, Jesus, who came to us an example to follow, so that those who love the Lord will walk in his path.

    We did not make ourselves, but are the craftsmanship of God forged by the Holy Spirit unto the good works he would have us do. So remember, no matter what your ancestry or ethnicity in the flesh, you are neither circumcision or uncircumcision before God, for those are the marks upon the flesh that would have placed you guilty before the law.

    In those days you were without Christ, and without him you were dead, aliens of the world and separated from God and the children of Israel and without hope or a promise of hope, without the love of God to hold you up.

    But now you are one in Christ Jesus, who has come to us to set us free from the bonds of the laws and the bonds of customs and meaningless sacrifices. It is His shed blood that gives us the hope and promise of eternal life and salvation.

    Christ is our peace, our hope, our family. In Christ we are one, united and undefined by race or color or ancestry. For in Christ are all men saved. In Christ you are no longer Jew or Gentile, but brothers and sisters in the love of God, united by the hope and promise of God. For all who love the Lord have access to him through the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit that dwells within you also dwells within all believers. So you are no longer strangers to one another, but joint heirs in the inheritance of Jesus Christ and fellow citizens with the saints and the apostles, of whom Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.

    We are the foundation of the church, and together we are one host for the Holy Spirit, a host in which there is no separation or division.

    Okay, so there are the first two chapters of Ephesians interpreted by me.

    Remember, I am a minister through faith and grace, not a pastor in the normal sense of the word, and so I always remind you to READ IT FOR YOURSELF.

    Do I have faith the words I am writing are correct? Absolutely, for this work is given to me from the Spirit and not of my own doing. But that is the beauty of the Spirit. Since He is within each of us, He knows us and how we think, so not everyone will hear his voice in the same way. I believe they will hear the same message, but I also believe the Spirit will give us understanding as we need it.

    I hope the Spirit opens your heart and mind to the truth.

    Love without condition, Forgive without limitation, and Judge no one.

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