Ephesians 3:1-3 – The mystery of Christ: Received and responsible to pass on








While Paul was writing this letter to the Church in Ephesus he was in fact a prisoner of the Roman Empire – he was in Rome under house arrest. You can read the story of how he came to be there in Acts 21 – 28. He had been arrested on trumped-up charges – the accusation made by Jews in Jerusalem that he had taken a Gentile into the forbidden areas of the Temple. Supposedly a man by the name of Trophimus. After various trials before the Sanhedrin [Jewish council] and the Roman Governors Felix and then Festus and finally before King Agrippa – because he appealed to Caesar he was sent to Rome – he could do this because he was a Roman citizen. While he was awaiting trisl he wrote this letter – among others.


He could have said that he was a prisoner of Rome or of Caesar but no – he describes himself as Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus. Paul had every confidence that God knew his circumstances. He knew that He was in God’s will and that God was in control of his life and therefore God was in control of his circumstances. If all we can see is our immediate situation then our circumstances control us. We feel good when our circumstances are good and dejected when our circumstances are bad.


BUT also, if we look to our circumstances, we get a distorted view of God. We need to look at our circumstances from a divine perspective and not look at God through our circumstances.


ILLUS. When Jayne and Esther were killed – my uncle ” God must be cruel to allow this to happen!!” He was looking at the motor-accident from the wrong end and consequently ended up with a distorted and erroneous view of God.


Paul knew in his experience the truth of Romans 8:28 & James 1:2-4.


Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

James 1:2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)

Paul knew that God saw the big picture and was using this experience for the progress of the gospel.


Paul knew that he had been called to take the gospel to the Gentiles – he was not prepared to compromise or soft-pedal even if it meant personal suffering for himself.


It seems as if Paul was going to pray for his Gentile readers but then he seems to interupt himself and doesn’t get to the prayer until v14. He first pauses to describe the unique privelge that is his to have received the revelation of the gospel and to have been commissioned to take that same gospel to the Gentiles.


Let us look at these under the following headings:








What is this mystery that Paul is writing about? What does is mean? How can it be a mystery if we know what it is?


The greek word musterion is not the same as the English word mystery. But it is the best we can do. To us mystery means puzzling / strange / secretive / something we don’t understand.

The word was used in the ancient Greek world to refer to the initiation into the heathen mystery religions – I suppose the nearest things we have in the modern Western world is the Free Masons – a secret society.


In Christianity, however, this secret is not exclusive – it is not reserved for a select few but rather it is an open secret / a revealed mystery that belongs to the whole church.

It is not something that people discovered by themselves – which they have thought up and now want to guard – NO! – this open mystery is something revealed by God – he has made it known. If he was not gracious and merciful we would know nothing about this mystery.

Paul had had a wonderful revelation of Christ on the road to Damascus – God had been gracious to him and so he writes:


2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,


We know that God’s grace was revealed to him but what does he mean by administration of God’s grace?

Administration – the Greek word means the task of being a steward – someone who was responsible for the running of an entire household. Not the owner – often a slave –

Paul has been appointed to his ministry of apostleship – he is a recepient of God’s grace and he is a steward / administrator of God’s grace


Everyone of us have received the grace of God – we have been called into a relationship with Christ and given spiritual gifts. Everything we have belongs to God and we have the task of being good stewards, managing our lives and everthing we have.


1 Peter 4:10 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

Paul stil has explained what this mystery is.




6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.


In the OT while it was true that anyone could come to God it was through the Jews – No one had a vision of what the church would be – Jews and gentiles together in one new body.


We can only understand the extent of this mystery when we understand the depth of division between Jews and Gentiles – mutual hatred.


ILLUS.: Take the situation today between the Bosnian Muslims and Serbs, Between the Huto and Tutsi in Rwanda, between Nationalist and and Republican in Northern Ireland …………….


Now bring all these together into one loving caring, sharing community!! This is the mystery of God’s grace – Jews and Gentiles – heirs together / members together / sharers together.


It was this complete union of Jews and Gentiles to gether “in Christ” that was so redically new. This was the mystery that was now revealed. It was not made known to those before Paul’s time.


………… the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.


The mystery of the gospel is that man and women and young people can know God and be reconciled to each other inspite of previous hostility. This is all possible because of Christ. Notice Paul adds his favourite phrase at the end of verse 6 “in Christ.”


Christ is the source of this mystery and the substance of this mystery – a mystery that is open for all to see. A mystery that is revealed only through the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agent of revelation. Unless God reveals himself through his Spirit we remain ignorant cut off from God.


Does this mean that Christians have no part in the proclamation of the Gospel??

Should our attitude be the same as that of William Carey’s critics. When Carey expressed a burden to take the gospel to India , they said “Young man if God wants to save the heathen he will do it without your help or mine!!”




7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.


Paul is quite clear that he has the God-given responsibility to preach to the Gentile – to evangelise -Lit. to announce good news.


