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September 6, 2021 7:00 am
Today were going to move on to the book of Ephesians now little bit of background, the city of Ephesus was one of the most strategic cities in the Roman Empire at the time of the apostle Paul. It was located at Ephesus was in the western half of Turkey, modern-day Turkey referred to in the Bible as the Roman province of Asia.
It was the main seaport for this entire section of the Roman Empire and as such, it became the third most important city in the Roman Empire behind Alexandria in Egypt and Rome herself note the time of the apostle Paul, the city of Ephesus had about 300,000 people. It was a magnificent city will show you a slide of just a tiny little piece of this city and it had a theater that ceded 25,000 people.
This is the theater mentioned in acts chapter 19 that Gaius and Aristarchus were dragged into by the mob. It also was the home of the Temple of Diana, of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world you see on our screen and artist mockup of the temple and then you see what's left like one column but anyway that that's it. Paul got to Ephesus on his third missionary journey and spent almost 3 years here during those three years. He preached Christ he discipled believers and he reached people for the Lord who were passing through town merchants, sailors are tradesmen, travelers, whatever.
And then he used the honeybee strategy with them, which is he would pollinate them with the gospel and then trust them to take the gospel like a honeybee back to their own cities and as a result of this remarkable look. Acts 1910 says all who lived in Asia. The whole half of Turkey Western Avenue heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Gentiles, and this is how the six other churches of Revelation 2 and three were talk about Smyrna and Pergamum and thought Tyra and Laodicea and the church in Colossae. They all got started, not because Paul went to these places and preach he didn't, but because honeybees that came through Ephesus took the gospel back to their cities preach the gospel and started churches there everybody with me. Yeah, now were to talk about Paul's letter to the Ephesians, but just before we do, let me remind you that if you've missed any of our series, we are producing enhanced CDs so that you can catch up and on the CDs we have are not only the audio but we also have the word doc with all of the slides and all of the of the PowerPoint and the maps and so I don't want you to try to keep up taking notes because you won't be able to just listen and kind of absorb what were doing and you'll always be able to get the subsequent weeks message out in the lobby and also want to let you know we just put together the first six into a collection that you can get in our lobby shop where all six of them are in a box together and every time we get six were to do this with them. Okay, so don't try to take notes. Just listen. Let's talk about the letter to the Ephesians. The letter to the Ephesians, along with the three letters immediately after it. Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are known commonly as the prison epistles and let me tell you why and 56 A.D. after Paul left Ephesus he went to Jerusalem.
Acts chapter 21, where he was arrested as a result of a mob situation. The Romans arrested. Then he spent the next two years in Israel acts chapter 21 to 26 then he appealed his case to Caesar, and was sent by boat to Rome. Acts chapter 27 and then he spent two more years in Rome. Acts chapter 28 awaiting trial before Nero. These were the years of 61 and 62 A.D. and it was during these years of imprisonment in Rome that he wrote all four of these letters, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and so there called the prison epistles because they were written.
While the apostle Paul was in the present. Very good. Okay, we got that now that if you remember we told you weeks ago that all of Paul's letters to the churches like this one to the Ephesians follows the same basic pattern.
The first section of the letter in this case. In the book of Ephesians chapters 1, two and three deal with theological truth, and the second section in Ephesians chapters 4 to 6 deal with practical Christian living true so we want to first dig in the beginning section of the book of Ephesians and find out what is the theological truth that the apostle Paul wants to teach us here so by ready are here we go. Many commentators miss the key theological truth that Paul is teaching us in Ephesians chapters 1 through three and usually it's because they get so caught up in the beauty of the beginning of chapter 1 the first half of chapter 1 of the book of Ephesians is a just a marvelous portion of Scripture, but the main theological point Paul is trying to teach us in this letter is not found in the first half of chapter 1 and people don't get past that to really see what Paul's trying to say to us in order to find this truth that he's trying to teach us. We do it by noticing the repeated contrast in the first three chapters between the word you and the word we let me show you.
