You can read the Book of Ephesians HERE
PREDESTINED RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
In Ephesians 1, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, tells us God in Christ sorts out all things by the wisdom of His will. If I understand correctly, the Apostle Paul in this passage tells us that it is through the God-given image-bearing capacity to give of ourselves that enables us to have a relationship with God as well as the means to share His wisdom with humanity. The pure of heart see Him as He is.
If this were not so, the relationship God has with humanity would be as is ours with the animal kingdom. God would be relating to us as we do domesticated animals and or those more unruly… wild animals. Such a relationship is not what humans have with God because we are created in His image.
Jesus and His Apostles teach us this in the Scriptures…
…. do to others as you have them do to you
… don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought
… think of yourself with sober judgment with the faith God has given to each of you
The life of Jesus is the primary example of such teaching. Jesus treated people as equals when He lived on Earth. However, this doesn’t mean He neglected His divine status. He was willing to receive worship, as in Luke 7:38 when a woman was at His feet weeping. She wet His feet with her tears, perfumed them, and wiped them off with her hair.
Friends, God made a way in Christ despite sin for us to be in that reflective relationship with Him. When we acknowledge God under the stipulation that He is the Source-Authority, we find that He treats us as equals. Now I did not say we are equal… rather… He treats us as equal.
This happens relationally when we acknowledge Jesus as Lord. If we do not acknowledge Him, we cannot reflect God properly in a giving and receive relationship. God must be acknowledged as the Source-Authority.
Therefore, I hope you can see that God arranged the created order with ‘relationship’ at the core of His design. He does this in such a way that He inserts Himself (the Incarnation) in humanity’s reality so that all those who acknowledge Him as Lord can be holy and blameless. We can respond to His giving nature because we are created in His image.
God cannot deny Himself and because the Son (God Himself) became human. God reveals he predestined all (who through their image-bearing capacity will acknowledge Him as Lord) to find Him through His redemptive offer of life and to have a relationship with Him. Predestination is about God’s relational life-giving pattern of sharing His nature with humanity. All things are possible within the unchanging nature of God for those who acknowledge Jesus has God’s Messiah. The God who makes all things work together for those who love Him.
What is God’s will? What is meant by “God’s will” for us? Paul here in the second chapter of Ephesians says that turning from old ways and thoughts is where it begins as it relates to how we live.
Most of the time we live our lives absent of God’s wise instruction. That makes our lives incompatible with God’s will for us. Our default is to be “without God” because of our sinful nature. We aren’t how He wants us to be because of our own desires. What we follow in unbelief is nothing more than our belly’s desire.
There is more to “I see God’s will and I follow it.” I say, “will to be” to state that there is a process going on right now (by way of Christ’s great commission) to bring all things to be one in God. He is at work in all this. He is working all things together… for us. We are the target. A church word that might apply is “sanctification,” but don’t just put all that on God. Paul is talking about our participation in this as well. We are involved in all of this. We are to work in love toward God’s promised goal for us. We are submitting to God’s way.
What we are to follow is a source outside ourselves: Jesus. So, we can conform to think and behave like Lord Jesus helped by the Holy Spirit which God richly gifts to believers. Christ thereby will bring about God’s desires in us rather than us living for our own belly. There is a thing called “participation with the Spirit” and “not grieving the Spirit” which is us living in the Spirit to become what God wills. This is not an automatic autopilot thing. Paul tells us this is how God is building His temple.
God purifies us as sacred space. Space, which like a priest, believers have the responsibility to keep clean from what is common in the world. His will is to be very close to us more than we can naturally attain.
Are you going to participate in God’s will? Are you willing to do that? Will you participate with the Spirit in conforming to His likeness?
It is so sobering to read that God’s will is to dwell in us and among us so intimately. Yes, this is God’s “will to be,” gifting those that place their faith in Him with His Spirit bringing all things into reflecting His nature.
God’s will for us “to be” is to be “One Spirit in one body” and to be “God’s temple.” We don’t function like this really. He is beginning here (finishes out the thought in the rest of Ephesians) to introduce the idea of being built into God’s likeness.
What do you need to pray about to participate with the Spirit?
Where can you join God willingly in what He is already doing in your life?
What is God building in you for His Kingdom?