Paul is the recepient of God’s goodness and of the unsearchable riches of Christ –

in the letter he has already described some of the blessing and riches that are in Christ – forgiveness, election, adoption into God’s family, becoming children of God, an inheritance guaranteed by the Spirit’s dwelling in us ……   These are just a taste of what is to come. Christ’s riches are unseachable / infinite…


Having recieved all this from God Paul knows that with this comes the responsibility of preaching and telling others.


But you say – I am not the Apostle Paul – —

Consider you Paul had been – a persecutor, a hater of God’s people. He had no allusions about his abilities or his position … I am less than the least of all God’s people, … This was not a false humility – it is most irratating when a proud person pretends to be humble. No, Paul knew who he was and he boasted of what Christ have done for him BUT he had no illusions about his own granduer.


While he did not have any illusions about his own importance, he did understand his role. The revalation into the mystery he recieved and the commision to preach were indivisibly linked. What had been made known to him he must without fail make known to others.


We are the stewards of what God has entrusted to us. The gospel is given to us to be shared and not to be monopolized. If you are a Christian you MUST share what you have recieved. Are you?


ILLUS.: Herbert Beerens – athiest from Belgium – to RSA – a studnet challenged him – he became a Christian – immediately “If this is true for me then it is true for everyone and I must tell them“.


Can’t God do it without me?? Yes, but he has choosen not to!!

Maybe we fail to be urgent about the spread of the gospel because we haven’t fully grasped the magnitude of God’s grace and goodness to us and the awfulness of our sinfulness and that of the world. Do we really believe what the Bible says? – sometimes I doubt that we do because we are lethargic and unmotivated to do anything to share it with others.


“The height of selfishness is the person who is content to go to heaven alone”


How are people going to hear? Only if God’s people tell them!!






10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.


God’s intention is to display this mystery to the universe. The fact the sinners can be reconciled to God and to each other through the cross and brought together in one body – the Church.


What is meant by manifold wisdom?? “manifold” means many-coloured – a word you would used to describe a beautiful flower or a tapsetry. The church is like a piece of embroidery – rich in its diversity and harmony. Members from many colourful background, cultures, languages brought together into one unique community — a reflection of the many-coloured / many-splendoured wisdom of God.


The church is God’s masterpiece – he is working to create a display to the universe of his greatness and his love. We have limited knowledge of spiritual beings and we must be careful not to let our imaginations run wild. But it is clear that this world is not the begining and end of life. There is other life – not little gree Marsian – but angels and a host of spiritual beings who look on in wonder at what God is doing.


That is why [Luke 15:10]…………there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NIV)

((The Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ – she is being prepared for the great wedding banquet to be present, perfect and blameless, to Christ. Who will witness this spectacle – who will be the guests at that ceremony? the angels and all the heavenly hosts.))


God can and does reveal himself in many ways – eg. through creation – BUT now it is his intention that his wisdom and eternal purposes be reveale through the Church!!


The Church is central to God’s plan. Jesus said “I will build my Church…” and that is precisely what he is doing.

Society may think the Church is insignificant and irrevalant – Historians may choose to ignore the role of the church or play it down but history is “HIS STORY” and God is moving history and using his church to do so.


ILLUS.: In RSA the church played a very significant role in the changes that have come.


In Romania it was the courage of one Pastor, Laszlo Tokes, who refused to bow to the pressure of the Ceausescu Regime who was a catalyst for bringing down that dictatorship – not because he was politically motivated but because he simply wanted to obey God and fulfill his calling as a pastor.


In England in the 1700’s it was the preaching of the Wesleys and Whitfield and others that save England from revolution.


It is through the church the God demostrates his mainfold wisdom. But all too often we look to politicians and ecomomists for direction and answers – they fail again and again yet we never learn that we must look to Christ who is the head of the Church.


We need a fresh vision of what the church should be!! All to often our view of the gospel is too individualistic. Yes it is individual – “Christ died for me!” BUT he brought me into a family and made me part of a new community.


The mystery of Christ is that he reconciles hostile sinful people to God and also to each other in one new society – the church. But when we fail to behave like a family – when we live our individualistic live from week to week with no thought of meeting together with other Christians for fellowship and prayer — when we don’t care about our fellow believers but are only concerned about our own individualistic concerns THEN we may as well slap God in the face. We are failing to live up to our calling.


You see God takes the church seriously – the church is central to God’s plans it should be central in our lives. We dare not push to one side what God put as a priority.


If the Church’s worship is mechanical, and its fellowship cold – it is failing to be the church. If it is divided by infighting – it is failing to be the church. If it is isolationist and unconcerned to preach the gospel to everyone then it is failing to be the Church.



If the church is going to be the Church – if Binscombe Church is going to be the Church then we must have a vision of the church that is in line with God’s.

A Church made up of people who grasp the enormity of what Christ has done to saved them and give them new life.

A church where worship is from the heart and not simply going through the motions

A church where fellowship isnot superficial but where Christlike love and care are the norm for all its members and not just a select few.

A Church where compassion for a lost world drives us to our knees and also out into the world to do something about it.

A Church that is willing to pray, to work, to give, and if needs be, to suffer in order to make known the mystery of Christ to ALL people.


