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981. Introduction to Ephesians

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2021 7:00 pm

981. Introduction to Ephesians

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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May 3, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit begins the series entitled “New Life in Christ,” with a message titled “Introduction to Ephesians,” from Ephesians 4:31-33.

The post 981. Introduction to Ephesians appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University, will begin a study series from Ephesians entitled, New Life in Christ.

Steve has written a study booklet for this series. If you would like to follow along, you can order a printed copy from the website, thedailyplatform.com. Today, Steve will walk us through an introduction to the book of Ephesians in chapters three and four. I'd like to invite your attention this morning, please, to the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter three this morning, Ephesians three. Our theme this semester is entitled, New Life in Christ, a Study in Ephesians.

It's actually Ephesians chapter four, verse 17 to the end of the chapter, verse 32, but we're going to take time over the next two weeks to deal with the book of Ephesians as a whole, an introduction to Ephesians, and then understanding the message of Ephesians so that when we come to the context in chapter four, beginning in verse 17, we'll have a greater sense, a greater understanding, and really a greater appreciation for what it is Apostle Paul is calling us to do. If you were able to see the eclipse this past August 26, you probably experienced what most of us felt, and that was a sense of amazement, of awe, and excitement. In part, we were amazed simply because we've never seen that before. In other words, it wasn't a normal, everyday experience. Let me ask you a question this morning. Have you ever considered what would cause an angel to be amazed?

I mean, think about it. What is the normal, daily experience of an angel? In the Bible, angels are mentioned over 1,500 times. They are very powerful and very influential beings who are God's servants.

Listen to what they do. They make world-changing announcements. They fight with demonic hosts.

They fly throughout the universe at lightning speed. They watch history unfold in real time. They praise and worship God in a heavenly choir of 100 million angels.

Could you imagine what that would be like? They are actively involved in daily protecting and comforting the people of God. And most of the time, all of this is done while operating as God's invisible agents. So if all these things are normal for angels, then what would cause them to be amazed? And that's what we find out in the book of Ephesians. Because in Ephesians, it tells us that God is doing something in the world that causes them to stand in awe. And what is that? Let's read beginning in Ephesians 3, verses 7 down to verse 10.

I'll make notes as we read. Paul says, whereof I am made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. That is, by God's power, Paul was called to be a preacher.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles, notice the word Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ. To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, that's very important, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent, or here is why God has kept it a mystery, but now He is revealing it. That now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places.

Who are the principalities and powers? We read later on in Ephesians 6 that it's referring to angels. So here, he says, it is to this intent that now unto the angels might be known by, or literally through the church, the manifold wisdom of God.

Here's what Paul is saying in essence. That he was called to reveal a mystery through the preaching of the gospel. It is a mystery that had been hidden for ages and had been hidden from the angels. However, this mystery is now being unfolded.

It is now being revealed. And it is being watched by the angels in real time. And they are awed because they are observing the many-sided, multifaceted, diversely rich wisdom of God. They are stunned. They are awed. They are amazed.

So what is this mystery that leaves the angels so amazed? Well, as we seek to understand this mystery, and in particular how it relates to our theme this semester, our new life in Christ, I want to begin this morning with a little background check to the book of Ephesians before we move forward. Just some very simple things about the city of Ephesus and the believers there. We'll begin with the city of Ephesus. Do you know where Ephesus is located?

Okay. You've heard of it, but where is it? Well, it's located today in what we know as modern day Turkey.

Today, Ephesus no longer exists as a city. It is primarily in ancient ruins. However, even though they're in ruins, it is a prime, it is a premier tourist site that has over a million visitors coming every year. I've been to the ruins of Ephesus. I think I've been there three times.

And they are spectacular. In ancient times, Ephesus used to have a harbor there in the city right on the Aegean sea coast. But over time, that harbor filled up because of silt that was deposited into the harbor by the Castor River. So currently, the city of Ephesus is about six kilometers from the Aegean sea coast, which is about three and a half miles. During biblical times, Ephesus was a very large city, the fourth largest in the Western world, only behind Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. It boasted of a population of 250,000 people, and it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Just to put a picture in your mind, if you take the country of Turkey, Asia was the province on the far western side of the country.

