Sermon #1295 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Paul’s Letter To The Ephesians
Text: Ephesians 1:1-6:24
Subject: The Grace of God in the Book of Ephesians
Date: Sunday Morning and Evening - September 21, 1998
Tape # U-5 and U-6
Reading: Ephesians 3:1-21
I do not need to inform you that Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. I would not exalt one portion of Scripture above another. Yet there are some portions more specifically suited to constant meditation and study than others. For example, I know very few people who have memorized or spent much time studying the first chapter of Numbers, which records the numbering of the children of Israel in their genealogies. Though those genealogies are very important, they are not exactly designed for daily meditation. The first chapter of Ephesians is different. Here we are brought immediately into the counsel chambers of the triune God, caused to thinking about electing love, blood atonement, effectual grace, and preserving mercy, and made to worship before the august throne of our triune, covenant-keeping God, our Father in heaven, our beloved Savior, and our Divine Comforter. I have preached so often from this blessed Epistle that I have not been able to keep track of all the sermons I have preached from it. Today, I want to do something a little different, something I have never done before. Today I want us to take an overview of the entire book. Normally my text is not more than six words, or six verses. Today my text is six chapters. So, obviously, when I say we are going to take an overview of the book, I really do mean an overview. We are going to simply skip along the surface of these deep, deep waters, like one of those birds you see, swooping down here and there for an invigorating dip in the cool water, a refreshing drink, or a tasty morsel of meat. We will just wade along the shore, picking up the most obvious nuggets of gold. Before we wade into these waters, while you pull your shoes and socks off and roll your britches up, let me tell you why Paul’s Letter To The Ephesians is such a delightfully precious to me and why it is such a constant source of meditation.
I love this book because of the Person of whom it speaks. When I open the book of Ephesians, no matter where I am reading, no matter where I sit down, no matter where I walk in this treasure house, I feel as if I am immediately in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. I read it again yesterday, marking the places where the words in Christ”, “in him”, “by Christ”, “through Christ”, “for Christ”, or other words with the same meanings are used. I am sure I missed some, but I counted fifty-five. Fifty-five times the Holy Spirit reminds us that everything we have from God, everything we are by grace, and everything we hope to enjoy in glory is in Christ! In Christ God has given us all that he can give and all that we can enjoy. He has given us himself!
I love to muse upon the things written in these pages because of the people to whom this book was written - THE EPHESIANS. Ephesus was a large, wealthy, metropolitan city of Asia Minor. It was called, “The Light of Asia”. It was a city filled with brilliant, wealthy people. It was the envy of the world in its day. Tradesmen, scholars, philosophers, and orators flocked to Ephesus. They thought it had everything a man could want. But Ephesus was a godless society. Actually, that is not true. They had gods galore. But they were altogether without the knowledge of God. Like the society in which we live, idolatrous, man-centered religion walked hand in hand with superstition, immorality, lasciviousness, and utter decadence. The great temple of Diana at Ephesus, just like the religions of our day, openly promoted every moral perversity imaginable. Yet, from among these hell bent pagans, the Lord God was pleased to raise up a people, objects of his everlasting love, to whom he revealed his gospel, in whom he revealed his Son, and by whom he made known his grace.
What a contrast there is in the very first verse of the epistle between the person who wrote it and the people to whom it was written. It is a contrast which singularly displays the great sovereignty of our God in the exercise of his grace.
1 ¶ Paul, an (not the, but an) apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints (those who are sanctified) which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful (those who have been made faithful) in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1 (AV)
Not many of the wise, the mighty, and the noble are called, but a few are. Most of God’s servants, most of the prophets of the Old Testament, most of the apostles in the New Testament, and most gospel preachers today were nobodies and nothings when God called them, shepherds and fishermen. But Paul was one of the most brilliant and most highly educated men of his day. Like Isaiah in the king’s court, this man was a man whose words were respected and heard. Yet, before God saved him, he Saul of Tarsus would not have allowed himself to even come into contact with these pagan Gentiles at Ephesus, for whom he later risked his life, that he might preach the gospel to them!