This is the kind of Church we should be – this is the kind of Church we can be by God’s grace if we are willing, like the apostle Paul, to say [ Galatians 2:20] I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)


God has blessed us and has enabled us to a church here – and we need to thank him for that – but you know and I know that we are not what we could or should be.

How is your prayer life? Do you pray?

Do your study the scriptures? Sunday morning is not enough!!

Do you meet with other Christians during the week for prayer and fellowship?

How concerned are you about your non-christian friends and relatives and what are you doing about it?

How do you spend your money? All on yourself? OR do you give and pray that the gospel may reach the ends of the earth?


If the Christ and his church are simply a tack-on to your life – not only are you spiritually poor but you are missing out on all the benefits of God’s grace that he wants to lavish on you.


Why eat pig food and live in spiritual poverty like the prodigal son when then is a place for you at the Father’s table.





Ephesians 3:1 – 13



      it’s an ‘open / revealed secret’

      we are administrators / stewards of

            this mystery



      joined to Christ to each other

      we are heirs together

                        members together

                        sharers together



method – through his servants

      message – infinite riches of Christ

      market – everyone



      to show the manifold wisdom of God

      as a witness to the universe

      through the Church








Ephesians 2:19-22 – Three pictures of what the Church should be

Ephesians 2:19-22.

Three pictures of what the Church should be!!





We have seen throughout this chapter how a contrast is drawn between what we were by nature – dead in sins and cut-off from God – and then what we become by faith because of God’s grace. Those who by nature are hostile to God but have now been brought into a close relationship with God and are at peace with God and have been reconciled to God through Christ’s death on the cross.


We have seen how salvation is all of God – that there is nothing that we can do to work our way to God or make ourselves acceptable to him. It is only possible for people to know God because God is kind and gracious and the punishment that is due to us as sinners was placed on Christ. Salvation is not automatic, however, we must respond to God’s kindness by repenting of our sin, asking forgiveness and pledging our allegience to Christ.


As a result, those who respond to God in this way are brought into the community of God’s people where there is no division as a result of race, sex, colour or language but all are equal in God’s new community.


Paul now goes on in verses 19-22 to explain what we have become as a result of having peace with God. What Paul does in these verses is to use three metaphors to describe what the church of Christ is. All metaphors are limited and therefore it should not be surprising that Paul uses a number to communicate the characteristics that the church should exhibit.


He says that we are “.. citizens … members of God’s household … part of God’s building..”


What the church is, has been, and still often is, very misunderstood not simply by those outside the Church but often by those within the Church – we should not be surprised therefore that society at large has a very strange and usually distorted view of what the church should be.

Very often the Church is percieved to be an irrelavant, outdated organisation run by a group of people who are 50 years behind the time – often that view is more than just a perception, it is a reality.


What is the church – what should it be? It should be God’s alternative community! God’s new society! Distinct from society and yet with a message that is relavant to society – a Christian is a citizen of God’s Kingdom but also someone who should have his/her feet firmly on the ground! The Church should be a loving community – a family! The church should be the place where God’s Spirit is manifestly at work!! Sadly there are some Churches where if the Holy Spirit withdrew thay would continue as if nothing was wrong!!


There are many things that can be said about those who are God’s people – here in these verse Paul focuses on three.

– Citizens of God’s Kingdom

– Members of God’s Family.

– “Stones” in God’s Temple.




Ephesians 2:19

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people ………………., (NIV)

The consequence of being at peace with God is that we have been brought into God’s kingdom. Paul is writing to the Ephesian Gentiles who, as we saw last week, were excluded from the nation of Israel [2v12] This does not mean that a person must become a Jews in order to be accepted by God –even in the OT those who were Jews by birth were not automatically God’s people


Romans 9:6

6 ……. …… For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. (NIV)

Only those in OT times who truly believed God were God’s true Israel [His people] – BUT now Christ has made it possible for all to come to God through Him. The terms of admission into God’s kingdom are the same for everyone – whether Jews or Gentile –


Further, the status of everyone within the kingdom is also the same – there are no first and second class citizens within the community of God’s people. That doesn’t mean that the Church is leaderless but it does mean that no-one is more important than anyone else – one person is not more valuable than another.


What does it mean to be a citizen? You have all the rights and privileges of the country to which you belong.

When I first came to UK 5 years ago I was an alien – I was not allowed to vote – if I left the country for a certain time I would not be allowed to come back and live here – initially I would have had no support from Social services had I needed them. If I did anything wrong I could have been deported. NOW however I am a British Citizen with the full rights of anyone who was born here.

I am no longer an alien.


Illustrations are always limited. Citizenship in God’s kingdom is only possible by being born into God’s kingdom.


John 3:3-8

3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 …….. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’……. (NIV)

The Church is not a building – the church is people – those people who are part of the church are members of the body of Christ and citizens of the kingdom of God. Having your name on the membership list of this local congregation or any other local congregation does not make you a Christian – You must be born again.




Ephesians 2:19

19 ……………………………… and members of God’s household, (NIV)

The metaphor changes from Kingdom to household/family. Now already in this letter Paul has touched on the fact that Christians are members of God’s family.

