“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:1-14)
Below is a summary of some key aspects of the Christian faith – God, Christ, Spirit, Word, creation, man, salvation, etc.:
In the above Scripture, written by the apostle Paul as providentially prepared, seasoned, and carefully, precisely illumined and guided in thought by the Holy Spirit (this historically exceptional, unique form of divine providence definitively being the case with all truly canonical Scripture, the Spirit using such uniquely divine / human writings to infallibly form and grow His church, not visa-verse as some wrongly teach), this pastoral letter to graciously, eternally chosen, divinely regenerate believers in Christ at Ephesus during Paul’s time is likewise intended to produce in divinely regenerate and therefore fully justified-in-Christ believers of all other places and times from Adam on, a somewhat distant but reliable glimpse (as illuminated by the Spirit) into the indescribable, majestic magnificence of the transcendent, all-powerful, gloriously loving, redeeming, creator God that is. This quote is a primary place in divine Scripture where the seasoned, foundational apostle / missionary / pastor Paul lays out a sweeping theological overview of related, underlying truths of God the Father’s free saving work in Christ His only Son as freely, sovereignly, harmoniously, effectually applied by the Holy Spirit via means of the Word imperfectly preached, taught, believed, and lived in His church.
That historical act of profound, world-altering, enduring significance is revealed as a divine, certain, central work eternally planned in God’s holy, majestic mind, revealing His unfathomable love, wisdom, justice, power, and care, a work done with exacting precision in and toward individuals and His entire creation that is widely but only partially, reflectively seen in the divinely ordained beauty, majesty, order, and purposefulness of creation, but only fully, perfectly, and savingly revealed in the eternal Logos’ assumption of a true human nature in His loving, sacrificial humiliation seen in His conception / birth, life, ministry, physical death & burial and in the exaltation of His resurrection / vindication, ascension, universal ruler-ship, and consummating return of Jesus of Nazareth, the divine, eternal Son of God, second person of the divine Trinity as revealed in Holy Scripture by the initial inspiration and ongoing illumination of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians** we are those who, while remaining wholly undeserving of any favor, goodness, or help from God (but rather only endless divine condemnation, dispassionate wrath, and separation from all that is good, powerful, pure, and gloriously beautiful, i.e., God and His good creation, the all-inclusive cosmos) and also wholly powerless, incapable, and unwilling in and of ourselves of complying with His unalterable command to repent of all the sin that naturally flows from our ubiquitously, pervasively sinful natures and to actually believe in the One (Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the eternal Son of God) whom He has sent, yet He has, purely out of his unfathomable goodness and greatness, justice and love, from which flows His mercy and grace, by his Spirit and Word and through Christ’s perfect, loving, voluntary self-sacrifice for us and on our behalf, called us into and gifted us with the ongoing gift of persevering, penitent faith, a gifting that alone is fully sufficient for the calling into the divine journey that infallibly culminates in the endless, glorious enjoyment of His blessed presence, to the eternal glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and our unending good, praise His glorious, holy Name.
Salvation is of God alone, allowing for no possible human contribution to our infallible, unerring spiritual conception and resultant birth, eternally determined in wisdom and love, in being made alive and reconciled to Him by divine grace alone from our ubiquitous spiritual / ethical rebellion, perversity, dullness, confusion, and insensibility, to the glory of His grace alone and to our inestimable, everlasting benefit. These reality of these things must and will result in our endless, profound gratitude and relief in and from us, as Christ satisfied our debt in full, cancelling a debt that we could never possibly pay by our ‘good’ works or any other human effort, gifting us instead with His perfectly obedient righteousness and all the benefits that flow from that settled justification (holiness, everlasting life, a divine inheritance of infinite riches and depth, etc.). (Eph 2:1-5)
God’s divine gifting of genuinely contrite, trusting faith is a blessing of incalculable value, graciously, effectually, and mercifully granted to those He has freely, sovereignly, eternally chosen in wisdom and love and at indescribably great cost, fully satisfying the perfect standard of divine justice via the purchase of His Son’s own blood to rescue (redeem) us from the ubiquitous, hopeless (humanly speaking), inescapable chasm of sin, death, and endless condemnation that is rightfully the lot, destiny, and due of every one of us (Eph 1:4, 11; Jn 6:37, Rom 8:29, 30).
