Lesson 2: Ephesians Study.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace, that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect with the times have reached their fulfillment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
I have linked these verses together so we can see our redemption not only provides forgiveness of sins but also provides us with wisdom and understanding of the things of God. Notice our forgiveness is in accordance with the riches of Gods grace. Did you know our sins can never exceed Gods grace and forgiveness? Paul said where sin abounded- grace abounded all the more.( Romans 5:20) But the wisdom and understanding or insight are additional benefits that come with redemption. I am telling you our God has thought of everything and provided us with everything.
We live in a time when knowledge and information has never been so plentiful. In fact there is so much information, that what has become scarce is attention. True wisdom is also scarce. We gain wisdom through a process described in detail in Proverbs. If you desire to have wisdom, it begins with the fear( reverence and awe) of the Lord and then follow the directions clearly outlined in Proverbs 2. We accept His words. (no wonder the enemy has always attacked the Word of God.) The Holy Spirit is now our teacher. We store His words up through active listening. (Psalms 119) We apply them.( Doers of the word not hearers only- James) And we continue to call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and search for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. ( Proverbs 2)
Lets review what has happened to us at salvation: adopted as Gods children; redeemed though Christs blood, the forgiveness of our sins and we have been given wisdom and understanding or insight. We have this understanding and insight because we are now indwelt by the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things freely given to us by God. ( I cor. 2) Why has God done these wonderful things? Why has He blessed us with every spiritual blessing? For one reason- that He might gather us together to Himself like a mother hen her chicks. This is the mystery, previously not revealed, that He revealed 2000 years ago. God in the future in the fullness of time, will gather all things together all things in heaven and on earth in unity in Christ.
The world is not in unity now is it? The animal kingdom is not nor is nature, our environment. In Romans 8 we are told that nature groans waiting for His return. Nature understands in a way we do not that there is a creator. The fish who brought the Lord a coin understood as well as those he directed to swim into the nets of the fishermen. The winds and the sea obey His commands. And in Isaiah we are told in the future millennium the wolf will lie down with the lamb and the lion will eat straw. The child will play with the asp. And of course mankind is not in unity are they? This gathering together will be at the end of this age and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and paradise lost in Adam will be restored under King Jesus. And we, the redeemed will rule and reign with Him as a royal priesthood. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He shall rule physically and visibly and He shall rule in perfect justice with a rod of iron for a period of 1000 years while satan, the enemy is imprisoned during the 1000 years.
We are dealing with the work of God the Son on behalf of the church, the body of believers. His work is three fold:
- He has redeemed us with His blood providing the forgiveness of our sins and right standing with the Father.
- He has revealed the mystery of His will to us by giving us His Spirit who reveals truth to us and provides us with wisdom and understanding. The mystery is Gods purpose in gathering all things together in Christ. Christ is always central in Gods plans.
- He rewards us with an inheritance.
Predestine means to settle beforehand. This word is only used with the saved. God never predestined anyone to be lost. He predestined the saved to receive an inheritance. Do you have a last will and testament? If you have drawn up this legal document called a will you have predestined, that is settled beforehand, the inheritance you will leave and to whom you will leave it.
Listen to this verse in the KJV: In whom( Christ) we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined ( settled beforehand) according to His purpose ( to gather together in one all things in Christ) of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.
God in His love and grace has willed that we should have a part in Christs inheritance. We will inherit with Christ because we are in Christ. We are joint heirs. God is now in the process of working out everything in conformity of His purpose. In other words, God is building this future world according to His blueprint. And all is going according to plan. The Lord Jesus is currently preparing a place for us in His Fathers House. He will come again in the fullness of time, so that where He is we will be also.
How does one make sure he or she is included in this wonderful plan? Paul writes we are included in Christ when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed (in Christ) you were sealed in Him with a seal, the Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Gods possession- to the praise of His glory. ( Ephesians 1:13,14)
In these verses we see the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirits work is three fold:
- The Holy Spirit regenerates us in combination with the Word.
- The Holy Spirit is a refuge for us. He seals us.
- The Holy Spirit is our guarantee we will be delivered. He has made a deposit of Himself ,which holds us as His pledge.
We heard the truth, the gospel of salvation. We believe and we were saved, sealed and baptized all at once. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. ( Romans 10:17) Hearing means hearing with understanding. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God that abides forever. ( I Peter 1:23) Jesus makes the process of salvation clear in his encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. He asks her for drink- he initiates the conversation. Then Jesus makes a remarkable statement to the Samaritan woman. Jesus said: If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink; you would have asked of him and he would have given you living water. Do you see the process? The gift of God is salvation, eternal life, the never ending well spring and forgiveness of sins are just part of the package of salvation. The gift if salvation. The one who controls the gift is Jesus. You receive it by believing and asking. It is yours for the asking. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.( Romans 10)
Hearing is the key. He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says.
The word and the Holy Spirit must be together. Not one without the other- but the two together. The work of the Holy Spirit is to cause our hearts to burn within us when we hear the Word and the Word verifies it is the Spirit of God.
Notice three things that happen that are normal for a Christian:
- Heard the word of truth. Means we heard with understanding.
- Have believed in Christ.
- Sealed with the Spirit.
What happens to those of us who receive and believe? We are given the authority to become the children of God. And James tells us we receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. ( James 1:21)The Word engrafted in our souls by the Holy Spirit is able to save our souls. The soul of man was placed in man by God for the purpose of having the Word engrafted into it. The soul if often referred to as the heart of man- the mind, the will and the emotions.When the word of God is engrafted into our souls, it not only saves our soul; it also transforms our mind thereby changing our behavior.
