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Sunday January 25th 2009
To the Church of Ephesus ? Part Three
1). Eph 1:15 ? 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, 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.
a). The first Chapter of the Book of Ephesians closes with this prayer for the
saints there, that they would ever have before them the understanding and the
awesomeness of God?s promises with regards to the age to come. That this would
be an ever present and an ever growing reality as they continue to have the eyes of
their understanding enlightened, resulting in an immovable steadfastness.
b). And it is the age to come and the surety of God?s purpose with respect to
it, manifested through the work of His Son, that has been the subject of the first
c). We had seen the bestowing of blessing - Eph 1:3 ? 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,
d). And how this blessing is related to son-ship - Eph 1:5 having predestined
us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure
of His will,
e). And the central focus contained here is further made clear through the
revelation of the ?mystery of His will? - Eph 1:9 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.
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.
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f).The ?mystery of His will? is further described as ?the word of truth?, ?the
gospel of your salvation? ? things concerning a future salvation, the salvation of
the soul, receiving an inheritance, and the reconciling of rulership with regards to
both realms of the Kingdom in Christ - Col 1:16 For by Him all things were
created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether
thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through
Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased
the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all
things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having
made peace through the blood of His cross.
g). And in order to underscore the veracity of this promise, those who
believe have been sealed with the Holy Spirit - Eph 1:13 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, 14 who is the
guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to
the praise of His glory.
h). And through the work of the Holy Spirit we have the guarantee of all that
is promised - Php 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a
good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
2). And this focus on the coming Kingdom of Christ and what God has made
possible for those who believe in relation to that Kingdom must be seen firstly
against the absolute certainty that the rule of Christ and His co-heirs from the
heavenly realm of the Kingdom in the place of Satan and his fallen angels has been
God?s purpose from before the foundation of the world - Eph 1:4 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,
a). And secondly against the inevitability that there would be those who
would leave their ?first love?, who would turn away from participating in the
fulfillment of God?s purpose.
b). Within this context then we would see the unchangeableness of God?s
purpose and our own vulnerability to our sin nature, despite it.
c). Hence the reason for the often repeated focus on what lies out ahead of
us, something that is to be ever before us, as without it we would certainly begin to
e). Heb 2:1 ? Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we
have heard, lest we drift away.
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f). And it is for this reason that the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to begin his
letter to the Ephesians with the reminder of this.
g). And of course for every believer who is seeking the Kingdom the
contents of this letter, in conjunction with all other scripture, provides the
instruction necessary to make that which is sought a reality. With the ever present
warning of what will happen should we not heed that instruction provided through
the judgment passed on the Church in Revelation Chapters 2 + 3.
3). So then to view Chapter 1 as a whole we would see a setting forth of God?s
plans and purposes for the ages by and for His Son, with respect to redeemed Man,
concluding with a prayer directed towards a specific group of the redeemed with
the realization of God?s purpose in view.
4). This whole thought is then continued in Chapter 2 ? remembering of course that
the chapter breaks are added by the translators, and do not appear in the original
manuscripts ? focusing again on what God has done, only now we are moving to a
more individual, personal level - Eph 2:1 ? And you He made alive, who were dead
in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this
world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in
the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in
the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by
nature children of wrath, just as the others.
a). In these verses Paul draws attention to our original pre-salvation
condition, ?dead in trespasses and sins? and shows clearly the connection between
this condition and the kingdom of Satan. We walked ?according to the course of
this world?, after the pattern for this age ? ?according to the prince of the power of
the air? ? in complete accord with Satan.
b). And in v3 we see our conduct while in this condition defined as, ?the
lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind?. This is life
under the dominion of our sin nature, before we had a redeemed spirit ? resulting
in us being ?children of wrath?. Those who would experience the wrath of God
because of their unsaved condition -Joh 3:18 "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.
c). We also see reference to Satan, ?the prince of the power of the air?, being
the spirit ? the angel ? ?who now works in the sons of disobedience?.
d). We see a contrast then on the one hand between our being dead in
trespasses and sins, and the life He has given us - Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is
death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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e). And on the other hand between the faithful Christian, the possessor of
that life and ?the sons of disobedience?, also possessors of the same life, who,
despite the possession of it, continue, through choice, to walk in their former lusts.
These ?sons of disobedience? would have to be a reference to those who are
eternally saved, as obedience is expected only from those who have been eternally
saved ? Ex 19:4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on
eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 5 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey
My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above
all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests
and a holy nation.'
e). And just as our scripture here in Exodus has its focus on events following
eternal salvation, so does our Ephesians scripture have the same focus ?
