Win

Paul has taught us about prayer, relationships, the church, etc., but he concludes his letter by telling us how to win over the enemy. This is so important! Many Christians have no idea we are in a spiritual war. They live as if life is a playground, not a battleground. We have to be prepared, and learn how to win!

Win Over His Adversary
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We are fighting a plurality of evil, not the devil singular. You are no match for the devil and his demons. Only by being strong in the Lord (v. 10) can we win. We have the victory as believers.

Verse 11 tells us to stand against the wiles of the devil. He is a master counterfeiter who works to trick and deceive. He wants to destroy God’s people and defame God’s glory. The good news is that Satan is not omnipresent. Satan and the demons are limited by God’s control and power (remember the story of Job). God is sovereign and Satan is subordinate. The devil did everything he could to keep Jesus from dying on the cross and shedding His blood. Why? We are overcomers through the blood of the lamb!

Win With His Armor
Verses 13-17 tell us to put on the armor of God. Taking up the armor is how you become “strong in the Lord.” Paul tells us “to stand.” You can’t escape this fight and you must do your part. You can’t run and hide. There are only two places in the Bible that say a believer can flee: sexual immorality and the love of money. Everywhere else, you must stand.

We are to stand with the belt of truth around us. A belt is for looks today, but to a soldier in that day, it was a tool belt to hold their sword. We have the truth of God’s word and we need it because the devil is a liar and the father of all lies (John 8:44). We are also to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate covers your vital organs. Guard your heart. Do right. Any area of your life that you can’t control or won’t control is open to the influence of the enemy. Paul says to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Shoes help us hold our ground. Cleats for football, tennis shoes for basketball, etc. We stand firm on the gospel. The shield of faith is how we “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (v. 16). A shield protects a soldier from arrows. The enemy shoots fiery darts of deception, discouragement, lies, and temptations, but we respond with faith in God’s word, and in His promises. We are also to put on the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects your head. If you are not sure about your salvation you are going to be tossed to and fro. Satan attacks the mind. Finally, we are to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. God’s word helps kill sin. It heals, giving life. Jesus overcame the temptations of the devil with… “it is written.” Get up early and get in the word! Memorize it and pray it.

Put on Jesus every day and do battle.

The armor is a picture of Jesus. Jesus is the truth, our righteousness and peace, the one in whom we have put our faith, our salvation, and He’s the Word that became flesh! Put on Jesus every day and do battle. King David fell into sin when he was not engaged in the battle. Idle time is the devil’s workshop.

Win Through His Ability
Verse 18 begins with, “praying always….” When you pray you get what God can do! The fervent prayers of righteous people availeth much (James 5:16). Jesus told us to watch and pray lest we fall into temptation. When it is hardest to pray, pray hardest!

Jesus gives us the victory over His adversary, with His armor, through His ability. The best way to get the devil out is to get Jesus in your life!

Relationships

More important than position or possessions, are the relationships we have in life. God is in the business of healing our relationships. The number one relationship in life is your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is going to influence and determine all others. As we continue through Ephesians, we’ll see that Paul offers insight into three particular types of relationships. In each of these, we learn a very important and common necessity, “submission.” Submission is not a popular word; however, Christians are not called to be politically correct, but to be spirit-filled and to submit to one another. “…submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21).

Husband and Wife
If the husband is submitted to the Lord, and the wife is submitted to the Lord, they will have no problem submitting to one another. Ephesians 5:22-33 elaborates on the marriage relationship. Of this passage, only four verses are to wives and 9 verses are to husbands. Husbands have the greater responsibility! They are called to be the head of the wife. Paul’s teaching has nothing to do with superiority/inferiority. Anything with two heads is a freak and anything without a head is dead! More than authority, Paul is talking about responsibility. Husbands, lead your family. Lead by loving your wife, providing for her, putting her before yourself, kids, and work. Be a spiritual leader. Don’t be passive or absent.

