Drollinger: God Gave Us This Profound Book of the Bible to Help Us Think Like Him
The Apostle Paul’s profound letter to the church at Ephesus is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Herein is the revealed mind of God transmitted to you for the purposes of thinking the way he thinks on complex issues.
In the first three chapters, Paul discusses the truths of the believer’s position in Christ (cf. 1:4, 11; 2:1, 13). The remaining three chapters discuss what should be the practical outworking of that reality in a believer’s behavior.
The pivoting passage, found in 4:1, underscores this idea: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
In essence, the whole of the epistle reasons, “Since the believer has been lavished with blessings by God at the point of salvation, does it not follow that the believer should act out in a commensurate manner?” Believers owe a debt of gratitude to the one who saves and empowers them for not only victorious, purposeful living in the present, but eternal security in the future.
This book is one of the most important in the Bible in terms of understanding the predetermined destiny of God’s called-out ones. In 2:10, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The words “grace,” “riches,” “glory”, “fullness,” “filled” and “in Christ” are keywords that depict the flavor, direction and emphasis of the letter as they appear numerous times.
The word for “mystery” in Greek, musterion, which means “unrevealed truth,” appears six times in the letter. The Church Age was a mystery in the Old Testament (cf. 3:5, 9); this epistle clearly spells out and reveals this mystery.
Allow me to utilize a California geographical feature as a metaphor to illustrate the point.
The Old Testament saint whom Paul reveals in Ephesians is like a tourist visiting Sequoia National Park on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. If the visitor were to look to the east, he or she may catch a glimpse of the faraway grand summit of Mount Whitney. What the tourist cannot see from his or her vantage point is the vast Kern River Valley that lies between. Similarly, the OT saint looked from his perch of OT truths for his coming Messiah — not realizing the Church Age lay before the consummation of God’s kingdom on earth.
This illustration depicts what Paul is referring to in Ephesians 3:9: “and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.” Before the OT believer experiences the messianic kingdom and shares in God’s earthly and then heavenly kingdom, there first exists the Church Age in which the Gentiles will be grafted in (cf. 3:6).
In Christ’s resurrected and ascended absence, God the Father has sent the Holy Spirit to empower the church to be Christ’s present spiritual body on earth.
The church consists of God’s called-out individuals who are truly saved, as evidenced by their trusting in Christ for salvation (2:8-9). The church properly understood is not an organization, but a living organism composed of men and women who know Christ as Savior and Lord and are mutually interdependent through the use and practice of each member’s unique but limited spiritual gifts, which are bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation.
This book is a benchmark in one of the aspects of the doctrine of salvation: predestination. There is no way around it. At the same time, it does not support hyper-Calvinism (which is fully explained in the full study). Ephesians 1:13 states, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
As a believer, this epistle states that you are a member of the body of Christ and should identify with other believers. For the public servants for whom this study was written, that means not only in their home districts, but where he has called them to be missionaries — on the Hill! For Christians in general, the message is the same: Study the Bible with other believers in a Bible-teaching church and share your faith with unbelievers.
God designed his body to be led by the spiritual coaches he gave (4:11) between his first and second advent. These spiritual coaches (pastor-teachers) are assigned the responsibility of helping other called-out ones to mature in Christ.
Make good use of the Bible teachers and studies he has provided while away from home, but make sure they teach the whole purpose of God (Acts 20:27)! Dr. Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “Several logs burn brightly together; place one by itself on a cold hearth, and it soon goes out.”
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