Solely because of God’s free goodness, grace, and mercy revealed uniquely in Jesus of Nazareth as the second public man (for those truly gifted with faith in replacement of the first public man, Adam who disastrously for all failed in his commanded obedience) and the head and source of a chosen, new humanity destined to inherit all things, and by means of the divine gift of ongoing repentant faith in Him, I and many others, through no inherent virtue or virtuous act of our own, stand divinely declared as justified / not guilty (permanently and fully forgiven and exonerated of all sin and its attendant, humanly inescapable curses of degeneration, condemnation, misery, and death) and free before God in taking on Himself our sin while imputing to us His righteousness, having been granted endless blessed life in coming human perfection on this earth on His return in a perfected, newly restored and renovated creation on a perfected, curse free this earth, no part of which ever to be under His wrath, curse, or condemnation.
There is no greater relief, happiness, or joy or a more vital blessing in this life than knowing that we have been called into that pilgrimage toward and into flawless holiness and the new city / creation of His making, of this new family / humanity responding perfectly in loving gratitude in true worship toward and to the God Who is (Ex 3:14), and who has loved us eternally, a joy unspeakable, full of glory, ever increasing, and never ending, accompanied by a deeply implanted peace that is inalienable and truly unshakable by any of the exigencies of life, death, external evil, or our own sinfulness (Rom 8:31, 38-39).
* The words in the title (click the link there or here) are from a powerful, inspiring, heart-warming hymn of profound theological depth, written in the 19th century by an Anglican minister among the poor of London. For interesting detail on the historical context of this hymn, click here.
** Christians are called to be ‘Pilgrims on the Way’, those among the many throughout history who have been permanently, divinely declared not guilty and gifted with repentant faith, while yet in this life remaining sinful yet not yielding by the help of God to our various inborn, destructive traits, as those set out on Spirit-empowered,infallibly certain journeys to the eternal God that is.
On a related note, perhaps the most crucial (and often the most confusing and difficult thing to get right in our study of the texts of Holy Scripture) is how and why God in Christ has effected our salvation. This has a remarkably major impact on understanding of the God that is; slowly removing distortions, confusions, ignorances, doubts, and disbeliefs of our understanding of God, ourselves, and God’s ways among men and throughout history, a removal that has gradual but profoundly beneficial effects in our lives, stability, order, happiness, gratitude, spiritual productivity, and joy.
Click here for a bit about myself and the purpose of this site. See below for a brief summary of faith.
A Brief Summary of the Christian Faith
of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church
(Historical, Confessional, Evangelical, Ecumenical, Reformed)*
OUR TRUE, SAVING FAITH centers around and flows solely from the God Who is (the perfectly unchanging, powerful, free, majestic, sovereign, benevolent, loving, just, righteous, transcendent (holy) yet immanent Creator, Shaper, Director, and Sustainer of all things that are), solely at His initiative, inexorably moving in divine perfection toward His ultimate end the saving / judging consummation of all things, by both ordinary means and by special means of His loving, graciously condescending, sacrificially accommodated, wholly and perfectly sufficient and efficient revelation of Himself in powerful redemptive, saving acts (including providential: covenants and promises, commands, warnings, teachings, miracles, and judgments, etc.) of the divine, infallibly certain, wholly inclusive drama of redemptive history.
This revelation is a dynamic, dramatic, full-orbed, sin-filled history faithfully and with unified diversity recorded (over 14+ centuries by ~40 widely varied authors and locales), preserved in, and self-interpreted by Scripture, the simultaneously fully human and fully divine 66 profound literary works of varying genres, purposes, and historic settings (the Protestant canon, a.k.a. the Holy Bible), and in faithful subordination to Scripture, carefully, faithfully, and precisely but not infallibly, summarized in the early ecumenical & later Protestant creeds, confessions, catechisms, and canons.
Those historical acts center in and around the highly focused, divinely purposeful / effective person and acts of the eternal, heaven-sent Son of God, the 2nd person of the divine Trinity, Jesus of Nazareth, fully God and fully man, Lord of all, Savior, & Christ, to the everlasting benefit of sinful, spiritually bereft & hopeless humans, many of whom, from all stations of life, peoples, and times, have been mercifully, graciously, savingly, eternally chosen and drawn by God in love to Christ to be justified, sanctified, and adopted into His great, loving (although dysfunctional to varying degrees) family.
In His sovereign timing such people are drawn irresistibly by the Spirit to Himself, forgiven, permanently justified by the Spirit-given gift of faith and divinely empowered to ongoing penitence and belief (to know, assent to, & respond in growing personal trust) in the truths and realities of Who Christ is and what and why He has done, is doing, and will do, in obedience to His divine commands, a faith arsing from our divine spiritual rebirth and issuing in newly desired but marred obedience and the good works that solely flow from that salvation.
