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What Has God Done For Us Ephesians 1: 15-23; 2:1-15 Ephesians 2:6-22; 3:1-11 Four Steps to Power
Fourth Step to Power The Body of Christ Our Minds Our Attitudes
Our Tongues A New Walk Slaves and Masters There's a war going on
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Ephesians 1:15-23; 2:1-5

Page 1

Ephesians 1:15-17, "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him..."

        "Father, we thank you for your Word, and Lord we're amazed at the things you do.  We ask you in Jesus' name that you would continue to lead.  Lord we do not know what day or hour you will return for your church.  We pray at that moment we will be living in such a way without compromise that we might lift our heads in anticipation, without shame and Lord that our love in return for the incredible things you've done for us would fuel Lord that fire within us.  We again pray for the nation, our leaders, for peace in Jerusalem Lord, and yet we know the only hope of the world is your return, so we also pray 'come quickly Lord'.  In Jesus name, Amen."

        "We are in Ephesians chapter 1.Interesting, Paul again as he writes the letter, takes us through our paces.  The world that we live in, every race begins with a starting point and a finishing line.  He says the Christian experience begins with the finishing line and Christ said "It is finished", and then after you get settled, you come to the starting point in your walk.  Or, the world that we live in begins with a walk.  You spend your life working so that at some point hopefully you get to retire, whatever people do, and move to Florida and play golf, I don't know.  But in the Christian experience you have to retire first and give up the work, and realize that Christ has done it, before you can find out what he wants you to do and how to walk.  I mean, it's a funny thing, it's all inverted, it's all backwards.  Most things in life you do, and when they're finished they're done.  The Christian experience is done and then you do.  It's all completed before you start, in your participation in it.  So he's trying to communicate that in these first three chapters, that Christ has accomplished all, so that we will understand that we are responders.  God is always the initiator, salvation is his work he's accomplished within the counsel of his own will, that which has benefited us that we haven't even realized yet.  And as we get to chapter 4, he begins to talk to us about our response to those things.  Now the first six verses he told us about this incredible plan of the Father that had been initiated before the worlds were even formed [so God must have been aware of the fact that Lucifer was going south on him before physical matter was created!].  That God knew us and called us then (verse 4).  Verses 7 to 12 he began to speak to us of the Son's, Jesus Christ's part in that.  Verse 7, saying "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.", and what Christ has accomplished, then insuring that inheritance for us, to where he brings us to verse 12, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."  And in verse 13 he begins to talk to us [about being sealed with the Holy Spirit], and that's where we left off, about the Spirit's work in this circumstance.  The Father's plan, the Son's redemption, and the Spirit keeping us in our present situation.  He says "In whom ye also trusted" speaking of Jesus ".after you heard the Word of truth.", the gospel, the Good News, it is "of your salvation." 

