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Came to Ephesus

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Introduction

Please turn to Ephesians 2.
Who am I? My family and I have served in the military for approximately 19 years. We have served on both coasts along with a stay in Hawaii and Arizona. I was saved in California at a young age. However, it wasn’t until I was stationed in North Carolina until I was discipled and grew in knowledge. I joking stay I was a CEO Christian—otherwise known as a Christmas, Easter, and Other Major Holiday church attender.
I was called into the Lord’s work in December 2006. The verse God used to press this calling on to me is 2 Ti 1.9.
2 Ti 1.9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
However, I am still in the military? Why? Because as I have sought to get out in the past, God has opened and closed doors I would not have imagined.
For example, during my first enlistment, I was planning on getting out but God allowed me to reenlist approximately 30 days prior to my end of contract.
Fast-forward a couple years and I anticipated leaving the service again; however, God closed that door. Now I stand here at 19 years and I am prayerfully looking into what God would have us to do in life. Which bring me to Wichita. I have served this nation for 19 years and my desire is to continue to serve in vocational ministry.
Why Ephesians? We read in Acts 19.1 Paul came to Ephesus. Paul on his missionary journeys moved around a lot but it is believe he spent the most time in Ephesus. Some commentator believe he spent up to 3 years in Ephesus. As Paul went to Ephesus, I want to come to Kansas and use this time to prayerfully consider what God would have us to do in future ministry endeavors.
I am praying about revitalization. Revitalization is ...
I fully expect to leave here with more questions than answers but this is what I would consider a survey trip, to learn about the people, places, and pray for God direction in my life.

Setting of Ephesians

A. Penned by Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

Paul was commissioned as a representative of Jesus Christ. We don't have apostles now because to be one, you had to be charged directly by Jesus Christ.

apostle, a special messenger of Jesus Christ, a restricted group

B. Paul is writing to the Saints, that is, God’s people.

As a part of the body of Christ, the believer has been given a heavenly position. Paul mentions four times heavenly places. The believers should conduct themselves in light of this position.
Exalting Jesus in Ephesians Introduction to Ephesians

Positionally, we are holy because we are united with Christ. Now we must live in a manner that is consistent with this position. Personal holiness is about becoming in practice what we are in position.

They were those who trusted Christ for salvation.
This is seen is Eph 1.13-14 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
While they lived physically in Ephesus, the saints were spiritually “in Christ.” They lived in union with Christ.

C. Prison Epistle

While under house arrest in Rome, beginning in 60, Paul composed several epistles to the various churches he had started and strengthened. The Epistle to the Ephesians is the first of these letters. This letter, which may have been intended to circulate among a number of Asian churches, presents the believer’s position in Christ (chapters 1–3) followed by the implications and responsibilities of this position (chapters 4–6). The first part of the book recounts all that believers have been given in Christ, as well as the purpose behind this bestowal, which is to praise God’s glorious grace. The book’s second part calls the believer to respond rightly to this gift of grace in all areas of life, a response that in turn points back to the glory of God.

Paul would have written this epistle about the same time as Colossians and Philemon. He wrote Philippians near the end of his first Roman imprisonment.
About two years later, Paul penned the letter we know as 1 Timothy after he was released from his first imprisonment in Rome (probably in 62). Timothy was in Ephesus confronting false teachers who were corrupting the doctrine.

D. Positioned in Ephesus

What do we know about Ephesus?
Struggles in Ephesus1 Cor. 16:8-9 “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”
Paul faced opponents that were hostile toward him. Don’t be surprised if we encounter opponents and adversaries.
In Acts 19 Paul mentions his long stay in Ephesus, which was about three years, the longest stay in his missionary journeys—three months in the synagogue, two years in the lecture hall, and “a season” longer (Acts 19:8,10,22).
One reason for the long duration was Paul had many great opportunities for ministry.
Those opportunities involved great opposition, though. In Acts 20:18-19 he says he served in Asia with tears and temptations. These opponents were trying to get Paul to stumble.
Size of Ephesus—The city of Ephesus was located in modern-day western Turkey. It was a busy port city, the fourth or fifth largest city in the world at the time. I have been to several large cities and can only imagine the commerce that can into and out of this city.
The city was home to a massive amphitheater that some commentator estimate held about 25,000 people. The city hosted athletic events similar to the Olympics.
It was at the junction of four major roads in Asia Minor. Several villages surrounded it. It was the gateway of Asia that became the gateway of the gospel, as Paul’s ministry in the city reached out into “all they which dwelt in Asia.” (Acts 19.10)
Spiritual warfare in Ephesus—The culture of was steeped in materialism, sensuality, and perverted idolatrous practices. Paul’s ministry threatened the commerce of those who made silver models of Diana (cf. Acts 19.23-41)
Perhaps this spiritually conflicted context of the Ephesians prompted Paul to write in the particular style he uses in this letter.
Paul mentions “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6.12)
Paul emphasizes Jesus’ lordship over all. Ephesus was obsessed with demons, magic, and idolatry, particularly the worship of Diana.

