Excerpts From Ephesus – Part 4

Sealed With the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:13-14

Ephesians 1:13-14 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.

Introduction

So far, we have been reviewing the “spiritual blessings in heavenly places” which are “according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7). The spiritual blessings have been from eternity and history past. Today we will look at those things that the church at Ephesus currently had and experienced. Therefore, we as Christians in the 21st century can also enjoy.

The Gospel First

Ephesians 1:13a 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,

The Apostle Paul reminds the readers that these blessings are only available to those that heard the Word of God, trusted in those scriptures and believed.

Notice with me how personal salvation is: “ye also trusted, ye heard the word of truth, your salvation, and ye believed.” They personally heard and they personally trusted. It was their personal belief and it is their personal salvation. No one else is responsible for your salvation but you.

Note: Trust stands in contrast to those that simply embrace salvation. My favorite question to really find out if a person is sure of their salvation is; “If you were to die today, are you 100% sure that you will spend eternity in heaven?” The answer to this question is very revealing. You can find out if the person trusts the Gospel or is simply in agreement with the Gospel. The Gospel may seem like a good idea, and it is, but to trust in the Word of God for your salvation is not the same than those that simply know about the Gospel.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. (NLT)

The Gospel of Christ is the power of God at work unto salvation. The power of salvation is the Gospel. Gospel is translated as “God news” or “Good news.”

Also, please note God’s method of getting the Gospel out. Salvation comes through hearing, then trusting and finally believing the Gospel. The Gospel message is simply defined as the “death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.” The truth of the Gospel message is placing your trust in God’s Word and trust brings belief and belief brings salvation.

The Gospel message is preached, and the Holy Spirit works in the hearer. The Apostle Paul wrote the book to the Romans and he clearly defined the role of Christians today in the process of Salvation.

Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Therefore, an important part of the plan of Salvation, after God and Jesus did their part, is that those that believe are to preach. Preach means to proclaim the Word of God. That is everybody’s task. We are to …be witnesses unto me [Jesus the Christ] both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

Our Jerusalem is the town in which you live. Judaea is the state of Texas. Samaria is North America and the uttermost part of the earth is the world. We all have been called to spread the Word of God. There is no way around it.

The Holy Spirit has sealed us

Ephesians 1:13b 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, “…ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”

Not long ago, I had to have a document notarized, to prove that I was the person in the document and that the signature was mine. I took the document to a Notary Public and in front of the notary; I showed some Id and signed my name. Then the notary signed her name and put a seal on the document. The seal was then imprinted to show that the contract was completed. The seal also implies that I was who I said I was and that I had the right to sign the document.

The Roman seal on the grave of Jesus carried the meaning of security and ownership. No one would attempt to enter the grave or else they would find themselves being pursued by the government of Rome until they were caught, arrested and judged. That grave became the property of the Roman government until that seal was removed.

In much the same manner, that is what the Holy Spirit does. He put His seal on us. God has transferred the title of our life unto Him. So, when God puts His seal on the believer, they are the property of God with all the security and ownership of the Lord himself.
And most importantly, the transaction is finished! The seal also shows that the believer is genuine.

that holy Spirit of promise” – Jesus promised that the Comforter would come:
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
(See also John 16:7-11; 13; 15:26; 14:16-17)

The Holy Spirit gives the earnest of our inheritance

Ephesians 1:14a Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Which is the earnest of our inheritance”. In the time of Paul, earnest was the down payment that guaranteed the purchase of property to seal the deal. The down payment was the guarantee that the buyer was serious. In this way, the Holy Spirit is God’s earnest to the believer of the salvation that is offered. God is serious about salvation and gives the earnest, Holy Spirit, to the believer.

Earnest is also translated as “engagement ring.”

Ephesians 1:14b Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

“…until the redemption of the purchased possession”. Redemption is an interesting word. When we become believers, we are redeemed. I love that old hymn, “Redeemed”. That is what I am. But redemption has three parts:

  1. I have been redeemed from my sins by my faith in Jesus the Messiah
  2. We are being redeemed as the Holy Spirit does His work in and through the believer.
  3. We shall be redeemed when Christ returns, and we become like him.

Ephesians 1:14c Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

“…unto the praise of his glory.” – All of this, the believer’s sealing, the Holy Spirit as the earnest, for our inheritance is to the praise of God’s Glory!

Conclusion

The work of the Holy Spirit in God’s plan of salvation is amazing.

  1. Each of us must grasp the importance of the proof of our faith is “being sealed by God with the Holy Spirit and
  2. Each of us must grasp that just as God gave Jesus to the world so the world through him might be saved, God sent the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our salvation.
  3. The Christians future rests in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Excerpts from Ephesus – Part 3

Making Known the Mystery of His Will

Ephesians 1:8-12

Ephesians 1:8-12 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.