Verse 33 says, “…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The home is built on love and respect. He submits by showing her love. She submits by showing him respect. Every man wonders if he has what it takes; every wife can convince her man that he does. Ladies, affirm your man. Be proud of his accomplishments, or at least his attempt to try. Submitting to your husband does not mean dominance. He is not Lord, but you submit because of the Lord, as a way of serving the Lord. A woman needs unconditional love. A man needs unconditional respect. You get what you want by giving what the other one needs.

Parent and Child
In chapter 6, Paul talks about the relationship between a parent and child. Children are told to obey and honor their parents. Obedience has to do with actions and is temporary. Honor is an attitude and is lasting. Parents are told to bring their children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (v. 4). Some parents are too authoritarian and do not exercise love. Others are too permissive and do not exercise discipline. Tammy and I are not perfect! A couple tips we give are the ABC’s. First, have Aauthority over their attitude and actions. Obedience is not optional. Start early. B– set boundaries for their behavior. The best example is livestock in a fence. In fenced land, they have everything they need and room to grow. Set limits, but give freedom within. C– enforce consequences with consistency.

Employer and Employee
In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul shifts to talk about the employer/employee relationship. Twice in this passage he mentions the heart. He is in no way condoning what we in the Western world think of when we say “slavery.” Paul is referring to indentured servanthood, a voluntary contract that didn’t last for a lifetime and that was not based on race. These instructions Paul gives apply to employees and employers. This is what it looks like to be a Christian at work. God is your real boss. You don’t work for “them,” you work for “Him”. Never just do the minimum required. Get rid of a get by attitude. Always do your best.

How are you doing in your relationships at home? How are you doing in your family relationships? How are you doing in your work relationships? If you are struggling in these relationships it may be because the number one relationship in your life is not right. Submit to God today. Ask Jesus to take control of your life, home, family, and work.

Lifestyle

It’s good to be back! I appreciate Dalton preaching for me and doing the blog post while I was away last week. This week, we will continue our study in Ephesians 5, looking at three ways we can honor the Lord through our lifestyle.

Walk Up
Three times in chapter 5 Paul uses the word “walk.” He starts off saying, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us …” (v. 1-2). There is nothing like seeing a child take their first steps. Remember when you saw your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew learning to walk? In the same way, God wants to see His children learning to walk spiritually. Walk refers to lifestyle. What we think, what we say, what we do, should all be characterized by love. God is love. God’s love for us is sacrificial. His love is giving and it’s also forgiving. Jesus said to love one another, but He also said to love our enemies. Loving your enemies can only come from loving God. This is an upward walk. The road to the next level is always uphill. Anyone can go down. It is hard to walk up, but that is where we grow stronger and healthier!

Wake Up
Ephesians 5:14 says, “Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’” Don’t walk in darkness. Don’t just go with the flow. When you walk in darkness, you go based on feelings. You also run into a wall! Don’t follow your heart and trust your feelings. Follow Jesus and what the Bible says.

Verses 3-13 give insight on how to wake up. We are to rid ourselves of fornication. Fornication means immorality. It’s where we get the word pornography. We are going to talk more about relationships, marriage, and family next week, but the Bible says sex is a sacred union between a husband and wife who have made a covenant to God. We are to put away uncleanness, greed, foolish talking, coarse jesting, and idolatry. Jesus is the Light of the World. Life is all about His majesty and His glory. Unbelievers live in darkness and darkness lives in them. It is a new day! Wake up! Stop sleepwalking.

Wise Up
Verses 15 and 17 warn us to be wise and not unwise. The surrounding verses tell us how. Verse 16 says, “redeeming the time.” A wise person makes the most of their time. Are you a good steward of your time? Do you plan your time/day? Life is short. Once it is gone you cannot get it back. Don’t waste time, or spend time, but invest your time. Verse 17 says, “understand what the will of the Lord is.” Every day we make choices between doing God’s will or our will. Understand the will of God for your life. Verse 18 warns us not to be drunk. It is all a matter of control. A drunk is under the control of a substance. Christians should be under the control of the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled daily (continuous action) with the Holy Spirit. We leak! Verse 19 says we are to speak to one another, “making melody in your heart to the Lord….” How do you talk to one another? Who do you spend time with?