So when we say upstate South Carolina, you could look at it as that region area. Now, Ephesus was most well known as a religious center. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Diana, was located in the heart of the city. The temple may have been the largest building in the world in that day. It stood 200 feet wide and 400 feet long.

So just picture the soccer field here at Alumni Stadium. That's about the size of the width and the length of the building. The building had 127 columns that stood 60 feet tall. Many of the columns were overlaid with gold, and on top of the columns, there was a large roof. So you can only imagine the size of this building. In the middle of the temple, there was a statue dedicated to the goddess Diana, who was the Roman goddess of fertility and hunt.

And every year, they would have an annual festival that they estimate that a half a million worshipers would come to pay homage to Diana. So it was a very, very important focal point of the entire city. So what about the church of Ephesus?

What was that like? Well, when we go back and we read the book of Acts in particular, we read that the apostle Paul visited the city of Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey. If you remember, the apostle Paul in his first missionary journey went to the region of what we know as Galatia.

His second journey, he went through Galatia with the intention of going to Ephesus, but God redirected him to go across the Aegean Sea to the country of Greece where he went to the towns of Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Berea, and Athens. So on his second missionary journey trip, he was coming back to Jerusalem and he stopped in Ephesus and he dropped off two friends, a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila. They were Jews converted who had come to Corinth from the city of Rome and had met Paul there. This couple stayed and they were instrumental in instructing a great preacher named Apollos.

Have you ever heard of Apollos? Apollos was a believer, but he didn't understand Christian baptism. He only understood John the Baptist baptism and so they instructed him in a more accurate way of understanding God's word. Well Paul later returned to the city of Ephesus on his third missionary journey and he stayed there for around three years preaching and teaching the Gospel. And his ministry there was both very fruitful and at the same time, it was fraught with many dangers. He started out as his normal process of preaching in the Jewish synagogue. He was there for three months preaching and teaching, disputing, arguing, going through the Old Testament, explaining that Jesus is the Messiah. During that time, some of the disciples of John the Baptist were taught the full Gospel and they received the Holy Spirit. However, the Jewish people began to mount a resistance against Paul. And so he left the synagogue with the new converts and he went next door to the school of Tyrannus.

And the school as far as we know was just simply a private school. And this is very important. It is right here that Paul begins to focus his attention on reaching the Gentiles. Now when we look at our study this semester, and we look at Ephesians 4 and verse 17, look at what it says.

It says this, I say therefore and testify in the Lord that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk. The Apostle Paul was reaching unconverted heathen. And what was the impact of his preaching and teaching? In Acts chapter 19 and verse 10, it says this, and this is an amazing statement, that the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. God was working in such a powerful way that the Gospel spread throughout the entire region of Asia.

It went so far that it went to even the city of Colossae where one of Paul's converts named Epaphras went and started a church and began to reach the Colossian believers. And what we see here is the ever-widening, ever-expanding circle and scope of the Gospel. And I believe this with all of my heart, that when we are committed to the Gospel, I mean really dedicated to it, and we are engaged in the Great Commission, that we should have an ever-widening, ever-expanding circle and scope of Gospel influence. That is this, that if God is really at work, then we should be out in the world spreading the Gospel. And because of that, people get saved and churches are started and churches are strengthened and revitalized. I think of a student body like Bob Jones University with 2,500 students. If we are really serious about the Gospel, if we really believe the Gospel, not just in the head, not just with the mouth, but with the heart, then the, then there should be an ever-widening, ever-expanding circle where we are reaching out all over the upstate of South Carolina and into North Carolina and into Georgia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That's what we should be doing. One result of the conversion of the Gentiles was the fact that they began to forsake their paganism. For example, the Ephesians burned so many books of magic, and we read about this in Acts 19, that the value was equal 50,000 pieces of silver. One piece of silver was one day's wage for an average laborer.