E. Purpose for this Epistle

The key thought in Ephesians is the phrase “in Christ.” We see this phase ten times.
Ephesians shows us God is forming a new humanity through Christ, by the Spirit. It describes how Jesus Christ died for sinners, was raised, is exalted and is now the head of the church.
Through our union with Christ, we share in these same events—we are raised with Christ and seated with Him (Eph 2:5-7). This great salvation is on account of the grace of God (Eph 2:8-10).
Observe also these differences that have taken place:
• We were dead in sins, but now we are “quickened us together with Christ” (2:4). We are alive!
• We were separated from Christ “far off”, but now in Christ Jesus we “are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (2:13).
• We were “strangers and foreigners,” but now we are “fellowcitizens with the saints” (2:19). Once we are saved, we are recognized as God’s people!
• We who were “not so learned Christ,” but now we “have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” We have put off the “old man” and put on the “new man” (4:20-24). It has been said “The natural man, no matter what his intellectual qualifications, understands not the things of God; they are foolishness to him because they are spiritually discerned.
• We were “darkness,” but now we are “light in the Lord” (5:8). Hence, we ought to walk as children of light!
Paul describes the transforming power of the gospel throughout the letter.
Ephesians divides naturally into two parts: who we are in Christ (our position), and how we are to live in Christ (our practice). The first part makes up the first half of the book, and the second part makes up the second half of the book.
Ephesus was a real place, with real people, and real problems. Lets bring this home…Kansas has real people with real problems.
Consider excessive alcohol use, illegal drugs, broken homes, and children in foster care.
According to an old study, I found on the CDC website, excessive drinking results in 762 deaths lost each year in Kansas. This was before the depression that I foresee setting in because of the measures put in place to protect us from the CoronaVirus.
In Kansas, 20.7% of high school students reported binge drinking.
What about illegal drugs? I read an article from the Wichita Eagle that mentioned “Methamphetamine, the illegal and addictive stimulant, is still king in Kansas for its share of the illegal-drug-use pie. Meth is still cheaper and more prevalent than heroin. But opioids are the up-and-coming threat.” the article continued, “The opioid epidemic is still knocking on our doors.”
If opioids are knocking, what does that tell us about meth, the king in Kansas? Has meth increased the struggles and spiritual warfare in Kansas? Yes!
Drug and alcohol use have serious effects. The usage contributes to broken homes and fatherless children. It’s estimated that there are more than 5,000 children in Kansas foster care. Why? Because of the sins and selfish desires of their parents.
Now with the setting laid out, where does this lead us. I want to look at Ephesians 2.1 -10

Separated from Christ, We Were Spiritually Dead (2:1-3).

A. We were dead (2:1).

I do not like family photos. Why because I am married. I tend to think married men would agree with me, getting ready for family photo day is dreadful.
My wife wants the pictures to be perfect. Her hair has to be done, her make up, not to mention our outfits need to match. I can barely match a white shirt with a black tie.
I understand somewhat because I am paying for a photo session and they are cheap. In all fairness I too want a good picture, especially for our money we have invested.
With that being said lets look at the picture we see in these verses.
Paul says “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
Paul is talking to Christians. He says they were “dead in trespasses and sins.” While I don’t like family day, I can assure you my family photos don’t portray died corpse.
Paul is painting the picture of sinners that are dead spiritually; that is, the inner man is dead to spiritual things and cannot respond to them.
All sinners are dead, regardless of age; the only difference between the unsaved church member and the meth head is the state of decay. One may stink but both are dead.
The good news in this opening verse is while it pictures what we were in alludes to the fact Christians have been made alive, quickened. Consider a baby picture of my son, yes, it represents him but he has changed. This is the picture Paul is painting.
The same idea could be said of 2 Cor 5.17:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

B. We were disobedient (2:2-3a).

Continuing to describe this picture, Paul states in Eph 2.2-3aWherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;
We walked that is to say the way we lived or conducted oneself. Conversely, Paul will go on to encourage us to walk in good works. (Eph 2.10) . Walk is a key word in this epistle used seven times. It matters to God how you conduct yourself.

