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Thursday, January 31 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
INTRODUCTION: Last week’s study got us looking at Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving for the Ephesian church and consequently us. These prayers we were admonished to covet – that the Lord will grant us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, to understand everything God’s given in Jesus Christ, God’s great power and where this power puts us! In today’s study we will be looking at what the Apostle Paul wrote on the doctrine of salvation, and how these writings establish a bedrock of truth upon which rests everything we can know about how we are saved and why we are saved.
VERSES 1-3: BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF GRACE AND SALVATION
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
The word for dead in Greek is nekros, which literally means a corpse or dead body. This deadness refers to our spiritual life. The Ephesians were alive physically but dead spiritually. Paul chose this comparison because it accurately describes not only the nature of an unbeliever but also the impossibility of an unbeliever recognizing and correcting his own condition. Just as a corpse cannot revive itself to life, neither can an unbeliever revive his own spirit into new life. The MSG version makes it very relatable
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.
The word "course" in Greek is aion, which literally means age or a space of time. So, Paul explains that the natural state of every man and woman during this age or time is to be spiritually dead. The cause for humanity's dead state is the sin of Adam, which we inherited at birth. Every person begins their life on earth in a state of spiritual deadness, and apart from a work of God to revive our spirit, this state will continue uninterrupted until our physical death.
He was the first to fall, and his deceptive influence contributed to the fall of Man in the Garden. Today, he rules the hearts of those bound in spiritual deadness, and he exerts his controlling influence through the fear of death (see Heb. 2:14-15).
Every Christian should understand their former state to be the same as every other unbeliever. No one is "born" a Christian. Every human being by nature of the Fall in Eden, is born a “sinner”, dead in their trespasses from birth. All humanity shares the same starting point as children of (God's) wrath.
VERSES 4-7: BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF GRACE
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
VERSE 4: Paul tells us WHY we were rescued from this state of deadness: because God was rich in mercy and had a great love for us, He acted to save us. Not by our works; God's reason for saving us was entirely His own. Being rich in mercy and having a great love, God determined to save us. We did not merit His mercy, nor did we earn our salvation.
VERSE 5: Paul explains HOW we were rescued from our dead spiritual state - God made us (spiritually) alive in Christ. The Bible is utterly clear on the sequence of events that lead to our salvation: God must act first, because men do not naturally seek God (see Romans 3:10-11). God must act first on our behalf, because dead corpses are not capable of reviving themselves. We share none of the actions with God. By Himself and according to His own purpose and while we were still yet unaware of Him, He made us alive.
VERSE 6: Paul completes the discussion of HOW we were saved by adding that our new spiritual life resulted in us being raised with Christ to be seated in heavenly places. Though we are presently located on earth physically, nevertheless we have been assigned a place spiritually at the right hand of the Father in Christ. Salvation it is a change of spiritual position before God. By His work, we have been moved, spiritually speaking, from our prior position as sons of the devil dead in sin to our new state as sons of God alive in Christ.
VERSE 7: Finally, in verse 7 Paul finishes explaining WHY God saved us. So that He might display the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness to us. In effect, we are His appointed audience to receive His grace and kindness, so that in the ages to come we may glorify Him for it.
VERSES 8-10: CONCLUSION
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
VERSE 8a: Paul says we were saved by grace. Grace is unmerited favor, and as Paul has already explained, it answers the question "why" we were saved. The answer is that God showed us unmerited favor.
The grace of God was manifested by faith. When the time came for God to bring us His grace, He delivered it through faith. Our faith was not the means by which we received grace. Instead, grace was the means by which we received faith.
VERSE 8b & 9: Paul goes further to ensure we do not confuse his point. He said: "it" (i.e., faith) was not of ourselves. We did not leave our state of spiritual deadness and come to believe God's word by our own efforts. Dead corpses cannot raise themselves. Instead, the faith we received was a gift of God (hence, it was grace). The moment a person is born again and moves from the kingdom of darkness and enters into the light of the truth of the Gospel, they do so because God, by grace, bestowed the gift of faith.
VERSE 10: Since our very faith is itself a gift of God, we must acknowledge that we are God's workmanship. The purpose for God taking these steps is so that we might do good works. As Jesus Himself said in Matt 5:16: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Our good works will display the handiwork of God. They do not produce our salvation; they result from our salvation. Finally, Paul says that even our good works were prepared beforehand by God. When we endeavor to please God by our works, we must accomplish the work He has appointed for us. If we accomplish other work of our own choosing, we labor in our flesh and we do not please the Lord. Therefore, only those works He has purposed beforehand for us constitute "good works" done in faith.
This study was adopted from https://www.versebyverseministry.org/bible-answers/could-you-explain-ephesians-21-10
Friday, January 25 2019
Contributor: Dolapo Olaoye
Introduction: Last week we looked at 9 spiritual blessings God gave us and the purpose of these blessings. We got to understand that Faith is then used to convert the blessings to material substance. This week we will look into Paul’s loving prayer and thanksgiving for the Ephesians.
