Summary: The first necessary step in redemption (#4 in the ’Every Spiritual Blessing’ series)
As we continue in this study in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we must be careful not to skip merrily along, flitting from one verse or phrase to the next and on to the next, touching the surface of each, like a bee gathering pollen, and never looking back at previous verses, or even stopping to really take in the depths of where we are.
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones likens shallow Bible-reading, to people who go to a large art museum, pick up a brochure that guides them through, and as they approach a painting they find it in their guide and say, “Oh, this is a DaVinci” and perhaps they make one or two comments about its general appearance, then they move to the next. And they stop and read their guide and say “Oh, this was painted by El Greco” and they move on.
And in a little while, they leave the gallery and over lunch they say “I went to the art museum today and looked at every painting”, but they studied none.
The Word of God is like the most fabulous work of art ever put to canvas. The serious student can sit for hour upon hour, taking in every brush stroke; every subtle change of hue; every shadow or insinuation of light. And with the really great, classic works, the student can come back day after day and find something new each time; and each thing he learns about the painting tells him something new about the artist.
Let me use another metaphor. One of swimming in a mountain pool.
We can, with reckless abandon, plunge headlong into the Word of God and never have to fear shallows or rocks, because its depths we will never fathom. We can swim far and deep and come up for air and go back and never find its bottom.
We can explore new pools and lakes or we can come back constantly to a favorite pond, and each time discover new things there waiting for us and greater depths than we imagined last time we visited.
This is how the Bible should be approached by the Christian. It is the revelation of God, given by Himself, for us, because He wants us to know Him intimately. The day will come for each of us when we will know Him fully; as Paul says to the Corinthians,
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (I Cor 13:12)
We will be changed in an instant, and as John says, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
But God is so anxious for our fellowship, so desirous of beginning that changing process now, that He reveals Himself to us and says, “Now come, plunge, learn of Me, and we can have fellowship now”.
This is what R. C. Sproul was talking about, when he wrote,
“The Word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart; but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind. This point is crucial to answer the question, ‘What can I do to get the divine and supernatural light into my heart?’ ... The first thing we must do is get the Word of God into our minds. That responsibility is ours, not God’s. We are required to be diligent in our study of Scripture. We cannot reasonably expect the Spirit to give us the excellent sense of the Scripture in our hearts if we are unwilling to work to get it in our minds. A cavalier approach to Scripture will not do. The only ‘devotional’ reading of God’s Word that pleases Him is a devout study of His Word.” (from “The Soul’s Quest For God”)
So this is how I want to take us through Ephesians. Slowly, meticulously, examining every brush stroke, plunging every depth.
I’ll take a break every few weeks as we’ve just done and let you relax a little. Sort of like pizza night at our house. We try to have a healthy, well-balanced meal each night of the week; but whatever the kids might have to endure Saturday through Thursday, they know that Friday is pizza night and they look forward to it.
But we’ll continue to work our way through this epistle, and if it takes five years, so be it. At the end of that time, those who have been faithful in attending and sticking with it, will be able to say “I have studied Ephesians. I have absorbed it, by the Holy Spirit I have understood it, and by God’s grace I have applied it.”
So as we approach verse 7 of chapter one today, I want to pause and look back briefly at what Paul has been telling us.