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Truly, God is no respecter of persons. He has mercy on whom he will have mercy!
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>God’s servants are just messengers. It matters not whether the messenger has an eloquent, trained and polished, baritone voice, which uses perfect grammar, or has a coarse, gravely voice and obviously does not know the difference between an adverb and an adjective. God’s messengers are not sent to impress, but to instruct, to deliver a message.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Paul considered himself nothing but God’s messenger, and counted it his highest honor to be such (Eph. 3:8).
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; Ephesians 3 (AV)
I love the book of Ephesians because it brings me into “heavenly places”. The words “heavenly places” are found nowhere else in the Bible, except in the book of Ephesians. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use this term five times (1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). Most modern translations use the word “heavenlies” instead of “heavenly places”. Which ever way it is translated, this term, “heavenly places”, refers to heavenly things, heavenly words, heavenly doctrines, heavenly promises, heavenly possessions, and heavenly experiences belonging to God’s elect in Christ.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>“Heavenly places” refer to the place of eternal, covenant blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
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: Ephesians 1 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>“Heavenly places” speak of the place of our great High Priest’s royal, kingly intercession, advocacy, and sovereign dominion (Eph. 1:19-21).
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 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: Ephesians 1 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>“Heavenly places” identifies our spiritual union and communion with Christ as well (Eph. 2:6).
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 2 (AV)
There he is, yonder, at the Father’s right hand, seated, accepted, blessed. But here is something more. Yonder I am, seated, accepted, blessed, at the Father’s right hand. Frequently, I do not feel so close to my God. Indeed, I often feel far off from God. But my faith does not rest in my feelings. My comfort and assurance are not derived from the cracked cistern of my feelings. My faith is in and my comfort, hope, and assurance are founded upon the Word of God. And God says in his Word, right here in Ephesians 2:6, that I am with Christ in heavenly places”. And I prefer what God says to what my lying hearts says!
Near, so very near to God, nearer I cannot be,
For in the Person of His Son, I am as near as He!
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>“Heavenly places” are those places in which we are taught of God by Divine revelation (Eph. 3:10).
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3 (AV)
This passage of Scripture refers to this gathered assembly of God’s saints and all others like it around the world as “heavenly places” of spiritual instruction. Here, as you sing, and pray, and worship, and receive instruction in the knowledge of Christ by the gospel of the grace of God, the angels of God are also instructed in the wonders of blood atonement, pardoning love, and saving grace!
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>“Heavenly places” are the place of spiritual privilege and stern perplexity, blessed assurance and bothersome anxiety, sweet communion and stubborn conflict (Eph. 6:12 margin).
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (heavenly) places. Ephesians 6 (AV)
The world is the enemy of our Father. The devil is in arms against our Master. The flesh is at war with the Spirit. Our carnal hearts are enmity against God. Therefore, we need not be surprised to find our daily experience an experience of unceasing, constant warfare.
And I love this blessed book of Ephesians because it talks so much about grace, God’s free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ.
All right, you’ve got your shoes and socks off and your britches rolled up. Now, let’s go wading for just a little while. Wherever you see a diamond or a nugget of gold, if you care to pick it up and put it in your pocket, you are free to do so. If you see an inviting deep pool, just dive in. Everything here in this treasure filled ocean is yours, if you are Christ’s.
Proposition: All grace is ours in Christ by divine purpose and joyful experience to use for one another’s good and for the glory of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Divisions: In these six chapters of Ephesians, want to call your attention to these six things…
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The Explanation of Grace,
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The Experience of Grace,
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>The Enjoyment of Grace,
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>The Education of Grace,
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>The Exercise of Grace, and
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>The Exhortation of Grace.
<![if !supportLists]>I. <![endif]>The Apostle Paul well understood the fact that men and women who were steeped in religion needed thorough instruction in the doctrine of grace, if ever they were to know God. Therefore he began this epistle and used the entire first chapter to give THE EXPLANATION OF GRACE.