This passage closes in verse 20: “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Chesterton said, “The saddest moment in the life of an atheist is when he realizes he has something for which to be thankful but no one to thank.” It is the will of God that you give thanks. Do you know the Lord? Do you thank Him daily?

Time here on earth is coming to an end. Eternity is when time will be no more. Don’t waste time or kill time, make sure you prepare now for where you will spend eternity forever! The devil’s tactic is delay. Don’t delay in getting right with God!

Growth

This week as we continue in Ephesians, we will talk about growth. Ephesians 4:15 and 16 both reference growth. Are you growing? How do you know? Here are six ways to know that you are growing spiritually.

Your Maturity
Ephesians 4:12 and 13 mention phrases such as, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,” “for the edifying of the body of Christ,” and “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Salvation is not the end; it is the frontend. We are called to make disciples who make disciples. Verse 14 begins, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro.” Children are marked by inconsistency, instability, unreliability. Trends are temporal. Truth is timeless. Are you unstable in your faith, emotions, understanding, commitment? Are you showing signs of maturity or childish behavior?

Your Mind
Verse 17 goes on to say, “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.” You are going to live the way you think. Jesus said, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Verses 22-23 remind us that just like we would take off a garment, there are some things in our minds that we need to put off, and there are other things we need to put on. There are some things we need to stop doing, and other things we need to start doing. Renew your mind spiritually.

Your Mood
Paul tells the Ephesians to “‘be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (v. 26-27). We give place to the devil when there is disunity (v. 1-13), immaturity (v. 12-16), and impurity (v. 17-32). Where there is anger, lying, stealing, bitterness, and unforgiveness, there is a place for the devil. When you get moody or in a funk, that is the enemy and you need to reject it in Jesus’ name. Don’t give the devil ground in your life. Don’t allow anger to go unchecked.

Your Money
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (v. 28). Any form of stealing is unacceptable for the believer. Work is a gift and a blessing. Make sure your money is earned honestly, legally, and ethically. Our motivation for getting should be giving. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. Grow in your giving until generosity becomes your lifestyle.

Your Mouth
Verse 25 tells us to put away lying and to speak the truth. Verse 29 says, “let no corrupt work proceed out of your mouth.” Immediately after that, verse 30 says, “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God….” Your words either heal or hurt. Before speaking, ask yourself these questions: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Sins of the tongue are sins against the Spirit living in the speaker and the Spirit living in the listener. With our words, we sin against the Spirit who lives in us, against the Son who died for us, and against the Father who forgave us. Do you say things that are unacceptable, unkind or unimportant?

Your Model
Verse 32 reminds us that Jesus is the ultimate example for us. If you keep your eyes on people, they will disappoint you and let you down. When Jesus hung on the cross, He did not focus on Judas who betrayed Him or on Peter who denied Him. He forgave them and focused on John and the work to do. Be kind to people even when they are unkind to you, tenderhearted even when they hurt you, forgiving even when they don’t deserve it. Keep your chin up and your knees down! The devil wants to use our problems to tear us down. God wants to use them to build us up. He uses everything for our growth and His glory!

Resurrection

Happy Easter! I pray you had a great Resurrection Sunday. We are in a series studying the letter to the Ephesians. Our key verse for Easter was Ephesians 4:10: “He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” The death and resurrection of Jesus provides us special, spiritual, and specific gifts. What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you today?

