Summary: 67th and final message from Ephesians. Only those who have an undying love for Jesus get His peace, love and grace.
About two years ago, God began to convict me about the need to build some more spiritual depth into my own life as well as into the life of all of us together as a body. So nearly two years ago, on January 7, 2007 we embarked together on a verse-by-verse journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. When we began our journey that Sunday morning, I shared with you this excerpt from the todaysmilitary.com website:
Basic Training—officially called Initial-entry Training—prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental, and emotional. It gives service people the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be asked of them for the duration of their tour.
That’s essentially what we’ve been doing in our journey through Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In essence, his letter has been our basic training manual that has given us the basic tools necessary to perform our roles as followers of Jesus Christ for the duration of our tours.
Roughly the first half of our training program focused on the first three chapters of Paul’s letter that described what God has done for us. There we established the doctrinal foundation that would be necessary to understand Paul’s practical instructions in the last half of his letter. In those first three chapters, we discovered that everything about our life in Jesus is totally and completely a result of God’s work in our lives and not as a result of our own merit or works:
• God the Father chose us and He predetermined that we would become part of His spiritual family and be adopted as His children.
• God the Son, Jesus the Messiah, redeemed us through His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection. He provided the payment that freed us from the slavery of sin and allows us to live an abundant life, both now and in eternity.
• God the Holy Spirit came to dwell permanently in our lives at that very moment we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. He remains there as a guarantee that we will one day receive the spiritual inheritance that God has promised to us.
Taken together, the work of all three Persons of the Godhead have provided us with salvation. And that salvation, as we’ve seen time after time in our training, has three aspects to it:
• There is the past aspect of salvation – I have been saved. At the very moment I trusted my life to Jesus Christ, I received the positional righteousness of Jesus and all of my sin was forgiven once and for all. Because Jesus redeemed me, when God looks upon my life, He no longer sees my sin, He sees the righteousness of Jesus.
• There is the present aspect of salvation. It is that part of the salvation process that Paul addresses in the last three chapters of his letter where he provides some practical instruction on how to live out the righteousness Jesus has given us on a day to day basis. That aspect of salvation provides me with a fruitful, abundant life right here and now.
• There is the future aspect of salvation. As good as our present lives may be, what God has in store for us in the future will far surpass even the best we have here on earth. For those who have trusted their lives to Jesus, there is the promise that we will spend eternity in the presence of God, worshipping and serving Him in a place of unimaginable beauty and glory.
And God didn’t just leave us here on earth to live out that salvation in solitude. He has placed every single believer into the body of Christ, the church. And God has given all of us together, as members of that body, the great privilege and responsibility of making known His great plan, which He put into effect before the foundation of the world. So together, we are God’s co-workers in carrying out His will and His plans here on earth right this very moment.
Had Paul just ended his letter at the end of chapter three, we still would have had a training manual that would have laid a great foundation for our lives as followers of Jesus. But God, in His infinite love and wisdom didn’t want to leave us there. So under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote three more chapters that provided his readers, and us, with some very practical instruction on how the salvation that God has provided for us ought to impact the way we live our lives on a day-to-day basis.
So the last half of our basic training has focused on how we can apply those principles in our lives. And Paul’s instruction in that last part of his letter is very comprehensive. He’s provided us with principles about how we are to treat and deal with each other within the body of Christ, the church. He’s given us guidelines about how to live together as husband and wives and parents and children. He’s addressed how to treat each other in the workplace. And he’s described how to put on the full armor of God in order to stand firm against the attacks of the devil. He’s even dealt with how we can pray for one another more effectively.