Eph 2:4 ? But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with
Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us
sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He
might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ
f). It is the love and mercy of God that reached out to us in our totally
corrupt condition, even while our conduct placed us firmly in our enemy?s camp,
in order that by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ we could be made ?alive
together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)?. And once again we see that
it is the work of Christ that made this possible. The work of Christ on the cross of
Calvary - Col 2:13 ? And you, being dead in your trespasses and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having
forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements
that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way,
having nailed it to the cross.
g). 1Co 5:7b??For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
h). Enormous and incredible though Christ?s sacrifice on the cross for us is,
we can see from the scriptures, that from God?s perspective this was for a purpose
beyond the event itself . Christ?s death and resurrection resulted in us being ?raised
up together? with Christ, that we might ?sit together in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus? and this has a long term objective ? ?7 that in the ages to come He
might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ
i). ?That in the ages to come? ? these ages would be, the coming age, the
Millennial Kingdom and the ages that will come after it.
j). What God has accomplished through the sacrifice of His Son - redeemed
man restored to the position that he was created for and thereby able to exercise the
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rights of the firstborn - will have a resounding effect not only in the Kingdom Age,
but also the endless ages beyond. An incredible and astounding thought.
5). The next 3 verses in Ephesians provide additional commentary on our being
made alive - Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not
of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For
we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
a). If we look at verses 8-9 in conjunction with - Ac 16:31 So they said,
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
b). We find we have a definitive statement with regards to eternal salvation.
c). It is by God?s grace in response to our faith, our believing on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and is completely apart from any action or lifestyle on our part ? ?it is
the gift of God, not of works?. And from God?s perspective, which also needs to be
ours, this is where it must be left.
d). For most Christians though they cannot accept that eternal salvation can
be that simple, hence the reason they set unscriptural criteria that have to be met to
prove that a person is saved.
e). The truth is that we cannot ever tell from what a person does or says
whether they have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ or not ? to do otherwise is just
the feeding of our flesh ? usually with a view to exalting our self at the expense of
the other person.
6). If we then look at v10 we see reference to us walking in ?good works? - 10 For
we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
a). Clearly this can have nothing to do with the means of eternal salvation,
but equally clearly the scripture states that we have been ?created in Christ Jesus
for good works?, so how should we understand this within its context?
b). Simply in the same way that we understood the previous verses, verses 4-
c). Remember that the purpose for eternal salvation lies beyond the event
itself ? the purpose is with regards to the 7th Day. But the 7th Day cannot come into
view for the individual until eternal salvation has been realized.
d). We are saved by grace through faith and ?not of works? in order that
beyond that point of salvation we may walk in the good works ?which God
prepared beforehand that we should walk in them? ? for the purpose of realizing
our inheritance in the 7th Day.
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e). The ?good works? we are to walk in can only be accomplished through
the Spirit, never through the flesh and before our eternal salvation we could not
perform work in the spiritual realm.
f). It is only beyond the point of our eternal salvation that work in the
spiritual realm becomes possible and this is work only accomplished through faith
Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his
son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works,
and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which
says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And
he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works,
and not by faith only.
g). And we will realize that ?good works? in response to faith are not
automatic but a matter of faithful obedience. Although we may now work in the
spiritual realm we also have the potential to continue to work out of our flesh, apart
from faith ? there is a choice that we have to make, and that choice has a
consequence - Ro 8:1 ? There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are
in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
h). Perhaps it becomes clearer for us as to why judgment at the Judgment
Seat is based upon works ? it is a judgment concerning faithful obedience ?
i). Re 2:2 "I know your works,
j). The complete overview of the picture concerning our eternal salvation
and the works, both spiritual and carnal, that follow, with the consequence for each
is found in - 1Co 3:11 ? For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is
laid, which is Jesus Christ.[eternal salvation] 12 Now if anyone builds on this
foundation with gold, silver, precious stones,[good works ? works done in faithful
obedience] wood, hay, straw,[works done apart from faith] 13 each one's work will
become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and
the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he
has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.[no condemnation] 15 If anyone's
work is burned, he will suffer loss;[condemnation] but he himself will be saved, yet
so as through fire.
7). Following this admonition concerning our eternal salvation and its purpose in
Ephesians 2:8-10, v11 begins with the words ?therefore remember? and what
follows provides another comparison between our previous condition before
eternal salvation and our condition following it, providing another facet to our
being dead, then made alive, which we had seen earlier - Eph 2:11 ? Therefore
remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by
what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- 12 that at that time
you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and
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strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the
world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought
near by the blood of Christ.
a). The covenants of promise with regards to both realms of the Kingdom
had been given to the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham and
Isaac through Jacob and his 12 sons and the blessings related to these promises
could only come to the Gentile nations through those descendants. Because of
Israel?s unfaithfulness these blessings could not be bestowed upon the Gentile
nations. God is also the God of Israel, not the Gentiles, and apart from Israel there
could be no access to Him ? and Israel was and is in disobedience.
b). We can begin to see the truly deplorable and literally hopeless situation
the uncircumcised, the Gentile nations found themselves in ? and before the point
of our eternal salvation we would share completely in this same situation. ? we
were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of
promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
c). It is only through the sacrifice of Christ, the suffering and physical death
and resurrection of God in the person of His Son that we now have access to that
which is still the province of the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.
