ALIVE | RECAP | Ephesians Chapter 1-4
Topic: Gospel Passage: Ephesians 1–4
Christopher Rich – January 5, 2019
ALIVE | The Way Unearned
RECAP | Ephesians Chapter 1-4
Introduction | RECAP
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.
In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned.
We all need a refresher – We started this series back in September and walked through 4 chapters over 9 weeks before breaking for Advent. But before we can launch back right where we left off we need to be reminded how we got here otherwise you can be lost. You don’t start a show in season 5 and expect to understand what is going on. We need context. More than that, this letter written from Paul (church planter) to a church in Ephesus (city with racial, economic, and spiritual unrest) has a flow of ideas where the order matters starting with our identity as Christians transitioning to the implications of what it means for our lives. To get it reversed or to start with instructions would be to misunderstand the gospel. Identity=> Implications
PART I |Known by God | Ephesians 1
Eph 1 |Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
God has known all about you before you have known anything about you. WE think we know ourselves, but we only know a disconnected version. We are all Orphans. We live with great longing. Something in our soul is missing. Because of sin we’ve been separated from the God who made us, exiled from His presence, and orphaned from His family. We won’t be satisfied with anything less than being reunited and reconciled.
Adoption is intentional (v3-6) - Adoption is not an accidental act but an intentional one. Paul begins reminding the Ephesians of who they are to, and with, God. In Christ, we are no longer forgotten orphans. No longer Fatherless. We have been intentionally adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters. Being adopted cannot be earned by great work of the adoptee but can only be granted by the great adopter.
Adoption has a Cost (v7-10) - Our adoption isn’t earned by us, but that doesn’t mean it comes without a great cost. Sin is costly and has consequences. it requires a sacrifice greater than we can give and remain alive. Jesus paid the price of our adoption, redeeming us from our sin, through His sacrifice on the Cross. Because of Jesus work in our place, our sins are forgiven and God has “lavishly” given us life in His family.
Adoption has a Purpose (v11-14) - We may not always fully understand why, but it is the wisdom and will of God to make us part of His family forever. We can know part of the purpose of this adopted family is both His glory and our Joy; as we praise God for what He has done for us and look forward to our future with Him. This future is secured not by our faithfulness but by us begin sealed by the Holy Spirit. Christian you are known and adopted. Ok you’ve been adopted into this family? Now what? How is it a benefit to be adopted into this family? It has to be more than just a transfer of status (orphan to family member) it needs to have a transformational impact on our life. It should be better to be in the family of God than an orphan. It should impact our present in a meaningful way, and it should put us on a new trajectory towards a better future. Family now, inheritance later. Being adopted as sons and daughters means we are greatly loved by God, and we live with great love for our brothers and sisters. Paul is praising God for His work in making this church a family now. If you are “In Christ” you are part of a family whose identity is derived from a shared saving faith in Jesus Christ as your savior and King.
Family because of the Trinity (v15-17) - All flourishing families take work and cooperation. The work to make us members of God’s family was not accomplished by us. It was done by Jesus (God the Son), sent by the “Father of Glory”. We have knowledge of this work only by the revealing work of God the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts. Even if we think it comes from our consideration it’s His illumination.
Unearned Hope and Power (v18-20) – Knowing we are part of God’s family should have a profound impact on how we see ourselves now and what the future holds for us. Regardless of how we experience being alive today, we have an eternal hope of a glorious inheritance of life with God and His people. It is God who shows us this hope and who gives us the assurance this hope will be realized. Past Plan! – “Hope of His calling.” He’s calling us to have hope. We have hope because of His calling of us. Promised Future- Glorious Inheritance Rich inheritance. Not stingy. Back to lavish. Your future with God and Christ will not be one of meager sustenance but of magnificent satisfaction. God wants us to know about this inheritance for the purpose of grateful anticipation and hopeful joy. Present Power- Our set identity and security destiny leads to our present capability. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us to secure our place in Heaven. Power that is overwhelming. Surpassing/immeasurable. Under His Authority (v21-23) – Because God, in Jesus, is THE authority above all others; we have peace that no one else can have a greater claim on who we are today and no one else can determine how we will spend eternity.
PART II |Saved by God | Ephesians 2
Eph 2 |And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hand- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Made Alive by God (Death to Life) There is nothing less alive than being dead. Dead men cannot earn, dead men cannot achieve, and dead men cannot save themselves. Being adopted into the family of God is more than moving from orphan to son or daughter; it is nothing less than moving from death to life. Walking Dead (v1-3) - To appreciate what God has done for us we need to remember who we are without God. Because of our sin, spiritually our condition is not sick, it is dead. Yet, like lurching zombies, we are all walking as followers. We are followers of the enemy, our world, and our own fleshly desires on path that does not lead to “rest in peace” but earned wrath. This is all of us without hope...
