Walking Through Ephesians
It’s time to get your steps in! When we stroll into the second half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he is done giving us motivation and is ready for us to lace up our shoes. The first three chapters of Ephesians are supposed to affect our lives in a big way, not just our minds. Paul doesn’t want us to only think about how we should walk, he wants us to hit the road!
Paul begins describing our walk by introducing an idea that will run through the rest of the letter. The idea is unity. Paul wants us to live in harmony in all aspects of our lives. He will talk about various relationships, but the first one he focuses on is the relationship of God’s church.
Paul begins chapter three by encouraging us to be eager for maintaining unity. He gives us some good reasons why we should have unity. Seven good reasons to be exact. We have one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. That’s a pretty good starting place for unity!
He goes on to acknowledge that within our unity exists different gifts and roles given to us by God. Different roles include prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. He also states that though these are different roles, they have one unified purpose: building up the body of Christ. Why does the church need to be built up in a unified way? To attain unity of faith and knowledge of Christ. The church should be unified in their effort to build unity.
Great things happen when a church is unified. Paul tells us the unified church is:
The unified church knows truth. A unified church that is unified in error isn’t the unified church Paul writes about. The roles Paul lists for equipping the church all are meant to bring the church towards truth. Truth matters in the church. The unified church is knowledgeable.
The unified church doesn’t just know truth but stands for it. Unity means a church is strong in its convictions. Paul doesn’t say the church should flex and recalibrate with the times. A church shouldn’t be embarrassed about taking a stand and staying there. A unified church isn’t fazed by the latest religious fad or cultural shift. The unified church is established.
The unified church is built with love. The fact that we are working towards unity tells us it doesn’t just come naturally. A unified church must have people that love each other. When it does it allows the church to speak the truth in love. A church that doesn’t love each other isn’t the church Paul writes about. The unified church is a loving church.
Paul describes this work of creating unity as a process of maturing and growth. He also gives us the aspiring goal of our unity: growing into Christ. That’s going to take some serious work. Strap on your shoes, let’s get walking, together.
Paul’s second prayer has four parts.
First, there are four “that’s:
- That he would grant you to be strengthened with might in the inner man- soul of man, strengthened with strength, strengthened with might- spiritually strong.
- That Christ may dwell in your heart. What kind of relationship does He have with us? He has a ruling relationship with us. He rules our minds. If Christ rules our minds, the strength in the inner man will be strong spiritually. When we are strong spiritually and Christ rules and directs our minds, then we are going the right direction.
- That you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the width and length and the depth and height - and know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.
- That you may be filled with the fullness of God (filling something like a bucket and fill it full to the capacity; all of that which belongs to God is complete). How adequate are the riches in His glory.
Paul closes with a beautiful statement to describe the majesty of God’s power. A hymn of praise to God, to ascribe to Him the glory and praise and exaltation due Him, in the saved relationship, the church. It is the foundation of faith and undergirds our faith in God.
What is God able to do? We come to a point in which we have exhausted all we can ask or think. God can do above all we ask or think, and even more. He can do exceedingly above. And, even more, He can do exceedingly, abundantly, above. We say, “I just don’t see how…”
How could God hear all the prayers? One fellow prays for rain for his crops, a fellow next door prays for it not to rain, because his crops are different. We can’t figure out how He could listen to all of it and know what to do with all of it. Our faith needs to be such that when we have gotten as far as we can figure out, then God’s capacity is above, exceedingly above, exceedingly, abundantly above!
His power is beyond anything we ever thought. To Him be glory in the church to all generations forever and ever, Amen. A statement of praise when we comprehend the majestic power of God and the ability of God.
We don’t talk about Him very much, but we wouldn’t be where we are without Him. The Holy Spirit occupies a prominent role throughout Scripture. We see Him active in the creation account. We read of His work in the Old Testament, equipping various servants of God for various purposes. We read of the promise of His coming through the prophets, and John the Baptizer, and Jesus. And we see His powerful arrival in Acts 2, as He began the work He was promised to do.
While the work of the Holy Spirit is vast and great, in my opinion, the greatest work of the Holy Spirit is described in our section today. The greatest work of the Holy Spirit was the revelation of the mind of God to the world. Notice how we see that progression in our text:
§ The mystery of God’s salvation regarding the whole world (Jews and Gentiles) was not known in previous times.
