By Sarah Koontz
I am excited to announce that we updated and re-released our Worthy of the Calling Study this week. I can’t believe it’s been four years since I wrote this powerful 31-day study on the book of Ephesians.
Not only did we go back through and update the study material, but we also created a printable version, a going-deeper guide, and an audio version. We hope that these additional resources will help even more people benefit from this transformative study of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.
I know that everyone doesn’t like the Apostle Paul.
You don’t have to look very far to find someone complaining about his teachings regarding submission, male and female roles in the church, and a whole host of other things.
But the more I’ve gotten to know Paul’s story, the more I’ve come to believe people give Paul far too much credit.
It’s not like he came up with all this stuff on his own. My goodness!
If we believe the Bible is the infallible and inspired Word of God, we must also receive all the teaching in the Bible as coming directly from God, not man.
Including the epistles penned by the Apostle Paul.If we believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, we need to stop treating it like a buffet.
Peter defends the inspiration of the Bible when he says, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20–21).”
We also see the infallibility of the Bible implied in 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “All Scripture is God-breathed” and has the effect of producing servants of God who are “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
God, in His infinite wisdom and all-consuming power, used flawed men (like Paul) to pen His perfect words on parchment.
And God does not make mistakes.
Yes, Paul had his shortcomings, just like the rest of us.
But He was chosen by God to pen some of the most important spiritual truths mankind will ever know. And many of his writings ended up in our Bible.
Therefore, they are the Word of God.
Infallible. Inspired. Irrevocable.
So our personal thoughts and opinions about Paul are somewhat irrelevant. Aren’t they?Paul was chosen by God to pen some of the most important spiritual truths mankind will ever know.
Unfortunately, many Christians focus on what they don’t like about Paul so they can justify ignoring His more “controversial” teachings in Scripture.
Things like submission, roles in marriage, and the church structure.
But the difficult truth is this: Sometimes we don’t like what God’s Word has to say on certain subjects, but that doesn’t give us the right to ignore it or twist it to fit our personal preferences.
The Bible is NOT a Buffet
We don’t get to pile our plates high with all the verses that satisfy our own personal tastes and leave the rest for someone else to deal with.
We don’t get to pick and choose.
We take it all, as it is, or we leave it all behind.
There’s no middle ground.
I recently wrote and released a Bible study on the book of Ephesians.
And Ephesians, like many epistles in the New Testament, was written by the Apostle Paul.
Now, if I’m being completely honest, I did have some preconceived notions about Paul when I began working on this study—and they weren’t all positive.
And there were a few verses in this book that tasted like the gristle on the outer edges of a T-bone steak.
Oh, how I longed to cut them off and set them aside!
They were tough, and chewy, and difficult to swallow.
But who am I to pick and choose my way through Scripture?But who am I to pick and choose may way through Scripture?
If I really believe it is the inspired Word of God, then I’ve got to take it as it comes.
Gristle and all!
Since I launched my Worthy of the Calling Bible study, the questions have been pouring in.
Everything from, “Why did you choose Ephesians?” to “What is your personal Bible study routine?”
I’ve done my best to keep up with them on social media and via e-mail, but there’s one question I’d like to address right here on my blog today.
Here it is…
Which part of this Ephesians study was the most difficult to write and which part was the most enjoyable, and why?
That is a fantastic question!
I absolutely know which was the most difficult, so I will start there.
I really had a difficult time deciding what angle to tackle the concept of submission from (Ephesians 5:22-33).
It’s such a controversial subject in our culture, and I knew I needed to honor God’s Word while still treading carefully.
There were moments when I considered skipping over it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Because, whether I like it or not, the Bible is not a buffet.
In the end, I penned these words about the subject in Days 23 & 24 of the study:
A wise woman believes in the absolute authority of the Creator to establish certain parameters for her life.
Her life is surrendered to God and she faithfully walks in submission to others.
Yes, submission is part of God’s design for you and me.
It is a willing yielding of self, a voluntary response to servant-leadership, and an essential ingredient in Paul’s recipe for holy living.Whether we like it or not - Submission is part of God's design for you and me.
Sacrificial love (husband) and submission (wife) are essential ingredients of a Godly marriage. Both require an intense dependency on Christ and a continual filling of the Holy Spirit.
Marriage needs to be less about husband and wife and more about sons and daughters of God submitting to His design.
Submission is not obedience. It’s not subordination. It’s simply a tender-hearted response to our Savior—a beautiful piece of His design.
The biblical concept of marriage (and roles in marriage) is being systematically and thoroughly dismantled by our culture.The biblical concept of marriage is being systematically and thoroughly dismantled by our culture.
We would be naivete to think worldly ideas and ideals aren’t seeping into the cracks of our own homes.
Ask God to reveal cracks in your marriage today and commit to doing everything in your power to “renovate your home” according to His design.
As for my favorite part, well, that’s an even more difficult question to answer!
If I had to pick one verse that has had the deepest impact on my own life, I would choose Ephesians 6:12, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”
This particular verse comes right before Paul’s admonition to put on the full Armor of God, and it is one I always remind myself of when I am facing relational issues. This verse reminds me…
People are not our enemy—Satan is!
The real battle is not physical—it’s spiritual!
It’s always important to remind ourselves who our real enemy is, and it’s rarely (if ever) the person sitting across from us.People are not our enemy—Satan is! Our battle is not physical—it's spiritual!
Well, friends, I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I do know one thing:
Paul was tasked with one of the most controversial and complicated callings of all time.
A Jew sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
I do not envy the man…
But I have developed a deep admiration and appreciation for him.
Gristle and all.
I want to personally invite you to join me on this 31-day journey through the book of Ephesians.
Together we will learn about our identity in Christ and the spiritual wealth we have access to as daughters of God.Join me on this 31-day journey through the book of Ephesians. It's free!
We will discover God has provided all we need to walk worthy of the calling we have received.
This study was crafted with busy women in mind and can easily be completed on your mobile device or computer.
Sign Up for Sarah’s Free Online Bible Study
Register today and don’t forget to invite your friends to join us as we learn to walk Worthy of the Calling together. You will receive a welcome letter once you have confirmed your subscription and your first devotional will arrive in your inbox within 24-hours!
Thank you for visiting my blog. I pray your time spent here has been worthwhile, and I hope you join us for the Worthy of the Calling free online Bible study.
This article was originally published on October 23, 2017.