As I said, we are just going to touch the high points this morning. But these high points are vital. Be sure you get each of them. Make yourself as familiar with these things as you are with the keys on your key ring. Use them as keys to unlock the storehouse of Holy Scripture. Here are ten words essential to any biblical understand of the doctrine of the grace of God, ten words essential to any clear knowledge of the gospel.
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Plurality
The grace of God flows to us from the three persons of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Father’s Plan.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Son’s Purchase.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Spirit’s Power.
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>Predestination (1:3-5)
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: 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, Ephesians 1 (AV)
Predestination is God’s sovereign, eternal, unalterable arrangement of everything that comes to pass before anything came to pass for the everlasting salvation of his elect.
<![if !supportLists]>C. <![endif]>Praise (1:6, 12. 14)
Judge all doctrines, all religions, all religious activities, all religious songs, all religious ideas by this standard: WHO GETS THE PRAISE? According to this Book, everything that is true declares everything to be for the praise of his glory!
<![if !supportLists]>D. <![endif]>Position (1:6)
Here is our position. We are in Christ, and being in Christ from eternity, we are accepted in the beloved, accepted in the beloved from eternity!
<![if !supportLists]>E. <![endif]>Purchase (1:7)
There are some sinners in this world who have been purchased out from under the wrath of God, out of the hands of Divine justice, redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Any preaching that does not declare redemption accomplished and obtained by Christ for God’s elect is not biblical preaching and is no gospel preaching. Where there is redemption accomplished there is also…
<![if !supportLists]>F. <![endif]>Pardon
In fact, Paul seems to explain what he means by redemption by saying, redemption means forgiveness.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Ephesians 1 (AV)
Grace does not proclaim a redemption that offers pardon, but a redemption that demands pardon! Justice satisfied means pardon granted.
<![if !supportLists]>G. <![endif]>Providence (1:10-12)
Listen to the way in which the Holy Spirit explains the intricate details of God’s adorable providence.
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. Ephesians 1 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>H. <![endif]>Performance (1:13)
Grace is not a proposition, but a performance. Grace is not something God offers, but something God does. We do not believe as the result of God’s offer, but as the result of God’s operation. And this operation of grace, by which we believe, has an intimate, indivisible relationship to the word of truth, the gospel of salvation accomplished in Christ.
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, Ephesians 1 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The gospel is called “the word of truth” because it reveals the Truth.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>It is called “the gospel of your salvation” because it reveals salvation accomplished by Christ.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>It is called “the word of life” because it is the means by which God the Holy Spirit conveys life to dead sinners.
Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? If you do, it is because God the Holy Spirit has revealed Christ to you and in you by the gospel (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 2 Timothy 1 (AV)
Where the Holy Spirit has performed his work of grace in regeneration he also performs his work of grace in…
<![if !supportLists]>I. <![endif]>Preservation (1:13-14)
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. Ephesians 1 (AV)
A seal implies four things.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Privacy - That which is sealed is private, secret. And we rejoice to know that the secret things belong to the Lord.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Property - That which is sealed is the property of the one whose seal is upon it.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Preciousness - Any item that is sealed is of value.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>Preservation - When a thing is sealed it is preserved from harm or spoilage.
<![if !supportLists]>J. <![endif]>Power (1:18-20)
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 us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 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. Ephesians 1 (AV)
Here are three things hidden from all natural men that I trust God will graciously give you eyes to see and know by personal experience.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The Hope of His Calling - Christ’s Obedience!
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The Riches of The Glory of His Inheritance in the Saints - The Complete Satisfaction of the Father’s Purpose, Christ’s Obedience, and the Spirit’s Operations!
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>The Exceeding Greatness of His Power to Usward - The Sovereign, Irresistible Grace of God by which We Believe.
Grace is power sovereign, omnipotent, effectual, irresistible power!. According to the words of our text, it takes the very same power to cause a dead sinner to live and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as it took to raise the dead body of our crucified Redeemer from the grave! It is my prayer that God the Holy Spirit will exercise that great power toward you and upon you today for Christ’s sake.
Illustration: Ezekiel’s Vision of Dry Bones (Ezek. 37:1-14).