And you can do the math, that's the equivalent to 140 years' pay for an ordinary laborer. That's what was happening. There was a separation going on from their paganism. And the result of these new believers renouncing their idol worship began to endanger the local economy of Ephesus centered around the temple of Diana.

And what happened was that there was an idol-maker named Demetrius who incited a city riot against Paul because his own business was being affected by the preaching of the Gospel. May I say to you that the purpose of the Gospel is to save the soul. But when the Gospel begins to transform the heart, it begins to transform society. Do you want to be a part of changing the world?

One of the wonderful things about college students is your life is in front of you. God gives you dreams. And one of the great dreams is being a part of something that changes the world we're living in.

Well how do we do that? We do that through the Gospel. People are changed inside out and it changes societies. It turns drunkards into sober people and prostitutes into pure people.

It takes people living in ignorance and darkness and have no desire for knowledge and give them a thirst and a passion for the knowledge of God's word. It changes people. It changes marriages. It changes families. It changes lives. But when the Gospel is preached, people get glad but some people get mad and it goes on all the time.

There will always be a reaction to the truth. And so the church of Ephesus was in the center, this hub, this perfect place to have an impact on the world. And they were a significant church.

They had very notable pastors like Timothy and later on the Apostle John. So question, when is the church of Ephesus last mentioned in the Bible? When is it mentioned in the last book of the Bible? What is that book, the Revelation? And it's mentioned as one of the seven churches of Asia that Jesus speaks to about the end times on His second coming.

So that leads me to the last thing this morning. And that is the letter itself, what we call the correspondence to the Ephesians. Now according to Ephesians chapter one and verse one, it's very clear that Paul was the writer of this letter.

Look at what it says in verse one of Ephesians one, Paul an apostle, Jesus Christ by the will of God to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Now where was Paul when he wrote this letter? Well if you have your Bibles and if you look at the very end of the book, you have chapter six verse twenty four, you'll notice a little note at the end of it that says written from Rome unto the Ephesians by actually you pronounce it Tucchicus. So we know that this letter was written from Rome.

Why Rome? Well look at chapter six and verse twenty. Paul says for which I am an ambassador in bonds.

What does that mean? It means Paul was in prison. So this was a letter written while he was in prison in the city of Rome. Do you know of any other letters that Paul wrote from prison? We call them the prison epistles. So you have Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and the book of Philemon. Just think of those books.

How many times do we as believers read those books? Not only for instruction but for encouragement and strength and comfort. Paul was suffering yet through his suffering we are being strengthened. So why did he write the letter?

What motivated him? Well when you read Philippians and Colossians and Philemon it's generally due because of certain issues or certain problems going on in the church but the book of Ephesians as far as we know there was no known or notable problem that motivated him to write this letter. Therefore, Paul wrote to teach and instruct the believers in something extremely important.

And what was it that makes this book so special and so unique? Well of the twenty-one New Testament letters, Ephesians is the only letter where the focus is on God the Father as the primary subject. In other words, Ephesians is about what God the Father is doing. And specifically, it's what He is doing for His Son.

And what is He doing for the Son? That's what we call the mystery. The book of Ephesians is about revealing a mystery that had been hid in the past but is now unveiled in the present. And what is that mystery?

Three things I want to say about the mystery. Number one, the first thing is this, that God the Father is preparing for God the Son a bride. God the Father is preparing for God the Son a bride.

And what do we call that bride? It's the church of Jesus Christ. Look at Ephesians 5, 32. He says, this is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and His church. That's what God is doing in the world.

If you want to know what God is doing in the world, Ephesians tells us. He is preparing for His Son a bride and that bride is the church of Jesus Christ. The second point I want to make about the mystery is that this bride or this body called the church is inclusive of believing Jews and Gentiles. Now just a word about the Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were the descendants of Abraham. God had made a promise we call a covenant with Abraham and promised that his family would be blessed and they would be a blessing to the world.

And that blessing by the way is the coming of Jesus. Every male descendant, every Jew showed that they were God's chosen people because they were circumcised. So their name were called the circumcised. But what about the Gentiles? The Gentiles were the descendants not of Abraham specifically but of Noah in general. And they were divided by God at the tower of Babel and that's where we have the nations of the earth coming from.