Chapter 1 adoption into God’s family – ie. with full rights and sons and daughters.

2v18 “.. access to the Father …”




There is an old Roman story which tells how one of the Emperor’s was celebrating a triumph, and was leading his victorious troops through the streets of Rome.

The streets were crowded with people, and at a certain point on the route, a platform had been erected from which the Empress and the Emperor’s family

might see this scene.

The route was lined with great tall Roman legionnaires fully armed. When the procession was coming near the platform where the Emperess and the children were, the Emperor’s little son jumped down off the platform, burrowed his way through the crowd and was just about to run out on the road to intercept his father’s imperial chariot. One of the legionnaires who were lining the road, picked his up and held him. “You can’t run out there,” he said. “Don’t you know who that is who is just about to ride by? That’s the Emperor. You can’t run out to him.” The little lad laughed at the legionnaire. “He may be your Emperor,” he said, “but he’s my father.”


Being part of God’s family also means that we have brothers and sisters!

–affection, care, support — something that seems to be in short supply in the families of this nation. I am not going to bore you with the statistic of family break down you know the situation is bad.


BUT what is even more sad is when this same attitude is evident in the Church –


ILLUS. We had a friend visit us this week [Barbara Phelps]. She was over here from SA visiting family in Wales. It is 12 years since her last visit but left the UK 25 years ago. She returned to the church where she attended as a child – the sermon was on being friends with God – after the service no-one spoke to her.


How do we measure up as a congregation and as individuals – most visitors seem to think that we at Binscombe are a fairly friendly bunch – If they don’t think so they haven’t said. But how deep is the care and love.


“Faith without works is dead.” If love is not practical then it is not love at all.


The interesting thing about families is that strong, loving families are families who spent time together. How much time do you spend with your fellow-christians.

Meeting together like this on a Sunday morning is necessary and good. But this is not where you can have fellowship – this is not where you can get to know people and form close relationships — where you can share your personal concerns and pray for each other. NOW it is not possible to know everyone in the church at that level that is why small study groups / prayer groups are so important.

It is important that we meet in each others homes – hospitality is a key area of the Christian life – and it is NOT an option.


Romans 12:13 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (NIV)

Romans 16:23

23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.

1 Peter 4:9 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (NIV)

We are not just ask by God to be friendly and smile at people when the come into the church building. You expect that from shop assisstants and Bank clerks.!!

Hospitality lit. means “lover of strangers” so it is more than just inviting those people that you like and get long with.


BUT I am not good at entertaining people!! We are not talking about entertaining! A fancy 5 course meal eaten off fine china with silver utensils is not necessarily hospitality – such situation can sometimes be very inhospitable. You eat at home don’t you?? You drink tea and coffee don’t you?? Invite other to share with you what you have. In a spirit of love and concern for them – that is being hospitable.

For a Christian hospitality is not an option it is a command in scripture. Our homes need to be open to people. If we are going to care for each other as we should and reach our community as we should then our homes must be open!!


Yes, you might not like people invading your space – you might feel vulnerable and uneasy – you probably will. Being part of God’s family means that we care for each other and reach out in love to those outside the family.




Ephesians 2:20-22 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (NIV)

Paul changes metaphors again. While the Church is not a building of bricks and mortar, it is people, Paul likens the Church to a building to illustrate the relationship between the various parts.


For 1000 years the Temple in Jerusalem had been the focus of God’s people. Now in Christ God had done something new – a new people needed a new Temple. This new people of God was international and worldwide — a localized temple would be inappropriate.


There are a number of things we need to notice about this Temple of God.

3.1. A well-founded building.


Any builder will tell you that the foundation of a structure is the most important part – evreything rests on that. Jesus pointed this out in his illustration of the two houses built on the sand and the rock respectively.


Apostles and prophets are the foundation in so far as their teaching is the basis of church belief. They themselves are founded upon Christ. The apostles and prophets were the foundation because of their teaching about Christ and NOT because of their person or position/ office.


We tend to think of these as OT prophets and NT apostles by the order seems to suggest that both are NT [not prophets and apostles] [cf. 3v5]. Prophets were the small group of teachers closely associated with the Apostles and what they taught is foundational to the Christian faith. What they taught in preserved in scripture. That is why they were unique and foundational and their teaching is the basis of what we believe – it cannot be changed or modified by anyone claiming to be an apostle or prophet today.


When the church shifts off the foundation of what is taught in scripture it will begin to crumble and history is a testimony to that fact. Today many churches in this nation have moved away from this foundation and consequences are obvious. A wishy-washy spineless teaching that tries to please everyone and ends up helping no-one.


What the apostles and prophets taught was not their own thoughts — it was based on Christ, the cornerstone.


The cornerstone was the most important foundation stone in the building – everything was measured according to it. It gave stability and direction to the building.


One stone found in the Temple site in Jerusalem measured 38’9″.


The cornerstone shows the honour of Christ’s position and also that fact that all other stones are useful only in true relation to him.

