Devotional # 96. 8/4/14. Ephesians 1:6-14.
News and Follow-Up: As most of you know my family and I just spent 2 weeks in Hungary at English/ Bible camps. It was an amazing time. The first camp in Szamosszeg was great with the local Baptist church working with the local government to put on the camp. The church was amazing, reminding me of our church here in Hemet, Bible based and evangelization minded. They supplied helpers that were incredibly valuable and essential. The second camp in Nagyszokoly was solely put on by the local government and although they were very gracious and supplied more than we could have asked for, the absence of a local body of Christians was very apparent. This camp had double the amount of kids but we met in an abandoned school where conditions were difficult. I mention this because it helped me understand why we are to rely on our brothers and sisters in Christ. But God was faithful in all things.
Sharing the gospel with both villages was of course very rewarding and it was very apparent that seeds were planted. One story I would like to share is from the second week. I sent an email to a few people about how the camp was going and I got a response from one of the people to make sure to share the message of Romans 8 with the kids. That Jesus forgives past, present and future sins. The next day Jenna gave the bible study on the crucifixion and one of the other teachers, James from London, wanted to share his testimony. It fit perfectly as an example for the kids on how to apply the knowledge of Jesus dying for our sins and how we must take action to accept Him into ones heart. He shared the idea of Jesus saving us from our sins past, present and future. It was such an amazing confirmation to me that God’s message will be confirmed and reaches the ears that He desires no matter what!
Ephesians Intro. It has been a few weeks so I thought I should put the Ephesians in here again. As with Galatians, this book is named for the place that Paul’s letter was going. Ephesus was the second-largest city of Rome. It is present day Izmir, Turkey. This letter was written from prison in Rome around 60-62 AD (Source 1, p. 1801).
In February of this year our pastor Troy had us open our Bible to the book of Ephesians and put our finger anywhere. He told us wherever we put a finger, if it was in chapters 1-3 then we’d see doctrine of what God did for us. Chapters 1-3 show the things Christians have. If we put our finger somewhere in chapters 4-6 it would show us how to walk the Christian life, but we wouldn’t understand it until we get chapters 1-3. So keep that in mind (and I’m sure I’ll remind you!) as we move through the book that chapters 1-3 are “theological, emphasizing New Testament doctrine” and chapter 4-6 are “practical and focus on Christian behavior” (Source 1, p. 1801).
Recap: vv. 1-5. Paul blesses the Father and the Son pointing out that they gave us salvation and set us to be adopted in love.
v. 6. Paul finishes his thought on our adoption which was done “according to the good pleasure of His will.” The point of our adoption is that we would praise God’s grace. It was this grace that made it possible for us to be accepted by Jesus’ gift on the cross.
vv. 7-10. It was through this “grace” that we could be redeemed to the Father by the “Beloved” (v. 5) – the Son. Paul is very straightforward that it was “forgiveness of sins.” Interesting that we just talked about how Jesus saved us from our sins: past, present and future! And God has made known to us His will. There are thousands of sermons and probably as many self-help books asking “what is the will of God for my life?” It’s always about “me” and “what I get out of it.” But can we consider that the world might not hinge around us?
I like how the New Living Translation renders verse 10: “And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” So although we should certainly pray for God’s will to be done in our life, if we spent less time trying to convince God that a higher paying job and better behaved kids are His will and we started considering what part we play in glorifying Christ, that would be best. Interestingly it says “all things in Christ.” Have you considered whether Jesus is Lord of your life? Is He your master? In short have you subjected everything that sits on your heart to Him? If not, don’t wait until the things that are foretold in Revelation start happening!
vv. 11-12. A second part to God’s will is given here and…sorry – yet again, the world doesn’t revolve around you. It seems that Titus 2:11-12 actually means what it says. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”. Did you notice the mention of God’s grace, perfectly tying to what we’ve been reading here in Ephesians? So it is God’s will that we who trust in God will be the praise of His glory. When we praise God willfully it is the sweetest sound to the Lord. Remember He didn’t create robots. Without free will there is no love and our loving God enjoys being praised by His grateful and adoring children.
vv. 13-14. Paul tells us that when we heard the truth of Jesus (He is Truth according to John 14:6!) we trusted in Him. This truth was the “gospel of our salvation” and because we believed it we were sealed by the Holy Spirit. This sealing is considered a promise. So the fact that the Holy Spirit tells us, through Paul, that He has sealed us we are to take this as a promise that God will keep His word. If we have believed that Jesus saved us from our sins: past, present and future then we will be saved. The Holy Spirit is our “guarantee” that we are truly adopted and that we will receive our inheritance. Of course, in keeping with the theme of God receiving His rightful “praise” because of His “glory”, this is how Paul concludes this section.
Conclusion. We talked about many things crucial to our understanding of being a Christian but there was certainly a theme of God’s will not being about us but about His receiving glory for His grace. Self-denial is our reasonable response as we purposefully present ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). An understanding of how we are saved (hearing truth, responding to it in belief and then given a promise and guarantee that we will be saved) comes after seeds are planted and watered. That is what we strove to do in Hungary but the many of you who prayed for this time are just as much responsible for these seeds being planted as we are. Lets pray for the remaining two camps that Way of Hope is facilitating this summer. Pray that these kids would have the seed planted that James had planted many years ago and which came to fruition since God’s word doesn’t return void (Isaiah 55:11).