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Edward O’Hara Mon 4/27/2020 12:45 PM…
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is an amazing letter. He teaches them about all the things he has in his other letters regarding salvation and our life in Christ. But, adds something he doesn’t say in most of his other letters. He adds that his doctrine is something that has never been taught or heard by anyone before. So starting with vs.1 in chapter1 we will look at what this means for us in the New Covenant. And see just how blessed we are to live in this time Paul referred to as “the dispensation of the grace of God”.
In the first 14 verses that we read in Eph.1 Paul addresses the issues that have confounded Churchianity because they have believed the false teachings of Augustine instead of Paul so that it has become the apostate group Paul spoke of in 2Thes.2. In these, he shows his apostleship, the blessings that God has blessed us with, speaks of predestination, the adoption as children, the forgiveness of sins through redemption by His death, our dispensation and the fulness of time, our trust in His message that brings salvation, and that we who are the purchased possession are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
There is a lot to digest in these verses. Beginning with vs.1,2 we see Paul expressing his apostleship and who it was for, and giving salutations saying, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
When we think of apostleship we must not think only in terms of the great authority God invested in these greatly humble men in the church. No, we must remember first and foremost the very heavy cost to the apostle by seeing what it was that Paul gave as credentials for this apostleship. His bonafides that none of those who cal themselves apostles today, which are no apostles at all, would dare to endure. He said,
“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….”
So Paul makes it clear what the bonafide of apostleship are here. Showing us that while part of being an apostle is being an eyewitness to Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, it is also so much more. As can be seen here it carries with it difficulties not seen in Churchianity today. Especially here in America where so much of the false doctrine regarding apostleship is. Like the NAR and Kingdom Now and the like. This is why Paul made it clear in chapter2 of this letter that apostles are part of the foundation for the church along with the prophets and Jesus Christ. The foundation that Paul says was laid and can not be added to since it was laid in 1Cor.3:11 saying, ” For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” The church is built upon this foundation. However, it is not itself part of the foundation. So anyone who comes to you today saying they are a prophet or apostle is speaking falsely.
Paul also says he is speaking to the saints, the faithful in Christ. These are they, both Jew and Gentile, who have believed the gospel when it was preached to them. Not just any gospel. But, specifically Paul’s gospel. A gospel that Paul says in several places, including here in his letter to the Ephesians, was hid from ages past. So it is something new being revealed by God through the apostle Paul that had never been revealed by God to anyone before. A teaching that reveals that salvation has also come to the Gentiles. Making this salvation not of the works of the law that Israel was bound to in the Old Covenant. But, by grace through faith without works of any kind.
And in vs.3 Paul makes it clear exactly what the blessings are that we have received from God if we have believed in Jesus saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” These blessings are spiritual blessings, not the natural ones that Israel received through their obedience to the law as is seen in Deut.28. So when someone tells you that there is “health, wealth, and prosperity” to be had for the believer in the New Covenant, and all we need to do is claim it, we need to help them to see from what Paul taught here that they have believed a false doctrine. And that it has no place in the New Covenant believer’s thinking. Because it appeals only to the flesh and blood natural man that all men including Israelites under the law were before Christ came. So it has no place in the believer’s thinking now because we are spiritual beings that store our treasures in heaven and not on the earth where moth and rust can destroy it.
In vs.4 Paul says He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world saying, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”. There are some very misguided people that have made a name for themselves and many who have forsaken the way by teaching that this means some men are predestined for heaven and most men are predestined for hell. Calvinism, which is rooted in Augustine’s false teachings, is their doctrine. They have believed that their free will has nothing to do with where men end up. But, this nor any other part of the scriptures says any such thing. To the contrary, Paul makes it very clear that God has predestined all mankind for heaven. And only those who choose of their own free will to reject God’s gift of eternal life when He calls them do not go there.
In vs.5-13 Paul speaks more in regard to this predestination saying, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”
Please note that Paul speaks of this predestination as being the good pleasure of God’s will. A will that Peter says wants none to perish in 2Peter3:9 where Peter says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” So since predestination is according to God’s will then He sends no one to hell by predestination. But, only those who reject God’s will go to hell because they choose of their own free will to reject God’s gift of eternal life that He has predestinated all men for. A gift that saves those who were in the fear of death all their lives from the power of death as Heb.2:14 says.
And Paul says this predestination is accomplished by Jesus’ blood being our redemption. Which is Jesus’ death. The blood flowing out of the body represents death because as we see in Lev.17:11 “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. So when we read that we are saved or that we are forgiven or that there is power in the blood of Jesus it means His death has given power to a New Covenant. A New Covenant wherein sins are not imputed as Paul plainly said in 2Cor.5:18-20 when he wrote “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” So in His death Jesus has redeemed Israel from the Old Covenant(Heb.9:15). Wherein they were slaves to sin and death because the strength of sin is the law(1Cor.15:56). For where there is no law sin is not imputed(Rom.5:13). And redemption for the Gentiles brings deliverance from their idols as 1Thes.1:9 teaches.
