Summary: The first chapter of Ephesians is dedicated to telling the Christians there how pretty they are to God. Why would Paul spend all that ink and paper on this topic? And what can that mean to us?
I read once about a nursing home worker who would go from room to room taking care of the needs of the residents. On day she was in the room of one of the residents when the woman looked up at her and said “My but you’re pretty!” The attendant blushed. She was “plump” and “overweight and wasn’t used to people saying that to her. And she said as much: “That’s kind of you to say. Not many people would say that about me.” “Nonsense girl,” replied the resident, “just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re ugly.”
There’s an old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And that’s a good thing because a lot of people don’t think they’re all that pretty. They find the world judges them harshly on how they look, who they are, etc. But into this world that judges by appearances God says “I think you’re pretty.” The Bible repeatedly tells us… that God declares: No matter who you are; where you come from; who you know; how much you have; OR what others may think of yourselves - God says: You are valuable to Me!
That’s why so many people love John 3:16: “For God so loved the World (that’s YOU) that He gave His only begotten Son…” No matter what the rest of the world may think of you, you’re worth everything to God. He gave His only begotten Son… to die for you!!!
APPLY: Now, that brings us to our text in Ephesians this morning. Paul spends the entire first chapter of this letter telling the Ephesians how PRETTY they are to God. He says they are blessed, redeemed, pre-destined, inheritors of great gift, and that God has given them a guarantee of salvation through the Holy Spirit that He has placed in their hearts.
Now, generally, Paul doesn’t spend that much time telling individual churches how attractive they are to God, but he does do it for the Ephesians. He spends an entire chapter doing that. And the question is: Why? Why spend all that time, and ink, and paper telling them how valuable they are to God? Well - somebody had apparently been telling them they weren’t that valuable to God. Somebody had come in and caused them to DOUBT that they were pretty. Who could that have been?
Well, first - it helps to understand who the Ephesians are. The Ephesians were unique because they were an entirely GENTILE congregation. Apparently, there’s not a Jew amongst them (at least as far as I can tell).
Paul had planted this church years before on a missionary journey through the area, and these new Christians were so excited that even a riot caused by some of the leading citizens of the city couldn’t quash their enthusiasm. No one was going to rob them of their newfound joy in Christ. But… THEN along came folks who claimed to be Christians and created doubt within the church. These pretend Christians began telling them that unless they became Jews FIRST (got circumcised) God wouldn’t love them; God wouldn’t save them; and God wouldn’t think they’re pretty.
And so, this whole first 1st chapter is dedicated to telling the Ephesians that those false teachers lied to them!! In fact, God told the Christians in Ephesus that they were “predestined (by God) for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” It was part of God’s plan – from the beginning of time – to include the Gentiles in salvation. And these Christians in Ephesus were amongst the first of the Gentiles to claim that prize. They primed the pump to show that God intended to do exactly as He had planned.
Later in this letter, Paul told them they were living proof of a MYSTERY. The mystery was that the Gentiles (who’d been baptized into Christ) were acceptable to God just the way they were. “This MYSTERY is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
Now, under the Old Testament those Gentiles would NOT have been acceptable to God. But NOW – because of the blood of Jesus, they were desirable to God and they were attractive in God’s sight.
Now that’s interesting theology, but what difference does that make to us? Why should we care? Well, there’s a lot of folks who struggle with the idea that God cares for them. And there’s a lot of false teachers who will try to use your doubts and use them against you. They’ll use your fears to manipulate you.
ILLUS: I remember attending a Revival in a denominational church where the revivalist tried teach them that if they didn’t FEEL saved… they weren’t saved. In his sermon he told about a preacher’s wife who (he said) THOUGHT she was saved but admitted that she had doubts once in a while. And (he said) her doubts proved she wasn’t loved by God. She was going to hell because she questioned God’s promise. And he played on her fears and “SAVED HER” again. That night he shamed those in the audience - who struggled with their faith – and convinced them to come forward to be “saved” for real! Out of that crowd of 200 or so people there that night, nearly 30 or 40 came forward because they were convinced their doubts condemned to hell.