Introduction

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus a most glorious letter. The letter is filled with hope and promise as he carefully lays out the importance of God in the lives of the brethren. In the first chapter he lets us in on a profound truth for Christians;

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Paul introduces them to how “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

In verses 4-6 we were introduced to the blessings of the Father: He Chose us (v. 4), He Adopted us (v. 5) and He Accepted us (v. 6). Beginning in the seventh verse, we see the blessings from God the Son. In verse 7 we found that Jesus redeemed us.

In this passage today, we will continue to see the Blessings in Heavenly Places from God the Son as Jesus reveals God’s will to us.

Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

In the previous verse we found that “we have redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of sins”. And all this is according to the “riches of his grace.” Now add “he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” Spiritual blessings heaped upon spiritual blessings from God’s grace to those who trust in Christ.

Notice the word abounded, it means “in excess; more than enough to spare.” God does not give wisdom and prudence in moderation to His children. God will give in abundance to those that love God and keep His commandments.

Wisdom means full of intelligence and carries the idea of acting wisely. It can also mean insight. So another of the spiritual blessings is to have insight into God and then to act wisely concerning His will in your life.

Prudence means to have understanding; to think clearly, a capacity for understanding.

So God liberally gives, through the riches of His grace, wisdom and understanding to believers in His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Anointed One!

Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

As a young boy I didn’t like to read very much. I would just as soon be playing baseball with all my friends. This condition existed until my first deployment on a ship in the Coast Guard. Life aboard a ship is one of work and then utter boredom. After the work was done, there wasn’t much of anything to do. I noticed that many of my shipmates were filling the down time with reading. So I found a book in the “loaner library” and I found that I liked to read and that I really enjoyed mysteries. I liked the “who done its.”

Paul uses the word “mystery” in this verse, but it carries a different definition than a “who done it.” Mystery used in Scripture is defined a “sacred secret, which was once hidden but is now revealed.” In this case it is a sacred secret revealed only to God’s people.

There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by human agencies, for it is always a revelation from God; and (2) it is revealed at the proper time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed.[1]

The Apostle Paul says that the “sacred secret” of God’s will is now revealed to Believers. And God let us in on this secret by His own good pleasure.

How Great Is Our God! Say it with me, “How Great Is Our God!”

Ephesians 1:10 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:

We really need to understand two terms that Paul uses in this verse; that is the word “dispensation” and “fullness of times”. Dispensation is a term that means “the law or management of a household.” Theologically it means “the method in which God carries out His purposes towards men.” Paul’s use of the word in this verse means the “commission to preach the Gospel.”

Now God has never had but one method of saving folk; everything rests upon one method of salvation. The approach and the man under the system have been different, however. For example, Abel offered a lamb to God, and so did Abraham. The Old Testament priests offered lambs to God. God had said that was the right way. But I hope you didn’t bring a lamb to church last Sunday! That is not the way God tells us to approach Him today. We are under a different economy.[2]

“Fullness of times” means a point in time. It is time for the plan which God had previously hidden to be revealed to believers through Christ. In this case, it is time to reveal God’s redemptive plan for mankind. The clock of God, if I can use that term since God is beyond time, is moving forward to the event when God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, will return to the earth and rule as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5)

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

When my two sons, Sean and Rob, were teenagers and Michelle, my daughter, was just on the edge, I would have to begin the “countdown” on Sunday mornings so they would know that it was time to leave for church. I would begin by shouting “fifteen minutes kids before it is time to leave.” They knew that meant that I would be backing the car out of the driveway on our way to church in fifteen minutes. Soon I would follow-up with “ten minutes kids, all you have is ten minutes.” I called out “five minutes” and finally “I am walking out the door.” It was at this point that I would go to the car, sit and simmer! You see I was the only one on my time. Everyone else was on their own time schedule. Eventually all would get into the car and we were on our way, tying ties, pulling out curlers and applying makeup.

Jesus is coming back one day. The “fullness of time” is at hand. God has already shouted “fifteen minutes world, you have fifteen minutes.” Scripturally there isn’t another event in the prophecy concerning Jesus return that has to be accomplished.

Ephesians 1:11 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:

Here is a wonderful truth. Christians have obtained an inheritance! God is giving us something we do not deserve. And this is all being done as per God’s will for those that love Him and believe on His Son. God knew this from the foundation of the worlds and he predestinated, it was all part of His Plan of Salvation.

Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

All of the Scriptures are coming “in focus” since the birth of the Messiah. The Gospel message includes the birth, death and the resurrection of the Messiah, Immanuel, Jesus the Savior of man.

Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

All of the blessings that come from the Father and the Son are given to those “who first trusted in Christ.

