About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Prisoners Of Circumstance


Ephesians 3:1 reads:


"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles ..."


Ephesians 4:1 says this:


"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."


Paul viewed himself as a "prisoner of Christ."   With this in mind, look what he wrote in Ephesians 1:7 and 8. 


"In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us ..."


Paul said that from the wealth of God's grace, Jesus lavishes as much of it upon us as he can.  How can we reconcile the fact that God lavished grace upon Paul with the fact that Paul was chained as a prisoner?  On the surface, there seems to be a disconnect here.  How could Paul tell his readers that God loves to lavish grace on them when he was in prison?  Besides, it was Emperor Nero's regime that imprisoned Paul.  Why, then, would Paul consider himself to be a prisoner of Christ?  Is that another disconnect?  Was Paul out of his mind as governor Festus concluded (Acts 26:24)?     


By all outward appearances Paul was indeed a prisoner of Nero, but by all not so outward appearances, he was a prisoner for Christ, and why?  Paul saw past his outward reality and into the spiritual reality in which he, in spirit, existed.  From there, God accomplishes His will in the material world, as seen in Ephesians 1:21 and 22.


"... he [God] exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."


Paul was imprisoned by Nero because of his association with Jesus.  That's why he considered himself a prisoner of Christ, who faced brutal hardships as he manoeuvred his way through his material environment.  It was something he expected.  From day one of his new life in Jesus he knew God would accomplish His will in his life through much suffering.  Acts 9:15 and 16 read:


"But the Lord said to Ananias; “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel . I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."


Suffering did not slow Paul down.  He realized that God involved Himself in all of his trials.  God's divine ability, that is grace, enabled him to endure all things.  2 Corinthians 12:9 reads:


"But he [God] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."


As born again of the Spirit Christians we often find ourselves chained by circumstances, by poor health, by poverty, by trials, by age, and more.  Despite all that binds us, God's grace-filled, Spirit empowered, ability can cause us to rise above our circumstances and weaknesses so God's will can be accomplished in our lives. 

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