Good morning church! Very excited to be able to gather together this morning with you to dig deeper into God’s Word. Today we will be starting the book of Ephesians if you will find your place with me there so you can see it as you hear it. I know I often say when we are starting a new book that it is one of my all time favorite books of the Bible, so I won’t say that this morning. I also won’t say that it’s not one of my all time favorite books either.
It is a different style of book from what we’ve been discussing. Corinthians was a corrective letter, some of the others have been letters addressing particular situations in different churches, Galatians unraveled legalism, love, love, love Galatians. In some letters Paul defends his Apostolic authority...
Ephesians is similar to Romans in that it builds on the doctrine Paul introduces in his other letters. In fact some say that it is the perfect summary of Paul’s theology. In some of the earliest manuscripts of this letter it begins Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in…and its left blank, some have interpreted that to mean that it was intended to be a circular letter, one that would be passed around from place to place. That argument is furthered by the lack of personal greetings that we see in the other letters of Paul. I do know that it had relevance to the Ephesian church and that it has application to our church today.
Charles Spurgeon wrote of the letter of Ephesians.
“The Epistle to the Ephesians is a complete Body of Divinity. In the first chapter you have the doctrines of the gospel; in the next, you have the experience of the Christians; and before the Epistle is finished, you have the precepts of the Christian faith. Whosoever would see Christianity in one treatise, let him ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the Epistle to the Ephesians.” (Spurgeon)
Spot on Chuck! I agree.
It has often been said that Perspective is everything. The way that we see things, our background, culture, life experiences all effect our interpretation of our vision. How we see things is also impacted by the way the people we surround ourselves see things. That, is something to consider when we are choosing the people that we allow to have influence in our lives, as they have impact on our perspective. Does everyone agree that perspective is pretty important?
You’ve heard me speak of having a heavenly perspective or an eternal perspective. For me when life gets really really difficult, or someone is super mean to me and hurts my feeling, the one straggler that I have left, I remind myself that I get to go to Heaven. All this, the ups and downs of life, are but a vapor compared to glory, in the presence of my Savior for ever and ever.
But... as important as perspective is…I think our focus is 10 times more so. I say this because even for me, I know that someday I get to go to Heaven, I know how the story ends, but right now... things can be really really bad, and Heaven can seem like its a long way off. So where do I put my focus? Is the really really bad all that I can see? Is that... what I think about, is that... what I talk about, do I associate with others that are stuck in the rut of focusing on the doom and the gloom, of all that’s wrong in Bummerville?
Ephesians is a letter written to clarify doctrine, sure, I get that, that’s hugely important I don’t want to minimize that. But in praying, Lord, you know all the things that I don’t know, you know the circumstances our people are living in that haven’t been shared with me, so what Lord, in this passage, in this message, what do you have for us, those that are gathered here, in Old Town this morning?
I believe we are to examine two things this morning…The first, the riches we have in Christ right now, in the present. And the second, where are we placing our focus and attention.
Pray with me church! "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." - John 1:1-4 NKJV- Word of God Speak!
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
The Catholic church has perverted the Biblical definition of Sainthood. I am a Saint, you are a Saint if you are a Christian.
I want to stop here, even though Paul doesn’t. I say Paul doesn’t stop because if you examine the original text of this epistle, Paul doesn’t stop, in fact beginning in verse 3, he carries through all the way down to the bottom of verse 14 without stopping. No periods, one long continuous, rambling sentence, giving the impression he was just overwhelmed with excitement and joy. Check it out! Has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…not is going to, or maybe you guys will get a couple of these, the saints will have them all, but God might toss you a couple....no, no, no, Paul says these are ours right now, has blessed us is in the past tense which means, the spiritual blessing is in our present state.
Here’s what’s mind-blowing about perspective and focus, Paul wrote these words from a prison in Rome! In the custody of his oppressor, with his earthy freedom removed, Paul tells us brothers and sisters in Christ, you always have something to be thankful for, and if your perspective is off, if your focus is on the wrong things, let me give you eight things to lock your eyeballs on, that will change you life, heart, and mind.
Christian you always have something to be thankful for. Because in good times and in bad. On your best of days and your worst of weeks, these things belong to you, all of you who are Christians, and all of these, to all of you. Verse 3 again Eph 1:3-4
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
God chose you! Before the foundation of the world! Before you did anything good, and several of us will be eternally grateful, that it was before we did anything bad. God chose you. Not because you were holy, but that we should be holy, to make you holy, not because you were without blame, but that you should be without blame, and He did it in love. Verse 5 Eph 1:5
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
2. Predestined us to adoption as sons, according to the good pleasure of His will predestined to co-heirs with Jesus. The fact that you were 1. Chosen, 2. Predestined to be adopted, should take away your doubt that this isn’t real, or maybe is all in your head. You’re here because God chose you to be one of His kids, He did it in love, because He loves you.
OH, but what if He hasn’t chosen me? Choose Him! The Bible clearly teaches here that God chooses, God predestines those that He chooses. God is sovereign! But the Bible also teaches that we have free will and that God will not violate our free will so we must chose Him, but what if He didn’t choose me? Or maybe, just maybe you aren’t a Christian and you’re here this morning or watching on line and feel like you’ve been ripped off, or slighted by God, because you haven’t been chosen by God, and you feel like the last kid on the kickball field that hasn’t been picked. Choose Him!