1 ¶ The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. Ezekiel 37 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>II. <![endif]>In chapter two the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to give us a detailed description of THE EXPERIENCE OF GRACE.
The grace of God as we experience it in this world involves two things. I stress the fact that I am talking now about our experience of grace in this world. In the experience of it grace involves regeneration and reconciliation. It involves the new birth and the consequent reconciliation of our hearts to God in Christ. We must be born again because we were all born in spiritual death by nature. And we must be reconciled to God because we all hate God by nature. Ephesians 2 deals with these two aspects of grace: Regeneration and Reconciliation.
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Regeneration is the sovereign work and operation of grace performed in the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners by God the Holy Spirit, sinners who are by nature both dead and depraved (Eph. 2:1-10).
The new birth is not accomplished by man’s will but by God’s power, not by man’s choice but by God’s purpose. It is not something God offers but something he does. The new birth is a resurrection from the dead. It is that first resurrection spoken of in Revelation 20:6, of which we are told, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years”. Look at Ephesians 2:1-10.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Here is THE CONDITION OF MAN (2:1-3).
1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Ephesians 2 (AV)
Man, by nature is spiritually derived, spiritually depraved, and spiritually dead.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Here is THE CALL OF GOD (2:4-6).
<![if !supportLists]>a. <![endif]>The reason for this call is the love of God (v. 4).
4 ¶ BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>b. <![endif]>Regeneration is the effect of God’s call (v. 5).
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>c. <![endif]>The result of this call is union, communion, and fellowship with Christ in the power of his resurrection (v. 6).
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Here is THE CAUSE OF MERCY (v. 7).
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>Here is THE CHARACTER OF GRACE (vv. 8-10).
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>The result of regeneration is reconciliation (2:11-22).
Remember, I am talking now about the believer’s experience of grace. We were legally reconciled to God at Calvary by the death of his Son (Rom. 5:10-11). But our hearts were still enmity against God until he conquered us by his grace and graciously forced us to bow to him in reconciliation. Let me show you three things in these next few verses.
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>A FACT TO REMEMBER (vv. 11-12)
11 ¶ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were (1.) without Christ, being (2.) aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and (3.) strangers from the covenants of promise, (4.) having no hope, and (5.) without God (6.) in the world: Ephesians 2 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>A FACT TO REALIZE (v. 13)
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2 (AV)
Here is that blessed phrase again - “IN CHRIST”. To be in Christ is to be…
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Chosen In Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Redeemed In Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Justified In Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Called in Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Sanctified In Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>United To Him.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Accepted In Him.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>A FOUNDATION THAT RECONCILES (vv. 14-22)
Not only does the grace of God experienced in the soul unite and reconcile us to God in Christ, it also unites and reconciles us to one another in Christ. All rocks in a building, built upon on foundation and connected to one cornerstone are united to and connected to one another. So, too, all who are built on Christ are fitted together.
Illustration: The Hewn Stones of The Temple
This is Paul’s doctrine: That which God requires of us God alone can do for us!
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Atonement For Sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Perfect Righteousness (Matt. 5:20).
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Spiritual Life, A Spiritual Nature - The New Birth (John 3:7).
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Faith in Christ (Heb. 11:6).
These are the things the Lord God almighty has done for us and in us by his grace in Christ.
<![if !supportLists]>III. <![endif]>In chapter three Paul describes what I will call THE ENJOYMENT OF GRACE.
There comes a time, sometime after you are converted, as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you begin to really enjoy the grace of God. Much like a husband and wife really begin to truly enjoy one another, comfortably and confidently enjoy one another only after they have been married for a long time, believers, while never getting over the wonder of grace, do not really enjoy grace until they have lived in it and experienced it a while.
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Though it cost him his very life, as it will every faithful gospel preacher, Paul considered it his greatest honor, highest privilege, and most delightful joy to preach the gospel of Christ (3:7-8).
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; Ephesians 3 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>As a faithful gospel preacher, as a pastor with a pastor’s heart, Paul wanted those people to whom he preached to know, in the fullest way possible, by experience, all the blessedness of God’s abundant, free grace in Christ (vv. 9-21).