But God… (v4-7) - Dead people are not capable of earning or even choosing life. But God, the author of all life, initiates and intervenes for us in our state of spiritual death to make us truly alive. This is driven by His great love and mercy towards us and Christ’s great work for us. We are hopeless in need of rescue. God see us floating the wake of the shipwreck, knows our condition, knows our actions and heart, knows our destination and He answers and engages us according to His nature and character not our own. Do you know what I have more than you have sin? Do you know what I can give you more than what you’ve earned? Do you know what I am capable of in the face of death? I am richer in mercy than the account of wrath you’ve earned. My love for you is greater than your sin towards me. My life given is overpowering what death can take. When is this? When we finally got our act to together? No! God’s great love is directed towards us not because we are so lovable but despite being unlovable. More than saved from tormented tombs, we are called to be in the presence of the King. That is a dramatic transition for a purpose.
Gifted to Walk the Way Unearned (v8-10) – This new life comes from faith in Jesus alone. But this faith is not an earned status we have worked to achieved, it’s the gracious gift (unearned) we have received from God. In humility, we are walking again, this time made truly alive, down a way of good works prepared for us by God. If you are saying “I wish that was me!” do not despair is God beginning to work in you!
Christian you are alive, because God has made you alive. Christian, you have been made alive by God!
Our lives are never intended to be isolated. We are created for relationship with others in the world. The work of God to make us ALIVE not only makes us into a new person but also makes us become part of a new people. Aliens No More (v11-13) - Our identity is individual and unique to us, and it is corporate with the people we are aligned with. Because of sin, without the work of God, all of us are spiritually dead and relationally distant from God. God made a covenant promise through a family, which became a nation, to save His people and close this distance. To be outside this family, to be aliens to this nation, is to be hopelessly outside of God’s promises. We are unmarked, unclean, unincluded, uninvite, hope for the future and godless now. The cross of Jesus brings distant outsiders inside the family near the peaceful presence of God. Killing Hostility (v14-18) - Sin separates. It separates us from God, and it separates us from each other. This separation is not neutral or benign, it is hostile. We have erected great barriers of shame, injustice, and sin between one another based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Jesus is our peace Jesus has worked to tear down these walls reconciling people to God and bring together diverse people unified as one body. We have peace and wholeness with God because of Jesus. Who he is (God’s Son) and what He’s done (work to reconcile us) This work, His works, is what has made the insiders and outsiders both one. He did so by having His body broken. The result is peace with God and with the people of God. The reason the insiders have peace is not because they’re insiders but because of Jesus work in their place.
Citizen Saints (v19-22) - Citizens have rights and privileges. When one immigrates to a new nation they usually work through a long difficult process with many test and trials to earn the status of citizenship. In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the one who has perfectly navigated the test and trials for us in our place. Through faith in Christ, we are granted the status of “Citizen-Saint” we could never earn and are part of His work to build up His people together. Christian you are a full citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven!
PART III | Empowered By God | Ephesians 3
Eph 3 |And For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles - 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
If God had made a covenant promise to one family, one nation, to be His people, then a few will by nature be insiders while many others (not in the family) will be outsiders. How can there be any good news for those born outside this exclusive family? Mystery Solved (v1-6) - For countless generations the hope of God to bring redemption and restoration was contained in the nation of Israel. Gentiles could only hope to earn their way into the family through religious observance. Christ’s work to save sinners transcends racial and ethnic boundaries as what unifies people as heirs to the family of God is not their bloodline, but Jesus shed blood for them. There is comprehensive equality among the people of God.
Co-Heirs of an inheritance (future) What do I have to look forward to as being part of the people of God? Inheriting the Kingdom! In Christ the same blessing is coming in the future, so you have the same hope!
Co-Members of the body (present), you are part of the same people today! The multi-cultural mosaic of people from different groups. That means you have the same primary identity. You’re in the same family.
Co-sharers partakers (received/past) of the promises of Christ. That what God planned before the beginning and continually promised was for you. It means you have the same past heritage and connection.