        Now I would remember throughout your Christian experience, if I was you-that the gospel means Good News.  If you're in a church fellowship somewhere where what you hear every week is "bad news", I would really consider moving.  You shouldn't walk out of a church (service) feeling depressed and beat up.  You get beat up by Satan and the world all week.  What's the sense of getting up early Sunday [or Saturday] morning on your day off, to get beat up again?  You have to be sick to do that.  So, the gospel is Good News.  The time that we spend together studying the Scripture, worshipping, should be a time that we're edified and confirmed in the faith and built up.  He says here, "we trusted in Christ, after we heard the truth."  That is the Good News.  In regards to our salvation, (verses 13b through 14) "In whom also, after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory."  So he tells us that as we came to Christ we were sealed again with the Spirit of promise.  And to the Ephesians it had a particular meaning.  They were used to banking arrangements and purchases, it was the banking capital of Asia there, the temple of Diana, and there in those precincts, banking in that part of the world, they were accustomed to seeing a seal placed on a document or a scroll.  They were accustomed to seeing a seal placed on cargo, and it would be a stamp of authority, it would identify ownership, it would ensure destination.  If you see cattle branded it's telling you who the owner is.  Much in the same way, remember that the Pharisees came to Pilate and said "Set a seal on the tomb", and again that was the authority of Rome.  If someone broke that seal, the guards that stood guard on the tomb would be killed, and the person who broke the seal would be crucified upside down.  If they didn't catch you, they would crucify everyone in your village, if they knew who you were.  Because the authority of Rome was behind it, and you messed with the authority of Rome.  So he says you and I were 'sealed with that [Holy] Spirit of promise' when we were saved.  And again, take note that in Revelation chapter 20 verse 3, where it talks about Satan being bound for a thousand years, and by the way, that's by one angel, and at that point he is cast into the abyss, and there's a seal set upon it, that's the same Greek word.  And take note in your studies that Satan does not have the power to break that seal for a thousand years.  That's very important, because it tells you here that God Almighty seals you.  And Satan has no authority to break that seal either.  And yet the church is filled with people talking about 'Satan does this, Satan made me do this.'  They're almost promoting people for hell or something.  And don't you get tired of that?  Let's talk about the amazing things that the Scripture tells us that God Almighty has accomplished on your behalf in that 'he has made you accepted in the beloved--you're in Christ.  And Satan is not moving into Christ, where you are, into that sphere.  You're sealed with the Spirit of promise.  That's God's seal of ownership, it's his seal of authority, it's his seal that ensures your destiny.  As it tells us in Peter, there's an inheritance, as we also talked about last week, that's kept, it's undefiled, it fadeth not away.  God would not keep that inheritance unless he knew somebody makes it, he knows that we'll be there.  So that inheritance is reserved for us.  Now he says that the sealing of the Spirit of promise--and when we hear 'that Spirit of promise', certainly, as it says in the book of Acts--this is the promise that was spoken of in the prophets, of the Holy Spirit and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.  And in that sense the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was the Spirit of promise--but obviously the implications here are that it means more than that, because it says 'that Spirit of promise is the earnest of our inheritance, until redeemed possession.'  Now what that's saying is this, the earnest--we might think of a down-payment, that might give us the idea--is really the first installment of a greater thing that's to be ours someday.  I don't want you to confuse it like it's Christmas time and probably a lot of you are putting things on lay-away, you give the store $10 and they put things on lay-away for you.  It's not like lay-away, because you can change your mind and go back and say 'Oh, I want to take that off lay-away'.and some of you probably, sometimes feel like God has you on lay-away, going to return you before Christmas.  That's not the same thing here.  This earnest, this word earnest is in the sense of an installment and that is, it is a little foretaste of the greater experience that is assured to be ours through the work of Christ.  And it's not something to be given to be taken back again.  And the idea is, all of us here this evening [or whenever, reading this] are spoiled for this world--I mean, when you think about your relationship with Christ, you know.  Thank God we are somewhere where we have the freedom to worship the way we want to, and the freedom to study the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  We don't have to talk about politics every week, except the politics of heaven.  We have the freedom to study the Word of God.  Because of that, when you think of Christ, what's your hope?  We are thinking of the return of Christ, we're looking at the prophetic scene that's on the news, we're waiting for the blast of a trumpet.  We're longing for the day that that 7 years is ended [3.5 year period of Classic or Historic Pre-Millennialists, 7 year tribulation period for Dispensational Pre-Millennialists], and human suffering comes to an end and Christ sets up his Kingdom [on earth, cf. Zechariah 14:1-15, esp. vs. 9].  We're looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth [cf. Revelation 21:1, read vs. 1-17, the new Jerusalem Abraham was longing for, hoping for, mentioned by Paul in Hebrews 11:8-10].  But either we've lost our minds, or we've all got the first installment.  Now you know, when you talk about New-Ager's and then they're weirder than anybody.  They can come into the corporate set-up, and they can teach their philosophies, they bring in all this nonsense--and here we are talking about the return of Christ and all of the things that he has for us--and people think we're crazy.  And again, I think it's sad if you're here this evening and don't know Christ personally, you know.  