Resurrection Prayer
In Ephesians 3:13-14, Paul says, “I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father.” We can learn from Paul! Don’t let troubles get you down. God is working your troubles and trials for your good and His glory. Difficulties are to be expected, but they should drive us to prayer. Even our problems are gifts. They are strengthening us. Paul goes on to pray that the Ephesian Christians would be strengthened in the “inner man” and that Christ would dwell in them. “Dwell” means to settle down and be at home. When your heart is Christ’s home, you have strength, stability and security.

In verses 18-19, Paul prays that they would know the width, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love. Width- enough to reach His arms around the globe. Length- to extend from eternity past to eternity future. Depth- to meet the deepest needs of your heart. Height- reaching to the very throne of God. God’s love, which was ultimately demonstrated on the cross, surpasses knowledge!

Resurrection Power
Paul closes his prayer saying, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (v. 20-21). There is power when the church prays and when the church believes. Whatever your boldest prayer or greatest dream, it is far less than what God is able and prepared to do in your life! God is able to do the impossible. I don’t know what your hurt, need, or impossibility is, but I know a God who rose from the dead who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think in your life, health, finances, relationships, marriage, kids, and work!

Resurrection People
At the beginning of chapter 4, Paul encourages the believers to walk worthy of their calling, bearing with one another in love, and keeping the unity of the Spirit. He then goes on to tell of the gifts that are ours in Christ. “When he ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men… He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (v. 8, 10). This section is the hinge to the whole book of Ephesians. It connects the first three chapters with the last three. Unity is the first sign of maturity. The body, the church, has a variety and diversity of members, but they must work in unity.

Like a king in the Old Testament would give gifts after a victory, King Jesus won the victory over sin, death, and Satan when He rose from the dead. The One who founded the church, loved and gave Himself for her, gave to the church gifted leaders and gifted members. The leaders lead, feed, and protect. Every member has a ministry. God’s plan is for every one of His children to use their gift in His service. When they do, it “causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (v. 16).

When we understand these resurrection gifts, believers are equipped, the ministry is enhanced, the church is edified, new believers are established, the church is effective, the congregation is enlarged, and everyone is encouraged! Easter is a time when everything is alive and growing. Are you spiritually alive? Are you growing?

Cross

This past Friday, we had a special Good Friday service called “The Power and the Passion.” It was the first time we’ve done a service like this and what a special time it was. We took communion and reflected on all that Jesus’ sacrifice means for us. In looking at the end of Ephesians 2, we took time to:

Remember the Separation
In verses 11-12 Paul says, “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh…were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God….” What does that mean? Remember, without Christ you were dead in trespasses and sin. Not just sick, dead! You were in bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil. You were separated from God, with no plan or purpose in life, doomed and damned for all of eternity.

Paul says “without commonwealth.” Israel had the blessing of God, protection, love, the law, priests, promises, direction, and guidance, but Gentiles (unbelievers) did not enjoy this commonwealth. He also says, “without covenants.” A covenant is simply an agreement in which God binds Himself to a promise. God’s promises to Abraham, Moses, and David did not apply apart from Jesus. Without Christ, we were without hope and were separated from God.

Remember the Sacrifice
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (v. 13). The word peace is used three times in verses 14-17. Verse 18 says through Christ we have access to the Father. What the law, ordinances, ceremonies, good deeds, and sacrifices of animals could not bring, Jesus did! He paid the price of His blood so that you and I could have peace and access.

The cross was a cruel and humiliating death for hardened criminals. It was a symbol of suffering and shame. They stripped Him naked and beat Him with a cat of nine tails. The skin on His back was stretched tight. The metal balls would bruise the skin; jagged pieces would rip the tenderized flesh open. They made a crown of thorns and beat it into His brow. They mocked Him and spit in His face. Then, He walked up the way of sorrows carrying His cross. The cross was so heavy and He had lost so much blood that He stumbled under the load. They drove nails in His hands and feet. His outstretched body was literally bridging the gap between heaven and earth. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:4-5). He is the Way. The cross is the only way to cross over to the other side.