Manifold Wisdom (v7-10) - What can seem mysterious to us is often the wisdom of God. God’s purpose from before the beginning of creation was to display His gracious character not only through one nation (Israel) but to all nations through His people (the church). Being part of a new people also gives us a new purpose. We have been empowered to be on the mission of revealing the good news of the Gospel to the world. Motivated by Glory (v11-13) - Faith in Jesus makes outsiders become insiders. We are alive to point others to where life is found. This is a glorious purpose that should keep us motivated for mission. This mission will include discouragement and suffering. However, we have been given what we needed:
Boldness – in the face of inadequacy |Access – in the face of isolation | Confidence – in the face insecurity
This first half of Ephesians, where the church is reminded of the story and glory of God revealed in and through the Gospel of Jesus, closes with a powerfully poetic prayer for the people of God to experience the fullness of what it means to be Alive with God. The Posture We Need (v14-16a) - To be kneeling in prayer is to show both great humility and a sense of urgency. It is a posture of pleading. The posture of our bodies in prayer is not as important as the posture of our hearts, do we come with humility or with entitlement? Humility is necessary as we approach the God who created everything. We are pleading in the presence of the Father and we are being patient enough to listen.
The Power We Need (v16b-19) - To be Spirit-less is to be powerless. God, through the Holy Spirit, grants us power and strength at the soul level. We need this power not for our prideful desires, but to be directed to the love of Christ. We need this power individually for Christ to dwell in us, and we need this power corporately for Christ to unify us as His church. The purpose of this power is to know love and for us to be filled with life from God. The Provision We Need (v20-21) -We are needy people, God knows that and He can give more than we imagine. Knowing God is capable of more than we imagine reminds us He is more than capable of providing what we need truly need. Christian we pray with humility to a powerful God who provides.
PART IV | Equipped to be the People of God | Ephesians 4
Eph 4 | I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
You have all these big concepts to unpack what it means to be the people of God all these promises about life with God in eternally. Orphaned Son’s and Daughters adopted into a new family. Rebel aliens who become full citizens. Dead sinners made alive. We hear these and we say YES we want that! When? Now. Where? The church. Then we come into the church and say “really?” It doesn’t always seem to match these grand ideals. The second half of Ephesians shifts focus from the indicatives (what is true?) of the Gospel to the imperatives (what do we do in light of what is true?) of the Gospel. We have been made Alive by God to live a new way. How the Gospel impacts us as a person begins with how it shapes us as a people, specifically the Church.
The Way We Are Unified (v1-6) - Unity does not happen without intentionality. Because sin separates our default is disunity. However, the Gospel unifies diverse people who have been called into one body, the family of God. Unity has to be eagerly maintained. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bind us together in peace as we walk the way of gentle patience with one another. We are unified in our identity and purpose.
The Way We Are Equipped (v7-14) - Unity in the Gospel is not uniformity. We are all equal in the family of God but that doesn’t mean we are all the same in how we have been gifted by God or deployed in the church for God. Each of us have a unique God-given gifting and role as members of the body for a common purpose, to see Christ’s mission flourish in maturity. What is your part or role in the body?
The Way We Grow (v15-16) - None of us are finished products and beyond the need to be lifelong learners. We each have specific areas of gifting to be cultivated and areas we need greater maturity in. This is true individually and communally. The health and maturity of each member is essential to the health of the whole body. There is no true growth in an individual believer that does not also support the building up of the church. Christian know our life together is one of constant growth where each of us is needed.
Talking about the need for growth in unity and maturity is highly aspirational. But reality can come crashing down quickly when we begin to access how immature we truly are and how many different areas of our life are not yet “walking in a manner worthy” but seem to still be walking dead. Martin Luther says all of life is one of repentance, this means our growth will be a process. Living New (v17-24) - The way unearned is not a way unchanged. Sin needs to be turned from. We are not made alive by repentance, but we are made alive to practice repentance. In Christ, we have been gifted with soft hearts that illuminate our understanding of this new life. Like wore out clothes, our old life does not suit our new life. Parts of our old life will have to be taken off and new ways of being will have to put on. Our vertical relationship we have with God, if it is vital and active will impact our horizontal relationships.
Living Ways (v25-29) – Words have great power, especially in how we relate to others. A community of new (not yet perfect) people, who are in a process of growth will be at times experience conflict. People will harm one another with their words though passive falsehood and active anger. Words can also be used as a balm as new people speak words of life, truth, and encouragement to intentionally build one another up rather than recklessly tear down.
Living Forgiven (v30-32) – We will all have opportunities to have our righteous anger turn to unrighteous malice and bitterness. This only robs us of abundant joyful life. If we consider how we have sinned against God and the merciful way we have been forgiven it should lead us in the way of kindness and forgiveness towards those who have wronged us. Forgiveness frees you! Forgiveness does have a cost, and it was already paid by Jesus for you on the cross where justice was served. When we are forgiven by God in Christ, we forgive others not because we are the better or bigger person but because of what’s been done for you by the best person. Jesus. We have a secure position as family now, son and daughters, as citizens now. Who are co heirs to a future inheritance because we share the past promises of God. Christian exhale knowing we’ve are no longer orphans but are part of a forgiving and forgiven family when we Trust Jesus.