We who were first to trust in Christ is compared to the next verse two in him you also believe in chapter 2 verse one Paul says you were dead in your trespasses and sins, and then in verse three we also used to live in the loss of our flesh. Chapter 2 verse 17 and he came Christ did and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to we who were near and we could go on but do you see the contrast that is running through these first three chapters between the we and you you got it okay. Now the problem is we gotta figure out who is you and who is we are in Paul answers that for us right here in Ephesians. Look, he says.
Therefore, remember that you the Gentiles in the flesh who are called on the circumcision you also trusted in Christ after you heard the gospel of your salvation so who is you will you are Gentile believers in Jesus by with me okay now for the way. Well, Paul says in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 12. He says we who first trusted in Christ being to the praise of his glory. Well, the very first people to ever trust in Jesus will of course they will go.
There were Jewish people yeah and so the we are Jewish believers in Jesus, you got the difference now you versus we now watch Paul make his theological point. Ephesians 212.
Remember that you the Gentiles in the flesh before you were saved. Paul says you number one were separated from Christ number two you were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, number three you were strangers to God's covenant of promise. Number four. You had no hope. Number five, you were without God in the world. Number six, you were. Ephesians 213 for off from God and Ephesians 219. Number seven you were strangers and aliens to all God's covenants and promises. Not a pretty picture. Verse 13 but now and how much you love that, but now in Christ Jesus you who were formerly for all you Gentiles have been brought nearby the blood of Christ, Luria continues a Harley a mannerism. Yeah, all right. You have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for he the Lord Jesus is our peace, who has made both groups. Jews and Gentiles into one.
He made the two groups Jews and Gentiles into one new man reconciling them both to God in one body.
The body of Christ through the cross and becomes the main point. That was a trumpet ready.
I'm do it again.
Here's the main point you ready. Don't miss this all right. Ephesians 219 so then so then you Gentiles are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with all the saints, and equal members of the household of God with us. Jewish believers. That's Paul's point.
Now this was a revolutionary truth in the days of the apostle Paul Jews and Gentiles being equals in anything, was a revolutionary point in Paul's day, the Jews despised the Gentiles they called them dogs. They avoided all contact with them by an acts chapter 22.
For example, Paul was speaking to a group of Jewish people on the Temple Mount and he told him about what happened to them on the road to Damascus and then asked 22 verse 17 Paul said when I came back to Jerusalem, I was praying and the Lord said to me, make haste and get out of Jerusalem because they will not accept your testimony about me here and God said to me, Paul says go for. I will send you far away to the Gentiles and the crowd listen to Paul until this word Gentiles and then they raised their voices and said away with such a fellow from the earth, he should not be allowed to live. We do wrong.
We said God sending to the Gentiles. That's all he said and you can see the wrath and the vehemence that this brought up in the Jewish people use a ballon. These were unbelieving Jewish people. Yeah well but sadly the problem wasn't limited to just nonbelieving Jewish people. The New Testament makes it clear that after the Gentiles began getting saved and coming to Christ. Many Jewish believers discriminated against them. Acts chapter 10 the above apostle Peter is sent to Cornelius to preach the gospel to him. Cornelius was a Gentile Roman soldier and Cornelius came to Christ and his whole family came to Christ. Acts 11 verse one.
Now the apostle James, John, Matthew, all the good guys here and the other Jewish believers in Judea heard that the Gentiles, Cornelius had received the word of God.
So when Peter came to Jerusalem, they what's the next word. They criticized him, saying, why did you go to uncircumcised people, and eat with them.
Matthew, James, John, Nathaniel, none of these folks said, hey, isn't this what all the Gentiles are going to get to go to heaven. The Gentiles are going to get eternal life, the Gentiles are going to have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven and their lives redeemed know they said Peter. What is wrong with you what you doing going to about two Gentiles and after Peter explained how these Gentiles a trusted Christ and of the Holy Spirit fallen upon them.
