Monday, February 9, 2009

Paul's Paradigm

Ephesians 3 (The Message)


The Secret Plan of God

1-3. This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you're familiar with the part I was given in God's plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

4-6. As you read over what I have written to you, you'll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God's Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I've been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

7-8. This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

8-10. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

11-13. All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don't let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

14-19. My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

20-21. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

19 comments:

TheCenturion said...

How beautiful that Paul does not focus here on his present circumstance but instead keeps his feet firmly planted in Christ's love and his eyes properly focused of Christ's strengthening of him. In doing so he is able to give glory to God in the highest even when it appears there is no reason to do so. What a truth! And here I stand these many years later and can say with utter confidence that God equips me also to go where the Spirit leads me and says what the Spirit needs me to say-all for the revelation of the glory of our Lord. Hallel to Ja!

Pastor Dennis said...

I actually had this section of scripture in this version printed on a paper and stuck to my refrigerator door for a long while (is that just an Arkansas thing? making your refrigerator into a message board?) anyway, I love the clarity with which this version brings out the message of UR. Eugene H. Peterson is only a fraction of theological inch away from seeing Universal Reconciliation. Like I have said before, many people especially of the clergy, do not realize what they are saying they believe; and they do believe it they just don't realize they believe it. Eugene H. Peterson actually clearly teaches UR in his translation in many places; although I know someone that has actually talked to him about this and he just cant go that next theological millimeter allowing God to save all. amazing how deeply our traditions are embedded in our fleshly minds. but when one takes on the mind of Christ the veil is lifted and the brilliant light of truth shines clearly.......

I am still at my moms trying to get this mess straightened out and cleaned up. Hoping and Praying that we can get someone over here to put a tarp on this roof before the rain gets here.

Gotta go get busy.

Peace,
Dennis

Izumi/JOY said...

Verse 4-6 - Great words, "mystery of Christ." It sums it all up, doesn't it?

Verses 7-8 - "...people who had no background in God's way..." kinda made me laugh. Like, He's so MAJESTIC, SOVEREIGN and every known superlative - what entity knows most about Him? (is that some of the mystery of Christ?)

8-10 - ..."the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ" and, "talked about even among the angels!" WOW

Pic 4 - Jesus looks like Hugh Jackman?! (wow! Sorry) (not really)

Pic 5 says "Ascension", but since God is omnipresent, my first impression was conception & resurrection. Also, "For the joy set before Him," and the day star arising from God's heart.

11-13 - "...we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go," feels catalytic - great anticipation of MITN XIII.

14-19 - I was just meditating on Job 1:7 the other day. The exchange between God and satan, I mean. ("Where ya been?" "Oh, to earth and back. Walking up and down in it.")

This translation exhorts seekers to experience extravagant dimensions of Christ's love - then attempts to describe it in tactile terms.

Anonymous said...

What I LOVE about the second picture, the kids around the world, with the word Wellcome, obviously mispelled.....but wait..maybe NOT ! As if perhaps, the joke is on us, as if it is to be saying "WELL"...COME...what are you waiting for ? And then come to the Well........ah

Yeah, I like that !

Peace,
Northern Light

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Amen, Cenurion

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Yeah, P. Dennis...when you read thins like

"I take it that you're familiar with the part I was given in God's plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

...or...

"Only in our time has it been made clear by God's Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I've been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board."

...what else could it/he mean?

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Pardon me for sounding like Ricky Ricardo...I meant to say "things like"...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

In fact, I have many (famous)minister friends who officially/positionally don't believe in UR, but you'd never know it to hear them preach. Sometimes I wonder if people actually listen to the very things they say...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

And I also meant to say CenTurion!

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Cool observations, Izumi...I just thought that Jesus pic was cool...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Also cool, NL...thanks...

Water Walker said...

I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth!

The depth and richness of God's love is there for all of us. Thank you Bishop, what a beautiful truth to be reminded of.

Water Walker

Anonymous said...

Bishop, your writings are making it easier to grasp, with greater depth, the truths that were written by the early translators. By no means are you taking away from their work, you are adding to it. Such a smooth read. Amazing.

Izumi/JOY said...

I like the pic, too. The sky's unusual texture resembles a gauzy ceiling. The lighting's interesting - especially on one side of Jesus' face.

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, Anon@7:45!

Avatar said...

Hello All,
I've come back to this post many times today, watching to see if it changed as I reread it...but I continue to respond the same. Scrolling quickly past the byline, I originally thought that you, Bishop, had taken a break from MITN and decided to translate this passage because it illustrated the Philippines reports so beautifully. I thought wow...I want to go check out some other translations and then realized this was one. Amazing! Maybe I'm off, but it appears that anon@745 thinks the same thing. In either case, the more we read your translations and see your transpictorations...and the more we walk the truths out in our own lives, the more the all-encompassing message of love and reconciliation screams from every rock and rooftop!

Thank you, Bishop, for being a famous minister who decided to fish on the "other side" of the boat. For submitting to and embracing the boat preparation process...for a real catch of changed hearts and minds, pulled into a dream boat that CAN NOT sink from the haul!

Avatar said...

"watching to see if my response changed" that is...

Son of Zadok said...

Good evening everyone,

I'm not sure what it is that gives someone a predisposition to accepting the fact that Jesus really is the Savior of the whole world, not just the lucky few. I know in my own life I had a terrible time with the thought of people being lost forever, let alone burning alive. I was really constantly driven and haunted by my very own doctrine. It consumed me, to the fact that life became a macab and dreary reality. What was day to day life? What did anything matter when the majority of your fellow humanity were ultimately doomed. And most Christians didn't seem to think that much about it really. We wanted the world to join our team, but often times we were more judgmental and in need of an overhaul than anyone else.
I remember once a guy I met from a more fringe denomination had tried to tell me that eternal hell was a myth and that everything was going to be alright, that God wasn't really like that. How I wished that were true, but I knew better. I knew what the book said, right? Their was nothing he could have said to me to really change my mind. My beliefs now all points me back to God and the fact that this revelation comes from Him alone, it had to! He was the One who brought this gift to my heart, no one could have convinced me of it. Yet still, just as important, were those great men who burn the midnight oil to bring this gospel into the light. Both parties work together. It is thanks to men and woman who are obedient to study and teach this glorious message of Christ. It is thanks to the Spirit who takes these words and His Word and brings them to life in our heart. I'm sure many of you can attest to how after this gospel was revealed to your heart, the entire Bible came alive with a whole new life. His sheep hear His voice. Thank God for sheppards who speak by the guidance and inspiration of that same voice, and thank God for His unending love and mercy. Thank Him for His Gospel of peace that is now revealed in you. Our mission to spread His love and grace is no less vital today. The Father still longs to bring all the chicks under His wing, into love and life in Christ. But now we ride the wind on victories banner. We no longer toil under the burden of death and hell's mirage. Or the charade that righteousness is achieved through a religion or the law. Our life, and work, and love are bringing forward eternal things, because the truth is eternal and will prevail. The truth doesn't need to be justified. The truth will stand for itself.

Pastor Dennis said...

Amen Bishop,
I have heard many of these types of sermons you are referring to and thought - don't you realize what you are saying? they should get their own Cd's. This just further proves the sovereignty and Providence of God in using these vessels to speak through even if they are not aware of it.

It's All Good

Peace,
Dennis