THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 3-30-03
LESSON TITLE: PAUL'S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS: "CHAPTER 3: GOD'S MYSTERY REVEALED"
Thank you for joining us this morning for the Living Word program. It is always a pleasure to have you with us for this time of praise and homage to God. It is our desire this morning to do all things in accordance to His Will, as we sing songs and study from His Word. May we all participate and do our part, in this time of worship to God. Let's begin our offering today with a word of prayer, bow with me please.
It is our privilege this morning, as we begin our worship to God, to sing a song of praise before His throne. Our first selection of the morning reminds us of just how special our Savior is, as He was willing to do so much for us - and as He continues to care for, lead, and provide for us today. So won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "Sweeter Than All!"
(SONG # 1)
The other day I read an article that made the statement that many of us have a "grasshopper mentality." At first I thought, "you have to be kidding," but then after reading it I said, "you better believe it." I know you starting to think what on earth is he talking about. Well let's go a little further!
Remember the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon? He said, in Proverbs 6:6, "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise," There we have it again, bugs mentioned in God's Word, but how on earth could this have a spiritual application.
Well, think for a moment about bugs! There are certainly many bugs in this world and some are definitely fascinating creatures. In fact, if I were to ask you what was your favorite type of bug, I would probably receive a variety of replies. But the most common might be something like this, "who likes bugs!" "Well, somebody must, because even many movies in our day are centered around bugs and how they live. I know a real favorite of my kids was "Bugs Life." In it were a variety of insects, from the good guy ants - to the bad guy grasshoppers.
But again, how does this all tie into God's Word? Well let me first say, "Isn't it interesting to note that the Bible talks about many kinds of bugs to make points concerning our labors as children of God." Furthermore, isn't it interesting how we find the answers to all things in the Bible? Now let me ask you, "where does the Bible talk about grasshoppers?"
First of all, you might think of the plagues which were executed upon the Egyptians, but that's not our text today. Another mention of grasshoppers is found in Leviticus 11:22, where it talks about these insects as being good to eat. I'm sure that makes us all hungry, huh?
However, the text we want to consider this morning is found in Numbers 13, where the ten spies gave a bad report about the land of Canaan. They said, "There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." Remember this story when the twelve spies were sent to scout out the land of Canaan? When they came back only two of the twelve gave a good Godly report, that is - Joshua and Caleb. The other ten said that there was no way the Israelites could take the land of Canaan from such giants.
Now what was the difference in the two reports? Well, the ten spies had a "grasshopper mentality." They looked at things from a small, worldly and physically standpoint, lacking faith in God. However, Joshua and Caleb, looked at the facts from the standpoint of God as their leader, saying, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."
What great things we could all accomplish for God, if we could start having a greater faith, and stop looking at things as grasshoppers. May we never forget that, "all things are possible through Jesus Christ our Lord." We can truly do anything with God on our side.
It is wonderful to have with us brother Kevin Patterson this morning, as our guest speaker of the day. Brother Patterson will be leading us in our Bible study of the morning after singing our next song together. As far as our series, we are still considering, "Paul's Letter To The Ephesians. Our specific lesson of the day will focus on, "Chapter 3: God's Mystery Revealed." So stay with us and we will enter into this discussion in just a few minutes. Now let's sing our second hymn of the morning, it's name, "Fairest Lord Jesus."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Kevin Patterson
Good morning and thank you for staying with us. As always, it is a delight to be here with you and I appreciate the invitation to be here with you this morning and to share just a portion of God's Word with you. If you ever have the opportunity and you are in the Bolivar area, we want to invite you to come and to worship with us any Lord's day. We have Bible classes at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and then worship time at 10:00. Then again the evening worship assembly at 6:00 p.m.
For the last three weeks we have been studying the book of Ephesians. We are mindful that this book is the apostle Paul's letter to the Lord's church at Ephesus. In chapter 1, we talked about God's eternal plan of redemption and in chapter 2, Paul addressed to those Christians how they had been saved by grace through faith. This week, we are going to examine chapter 3 and talk about God's Mystery Revealed.
