Summary: We often rely on our senses and even our emotions to tell us what’s real. Paul, as he begins the letter to the Ephesians, tells of a reality more real than you have ever known, with advantages far greater than anything this age has to offer, all in Jesus.
If I asked you the question: “how do you know something is real?” you might say something like: “It’s real if I can experience it with my senses.” Our idea of the “realness” of something is tied to what our brains tell us based on the information gathered from our senses: touch, smell, hearing, sight, taste, and emotion. In court we consider eyewitness testimony to be one of the best ways of finding someone guilty or innocent of a crime.
But the truth is, our senses, and our minds—deceive us on a regular basis. Here are two examples: why do movies work? What you are seeing are a series of still pictures shown in rapid succession. Why do we perceive that as motion? Because of something called “persistence of vision”. Our brains hold onto the last image just for a moment—but long enough so that if we are shown another image that is relatively close to the one we just saw—our brains will interpret that as motion. But it’s not real, only an illusion of reality.
Our memories: did you know that every time you bring up a memory your brain accesses it off of your internal hard drive and puts it into your brain’s RAM? When you are finished accessing that memory it is once again stored on the hard drive—your sort-of permanent memory—but it has been altered by all of your present experiences and moods. So there is no such thing as perfect memory.
Why do I bring this up? Because the Apostle Paul in writing the book of Ephesians wants to convey to us a reality that is beyond what our normal senses and brains can hold. We as Christians need to understand that what we have in Jesus Christ is, to borrow a phrase: “the real thing.” What we see around us in this age is a mirage, or a temporary reality, that will be replaced with something so much more real—more than we can ever imagine.
The central idea of Ephesians is that it is all about Jesus. And by “all” and really mean “all.”
Take a look at Chapter 1, verses 9 and 10. I mentioned last time that this is the central theme of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him 10 for the administration of the days of fulfillment—to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him.
We’ll get to break this verse apart in a different message. But for now I want us to see that what Paul is saying is that all of what God is about in this universe is bringing everything together in the Messiah Jesus—both things in this reality (earth) and in God’s dimension (heaven).
In fact, if you focus on this verse, the entire Bible pops open. In Genesis, Moses records that God created the heavens and the earth and called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). By Chapter 3 we humans decided we didn’t like the way God made things so we took matters into our own hands. What we really did was pass on our authority over God’s creation to Satan along with our souls in rebellion against God. So from the end of Chapter 3 until near the end of Revelation, God did something about our stupidity—and that something was to send in a rescuer: Jesus the Messiah.
I like the analogy Jesus used in Matthew 13:33 where He said: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through all of it.” Bread is flat and boring—but if you put but a small amount of yeast into it, it will spread throughout the entire dough and cause the bread to rise and become something edible.
So with Jesus, it’s like God was injecting this small amount of yeast into a flat and dead world, and that small thing will grow and grow into it fills not only the earth, but also the entire universe with life.
God started with the human soul because that was the last and most important thing God created, but He won’t stop there, and one day this new life will fill the heavens from one end to the other with the life of Jesus.
So as we go through the first 3 verses of Chapter 1 we are going to come upon four very “churchy” words that have lost their meaning. My aim is to restore some meaning to those words so Ephesians can truly impact our lives as we see just what Jesus is and has done for us—as we see the new reality.
Right at the beginning, Paul shows us the centrality of Jesus. He mentions “Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus” in each of the first three verses.