God’s eternally planned salvation has been won decisively and with perfect effect in human history solely through the impeccably obedient, sin-free life of Christ on behalf of His beloved ones, a divinely courageous, faithful life of unfathomable humiliation, suffering, and sacrifice in taking the full, just measure of divine, dispassionate, justly due wrath due us & in our place, not to mention the highly focused fury of devils and of evil men which He fully endured for us and our salvation. In the Great Exchange of our sinfulness and sins for His perfect righteousness, He has bequeathed to us instead His perfect righteousness and the right standing in His perfection before God, a salvation which has been, is being, & shall be applied by the Holy Spirit via His application of divine truth and life to specific, eternally known individuals, flows from God as He freely, lovingly, sovereignly, unchangeably, and effectually has chosen.
Christ’s resurrection is central to the divine vindication of His life, death, actions, teachings, and claims of divinity and guarantees everlastingly blessed life to those God has drawn, forgiven, justified, & gifted with authentic, repentant faith. His divinely promised return in glory and power to judge with divine perfection both the living and the dead, receiving some to endless life and glory and sentencing others to endless condemnation (both profound mysteries), will be the final culminating event of this present age which began with His resurrection from the dead. These things issue in an eternal, unchangeable state of righteousness and holiness or condemnation for all who have ever lived.
All of this is solely to the eternal glory of the grace, goodness, and majesty of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (which also redounds to our wholly undeserving but unending blessedness, enjoyment, relief, and joy). In endless gratitude and praise by all redeemed humans, heavenly host, and creation we are saved in Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone, taught unerringly by Scripture alone by the power of the Spirit alone, to the glory of God alone. Soli Deo gloria – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in eternal love for One another and for their good creation which is now in the process of being redeemed according to the divine plan and will; eternally Three-in-One and One-in-Three. Amen, amen, amen, and amen.
* Our true faith, flowing solely from the triune God as divinely, progressively, and reliably revealed in Scripture alone, as illumined by the Holy Spirit alone, and solidly grounded in those ultimate realities and truths, is:
– Apostolic (Prophetic): Founded upon the historical life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God and arising from the unique, faithful, reliably missionary, pastoral, and interpretative labors and writings of His apostles; these things flowing also from and in full harmony with the preparatory work of the foundational biblical prophets from Moses through John the Baptist as those apostles and prophets are revealed in canonical Scripture.
– Historical: We desire to learn of and stand firmly in the inscripturated tradition of the faithful, God-honoring, foundational prophets and the apostles as noted above and of the ordinary, faithful shepherds and teachers of the church since the apostolic times, learning to be gratefully cognizant and well-informed of those who have gone before, and anchored to the inspired verities taught by them from the beginnings of inception and formation of matter and of the two first directly, divinely created humans down through a faithful remnant in all periods in both the Old Testament and New Testament churches to the present day.
– Confessional: Our faith is further aided, clarified, and guided by the early ecumenical and later Protestant confessions of faith, in full subordination to, but faithfully teaching, the truths of Holy Scripture.
– Evangelical: Knowing the truth of Christ and that salvation is found in Him alone, we freely proclaim, teach, and publish the gospel truth of salvation in Christ alone to all men freely as led by the Spirit, desiring to see his churches full and thriving, and peoples from all tribes, nations, kins, and tongues brought into His kingdom as our brothers and sisters in the faith.
– Ecumenical / catholic: We desire to be catholic, indicating the eternal, ecumenical unity of the essentials of faith of Christ’s church invisible which consists of all believing, confessing people’s of all times and places (not to be confused with the Roman church which continues their attempt to exclusively, falsely arrogate to themselves the title of ‘Catholic’).
– Reformed (Covenantal & Federal) – The organizing structure of God’s revelation of Himself in creation, history, and Scripture is His free, sovereign, binding covenants He has made with the two federal heads of Adam (the condemnation into which all are born) and Christ (as the divine head of a new race of rescued human beings, freely chosen in eternity solely on the basis on God’s wisdom, mercy, and loving grace). As increasingly sound Christians, we resonate powerfully with the actors and teachings of the magisterial, Spirit-given 16th century rediscovery, revitalization, and reformation of theology, ethics, worship, and other ecclesiastical practices of the largely corrupt medieval, Western (Roman) church. These pious men and women, both sound and profound in their biblically informed thinking, labored valiantly amidst daunting persecutions to ensure that people understood that our faith arises from and is reliably founded upon Scripture alone, teaching that we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ as our divine Mediator alone, all of which is finally to the glory of the triune God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.