Summary: Paul's letter to the Ephesians is cram packed with powerful theology and practical Christianity. If we allow it to change us the church with grow spiritually and in every other way.
Intro: In light of the confusion about what scripture says and what the church is supposed to be and do this letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians is a great way to end 2013 and begin 2014. In this letter Paul gives clear teaching on how we can get our theology and thinking about the Church right. In the first few verses we find that we were chosen by God to be holy and adopted to give clear and powerful praise to God.
Ephesians reveals a simple yet profound truth. This life is not all about us. We are chosen by God to please and praise Him. When we move away from that truth and forget God and focus on ourselves it leads to misery. When we move closer to Jesus in trust and dependence we are able to fulfill our responsibility to each other and our purpose on the planet. To represent Jesus as His body and love one another.
Ephesians has been called a mini course in the theology of the church. In it we will see God’s desire and design in His blueprint for the spiritual and relational health of the church. If we as the church will draw close to God and follow His blueprint a glorious and beautiful body and dwelling place will be constructed for His praise and honor.
Ephesus was important politically and geographically as a harbor town located on the Cayster river in modern day Turkey. It was this place of immorality that the saints of Ephesus were to live their new life in Christ. Ephesus competed with Corinth for the title “filth capital” of the Roman world. People came from all over the world to consummate their worship with sacred prostitutes.
It was with this backdrop of immorality that Paul gave the position and job description of the Church.
The Church is to be Gods’ temple, body and representatives on this earth.
Paul uses some key words in this letter that will help us understand His teaching.
Riches is used 5 times. Fullness is used 6 times. Glory is used 8 times. Grace is used 12 times. In Christ is used 15 times. All of the preceding becomes a reality if we are “in Christ.”
You can break the book of Ephesians down into three parts. This is how I divide Paul’s letter;
Part one is: The riches (resources) we have in Christ – Ephesians 1-3.
Part two: The responsibilities we have in Christ Ephesians 4-6:9.
Part three: The resistance we have in Christ Ephesians 6:10-18.
Ephesians 6:13 “that you may be able to resist in the evil day.” More on that when we make it to the Spiritual warfare section.
This letter is full of powerful theology as well as practical advice for daily living. As we learn who we are in Christ it should change who we are in the world.
I. A letter that explains God’s pleasure – God’s will
We must first understand that God’s will is first and foremost about His purpose. The word used in 1.1, 1.9, 1.11 have to do with God’s desires not ours. If we are walking in God’s will then we have abandoned our desires in order to fulfill God’s. It was God’s desire that Paul be an apostle. 2 Peter 3:9 “It is not God’s desire (will) that any should perish but all to come to repentance.”
God’s desire for all of us is that we would daily walk in His gracious presence. He has a place for us at His table and a plan for us as His people. God’s desire for Paul was much different than Paul’s. Paul’s plan was for prominence and success according to acts 9 God’s plan was for suffering and sacrifice.
Principle: When God reveals His desire for our life it only becomes a reality when we abandon our own desires in exchange for His. God’s ultimate desire is for us to respond to Him in faith, trust and complete dependence on Him. Then he is able to guide, correct, train, send.
II. A letter that encourages God’s people –
A) Our Position – Too often we thing of dead people that are declared to live above the menial every day Christian when we hear this term. It is not only the Christians, in Ephesus, that Paul didn’t have to address any particular problem. It was also the physically driven immature Corinthian Christians as well. We are not chosen because we are holy but so that He might make us holy for His good pleasure and praise.
We are saints because just like butter we are separated from the world for God’ pleasure and purpose. Cream is skimmed off milk in order to make butter. If you are in Christ you were skimmed from the world in order to be a saint. The cream wasn’t taken because it was butter but so that it could become butter. You are saved and are a saint so that you can become holy in Christ! For that to happen you have to do what we already said and allow Jesus to be your guiding principle.