I know exactly what Paul’s words express in this chapter. As he expresses the desires of his heart for these Ephesian saints, my own heart echoes the same desire for you. It is the burning passion of my soul, as I endeavor to study and preach the gospel to you, to make you see…
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The manifold wisdom of God in the scheme of grace (vv. 9-10).
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The eternal purpose of his grace (v. 11).
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: Ephesians 3 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>The free, accessibility of his grace (v. 12).
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Ephesians 3 (AV)
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, Ephesians 3 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>The infinite superabundance of grace (vv. 18-21).
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>IV. <![endif]>The fourth chapter of Ephesians shows us THE EDUCATION OF GRACE.
Again, I can do no more than skim the surface here; but this is a rich, rich chapter. I hope the things I mention will inspire in you a desire to study it in greater detail. Let me just point out three things for you.
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>AN ENDEAVOR (4:1-6)
We ought always to strive and labor to promote true unity among true believers.
1 ¶ I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 ¶ With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>AN ENDOWMENT (4:7-16)
In the church and kingdom of God there is no room for and no basis for envy and jealousy. Each of us are given specific gifts to use for the glory of Christ, the interests of the gospel, and the benefit of God’s elect.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Ephesians 4 (AV)
When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high, he received gifts for men and gives those gifts to men as he will. One of the gifts with which he has endowed his church is the gift of the ministry (4:8-16). Look at verses 11-14.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>C. <![endif]>AN EDUCATION (vv. 17-32)
The gospel of the grace of God and the grace of God experienced in the soul teaches believing men and women to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world for the glory of Christ. We are totally free from the law; but believers are not lawless. Saved sinners seek to glorify God in all things. If your religion promotes, permits, or allows room for lasciviousness, greed, and deceitful lusts, your religion is not the religion of grace.
17 ¶ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Grace teaches people to bridle their passions and their tongues (vv. 25-29).
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>Grace causes saved sinners to fear the thought of grieving the Holy Spirit (v. 30).
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>C. <![endif]>Grace makes people gracious (vv. 4:31-32).
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>V. <![endif]>Ephesians chapter five describes THE EXERCISE OF GRACE by people who have been taught by grace.
Children of God, we who have been the recipients of grace ought to always take care to magnify the grace of God with our deeds as well as with our words.
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Love one another (5:1-2).
1 ¶ Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Ephesians 5 (AV)
B. Ever seek to live in a manner becoming saints (vv. 3-13).
3 ¶ But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Ephesians 5 (AV)
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ephesians 5 (AV)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Ephesians 5 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>C. <![endif]>We must endeavor, for Christ’s sake, to shake ourselves from our natural tendency toward lukewarmness, indifference, and indolence in spiritual things, and buy up every opportunity to worship and serve our Master (v 14-17).
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>D. <![endif]>If we would live for Christ in this orld, we must ever seek to be filled with the Spirit (5:18-6:9).
Being filled with the Spirit is not some Charismatic fit or Pentecostal spasm. To be filled with the Spirit is exactly what verses 18-33 tell us it is. To be filled with the Spirit is to…
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>Offer thanks and praise to God in all things, for all things, in your heart.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>Submit to one another in the will of God.
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>Imitate Christ in all things: As Husbands, As Fathers, As Masters, As Servants.
<![if !supportLists]>VI. <![endif]>The latter half of chapter six concludes this blessed book with THE EXHORTATION OF GRACE (Eph. 6:10-24).
<![if !supportLists]>A. <![endif]>Be strong in the Lord.
10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Ephesians 6 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>B. <![endif]>Stand! Having done all stand!”
<![if !supportLists]>C. <![endif]>Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
In verses 14-21 Paul tells s what the believer’s complete, sevenfold armor is.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6 (AV)
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>The Girdle of Truth.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The Breastplate Of Righteousness - Imputed Righteousness!
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>The Hob-nail Sandals of The Gospel of Peace.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>The Shield of Faith.
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>The Helmet of Salvation.
<![if !supportLists]>6. <![endif]>The Sword of the Spirit.
<![if !supportLists]>7. <![endif]>Prayer.
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 ¶ And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.