Genesis 10, 39, these are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations in their nations. The word nation there is the Hebrew word goyim for which we get the word Gentile. And by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood. The name came to mean heathen, unenlightened, and idol worshippers. And they were called by the Jews the uncircumcised as a term of derision. And the Jews viewed the Gentiles as depraved in nature and enslaved in sin. Paul says the Gentiles were aliens and strangers to God's covenant. They had no Messiah.

They had no hope. They were without God in this world. And here's what Paul is saying. What God did is He brought them the Gospel. The Gentiles were redeemed to God through the blood of Jesus Christ and what did God do for the Gentiles?

He made them citizens of God's kingdom and He made them members of God's family. Now look at Ephesians 3 and verse 4 through 6 and we see this. Notice what Paul says. Whereby when you read you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. So Paul's the revealer of the mystery. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. So God kept it a secret in the Old Testament revealing it in the New Testament. And here it is, verse 6, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel.

So what's the mystery? It is the inclusion of the Gentiles into this body we call the church. Now let me say to you this morning, if you are not Jewish, then you're a Gentile.

In this room we only got two people. We either have Jews or we got Gentiles. So if you are not a descendant of Abraham, if you don't have Jewish background in you, then everybody here is a Gentile.

Now you may be a European Gentile or you may be an Asian Gentile or you may be an African Gentile or you may be a Gentile from the islands but if you're not a Jew, you're a Gentile. And if you're a Gentile and you are a Christian, it means because God has been merciful to you and He has brought you into His plan, His plan is called the church. And that leads me to the third point and that is this, that the spiritual division that once existed between Jews and Gentiles is now removed. And the two groups, that is Jew and Gentile, have become a new humanity who are united together in one body, the church of Jesus Christ. Go back to chapter two and verse 11, we see what Paul says, he explains it here.

Let me read it to you. Wherefore remember that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision, that's a term of derision, by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands. Now think about it, Jews had basically names for the Gentiles, that does not make for good relationships. Verse 12, that at that time, the Gentiles, you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, but now in Christ Jesus, you who are sometimes far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. So the Gentiles now are made close to God. Verse 14, for He, Christ is our peace, who hath made both one.

That's Jews and Gentiles. He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Verse 15, having abolished in His flesh, that's by His death, the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances for to make in Himself a twain of the two, Jews and Gentiles, watch this, one new man. So making peace, verse 16, and that He might reconcile both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one body by the cross. So what's He saying?

What's the mystery? He's brought Jews and Gentiles separate and He has made them one in a new body, a new humanity that is called the church of Jesus Christ. That's what God's doing in the world. And God has created this unity. But this is a group that is — has much diversity because they come from tribes, tongues and nations and He's bringing them into this one body and this body needs to come together in solidarity which is an agreement in your feelings and actions and that is a commitment together to Jesus Christ.

And so how does that fit with our theme? Because in Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 17, He writes and He says to the Gentiles, I want you to live differently than the way that you used to live and your choices and your relationships. I want you to expand in your understanding of the Father's love for you. I want you to grow in that love. By the way, a changed life always starts with a comprehension and an understanding of the contours of God's love for His children.

The breadth, the length, the depth, the height. In other words, we're overwhelmed with God's love which is the great motivation for us to live for Him because if we love Him, then we keep His commandments. And so He writes to these Gentiles and He says be overwhelmed and grow in God's love and then begin to live out your faith in your choices and live out this new life that you have in Christ. That's what our theme is all about, living that out as Gentiles in the world today. So this is the mystery that amazes the angels.

I wonder how many of them say, wow. Let's pray. Father, thank you for your word and thank you for what you are doing in real time in converting Jews and Gentiles and bringing them into one body called the church. Father, I pray that you will help us to have solidarity in our commitment to Christ and especially as Gentiles living out the purity that comes in the life of a believer who loves Jesus Christ. We ask this in His name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Ephesians chapter four. This sermon is part of the study series called New Life in Christ by Dr. Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 03:21:16 / 2023-11-23 03:30:59 / 10

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