ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Themes of Ephesians: Chapter Three | Main | Themes of Ephesians »

Themes of Ephesians: Chapter One

The Greeting.

Ephesians 1:1-3 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus , and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

The letter to the Ephesians also seems to be directed toward the church at large who are called “the faithful.”

The Blessing

Paul emphasized God’s blessing upon the Gentiles. The significance of this comes from the Jewish claim of God’s exclusive blessing upon them.

Rom 3:24-31 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

The same blessing of God that was upon the Jews extends to the Gentiles as well.

A best-selling book was recently titled “The Prayer of Jabez.” It was based on 1 Chronicles 4:10. “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

We are spiritual Jews. Through faith, we become the children of Abraham. If we are the children of Abraham, we have a connection all the way back to the blessing that God gave to him in Genesis 12.

Galatians 3:8-9 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Galatians 3:12-14 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Hebrews 6:13-15 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

The Predestination of the Church

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Individuals are not predestinated. This is a Calvinistic belief that God chooses who will go to heaven and who will go to hell and each person cannot change his own destiny.

The Westminster Confession of Faith: 1643

God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Calvinist doctrine of predestination holds that every member of the human race is not qualified for salvation nor were they even created to be saved. Calvinists believe that God has already chosen or pre-determined who will be saved. Anyone who wants to be saved, but isn’t predestined to have saving faith cannot become a part of the church. This doctrine flies in the face of scripture and it undermines the missionary impetus of the church.

“That work is absolutely divine. Man has no part in it, and cannot possibly co-operate with God in his own salvation. In no sense of the word, and at no stage of the work, does salvation depend upon the will or work of man, or wait for the determination of his will. In fact, the sinner is of himself neither capable nor willing to receive that salvation. On the contrary, all he can do and will is to oppose, to resist his own salvation with all the determination of his sinful heart. But God ordained, and prepared this salvation with absolute sovereign freedom for His own, His chosen ones alone, and upon them He bestows it, not because they seek and desire it, but in spite of the fact that they never will it, and because He is stronger than man, and overcomes the hardest heart and the most stubborn will of the sinner.” Calvinist Doctrine

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

It’s all about Him

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

We have redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and prudence as the revealed will of God.

Everything God has done for us is for his pleasure and according to his purpose.

Some may think that God is selfish, egotistical and arrogant. The fact is that he is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and eternal. He is infinitely good ; therefore his ego is based upon absolute truth.

  • Zeno, Democritus, Socrates and other ancient Greek philosophers concerned themselves with the nature of man and matter, and searched for the elusive quality of good. The philosophical systems of Plato and Aristotle were based on idealism and logic
  • Until the Renaissance Period, most theories about ethical behavior were based upon a belief in God. But by the mid-1400’s, the influence of the church had already begun to decline with the rise of universities and statism. Secular philosophies such as humanism, scientific inquiry and political/social interpretations gradually gained prominence. These ideas denied the intervention of God in the activities of man on the basis that God could not be quantified in rational, observable experiments. Thinking about ethics, therefore, took a new direction.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli, in his book, The Prince, developed the notion that the end justifies the means.
  • Sir Thomas More wrote about Utopia, a fantasy island, in which communism, uniformity of the sexes and peace were practiced. Anything that undermined these ideals was considered unlawful.
  • Ren é Descartes, a French philosopher, broke new ground in rationalism of ethical behavior. He believed that a person should stand by the convictions he has formed within himself and adapt to his environment. He meant that one should judge his behavior on the terms of his own rational thought about himself and his personal convictions, not from any ideas imposed upon him from the outside. Even though Descartes was a devout Catholic, his writings illustrated a definite departure from Christian thought. This deviation continued in others.
  • John Stewart Mill promoted a concept first espoused by Jeremy Bentham, called utilitarianism. In his own words, Mill believed that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” In other words, actions are not intrinsically right or wrong; they may only be so judged after one examines their end result. Further, Mill said that actions must be based upon what will do the most good for the most people.
  • Given the evacuation of faith from these later developments, it should not be surprising to detect nascent post-modern views.
  • Jean de Lamarck, Charles Darwin, and Herbert Spencer contradicted, or at least questioned, the generally accepted belief that man’s origin was a Creator God.
  • Philosophically, this paved the way for Friedrich Nietzsche to openly reject a system of ethics based upon God. According to Nietzsche, the Judeo-Christian system of moral ideals should be replaced by returning to nature’s values. He believed, as Darwin postulated in his survival of the fittest, that “might makes right”.
  • Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term agnosticism, claiming that genuine knowledge consists only of facts verifiable by the natural sciences. Of ethical matters, Huxley said we have no right to assert the truth or falsity of any assertion without sufficient relevant evidence and certainly should not require others to accept our unsubstantiated beliefs.
  • Today, many theorists have attracted widespread followings, and since we encounter their views throughout our cultural experience, we would do well to know about them.
  • Søren Kierkegaard’s name is associated with existentialism, a belief that individual existence, freedom and choice are of the highest significance in the human context.
  • Paul Tillich, also an existentialist, believed that people should have the courage to be themselves.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, an atheist and playwright and a leading exponent of existentialism, believed in the notion of individual responsibility independently of religion.
  • John Dewey constructed another philosophical school of thought called instrumentalism in which he believed that philosophy was dynamic and always adapting itself to its environment. This is especially relevant because John Dewey, often called the Father of Progressive Education, has had a profound effect upon education in America. In terms of ethics, all of these ideas form the underpinnings of today’s evaluation of right and wrong. Whenever we express shock and disbelief at the lack of Biblical or even traditional ethics in our world, we can search the writings of these philosophers and their contemporaries and discover the reason. This brief synopsis omits much of the historical record, but it serves to show that the trends in ethical standards presently derives, for the most part, from whatever an individual believes, with no interference from God, the Bible or other people.
  • All of these modern philosophies begin and end in man. This makes them flawed from the outset. True philosophy must begin and end in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit seals the truth within us.