Four times in twelve verses in chapter 3 the Apostle Paul mentions the word “mystery” (musth,rion / musterion). He must want to talk about a mystery. The mystery was revealed a little at a time in the Old Testament through prophets and God’s dealings with the Nations, but was finally fully revealed when God called Saul of Tarsus to full-time service.
The mystery answers the question: We know Israel was God’s chosen people, but what about the rest of us?
God through Christ instituted the Church to reach any person with the Gospel. Man. Woman. Jew. Gentile. Tall. Short. Well, maybe not short people. Jesus is for all people and is not for Israel only. The promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 is for Israel, but more importantly is for all people as we fully take in all of God’s plan post-Resurrection.
Questions to Think On:
What would the world be like if Jesus Christ really did only come and die for Jewish people?
How are the words ‘heirs,’ ‘members,’ and ‘sharers,’ similar and how do they explain each other?
Why does Paul think he is ‘least of all God’s people’… dude was an apostle of Christ?
What is the job of the Church in these verses?
Can you list the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ?’
Paul does not want the Ephesians to be discouraged, but rather requests that they put emotional energy and theological thinking into being encouraged in Christ. The reality of being a believer in Jesus Christ is that we have a well of encouragement from which to draw and drink.
We can be encouraged that the Holy Spirit will strengthen us in our inner being.
We can be encouraged that Christ Himself dwells in our hearts.
We can be encouraged that we are rooted in a love that creates an established foundation for life.
We can be encouraged that we are loved by God vastly.
We can be encouraged that God does more than we ask or imagine.
We can be encouraged that God the Father always is at work in us through His Spirit.
Questions to Think On:
Is there anything in these verses that are antidotes for discouragement during sufferings?
Because I like Michael Heiser, who is God’s family in Heaven that Paul is referring to?
What constitutes the ‘inner being’ of a person?
What does it look like practically to be rooted in love?
… at church?
… with an abusive spouse?
… when you hate someone?
… at work?
… when you are lonely?
… when you discover you are selfish?
… during the Christmas season?
Here is a little reminder before we jump headlong into Ephesians 4. In Ephesians 3:6, Gentiles are through Christ fellow inheritors to all God promises in Christ. So, by the Spirit of Christ, there can be unity because of Him. In addition, Ephesians 3:19 speaks to that aim by noting that the children of God are being filled up with the fullness of God.
In Ephesians 4, we see that the gifts from Christ are the reality of His victory in descending from Heaven to crucify sin in His flesh (His death). Jesus completed that feat and at Pentecost God the Father began to pour out His Spirit on all flesh who believed.
God provides the Body of Christ with apostles, prophets, evangelist, teachers, and pastors (and many others). He provides His disciples the means to mature to become like Him. For the believer, enduring in faith is required toward the sake of unity because the plan and the means are made clear in how God will have His humanity live… as He intended.
Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace comes by Christ Jesus having peace with God and then offering forgiveness to us by means of His death, resurrection, and ascension. With that victory, He gifts humanity with the ability to be filled up to the fullness of God.
Love must be in view with one another towards unity because not everyone is gifted alike or in the same place with God. Moreover, though we are to grow in every way, we must not demand folks grow in accordance with the grace we have personally received. Rather, we give freely as we have received from the Lord so we share with them so they learn of God through us and vice versa.
Verse 13 is very important. As we advance in our call through Christ, we mature. Maturity is the steadfast effort of all those who share in God’s Spirit with the good works of Faith in Christ. We seek to follow Christ’s example and out of that seeking and unity will arise among His people. Unity in the Spirit is stability in our maturing in Christ.
The goal is a body (group, fellowship) indwelled with Christ’s Spirit. A healthy body has everyone living out their given functional role according to the Spirit’s wisdom. We find balance with the Lord and also with His church. This balance then extends to the whole of creation where everything will be brought under Christ. Think about that! Jesus Christ will return to a body of mature believers (the Church)… so our maturing in faith and unity is fully supported by God.
Yet… even though we have God’s full support… we must recognize that God is good and not us. The best we can do is reflect Him. Keep in mind the human heart is often wickedly deceitful and we can deceive ourselves out of being as responsible as we should.
I often find myself (and others) wanting to place the full burden of the relationship on Christ’s shoulders. It is true that the means of having a relationship with God is all on Christ, but our response is not. That is what Paul is addressing.