1. We followed the world.

Sinners are not only dead, they are enslaved by the world and live for its pleasures, temporary as the may be, and the fleeting fashions.
Tell a sinner this world is under the condemnation of God and is passing away, and they will laugh at you.
The unsaved sinner assume the attitudes, habits, and lifestyles of the culture, reflecting Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, eproud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Not only did we follow the world but we followed Satan.

2. We followed Satan.

Sinners were also enslaved by Satan, who is at work in the lives of unsaved people.
Ephesians speaks more about principalities and power than any other New Testament letter. Moreover it draws attention to the power behind them: Satan (see 4:27; 6:11,16).

3. We followed our sinful desires.

Paul calls these “lusts of our flesh” and “the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (v. 3). These passions are associated in Galatians 5:16-21 and elsewhere with sins like anger, sexual immorality, idolatry, strife, and drunkenness.
In Romans, Paul tells us the result of such a lifestyle: “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:8). Did you catch that? Those liviing in the flesh can’t please God…you should seek to please God.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah put it this way: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).
This picture shows a dead sinner not following God, but following three evil forces…the world, Satan, and sinful desires. However, the picture doesn’t end there, next we see our terrible fate.

C. We were doomed (2:3b).

Paul explains in Eph 2.3b “and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
The walk we were on in Ephesians 2.2 leads us to become children destined for wrath. This is what we rightfully deserve. Our sins have consequences that have separated us from God, our spiritual status could not be any more distressing.
With this thought of consequences, I’ll share this story.
1001 Illustrations that Connect Illustration 912: Water Intoxication

Jennifer Strange, twenty-eight, died trying to win a Nintendo.

In January 2007, a radio station in Sacramento, California, staged a water-drinking contest, promising a Nintendo Wii video game system to the person whose bladder held out the longest.

Strange did her best, but she didn’t win the contest. Furthermore, several hours after the contest, Jennifer left work with a terrible headache. Later that day she was found dead in her house. An autopsy revealed that too much water had disrupted the electrolyte balance in her blood. Jennifer Strange literally died of water intoxication.

—Associated Press, “Woman Dies after Water-Drinking Contest,”

I don’t know the spiritual state of Jennifer Strange but something as simply as water caused her physical death. Your sins, not matter how insignificant you may think it is, has consequences.
We were justly under the judgment of God. He is right to condemn us in our sins. (Eph 5.6).
God is holy, and He will not sweep sin under the rug. The door of mercy is wide open, and you can come into this grace and be saved. God is patiently waiting for us to come to repentance.
2 Pet 3.9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Now we see what we were apart from Christ, lets look at what we are with Christ.

Secured with Christ, We Are Spiritually Alive (2:4-7).

Read with me Eph 2.4-7

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even bwhen we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

A. God’s character (2:4-7)

The first thing we see is God character. “But God!” What great words!
Paul affirms the wrath and then show the love of God in this same text. You can’t understand one without the other.
In this text we read of God’s mercy, love, grace, and kindness; these prompted His salvation, that is, God’s work.

B. God’s work (2:5-7)

Salvation is not something we could arrange on our own doing. It is solely God’s doing, His work.
Keep in mind none of us is righteous...
Romans 3:10 KJV 1900
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
We have all sinned...
Romans 3:23 KJV 1900
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
This work included making us alive.

1. God made us alive with Christ (2:5).

God could have allowed us to go on in sin and live eternally with the devil in hell, but instead He chose to offer the Way!
John 14:6 KJV 1900
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
He gave us life (quickened us), raised us from the grave of sin, and took us out of our atrocious state.
Further, we read He raised us up.

2. God raised us up with Christ (2:6a).

More than that, He made us members of Christ! That is, member of his body.

3. God seated us with Christ (2:6b).

We have been quickened together, raised together, and we sit together in heavenly places.
This phase heavenly places is used four times in Ephesians.
One commentator said it this way “Paul speaks of being blessed in heavenly places, a phrase only used in Ephesians. He think this gets at the “already–not yet” aspect of our salvation. Now we are linked with the heavenly realms because of our relationship with God. We have the benefits of salvation now, but we also anticipate them in the future when we will praise Him with all nations.”
Continuing on we read of the exceeding riches of His grace.

4. God will demonstrate grace forever to us in Christ (2:7).

The reason God has showed us such grace is so we might be the demonstration of His grace forever.
We will be His reminders of grace. God says in effect, “Look what I can do with such a mess.”
Keep in mind, Paul was writing this passage. If any one was underserving, arguably it was Paul.
Paul blasphemed God and was responsible for breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9.1) .
Ponder the idea of grace for “ages to come.” Instead of wrath, we have everlasting grace!
Before I move on, we have seen a picture of what we were separated from and without Christ, that being spiritually dead, now we see those secure in Christ are spiritually alive.
Think with me about a photo, a selfie, if you will. The photo in itself has no life, is only a representation of us at a point in history. The point at which the photo was taken.
This is what Paul is saying, you were dead, now you have life. The photo represents our past, where as in Christ, we are alive.
This lead me to my next point because we are secure in Christ, we are alive. We ought to live to serve.

Saved to serve in Christ, We Are God’s Workmanship (2:8-10).

Look with me
Ephesians 2:8–10 KJV 1900
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Paul first emphasizes how salvation is a gift and then how true salvation results in good works. God saved us and we should be moved to serve.
Let me use the example of Mrs. Howerton. I don’t know much about her. I do know she could have been content to enjoy her salvation in the comfort of a pew.
But no, she volunteered with AgapeCare Cradle, a faith-based organization conceived to be a transforming influence in the lives of those responding to one of the most difficult and troubling events imaginable; the death of a baby.
She provided guidance to parents experiencing the terrible crisis of losing a baby.

A. Salvation is a gift (2:8-9).

Grace is seen is these preceeding verses. God’s rescue of us is by grace.
We were dead in trespasses and sins, not we are alive!
We were the children of disobedience, now we are raised up together with Christ.
We were the children of wrath, but now the recipients of mercy, love, grace, and kindness.
I can offer a free gift to someone but they have to respond and take it. That is the idea of our salvation. The human response is belief.
Ephesians 1:13 KJV 1900
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

B. No one can boast (2:9b).

No bragging here! There is only One who should be credited for our salvation, that is God Himself. We could not keep the commandments, we have not worked for our salvation, and simply cannot, therefore, let us give God the credit He rightfully deserves.
The gospel, that is the death, burial, and resurrection are all the works of God for our benefit.

C. Salvation results in good works (2:10).

While we can’t work our way to Heaven, we should work because of what Christ has done for us!

He does not want us to think that works are unimportant. He states that works simply are not the root of our salvation. They are the fruit of salvation (cf. John 15:8; Titus 2:14).

We were dead, now we are alive, we are alive to serve. People should see our work and draw the conclusion that the work is of God.
As we are secure in Him, we have life; life that leads to good works. Chapters 4-6 elaborate what these works look like.
Here it is, don’t be comfortable with fire insurance when others are still heading to the fire. Get out and work for God.

Conclusion:

I want to remind you, Paul gave you three aspects of individuals, that being those separated from Christ, those secure in Christ, and those serving Christ.
Paul reminds all of us that in God’s amazing mercy, love, grace, and kindness, God gave us spiritual life in Christ.
What is interesting about the church in Ephesus is even though it had an amazing history, the final mention in Revelation 2:1-7 about this great church is “thou hast left thy first love.”
Think about it: this church in Ephesus had a heritage! Paul, Timothy, John among other ministered in Ephesus, yet about 40 years after the first generation of believers, the church had left their first love.
Though they were commended for spotting false teaching (Paul predicted grievous wolves would enter in Acts 20, and 1–2 Timothy and 1–3 John illustrate this), they left their first love.
We must ask ourselves: Is our service to Jesus mechanical? Do we love Him, or are we just using Him for our own ambitions?
Jesus told them to repent. That is what we must do if we have lost love for Christ: return to praising Jesus for who He is and what He has done.
In this message, I covered a Christians’ past and present. But how did this church look in times past?
How is this church going to look in forty years?
I leave with this challenge:
Do not lose sight of God’s love for us and for all the world!
Do not lose sight of God’s love for us and for all the world!
Do not lose sight of God’s love for us and for all the world!
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