How does one engraft the Word of God in his/her soul? Meditation is the process by which we engraft the word into our souls. Meditation is a five step process- the more you do it- the better you will get at it. It starts with hearing the Word, then reading, studying (study to show thyself approved), memorizing and meditating. Meditation has been compared to ruminating, chewing on a cud. A sheep for example has four stomachs, the sheep takes in large amounts of grass as it grazes, then the shepherd makes the sheep to lie down in the green pastures and leads it beside still waters. These instructions are for us in order to meditate, we must take in the word, feed upon it. We must be still and chew on what we have taken in- mull it over, think about it, apply it, ruminate on it. Psalms 1- says the one who meditates in the word of God day and night will bring forth his fruit in season. Joshua was told by the God- this book of the law shall not depart out of they mouth; but thou shall meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written there in; then shall thy way be prosperous and you shall have good success. ( Joshua 1:8)
The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining.
It is life giving- the Word of God proclaims we are born again by the incorruptible seed, the Word of God.
The Word of God is life changing. When you believe something and accept it as true- you will then act accordingly. If your behavior is not changed by what you believe, one must question if their faith is genuine. James said faith without works- that is faith without changed behavior, is dead.
The Word of God is life sustaining. It is our spiritual bread that feeds our spiritual nature. Without a regular diet of Gods Word we become spiritually malnourished. Our Shepherd makes us to lie down in green pastures- a picture of us feeding on His word and what does Psalms 23 tell us it is able to do? Restore our souls.
Verse 14 goes on to tell us: Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
We are sealed. A seal is a sign of ownership. You and I are not our own, we have been bought with a price.( I Cor 6)
A seal preserves. Remember when Jesus was buried, they rolled the stone over the grave and a Roman Seal was placed over the tomb. This was the seal of the Roman Emperor and no one could remove that without the penalty of death. But the deposit of the Holy Spirit within us- is a down payment, an earnest payment it would be called in real estate. It is given as a pledge and token a promise of more to follow.
As believers- we are signed, sealed and delivered.
Now lets look at the beginning of Pauls intercessory prayer and petition for these believers to whom he is writing. A prayer you can pray for yourself and for your loved ones.
*Notice to whom the prayer is addressed: The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. Paul prayed to God the Father, the One to whom the Lord Jesus prayed and depended upon to enlighten his disciples. Remember at His resurrection, Jesus told Mary I am going now to My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God. If the Lord Jesus prayed to His Father to enlighten his disciples- should we not do likewise?
*Next notice what Paul is praying for and the order in which he prays. He has just listed all of these wonderful resources that God has blessed us with as believers. Paul has listed, inventoried these spiritual possessions. They are ours. Now Paul prays to God the Father to give us believers a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. We know the facts- the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us as believers at the moment of salvation. He is called the Spirit of Truth and we are told: But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit;.. ( I Cor 2)
Wisdom, knowledge, understanding all come and are revealed from the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is One Spirit but His ministry is manifold. He is the Spirit of the Lord indwelling us; He is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. ( Isaiah 11:2)
Paul is praying for those believers in Ephesus that God would reveal these truths and resources to the church so they could understand all of this, and only the Spirit of God can reveal those to us. First comes knowledge. Then the Spirit gives us understanding of the knowledge. He is our teacher who guides us in truth. With this revelation of understanding comes wisdom which is the proper use of this knowledge and understanding. We must know and understand our position in the Lord before we are capable of serving Him. It is as simple as knowing what resources we have before we can use them. This wisdom has nothing to do with intellectual knowledge. It is revealed to us by the Spirit of God. And anyone who does not have the Spirit of God cannot understand with their intellect or senses for eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor entered the heart( mind, will and emotions) of man what God has prepared for those who love Him. This is like a radio that only received AM broadcasting and God is broadcasting on FM. If you do not have an antenna for FM you cannot hear the broadcast. But we have received the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things of God. ( I Cor 2). We are equipped and tuned in. We can hear with understanding the truth of the Word of God.
If you are a born again believer, you are indwelt by the Spirit of God. You have the ability to hear Gods broadcast. You can hear this list of blessings and know you possess them. But there is one other necessary ingredient to ignite this so that our hearts will burn within us. Remember this is what happened and was the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus when the resurrected Lord opened the word of God to them. This is what our Great God who has done everything for us, given us everything at great cost to Him deserves- He deserves a fiery love.
A fiery love, a burning heart requires emotions properly motivated to go with the knowledge and cause our wills to act. To do this requires the eyes of our heart to be enlightened. It has to move from our heads ( minds) to our hearts. Our hearts are where mind, will and emotion exist. It is with the heart one believes. When it moves from our heads to our hearts, this is where passion exists. This is where the will is ignited. Emotions when combined with knowledge, understanding and wisdom create a powerful force. Emotions have a significant place in the life of a believer. When the Holy Spirit has given you knowledge, and understanding and wisdom- it is like adrenaline that is secreted that in times of great need provides supernatural strength, i.e., a 110 lb mother lifting a car off her child.
This is why Paul prays for the eyes of the heart to be enlightened it this burning heart of passion that activates our will to serve Almighty God.
Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who faints not. neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases their strength. Even youths shall faint and grow weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be wary, and they shall walk, and not faint. ( Isaiah 40: 28-31) Spiritual adrenaline that gives us strength to equip us to do mighty works.
Paul is saying to us- your hearts should be on fire when you understand the greatness of Gods plan, His power and His person. He, God the Father of Glory, deserves a fiery love.
Next lesson we will explore this three part petition of this powerful prayer.