You can only be part of God’s church, building, kingdom IF you are related to Christ by faith.





3.2. A living building.


1 Peter 2:5 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (NIV)

The church is a spiritual building, not a physical one. Each true believer is a stone / brick in God’s spiritual temple. A “living-stone”.


3.3 A growing building.


Ephesians 2:21 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises [grows] to become a holy temple in the Lord. (NIV)

Have you ever heard of a building that grows – well this one does!! It is a living building. When you consider how the Church was started with a motly band of followers – mostly uneducated fishermen – it is amazing how it has grown and spread all around the world. The church cannot be descibed as a completed edifice until that final day when Christ returns.


3.4. A united building.


Ephesians 2:21-22 21 In him the whole building is joined ………… 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (NIV)

There are not many peoples of God – there is one! There are not many churches of God – there is one Church! United by its relationship to the head of the Church who is Christ — build on one foundation – who it Christ!! Sadly there are divisions and barriers in the church and between congregations and denominations but within these God has his people who are all united in Him.

Whether we like it or not we are related to each other – we are family – we are one — whether we are Anglican, Baptist, Methodist ……..the issue is — Are you related to Christ?? if so you are united to all true beleivers.


3.5. A spirit-filled building.


……….. a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.


Paul was a Jews – the temple in Jerusalem was the focus of Israels worship – had been for 1000 years. The place were God presence was manifest.

He was writing to the Ephesians – their city was home to the Temple of Artemis (Diana of the Ephesians) one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This was were the goddess lived.


Both these Temple were empty of the divine presence. God dwells on earth by his Spirit in his people. When Christ came the Temple in Jerusalem became obsolete.


By His Spirit God lives in his people – both individually and as a community. We are the temple of the living God. You can only be part of God’s temple if you are in Christ .. the two things are inextricably linked — you must know Christ personally if you are to be part of his church – theliving temple.




This is a wonder picture we have in Ephesians 2. How Gos takes individuals who are dead on transgressions and sins and in his mersy forgives them and gives them new spiritual life whan they respond by faith. How people who are hostile to God and to each other can be at peace with God through Christ and are brought together in one united, caring loving community.


What a wonderful picture. Tragically the reality today is very differnt – often the church is guilty of causing alienation, disunity and discord. It erects barriers that Christ came to destroy. What an offence to Christ when the church behaves in this way. When the Church fails to behave like the church it dishonours Christ and beomes the laughing-stock of the world.


We talk about fellowship and hospitality but we don’t practise it — we talk about missions and evangelism but the church declines — we talk about the teachings of Christ but God’s people are ignorant of Christ’s teaching and if they know it they fail to obey it.


There is a crediblity gap between what the Church says she believes and what she practices.


It is wonderful to talk about what the Church is in theory — what are we in practice? One of the most urgent need of the church today is repentence — we need to stop playing about and take God seriously. Being a christian is not something I add to my lifestyle – being part of God’s church is not like joining the local Angling Club – “I can fit you in Lord between 2:00 and 4:00 on Saturday afternoon.


If being a Christian is not your Life — if it is not the most important thing in your life then you should seriously question whether or not your are even a Christian.


It is not good us criticizing ‘the Church’ – the church is people – you and me – each one needs to examine own own lives before God.


Let us thank God for what He has done – for the Church – for our salvation BUT let us be honest before God and repent of those things that dishonour and displease him.



EPHESIANS 2:19 – 22.




     terms of admission – same for all

                ‘ … you must be born again.’

     status – all equal



     one Father – care, provision, love,

                                disipline, ….

     brothers & sisters – love, support,

                                           care, …



     a well-founded building

     a living building

     a growing building

     a united building

     a Spirit-filled building




Ephesians 2:14 – 18 – PEACE: God-ward and Man-ward (Vertical and horizontal)

Ephesians 2:14 – 18.

PEACE: God-ward and Man-ward. (Vertical and horizontal)




There is a clear parallel between the 1st half and the 2nd half of Eph.2.

Verses 1-3 ( ” … dead in transgressions and sins…”) and 11-12 (“…. without God and without hope…”) stress our alienation from God — both passages are followed by a “BUT”. V.12 uses the words “separated … excluded…. BUT now….”


Our position {before we responded to Christ} as individuals and as a group of people i.t.o our relationship to God and God’s people is summarised well by William Hendriksen.

“We were Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless and Godless”.



– ” … separate from Christ …” as opposed to being “in Christ”.



– ” … excluded from citizenship in Israel (the people of God) …”



– ” … foreigners (strangers) to the covenant of promise …”

God’s promises to Abraham, the friend of God.



– ” … without hope … ”   no assurance of salvation.



– ” … without God …”   many gods but no knowledge of the True God.



……………   but now in Christ Jesus …….


Now in Christ all these situations have been reversed.


Paul has been careful to show that this salvation in Christ is available to both Jews and non-Jews. Remember that Paul was a Jew and the Jews had been chosen by God but instead of fulfilling their mandate to be a blessing to all nations they had become exclusive and aloof and over the centuries the nationalistic and racialistic barriers had become higher and higher.