Verses 25-32 are very practical in nature. Life under the authority of God’s grace means old sinful behavior is to stop. Period. To come under the lordship of Jesus, is to become free of all law and authorities that are in opposition to Him. Moreover, we must then live under Christ’s authority if we are to have eternal life. Anyone who repents can do so because the Spirit of Christ is given and with it the revelation in how to live. Jesus did say we must deny ourselves and follow Him. Otherwise… why call Him Lord?
The Apostle Paul in this 5th chapter of Ephesians states clean behavior is a must for the saints. This means that a Christian person who has Christian behavior is one who is seeking Christ’s character. We want to be like Him. Paul tells the Ephesians what this doesn’t look like in verses 3-5 and what it does look like in verses 6-14.
“Clean living” would be the lifestyle Christ Jesus modeled. Moreover, for us, this means personal sacrifice and maturing repentance (learning along the Way). These two go hand in hand. There seems to me to be a strong correlation with what I want to call “maturing repentance” (sanctification) with Christian love. Until the fullness of God has come to believers as the body of Christ, the very goal of Christians is unity. Remember, the Apostle Paul explains how these will be achieved in this passage. First, Christ Himself is actively filling believers with the Spirit as 5:10 states. Second, 5:18 informs believers to receive Him in an ongoing manner.
We are to “be filled” because we are maturing into the fullness of the Body Christ has provided. We should be aware that Paul is speaking of more than being “born again and initially receiving the spirit of Christ.” There is much more to it. He is speaking to what should occur after a commitment of loyalty to Christ.
“Debauchery” (not a word we use a lot) is then forbidden for the Christian. Paul tells the Ephesians to understand that such a lifestyle is nothing less than idolatry. This reminds me of Lord Jesus who in John 8:34 said, “Anyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Also, the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:16 makes the same claim.
Instead of being a slave to sin or enamored with an idol, we are to be filled with the Spirit and in straight forward language Apostle Paul states the action through which Christ fills us with the Spirit. This is not just an individual filling, but more so a filling up corporately. The maturing he is focusing on has the body of believers in Christ unified in a confession and commitment to Christ. Each all together. The believers’ action in the filling up into the fullness of God should be as verses 19-21 encourage. We are to unify with each other in living with music in our hearts to the Lord and thanking God and submitting to each other out of reverence to Christ.
In what areas of your life do you seek Christ’s character? Where do you hide from him?
Are there habits and choices you continually make that pull you away from Christ?
Are there habits and choices you continually make that draw you close to Christ?
Is “clean living” easier or harder than it was in Paul’s day?
The Apostle Paul, when directing commands and expounding on the Christian life for couples, takes a look at the example of Jesus Christ as the ultimate ideal in how we should treat one another and how we should structure our most intimate relationships. Jesus is our ideal. You see, Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, security, and selfless love are a perfect pattern for us to model in our relationships. Now, this is not an ideal that can be cast aside because it is an opinion, but rather it is the ideal of God and therefore is absolute. Now I have to tell you that I am no expert on marriage. I am not a relationship guru with all of the answers and six neat tricks to give you the best life now. What we do have is the Word of God which shows us the way which is more than enough. I find it interesting that in this passage, Paul says in verse 21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” which is the umbrella statement for this passage which applies to all people, and then breaks down his comments to husbands and wives.
Paul tells us in this passage (and in others) that the husband is the head of the home. What does that mean? I think that means that the husband is the one who sets the overall direction for the family. Husbands are charged with leadership. Husbands are also charged with loving their wives. Husbands are charged with spiritual leadership in the home. What should the leadership, love, and spiritual leadership look like? Again, it should look like the ideal that Christ has already given to us.
Sacrifice. It is the job of the husband to put his wife and children and grandchildren before himself because he is the leader. You do what you have to do to lead your family well. That may mean sacrificing pride when making a decision if that is best for the family. Sacrificing sleep may be needed for a child or grandchild. Sacrifice selfish things that take away from family like guys’ night out or sports if it hampers the family. Sacrifice golf on Sundays to make church and family a priority. As the leader of the home, it is the husband’s job to sacrifice in important ways to show the rest of those in your home what is priority. I also happen to think it is the husband’s role to decide what sacrifices the family needs to make so everyone is growing spiritually. Sacrifice is a key element of being a good and loving husband that leads and serves the family.