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The Holy Ghost should be seen as God’s down payment on his church. It ensures us that he will come back and redeem us totally to him.

The awesome plans God has for the church.

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not 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 unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

The two contexts into which we must place these plans give them special meaning.

1. The boastfulness of the Jews about their superiority.
2. The elaborate mythology of the pagan religion.

In other words, faith in Christ is not only equal to but far greater than anything that religion or paganism can promise you.

It is never a step down to become an Apostolic believer! When you let go of what you have to receive what Christ gives you, you always get the best of the deal.

The unequaled preeminence of Christ and the importance of the church.

20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own 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 world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Principality: The Roman government .
Power: The Roman authority .
Might: The Roman military .
Dominion: The Jewish and pagan religions .
Name: Personalities and influential people .

The connection to all of these attributes of God may be found in the church. This is a very significant teaching. The Ephesians had always looked to government, worldly authority, the military, Jewish or pagan religion or powerful people for security, meaning and hope. These were vaunted and fearful entities that formed the very basis for Ephesian culture. In comparison, the church looked weak and insignificant. They had to know that perception was not reality.

The church surpasses every claim of authority, power and historical right that all other religions and powers can make.

The practical importance of the church:

A systematic, well-rounded study of the Bible . “Church-hoppers” may hear part of a Bible study on Genesis one week, and in another church the next week they may hear a partial study of Revelation.

A personal pastor . Deeper relationships need time to develop. Many counselors and therapists take several months to establish a bond with their counselees before they can really help them. A long-term pastor is a tremendous asset to an individual if only because of the time they have known each other. Also, real help requires that the pastor feel a responsibility toward a saint. If that person will be gone to another assembly in four or five weeks, the pastor’s efforts are stifled.

Sincere Christian friends who share common experiences. An English poet once said, “No man is an island.” People desire and need friendship. Fellowship is the larger framework of this principle, but more specific relationships between individual persons are also good and necessary. Everyone needs a “buddy” with whom he can eat, shop, or just talk and share mutual feelings. In a single church in which common experiences are shared, two friends can become knit together for a lifetime of mutual edification and enjoyment.

Cultivation of a sense of belonging . It is extremely important for a person to feel a part of something worthwhile. This establishes his self-esteem, acceptance, and happiness. Much of what a person does throughout his entire life is done to feel needed and appreciated. Church work is highly rewarding in this area. It is also important to be a part of something larger than oneself. A certain “esprit de corps” should emerge from the heart and cause a person to feel good when he says, “There is my church!”

Opportunity to work for the Lord. No other place abounds with as many chances to work for God as the local church. Teaching, singing, and working with church groups such as Ladies Auxiliary, Boy Scouts, youth groups, and even recreational programs all have a place in church work. All the direction, tools and means to carry out spiritual callings and ambitions are available in the church. It is difficult for those who are lax in church attendance to say they are working for God.

A place to prove reliability and trustworthiness. Circumstances of life expose both weaknesses and strengths in a person’s disposition. The church can provide a framework in which the real personality can surface. If a person is not reliable or trustworthy, or has

other character problems, involvement in the church will allow the pastor and other mature saints to become aware of them and help that person to overcome them. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17).

The church prepares people for heaven. The church is both a spiritual and practical entity. If a person has been born again, God has already placed him into His church. As he grows in grace and knowledge of the Word of God, he will see the importance of the visible, practical side of the church as well. God incarnated His Spirit in the humanity of Jesus Christ to accomplish a very real purpose in the world. His Spirit alone could not

have died at Calvary. Similarly, God has placed His Holy Spirit in the body of the church to carry out a very real purpose in the world today. If a Christian is not firmly established in a local assembly, he cannot be all that God truly wants him to be. He should get involved immediately. The most exciting events happening in the world today are happening in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>