Today: [Ephesians 1:] The Fullness of Him in Us: In Ephesians chapter 1 we are introduced to a church that represents the high water mark of Christian maturity and experience for all time. The Ephesian church was the antithesis of the pollutions found in Galatia or Corinth. They were a rare and unique people whose letter from Paul speaks to us of better things and lofty promises that challenge our faith and encourage us to believe for things far beyond what dead religious influences would otherwise deny us as believers.
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[Eph 1:1-23 KJV] 1 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: 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, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 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. 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. 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.
There are several significant facts about the book of Ephesians to make note of as we study it. It is one of Paul’s “prison epistles” being written by the apostle sometime between 62-64 AD from imprisonment in Rome. The Ephesian church was well developed by this time and represents for us a high water mark of the move of God in New Testament times. There is no church community in the New Testament era that demonstrates the character and witness of the Spirit as that of the Ephesians. We also know that John the Beloved after penning the book of Revelation on Patmos lived out the remainder of his days here under the care of the Ephesian believers. Mary as well is said to have ended her days here in Ephesus, still under the care of John who was charged with her welfare by Jesus Himself before His death on the cross.
The character of this book is refreshingly sublime contrasted with the contentious and problematic nature of the 1 and 2 Corinthians and the book of Galatians. Paul begins with a salutation to the Ephesians, greeting them as saints and those who were faithful in Christ Jesus (v.1). He speaks grace and peace over them and launches directly into a revelatory understanding of the benediction of God in our lives as being “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Those who were familiar with Paul’s teaching would not have immediately consigned this statement or understood it as referring to some distant heaven beyond the visible stars. Paul over and again emphasized his message according to Col. 1:26-27 as focusing on “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” When Paul speaks of Christ, it is always a reference to the indwelling of God in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Christ is in us, and the heavenly places he speaks of likewise are in us as Jesus said in Luke 17:21 when he declared:
[Luk 17:21 KJV] 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Why are we thus blessed? Because (v. 4) God has chosen us in Himself before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. What can we conclude from this statement? Before you were born – God chose you. Before your most egregious sin, God’s plan for your life is that you should be holy and without blame before Him as the object of His love and not His scorn. This is a redemptive statement regarding our future and a redemptive truth exonerating us from all past failings. You are holy. You are blameless. Refuse to think of yourself any other way than how God Himself sees you.
Before you were ever born (v. 5) you were predestined to be adopted, to be set as a son by Jesus Christ Himself because it was His good pleasure to do so. We do not make ourselves acceptable before God because (v. 6) tells us that Jesus Himself has made us, or constituted us by the work of the cross as those who are accepted in the beloved. You are not excluded my brother and sister you are accepted, and you are beloved, and this tremendous redemptive fact was determined regarding you by God Himself before the foundation of the world.
It is in this Jesus (who has made us accepted in Him) we have redemption. What is redemption? The word means “ransomed in full.” We were born in sin because of Adam and Eve’s transgression. We were born in captivity to the domain of darkness but have been fully ransomed not by anything we have done but by the shedding of the blood of Christ that affords us forgiveness of sin and opens to us the riches of His grace (His unmerited, unearned favor). It is in this blood bought provision God abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, bringing us so profoundly into His counsels (v. 9) as to reveal to us the mystery of His will according to his good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself. Do you understand what this is saying?
God did not make a foolish choice when He moved to include you in His family. In recognition of the power of the Cross, God acted within the bounds of His deep wisdom and prudence judging us in Himself as apt pupils and disciples worthy of receiving the most profound truths and revelations of His kingdom.
What is the preponderance of the mystery of His will? It is (v. 10) that in the dispensation (outworking) of the fullness of times that He will gather into one ALL THINGS in Christ which are heaven and earth into Himself; both things that are in heaven and things that are in earth. Here is an overarching eschatological understanding of the general purpose of God – to bring all things unto Himself. It is in this loving Father you and I (v. 11) have obtained an inheritance. We didn’t earn it. We can’t be good enough or serve well enough to merit these things; they are ours by heritage because we are predestinated according to the purposes of God (v. 12) that we should be to the praise of His glory because of our trust in Christ.
How do you know you are predestinated and included in these great provisions? Because you trusted in Christ that’s how. Please understand that Jesus said no man comes to the Father except the Spirit draw Him. You didn’t come to Christ because it was your idea. You might think it was your decision, and indeed your will was involved, but at a much deeper level, God chose you, looking down from eternity past he chose you to be His son, His daughter that He might set His love upon you and demonstrate in you His unsearchable love and unmerited favor.
Once trusting in Christ (v. 13) you were then sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. What is this talking about? The indwelling and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. When you are born again, you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Then you are (or at least you should be) filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Remember in Acts when Paul came to Ephesus He found 12 believers who were baptized after John’s baptism who knew nothing of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He laid hands on them, and they promptly received this gift with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. These 12 men were in the audience when this letter was read to them. They knew exactly what Paul was referring to.
The Holy Spirit in you is not the full inheritance but only the earnest money as it were (v. 14) of something yet to come. This something is called the redemption of the purchased possession. What might that be? The indwelling Holy Ghost lays claim to the territory of your human spirit, but that is only the down payment. There is coming a day when the Holy Ghost is going to reach out by God’s power and lay hold of what Jesus paid for in your mind, will and emotions and your physical body itself causing the full manifestation of redemption from the fall to be your experience. This is when you get and when Jesus gets all that He paid for in your behalf upon the cross.
Why is Paul starting his letter like this? Because (v. 15) tells us he had heard testimony while imprisoned in Rome of the love and faith that was demonstrated among the Ephesian believers. This was a marked difference than what he heard from other churches he wrote to. When he heard from the Corinthian church, it was filled with sexual sin. When he heard from the Galatian churches, they were rife with legalism and contaminated doctrine. How refreshed Paul must have been in prison, bound in chains hearing the beautiful things that were happening in Ephesus!
Paul’s prayer was that the Father of the glory (Col. 1:26-27) that was in these people would give them greater and greater wisdom and revelation (v. 17) in the knowledge of God so much so (v. 18) that the eyes of the understanding would be enlighted to know the full scope of their calling in God, a calling so profound as to give the recipients of this letter a testimony that echoes down through many centuries to encourage you and me today. What a church this must have been!
Because of their spiritual quality and maturity, Paul’s prayer was that these people would come to a revelatory understanding of the exceeding greatness of the power of God toward those who believe. What is the scope of what God’s heart is regarding what He is willing to do in our lives? It can only be expressed by the example (v. 20) of the very resurrection of Christ from the dead and His ascension to the right hand of the Father. Just as God placed Jesus, the firstborn son far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every named that is named – we are given to understand this is not something unique that only Jesus is to experience, but is a reflection of what God is willing to do in you and through you in your own Christian life and testimony.
As God has put all things under the feet of Jesus (v. 22) Paul wants us to bear in mind that we are His body and we are those feet. What things are subjugated unto Christ in His resurrection are subjugated to you and me as believers because we are His body, the fulness of Him that fills us to the fullest extent possible on this side of glory. This is our inheritance. This is the testimony that the inclusion of Ephesians in our canon offers to us. The call of God to us in this letter is to look away from the contamination of human nature and sinful tendencies and gaze with open eyes and open hearts upon the blinding glory of all that God has made possible to us and in us of His working in our midst not just after we get to heaven but on this side of things because we are His body in whom He delights to dwell and make Himself known.
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