In chapter 11 verse 18 it says when they all these Jewish believers heard this, they were silenced they were forced to accept it, but even when they were forced to accept the Gentiles were coming to Christ. Many Jewish believers including Peter including Barnabas kept seeing them as second-class Christians not fully equal with Jewish believers, know that look at what Paul says in Galatians chapter 2 verse 11, he says, but when Peter came to Antioch Antioch on Miramontes Paul's home church, mostly a Gentile church when Peter came there I opposed him to his face. Paul said when you like to been in that little conference yeah because he stood condemned for prior to the coming of some men from James that is Jewish believers from Jerusalem, Peter would eat with the Gentile believers. But when these men came. That is from Jerusalem. Peter withdrew and separated from the Gentiles, fearing those of the circumcision and the rest of the Jewish believers there, and Antioch joined Peter in his hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was carried away in their hypocrisy folks can you see how Paul's declaration here in the book of Ephesians that Gentile believers and Jewish believers are completely equal in Christ that they are Ephesians 219 fellow citizens and equal members of the household of God, do you see how revolutionary this truth was in the days of the apostle Paul, yeah, and this theological truth is what Paul refers to here in the book of Ephesians as the mystery of the church which no one knew till now see everybody knew already that the Old Testament said the Gentiles were going to get in on the blessings of the Messiah.
Genesis chapter 12 God told Abraham and all the families of the earth Jews and Gentiles will be blessed through you. We know from Galatians 3 he's talking about will be blessed through the Messiah that came from Abraham, but folks, the mystery of the church.
The mystery of the church is that God would create an entirely new entity. After the death of Christ, called the church.
It doesn't appear anywhere in the Old Testament, and that in the church.
Gentile believers in Christ and Jewish believers in Christ would be utterly and totally equal watch Ephesians 33 Paul said by Revelation. I didn't make this up. Paul said I didn't dream this up by Revelation directly from Christ himself. This mystery was made known to me which was not made known previously, namely that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body of Christ and fellow partakers of God's promises in Christ through the gospel.
Gentile believers being equal heirs with Jewish believers that Gentile believers being equal members of the body of Christ with Jewish believers, Gentile believers being equal, partakers of God's promises and cries with Jewish believers like my good friend to be a says honor guard of unthinkable and yet Paul says that's exactly what happens in the church and by the way, this was no last-minute decision by God. Ephesians 311 says all this was in accordance with God's eternal purpose which he purposed to do in Jesus Christ our Lord. Take a minute out of many fail God already had the church and mine friends were were all equal in Christ. So let's summarize the theological truth that Paul is laying out for us in the book of Ephesians as Christians do understand. Remember, it was revolutionary truth that the time is Galatians 328 in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile anymore, for we are all equal. We are all one. We are all equivalent in Christ and therefore when we meet another true believer in Jesus earthly differences don't matter.
It doesn't matter what race we are, what color we are, what language we speak what culture we came from, what finances we have. It doesn't matter whether we have blonde hair or brown hair or black hair or green hair or no hair makes no difference. We are all brothers and sisters equally in Jesus Christ without discrimination of any kind.
That's the truth of the book of Ephesians. A man and how great a piece of news is that especially for you Gentiles serious. Good for you.
You automate this book. Your life book. Okay, now that's the end of our book of what were going to talk about theologically from the book of Ephesians. But why do we now ask our most important question in last week we did a mini so what. But this week were going to do it right so are you ready at Loudoun and Prince William and at Bethesda and around the world and and here Tyson, are you ready are not one lady right this week is that I want you on the Internet and I scream in this empty room. So what so good for you ma'am. Join us today here we go ready want to pray Millicent there is so much great Bible truth in the book of Ephesians that you could literally spend two years as my friend John MacArthur has done several times going through the book of Ephesians. Well, we don't have to years. We got 10 minutes.
So what are we going to talk about friends. We gotta pick just one. Yeah, and that's what were going to do were going to pick Ephesians chapter 3 verse 20 in the truth that God tells us there. Let's look at it it says now to him who by the power at work within us, the Holy Spirit is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine to him be glory. Now I gotta tell you something. I can imagine a lot and yet the Bible says not that God can do more than I can imagine that it what the Bible says. The Bible says God can do exceedingly abundantly more than I could ask or imagine, this is what God said in the book of Jeremiah he said I am the Lord, the God of all flesh is anything too hard for me in the lesson. The so what the point that we need to pull out of this is that because God has this unlimited power. We, as his followers should approach every situation in life with unlimited expectations of what God can do and what God will do according to his perfect will for our life.
