Summary: Introduction to Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare. Wear the armour of God at all times as satan will attack those in ministry and servants of God especially when they are being effective. We are in a spiritual battle.
EPHESIANS INTO & Ch.6 v10-18 The Amour of God
I am thrilled at being the person to start this sermon series of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Why thrilled? Because although written to the Ephesians it has such a relevance to us and our church today. I want you to be encouraged and also to be aware and avoid the dangers and pitfalls that lurk around the corner, such as the one I recently fell down! The major part of my sermon will be based on the final chapter, spititual warfare and the amour of God but I just want to give you an introduction to the series based on the letter and set the scene so to speak.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians, written whilst he was in prison, is one of both encouragement, which many of us need, and one of instruction. Giving advice how to live the lives that God would have us live. He starts the letter giving thanks to God for their faith and love for Christ and each other. Although sadly we read in Revelations Ch2 written about 20 – 30 years latter through John's apocalyptic word, this love, their first love as John puts it, had wained, even though they were still working hard and persevering in very difficult circumstances. Paul encourages them to be imitators of God, to follow Christ's example. To live in the light, no sexual immorality, he even warns about rude jokes (ch5) He gives sound advice on marriage and parenthood. I can remember when Maggie and I did a short marriage preparation course prior to our wedding, I must have a good memory! Although I can't remember all that was said and certainly haven't in nearly 40 years of marriage stuck to all the advice, I remember the vicar quoting from Ephesians 4 v26 “In you anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”. Implying get it sorted before you go off to bed!
Maggie & I have been very blessed in as much that we have been able to travel the world fairly extensively. Including many places mentioned in the Bible. Not only have we been to the Holy Lands but also followed most of the route Paul took on his second missionary journey, including Ephesus the homeland of the Ephesians. This has been helpful at times in appreciating and understanding certain readings when places we have visited are mentioned. Sadly time this morning doesn't allow me to give you the opportunity to view Ephesus on the screen. But before I go on to preach on the amour of God I think it's important to give you a little information about Ephesus and the environment the Ephesians were living in.
Ephesus was the most important city in the Roman province of Asia, on the west coast of what is now known as Turkey. It was situated at the mouth of the river Cayster then about 3 miles from the sea. A magnificent 11 meter (for olden's like me that's about 36 foot) wide road lined with ornate columns ran down through the city to the fine harbour, which served both as a great export centre at the end of the asian caravan route and also a natural landing point from Rome. It was an emporium that had few equals anywhere in the world. In it's day it contained many great and grand buildings, many of which have been discovered and been partly rebuilt by archaeologists, well worth a visit if you get the chance. There were civic centres, a massive library, bath houses and public conveniences and the most prominently placed building The Temple of Artemis (Diana) the Roman godess, so grand and massive it was one of the 7 wonders of the world. Even standing amongst the ruins and part restructured buildings as a tourist you get a sense of the vibrancy of the place. Oh boy what a place to start a church plant. What a challenge! Pagan gods, magical cults, drunken sailors, numerous brothels, a hive of industry! Paul never shirked from his passion to spread the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, even though it would eventually result in his execution. In Acts ch.19 v23 -41 we read that it was in Ephesus because of his preaching Paul caused rioting amongst the silversmiths, who were losing a fortune as people stopped buying silver temple tokens and silver idols of Artemis and other pagan God's. Yet the Ephesian Church was called to be a light in the darkness. No wonder that Paul concludes his letter with words of wisdom about wearing the armour of God to fight the spiritual battle that all Christians including you and me will face! So after this brief and I hope interesting introduction, let's look at putting on the armour of God.