§ The Holy Spirit revealed this message at first through the prophets – pointing to the “promise” that was to come in the times when the Spirit was poured forth
§ The Holy Spirit revealed the message in full to the Apostles
§ The Apostles took this Spirit-given message and proclaimed it (the gospel) to the world
§ Thus when the brethren in Ephesians read the written message of the Apostle Paul, they are able to both read and understand the revealed mystery of God
Think on this – one of the most powerful gifts and tools of the Holy Spirit has been given to each of us in the written, recorded, Word of God – the Bible. When we choose to neglect the Bible, we are resisting the Spirit’s effort to lead, shape, and transform our lives to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3; Acts 7:51). When we choose to read only the sections we like (give me only the gospels – non of that Apostles/authority stuff) – we are quenching the Spirit’s work to convict and correct us (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Hebrews 4:12). When it comes to the world around us in desperate need of the Savior, it is not our wisdom, our wise counselling, our finely written blogs that will bring them to repentance and salvation – that power alone rests in the words of the Spirit (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:7-9).
For those who are seeking more help, comfort, strength, direction from the Holy Spirit in their lives, open the words given by the Spirit – read, listen, follow, and live!
“Wise and great Lord I give you thanks today for Your Holy Spirit. I am thankful for His work, specifically in bringing Your mind and Your words into this world. Create a true hunger and desire in me to read Your words, trusting and following Your ways. Through Your Spirit and His words, shape and mold me to be ever more like You!”
Paul has begun reminding us about the amazing grace God has shown to all men including Gentiles. In this section of Ephesians, Paul tells how God’s construction project of making His people is coming to its completion. This meant something amazing for the Gentiles then, and for us who are continuing to be used by God today. Paul gives us some reminders that seem to build on each other:
Remember where you came from:
· Paul says Gentiles were separated from God, God’s people, God’s promises, and God’s presence. They were foreign to God. They were without God. They didn’t know God and God didn’t know them. They were truly at rock bottom. They were as far from God as possible. This is where we were before coming to Christ. We were without God. We had nothing and were working towards nothing.
Remember where you are now:
· Paul then goes on to speak of where the Gentiles are now in Christ. They began at a place without God and now they are here. Here is a good place. Here means being with God. Here means claiming God’s promises. Here means peace with all men. Here is a citizen in God’s house. Here is not just better than where you were. Here is going from zero to one hundred. Completely without God to fully enjoying God. This is where those of us in Christ are now. We have a new status and a new position.
Remember where you are going:
· Paul finishes this section by writing what is possibly the apex of the first three chapter. This “peak” is a picture of a temple. Paul says not only are Gentiles now brought near, but they are actively participating in something amazing. They are becoming the new temple of God. The temple represented where God was. It was where people came to be in the presence of God. It is how people drew near to God. Now, in Christ, we can become just that. A dwelling place for God and a way for people to draw near to Him. Christ drew us near and now we can draw others.
God’s plan was always for all His people to be together. God had a purpose in choosing the nation of Israel to bring the Messiah, but He always planned to open the floor plan to include all people. Through Christ, God has done some serious remodeling. He has broken down walls so all his people can come into His new house. A new temple where all people are included. God has brought us into this project. Christ and the apostles started it, and now we continue the work of building up God’s new temple that has room for everyone.
Ephesians 2:1-10 - Day 4
In order to appreciate what it means to saved by grace, we must see how Paul describes this to the Ephesians.
First, he states what they were dead in: Trespasses and sin, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, driven by the lust of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind, and by nature the children of wrath.
Then, Paul describes what they have. They have power of God. He quickened them. He made them alive when they were dead. He raised them up together! That doesn’t have to do with from the dead- but with exalting. He made them sit together. Christ sits at the right-hand, but we sit together with Him.
Also, Paul will describes what they are. They are saved through faith by His grace. His grace is a gift that provides lost man’s salvation. Further, they are His workmanship. His new creation. His handiwork. In all of this, the emphasis is on what God is doing.
We are His workmanship. God wants to provide an everlasting monument to His own goodness. He wants all to know that He is good and loving above what man could ever imagine.