It was into this divided world of the first century that Christ came – to bring about a change in the relationship between people and God and between people and people.


It is into this divided world that Christ comes today – into broken relationships and broken lives – and he brings peace.


What is this peace that is? Vv.14-18 give us an insight into the kind of peace that the NT speaks of.


  1. THE MAN OF PEACE (Prince of Peace).


Ephesians 2:14

14 For he himself is our peace, …….., (NIV)

There are many different ways peace is defined – the dictionary has many different descriptions but none of them describe peace as a person.


Here, however, Paul is clear that peace (real peace) is only to be found in a person. The NIV translation is correct to add “himself” because that is the emphasis in the original text.


True peace is not obtained by negotiation – it is not a truce – it is not a case of live and let live – nor is it obtained by following rituals and regulations. The place of peace in the Bible is in a person – “in Christ”. He is the embodiment of peace.


Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)

John 16:33

33 “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.” (NIV)


The worldly system is charaterised by conflict and division – the history of the world is primarily a history of conflict. The important dates in history usually reflect a war of some kind — 1066 – Battle of Hastings — 1914/18 – First World War — 1917 – Bolsohviek Revolution — 1939/45 – WW2 …… 1967 six day war …


But not just conflicts between nations but between individuals and within individuals ….


Conflicts in the home …. 5/10 marriages break down – conflicts between neighbours. The essence of all the conflicts is sin – selfishness is at the root – we cannot always have what we want without infringing on what others want. Our way often infringes on someone else’s way and then we stand up for our rights and more often than not our so called rights conflict with someone else’s right.


Between the Jews and Gentiles there had been a long and formidiable hated barrier. The Jews considered the Gentiles to be “dogs” – a Jewish woman was not strictly allowed to help a Gentile mother during child birth. They considered the Gentiles to be fit only to feed the fires of Hell!!


The Gentile attitude to the Jews was not exactly friendly either. A Jew was considered an enemy of the Human race —


Racial hatred and prejudice is very strong and very deep and is not rational – but sin blinds and distorts our view of other races and nations and we very quickly see patriotism change to nationalism and racism – Examples of this are all over the world even here in the UK.


One of the things that Christ did when he came to earth was to make it possible for these barriers to be broken down.


Ephesians 2:14

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (NIV)

When the Jewish Temple was originally built it was designed to have a court of the Gentiles – the purpose was not to exclude the Gentiles but rather to make it possible for them to come to God – this was inherant in the covenant that God make with Abraham — ”



Genesis 12:3

3 I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.” (NIV)


The Temple was meant to be a place where the Jews evangelised the Gentiles – “a house of prayer for all people/nations …” [Lk. 19v46]. In stead the Jews turned it into a market where money-changers and thieves operated and the Gentiles were excluded.


There was actually a physical wall in the Temple beyond which the Gentiles were not permitted to go – the sign on the wall read:- “No Gentile may enter the barricade which surrounds the sanctuary and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.” Not something that would encourage the Gentiles to worship God.


In AD 70 this wall was actually destroyed by the Roman armies BUT long before the physical Temple wall came down God had removed the the barriers between Himself and man and between Jews and Gentiles by creating a new humanity – his church – his people


As people came into a relationship with Christ and experienced peace with God the hostility toward God was dealt with and the hosility toward other people was dealt with.


ILLUS.: For years the eyes of the world were focussed on SA and its aparthied policies. It was held up as the example of racial hatred and conflict BUT long before the politicians thought of change God was at work amongst his people.


Joyce Scott [a white South African] who was a missionary to Kenya has written a little book _”Three colours of hate” – She write about racial tensions in SA and Kenya – she writes how she returned to SA in the 1970’s and saw changes coming – multiracial youth camps – where the Word of God was taught and pierced the hearts of young people – God began to work and these young people began to share with one another {I was one of them} — The hatred, bitterness and resentment of Black, Asian and Coloured people hissed and boiled over into words. The smugness and pride of the whites also boiled to the surface — the ugliness on BOTH sides was recognised — there was a deep sense of shock…


It is a difficult time when God puts his finger on some ugly areas — it is painful — many tears had to flow to wash away the blindness. BUT a miracle began to happen and there was a moulding together of his love. And a genuine love began to grow as the wall of hostility began to crumble.


” Here in microcosm was the comfort my beloved coutry was crying for. One-ness in Christ which is many coloured. The whole family of God made up of people who would confirm one another in their varied rich heritages and cultures and in Jesus name know that they were one…..

There was now the beginning of a new family solidarity which meant more than the restrictions imposed by tradition. Blood is thicker than water. And the blood shed by the Son of God is the cosmic revolution which made us one blood family in His name, binds men and women together in the family of God for eternity.   What is the colour of the body of Christ – it has many shades but the colour is love.”


Christ destroys the barriers and creates one new humanity>>



Ephesians 2:15-16 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (NIV)

  1. THE MAKER OF PEACE. (The price of Peace).


The first thing Paul mentions as to how Christ accomplishes this peace is – He abolishes the Law. What does this mean??


