Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Paul has finished his prayer for the believers. Remember, his prayer was focused on the topic of seeing Christ clearly through knowledge of Him and that they would see where they were going. He prayed that the Ephesians would be Christ focused and heavenly minded.
One can best appreciate his current standing before God if he remembers where he was before Christ. The old saying, “Don’t forget where you came from” can well be used here in this text. The Apostle Paul was reminding the believers where they came from. Read More
1 John 2:2
Arthur W. Pink
THERE is one passage more than any other which is I appealed to by those who believe in universal redemption, and which at first sight appears to teach that Christ died for the whole human race. We have therefore decided to give it a detailed examination and exposition.
“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This is the passage which, apparently, most favors the Arminian view of the Atonement, yet if it be considered attentively it will be seen that it does so only in appearance, and not in reality. Below we offer a number of conclusive proofs to show that this verse does not teach that Christ has propitiated God on behalf of all the sins of all men. Read More
A Prayer for the Church
Ephes. 1:15-23 (ESV)
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,  I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
The Ephesian Church had a reputation. They were known for a few things. Paul had heard of their… faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.
Paul’s heart rejoiced as he learned that these believers were living out their faith in Christ. They were showing the fruit of true conversion. Read More
The Spiritual Blessing of Our Inheritance
Ephes. 1:3 (ESV)
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,
Ephes. 1:11-14 (ESV)
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.
If you remember when we began the Book of Ephesians, I mentioned that one purpose of the Book was to show that Jew and Gentile come together to form a new humanity called the Church. Here, Paul stresses this truth.
He began this extended sentence in verse 3 and carries it through to verse 14, one long, run-on sentence. For the apostle, the praise of God was more important than grammar. Once he began thinking about the blessings God has lavished on His people, he forgot all else. Read More
Some Thoughts on Church Planting
As I read various papers and articles on the subject of church planting, I often run across one that seems to rise to the top. I believe this one really lays out irrefutably why we should be busy planting churches. This short article is mostly compiled statistics over almost two centuries of church life in America.
Church Planting and Church Attendance
In 1820, there was a church for every 875 Americans. But from 1860-1906, Protestants planted a new church for every population increase of 350. By 1900, we had 1 church for every 430. In 1906, one-third of all congregations in the country were less than 25 years old. As a result, the percentage of the U.S. population involved in the life of the church rose steadily. For example, in 1776, seventeen percent of the U.S. population [was] “religious adherents,” but that rose to 53% by 1916.
However, after WWI, church planting plummeted. Once the continental U.S. was covered by towns with church buildings in each town, there was resistance from older churches to any new churches in “our neighborhood.” But the vast majority of congregations reach their peak in size during the first 25 years and then remain on a plateau or slowly shrink. Why? In general, older churches cannot reach new residents, new generations, new social groups, and un-churched people very well. And as those groups increase in a community (which they will inevitably!) the original churches reach a smaller and smaller segment of their town, and the percentage of un-churched increases. Nevertheless, older churches fear completion from new churches and oppose them. Mainline churches, with centralized government, have been most effective at opposing new churches; as a result they have shrunk the most.
CONCLUSION: Church attendance and adherence overall in the United States is decreasing. This cannot be reversed in any other way than the way it originally had been so remarkably increasing. It is unlikely that we can ever plant a church for every 500 residents again, which resulted in over 50% of the population becoming churched Christians.
I present these statistics to remind us all of the importance of consistent church planting. If we could plant churches in our surrounding communities, think what change would begin to take place. Our prayer at Grace Reformed Fellowship is that we would become a self-supporting church that would be in the business of planting other churches. Please pray for us. Good things are happening some easy and some hard but all from God. Thank you for your support in this effort. You are truly a vital part.
May God’s Kingdom expand through your loving support,