A Blog of Unfinished Thoughts

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

– Ephesians 3:16 –

Rooted in Love

When you plant something, its ability to grow is largely based on the soil it is planted in. I live in Iowa where this part of the country is known for great soil. It doesn’t take much  for vegetables or plants or flowers to bloom around here. But I was raised in Texas where the ground is more hard and the soil can be filled with rocks. You often had to fill your garden with store bought soil to get good growth.

In Ephesians 3:17, Paul talks about what kind of soil we were planted in as Christians. He says that we have been “rooted  and established in love.” And it is not just generic love, it is the very love of God that is our foundation. Because of that we are to not only be people of love but also people living  in the reality of God’s love. Paul continues in verse 18 that “we may have power, together with all saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”

When we understand that God’s love is endless and unconditional that changes us. That changes how we view our difficulties and hardships. That changes how we view our relationships with one another. More importantly, it should change how we view our relationship with God. If we are planted in God’s love–a love that knows no boundaries–that gives us a confidence and a security in our identity and in our eternal destination.

May we find joy walking in His love forever secure in His everlasting love.

Approaching God with Freedom

For both Jews and Gentiles, the idea of personally approaching God would have been a terrifying thought. Specifically for the Jew, no one casual approached God. Their sin separated them from God.  Once a year the high priest would enter into the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice for his own sins and for the sins of the people. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil which was a huge, heavy drape.

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. This represented a new relationship that man could now have with God. Through the shed blood of Christ, we can now have freedom and confidence in approaching God.

This is the new relationship that Paul was communicating to his readers in Ephesians 3:12. He writes,

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Our sins no longer have to be atoned for year after year. We no longer need a human priest to offer a sacrifice for us. We are no longer separated from God but may approach him with freedom! We take this for granite living on this side of the cross, but this was and is incredible news. It was a whole new relationship given to man. We can now freely and confidently enter into a relationship with our maker.

Making Known to Angels

In Ephesians 2-3, Paul is talking about a mystery that has now been revealed. The mystery is that God is bringing the Gentiles into His plan of salvation. The Gentiles are no longer outsiders but through the blood of Christ they have been brought near (Eph 2:13).

While talking about his calling to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, Paul makes an interesting statement. He writes in chapter 3 verse 10:

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…”

These rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms are spiritual beings both angels and demons. The reason we can say both angels and demons is by looking at what Paul writes in just a couple chapters later. In Ephesians 6:12 he says,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Spiritual beings, both good and evil, are looking at humans and our relationship with God and they are learning about God. Paul says that through the church the angels and demons are learning about God’s full and multifaceted wisdom.

Have you ever thought that your relationship with God is revealing to the spiritual beings about who God is. We tend to assume they know much more about Him and His plan for us than we do and yet they are learning from us. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that “angels long to look” into the mysteries of Christ. They are discovering the mysteries of God as they see it played out through humanity and the Church.

Make plain to everyone

In Ephesians  3, the apostle Paul give us his mission statement: To preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. What a great mission statement. For Paul, this wasn’t just his mission, it was his calling. By God’s grace, this was his task and his purpose while on this earth.

There is an interesting phrase within Paul’s statement that every teacher and preacher of the Gospel should take note of. Paul says he wants to “make plain to everyone” the mystery of Christ. He wants to proclaim the Gospel in a way that is clear and plain for all men and women to hear and understand. To everyone who shares God’s word, this should also be our goal: to communicate the truth of God in a way that people can understand it and live out.

Too often we complicate the Gospel. It instead of making it plain to know we make it hard to understand. We use fancy theological terms and drop in Greek and Hebrew references that can too often can create confusion for our hearers instead of clarity.  The Gospel is for everyone and should be known by everyone. As we proclaim the Gospel may we make the mystery of Christ plain to everyone who hears. As teachers, let us not be a stumbling block for people to hear and believe.

A Mystery Revealed

In Ephesians 3, Paul writes about a mystery that had been hidden to many generations. A mystery that was finally revealed by the Spirit of God through the apostles and prophets. The mystery is this: gentiles can now share in the inheritance of Israel. For all gentiles, like myself, this great news. In fact, this isn’t simply great news it is life changing news. God’s salvation through Jesus Christ was not only going to be available to Israel but everyone. God does not simply love the nation of Israel, he loves the entire world (John 3:16) and desires for all men to be saved. Because of this revealed mystery, Paul was given a task: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.

– Ephesians 2:19 –

No longer aliens

Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, our citizenship changes. He writes in verse 19, ”

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…”

When we, as Gentiles, were made alive in Christ, we became fellow citizens with God’s people. The reference to “God’s people” is not to the nation of Israel but believers in Jesus Christ. Before our salvation, we were foreigners and aliens. We were on the outside. We might have looked and talked like Christians. We might have even shared their same morals and values. But we did not share the same citizenship as God’s people who are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (2:6).

But Paul takes it one step further. Not only are we citizens with God’s people, we are now members of his household. It is one thing to be citizens of the United States, it is another to be a member of the President’s family. There is a big difference between being a citizen of the U.K. and being a part of the royal family.

I would be happy just to be able to be a citizen of heaven, God wants believers to also be in his family. He wants that type of relationship with us. This statement reveals God’s very personal nature. He is not just a King, he is a father.

We are no longer aliens, we are sons and daughters.

One new man

In Ephesians 2:14, Paul writes that Jesus is our peace and he has destroyed the wall of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles. Before Christ and his death on the cross, the Jews were separate from the Gentiles. The law, with its and rules and restrictions, set a part  the Jews from everyone else. The nation of Israel was also the primary way God was working through and speaking to the world. But when Christ came, he came not only to bring salvation to Israel but to all of the world. This is great news to all us who are not Jewish. But  before the cross, we (Gentiles) were far away from God. But now we have been “brought near through the blood of Christ.”

What was the purpose of bringing Jews and Gentiles together?  In verse 15, Paul tells us that Christ’s “purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two.” This new man is a not an individual man but the church–the body of Christ. And now God has changed how he deals with people. He now longer primary works  the Jews but through the Church–the joining of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jew does not lose his heritage or distinction as a Jew but now has a new identity along with the Gentiles a Christians–believers in Jesus Christ.

 

Brought Near

In Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul encourages his Gentile readers to remember when they were separate from Christ–to remember when they did not have hope. It is a funny thing to ask your Christian audience to think about. Why ask them to recall their life when they were not in Christ? What is the value of this? If you were born a Gentile, you were born outside of the covenant God had with the nation of Israel. You were not a part of God’s chosen people. You were not a part of the people God was going to send his Messiah to. The Jews made it very clear that Gentiles were outsiders and could not have any part of the blessings given to the nation of Israel.  In essence, The Jews believed that the uncircumcised Gentiles could not know or be given salvation. They were destined to eternal separation from God.

Paul asks them to remember this so to never forget what they experienced and what they were given through the blood of Jesus Christ. In verse 13, Paul writes,

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

What a great phrase: “brought near.” No one wants to be distant. No one wants to be on the outside. Through Christ, the Gentiles now have the opportunity to be brought near. They now have the opportunity of being included in the salvation offered through Christ. This is why we remember. Because we were once lost and far away but now we have been found and brought near. This is the type of remembrance of our lost past that does not lead to shame but worship.

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