Are the 10 commandements no longer true? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said he came to fulfill the law!!! How are we to understand this verses?


There is a difference between the rules and regulations of the Jewish leaders [pharisees] together with the ceremonial law and the moral law of God.

The Sermon on the Mount is about the moral law – the rule of love for God and neighbour and all things associated with these.


But Paul is referring to all the rules relating to material sacrifices, to dietary laws, to ritual cleanliness etc…..

Jesus did away with all petty laws and established a law of love. Many of the laws in the OT where signs pointing to the coming of the Messiah – the whole OT sacrificial system is no longer necessary because Christ is the ultimate sacrifice – one for all! Those laws are therefore obsolete!! They had serves there purpose.


As Christians therefore we had better be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of demanding from people anything that lays legalistic burdens on them or ourselves. We dare not insist that our style of worship is the only true way or our form of Church government is the only way – unless you behave like us than you are not acceptable…………. Whenever we do this we are re-instituting the ceremonial law which Christ came to do away with and also we aresaying that salvation is by grace plus …. and that is totally unacceptable and unbiblical!


While the moral law is not abolished by Christ we must remember that this moral law is not a way of salvation. Salvation is through Christ alone who has by his life and death fulfilled all the legal demands.


The moral law shows us that we are under God’s condemnation but Jesus took that condemnation on himself and fulfilled the moral law [and abolished the ceremonial law] — from that time onward he set about creating a new humanity made up of Jews and Gentiles. It is not that God raised the Gentiles to the same status as Jews — NO!! – he created a new – unique – a never before existing – body of people! People from every nation under heaven!!


Christ abolishes the old and creates something new and far better! What the law could never do Christ has done by his death and resurrection. This new creation does not only span the divide between Jew and Gentile but also between many other groups:


Colossians 3:11 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (NIV)


Galatians 3:28 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Not that racial and sexual difference is removed . Men are still men and women, women!! BUT inequality before God is abolished. There is a new unity for those who are in Christ.


It is through the cross – the death of Christ – that people are reconciled to God and can have peace with God. Without the cross a person remains helpless, sinful and an enemy of God!


Not only does the cross reconcile people to God BUT also people to people.   “The cross is God’s answer to Judaizing, racial discrimination, segregation, apartheid, anti-Semitism, bigotry, war, and evry oter cause and result of human strife.” [Mac Arthur].


Does this mean that Christians never have relationship problems?? Sadly NO!!

It discredits Christ and his gospel when people who claim to be Christian refuse to be reconciled to each other – when Church members fall out — when Christian marraiges break down — …..


Is there something between you and a fellow believer?? I am not talking about agreeing about every minute detail of life!! But is there a spirit of hostility and division? It should not be – it is a discredit to the name of Christ and a hindrance to your fellowship and spiritual growth! Jesus died to bring reconciliation and if you refuse to be reconciled to your fellow believer then God will not hear you.



Matthew 5:23

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (NIV)



  1. THE MESSENGER OF PEACE. (The preaching of peace).


Ephesians 2:17-18 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (NIV)

Christ is our peace – he is the maker of peace AND he is the messenger of peace.


First He achieved peace and then he announced it! The announcement follows the achievement so this must refer to his post-resurrection message “Peace be with you” – these were the first words he spoke to his disciples after the resurrection – this message of the gospel of peace to the world was preached by his disciples and every generation of Christians that followed right up to today. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached…


Acts 2:38-39

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (NIV)

Jesus is still preaching peace through his body, the church .. we are part of that church. We have the gospel of peace and we have the responsibility of spreading that message to those near and far.


The Church is God’s agent of peace – sadly the church has not always been true to its calling – when church leaders water down the gospel – when sin is no longer wrong but simply inadvisable – when Jesus is placed into the supermarket of religion and no longer the only way to God — then the Church has failed to be the Church of Christ and has been reduced to a religious institution – where peace with God through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ has become a wishy-washy “live and let live” tolerance which simply pats people on the back as they head for hell.


Before we get too critical of the Church out there let us examine our own hearts and lives – What are we doing? What am I doing? What are you doing? To take the message of the gospel of peace to our family, friends and neighbours!!


Yes it is costly – effort, time, – rejection, embarrassment, feeling foolish – — It is no good praying for people to come to Christ unless you are prepared to do something about it. How committed are we to the cause of Christ and the gospel


Even the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, who had no belief in God at all, says “You will never find peace and happiness until you are ready to commit your self to something worthy dying for.”


Can you sa with the Apostle Paul:     Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Obedience is what Jesus wants:     Matthew 7:21

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ………….., but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (NIV)

We are Christ’s messengers of peace and reconciliation:


2 Corinthians 5:18-6:7 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

The message of the gospel of peace with God is still to be preached to those far and near – the wonderful fact is that where it is proclaimed there people respond and are reconciled to God through the cross.


Reconcilation is an event and because of it we have access to God the Father :


Romans 5:1-2

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (NIV)

ILLUS.: It is almost impossible for you and I to gain access to the Queen at Buckingham Palace but there are those who can walk in and out and have free and unlimited access to ERII – her family.


