JohnSWilson3 Blog

“Therefore, as beloved children, be imitators of God…”
January 8, 2011, 4:37 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

As I began to read chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I was wrestling with this thought of “am I really suppose to just imitate God,” to make what I read in the Bible into a list of dos and do nots, or is that really what Paul is saying here? I looked at Alfred Marshall’s Greek interlinear (1) and as I looked at the literal translation it seems to me that when the NIV says “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” I began to see that this is more about sonship, it is about a Father-son relationship. This led me to what Paul wrote at the start of the letter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his (good) pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” And in his letter to the Roman Christians Paul says that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” because we have “received the Spirit of sonship,” “we are children…heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” He also said that “the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” It is about learning sonship.

The eternal purpose of God is to have an expression of His Son through “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Christ is made manifest through His body as we are fitted together and built together by putting off the old man and putting on the new man. In other words learning Christ by hearing him, being taught by Him and following what He says as a family, “to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” As we learn Christ in community we learn to manifest His life together and to the world, we begin to reveal Christ, who is our life. That’s what is eagerly waited for, the revealing of Christ through His people as the family of God, sons of God! A thought comes to mind that when a son is adopted into a human family there seems to be a period where the son must learn his father, because of being adopted, because of not knowing his father (The One Son is the only One who has always known the Father). Then that adopted son, learning the father from experience, learning the love of the father, accepts his adoption, accepts his life with the father. I think this is where the church is at, His body, in relation to understanding sonship. We are learning our sonship. At least it seems to me. So as a son or daughter of God we must recognize that we are His “beloved children,” to know Christ better together, to know His “great love for us,” a “love that surpasses knowledge.” To do so we must learn Christ, who is our life!

I asked myself how do I learn Christ, how do I as a child of God learn the Father? I began to think of some of the words of Jesus, in His earthly life and how He lived by the Father, especially from the gospel according to John. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” “As a have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” To learn Christ together, we learn to hear Him and be taught by Him within us.

Because “Christ forgave you,” because “Christ loved you” then His life expressed through us will be forgiveness and love. And this “life of love” or this “walk in love” is based on hearing Him and doing what He says. “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” therefore Christ’s love in and through us is also sacrificial, and is fragrant to God! “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Isn’t this the kind of experience we have had in learning to be fitted together with our brothers and sisters in learning to put off the old man and putting on Christ? As we meet together there seems to be death and there seems to be life, back and forth. As Christ said “you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.”

As “God’s holy people” our focus together is on Christ, knowing Christ, learning Christ. Our time together should reflect “thanksgiving” and those things that build each other up in Christ. Things such as “a hint of sexual immorality,” “any kind of impurity,” “greed,” “obscenity, foolish talk or “coarse joking,” “immoral, impure or greedy person…an idolater” has no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” These things reflect the old man, are focused on building up the self not building up others, damaging and destroying others. Each reflect when we “were dead in your transgressions and sins…sons of disobedience,” so “do not be partners with them.” But now we are sons of God, beloved children, adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, we are his inheritance and He is our inheritance!

There is a real conflict, everything is trying to keep us from knowing our adoption as sons, knowing Christ who is our life! No wonder Paul says “let no one deceive you with empty words.” I looked up the word “empty” and it means just that, empty, “hollowness of anything” (2) Words spoken that do not have life. As we speak to one another, do we speak from Christ in us? Do we speak what He has said? Christ is life and the “truth is in Jesus.” “Speaking the truth in love to one another” is speaking what Christ is saying to us by His Spirit and it is life! What Christ says is always in love. Living by Christ’s life is how we know Christ better, learning to listen to Him, as He listened to the Father, and did what He said. Father help me, help us to learn You, to learn Christ as a beloved son.

(1) Literal translation from Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 571.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 198.


4 Comments so far
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enjoyed your thoughtful comments very much John… your words felt
refreshing… I esp. like your comments on “sonship”.. that is a concept that too many of us have very little knowledge (experientially) of… for me the shell is cracking and a bit of Light is getting through..but there’s so much more of Him to see and understand, isn’t there… Our daily life here on planet earth.. in the physical realm that we are in but not of.. is, like you say, a matter of life and death: that’s the mystery of the gospel: That life, resurrected life, comes out of death as demonstrated by our Lord. … And it is constant while we’re here. If only we could really grasp just how much we need Him and just how little of ourselves we really need. thanks bro’… keep allowing the Preacher to speak into and through your life… that’s one way He comes again to me.

Comment by Ron Kellington

thanks brother for the comments, like what you said: “If only we could really grasp just how much we need
Him and just how little of ourselves we really need.” Amen brother!

Comment by John Wilson

“…everything is trying to keep us from knowing our adoption as sons…!”

These words rang loudly true bro. What is in conflict with Love, Life, and Unity? The self. For love there must be another, for life there must be another, and for unity there must be another, for none of these can be obtained by a single individual. All this is in conflict with the I, the old self. The one another is the only way, this is where the ego, the pride must die. To know Christ is to know one another in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ. Family is familiar, is knowing; is experiencing the one another. Yes, a whole lot in that word, know.

A most wonderful and powerful read bro John. Thank you!

Comment by Kat

Thanks Kat for the encouraging words. You are blessed!

Comment by John Wilson

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