Highlights from Ephesians #2

A bible study series in Ephesians (Part 2)

by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary: This lesson #2 in Ephesians covers the bible themes of effective prayer, spiritual revelation, Jesus’ headship of the Church, our new birth out of spiritual death, and salvation by grace through faith.

Ephesians 1:15-17   ...[17] I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

•• “I keep asking” — a key to effective prayer.
Importunity and persistence in prayer are exemplified in Jesus’ illustration of the man seeking bread at midnight (Luke 11:5-8) and the woman woman relentlessly pleading her case before the judge (Luke 18:1-5).
•• “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation — compare this with 1 Corinthians 2:14“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

•• For what purpose is the Spirit of revelation given? — “that you may know him better”.
John 17:3  “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Knowing God and His Son Jesus are at the very heart of God's "great salvation".

[Read 1:18-21]

1:22-23  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

•• [22] “God placed all things under his feet.” The bible calls Jesus Lord of all (Acts 10:36 and Romans 10:12). There is nothing that is not under His sovereign lordship.
Matthew 28:18  “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ ”
•• [22] “...head over everything for the church — I am by God’s calling the lead pastor of Medford Christian Center. But MCC is not “my” church, but Jesus’ church. Pastors and elders who may be reading this — It is “your church” only in the sense of your being faithful stewards and undershepherds of that which belongs to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church (Matthew 16:18).

•• [23] “...which is his body — Jesus is and shall always be the head of the Church. We believers represent the many-membered body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27) under His headship.
his body” — this expression reminds us of His ownership of the Church.

“his body— this expression reminds us of the fact that Jesus has chosen to reach this world through millions of believers who represent Him as “his body”, via the manifold spiritual gifts and ministries that He confers upon us by the Holy Spirit.
•• [23] “the church...the fullness of him...” — don’t underestimate the Church! One of the Church’s great privileges is to be an expression of Jesus! Fully endowed with His grace, His power, His gifts and ministries.

2:1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins...

•• Genesis 2:16-17  And the LORD God commanded the man, “...you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
• But Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden fruit and experienced immediate spiritual death (and years later, biological death) as a result of their sin.

• That's what you and I weredead in ... sins”before we came to repentance and saving faith in Jesus Christ.

2:2  ...in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

•• Let’s fulfill this — “the sins in which we used to live”. When we turn to Jesus in faith and repentance, God forgives our sins. But that is not an excuse to continue in sin. As Christians, as God’s born-again children, our desire should be daily to keep sin in the “used to” category.
• Following “the world and the devil (“the spirit”). That’s what we all did before coming to Jesus Christ. We followed the ways of the world, and we followed the evil spirit (Satan) who influences the hearts of all who are disobedient to the Gospel. Once again, let's relegate those evil influences to the "used to" category.

2:3-5  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. [4] But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, [5] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.

•• [3] “We were by nature objects of wrath.”
• Not just “them”, but “we”.

• Mankind is not inherently good, but inherently evil (“by nature” sinners) and under God’s just sentence for sin.
•• But we were saved [5] from that wrath:
• [4] “because of [God’s] great love

• [4] because of God’s rich...mercy

• [5] and “by [God’s] grace”!
•• Rather than inflict His wrath upon us sinners [3], God [5] made us alive with Christ ... by grace”. We don’t deserve it; we can’t earn it. This deliverance from God’s wrath into His salvation is, as the famous hymn says, entirely by His “Amazing Grace”.

[Read 2:6-7]

2:8-10  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — [9] not by works, so that no one can boast. [10] For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

•• [8] “By grace you have been saved, through faith”!
For me this occurred in February, 1969. A young woman (to whom I have now been happily married for several decades) began in 1968 to testify to me about salvation through personal faith in Jesus Christ. After about six months of her being a gracious witness to me, I found the Lord’s great salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus. I had finally realized that I could not “work” my way into God’s favor, but that salvation was entirely by grace, through faith.

• Salvation is an issue of faith and grace, not faith and works.

• [8] “It is the gift of God.” Again, you cannot earn or deserve a gift. By definition, a “gift” is an expression of the gracious kindness and generosity of the Giver.
•• [9] “...not by works” — We cannot and never will be saved by works, no matter how good those works may appear to be. The apostle Paul pointedly declared to Titus, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

•• [10] “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
• When we “get saved,” it is “God’s workmanship” in us that makes us new creations.

• We are born again, “created in Christ Jesus”.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [18] All this is from God...”

• It is God’s desire that, now saved, we should “... in Christ ... do good works.”

• As the old saying goes, “We don’t do good works to get saved; we don't do good works to stay saved; we do good works because we are saved.”

James 2:18b  “...I will show you my faith by what I do.” Faith is not some abstract concept. No, but rather James tells us that real faith is visible and seen in the actions, the good works, that flow from that living, vibrant faith in God and in His Son Jesus.

This bible study is continued in Highlights from Ephesians #3.

The beginning lesson in this series is Highlights from Ephesians #1.

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