Remember the Salvation
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (v. 19,22). In Christ, we are citizens of God’s kingdom, with all the privileges, protection, and blessings that brings. We are united in God’s family. We are members of His body, the church, and are living stones in His temple. The very presence of God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and we have purpose and hope!

On Friday, we came to the Lord’s table to remember what Jesus did. We took time for self-examination and to ask questions like, Have I thought things I should not have thought? Have I said things I should not have said? Have I done things I should not have done? Have I not done things I should be doing? In light of all that Jesus has done for us, these are questions we should ask daily. Remember the separation. Remember the sacrifice. Remember the salvation. He is worthy of our all!

Church

After explaining the gospel, Paul explains the church, the community of people that the gospel brings together. We’ll come back to the end of chapter 2 later; today, we will look at Ephesians 3.

The Mystery
Paul begins chapter 3 saying that God has given Him grace and has revealed the mystery to him, “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men…” (v. 5). Paul did not get it through reason, but through revelation by the Holy Spirit. Old Testament saints had no clue about the church, all the saved in one family. They could not see the complete picture from their limited perspective.

We have no clue all that God has planned for our lives. The handful of people who met over 100 years ago to start Liberty could not see campuses at Big Bethel Road, Harbour View, Greenbrier, York River, and LibertyLive.Online. It was all a “mystery” that has been made known in our day. Likewise, we cannot begin to fathom what God is going to do in the next 100 years if He tarries His coming.

The Members
God’s comprehensive plan was to bring all people groups together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head, the church is the body, and we are members of that body. Look at verse 6: “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” Both Jews and Gentiles would be members of God’s family. Not just Jew and Gentile live in peace, but Gentiles be adopted into the same family, sharing the same promises of the covenant and the same inheritance.

The Church is a place for racial unity and ethnic diversity. Trusting in Jesus does not remove our cultural distinctions, it just shows us that we are not ultimately defined by our cultures, but by who we are in Christ. A group of people all sharing one culture, getting together over what they have in common, is not miraculous. When you have a group of people who have little to nothing in common except love for Jesus, that points to the power of the cross and the resurrection. Racial division is not a skin problem, but a SIN problem! The God who unites us is greater than anything that divides us!

The Ministers
Paul goes on to say, “…I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (v. 7). Every member is a minister. Every one of you has a gift. The God who called Paul to the ministry also gifted Paul to carry out the ministry. Whatever God calls us to do, He will gift and equip us to do. It is not that we are more talented, it is God’s grace. When we all work together it is powerful. When you get out of church and away from God you are disconnected from God’s power. If you sit on the sidelines you will never experience all that God has for you.

The Message
In the final verses of this passage, Paul says that grace was given to him so that he might preach Christ. He says the intent is that God might be made known by the church, and that Jesus provides the boldness, access, and confidence to do so (v. 8-12). Paul was moved to true humility that God would use him to spread this message. He was a persecutor of the church who became a preacher of the church. He knew his past, the shame, the guilt. He was unworthy. You can preach the “unsearchable riches in Christ” if you have experienced it. God’s purpose is that you have boldness, you have direct access to Him and His power, and that you have personal confidence to not lose heart. Have you experienced His riches? Are you sharing the good news that Jesus died for ALL people and that those who are in Christ are all members of the same family?

Gospel

If you only had one book, you would want Ephesians. If you only had one passage, it would be Ephesians 2:8-10. You have heard people say, “What I am saying is the gospel truth!” Ephesians 2 is the gospel truth. It is a summary of salvation.

Humanity’s Condition
Paul begins this chapter explaining that our spiritual battle is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. He says we are “by nature children of wrath,” and without Christ, we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” We all have sinned. That includes the best person you know and the worst person you know. You may think you are better than other people, or not as bad as some, but we are all dead spiritually. Dead is dead.

