Summary: Paul as we say in the south chases a rabbit of huge importance. He tells of the central importance of the church in God's plan to reveal His wisdom in the Gospel. Then Paul prays that the church will practically live what God has divinely designed.
Intro: Paul was just getting ready to pray for the Ephesian church when he was reminded of the importance of the church and as preachers are often known to do he chases a rabbit. What an important rabbit to chase today.
The church would probably not make it into a list of the 50 most important things in America today. Jesus’ church has been minimized and marginalized in our culture and we can see it seeping in to the church in the way people think of fellowshipping with the church as optional.
Hebrews 10:24-25 tell us to not forsake gathering together. I am discouraged when those that say they love Jesus choose not to fellowship. I am more discouraged when the reason for not fellowshipping is not because of heresy or blasphemy. In this passage we see that God’s entire plan of salvation is tied up in the church.
Paul’s rabbit is used to remind the Ephesians of God’s amazing grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I. Paul a prisoner of Jesus
A) A response to his accusers
His authority had been challenged and he was harassed wherever he went. Paul made it clear he was an apostle and a prisoner by the will of God.
B) A reminder of God’s amazing grace
Ephesians 3:8 Gods’ grace was given to Paul in order for Him to share Jesus with the gentiles. We have greatly missed the point if we thing grace is just God making it easy on us. We are given grace to share grace. Each one of us is called of God to share God’s administration of grace.
C) A reminder of the pressure we face in this life
1) Human perspective unfair
Paul was in prison because of the false accusations of Jews. The gentile churches had raised money to help their suffering brothers in Jerusalem. Paul was accused of bringing gentiles beyond the barrier (thanatos, death) walls which caused a riot and Paul’s arrest. He was trying to do something good and possibly unite the Jew and Gentile wings of the church.
2) Heavenly perspective unfinished (James 1:2-5) (must complete its work)
Our heavenly father brings circumstances and situations into our lives so that we learn to allow the Holy Spirit to control us and change us into the image of Jesus.
We are not all promised ease or comfort or wealth. Paul recognized that his circumstances were completely controlled by God. This leads to responding differently to our circumstances.
D) A revelation of the mystery (God’s eternal purpose in Christ)
Colossians 3 – to bring all things together (unity) in Christ
Ephesians 2.16 To make one new man (unity) in Christ
Ephesians 3:6 with – illustration of the biscuit ingredients on a tray vs made in biscuits. This is what Paul is portraying. (God is in the business of uniting His church in Christ. The devil is in the business of dividing the church over anything. (God has no favorites in His family just sons!)
3:10 (read) We reveal the wisdom of God to the principalities and powers and the people around us when we live as the church God created. A unified church sends the message God is true and right His plan to send His son Jesus.
Every bit of life, every relationship, every hope, every longing or desire, every decision finds the final solution in Jesus Christ. (This is why Paul prays for our eyes to be opened.)
Until it was revealed clearly to Paul none of the other prophets clearly understood that we the gentiles would be included into God’s body without racial or other distinctions. No one is better than the other because all are united in Christ.
Paul wants us to understand the weight and implications of his prayer that is following His rabbit chase. Paul is going to pray for God’s power in the life of the Ephesians because God’s power is needed to do what they could never have done before. Become united as one body the church. In other words Paul has explained the principle of salvation and unification now He is praying that it will practically happen in the Ephesian Church.
Peace and unity will not come if we do not pray for it
Peace and unity will not come if we do not work for it
II. Paul a prayer for the church at Ephesus (three that’s)
A) He prays for internal strength
The Holy Spirit brings us the strength of God according to the riches of Christ. Why do we need internal strength? Because we don’t fight against flesh and blood. We fight against schemes of the devil, sins of the flesh and spirits of the world. We need strength of character that comes from our union with the spirit of Christ and our bold access into God’s presence.