Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 35
CORRECTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Before we start the Book of Ephesians I had one more segment of this unfolding of the Church epistles of Paul, and that is the I & II Thessalonian letters. Now again we came through Paul’s original ministry among the area, especially Asia minor and Greece, Corinth, and the letters to the Romans and Corinthians, Galatians. Then we saw beginning with Acts 28:28 from his time in prison he writes what we call the prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. These three Books are just a jump up doctrinally, in depth, and understanding from what you had back in Romans, the Corinthians, and Galatians. Then we come to earlier letters that were written, but they’re really final in their content, and those are I & II Thessalonians which can now follow the format of doctrine, reproof, correction and now we go to instruction in righteousness. And again it’s up on a higher plane even than what we have in the prison epistles because in I & II Thessalonians, where does the Word take us? Up to glory! Remember I Thessalonians chapter 4?
I Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” And in II Thessalonians Paul speaks of the Church being taken out of the way in verse 7, and in verse 8 we find.
II Thessalonians 2:8a
“And then shall that Wicked (one) be revealed….”
So those two letters then take us on up to that which we are all waiting for, and that is the fruition of everything, when we will finally be in glory with our crucified, resurrected, and ascended Lord. Now let’s get right into the meat of the Book of Ephesians.
“Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,…”
Paul didn’t just one day say, “Hmm, I think I’ll just become an apostle. I like the way people look up to Peter, James, and John. I just think I’ll become an apostle.” No that’s not the way it was. You want to remember he was the one who hated Jesus of Nazareth. He hated anything associated with the Christ of Calvary. He thought Christ was destroying his pet religion, Judaism. But God in His grace saved him on the road to Damascus, and immediately gave instructions that, “This man would be going to the non-Jew, the Gentiles with a whole new format,” This format was not based on Judaism or Law, not based on the Old Testament – but a whole new revelation of new truths that had never been revealed before.
He sent him out among those pagan Gentiles, and how the poor man was constantly confronted with the abject immorality of his day. It was unbelievable, and yet out of that wickedness and out gross pagan immorality the man turned the Roman empire upside down by simply preaching the Gospel that Paul was given to preach to us. Paul wasn’t a crusader, he wasn’t a great politician, he wasn’t a great moralist, but he preached the Gospel of the Grace of God. Now then as he ends up in prison because of his apostleship, he’s going to be writing these next three letters from prison. So he’s an apostle not of his own will, but by the will of God.
New then this apostle is writing this particular letter to the saints there in Ephesus. And how many times have you heard me say over the years, “to whom does Paul always write?” The Believer. The Christian. He doesn’t write to the unsaved world. Not that he didn’t have a heart for them, but Paul knew that which too many people today don’t understand, “You don’t just simply win the lost by screaming at them, and preaching at them, but rather you win the lost by discipling the believer.” And when that believer is discipled and can go out there among the ungodly world, and reflect the righteousness of Christ, he’s going to have an impact on lost people. And then the unsaved is going to say, “Hey what must I do to have what you’ve got?” And then there’s your opportunity. “Oh you believe that Christ died for you. You believe with all your heart that He rose from the dead for you, and you will be saved. (Reference I Corinthians 15:1-4)” The Book declares it, and it cannot lie.
Now I have to be careful because I had someone else call the other day with this question. “Well Les what do you mean when you say `only believe?'” Well I don’t mean just a superficial mental acsent to these things, I mean that when you honestly with all your being, say, “I believe this with all my heart without a doubt, I believe from cover to cover, but I believe especially that when Christ died He died for me, and when I believe that He arose from the dead, He rose to give me that same resurrection power.” And that of course is what we call faith, and it’s by that and that alone that we enter in to this relationship that Paul is always expounding on. So he writes to the saints. And now looking at verse 1 again we find.
“Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful (now the last three words in this verse are the key to the whole letter) in Christ Jesus:”
Now what kind of a phrase is that? It’s a prepositional phrase. Now I think there are 93 prepositional phrases in this six chapter of Ephesians that always denote our position. Such as “In Christ, In whom, In Him, or similar.” The whole six chapters are constantly driving that home that we are now in a peculiar position as believers. You see back here in Romans the whole idea of the letter of Romans was to show that we were nothing but hell-bound, filthy, wicked sinners. Every one of us were capable of going to the very depth of sin, now that’s what Romans shows us. Then the remedy for it is the Gospel, that Christ has already forgiven us. He’s already died for us, His blood has already paid the payment, He arose from the dead, and all we have to do to appropriate it is to believe it, now that’s the Book of Romans.