In verse 1 of chapter 3, Paul immediately identifies himself as the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles. Most people believe and agree that Paul was in prison at Rome at the time of this writing and he was trying to give the church at Ephesus some encouragement even in the midst of the problems that he was enduring. We are mindful back in Acts chapter 22 of this situation where as Paul had been captured and was standing before a very angry mob of Jews, he was given the opportunity to address them and give a defense for his case. He makes the statement in Acts 22 beginning in verse 1, "Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said, "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in the city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our Father's law and was zealous to God as you all are today. I persecuted this way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the High Priest bears me witness and all the council of the elders from whom I also received letters to the brethren and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished."
You have to remember that right off the bat Paul identifies himself as a Jew. He then identifies himself as having been a very faithful Jew, very zealous for the Jewish teaching, very faithful for their doctrines, obedient to the leaders of the Jewish nation. He even mentions in verse 3 that he was brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel. Today, that would be the same thing as someone saying, "I learned how to conduct business at the feet of Bill Gates or Sam Walton." Gamaliel was a very greatly respected Jewish leader. So for him to give these credentials identified himself as someone special within the Jewish people. However, why were the Jewish people angry with him? Why had he become such an outcast? Well, because he had abandoned their teaching which had ended at the cross. You see, the law of Moses, the law into which they lived and by which they were following, that had ended when Jesus died on the cross and although Saul, later to be called Paul, had continued in the teachings of the law of Moses once he was confronted by our Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, once he had realized the truth, he converted and started following the Christian way.
In verses 2 and 3 the mystery of God's grace, we find out, was entrusting to Paul as it was revealed to him on that road to Damascus. Trust that had been given to Paul, this gift that had been revealed to him, he was then to turn around and to reveal it to the Gentiles. That was going to cause him further problems. We read back in Acts chapter 22 and verses 6-21 the story of how Paul was on the road to Damascus and how this bright light came out in front of him blinding him and how Saul hears this voice asking the question, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" In verse 8, Saul answers, "Who are you Lord?" And the voice answers and reveals who it is. It says, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting." Paul, at that time known as Saul, was given instructions to go on into Damascus and to listen to the instructions of a man by the name of Ananias who would be sent to him. Then Ananias, in verse 13, restores Saul's sight and says to him, "The God of our Fathers has chosen you that you should know His Will and see the Just One and hear the voice of His mouth for you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now, why are you waiting? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord."
Saul then falls into a trance at a later time and in the midst of the many things that are revealed to him during this message he is given this instruction to "part for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles." Paul is often referred to as the apostle to the Gentiles because in the earliest days of the church the apostles had been given the charge to go and teach to the Jewish nation because after all under the old covenant, under the old testament, these people who followed under the law of Moses had been called the children of God. They had at times been very faithful to God, whereas the Gentile nation had all but abandoned anything that He would want them to do.
The Jews were given the opportunity to receive the good news of Jesus Christ first. But now a transition was going to take place and Paul was going to be very instrumental in revealing the mystery of Jesus Christ to these people. Now that again was going to cause problems. In verses 4 and 5, Jesus Christ had been a mystery in times past, but now that mystery had been revealed. In the Old Testament, some of the old prophets, they looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. But now in the first century, the apostles had been made known of this mystery because they had literally walked and talked with Christ. There were other great men of the New Testament who went around and prophesied the truths of God's Word as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. But then we see in verses 6 and 7 that part of the revealed mystery of Christ was no longer going to be held only to the Jewish nation but now had come to the Gentiles. We read that "the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body and partakers of this promise in Christ through the gospel of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power."
I would encourage you at some point in time to read Acts chapter 10 and also chapter 11. We see how the apostle Peter went through a great change of heart and change of mind when he who also had been a very faithful Jew prior to His following of Christ and becoming a child of God and becoming a Christian on the day of Pentecost forward. We see that Peter also had a difficult time accepting the fact that the Gentile people would be taught. It was Peter who was sent to the household of Cornelius where he was the first to record Gentile converts, who was a centurion by occupation. And Peter had to be given a vision first of all to have it explained to him that when God says that you are to teach a people that you formerly called common or unclean, when God gives you this instruction, you have no right to dismiss it. You have no right to allow your racial prejudices or for your religious problems to get in the way. These people are souls and they are precious in the eyes of God and they too, need to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ. So Peter went to this man and then even later had to convince the apostles and some other Christians in that area that these Gentiles had not only accepted the Word of God but had been baptized into the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. So now, the gospel was being preached to the whole world and yet still Paul played a very important role in it's teaching to the Gentile people.