What is your hope?  Is it N.A.F.T.A.?  I mean, look what's happening on the news.  Are you hoping that the North American Free Trade Association is going to produce a better quality of living for you and fill your refrigerator and pay off your bills?  Are you hoping for that?  And if that happens, somebody's going to negotiate the nuclear arms problems so that after NAFTA does pay off your bills somebody doesn't blow it all up.  Are your hoping that even if they negotiate nuclear arms, somebody takes care of industry so you can breathe the air and drink the water?  Are you hoping that A.I.D.S. doesn't spread?  I mean, what is your hope?  Again, I think if your hope is in this world you've got more faith than we do.  We believe something simple--Jesus Christ died, he rose and is returning.  And he's going to blow a trumpet and catch us up off the face of the earth.  That's easier for us to believe than what you believe [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56; Revelation 19:1-21; Zechariah 14:1-15]--because what we believe is in the hands of Almighty God, what you believe is in the hands of men.   That's scary.  So it tells us here as believers, we have been spoiled for this world.  Now again, that is part of God's work, because he knows our tendency to wander, he knows our tendency to get involved in other things.  You know in our thinking and hearts it's nice on the scale of balances, we have the riches of Christ in the eternal heavens to weigh against the things of this world.  Remember it tells us that Moses esteemed the riches of Christ more than the riches of Egypt (cf. Hebrews 11:23-26-28).  Thank God that we have an installment, we have a glimmer into the Kingdom that's coming to weigh against all the things that Satan sets before our hearts here in this world.  But I also thank God that when a Christian gets off the course and starts to make his career his god and when he starts to make some other thing his god, or when he starts to make money his god, that he can't get settled down in that.  That he ends up very frustrated in it.  And the reason is because you're spoiled for this world--you've been touched and sealed by God's Holy Spirit and given the first installment of something that is far away and beyond anything that this world has to offer.  You know, I love that fact--Satan is wise, he's been at this a long time.  We see in Matthew 4 that he takes Jesus Christ on a mountain top and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and all the glory of them, and he says, "All of these will I give you, because they're given to me to give where I want to, if you fall down and worship me."  And Christ does not argue with him in the sense that he can give them to whoever he wants--he's going to give them to the anti-christ.  But before the Bible closes off and signs off in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, it says that John is taken away to a great and high mountain, and he sees something that far outshines any old thing that Satan has to show us down here.  [Revelation 21:1-17 shows the New Jerusalem, a fifteen hundred mile wide, by long, by high be-jeweled city of pure gold, coming down out of heaven, our new home, and future dwelling place of God with the resurrected immortal children of God that have been made immortal in the 1st Resurrection to immortality (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56).  This occurs after the new heavens and earth have been created (Rev. 21:1).  Heaven on earth anybody?  That's what it says.  This is the same city Paul says Abraham was looking forward to in Hebrews 11:8-10.]  Satan has got to put glass-plus on his stuff and got to, you know, put furniture polish on it, and gold polish.  We see there an eternal city with streets of gold and walls of jewels.  It's remarkable the thing that God's given us to weigh against all that's in this world.  And because you're never going to be satisfied [with what Satan has to offer].  Again, you try to walk away from Jesus Christ, you have a problem [if you're genuinely born-again, of the Spirit.]  [Non-Christians ,who think they're Christians, can and do walk away from Jesus Christ, all the time.  Let me explain.  If God hasn't sealed a person, even if that person has attended a real Christian Church for 20 years, has gone through all the motions, says the right things, can hold a spiritual conversation with you, was baptized--the problems of life, when they really boil up and over and get bad enough, that person will walk--walk right away from church, from Jesus, like they never knew him (because they never really did know him, never had him indwelling within them by the Holy Spirit).  But we human beings cannot discern that in an individual until it happens.  Often times it will happen within a Christian marriage, where problems boil up, one partner leaves--leaves the marriage, church, Jesus.  Why?  Because they were never really sealed with and by the Holy Spirit.  Simple as that.  How do I know?  Because it happened to me, and then the identical thing happened to a close Christian friend of mine.  All the spiritual evidence of our two wives non-conversion steadily surfaced after the divorces occurred, and continue to surface to this day.  Won't go into details, that's personal, and not necessary.  That's why Paul warned believers to marry believers, and not unequally yoke yourself to a non-believer.  That means if you're a Christian, do not date non-Christians!  I highly recommend believers who think they can date unbelievers to log onto the following article and read it: http://www.askpastorjim.org/unbelievers.htm .]  So you're just going to be miserable [if you're sealed and trying to walk away from Jesus].  And that's exactly how you're supposed to be.  If you're back-slidden this evening and you're miserable, don't feel bad [laughter], no, don't feel bad about feeling bad--just, feel bad.  That's how you're supposed to feel.  We all pray that you are miserable.  We pray you get ulcers.  We pray you don't sleep till you turn back.  Because we love you.  And you know in your heart, there isn't anything out there that compares with what God has shown you in your heart that lies ahead of you.  So we thank God that we have been sealed by this Spirit of promise, and given the earnest, the down-payment, the first installment of our inheritance, "until the complete redemption of the purchased." 

