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Ephesians overview – God’s Eternal Purpose, Drawing Near, Joy in Suffering (3:11-13), part 2.

EPHESIANS-1-200213
length: 64:23 - taught on Feb, 13 2020
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Class Outline:

Thursday February 13, 2020

 

We talked last night about the best motivation for being the man or woman God has purposed us to be, which is to be in thought and conduct like Christ in all things. Avoiding pain from the results of sin, wanting a better life, seeking heavenly rewards are all motivating to a point, but they are not going to get us to the maturity level that our hearts require in order to live the Christ-life as a rule of life.

 

The Christ must be at home in our hearts, which as we shall see, is another way of saying that we know Him fully and love Him, of which both things are the same thing. The great motivation in the Christian way of life is to know the way and love the way.

 

PSA 37:4-5

Delight yourself in the Lord;

And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

 

PSA 37:23

The steps of a man are established by the Lord;

And He delights in his way.

 

We delight in Him and He delights in our way because the steps of our life are on the path established by Him.

 

God’s purpose was to make man of a certain type - the image of God in the image of the person of Christ.

 

In vs. 12, Paul drops down from heaven back to earth and to the struggles of the church. The watching angels and the Jesus the Lord sitting in victory having fulfilled the purpose of God to the body of Christ on earth in travail and conflict.

 

EPH 3:8-12

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

 

Bold and confident access to the Father through faith in Christ is our active and effective prayer life.

 

This is a repetition of:

EPH 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

 

Access (prosagoge) is a blessing of reconciliation. It is active communion with God, especially in prayer. Twice Paul brackets “access to God” with “peace with God.” (ROM 5:1-2; EPH 2:17-18).

 

It is imperative that we take advantage of our bold access to the Father and seek His counsel and guidance in overcoming the things that hinder us.

 

Notice the synonyms in the sentence: boldness, confidence, access. They are active words lacking fear and conveying all comfort to the one approaching God. The force of them speaks of admittance rather than just access. Being thus admitted, we may come with confidence of heart, though we be less than the least of saints. Accepted in the Beloved, we are within our right if we say Father as we stand before the very throne of God.

 

And while we have bold access we are not to have proud access, meaning that we always bow before Him. When we pray, if we cannot get on our knees, we do so in our souls. We are commanded to perfect holiness in the fear of God, to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ, work out (bring to maturity) our salvation with fear and trembling, fear not entering into God’s rest, conduct ourselves in fear during the time of our stay upon the earth, and even when we are finally in heaven a voice will come from the throne saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great."

 

The prophecy of Christ in ISA 11:1-5 says that the fear of the Lord will be upon Him and that He will delight in it.

 

ISA 11:1-5

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and strength,

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

3 And He will delight in the fear of the Lord,

And He will not judge by what His eyes see,

Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor,

And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,

And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,

And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

 

We are not commanded to get on our knees, though Paul says that he prays on his:

 

EPH 3:14-15

For this reason (vv. 2-13), I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,

 

Besides Stephen falling on his knees to pray for his murderers, this is the only mention of knees in the NT, except for the promise that every knee will bow before the Lord.

 

With an attitude of both fear, reverence, as well as confidence and boldness we will discover that we know what to say and ask and how to listen and see Father’s guiding hand.

 

If this were not an overview, we would be pausing to study the doctrine of prayer. But we will soon return to it.

 

Finally, in this section, the saints of Paul’s time might have lacked confidence because their beloved apostle suffered so much and was in fact in prison. Paul was clear on this issue. His imprisonment was not a black mark on his ministry but a medal of honor upon it.

 

EPH 3:13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

 

“Don’t lose heart, it was for this purpose that I was born - to be a steward of the mystery.” Like our Lord’s election would have to send Him through much suffering, so it is with Paul’s. How could Paul be the first minister of light to the Gentile world, a dark world, and not be persecuted and even imprisoned for it? When he understood that truth and saw that his suffering, persecution, and imprisonment were actually manifestations of God’s purpose in him coming to fruition, he rejoiced it them.

 

In these sister letters (Eph/Col) Paul speaks of his own heavy sufferings endured while attending his stewardship and the joy they gave him.

 

It would have seemed to some as though the apostle’s sufferings and imprisonment predicted weakness and even disaster for the cause he represented. Paul did not take this view.

 

COL 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

 

Paul did not lose heart, though he could have never predicted that his ministry would lead straight into a prison. His sufferings were the glory for whom he suffered.

 

Paul realized that every stroke that fell upon him was a glory to the church. His tribulations only helped his cause.

 

The sufferings that come upon us can be a part with glory or shame, depending upon how we face them and in whose power.

 

It is clear that good men and women suffer in the good cause, and that is not a matter for pity or dread, but rather for holy pride.

 

Can we learn from this as we consider our own walk that preordained by the Lord? Is it all supposed to be easy, without suffering, without tribulation, without fiery ordeal? No.

 

Each of us has been given a gift, a ministry, and an effect. To be a good steward of it means fighting off those sins and distractions that would have us ignore it, not care for it, and not do the work that it requires. There is suffering involved in this, but do we see its value? The suffering is sometimes from without but it is always within; the suffering of patient enduring while resisting temptation and making your body your slave.

 

Paul found joy in this suffering because he understood the value of that which he was suffering for, the stewardship that Christ had entrusted to him.

 

Paul also buffeted his body and made it his slave so that though he taught the mystery revealed, the life of Christ, that he would not fail to live it himself - “lest I be disqualified” (adokimazo = proven to be of no value; fail the test; untestable).

 

Paul is the instrument of a glorious purpose worthy of God; he is the mouthpiece of a revelation waiting to be spoken since the world began, that is addressed to all mankind and interest’s heaven along with earth. The greatness of his office is commensurate with the greatness of the truth given to him to announce.

 

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