Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Are You Imprinted?
It?s really encouraging when you get good news about something, isn?t it? The Apostle Paul has gotten some really good news about the people living in Ephesus. The gospel first reached Ephesus in Acts 19. The people he met had been baptized into John?s baptism. They had incomplete knowledge about Jesus and His salvation. Paul stayed there and preached in the synagogue for three months, then when the Jews became hardened, he moved and rented a lecture hall. He stayed there two more years. Ephesus became a sort of central location where people from all over Asia Minor could come and understand about the gospel.
But Ephesus was not a very safe place. Demonic forces were at work, powerful forces. It was here that the ?Seven sons of Sceva? got beat up by a demon when they tried to throw him out. ?I know Jesus,? the demon said, ?and I recognize Paul?but who are you??
Ephesus was also a seat of idol worship?specifically Artemis, the ?Great Mother?. The temple there was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. A riot broke out in Ephesus after one of the silversmiths who made idols for Artemis, or Diana, saw his business suffer after many people began to fear God more than Artemis and they brought and burned their magic books. Just the books alone were worth 50,000 pieces of silver (a single piece was worth a day?s wage).
Despite the struggle that existed between the dawning light of the gospel and the oppressive darkness of idol worship and the presence of demons?the Ephesians were growing. This sets up verses 15 and following of Chapter 1. Today we?re going to tackle 15-19?but in a real way, much of the rest of the book deals with this struggle between light and dark, good and evil?a struggle you and I have on a daily basis in the visible and invisible worlds.
?This is why? ? Paul is referring here to the previous verses of 3-14. Because God has done such a wonderful thing in creating new life in us, adopting us, and conforming us to His image, and has made us His inheritance?because of this incredible thing, when Paul hears of their growth, he is overwhelmed with thanksgiving.
Specifically Paul had heard two things about the Ephesians: belief and love. These two ideas are central to what God is about: love God, love others. In Luke 10:27 a scribe correctly sumed up the law ?Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.?
This is the sign of a growing Christian?more and more trust in Jesus (?faith?) and more and more selfless love for one another.
How?s that going in your life? Do you find yourself growing cold in your relationship with Jesus? Do you have a harder and harder time trusting Him? And how about others?especially those who rub you the wrong way? Do you find yourself showing kindness or showing irritation?
Anyway, Paul is overjoyed and the condition of the Ephesians and he wants more of the same:
Paul prayed?a lot. He remembered to pray for the Ephesians. And when he prayed, he kept giving God thanks for these precious people. This was really convicting for me. How often do we say: ?I?ll pray for you about that.? And we never do. Paul remembered to pray and made it a constant part of his life. I would encourage us all to make it a point to pray for our brothers and sisters?to pray for this fellowship?to pray for others who the Lord may want to reach with the gospel through this family. And through it all?give thanks for all God has done, is doing, and will do as He brings forth this incredible life in us.
Paul gets very specific about what he prays for?and this should really blow our minds.
Verse 17 is a real mouthful. Paul prays to the ?God of our Lord Jesus Christ.? This refers to the fact that all this is possible through Jesus?and it harkens back to the praises of 3-14?that it is all about Jesus. But then he says ?the glorious Father? which is a little difficult to translate but basically says that the Father is the source of ?glory?. It means ?magnificence, majesty, excellence, dignity and grace.? One guy puts it as simply ?impressiveness?.
God is the real deal and Paul is calling on His God to give something to the Ephesians. You might think it would be power to combat the evil forces?and that?s coming. But the first thing Paul prays for is this: ?a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.?
Paul wants them to have the ability to think?that?s what ?spirit? is all about. But you can?t start thinking clearly until you know Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 3:15 Paul talks about a ?veil? of darkness when the Law is read?because the Law doesn?t make sense until you know that Jesus is the focus and fulfillment of the Law. Nothing really makes sense, in fact, until you come to know Jesus. You can?t start thinking clearly?but now you can. (1 Cor 1:20-24)
So Paul wants them to have wisdom, which is how to live life like God would have you live it. He wants them to know what great resources are available to them: the Holy Spirit, each other?s prayers, and the awesomeness that is God to help them in this. He prays secondly that they will have ?revelation? which essentially means that things that were once mysterious will now make sense in light of the gospel. Paul wants God to let the Ephesians know who Jesus really is and how to live like Him.
He goes on:
18 ? 19
Paul?s point here is that there is a way of perceiving reality that goes beyond our senses. We have been taught for decades that something is real only if we can prove it is real.
Some translations say ?the eyes of your heart? because ?perception? is from the word where we get Ophthalmology and ?mind? comes from the same word where we get ?cardiac?.
But the HCSB translators knew these words were to be taken representatively, not literally. In Paul?s day the idea of the eye was how you perceived reality. Jesus said: Matt. 6:22 ?The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.? He wasn?t talking about the literal eye, but how your mind takes things in. In the same way the heart is not literally the heart muscle, but it was a stand-in for the entirety of your thought, emotion, and will.
There is a reality that goes beyond what you can empirically prove, and that?s what Paul wants us to know. What is this reality? It is the reality of your destiny; the blessings coming to you; and the greatness of God.
- Destiny (what God did for us in the past)
Because you have the Holy Spirit as a down payment, you have an assurance of eternal life?of life beyond this life, which can never be taken away. Earlier Paul said: Romans 5:5 ?This hope will not disappoint us, because God?s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.? Hope is not a wish; it is the certainty of a coming reality. Who else has this certainty? No other religious or philosophical construct can offer this kind of statement: in Jesus you will have eternal life.
- Glorious riches of His inheritance (what God has for us in the future)
This can either mean what we get from God as our inheritance, or what God gets from having us as His inheritance. As God works this incredible salvation, He is glorified in us.
- Greatness of God?s power (what God does for us right now)
Paul uses four words for ?power? in this verse.
- Dunemis (ability) God is dynamically changing us into His image
- Energeia (?energy? working) ? to accomplish things
- Kratos (power, might) &
- Ischus (strength) ? both muscle words for a power we do not understand
?To us who believe? means that the goal of knowing God is ultimately to know His great power that is directed towards us.
- 1.You can do anything God calls you to do
- 2:12 ?So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.?
- 2.It requires trust on our part, not strength
- 3.Jesus is out to change the way you think
- 55:8 ?For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways. The Lord?s declaration. ?For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.?
- 4.That way of thinking will challenge you every day
Love God with all of you (more than you love yourself)
Love others the way God would (bless those who curse you, pray for those who hate you, be ?other centered?, give selflessly, live peacefully