The world thinks that deep down, we’re not really that bad. We’re basically good people who make mistakes and are just weak. The gospel truth is deep down we are all worse than we know. Jeremiah said the heart is so wicked no man can know it. Sin is more than an action; it is a condition. We’re not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. You cannot appreciate the good news without facing the bad news.

God’s Intervention
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….” You may have heard salvation described something like this: “I was drowning in a sea of sin and Jesus came by in a boat, threw out a lifeline, and saved me.” That sounds good, but it’s just not the gospel. The gospel is that I wasn’t just drowning in a sea of my sin, I was dead, floating face down. Jesus walked on the water, came to me when I could not come to Him, picked me up in His nail scared hands, carried my lifeless dead body back to the shore, and breathed eternal life into my soul! That is the Gospel.

Paul goes on to say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Grace means it was undeserved. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! If grace is no longer amazing to you it is because you have forgotten where you came from. Have you forgotten the sinful life from which you were saved?

I like the biblical term saved. We don’t need better self-esteem, self-image, self-improvement, self-confidence, self-determination, or self-righteousness; we need to be reached, rescued, redeemed, reconciled, and resurrected. We need to be saved! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Faith is more than mental assent or theological agreement. It is more than determination or feelings. Faith is trust that results in transformation. Why would a fearful child jump into the water? Because they trust their dad will catch them. Jesus proved His love for us. He is trustworthy! All world religions are based on human achievement: DO. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” Christianity is based on divine accomplishment: DONE. Jesus paid our debt in full on the cross. We are saved by Jesus’ works and not our own.

Life’s Mission
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” You are God’s masterpiece! You are not saved by good works, but saved to do good works. Faith is the root, works are the fruit. What makes you think you are going to heaven? You prayed a prayer, joined the church or were baptized? Many claim to be a Christian but have no proof to prove it, no signs of salvation. Stop being afraid and confused. Get it settled. I don’t care if you are a Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Hindu, or Muslim, there is salvation in no other name but Jesus!

Prayer

Last week, we began a new study on the book of Ephesians. In just the first few verses, we saw that God the Father planned our salvation, God the Son provided our salvation, and that God the Holy Spirit protects our salvation. After reflecting on God’s purpose for us, Paul then prays for the Christians in Ephesus. “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:15-16). These verses are given to us as a model on how to pray for our spouse, kids, neighbors, nation, and those we are inviting.

The Spirit of His Wisdom
The first thing Paul prays is that God would give them “the spirt of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (1:17). “Wisdom” means intelligence in diverse matters and “revelation” means instruction. Paul is laying some heavy stuff on us spiritually and we cannot understand the mysteries of God apart from God. “Knowledge” in this case isn’t just knowing facts, it’s knowing experientially. Some people are always learning but never come to a knowledge of the truth. More than information, we need transformation! You can know about God and not know God. The classic example is Judas. He lived and worked with Jesus for three years. Many Americans have heard the Gospel and were brought up in church. Maybe you know the God of the Bible in your head, but you do not know Him in your heart. God wants us to know Him, have a relationship with Him, put our faith in Him, and love Him.

The Sight of His Understanding
In verse 18, Paul prays that their eyes would be enlightened to the hope of His calling. Having your eyes opened is understanding you have hope. Hope in the Bible is not like we use the word in English. It is not, “I hope Kentucky or North Carolina makes it to the Final Four.” In the Bible, hope means certainty. I am confident of the hope of heaven. Why is it some people go through hard times and fall apart, and others go through similar situations and come out stronger? The difference is hope. We can be hopeful about the past, present, and future because of Jesus! Pray that your neighbors would know Him, that their eyes would be opened, and that they would find hope in Him.