This then is the “dispensation of the fulness of times”. A fulness that came because in God’s plan He told Daniel the timing by giving 70 weeks of years for this to take place in. And when Jesus came He would be cut off in the middle of the final week of Daniel’s prophecy. This being cut off took place when He went to the cross. It began a dispensation Paul refers to as the dispensation of the grace of God that he taught would continue until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in as he states in Rom.11:25. This fulness of time has to do with the times that are in God’s plan just as Jesus’ 1st coming had to do with these times. Because all things are done in God’s time.
By this we have received an inheritance. One that is eternal in the heavens and not on the earth. This is why flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God. But, only that which is spiritual, eternal, and immortal. And Paul once again reminds us that this inheritance is one we are all predestined for. That those who trusted in Jesus by their own free will would receive. God’s will being that all men would be saved only works for those who by their own free will choose to be saved. Because God does not force His love on anyone. Otherwise it would not be love. It would be force. And who can force someone to love them if they don’t want to? No one. But, if anyone could it would be God. But, forced love is not real love. Love must be voluntary to be real love. Because real love is sacrifice. Just as we see in Jesus’ conversation with God just before He was to go to the cross when He said “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done”. This was Jesus voluntarily giving Himself to God’s will. Jesus showed us here that any love that is defined by sacrifice, which Jesus said in John15:13 is the highest form of love, is a love that must be freely given.
And when Paul says in vs.13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” he is referring to this free will that trusts in Jesus after hearing God’s call. A call that is the hearing of the message in the gospel that tells of Christ’s death and resurrection. And that after believing this we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Sealed by the Holy Spirit and not by ourselves so that the seal can not be broken. A seal that Paul speaks of when he writes in Rom.8:35-39, a chapter where Paul also speaks of predestination and redemption,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This is why in Eph.1:14 Paul concludes saying, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The purchased possession can not be taken from Him after it has been purchased. Which purchase is made complete by His death and resurrection and our free will decision to receive it for deliverance from death to life. Our inheritance is secure in Christ by the seal of the Holy Spirit. But, it is only possible when we trust in Jesus and believe that He has raised from the dead by our own free will. This is our expression of our love for Him because of His sacrifice given for us. Which is how He expressed His love toward us first.
In these 14 verses Paul expresses all this and more when we learn to believe what our Bible’s plainly say. And don’t pour into the scriptures any preconceived notions we might have. He expresses God’s design for mankind so that love will be king in our relationship with Him. So that fellowship with God, which is why He made man in the first place, will be that of free will creatures loving their Creator by their free will. And that by that free will we have trusted in the gospel when we heard it as Paul says here. To have a secure inheritance in Christ sealed to us by the Holy Spirit of promise that now dwells in us when we trust in Jesus. Born of His Spirit and made His child for all eternity.
Will you be born of His Spirit so you too can inherit eternal life? The fleshly birth only prepared you for this natural world where death reigns. Will you too be born again by being born of His Spirit? So that as His child you will now have for your inheritance His kingdom that is eternal where there is no death?
If you are reading this God is calling you. He loves you and wants you to know Him. Because knowing Him is this eternal life that provides you with the spirit that makes you God’s child.John17:3. Because while all men are created by God, not all men are born of His Spirit so that they are children of God. It is only those who have come to know Him that are spiritual because knowing Him is to be born of His Spirit. So if you do not know Him, but have now believed that He is Lord and that He has raised from the dead to conquer death for you, then please take the time right now to talk to Him and confess to Jesus that He is Lord of your life. And believe that He has raised from the dead to conquer death for you. If you do believe in Him then tell Him something like this and you will have eternal life:
Dear Jesus, I believe you. Thank you for joining with me in death so that by conquering death by your resurrection I could join with you in eternal life. Thank you that you raised from the dead so that I could raise from the dead too by trusting in, clinging to, and relying solely on you. Thank you for giving me a new spirit now Lord so that I can live with you in your kingdom forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.
By praying a prayer similar to this one and really meaning it from your heart you have been saved from death to life. From sin to righteousness. And from wrath to peace with God. And now as you begin reading the Bible and believing what it plainly says it will begin to change the way you think and believe. Because when you trust in Jesus you leave the old life behind where you were only able to relate to and trust in what has been made. And now will be equipped for God’s kingdom because you are no longer only natural flesh and blood, but are a new creature made a spiritual being ready to inherit God’s spiritual kingdom. It is because of Jesus’ resurrection that He is the only WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. Because only Jesus has broken through the wall of death that the flesh and blood natural body can never get through. And only by the new birth are we made ready to receive the spiritual body that can go through the wall of death as Jesus’ did first so we could follow Him in the way He has prepared for us.
God Bless you in your new life in Christ.
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