Romans is so doctrinal, it’s so basic, and then in Corinthians with all the problems that had to be reproved, and Galatians trying to go back into legalism, and how that had to be corrected. But here in this little Book of Ephesians we’re not going to deal with any of those things. Here we’re going to deal with hammering home the fact that you are now positioned in Christ, in the Body, and to find the roots of that position, we’re going to see it in verse 3. Where are we now positioned? In the heavenlies. Do you see that? We’re not an earthly people, but rather a heavenly people. However we are on the earth, but everything that we constantly think about, everything that makes up our being even as we live, work, and move in this old sin-cursed world is our position in the heavenlies. That should be uppermost in our thinking.
So now Paul’s letter to the believers in the area of Ephesus probably went out to the other cities in that area. I’m sure it got to Colosse, and probably up to Troas, and maybe even got inland as far as Antioch, and Derbe. Isn’t it amazing that as these various letters of Paul went out to the various congregations back there in the ancient world where there were no copy machines, and no instant communication, that they didn’t get lost.
Somebody was providentially aware that, “Hey these letters are important, and we’d better protect them. Somehow or other they were kept intact for 300+ years before the Church fathers put them together and put them into what we call the Scriptures. Now that in itself is miraculous. These were just simple letters that were sent out to a congregation, and they only had the one copy, and I doubt they took the trouble to laboriously hand write each one of these for a Church. This letter especially was sent to be circulated among all the Churches in the area around Ephesus, and yet it never got lost. It’s just amazing.” This is just a little tidbit that too often we forget that makes this Book supernatural. Now verse 2.
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath (it’s already done) blessed us with all (not a Cadillac in every believer’s garage. Not a seven bedroom home, but rather we are already have) spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
Now remember that all of our earthly blessings will only last till we die. Some of us might get past 90, but most of us are going to come to the end of the road somewhere after 70 or 80, that is if the Rapture doesn’t happen first, and we trust it will. happen soon. But remember these material blessings are here for such a little while. How did the Psalmist put it? “A blade of grass shoots up in the morning, and in the afternoon it’s withered and gone.” Another good example is up in the north country of Minnesota when it’s real cold. Boy you get a -30 degree morning and every breath just becomes a cloud of vapor, but how long does it last? Puff and it’s gone. Now that’s what the Bible compares our earthly life span to.
But these spiritual blessings, how long will they last? All eternity. Forever! The world scoffs and thinks we’re a bunch of nuts, and they think we have to give up all the good times, and we have to shun these things, and we’re almost living a life of sacrifice. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We don’t even have an appetite for those things. Like I told one fellow when he asked me, “Why don’t I ever see you in this particular saloon on Saturday night?” And I said, “Look, for the same reason I don’t see you in Church on Sunday morning. I would be just as miserable in your saloon on Saturday night as you would be in Church on Sunday morning.” And that says it all doesn’t it? Our appetite is now on things spiritual because the Lord has given us enough insight that spiritual things are going to last forever – not just 70 years.
In fact it won’t be that long. All you have to do is watch some of your entertainers and some of your wealthy athletes, how long can they enjoy the fast lane? Not very long because the body can’t take it. Then when they’ve reached 50, their health is shot and what for? Where as you and I, we may shun those things not because we’re missing them although the world thinks we are. And the end result is our heavenly position comes to the fore.
“…spiritual blessings in heavenly places (and how are we seated in the heavenlies?) in Christ.”
Now I have to take you back to I Corinthians chapter 12 where Paul is back here in the area of the elementary things, but nevertheless it’s all part of our Christian experience.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, (hands, feet, toes, etc.) and all the members of that one body, being many, (being many) are one body: so also is Christ.” In other words He’s made up of all of these believers that have come into the Body of Christ ever since the beginning of the Church age. And here we are in Christ, how did we get there? Look at verse 13.
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) are we all (not just a few of the most spiritual) baptized…”
Now what does the word `baptized’ really mean? To be inundated, to be completely inundated. Homer or Plato, one of the Greek classical writers, spoke of a ship being baptized at sea. Well if a ship gets baptized at sea, what happened to it? Hey it was sunk, it went down, but it was baptized, why? Because that ocean water filled every nook and cranny of that ship as it went down. And that’s what a baptism does, it just simply inundates the person. But remember this isn’t water, this is the invisible person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
And he has inundated us in Christ. And when does He inundate us? The very moment we believe the Gospel for our salvation. You don’t feel a thing, I mean you’re not going to shake your head and get the water out of your eyes. You’re not going to somehow say, “Ooh, something is happening to me.” No it’s a silent, unfeeling work of the Holy Spirit, and how do I know it happened? By Faith! See again you come back to all these writings of Paul coming up through these epistles of doctrine, reproof, correction; they are all based on faith + nothing. They were reproved because they had lost sight of what God had instructed. In other words they had gotten blinded by lack of faith. And it was the same way going back into legalism. Why were they leaving Paul’s doctrine of faith + nothing? Because their faith grew weak, and you come up into the Ephesian letters it’s that way. How are we going to come close to comprehending that we are already seated in the heavenlies? By faith. I can sit on that tractor when it’s 110 degrees and I don’t feel like I’m in Heaven. But yet I can sit there in that 110-degree heat and I can reflect on this and by faith where do I know I really am? In the heavenlies, now that’s what faith does. So coming back to verse 13.