Christ is one of these descendants and through our positional standing in Him
alone we have this access - Ga 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are
Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
d). We were once ?far off?, but have now been ?brought near by the blood of
8). There was then a ?middle wall of separation? that separated the Jew, with a God
and with covenants of promise, and the Gentile, without either, that from man?s
perspective could never be removed ? but through the sovereign intervention of
God, through the death and shed blood of His Son that separating wall has been
removed - Eph 2:14 ? For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and
has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh
the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to
create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He
might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to
death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off
and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one
Spirit to the Father.
a). Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should
dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on
earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet
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now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you
holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-- 23 if indeed you continue in
the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the
gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of
which I, Paul, became a minister.
b). And here we see that Christ abolished ?in His flesh the enmity?, thereby
through the exercise of faith making ?one new man? from both Jew and Gentile
who would believe ? those who were separated now coming together in ?one body?
? the body of Christ - Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is
neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in
c). Therefore as a result of Christ?s finished work - Eph 2:19 Now, therefore,
you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and
members of the household of God,
d). This is now such a very long way from being strangers and foreigners.
The extent of this transition is incredible ? we have been granted the privilege of
citizenship - Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly
wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
e). And we are now members of the household of God ? in one sense as
family members - Heb 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house
we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
f). Ro 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are
children of God, 17 ? and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with
Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
g). Although our eternal salvation automatically places us as family
members within God?s house, our positioning within His house as a joint heir with
Christ is conditional as we see in our scriptures.
h). And this would bring us to the other sense in which we are members of
the household of God ? our placing as household servants with a view to a reward
for faithfulness - Mt 25:14 ? "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to
a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
??.21 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were
faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the
joy of your lord.'
i). And of course a just recompense of reward for those household servants
who are unfaithful - Mt 25:28 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to
him who has ten talents. 29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he
will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be
taken away. 30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
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9). As our scripture in Ephesians then continues we see that our citizenship and
placement within God?s household, in perfect keeping with what we have just read,
is dependent upon certain action - Eph 2:20 having been built on the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in
the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God
in the Spirit.
a). ?The foundation of the apostles and prophets?, that upon which building
can take place would foundationally be the gospel of grace, then followed by the
gospel of the glories of Christ, just as we see in - 1Co 15:1 ? Moreover, brethren, I
declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in
which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I
preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all
that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day
according to the Scriptures,
b). Heb 1:1 ? God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time
past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,
whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
c). Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at
the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who
d). Ac 2:42 ? And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
e). And in the construction of this ?building? we see, ?Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief cornerstone? ? He is the only foundation that can be laid with
regards to His sacrifice and eternal issues.
f). But also He is the chief cornerstone with regards to individuals and their
issues of faithfulness and unfaithfulness with the Kingdom Age in view ?
1Pe 2:6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A
chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be
put to shame." 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who
are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief
cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble,
being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
g). And we ?also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the
Spirit.? - 1Pe 2:4 ? Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but
chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a
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spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to
God through Jesus Christ.
h). This dwelling place is built with us ?as living stones? through the process
of faithful obedience ? a subject developed from another perspective in ?
Eph 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is
the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what
every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its
share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
i). This we will look at more closely when we get to this Chapter, but suffice
it to say that the growth occurs, ?by which every part does its share?.
j). We each have an individual responsibility here to be shaped and molded
so that we may more readily be built into that ?spiritual house?.
k). This is a process of faithful obedience, should we choose to be
disobedient however, the One who should be our cornerstone will become a stone
of stumbling and a rock of offense?.
l). Mt 21:44 "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on
whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
10). So as we draw to a close in Ephesians Chapter 2 we can see that the focus of
the Book remains the same, ?the dispensation of the fullness of the times?, but we
have moved in this chapter from the purpose of God writ large in Chapter 1 to
what God has done and made possible for us on an individual level.
a). As we would view both these chapters side by side it is difficult not to
feel compelled to rejoice at the awesomeness and goodness of God.
b). It causes the pulse to race and our face to be set like flint towards the
accomplishment of His purpose in us, and to ponder like David - Ps 8:3 ? When I
consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which
You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man
that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And
You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have made him to have
dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7
All sheep and oxen-Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, And the fish
of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, How
excellent is Your name in all the earth!