Ephesians 1:3-6 part 2
Let us begin by reading Ephesians 1:3-14,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
I am on the Board of Overseers for our Converge District and this week we had one of our meetings. Ken Nabi, our district president, sent all of the Board members a book to read so that when we came together we could discuss it.
The book was called, “The Power of Moments”. In it the authors discussed the need to try to take advantage of important moments in life. They encourage the reader to look for these opportunities during three important occasions: transitions, milestones and pits. It is this last one, the pits, that captured my attention.
The authors say, “Pits are the opposites of peaks. They are negative defining moments – moments of hardship, pain and anxiety. Pits need to be filled. You do not need to study a book on defining moments to understand that if your friend is suffering, you attend to them.”
How does someone take advantage of a pit, a calamity, an unwanted diagnosis, a catastrophe, a misfortune or a trauma?
I mention all of this because as we begin to read Ephesians we see two things. First, we see the things that Paul is using to fill a pit. Paul fills his heart and mind with doctrines concerning the Trinity, the plans and purposes of God, predestination, the foreknowledge of God, election, the love of God, etc.
Secondly, we see what the result of these things are in Paul’s life. He is filled with praise and worship, thanksgiving, hope, assurance, holiness and joy. In these difficult times Paul remains focused upon God and he remains true to the stewardship that he has been given to him from God.
Some of you may ask, “What makes you say that Paul is in a pit? What makes you think that Paul is in the midst of a trial and in the midst of a calamity?”
I think that it is important for us to remember that Paul was a prisoner in chains when he wrote this letter. Ephesians is one of four letters that are often called the ‘prison epistles’ or ‘captivity letters’. Paul makes mention of this this throughout the letter of Ephesians. For example,
Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles...
Ephesians 3:13 – So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
Ephesians 4:1 – I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…
Ephesians 6:18-20 – (Pray) also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
As we begin to consider the opening verses of Ephesians we see that Paul has filled his heart and mind with something that is allowing him to praise from a jail cell, to worship while wearing chains, to have trust in God while he is awaiting trial, to have peace while he faces the possibility of capital punishment, and these things allow him to have faith no matter what the outcome may be.
As I have considered Paul, I am mindful that we often see him as super hero. We tend to conclude that he is special and that we could never display such things if we were confronted by similar trials.
For example, consider the story recorded in Acts 16. We read there of a time when Paul and Silas were ministering in Philippi and they encountered an angry mob.
“The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:22-24)
Then we read, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them...”
What enabled Paul and Silas to experience such conditions and still be able to worship the Lord? What enabled Paul to be in prison while he wrote the letters to the Ephesians and speak of such praise? Perhaps Paul was a super hero?
We must, however, consider other texts like 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. It says, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again.”