Today begins a journey, verse by verse, chapter by chapter through a letter that The Apostle Paul wrote to group of Christ Followers in the city of Ephesus. I’m excited about this journey because I believe The Holy Spirit will use it to transform our lives.
Some may wonder if there’s really anything significant in these opening words of Ephesians. YES!
I believe in the Verbal Inspiration of Scripture. That simply means all the words penned by the original authors came through God’s Spirit, so every word is there for a reason. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Who Is Paul
We are introduced to Paul in the book of Acts, only there he is originally known as SAUL.
· Saul was a Jewish man, of the tribe of Benjamin.
· His father was a Pharisee, (religious leader) he became one also.
· He was a natural born citizen of Rome.
· Studied under Gamaliel, excelling in Jewish Law.
· Student of Greek language and culture.
· Passionate for Yahweh and Judaism.
· Zealous persecutor of Jesus’ followers because he did not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah. Saul considered Him a fraud.
Saul was on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus to persecute followers of Jesus, when he experienced his conversion. - Acts 9
The word Apostle = sent one. In its New Testament context it is used as an official title of the men God chose to be the foundation layers of the church, recipients, teachers and writers of God’s revelation.
Who are the Ephesian
Paul’s 2nd missionary journey with Silas, he visited Ephesus, preaching the gospel and planting a church there. Years later he visited Ephesus again, staying nearly 3 years, strengthening the church and seeing the gospel spread throughout the region.
Paul made 4 missionary in all, but when he wrote this letter he was no longer on the missionary trail. He was a prisoner in Rome.
Though imprisoned, Paul was a shepherd to the Ephesian believers building their faith, informing their Christian doctrine.
3 Christian / Gospel Realities
1. What We Are = Christ followers are SAINTS.
SAINT means to be set-apart unto God.
It describes what God has done for you through Jesus… He reached into the kingdom of Satan, taken hold of a sinner, given them a “born-anew” spirit and deposited them into The Kingdom of God for His own personal use. Colossians 1:13-14
Every person touched by the saving grace of God is a SAINT.
“No man is a believer who is not a saint; and, on the other hand, no man is a saint who is not a believer.” John Calvin
2. Where We are = Saints are In Christ Jesus.
It has to do with our “position” before God.
Think of it like this…
Imagine a torrential down-pour outside. If you are out there, you are drenched. If you are IN HERE, you are dry and warm.
Your position determines your condition.
· In the rain – wet and cold
· In the building – dry and warm
So it is spiritually…
· In the world – lost in sin, without God, without hope
· In Christ – saved from sin, friends with God, hope upon hope 2 Corinthians 5:17
How does one come to be IN Christ?
The Gospel of John chapter 3: Jesus meets with Nicodemus.
Jesus says that salvation, from the human perspective, is a mystery… it requires a New Birth!
The New Birth requires that I believe God’s testimony about my sin and Jesus’ Savior-ship. John 3:16
Can a person “will” themselves to believe? John 6:44
Look back to Saul. He was passionate for Yahweh, but he hated Christ and those who followed Him. Did he “will” himself to love and follow Jesus?
3. Why We Are = by the will of God.
Paul became a follower and an Apostle not by his own “will”, nor the “will” of his mother, nor of his friends… but by The Will of God.
This is the right way to think about everything.
· Why is the cosmos here? – by God’s will.
· Why is the earth like it is, with all of its diverse creatures? by God’s will.
· Why did Jesus come die for sins and rise for eternal life? God willed it to be so.
· Why did Pharisee Saul become the Apostle Paul? by God’s will.
There is a Loving God in Heaven who DESIRES that sinful men and women turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ to receive Grace and Mercy. He demonstrated that perfectly when He reached out to Saul, one who hated Jesus, one who incarcerated and murdered His followers. He didn’t wait for Saul to come to Him, that would have never happened. On the road to Damascus, the risen Lord Jesus confronted Saul and drew him to saving faith.
It all happened by The Will of God
Followers of Jesus have a blessed reality:
· We are SAINTS.
· We are IN Christ Jesus.
· This is true because of The WILL of God.