Ephesians 1 Bible Study 4 2006 Prayer Meeting
Paul the apostle wrote a circular letter to the churches in Asia, including the church at Ephesus. He wrote to the saints-all in the churches who had turned by faith to Jesus Christ and been saved. Next, Paul greeted the readers in a way that would have been common in a letter of that day.
He expressed his desire that the readers would receive grace and peace from "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:2).
To better understand what he wanted them to receive, we need to review the nature of the Christian life.
The Christian Life in Three Parts.
---when a person turns to Christ in faith, he is saved or "born again." That's a one-time experience. We call it "regeneration." God replaces your sinful nature with a new nature. You are given a new life in Christ. This is the past part of the Christian life.
But there are two more parts.
*when you are saved you become a saint one set apart (or sanctified) for God and made holy.
God places His Spirit in you and begins the process of conforming you to the image of Christ Himself
This is a lifelong process. It's the present part of salvation and can be called "progressive sanctification."
· More and more you are set apart from your old way of life and your old nature.
· You're progressively (in stages) becoming more like Christ and more fully surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
· You're turning from old patterns of thinking and living to a new way of life.
1. Past a. Glorification
2. Present b. Regeneration
3. Future c. Sanctification
· Regeneration describes the past part of your Christian life (1-b).
· Sanctification describes the present process you are going through (2-c).
· The day will come when you will be glorified and become like Jesus Christ more completely than ever. That's the future part of your Christian life (3-a).
In the future, we will become like Jesus. We will be changed. We will be given a new and glorious body. Jesus Christ Himself will be glorified in us. What a day that will be!
Grace to You. Paul began his letter to the saints by saying "grace . . . to you" (Eph.1:2).
What did he mean? Grace is God's favor and blessing that He gives to us freely.
Paul had experienced this saving grace. He never got over the grace that God extended to him that day on the Damascus road. The Lord could have struck him dead instead of blind. Paul knew he deserved eternal separation from God. He had taken the lives of some of God's chosen people.
Thus he wrote to Timothy, "Even though
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:13-14).
The apostle Paul knew by experience that God saves sinners. He classified himself as the "worst."
But he also said, "For that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life" (1 Tim. 1:16).
In other words, Paul knew that if God could save him, He could save anybody! Paul never forgot that reality. It was indelibly impressed upon his heart and affected the rest of his life.
16. Describe in your own words what God's saving grace is.
When Paul wished grace for his readers, they had already experienced God's saving grace.
But another aspect of His amazing grace is the continuing and sustaining grace He gives us in the present.
We need it for our sanctification.
· Apart from His favor and freely given help, we could never change our lives to be like Jesus.
· We could never experience daily victory over sin and temptation.
Paul experienced this sustaining grace:
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
The writer of Hebrews tells how this grace is available:
"We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb.4:15-16).
**We need grace for daily living!!!
Peace to You. Paul wanted his readers to experience God's grace and peace.
There's a peace with God that comes when you're saved and justified-placed in a forgiven relationship with Him (Rom. 5:1). You're no longer the object of His wrath. You're at peace with Him.
Again, this is a past and continuing experience of peace with God for the Christian.
Paul's readers had already experienced this kind of peace.
So what did he desire for them?
The Greek word for peace is related to the Hebrew greeting "Shalom." This peace is not just the absence of trouble or conflict. It's far more positive. It's a wish for prosperity, rest, and wholeness.
In fact, this kind of peace can be experienced in the middle of problems and difficulties.
It's like the eye of a hurricane-peace and calmness with a storm all around.
· "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).
· "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace" (Col. 3:15).
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (1 Thess.5:23-24).
· "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" (2 Thess. 3:16).
· "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" John 14:27).
· "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).