Conclusion

Let us review “all the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

  • God chose us to be holy and without blame (v. 4)
  • God predestined us to be adopted children by Jesus Christ (v.5)
  • God accepted us (v. 6)
  • Jesus redeemed us (v.7a)
  • God forgave us our sins (v. 7b)
  • God revealed His will to us (vv. 8-10)
  • God has made us an inheritance (vv. 11-12)

 

 

 

[1] McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 222). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed., Vol. 5, p. 223). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Excerpts from Ephesus – Part 2

Introduction

The Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the church at Ephesus

With very little argument, the Book of Ephesians is attributed to the Apostle Paul. Paul’s ministry to the church at Ephesus is found in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 18:18-21; 19:2-41; 20:17-35)
Paul wrote this letter from his Roman prison cell, somewhere around 60-63 A.D. (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Paul arrive in Rome in the spring of 60 A.D. and was placed under house arrest for approximately 2 years (Acts 28:30). Paul wrote his “Prison Epistles” somewhere between 60-62 A.D. or 61-63 A. D. The Prison Epistles were written to the churches at Ephesus, Philippi, Colossi and to Philemon.
There is a lot of similarity in the letters sent to Ephesus and Colossi, which would leave us to understand that they were probably written about the same time. In Colossians 4:16, Paul mentions another letter that was in circulation among the church of the Laodiceans, which he called the “Epistle from Laodicea.” Paul intended for all his letters to be “circular” in nature. That is that the letter would be circulated to believers everywhere.
Albert Barnes writes:
In 1 Thessalonians 5:27, the apostle also charges those to whom that epistle was addressed to see that it be “read unto all the holy brethren.” It is evident that the apostles designed that the letters which they addressed to the churches should be read also by others, and should become the permanent source of instruction to the friends of Christ.1
This epistle is chocked full of doctrine. It is apparent to me that Paul, knowing that his end was near, wanted to teach as much as he could to each of the churches. In that teaching he reveals God’s purpose through creation and His Son for the church. He encourages the brethren to unity and the hope that lays before them, eternal life.

Ephesus

Ephesus was an important port city in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The city had its roots. Due to its location on the root of the main highways of Asia minor in its natural, safe harbor. The surrounding land, rich in fertile, was excellent supply of fruits and vegetables to support the city and its growth.
However, the harbor became unusable in the middle of the first century, filling up with silt. However, the trade route had become so successful because of the religions of Diana and Artemis. Temples were erected in the city found new life as their worshipers made pilgrimages, if using much-needed revenue into the city.
Silversmiths brought a whole new industry to the city with idols made for Diana and Artemis. Prostitution in the temple was another revenue stream.
As harbor continued to be filled with silt, shipping found a nearby harbor at the port of Smyrna. As more and more of the shipping revenue is lost to Smyrna, the only income was from the temple rites and associated services. The city eventually died out.

The Church at Ephesus.

Apollos, was the pastor of the church, and Paul visited he found 12 believers. Apollo’s was inexperienced and somewhat misinformed concerning the Holy Spirit. Paul spent three months in Ephesus, teaching the church, and preaching in the synagogues. Because of the opposition, Paul moved the church to the house of Tyrannus. Paul spent the next two years, preaching and teaching the young church. (Acts 19:1-9). The church took on the role of the missions throughout Asia (acts 19:20).
Many miracles were performed in Ephesus, and many believed. The church grew mightily even in the face of the city filled with people of superstition, magic, and a desire for the sensual. It was in this city of immoral and pagan practices that the gospel was preached. People were saved. The church grew. The believer respected fellowship, the Lord supper, and baptism.
Even though the church grew and send out missionaries throughout Asia, they soon followed in the trend of the city, and the church declined as they left the teaching of the apostle Paul and Apollo’s. We see the mention of the church at Ephesus spotlighted in John’s vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:1-7 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Excerpts from Ephesus, Part 1

This is the first “excerpt” from a commentary that I have written titled: “Ephesians: Preparing the Believer for Spiritual Warfare.”I am always in awe of the writers of the Bible. To put pen to papyrus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to tell the story of God to man, is most wonderful and exciting.

Next to the Gospels, the epistles of Paul are my favorites. The story of Paul’s conversion, in the book of Acts, is so dramatic, it is difficult to fathom. From a hunter for the Jewish aristocracy, to an Apostle of Jesus Christ alone is worthy of appreciation, marvel and amazement and movie rights.

This book is the result of Bible study and sermon series given at churches that I have pastored in Texas. I am indebted to those wonderful brothers and sisters who helped to shape this study.

There is so much the Church of the 21st century can use in following the Pauline Epistles; its methods of church organization, discipline, evangelism, doctrine and teachings. It is incumbent upon every believer to read, study and apply this letter, not only to the life of the church, but to our own lives as well.

It is my hope that by revealing sections of the commentary, that you, the reader of this blog, will dig deep into this most wonderful epistle.
Let us harken to the voice of Paul as we begin this study:

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: