This weekend, we begin a new series called Convinced as we spend the next six weeks going chapter-by-chapter through the book of Ephesians. While the New Testament book of Ephesians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Ephesus, it was widely circulated among other churches and still holds just as much relevance for us today as it did for the church in the first century. Through this letter, Paul answers this question:
If Christ has been exalted and every knee will one day bow to him, how should we then live today?
The answer is that we should live as a people convinced of the Gospel, convinced that we have been redeemed, convinced that we are not saved by anything we have done or will do, but through what Jesus has already done on the cross. The extent to which we are convinced of these things is then reflected in how we submit to His Lordship in every area of our lives not just in the future, but in the here and now.
Each week, we are going to read a chapter of the letter together and then dig into the truths that Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, wanted us to know. This week, we will be looking at chapter 1. Paul begins his letter by reminding the believers of all the things that God accomplished for them through Christ. He reminds us that God blessed us, chose us, adopted us, redeemed us, and made known to us His will for us. At first glance, these statements make it seem like the focus is on you and me and those of us who have accepted Christ. But if you take a deeper look, you will see that while we have received these things, the emphasis is not on us, but rather is on God Himself. Throughout the first 14 verses of the letter, Paul uses language like: by the will of God; in accordance with His pleasure and will; to the praise of His glorious grace; in accordance with the riches of God’s grace; according to His good pleasure; for the praise of His glory.
The conclusion is this – Everything that God accomplished through Jesus on the cross was intended for His own glory, but we get the benefit.
Having believed and been included with Christ, the biggest benefit we receive is God’s very own Spirit, living inside of us as a deposit of what’s to come. When you make a deposit on a brand-new car, what does that mean? It means that you are claiming that car as your own with a promise that full payment will be coming. When God’s gives us His Holy Spirit, it is a guarantee that we are His and that one day our salvation will be made complete when we are with Him. The deposit of God’s Holy Spirit frees us up to live completely for the One who paid the price and accomplished our salvation for His own glory. Being fully convinced of this should change our perspective and drive everything that we do, as we will see throughout the letter.
After Paul reminds the believers of these things, he starts verse 15 with, “For this reason...”, and then lays out his prayer for us who are convinced of the guarantee of our salvation. First, the guarantee gives us freedom to know God better. If you borrow money from someone that you can’t repay, will you not avoid that person until you are able to pay them back? Imagine the sin debt that we owed to God – a debt that could never be repaid and that caused our separation from Him. But He forgave that debt through Christ, leaving our balance at zero, allowing us to approach Him with confidence and gain a deeper knowledge of Him.
Secondly, through the guarantee, we have hope for today and tomorrow. No matter what we face today, we look forward to a time when all will be made right – a time when our salvation reaches its fulfillment in heaven. And because nothing can take this hope away, we have freedom to serve God in all that we do today.
Third, the guarantee reminds us of God’s great power in our lives. When we have the Holy Spirit, we are sealed and God’s power is for us. This is the same power that God showed when He raised Jesus from the dead, and now it lives inside of those of us who believe. If that power is for us, then who can be against us. This God, this Jesus, has no rival, no equal, no power comes even close to comparison.
I’m looking forward to opening God’s Word with you and exploring these truths this weekend. Join us Saturday evening at 5:30 or Sunday morning at 10:30.