Our community recently wrapped up 41 weeks in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I enjoyed teaching through the letter and hope you were built up from hearing it preached as much as I was built up by preaching it. It was a rich study for me personally. Ephesians has always been one of my favorite books in all the Bible and preaching through it only increased my delight in it. I don’t want us to close the letter and move on to the next series without reflecting a bit on all that we have walked through. Here are eight truths that encouraged, challenged and strengthened me in my study that I hope you will hold on to.
The first three chapters of this epistle are full of doctrine. There is only one imperative (command) from 1:1- 4:24, and it is a command to remember a doctrinal truth. The latter part of the letter is full of commands helping us live out those doctrinal truths. How we live is shaped by how we see and respond to reality. Doctrine and theology help you get clear on ultimate reality so you can live in step with it and flourish as a human being. Give yourself to the study of God’s Word and to theological study. It will renew your mind, form your loves, and transform your life.
CHRIST IS ALL
In the opening of the letter, Paul writes a 12 verse run-on sentence highlighting all that we have in Christ: election, adoption into God’s family, forgiveness of sins, security for our future, the joy-giving gift of the Holy Spirit, and a future inheritance in eternal glory. These are things the human heart aches for, and they are found in Jesus. He is all; and he is above all, surpassing all things in power, honor, glory, power, and worth. Our lives will flourish to the degree we center our lives on Him.
PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
After Paul lists all the benefits that are ours in Jesus (1:3-14), he prays that the Ephesians would have the eyes of their hearts open to see and delight in those truths (1:15-23). There is no real knowing without praying. He prays often for his readers because he knows that until God works in them, they will not know the depths of his love nor the fullness of life they hunger for (3:14-19). In his praying, he models how to pray for themselves and for others. He closes the letter by calling the Church to pray for spiritual strength in standing against the onslaught of Satan, while requesting prayer for personal boldness in sharing the gospel. Our spiritual progress and spiritual power depend heavily upon our prayer life. If you do not cultivate a life of prayer, you will spend your Christian life making very little progress, rarely walking in victory over sin and Satan, and being ineffective in the mission of God.
WE WILL ALWAYS BE INDEBTED TO GRACE
We are saved exclusively by grace, apart from human works, so that God will forever be glorified as a gracious and saving God (2:1-10). We were dead and, by grace, were made alive by him. For all eternity we will be rejoicing recipients of the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness to us (2:7).
JESUS IS BIGGER THAN OUR DIFFERENCES AND UNITES US AS A FAMILY
Jew and Gentile have been made into a new humanity known as the Church (2:11-22). The Church is a diverse family and we should embrace that diversity. Unity is not uniformity. When we embrace our brothers of other races and ethnicities, other socio-economic and political backgrounds because of our union in Christ, we exalt the Gospel as the only power to heal our broken world. We must repent of our tribalism and embrace the other.
BECOMING A CHRISTIAN IS NOT ABOUT A NEW START BUT ABOUT A NEW SELF
We are made alive in Christ and are a new creation in Jesus (2:10). Our old identity is done away with. Now we have a new way to live as a new people (4:22-24), putting off the old patterns that belong to us when we were enslaved to sin and death. We put on new practices and patterns in keeping with who we are now in Jesus. The deepest awareness of ourselves is that we are the beloved children of God who walk in love like we have been loved, and who imitate our Father. Our new identity creates a new ethic.
LIFE IS ABOUT LOVE AND WAR
The most important thing about us is what we love. Grace is promised to those that love Jesus above all (6:24) and, as we love Jesus, we will face great resistance from this world, our own flesh, and the devil with his armies (6:10-20). We must be alert and live aware of the battle that rages in us and around us, trusting and treasuring Jesus and all that he has won for us through his life, death, and resurrection. .
I hope you will continue to read and study this brilliant letter from the Apostle Paul. Even consider committing it to memory like a small group in our church is doing. (Here is a blog on how to memorize Scripture). And, let’s seek to put into practice the beautiful vision of life presented in this letter, for the glory of God, the good of our world, and for our own joy.