I don’t have time to engage in a debate this morning, and if you take a singular stance defending only the sovereignty of God, or only the responsibility of Man or free will, you’d loose anyway…but for the one that questions if they’ve been chosen read John 3, and there are several other passages, but from that one chapter John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Verse 18 John 3:18
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The last verse in the chapter, verse 36, John 3:36
36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Choose Him, believe Him, no one has ever turned to God in sincerity for salvation and been told, sorry bub, you didn’t make the cut, not on the list! Continuing on in Ephesians verse 6
Verse 6 Eph 1:6
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
3. The third thing we have right now today, by His grace He made us accepted in the Beloved, God said My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased, you are accepted in Him. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I want you to see this, and I want you to hear it again, I don’t want to add to the Scripture, or take away from the Scripture, but I want you to notice it doesn’t regard how we feel, or what lies we believe, Ephesians one six says that He has made, past tense, so true in the present, accepted in the Beloved. You Christian, and I ARE, we are accepted.
You’re chosen, predestined and adopted, number three YOU ARE ACCEPTED! Paul continues…and I see two more in verse 7 Eph 1:7
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
This word redemption in the bible...
I. a releasing effected by payment of ransom
a. redemption, deliverance
b. liberation procured by the payment of a ransom
Is liberation. These two, seem to be the hardest for Christians to believe. Not the world looking in upon the church, or trying to understand our faith, Christians struggle to believe what God has said is true of them. Eph 1:7
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
In Him we HAVE, now today, on our best day, on our worst day, on a day of accusation from the enemy that desires to condemn us, WE HAVE redemption through His blood, we have liberation, we have been set free, through His blood we are no longer in bondage, no longer slaves to sin, we HAVE redemption, by the payment of ransom through His blood we are free. So, number 4 redemption, #5 In Him we have the forgiveness of sins - to what measure?…according to the riches of His grace.
Some of you refuse to believe what the Bible says of you. Those that have confessed their sins, those that have asked God to forgive, and have placed their faith and trust in Him, you HAVE forgiveness. You can stop tormenting yourself about what you’ve done, that thing you can’t get over, the sin that fills you with shame and regret, God says
YOU ARE FORGIVEN!!! So you are not to be living in condemnation.
According to the riches of His grace...
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
6. He reveals to us the mystery of His will. He gives us understanding, wisdom, prudence, and according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself He makes known to us the mystery of His will, so that He might gather together in unity us, the all things in Christ. 1 Corinthians 2 speaks of things that are Spiritually discerned, God has made know to us, past tense with a present application the mystery of His will!
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Christian that needs assurance of your salvation, verses 13 and 14 are a gift from the Lord to you. You were sealed with the Holy Spirit. I’ll say it again, you were sealed. Marked, authenticated, stamped with an insignia of ownership by God, as a warning to Satan that you belong to God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus. And verse 14, Eph 1:14 sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise...
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
You are indwelt, by the Holy Spirit who is not just the promise, the guarantee of our inheritance, to the praise of His glory. Rather than be bummed out while in prison in Rome Paul focused on the great news and sharing that with us, that we would know, no matter what things look like, we need to know that our perspective can lie, those around us, regardless of intent, can speak things that deny the truth of what God tells us, that we as Christians HAVE, right now today, All of these things, every single one. Our inheritance is that we that have chosen Him, we that have believed in Him, before we did, we were chosen, we have full adoption status, Acceptance in the Beloved Jesus, we have redemption, we have forgiveness from sin!, He has given us the revelation of the mystery of His will, We are sealed, and the Holy Spirit in my life and in your life, is the down-payment that guarantees that we will be in Heaven!
Now check out what Paul does here, because I want to do the same for all of you, all of us, myself included, check out his prayer.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Paul is praying that they would get it, that their minds, their fears, their friends wouldn’t argue against it, or try to deny the truth of our inheritance. He’s asking God to enlighten them....and
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Listen church, it is my Prayer that you will believe what the Word of God says. That you would believe about what you have in Jesus right now, that this is true, that this is your inheritance as sons and daughters of the King. Not just that you’ll believe it, but that you will actually, and practically experience it, in all of the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, that starting today, you will receive what you already have and live it, walk in it.
Put your Focus, on these things that are true. Paul tells us in Philippians...
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Think on these things, not lies. Dwell on these things, let these things be your focus, that which God says are true of you. Listen to me. Don’t accept what anyone else says of you. Those that surround you, and influence your perspective, don’t accept what they say about you if it doesn’t line up with what God says is true, don’t accept a label or a diagnosis, don’t accept what a counselor says, a boss says, a parent, a pastor, if it doesn’t line up with what God says is true of you as a Christian, as His son or daughter already, right now in the present, these things are true,
As Paul prayed,....Father in Heaven, I pray that your adopted sons and daughters, those of us who have believed in you, will also believe these things, that you we will experience these things, and that you will cause us to walk in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, and that this will be the focus of our life, whether we are in a prison in Rome, or on the highest mountain top, that your focus would never divert away from what You say is true, and what You say we have in Jesus today.
Like Paul, help us to remember that regardless of circumstances or perspective, we always have something to be thankful for, at least 8 things to be thankful for, because these things are true. In Jesus name, Amen.