As we begin our study in Ephesians, let’s first briefly review the last few weeks of lessons. The call and covenant with Abraham, who was chosen because he believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. The selection of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, not because of his honorable attributes, but rather because he held the birthright and the blessing in high esteem. His name is changed to Israel, and his 12 sons change from a family, into 12 tribes of believers. As his sons prepare for his death, Jacob blesses each one but makes special mention that the promised one that they are waiting for, the Messiah, the man that will crush the head of Satan, will come from the tribe of Judah. We then move to Moses the lawgiver and the covenant of the people of God as they meet with God at Mount Sinai. All that God asks them to do, they promise to do. The establishment of the tabernacle, sacrifices, and offerings, are all pictures and shadows of a coming redeemer. The picking of Gideon and the Judges who govern this family as they become a nation under King Saul and eventually King David. Throughout the lessons, we have learned that God’s callings are not based on what appears on the outside but rather, on what an individual is that only God can see. God continually picks people with a willingness (though often reluctantly) to obey and bend their hearts to Him. Indeed God uses whomever He chooses in whatever way He wants. Today’s lesson is the start of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. We will see today that God continues to pick and use each of us, according to His plans and purpose.
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
To understand the letter to the Ephesians, we must go back and start in Acts chapter 19. In one of Paul’s missionary journeys, he comes to Ephesus and spends about three years teaching the gospel of Christ and ministering to a growing body of believers. Ephesus is a town of great diversity and is well known for the worship of Diana, whose temple there was one of the great wonders of the ancient world. The Ephesian economy was disrupted, and their culture and reputation were threatened by the gospel of Jesus that was being preached there by Paul. Many were being converted. Many Jewish believers were at odds with new gentile believers, but Jesus had confirmed their status in the church through His dealings with Paul and with Peter on the subject. They were Christians by the will of God, just as Paul was a Christian minister by the will of God, not of men.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
The critical theme of Ephesians is that God intended all along for believers from every place, every culture, and every ethnicity to be united into one family of God through the blood of His Son. No Greek or Roman god was ever said to be interested in a relationship with the human beings who worshiped them. Sacrifices were made to keep their false deities who they considered to be volatile and violent and petty from destroying their lives. Wise and cunning Diana was worshipped in Ephesus through sexual abominations committed in the temple that promised to deliver fertility to the participants.
The God of Heaven, however, the God who Paul had met personally, was interested in making a relationship with His children. He extends His love and gives His children access to Him through a personal relationship. Our heavenly big brother Jesus paid the ransom for “whosoever will” and shares all the blessings of Heaven with any human being who believes Him and calls on His name for salvation. I’m sure the message Paul preached was like cold water to men and women dying of thirst. The power of the gospel is the power to reconcile the created with the Creator. It’s the power to redeem and restore all that was lost by sin. Some Jewish believers desired to keep that blessing all to themselves, but God had “predestined” or decided before the world was formed that we would be permitted to become his children through faith, not merit or genealogy.
Our heavenly big brother Jesus paid the ransom for "whosoever will" and shares the blessings of Heaven with any human being who beleives Him and calls on His name for salvation.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
I know that the grace of God is indeed unimaginable riches, because I have needed grace, and I have received it. The fact is, that no sin is beyond its power to forgive. No distance is beyond its power to reach. No pain is beyond its ability to heal, and no consequence is beyond its ability to redeem. God is limitless, and His grace is limitless as well. I’ve been forgiven, not reluctantly, as men forgive, but completely, as only God can. People talk of redemption, of being given a second chance, but the grace of God is able to redeem us as many times as it takes, as long as it is needed, and as fully as is required to make us “accepted” before a perfectly righteous and holy throne of God, just as if we had never sinned at all. The glory of God, that is, the perfection of Christ, has the power and authority to remedy every misery man has created for himself.
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Because Jesus came, at the right time, to the right place, He fulfilled all that the law demanded and paid for the sins of the world. The wisdom of God, the appropriateness of God, the purpose of God, and the mystery of God have been opened up to us through the Word of God. We could never get to God, our sin was too great. God came to us and allowed us to touch Him, hear Him, walk with Him, and observe Him. If you want to know what Heaven will be like, look no further than the nature and power of God’s only begotten Son. Heaven is a place prepared by Jesus, and you can know what He is like. You can read of Him, from first-hand witnesses, but greater yet, you can know Him for yourself by becoming a Christian and having the Holy Spirit of God live inside of you. Heaven will be a place befitting its maker, therefore it will be a place perfectly fitting for God’s children.
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
God proposed that the nation of Israel would live as an example to show the wickedness and depravity of sin, the faithfulness of God, and the unchangeable nature of HIs word. It was His idea to preserve the history of God and man through this selected family and to bring the Messiah from their family line. But God’s purpose has always been and will always be the salvation of all who will come unto Him. The family of Earth is one family. Genesis records our beginnings, and the separation that sin caused. The gospels record the solution, Jesus Christ was crucified, “outside of the camp,” rejected by the “chosen” and accepted by the strangers. He went after the woman at the well. He healed the Centurion’s servant and Jairus’ daughter. Luke, a greek and a gentile, writes one of the four gospels. The book of Acts is a series of recorded accounts about how the gospel of Christ would not be contained in synagogues but was given to the gentile believers who would humble themselves and accept the gift of God.
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
And what is the inheritance that we were pre-selected to receive? Christ and the Father are one, and everything Christ receives, we the body of Christ, have access to also. It may not appear that you and I are royalty, but it is absolutely true. God wills it to be so. We praise God because long before we had the sense to come to Him, He selected us. We can trust in the will of God, it has never been defeated. Our lives praise Him when our lives are lived in faith.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
If I could accidentally destroy my relationship with Christ, in my ignorance I would probably do so. God not only saved me, but He also keeps me. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. It is the promise of God that He can keep me and that I will rest assured that His blood is all I need to be accepted into the family of God. My life, my actions, and my thoughts all changed when I became a Christian, not surprisingly, because I was dead and now I have been made alive. I have not relinquished my free will, but I have found my life in Christ, who is able to see me all the way through, until I am safely in Heaven with Him, hallelujah!
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!