        By the way, that first installment is not in regards to forgiveness of sin, that's something that was settled 2,000 years ago.  That installment is in regards to our inheritance.  That's still ahead of us, the fullness of it.  And if you go to Greece today, and there is this word used for earnest here, is their word for engagement ring.  And I like that, because it helps us from just feeling like cargo, it helps us from just feeling like we're in a commercial deal with God's, shipping and receiving.  There's a great amount of emotion in this too, that what's he's given to us is an engagement ring.  And in a sense we're in a period of espousal.  And Paul say's he's espoused us unto one husband, that we're the Bride and he's [Christ] the groom.  So the Holy Ghost [Spirit] has slipped the engagement ring on your finger.  I like that.

        "Wherefore" Now verse 15 begins "Wherefore", wherefore, because of everything he just said since verse 3--because of God Almighty's plan, because of the signs of redemption, because of the Spirit's keeping us--"Wherefore because of this, I also after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." (verses 15-16).  Now Paul's in prison, he's got a lot of time to pray.  ".that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him" (verse 17).  Now look, he's writing to believers.  And these are believers that of course already know the Lord, obviously, but what he's saying is, as Paul says in Romans, that he prays that you might comprehend with all the saints 'that you might comprehend with all the saints what is the height and the depth and the width and the breadth of the love of God towards us in Christ Jesus.'  Here he's saying 'You know, I pray that God will give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that you might understand what is the hope of his calling and the riches of his inheritance' and so forth.  He's saying that there's something now that also I want you to have--it is beyond I.Q., I.Q. will do you no good, the person the world considers brilliant [like Einstein or Stephen Hawking] has no more of a chance of learning this information than someone who just made it out of grade-school.  It has nothing to do with intellect.  It has nothing to do with your ability to graduate from a university--it's by revelation, it's by enlightenment, that the youngest child who has turned to Christ, a five or six year old is entitled to this greater revelation about what Christ has accomplished and still has waiting for us.  Or the older saint, laying on his deathbed, waiting to check out, has access to this information, by revelation.  So he asked God to give to the saints at Ephesus now this spirit of wisdom, revelation and knowledge--and again, it's something that we should pray for.  God has an incredible ability to give understanding and knowledge and insight.  Look at Solomon, the wisest man that had ever lived.  What he asked for was a hearing heart.  He asked God for the ability to hear God's leading and God's voice.  And he ended up to be the wisest man that ever lived.  Now that was not from his father.  His father was a shepherd.  Solomon didn't learn about the migratory pattern of animals, he didn't learn about photosynthesis, he didn't learn--evidently he had an incredible knowledge about all kinds of things given to him by revelation by God Almighty.  If you're getting ready to take your final exams I think you should cram, but I think you should pray too, because God can do amazing things.  And here Paul says, 'I Paul, pray that God will give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him--the eyes of your understanding (for those of you who don't have an NIV), says 'the eyes of your heart being enlightened'.  Now he makes a reference to the Gentiles, that their understanding is darkened.  Here Paul says, 'Pray that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened, that you might know what is (first of all) the hope of his calling--first thing he asks us to know.  