First century Ephesus was a commercial, religious, and cultural power. Being the fifth largest city in the Roman Empire, it boasted some of the largest markets, temples, and theaters in the ancient world. But its man-centered nature made it a place of great exploitation, idolatry, and debauchery.
Yet, within this pagan city God was building His church: a church established, united, and transformed by Christ. God is still building his church in the midst of unbelief, and we will study His word to see how all who look to Him in faith may stand and serve triumphantly through the grace of our triumphant Savior.
Few topics seem more unpleasant than the wrath of God. Some people deny it entirely, suggesting a God of love cannot have wrath. Others seek to downplay or soften it. Most simply ignore it despite hundreds of biblical references. But as D.A. Carson says, “A wrath-less god does not make him more attractive. It makes him morally indifferent.” God’s holiness demands judgment against sin and without wrath Christ died for nothing. It is precisely because we were once objects of God’s wrath that God’s grace to us in Christ is such good news.
The discouraged, poor, and weak Christians in Ephesus needed to be reminded of the hope, riches, and power that were theirs in Christ. In particular, they needed to be assured of the power of their resurrected, triumphant Lord who rules His Church as its invincible King and Head. Beleaguered Christians today still need to hear of our invincible Lord and the power He continues to exert through His body, the Church.
There are a virtually limitless number of things to pray and strive for in the Christian life. All of them have value, but when writing to the Ephesians Paul said his top concern was that they would know God better. How can we pray for others to know God better? How can we know Him better ourselves? God’s word teaches us how to know Him better through the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
God the Holy Spirit is often the most misunderstood Person of the Trinity. Either glamorized or ignored, His primary work of drawing us to Christ is often forgotten. But the Holy Spirit is the unbreakable, unifying, confirming, and anticipatory seal of our salvation. He is the evidence of what is already ours in Christ, and the guarantee of what is yet to come. He comforts our hearts and guides our lives as we live in the grace of God from whom all blessings flow.
Jesus said that everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). But we have been set free, or redeemed, from sin and death through the payment of a price-the very blood of Christ. We now stand forgiven according to the lavish grace of God who not only sets us free, but reveals how He is bringing all things together under the Lordship of Christ. Jesus is the organizing principle of the universe, and He is able to free completely those who look to Him for grace.
The doctrine of election, or predestination, is highly controversial. Surrounded by misunderstanding on one side and resistance on the other, it often remains an unpolished jewel in the crown of Christian theology. But Paul was not ashamed of the sovereign grace of God. It was the foundation of his eternal life, hope, and praise, and it may be ours as well through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First century Ephesus was a commercial, religious, and cultural powerhouse, but its man-centered nature made it a place of great exploitation, idolatry, and debauchery. To His beleaguered church in Ephesus, God sent word of His amazing grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Son whom He loves, He was establishing, uniting, and transforming His people- a work that He continues to this day!