I Corinthians 1:13
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body whether we be Jews or Gentiles,…”
Not a body of Jews and a body of Gentiles, but rather one Body. We’re going to see this really come to fruition when we get on a little farther in Ephesians. This is one of the great parts of the mysteries now revealed to the apostle Paul in this particular Book, and that is the Jew loses his identify when he comes into the Body of Christ. I remember the very first time when I went up to Minnesota for a seminar and at the first break there was a lady came up to me and said, “Now Les I’m a Jew, but I’m a believer. If the Lord comes tonight since I’m a Jew will I be left behind, and just you Gentiles go in the Rapture? I said, “Well heavens no. If you’re a believer whether you’re Jew or Gentile and you’re in the Body of Christ, then we all go.” She was so relieved, and that gave her so much comfort. Now finishing the last part of verse 13.
I Corinthians 12:13b
“…whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Now Iris and I just love it when people invite us into their home. I’d much rather do that than stay in some motel. But every home we go to, I mean it’s so exciting when we sit down at that dinner table and I don’t have to press the subject, they do, and what do you suppose we talk about? The Book, the Lord, and there’s never any feeling of, “Oh I wish we could get these people to talk about the Lord.” It just comes out so easily, because we’re all members of the Body of Christ. Now occasionally we may be in a home where it isn’t that way. And in that case you can almost sense that they do not have that love for the Word of God. You can tell it right away. If it’s a strain to talk about the things of God, if it’s a strain to talk about Scripture, then you know there’s something lacking., but that’s not very often the case. Now looking at verse 13 again.
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all (every last believer) made to drink into one Spirit.” (that One Holy Spirit). So now coming back to Ephesians chapter 1, let’s look at verse 3 again.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
See there’s not a word in here about material blessings, but we hear a lot about material blessings from the name it and claim it people. But the apostle Paul never mentions that. Paul never tells us that if we are believers, whether we’re carnal or spiritual, that we’re going to be blessed with millions. Never! All Paul is concerned about is, “Do you realize how rich you are in Grace?” And whether we’re rich or poor, that’s beside the point, because we’re all one in Christ, and this is what people have to understand. God isn’t promising you and I that we’re going to become millionaires, in fact far from it. Many of us are probably going to go all the way through life with just the very bare necessaries. But what have we all got? All these Spiritual blessings in Christ. Now verse 4.
“According as he (Christ Himself) hath chosen us in him (when?) before the foundation of the world,…”
Now I know that’s mind-boggling, and I know it throws a curve at a lot of people. You have some that take it clear off to the end of the boondocks in a false teaching that God has already determined who’s going to be saved and who’s going to be lost, and there’s nothing that you can do about it. They also say, “There’s no use to evangelize because if God hasn’t foreordained them then they don’t stand a chance anyway.” No way, that’s not what it means at all. Now we know that God knew from eternity past who would become believers, but that does not excuse us from taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and to make everyone aware of their opportunity for salvation.
In other words, when we were teaching Romans chapter 9, remember how I taught it? Over here on the right hand we had whosoever will may come, but over here on the other side we have this verse in Ephesians that says you were chosen before the foundation of the world. Now humanly speaking, can you understand that? I can’t and I don’t think you can. It is impossible for a human being to understand that over here we have whosoever will may come. And over here we have chosen before the foundation of the world was formed. The two are counter to each other, but is it a problem for God? No, and that’s where I leave it.
Leave it in God’s hands, because the best I can do is bring the two to the middle. Just as you respond to whosoever will, and you come to that invitation, the Lord Jesus shouts throughout all of Heaven, “I chose him before the foundation of the world.” And that’s the best way I can explain it, but to say I understand it, I don’t. I’ve just got to leave it in the hands of God, because this is what the Word says. Just revel in those two statements. That yes, you exercised your free will when you responded to the Gospel. But on the other hand God could honestly say, “I chose you before anything was ever created.” It’s a glorious thought isn’t it?