From description to prescription

Think how you would summarise Ephesians 5:1 in your own words: ‘Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.’

I wonder if your summary focused on the call to imitate God or the description of Christians as ‘dearly loved children’?

It is all too easy for us to hear only the commands of Scripture and miss the descriptions out of which they arise. The prescription to behave like God only makes sense as the outworking of the description that we are God’s children. The imperatives (commands) of the New Testament always arise out of the indicatives (description). We are already God’s dearly loved children so let’s live as God’s dearly loved children by imitating our Father.
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3 thoughts on “From description to prescription

  1. It is true when we can read certain verses and depending on whether we read from a grace mindset or legalistic mindset it will either condemn us or spur us on to serve God better in his strength.

    When I was a teenager I had a serious problem with condemnation and legalism.If I read any piece of scripture I would end up being condemned by it! For instance if I read : ‘Be righteous and holy in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation’, my mind would condemn me thinking,’I’m crooked and perverse and have no power to live a righteous and holy life, I can never please God and he is angry with me.’
    However once free form this bondage and experiencing God’s grace I would read it and think : ‘Ah I will aspire by God’s strength to be the holy and righteous person God wants me to be and an example to those in the world!

    Reading Romans 7 often helped me, where it seems even the great Paul fell into trying to obey the good law in his own strength, ending up crying:’who will deliver me from this body of death’,but then:’Thanks be to God’.

    It is all of grace, it is all of his work so that he get the glory.

    The verse you quoted would have had the same effect on me depending on whether I was walking in grace or my own strength. Your post highlights what I believe many Chritians struggle with:that is they do not really believe that God loves them and are struggling with legalism.

  2. Good observation. Fitzpatrick and Johnson in their book “Counsel from the Cross” makes a similar observation. Their terms to describe the two categories are 1. Declaration and 2. Obligation

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