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 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:

I Wasn’t There

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

(Hebrews 11:1; King James Version)

This is the only place in the Bible where Faith is defined. And yet, time and time again we are told about believers having faith and its importance in the life of the believer. The Bible instructs us that we must have faith to be saved.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews captures example after example of men and women who had faith and the results of their faith. This eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been labeled “the Hall of Faith” in the Bible.

As the title of the Book defines, the letter was written to Jews who had accepted Jesus as their Messiah. And having believed, they were enduring great trials of persecution, which could cause some to relapse.

Peter expresses the importance of maintaining faith when faced with times of trials – 1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Others Have Walked In Your Shoes

The writer’s goal is to show that throughout history, others have demonstrated faith! And for those reading this epistle, in the midst of trials there is POWER through FAITH.

It is crucial that the believer knows what faith is. A man without faith cannot please God. Hebrews 1:6:

Hebrews 1:6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

There may not be a more important verse in the New Testament than Hebrews 11:1. You might say, what about John 3:16 and you would have a good argument. But without faith, there would be no belief. You see salvation is based on faith, repentance, and trust.

John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Everlasting Life is formed when we “Hear God’s Word, Repent of our Sin and Believe that God Sent His Son as our payment for sin. This requires Faith.

English Standard Version

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Let’s define the words of this verse…

Faith – is a Spiritual reality

Assurance – the quality of confidence which leads one to stand under, endure, or undertake anything.

Hope – expect, in a religious sense, to wait for salvation and joy and full confidence.

Conviction – approve, that by which a thing is approved or tested. “True faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance, and is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8)”1

Not Seen – metaphorically, to see what the mind’s eye, to discern mentally, observe perceive discover understand.

Christian Standard Bible

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

This video is the sermon of this text. Lakeview Baptist Church, Belton, TX on July 2, 2017.

What did the Apostle Paul believe concerning the Gospel of Grace as the only means of Salvation?

It is very important to understand the history of Paul. In his own words, he describes himself as: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.” (Acts 22:3-4).

Paul was not just a follower of Judaism; he was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted anyone that was not a devout adherent. This gives Paul great insight into the religion as well as describing his education. He was an enforcer of the Law. And yet now, he fully embraces salvation by grace as the only means of salvation.

Paul was God’s chosen vessel to proclaim grace to humanity and especially to the Gentiles. By his own words, it was by God’s grace that he was chosen for salvation and to be God’s messenger (Galatians 2:9).

Paul’s salvation (Acts 9) is well established by his first missionary journey in which he proclaimed the Gospel and started churches. His message of salvation is only by faith, by the Grace of God becomes the main point in all his writings.

The Apostle Paul, from the outset of the epistle to Galatia, is dealing with the heresy of adding requirements to the Gospel of Grace by faith. There is a great difference in believing that the grace of God is all that is required for salvation and those that would add works to salvation (circumcision in this case).

The Greek word for grace is charis. It is only found 13 times in the Gospels, but over 144 times in Paul’s writing. Paul’s epistles always use grace doctrinally, in connection with the dispensation of Grace.

The Apostle Paul goes so far as to proclaim; “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

Paul never said it was wrong for Jews to be circumcised. He never said that it was wrong to keep the Law or to observe the Jewish festivals. He said that these have nothing to do with salvation. While customs and practices may differ, salvation never differs. There is only one way to be saved and that is by the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

What is the Major Purpose for the Book of Galatians?

The Apostle Paul wrote at least 13 books of the New Testament (many theologians believe he also wrote the book of Hebrews). Some of his epistles (letters) were written to individuals (Timothy and Titus), and the rest to churches.

The epistle of Galatians was written to the churches scattered throughout Galatia (a portion of modern Turkey). It is one of the most important writings of Paul in establishing the importance of Grace compared to the Law.

The main purpose of the Book of Galatians is to vindicate Paul’s call by God and the Gospel of Grace. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Paul and salvation by grace alone were under attack by those in the churches of Galatia. Galatian churches were a mix of Jews and Gentiles. Some of the Jewish believers still held to the Jewish Law and traditions, called Judaizers. The term Judaizer, comes from the Greek word meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” Their teaching states that God’s grace and human effort were required for salvation. Paul considered this theology heresy and those that teach it as false teachers, even though they professed to be followers of Christ. The problem hinged on two points: 1) If they were going to continue to keep the Law as part of their salvation, then they adhered to a belief that a person was partly saved by faith and partly by works. 2) To continue following the traditions and practices of Jewish custom, they taught that the spiritual growth of the person was partly by faith and partly by their own effort. For the Judaizers, a belief in Christ also meant following the main ritual of religion, specifically around circumcision, while adding works, such as, observing all the ceremonies, traditions and rituals of Judaism. This was a heavy burden for the Gentile converts.

Their teaching was in contradiction to the Apostle Paul’s teaching. Paul writes that salvation is by Christ and Christ alone. Paul taught that the message of God’s grace, of pure grace is salvation by Christ alone. A person cannot win, earn or deserve salvation, it is a gift of God and not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Therefore, the Judaizers charged that the Gospel that Paul was teaching was deceitful and that his apostleship was a false claim of his own making. They reasoned that he could not be a true minister or Apostle of the Lord as he claimed, by his own statement of his beliefs. They reasoned that by cutting out or minimizing the Law that he could not be a true, God called, minister of the Law.

Paul’s defense of the Gospel and his calling is the main focus of the epistle to the churches in Galatia.