PAUL’S PRAYER WAS IN LIGHT OF GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN:
Faith in the Lord Jesus. Love for all the saints.
Faith and Love are evidence of our association with God and his plan. Here Paul was full of delight for the people. It was clear to him that the people were indeed working in line with God’s plan.
Love for all the saints.
Notice here that Paul didn’t give thanks for their love for God, but rather for their love for all the saints (each other). It’s an indication of God working in us and through us when we are able to love others not when we claim to love Him but do not show love for others. 1 John 4:20
Making mention of you in my prayers.
Paul did not just give thanks for evidence of God amongst the Ephesians, but he also prayed. Giving thanks is good and we should practice to give thanks no matter what we going through. However our thanksgiving also need to be followed by prayers. Paul prayed for the people in order to ensure that who they have become now will continue with greater strength.
Paul usually prayed making mention of others in prayers. Example Romans 1:9 (Prayer for the Christians in Rome), 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (Prayer for the Christians in Thessalonian) and Philemon 1:4 (Prayer for Philemon).
Give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Prayer for the spirit of wisdom and that God would give them revelation. This prayer is not so that the people should have ability to see into the future but rather so that they would have a better knowledge of God.
In the knowledge of Him.
Our number one purpose as Christians need to be getting to that stage where we know God as He is in truth, what His Word tells us of Him, and to gain enough understanding of Him to correct our deceitful, idolatrous ideas of who He is. Yes we need to know and understand who we are but it is far more essential (and advantageous) for us to know and understand who God is.
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.
The reason Paul prayed this prayer is that once the eyes of their understanding was enlightened by God they will know all God has given them in Jesus (their rights). We cannot take the knowledge of knowing Him for granted.
The hope of His calling.
When we have hope is really because we know or have strong belief of what the future holds for us. Paul prayed this as he wanted them to know what it was that awaits them. To name a few: a glorious future of resurrection, everlasting life, free from sin, perfected reasoning and magnificent rise with the angels.
The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.
The greatness of the power of God toward those who believe is recalled on here. We need to know and remember that we serve and love a God of living power who shows His strength on behalf of His people.
Many of us do not know this power while some of us only know it from a distance. Think about it, the same power that raised Christ is still available. Call on the power to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the unbelievers from their unbelief.
NOTE: The prayer of Ephesians 1:17-19 is really a request that the promises of Ephesians 1:3-14 (which we studied last week) begin to show in the lives of the Ephesian Christians and consequently ours.
According to the working of His mighty power: The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same one that works in us. So then why do we sometimes think we have some sort of “power shortage” in our Christian life? This same power raised Jesus to heaven after His resurrection, above all demonic adversaries and every potential enemy. Jesus was raised above all angelic realm.
All things under His feet: This great resurrection power placed Jesus above all things including the church placing all things are under His feet. The church, which is His body: Since Jesus is the head, then the community of Christians (we) are His body. We are joined to Him. We are one with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Paul’s prayer prompts us that learning to know Jesus does not happen all at once. It happens slowly over time. God wants us to know Him, not to know about Him! Let’s make it a daily prayer that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened.
Thursday, January 17 2019
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we commenced the study of the Book of Ephesians. We learnt that it was written to give insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. That the apostle Paul dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.
In our text today, we encounter a verse (Verse 3) that says categorically that God has blessed us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING in heavenly places! For the singular reason that we belong to Christ! So, in today’s study we shall be considering what these Spiritual Blessings are; and why He choose to bless us with them and if there are any purposes or reasons for these blessings.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”
The Living Bible says:
“How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ.”
So, what are these Spiritual Blessings; and why did He choose to bless us with them? Are there any purposes or reasons for these blessings?
VERSE 4: BLESSING #1 - CHOSEN SPECIALLY
He chose us! He picked us and carefully selected us out! Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own through what Christ would do for us. (1 Peter 2:9, Isaiah 43:1)
PURPOSE/REASON #1: To be holy and without blame before Him
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” Ephesians 1:4 (Emphasis mine)
VERSE 5: BLESSING #2 - PREDESTINED FOR ADOPTION
Predestination implies an outcome or course of events determined in advance by divine will or fate. So, God predestined us; His plan has always been to adopt us into His own family from the foundations of the world. (Jeremiah 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:19)
PURPOSE/REASON #2: He chose to do this according to the pleasure of His will! And he did this because he wanted to!
