Summary: As Paul greets the Ephesians believers, he speaks of the connection that being molded by God’s will has to fulfilling our God-given mission.
The book of Ephesians - carefully, reverently, and prayerfully considered - will change our lives. Perhaps no other book in the New Testament elaborates on the victory we have in Jesus so eloquently as does the book of Ephesians. It is not so much a question of what we will do with this book as we go through it, but what will God do with us as we go through this book? That is why I am excited today as we begin a consideration of the message of this letter of the Apostle Paul.
The structure of this book has been outlined in a variety of ways:
1. Doctrine (chs. 1-3) 2. Duty (chs. 4-6)
1. Wealth (chs. 1-3) 2. Walk (chs. 4-5) 3. Warfare (ch. 6)
Then there is the outline of this book made famous by the late Watchman Nee:
Sit (chs. 1-3) Walk (chs. 4-5) Stand (ch. 6)
Paul begins this letter, of course, with a greeting (READ TEXT). In his greeting . . .
1. Paul introduces himself - v. 1a
A. He was on mission for God - “an apostle of Christ Jesus”
The word, “apostle” means, “one who is sent.” In a sense, all followers of Christ share in the calling of Paul, for we are each sent into our own respective worlds to live our lives on mission for Jesus.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” - John 20:21 (NIV)
Paul was a servant of the Savior, not a servant of self. Which are you?
It has been said that there are two ways for people to form a circle.
One way is to form it by facing in; the other way is to form it by facing out.
Now, as we think about the circle of fellowship that is the church, the natural way of forming the circle is to form it by facing in.
But Christ calls us to a supernatural way of living, which means that He calls us to form the circle of fellowship as a church by facing out.
Let’s deny self and submit to serving the Savior by responding to His call to be sent into our world to share His redemptive message.
A national survey by Barna Research found that one out of four unchurched people would gladly attend church if a friend would only extend an invitation.
This means on any given Sunday morning, 14 to 20 million adults are sitting home because nobody took the simple step of asking them to attend a church service. Twenty million people are as many as in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, San Diego, and San Francisco put together!
Can you imagine what would happen if we really got serious about evangelism and invited all those people to church one Sunday? The pews would be packed!
“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” - John 4:35 (NIV)
Paul lived his life on mission for God, and so should we.
B. He was being molded by God - “by the will of God”
Paul daily yielded himself to the will of God, allowing the Lord to mold and shape his life. Paul elaborated on his commitment to let his life be shaped and molded by the will of God in Philippians 3:7-14.
1) Paul’s decision - “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” - Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV)
2) Paul’s direction - Shaped by three things:
A. His devotion to the person of Christ - “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” - Philippians 3:9 (NIV)
B. His dependence on the power of Christ - “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” - Philippians 3:10a (NIV)
C. His dedication to the passion of Christ – “and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” - Philippians 3:10b (NIV)
3) Paul’s determination - “and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from (from among) the dead.” - Philippians 3:11 (NIV)
Paul was determined to live in such a way as to rise above the deadness of this world.
Paul was a man who hadn’t achieved perfection, but was committed to heading in the right direction - “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)