Today the Tuesday Morning Men’s Bible Study began a study of Ephesians with “yours truly” leading the first lesson. The theme of Ephesians is our riches in Christ and the key verse of the book is Ephesians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. The word riches occurs in the opening three chapters five times: the riches of his grace, 1:7; the riches of his glorious inheritance, 1:18; the immeasurable riches of his grace, 2:7; the unsearchable riches of Christ, 3:8; the riches of his glory, 3:16. No wonder Pastor Warren Wiersbe entitled his volume on Ephesians, Be Rich.
When we look at the plan of Ephesians, it is telling us how the Christian life is to be lived. Ancient Ephesus was a center of pagan religious worship with the Temple of Diana located there as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The occult and magic arts were practiced in the city as a way to ward off the spirit world. So Ephesus was a mixture of false gods, pagan practices and superstition all done in an attempt to curry favor with the gods and combat evil spirits. Early Ephesian believers were tempted to mix some of these approaches into their faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians sets them straight that the Christian life must be lived a different way.
Watchman Nee, the Chinese evangelist, gave a simple outline of Ephesians that sets out in succinct terms Paul’s view of how to live the Christian life. Chapters 1-3 = Sit. We are seated …in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Christ has given us all the heavenly resources we need for spiritual living here and now. Our first need is that God…may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him…that you may know…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 1:17-19. We need to sit and learn our spiritual blessings in Christ and their sufficiency for Christian living. Commenting on this, Pastor Erwin Lutzer writes:
Let me put it this way: when we accept Christ as Savior, God immediately gives us special recognition, status, authority, power and a host of spiritual privileges. If we are ignorant of these, we will dutifully plod thru life quite certain that Christianity isn’t all that it is supposed to be. We will be powerless to achieve spiritual victory when sin rears its ugly head, and there will be no love, joy and peace thru the hardships of life. (You’re Richer Than You Think, p. 8-9).
Chapters 4-5 = Walk. Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Here we discover that a new status as children of God with commensurate spiritual resources, demands a new way of life, a new walk. As we discern what is pleasing to the Lord, we can walk, not as unwise but as wise, 5:10, 15. We can do this by drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit as we are filled with the Spirit, 5:18. We have to walk, but we are not walking alone. We are enlightened and empowered by Him who indwells us.
Chapter 6 = Stand. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Spiritual warfare is won by knowing our resources, applying them, and standing when Satan attacks. We have all that we need for the battle. We are a well-equipped army. Sit, walk and stand. That’s how the Christian life works.
Your friend, learning and living, Pastor Brian (:-}).