Salvation Unveiled

The Whole Armor of God

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

Have you ever considered how long our enemy, the devil, has been in existence? Unlike any person in history, he’s been able to study how humans act and think over thousands of years. Considering his main goal since the beginning has been to destroy people and keep them from fellowship with God, he continues to use his knowledge of human behavior and weakness to accomplish it. He knows better than anyone that the key to our downfall is not to come at us with a full frontal attack, rather it’s to find areas in our lives where we are vulnerable to temptation and to attack us there. It could be greed, lust, jealousy, pride, power or popularity.

Be Strong

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10

The word “finally” signals the beginning of Paul’s conclusion to his letter to the Ephesians, where he gives us not only powerful words to live by but also reveals the source of the power we need to experience the Christian life.

Worship While We Work

“Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ… and you, masters, do the same things to them.” Ephesians 6:5, 9a

The words “servants” and “masters” really jump off the page don’t they? It has been estimated that when Paul wrote this letter there were six million slaves in the Roman empire and slavery was an accepted institution. Although the gospel is clearly against slavery, it isn’t specifically condemned anywhere in the New Testament. The reason Paul never specifically condemned it was because his ministry was not to overthrow the Roman government, but to preach the gospel and win the lost to Christ, and it was among the slaves that the gospel was preached and received.

Godly Parenting

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

That’s it. That’s all Paul has to say to parents in his entire letter to the Ephesians. If you’re anything like me - a parent who is often overwhelmed, anxious, confused and scared - then you’re wondering the same thing I am: “Really? That’s all you have for me Paul? For all the questions I have, for all the wisdom and strength I need, this is all the instruction I get?”

Communion With Our Spouses

“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

This simple sentence acts as a hinge between the preceding verses that dealt with the spirit-filled life, and the following verses that deal with how to treat one another. The hinge that opens up the door is the fact that there is a third Person involved in every relationship - Jesus Christ. What a wonderful picture of communion!

Carpe Diem

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

Paul’s instruction to “see then that you walk circumspectly” is also translated “be very careful” or “pay careful attention, then, to how you live.” Paul is urging us to take a moment and consider how we live and why we make the decisions we make. Unlike what the world encourages, we aren’t to get caught up in the moment and simply do whatever feels right. The days are evil, so if we’re not careful we’ll end up giving our energy and time to temporary pleasures which will leave us empty and frustrated.

Imitators of God

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1

Behavioral scientists have discovered an interesting phenomenon called “imprinting” that takes place in the early development of some animals. If an animal is exposed enough to another animal, object, or person during critical stages of their development, they will consider it as their parent. If a young goose is “imprinted” by a dog, the gosling will see the dog as it’s mother. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul suggests the same sort of imprinting should happen in our relationship with Jesus. We should be walking so closely with Him that His nature is imprinted on us.

Life as a New Man

“Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

In Ephesians 4, Paul reminds his readers that when they received salvation, they were given new life. The old man that was governed by deceitful lusts was gone, and was replaced by a new man governed by the truth of Jesus Christ. In the verse above, Paul claims this new man “was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Does this remind you of Genesis 1 where it says God originally created the first man, Adam, in His image and likeness?

Walk in Unity

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:4-6

Did you notice one word in the above passage that stood out among the rest? The word “one” is used seven times in these three verses. I think Paul wants us to understand that there should be unity among all believers. Notice how Paul reveals that it is the triunity of God that brings unity to His children. We see the spirit in verse 4, the Son in verse 5, and the Father in verse 6.

The Prayer Request

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” Ephesians 3:14, 18-19a

John Stott wrote, “One of the best ways to discover a Christians’ chief anxieties and ambitions is to study the content of his prayers and the intensity with which he prays them. Prayer expresses desire.” The above prayer from Paul takes place at a crucial transition in his letter to the Ephesians. In the first three chapters he has been discussing some pretty dense doctrine, and he will spend the rest of the letter teaching us how to apply that doctrine to our lives. So before he gets into the application, he prays the believers in Ephesus would comprehend the overwhelming love of Christ.

The Mystery

“...to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:9

The word “mystery” really jumps off the page doesn’t it? In the New Testament, a mystery is not an eerie thing from a movie, rather it’s “a truth hidden by God in times past that is now revealed to those who are in His family.”  

A New Society

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” Ephesians 2:14

Equality seems to be the most relevant issue today. It’s at the forefront of our society’s mind and is causing a lot of dispute because we’re desperately trying to figure out what it looks like and how to obtain it. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize we were given the answer nearly 2,000 years ago. At a time when inequality was leaps and bounds worse than it is now, Paul declared Christ Himself “is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”

Death to Life

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1

In order that we might fully appreciate who we now are in Christ, Paul bluntly describes how terrible the situation was we used to be in. Oftentimes I feel we lose the full gravity of what Christ accomplished for us. Perhaps we think we used to be bad people and Jesus made us better, or we were struggling and Jesus came along and helped us. Even some of the metaphors we use in many of our worship songs seem to be insufficient. Although I adore the song “Amazing Grace” and would never disagree with the lyrics, I feel famous phrases like “I once was lost but now am found” or “T’was blind but now I see” don’t quite get across exactly what Jesus did for us.

Prayer for Enlightenment

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened...” Ephesians 1:18a

Ok, I know you’ve heard me say this many times before, but this may be my favorite verse. The ESV translates it, “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” We often think of the heart as the seat of our emotions, but in the Bible the heart refers to the entire inner man which includes the emotions, the mind and the will. Through the Bible we learn the heart has spiritual faculties that parallel our physical senses. We read things like, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… He who has ears to hear, let him hear… If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious… A sweet smelling aroma… In hope that they might grope for Him and find Him…” (John 3:3, Matthew 13:9, 1 Peter 2:3, Phillipians 4:18, Acts 17:27). Throughout these scriptures the heart is found seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching.

Doctrine to Doxology

“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.” Ephesians 1:3

In the verse above, Paul uses some form of the Greek word for “eulogy” three times. Although most of us think of a eulogy as a short speech praising someone at their funeral, the word more generally means “to praise, to bless, to bestow special favor upon.” In it’s most basic sense it means “good word.” The purpose of this verse is to setup all that Paul is about to declare in the next 12 verses.

Really Rich

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8

I am amazed by the fact the apostle Paul penned these words while sitting in a prison cell in Rome. When we visited Rome in 1992 we saw the cell Paul may have been kept in. I remember walking down a set of stairs into an underground area and seeing how the cells had been hewn out of stone. They were dark, damp and cold. When I walked into one of the cells I had to bend down because of how low the ceiling was. I noticed a hole in the ceiling and was told the guards would use this hole to not only lower down food and water to the prisoners, but also to urinate on the prisoners. Needless to say, the living conditions seemed unbearable, but as I knelt in that cell I could picture Paul sitting in the corner with a candle and a blanket, writing to his friends in Ephesus about all the things the Lord revealed to him about Christ and the church.