Now by the way, when you hear about the blessed hope, when the hope of the believer, the hope of the church is mentioned--realize that the hope that worldly men have differs in a way, because a worldly person is--it's kind of a maybe hope--I hope I hit the lottery this month, you know what I mean?  Or 'I hope my mother-in-law is not coming for Thanksgiving Dinner '.  You know, 'I hope my kid makes it home the first time I give him the car keys.'  You know, worldly people have a maybe hope.  But the hope of the church, the blessed hope, is not that kind of hope.  It's not a maybe hope.  It is identifying an established fact, that you are bound for glory.  You have been signed, sealed and delivered by God Almighty.  And his Spirit has sealed you into the day of redemption.  You are on your way and that is the hope of his calling.  It is a fixed, an established fact in Eternity.  "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."  It began before the worlds were formed.  You didn't have anything to do with it.  So when we talk about the 'hope of his calling', we have to realize this is a reality, this is not something, you know, where I get saved, and God's saying 'Ok, I hope you make it the rest of the way on your own, I hope your gonna get here, hope to see you in heaven [to some: "in the Kingdom of God at the resurrection to immortality"], see  you later.'  It's not that kind of hope.  It's our hope because it's a reality.  We hope it happens now.  It's part of our thinking, it's part of our planning.  It's part of our life.  Death [strangely enough] is part of our vocation.  As sons and daughters of God it tells us to walk worthy of the vocation you've been called to.  What we've been called to is to be the sons and daughters of God.  Part of our vocation is dying, and passing out of this world.  Now some of us will do it in an accident, some of us in our old age and death, some of us are going to do it in a trumpet blast, and will be reborn again in a twinkling of an eye, as it were, physically [some denominations and/or theologians believing we receive Spirit composed bodies at this point--have to wait and see].  But  that's part of our vocation.  For you and I, death does not interrupt, it's not going to interrupt my plans.  You know, you look at people in the world, who don't have this hope, and death is a tragedy because it severs relationships with loved ones.  It destroys their plans for their future.  It takes everything away from them that they thought to possess.  And yet as a believer, first of all, death does doesn't sever our relationships [sort of like when a close friend is moving away and says] "see you in awhile."  There's a reunion, there's no severing of relationships.  Second of all, it is not an interruption of my plans, because I am planning on going there.  It is part of my plans.  It doesn't take everything away from me, because like Paul says, 'We count it all as dung [all that we have now] that we might get there, and knowing him.'  [And king David said in one of the Psalms that it was better to be a door-keeper in the Kingdom of God than someone who dies without hope.]  The stuff we're really hankering to get a hold of is in eternity.  So that's our hope, our calling.  It's part of our vocation, it's part of our life, it's established fact.  It isn't something that, 'Oh I hope I get there.I hope it works out.I hope when it happens it's all true"--that's not what it's talking about.

        Secondly, he says, 'he prays that through the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you would understand what are the riches of his--capital HIS, God's inheritance in you (the saints)', which is an incredible thought.  God is going to be happier when you get there.  You know, we spend most of our Christian experience thinking 'Have fun, we'll be there soon', you know, like we're going to ruin heaven a little bit when we get there.  Well the Bible teaches the opposite.  No wonder we need the Spirit of God to minister these things to us.  That there are certain facets of God's glory that are still not complete, again, that the angels, it tells us, long to look into the things concerning the heirs of salvation.

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