By JANA HENRY|CONTRIBUTOR
On Tuesday, we will begin learning together about the great calling and identity we have as redeemed women in the body of Christ, using the book Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, by J Ligon Duncan III and Susan Hunt (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006).
Before we do, I want to share with you (per request) my answer to the last question of the Joshua and Ephesians study a group of ladies just wrapped up this past Tuesday.
So, here goes:
The title for the study is called Living the Promises (Women’s Bible study, New Life Presbyterian Church, PCA, Glenside, PA). The last question directs us to the opening passages of Joshua and the last chapter of Ephesians where right away we see that both passages are talking about a battle.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. . . No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10–13)
In Joshua, they face a physical battle to claim a land that God promised beforehand to give to Abraham and his descendants. In fact, God, says he has already given it to them, they only need to “be strong and courageous” relying on God and obedience to His Word for success in the battle. Verse 9 ends with this wonderful promise – “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
In Ephesians, the battle is spiritual, but the weapons for warfare are the same. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might”. “Put on the whole armor of God” —truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word and prayer. In short, obedience and trust in the LORD.
Joshua’s battle for a physical inheritance is a picture of the spiritual battle for the eternal inheritance spelled out to us in Ephesians.
The physical inheritance was eventually lost by disobedience to God, but the eternal inheritance was won by the obedience of Christ and “sealed by the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (1:14). Sisters, the battle has already been won. Go back with me to the beginning of the letter. After telling the Ephesians about every spiritual blessing that they have been blessed with in Christ, He prays for them.
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 the 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. (Ephesians 1:16-23, emphasis mine)
Do you see it?! Jesus Christ reigns far above all the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual evils that we wrestle against, (compare 6:12 with 1:21). He has won the battle! So, even though we battle, we fight with confidence because of what God in Jesus Christ has done for us and in us so that we might “be holy and blameless before Him.” And we fight according to the eternal purpose of God, that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
And this was all according to His eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him. (3:10-12) We are to put on the whole armor of God and fight with confidence and faith in the knowledge of our Almighty Savior who loved us and gave himself up for us so that we would live with him forever.
In my flesh, I was a child of wrath, but in Christ I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! In Christ, I have forgiveness for my sins, In Christ I have a glorious inheritance, and in Christ I have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of my inheritance until I acquire possession of it. All glory and praise to God