I'm going to repeat that because God has this unlimited power. We should approach every obstacle in every circumstance and live with unlimited expectations of what God can do and what he will do in accordance with his will for our life. Jeremiah 33 three God says call unto me and I will answer and I will show you great and mighty things that you know not God is saying to us, my friends pay when you call to me, expect me to answer when you call to me, expect me to do mighty things for you.
I love what AW toes are said he said true faith is never found alone is always accompanied by expectation. The person who believes the promises of God always expects to see them fulfilled. He goes on to say one characteristic that marks the average Christian today is the lack of expectation when we pray we don't expect anything unusual to happen and consequently nothing dollars." So Lemaster?
Christian friends about you about me.
Do we have this sense of holy expectation. Do we expect God to answer when we call on him and to do great and mighty things for us that we know not pay. I believe when Moses was at the red scene he called on God with the chariots of Pharaoh swooping down on him. He expected God to do something he did know God was good. Open the Red Sea. He did know precisely what God was going to do, but he expected God to move and when Joshua marched with the people seven times around Jericho and then have them all blow the trumpet in scream. He did know the walls were going to fall down, but he expected God to do something and when Esther walked in to see the King to save her people.
She didn't know exactly what was going to happen with Haman and how God was going to work that out but she expected God to do something and folks when we pray, we've got a promise from God called to me and I will answer you.
So when we pray, do we expect God to move and to do something we pray about broken relationships we pray about people that we asking God to convict them of their need for Christ were praying about God opening closed doors for us, that we just can't seem to open in our own energy we pray about God giving us favor and keep people's lives for our career for our life for our children when we pray for God to remove impossible looking obstacles from our path we pray for God to meet our financial needs and all of our earthly needs. When we pray for the strength to resist sin and obey God today. Do we expect God to answer Julie.
I know this sounds trivial, but when you pray for a parking space do you expect to get one. I do if you don't that's why you don't holy expectation. Let me tell you is not wishful thinking, holy expectation is not the power of positive thinking holy expectation doesn't mean that we are expecting God to give us everything we asked for just the way we asked for. That's not what he means. It means it's the confident assurance that when we call on God. He's going to answer and in accordance with his perfect plan for our life.
He's going to bring his exceeding abundant power to bear on the affairs of our life.
The affairs of our family.
The affairs of our job the affairs of our health.
The affairs of our ministry. Look, we have a promise from God call on to me and I will answer and I will show you great and mighty things that you know not, and the person who made this promise. The Bible tells us can do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or think or imagine folks with those two things you and I ought to be saturated with holy expectation in our lives each and every day and we gotta stop being like Eeyore and Stan 90 God no good answer prayer, but is never how would Nancy ever know this is not who God wants us to be God wants us to be humble and yet come to him, expectant, that he is going to do what he said he's going to and when he comes through.
Maybe in ways we didn't expect, but he comes through any answers we need to say, praise God. But you know what, I'm not totally shocked. I was expecting that you were going to work God was expecting. That's what God wants.
That's what Moses had.
That's what Joshua had.
That's what Esther had and that's what we need to have you with me thereby together okay now let's bow our heads with our heads bowed in her eyes close. What I want us all to do is to go to some circumstances in our life where we've given up. We got discouraged. We've lost that expectancy. God's ever going to do anything. Things seem like they been stuck on top dead center forever and I want us to ask the Spirit to help restore to us a spirit of expectancy based on the promise of God and the power of God. Take a moment and do that. If you would, Lord Jesus. Everyone of us has things in our life that you seem to be stuck. We prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing's happened in what we get discouraged, but I pray today that you would revive in us holy expectation that there's no reason to be discouraged that you act on your timing and you act in your way, but you fulfill your promise call unto me and I will answer and I will show you great and mighty things you don't know because I have exceedingly abundantly more power than anything you can imagine. So Lord, may we approach the problems and situations of life with this expectancy based on your power and based on your promise renew that in our lives today renew hope in our lives today because of the greatness of our God and we pray these things in Jesus name. What are God's people say amen