May 1, 2016
Chapter 1, Part 1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians is a letter written by Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. During that time, he wrote: Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.
He addresses the letter to the “people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus,” and then goes straight into talking about the character of God.
You would guessed that he’d say something closer to how he addressed the Philippians:
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now
It was most likely an open letter to all the Gentile churches in South-Western Asia Minor. It was “addressed” to the Ephesians because Ephesus was the largest city in the area. Ephesus is in current day Turkey on the coast of the mediterranean sea.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Reading that part might feel a little bit weird… I don’t know about you, but I often don't feel very holy and blameless. But, the way that God see’s you isn’t based on how you feel at all.
8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
That means that if have accepted his gift of salvation, when God looks at you He see’s the sin-covering blood of Jesus! Despite that, so often we lean on how we feel with God… Feelings can be deceiving. We don't always feel like people who are holy and blameless.
If you have accepted God's gift of salvation, you are holy, blameless, and spiritually alive.
If you haven't accepted God's gift of salvation, you are stuck in sin, and spiritually dead.
It doesn’t matter how you FEEL, it matters who you ARE - what is your IDENTITY?
He uses a very interesting word here: “predestined.” We as a church believe in Free Will, not the doctrine that God chooses people who are “elect” to make it into heaven.
People who believe in the doctrine of Predestination:
- Believe God predetermined who would go to heaven (the elect) and who would spend eternity in hell.
- Each person ultimately has no choice in accepting or rejecting salvation through Christ.
(usually called Calvinism or Reformed Theology)
People who believe in the doctrine of Free Will (Living Faith):
- Believe when presented with the facts of God’s plan for salvation that every individual person has a choice to make, to either accept or reject God’s gift of salvation.
- God desires that every person accept His gift.
John Calvin himself was quoted saying,
“All are not created on equal terms, but some are predestined to eternal life, others to eternal damnation…”
I don’t see where Calvinism lines up with the Bible: God isn't pulling the strings for your salvation.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He offers up the free gift of salvation, you can choose it or reject it.
The word “predestined” in Ephesians 5 is not an individual term, it actually focuses collectively on everyone who is in Christ. It’s not based on Him making you do anything, it’s based on His grace:
“his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
One commentary on this passage says it perfectly: “Individuals are not elected and then put in Christ. They are in Christ and therefore elect.”
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Despite your sin, God redeems your life when you choose to accept his gift of salvation.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Deposit - arrabon in Greek
- a first installment or a sure down payment
The Holy Spirit is a first installment, guaranteeing our inheritance. It’s easy to look at this book, or look at life, our jobs, families, and FEEL like we’re not a redeemed people. Feelings are deceiving, we need to focus on identity.
- I won’t rely on my feelings, I’ll choose to live out my identity.
- I will rely on the Holy Spirit in my life this week.
- I will read through Ephesians once this week
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Indianapolis, IN 46222