“having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” Ephesians 1:5
VERSE 6: BLESSING #3 - DIVINE ACCEPTANCE
He made us accepted in the Beloved; on the basis of our unity with “His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased” (1 Peter 2:5)
PURPOSE/REASON #3: For the praise of the glory of His grace
“to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6
VERSE 7: BLESSING #4 - REDEEMPTION
He gave us redemption through His blood, and the forgiveness of sins (Galatians 3:13)
PURPOSE/REASON #4: According to the riches of His grace
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7
VERSE 8: BLESSING #5 - ABUNDANT GRACE
He made His grace to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. (1 Timothy 1:14)
PURPOSE/REASON #5: According to the riches of His grace
“which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,” Ephesians 1:8
VERSES 9-10: BLESSING #6 - DIVINE REVELATION
He revealed the mystery of His will to us. God has told us His secret reason for sending Christ, a plan he decided on in mercy long ago. (Colossians 1:27)
PURPOSE/REASON #6: He decided to do this in Himself because it pleased Him to; so that when the time comes He will gather all of us together
“having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” Ephesians 1:9-10
VERSES 11-12: BLESSING #7 - INHERITANCE IN CHRIST
He gave us an inheritance in Him (1 Peter 1: 3-4)
PURPOSE/REASON #7: To the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. God’s purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to him for doing these mighty things for us,
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” Ephesians 1:11-12
VERSE 13: BLESSING #8 - SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Revelation 7:3)
PURPOSE/REASON #8: Because we trusted in Him, after we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13
VERSE 14: BLESSING #9 - GUARANTEED INHERITANCE
The Holy Spirit guaranteed our inheritance. His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. (Hebrews 7:22)
PURPOSE/REASON #9: to the praise of His glory
“who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:14
The Almighty has showered us with such abundance of blessings! Reading through the reasons and purposes for God showering us with such blessings reveal His extravagant grace! A sound realization of these amazing blessings should cause us to be grateful, confident and humble! And like Paul, we cannot but break out in praise blessing the Almighty God for such extravagance!
Monday, January 14 2019
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
We thank God for the study series on prosperity last year and I believe that most of us are already implementing the lessons learnt. I pray the impact of the studies will be evident in our lives.
This year, we are going into book study from the bible. We shall be looking at the book of Ephesians and Galatians. These are books written by Apostle Paul to the Ephesian and Galatian believers.
Today, we are starting with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus written around A.D. 62 while imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28:16-31, Eph.3:1;4:1;6:20). During this time, he also wrote Colossians and Philemon. All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus.
This is a letter in which Apostle Paul did not set out to address or correct problems in the Church, but it was written to give insight into the mysteries of eternal life in Christ Jesus. He dealt with the fundamentals of the gospel of Christ in all its saving glory.
This book is an epistle for all the world, for Jew and Gentile, for husband and wife, for parents and children, for employees and employers (masters & servants). It was the mind and will of God in Paul’s day; it is the voice of inspiration in our day; it is an epistle of universal appeal and application.
The letter started with an introduction and Apostle Paul’s common salutation to the Churches.
Eph.1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
John Calvin called Ephesians his favourite book of the Bible.
Ephesians deals with our legal position before God in Christ and the daily life that corresponds to that position (Eph.2:19). Ephesians, more than any other book, presents the purpose and plan of God for the church. This book sets forth one of the clearest presentations on the relation between positional truth and experiencing positional truth in one’s life.
We see something of the supremacy of Christ in God’s eternal plan. Ephesians emphasizes God’s sovereign grace in the lives of believers (Eph.1:22).
God did not reveal the idea of the church in the Old Testament. That it is why Paul called it the “mystery” (Eph.3:1-6)
Ephesians argues that the believer’s position before God is the same as Jesus’ status before God (chapters one to three). The second dimension is that the believer is to apply positional truth to experience it reality
(chapters four to six).
The Key Themes
A, All people are by nature spiritually dead. They disobey God’s law and are ruled by Satan (1:7; 2:1–3, 5, 11–12).
B, God predestined his people to redemption and holiness in Christ (1:3–14; 2:4, 8–9).
C, God’s rich mercy in Christ has saved sinners. This free gift is by grace through faith alone (1:7–8; 2:4–14).
D, Jesus’ saving work was part of redeeming a fallen creation for God. For this he deserves glory, honour, and authority in this age and the next (1:15–23; 3:1–13).
E, Jesus unites Jews and Gentiles into his one body, the church, as a new creation (1:23; 2:10–22; 3:1–21; 4:1–6).
F, Christ’s people are saved to new lives of holiness in thought, word, and deed. They must reject their old, sinful lifestyles (4:1–3, 17–32; 5:1–20).
G, Holiness in life includes submission to proper authorities, in home and family life, and those in authority must care for those in submission to them (5:21–6:9).
H, Jesus has given powerful gifts to his church. These bring unity, maturity, and defence against the devil and his allies (4:7–16; 6:10–19).
A, Introduction; (1:1–14)
B, Unity of the Church in Christ (1:15–2:22)
C, World Mission of the Church (3:1–4:24)
D, Daily Conduct, an Expression of Unity (4:25–6:20)
E, Conclusion (6:21–24)
This year of Glory, we are focusing on intentional spiritual growth. We must deliberately grow in our individual and collective relationship with God.
The book of Ephesians is a powerful tool for every one of us to study, meditate and personalise the lessons and revelations captured in this epistle.
I must also call our attention to one of the most powerful prayers for spiritual growth in the Bible;
The prayer of Apostle Paul in Eph. I:16-23
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your [f]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality[g] and [h]power and [i]might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
This is a classic spirit led prayer that we should pray daily and before our weekly studies.