The Strength of His Power
In verses 19 and 20, Paul prays that they would know Jesus’ resurrection power. The resurrection sets Jesus apart from all other religions. Paul did not pray for more power. How could there be more power than has already been given? He prayed that they would know the power they already have in Jesus. In creation, God created something from nothing. In the resurrection, God brings the dead to life! If your life seems like nothing, God can turn it into something! Where sinful choices have brought death and destruction, God can bring life and restoration. God brings strength from weakness. The cross appeared to be only suffering and weakness for Jesus, but three days later He said, “Look at me now!” Life may look like suffering and weakness today, but because of Jesus, we soon will say, “Look at me now!”

The Sovereignty of His Christ
Finally, Paul acknowledges the sovereignty of Christ as he prays. God the Father “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And He put all things under His feet…” (1:20-22). Even when things seem out of control, they are under His control. When waves are over your head, they are under His feet! In the end, Jesus wins! If we love and trust Him, in the end we win! Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” You do not “make” Jesus Lord. He is Lord! Salvation is when you submit and surrender to His Lordship. No sinner is beyond redemption. No saint is beyond restoration. How do you need to pray for yourself and for those around you today?

Purpose

I’m excited to begin a new series on the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is often regarded as the most profound book Paul ever penned. Chapters 1-3 are very doctrinal; Paul explains the message of the church – the Gospel. In chapters 4-6 he deals with life – marriage, relationships, conflict management, forgiveness, etc. These chapters are very practical. What you believe determines how you behave.

The Father Planned It
Don’t let biblical words like elect, chosen, or predestination intimidate or scare you. There are many things we don’t understand and can’t explain in life. Looking at Ephesians 1:3-6, we know that the Father’s role in our salvation was one of divine election. We are born with a sin nature. No one has to teach us to do wrong. In our sin, we have no desire to come to God unless God puts it there.

What does it mean that God chose us? We are not a burden to Him! You may feel like you never get picked for anything, but the God who chose Abraham, Israel, and the Apostles, has chosen you! God chose to bless us (v. 3) in Christ before creation (v. 4). Salvation was no afterthought and it was more than foreknowledge. There has never been a time that God did not know you and love you. He chose you not because of what you could do for God, but because of what He could do for you. From God the Father’s viewpoint, I was saved before the creation of the world.

The Son Provided It
From God the Son’s viewpoint, I was saved when He died for me on the cross. Look at verses 7-12. Verse 7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins….” Jesus provided our redemption. There are six Greek words for redemption meaning to buy from the marketplace, to repay and cancel a debt, to set free from slavery, to reconcile two individuals, to adopt as a child, and to justify. Jesus did all of that for us. He purchased us, cancelled our debt, freed us from sin, reconciled us to God who adopted us, and He enables us to stand justified before the Father. He also cast our sin as far as the east is from the west and holds it against us no more!

Verse 9 refers to all of this as a mystery. Some things we do not fully understand on earth, but this we know, He did it because He wanted to. Jesus said, “No man takes my life from me. I willingly lay it down.” God the Father planned our salvation. God the Son provided it. There is no salvation apart from Jesus and the Gospel. It is heresy to think you can be “elect” and not know it. All who will be saved come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Spirit Protects It
God the Holy Spirit protects our salvation. Look at verses 13-14. From the Holy Spirit’s viewpoint, you were saved when you heard the gospel and believed. People may break their promises, but God always keeps His word. The Holy Spirit protects our salvation with a seal. In Scripture, a seal means security, authenticity, and authority. We also read in verse 14 that the Holy Spirit is a “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” When you trust Jesus, you get the down payment of an inheritance with the promise of payment in full. There is an inheritance reserved in heaven for you. Jesus has put part of Himself in us, through the Holy Spirit, with the promise to make us complete like Him one day.

Everyone is in one of two groups: in Adam or in Jesus. In Adam means you are still in your sins. All you had to do to get in that group is be born. The only way to get out is to be born again, to be in Jesus. God the Father planned it before time began by choosing you. God the Son provided it on the cross by dying for you. God the Holy Spirit protects it for all of eternity and makes it real to you today if you will hear and believe.