There are people in our world today and unfortunately in our political system, they do not believe in evil. They have the modern, western, secular mind set. They don’t believe evil exists. They are exactly the ones who are in danger of getting blindsided by evil. Because they’re not prepared for it.
1) No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace (vs. 17-19) – Paul is talking to people who were at one time just like those described here – separated from God, ignorant, hard hearted, darkened in their understanding of the gospel, engrossed in sinful lifestyles. And yet, God brought about transformation in their lives through the proclamation of the Word that pierced their hearts. This is good news as we look around and see people who “seem” beyond the reach of God. We must never forget that God can change even the most hardened heart.
2) As believers, we must put a priority on learning and living out God’s Word (vs. 20-24) – We have been given new identities in Christ. The old is gone, the new has come. It is God’s Word that informs and transforms us to be the people God has re-created us to be… “like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
3) If we have been changed then our lives should look like they have been changed (vs. 25-32) – Paul points out a few areas here that ought to look different. Our speech should be different – no more lying, no more irrational outbursts of anger. Instead our mouths should be used to encourage and build others up. Our lifestyle should be different – as new creations we should display kindness and compassion to others. We should offer forgiveness to others. We should love others not fight others.
What Paul is saying here is that Jesus makes a difference, He changes us! And if there is no change then perhaps we haven’t been changed. Reality check!
“Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.”
“If you ask people who don’t believe in God why they don’t, the number one reason will be suffering. If you ask people who believe in God when they grew most spiritually, the number one answer will be suffering.”
Throughout Scripture there are several metaphors that are used to describe the Church. In this passage Paul uses the metaphor of the Church being likened to a body. And he gives us a picture of what a healthy body looks like. He discusses 3 things that need to be true for the Church to be effective in the world in which we live.
Unity (v 1-6) – The body of Christ should be a body that is working together not against one another. One of the reasons that the Church has been so ineffective over the centuries is because this is not always true. When churches are known more for how they don’t get along then they they cease to be an effective change agent in the world. It is imperative from Paul’s perspective that churches “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Diversity (v 7-12) – Unity does not mean that people are all the same or robotically play follow the leader. Just the opposite in fact. Paul points out that people are very different and have very different giftings. And they are to use their gifts together to promote kingdom purposes that the church might display a diverse body united together for the glory of God.
Maturity (v 13-16) – The bodies that God has given us are designed to grow. When that growth is stunted then immaturity results. This can happen both at the physical level as well as the emotional level. The body of Christ is similar. It will mature as it feeds on a healthy diet of the Word of God and as it “grows and builds itself up in love.” There are too many churches that have experienced stunted growth and thus display a gross immaturity that hurts the testimony of THE Church. The Word of God MUST be central. And believers MUST love one another if we are going to come anywhere close to “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (verse 13).
“It’s possible that God’s plan for us is littleness. His plan for us may be personal failure. It’s possible that when another door closes, it’s not because He plans to open a window, but because He plans to have the building fall down on us.The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will Jesus be enough?”
Hmmm… what do you think about that?
* So I am going to take a step back from my originally stated plan at the beginning of the year which was to tackle one chapter each week from Paul’s epistles. I’m finding that there is just so much I’m missing by trying to work through them at that pace. So I’ll be slowing things down. This week I’m going to ponder the last few verses of Ephesians 3 and then we’ll go from there. I hope you hang with me as the pondering continues.
Question: What would “imaginably more” look like in your life – your job, your marriage, your church, your health, etc?
Here are a few things that I can imagine for our church. I’ll let the Lord take care of the “more” part:
- I can imagine our church being fueled each week by the Word of God and filled by the Spirit of God – then leaving here to pursue a lifestyle of worship evidenced by a life of obedience.
- I can imagine 100 new believer baptisms each year as a result of the seed planting, watering, and harvest work taking place as our people are intentionally bearing the gospel to a lost and hurting world.
- I can imagine our classrooms full to overflowing (and our people not complaining about it) because 1000 people are gathering each week in our Connect Groups as they experience the authenticity of true community.
- I can imagine our monthly “Call to Prayer” gatherings filled with so much Spirit-led energy that no one is looking at the clock wondering when it will be over.
- I can imagine a Lottie Moon offering of over $100,000 because our people have a God-drenched vision to take the gospel to the nations.
- I can imagine our church sending out 100 young men and women over the next 10 years to plant churches both domestically and internationally.
I can imagine a lot more.
What can you imagine?
Paul is not asking that his readers might become more able to articulate the greatness of God’s love in Christ Jesus or to grasp with the intellect alone how significant God’s love is in the plan of redemption. He is asking God that they might have the power to grasp the dimensions of that love in their experience.
Here are a few of my ponderings…
Paul begins in verse 14 with “For this reason” – Which reason is Paul talking about? Why is it that Paul is not only compelled to pray for his Ephesian friends but determined not to miss this opportunity to come to the Father on their behalf? Go back to verse 12: “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Paul is absolutely confident that God will not only hear his prayers but also answer his prayers. And what’s not to answer…
I mean look at what Paul is praying – he is praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened with POWER so that they would be fueled by faith and grasp how glorious is God’s love for them. What’s not to answer in a prayer like that. He is not praying for their safety or their health or their financial situation or their employment status or that they would be happy. He is praying that these Christians in Ephesus would experience from God something that would transform their lives on the inside – not just change their circumstances on the outside. He is praying that the Ephesian believers would be radically changed so that the watching world stand up and take notice.
I do not meet many believers who are fueled by the power of God and daily live faith-filled lives. I do not meet many believers who who have such a thorough, all-surpassing grasp of the love of God that that they are “filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.” Nor would people say these things about me. But it is the kind of spirit-filled life I aspire to. The question is… what am I going to do about it?
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about chapter 4…
v. 1 – What is “the calling you have received”?
v. 12 – What “work of service” are you involved in?
v. 13 – What does the phrase “whole measure of the fullness of Christ mean”?
v.27 – Can you identify any area in your life where the devil has a foothold?
v.29 – How have you intentionally used your mouth this week to build others up?
v.32 – Is there anyone that you harbor unforgiveness towards? What does Paul say is the first step toward a forgiving heart?