We are going to take the next several months to study the Book of Ephesians in three 4-part teaching series.
BACKSTORY OF EPHESIANS-
- The Apostle Paul wrote this “letter” to the church in Ephesus around A.D. 60 from a Roman Prison.
- 1 of 13 “letters” Paul wrote in NT and is 1 of 4 “prison letters.”
- Paul planted the church and remained in Ephesus for 3 years on 3rd missionary journey. (Acts 18:23 – 19:41).
- Ephesus was the commercial and religious center of Asia Minor with a population of 250,000. It had an arena that could seat 25,000. Worship of the goddess Diana (“heavenly”), the goddess of hunt, moon, and birthing was prolific in the city. People IN TO all kinds of things!
- Paul uses the term “in Christ” 200 times in his letters and 30 times in Ephesians.
- Paul’s “Seven Ones” are recorded in Eph. 4:4-6 (1 Body, 1 Spirit, 1 Hope, 1 Lord, 1 Faith, 1 Baptism, 1 God)
WHY PAUL WROTE EPHESIANS- You Are Chosen!
- He wanted the church at Ephesus to understand that our salvation is something that God planned from eternity and that he planned it in such a way that it would show the glory of his grace.
- He wanted to teach them that as the saved people of God they were greatly blessed and he wanted to remind them of some of these great blessings they received when they came to salvation in Christ.
- He wanted to remind them that in Christ the wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles had been brought down, so that now in Christ there are no racial or other distinctions.
- He wanted to encourage them to live their lives worthy of the calling they had received. He wanted to show them that those who are saved must now begin to live distinctive lives here on earth. In this letter, therefore, Paul gives very specific teaching on how we are to live our lives in the local church, in the world, and in the home.
What’s the RELEVANCY FOR TODAY- You Must Choose! We chose to teach on Ephesians because we believe its message is urgently needed today. We need to be reminded of the most concentrated vision of the church in all of the Bible, which is found in Ephesians.
Be reminded of what it means to be “in Christ!” We need to know that this is not just lofty theology. It is the central theme of a story that can change your life… The Book of Ephesians gives us hope we are not abandoned, that we can be changed, and we can change the world because we are CHOSEN BY GOD TO BELIEVE, TO BELONG, AND TO BE!
DRAFT DAY! There’s a new movie coming out about what happens in the NFL on Draft Day. The actual NFL Draft is coming up soon; players attending the Combine in Indianapolis show off their skills and essentially determine their place in the draft… They are all trying to get CHOSEN… some will and others won’t…
Being “drafted”- CHOSEN also happens on every playground… Teams are determined as one player after another is CHOSEN… And there’s always someone who isn’t picked, drafted, chosen…
In a very similar way, that’s you and me. While we may be looked over, left out, even bullied, ON THE PLAYGROUND OF LIFE, GOD CHOSE YOU!
Cayla recently posted this on her FB wall. It’s a quote from one of her VB club coaches, Sarah Schall– “Your experiences can mold you, but they should not define who you are…Successes or Failures. God created you exactly as you should be and your experiences can’t change the way He will forever see you.”
WHY? Because God did not choose you based on who you are now, where you are now, what you’ve done or haven’t done… YOU ARE CHOSEN BASED WHO GOD IS! God wants you to BELIEVE that! I need to BELIEVE that! Paul says you are…
CHOSEN BY THE WILL OF GOD! Eph. 1:1-3 “This letter is from Paul, CHOSEN BY THE WILL OF GOD to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”
I need to believe that I am blessed “with every spiritual blessing!” The word “blessing” in Ephesians 1:3 is the Greek word eulogy, and it means “to speak well of.” This is profound! It means God has spoken good things about you, or pronounced good things for your benefit.
God wants you to know that HIS WILL, his plan for your life is GOOD! God never speaks “bad” about you- On playground- “Can’t shoot, run, etc.!” EX. Me being benched in B-Ball! GOD ALREADY KNOWS WE’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! IT’S BASED ON HOW GOOD GOD IS!!