Security. It is the job of the husband to create a stable home where the wife, children, and grandchildren know they are loved and cared for. Security means provision. Security means they feel safe. Security means you will always be there for them dependably and you will not skip out when it gets hard. Security means you are consistent in saying yes and no and spending money and your expectations of them and of yourself. Security means they know you will always listen. Security means you tell her she is the only woman for you.
Selfless love. Of the three of these, I have to say that I think the “selfless love” is perhaps the most difficult part of submitting to Christ and leading well in the home as a husband. Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. In my mind, that means perfectly. I am certainly not a perfect person. I will never be perfect this side of Heaven. So what does that mean? I think it means that we make every effort to love our wives and children and all the people in our homes in as many ways as possible at all times. That means we love without expecting something in return. We strive to use loving words because that is what we are called to do. Love should be out motivator in how we treat our wives and children and grandchildren.
Paul tells us in this passage (and in others) that the wife is the submissive leader of the home. What does that mean? Submission means exactly what it sounds like. Submission means that at the end of the day or the end of the argument or the end of the decision making process, that input is given but responsibility rests ultimately with the husband. God says that. God has made that the structure and function of a Christian home. As a wife yields to her husband’s leadership in their marriage, she reflects the heart of faith that characterizes Jesus’s people. The church follows Jesus as her head and uses her gifts to carry out His mission in this world. Likewise, the wife respects and yields to her husband’s leadership as she uses her gifts to complement his good purposes for their marriage and family. What should the submission, care, and support of a wife look like? Again, it should look like the ideal that Christ has already given to us.
Sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving something up for a greater cause. The greater cause that women sacrifice for his the respect for the husband in the home. The greater cause that women sacrifice for is the health of the marriage and the love of children. Women sacrifice much. Wives need to sacrifice the need to be right. Wives often need to sacrifice getting credit for all that they do around the house and with children and sometimes even working outside the home. Wives at times need to sacrifice their independent goals because marriage is all about interdependence. Sacrifice, for both wives and husbands is needed.
Security. Believe it or not, wives can provide security in the home as much as husbands can. Wives can provide security by constantly praying for their family. Wives can help my managing money well with their husbands. Wives can make their husbands feel secure by always taking their side in public and presenting a united front with the children. You see security in the home means more than being safe from robbers and bandits, but security can be felt on the inside within the relationships.
Selfless love. Of the three of these, I have to say that I think the “selfless love” is perhaps the most difficult part of submitting to Christ and submissive leading well in the home as a wife… not that I have ever been a wife. Paul tells the women in this passage that selfless love leads them to submit to their husbands and to respect them. I have to say that this is a tall order at times. The husband may not be acting in a way that is worthy of respect. The attitudes that he may be projecting may be hurtful at times. Selfless love means you love him through it to make him a better man in Christ.
BOTH OF YOU
A godly marriage is one in which both the husband and the wife seek to die to self and live for Christ daily. Personal agendas are submitted to God’s agenda as both spouses seek to be controlled by the Spirit of God rather than by their flesh. Neither partner clings to his or her “rights”, but both realize that they are under the authority of God. Their unity is not based on likes and dislikes or other “compatibility” issues, but on the fact that God has joined them together. They seek harmony through “putting on the mind of Christ”. When there is an issue to address, they first consider where they have been wrong. After they have confessed and repented of their area of responsibility, they prayerfully and lovingly seek to bring their partner to a right place before God. Both partners are willing to consider their own sin, repent, and are ready to forgive.
Questions can be the heart and mind engine that lead us to truth. With that in mind, here are questions in Ephesians 6 that may break you into new Truth.
What does children obeying and honoring parents teach us about submission to one another?
Set aside moral implications of slavery: What does slaves obeying and honoring masters teach us about submission to one another?
How does one serve wholeheartedly?
How does one serve wholeheartedly when you hate the job or boss?
How does power from God allow us or energize us to be strong?
What did Paul know about spiritual warfare that we tend to ignore?
How is standing firm spiritually connected to prayer in these verses?
What is the mystery of the Gospel he mentions and why does it have to be explained?
What chains do we have (if any) that prevent us from sharing the Gospel? Are those chains imposed on the outside or do we make them ourselves?
Are you fearless for Christ?
Who have you encouraged in Christ lately?
Do you love Christ with an undying love?
Questions can be the heart and mind engine that lead us to truth. With that in mind, may these previous questions in Ephesians 6 break you into new Truth and move you closer to abiding in Him and faithful action.