In verse 8, Paul writes, "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when we were addressing in chapter 1 what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be in Christ? Several of the words and phrases that are used in chapter 1 are words like "every spiritual blessing" we are given by God when we find ourselves in Christ. We are found to be holy and blameless before God. We are adopted as sons into the family of God. We are redeemed through the blood of Christ. We receive the forgiveness of sins. We have access to the wisdom of God that is not understood and foolishness in the eyes of man. We are given access to the mysteries of His Will through the Word of God. We are given an inheritance and I would suggest not only is it something that we can enjoy here but much more so the inheritance that we will receive of an eternal home in heaven. We are given the word of truth which is the gospel of our salvation. We are able to believe this and then apart from being added to the body of Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance which is the seal of the promise of the existence that we get to look forward to in heaven one day.
Verses 9 and 10 teach us that the church, the body of Christ, those who are called out of the world and who are added into the family of God by the blood of Christ, we read that the church is the conduit through which the wisdom of God is to be made known in the world today. Verses 9 and 10 read, "And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by or through the church to the principalities and powers in heavenly places." That phrase "in heavenly places" has given a lot of people problems because it sounds like it would be referring to heaven. But there is a word that is added in there and sometimes these words are added to help us understand better but this has probably caused a little more confusion. The idea here is that those who are in leadership positions, those who are powerful in our world, those who are in principalities, they can only know God's wisdom through the Word of God that hopefully we as members of the body of Christ are teaching to a lost world. So it is our responsibility to get all spiritual matters, all things of a heavenly nature, anything that is pleasing in the eyes of God, it is our job to get this message out to those who can hear it, accept it, believe it, obey it, live by it and be saved through it in the end.
I want to take you also to verses 11 and 12 that talk about those people who are faithful Christians. They are people who can be bold. They are people who can be confident as children of God. Sometimes we ask Christians, faithful Christians, people who are really dedicating their lives to God, "Are you going to heaven?" They answer by saying like, "Well I hope so." Now we are taught not to be egotistical or arrogant. We certainly don't want to be prideful in a way that would be unbecoming of people who would be examples of Christ. But at the same time, the scriptures teach us over and over that we need to be confident in the promises of God. Hebrews chapter 3 and verse 14 teaches us to be confident. Hebrews 4, verses 15 and 16 tells us that "we are to come boldly or confidently before the throne of grace." Hebrews 10:35 talks about confidence. Also once again in 1 John 2:28 and again in 1 John 3:21. Over and over the Bible teaches us that when God says something, that settles it. He cannot lie. He will not lie. So when He tells us how to be saved, and when He tells us the rewards of that salvation and the blessings that we can experience in Christ, if we are walking in the light as He is in the light, then we know that those promises will come true. We can have confidence.
Toward the end of chapter 3, verses 13 through 19, Paul praised that the Ephesian church would be filled with the fullness of God. He asked them "not to lose heart in the midst of his tribulations and he bowed down on his knees that God would grant them according to the riches of His glory (verse 16) to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you be rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
It is by being a member of the body of Christ, by being able to be considered by God as one of His children, by being able to walk as Christ walked and to try to live according to the example that he left us that we can literally be spiritually be filled up in God. He will give us all of the things that we need in everything that we need to live in this life and to make it into the life to come has already been given to us through God's Holy and inspired Word, the Bible.
I remind you of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1:18. "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." Therefore we understand why Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Finally he concludes by writing, "Now to him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Jesus Christ, to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
To be a part of the body of Christ means wonderful things. It means that we are a part of the family of God. It means that we have every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. And it means that we look forward to a home in heaven with Him in the end. So we want to encourage you today to be a part of that family so that the mysteries of God can be revealed.
(SONG # 3 - "Mansions Over The Hilltop!")
It has been a real privilege and blessing to have you with us this morning. Won't you join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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Let's all thank God for revealing His mystery to us through the precious Word - so that we might all be able to respond and find salvation through His Son's Name!