YOU ARE CHOSEN BY GOD BECAUSE HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE! Based on GOD’S GOODNESS not our own!
Rom. 8:28 “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan.”
God chose you because that IS HIS PLAN- TO MAKE US BETTER BECAUSE OF GOD’S INFLUENCE and INVESTMENT…
CHOSEN IN CHRIST! Eph. 1:4-10 “Even before he made the world, God loved us and CHOSE US IN CHRIST to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.”
When were you chosen? When was DRAFT DAY?? “Before God made the world!” “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family… through Jesus Christ!”
In other words, you were on God’s draft chart, everyone of us, a #1 selection, long before we ever lined up to play this game of life! Long before we ever made a decision, long before we ever performed one act of kindness or committed a sin- YOU WERE CHOSEN IN CHRIST!
“This is what God wanted to do… it gave him great pleasure!” GOD KNEW THE ODDS WOULD BE STACKED AGAINST US! God knew the enemy would not “play the game” fair! God knew we’d lose for sure because none of us, by virtue of our own ability, talents, intellect, would be quick enough, strong enough, smart enough to outplay the devil and that in the end, Satan would deceive us, defeat us, devour and destroy us!
BUT STILL GOD CHOSE YOU… WHY? BECAUSE HE HAD A PLAN- a “Game Plan” that changed everything!
GOD CHOSE TO FORGIVE YOU!!! “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a PLAN to fulfill his own good pleasure.”
THE “PLAN” OF SALVATION! Not only did God choose to REDEEM us, he choose to RESOURCE us IN CHRIST! Consider… Rom. 8:37 “ No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Despite all the “things” that are stacked against us! Despite our faults and failures! Despite our sin and struggles! Despite the devil’s accusations and condemnation…
GOD’S PLAN IS NOT MERELY TO MAKE US “GOOD” BUT TO MAKE US “GREAT” IN CHRIST!! EX. Coaches and players make others around them better- Cayla CSU!
CHOSEN IN ADVANCE! Eph. 1:11-14 “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he CHOSE US IN ADVANCE, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
This passage perfectly illustrates the classic situation of being the last kid standing on the playground when every one else has been chosen on a team! Paul is talking about the Gentiles, that the Jews weren’t the only ones chosen! God CHOSE the Gentiles too- in advance!
CHOSEN IN ADVANCE doesn’t mean every person is “predestined” to be saved, or will be saved. It means GOD’S PLAN WAS TO CHOOSE EVERY PERSON FOR THE OPPORTUNITY OF SALVATION, ADOPTION, TO BE THE CHILDREN OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!
EX. John Elway was drafted #1 overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts before being traded to the Denver Broncos. WHY? Baltimore was one of the worst teams in the NFL and their coach, Frank Kush, was a tough guy. Elway said, “I’d rather be a garbage collector than play for the Colts!” We know it took a few years, but eventually Elway and the Broncos would win back to back Super Bowls! I’m not criticizing Elway’s decision at all. All I’m saying is that THE COLTS CHOSE HIM BUT HE DIDN’T CHOOSE THE COLTS! Sure, it worked out in the end…
ON THE PLAYGROUND OF LIFE YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO MAKE THAT CHOICE… It’s far worse than saying you’d “rather be a garbage collector!”
GOD CHOSE YOU IN ADVANCE BUT YOU MUST CHOSE NOW! God decided before the foundations of the world that you would be a #1 Draft Choice, that you and me would be worth “saving!”
Eph. 1:4 “ Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
Rom. 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Think about it!! It’s a matter of simply believing God loves you, has chosen you, forgives you… All are possible in Christ! IT’S ALL ABOUT BELIEVING! 13 And NOW you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And WHEN you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.
NOW… WHEN… God chose you in advance but NOW you chose him WHEN you BELIEVE! God says, “Hey, you’re on my team. I already chose you. So come on. I want you.” BUT you have to CHOOSE TOO!
YOU ARE CHOSEN BY GOD… BUT WILL YOU CHOOSE HIM?