In NT days when a shepherd had put his sheep in the enclosure at night he would lie down accoss the entrance – he was the door/gate.



John 10:7

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (NIV)

It is through Jesus alone that a person can gain access to God.







Biblical peace is not found in an uneventful trouble-free life – it not a tranquil English country garden in the sunshine of summer. There are times when there is a lack of trouble and war and conflict BUT — Peace is not determined by external circumstances – As individuals we shall never find peace until we are at peace with God – The world will never know peace until the Prince of Peace returns.


He is the Man of Peace.

He is the Maker of Peace.

He is the messenger of Peace.




Philippians 4:7-9 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (NIV)



      – ” … separate from Christ …”

      [as opposed to being “in Christ”]



      – ” … excluded from citizenship in

      Israel (the people of God) …”



      – ” … foreigners (strangers) to the covenant of promise …”

      [God’s promises to Abraham, God’s   friend]



      – ” … without hope … ”  

      [no assurance of salvation]



      – ” … without God …”  

      [many gods but no knowledge of the True God]


……………   but now in Christ Jesus …….

Ephesians 2:14 – 18.



     (The Prince of Peace)


     He embodies peace

     He destroys hostile barriers



     (The Price of Peace)


     He abolishes useless ceremony ..

     He creates a new community ..

                     … by his death



     (The Preaching of Peace)


     the scope of his message is  


     the result of his message

        accepted is peace with and

           access to God


Ephesians 2:3-10 – God’s response to the hopelessness of the human condition


 (Part 2 of Eph.2:1-10)




Review part 1.




  1. The ‘living’ who are dead.

                             – spiritual lifelessness as a result of sin

                             – sins of commission

                             – sins of omission


  1. The ‘liberated’ who are enslaved.

          – to the world’s agenda

          – to Satan’s influence

          – to fleshly desires

          – to selfish attitudes


  1. The ‘self-pleased’ who are condemned.

          – God’s anger directed against all:    


          &     self-righteousness


[The past condition of the believer]

[The present condition of the unbeliever]


BUT ….. GOD ….


Last week we touched on the BUT GOD… section but today we come to look at it in more deatail. If we had stopped before the “But God …” we would have been left with a very depressing picture and a hopeless picture of the condition of humanity.


By nature we were spiritually dead, slaves to sin and powerless to do anything about it — we would remain in that state if it were not for the fact that God took the intiative and put into action a plan to remedy that situation.


ILLUS.: In the financial world when a company goes under there is often talk o od a rescue bid. The company or financial institution putting together a rescue package must be bigger and have the where-with-all in order to be successful.


In the spiritually bankrupt condition the human race finds itself in there is a need for a salvation package for outside to rescue the beleagued world.The questions arise:

– Why would God want to rescue the Human race anyway?

– How will he accomplish this rescue?

– What will be the purpose of this rescue?

– And how are humans to respond to this rescue bid?


  1. The motive of Salvation.
  2. The results of Salvation.
  3. The goal of Salavtion.
  4. The means of Salvation.
  5. The reponse to Salvation.




Ephesians 2:4-5 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — (NIV)

Why would God want to save us – we saw last week the sinful condition of the human heart and how God is angry with sinners because of their wickedness.

Well Paul tells us [v4] that it is “because of his great love” that God has acted mercifully towards us.


Human love is usually motivated by the attractiveness of the object – How can this possibly be the case with people when we are dead in transgressions and sins – slaves to sin and condemned. The love that God has for you and me motivated by his infinite goodness and not by our attractiveness or worthiness.


God loves us because he has chosen to do so! Because it is in his character to love – because there is a longing in God’s heart for people.



John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

The love of God is so great that is defies description.


1 John 4:9 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (NIV)

John 15:13 13 Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV)


God’s love is not gooey and sentimental nor is it responding to something good in the objected love – it is strong and active, God takes the initiative in loving what is unlovely and he makes it into something that is loveable.


“Something beautiful something good,

all my confusion he understood,

all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife

but He made something beautiful of my life.”


If his love is great his mercy is equally rich. Considering that God is infinite there is no end to his mercy. Like with his love his mercy is active. We might look at someone who is suffering and feel pity and yet be unwilling or unable to do anything about it.


God not only feels something – he does something.

Jesus is an example of God’s mercy.


Matthew 9:36 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (NIV)

Jesus sees the plight of the sheep [crowds of people] and he does something – he lays down his life.


God is meriful because he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve – a prisoner on death row needs the mercy and pardon of the President or monarch – it is offered as a gift.

The motive for salvation begins in the heart of God.




Ephesians 2:5-6… 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (NIV)


The first result of God’s love and mercy is that those who were dead spiritually can now have new life. The new life that there is in Christ is not simply a new start – it is not just a wiping clean of the slate – God doesn’t turn over the page and say, “Well forget about what happened yesterday – today is a new day try again with a clean start!”


Not just a new start in life but a NEW quality / sphere of life. Paul goes on in v.6 to describe the kind of life that we receive.

Fundemental to our Christian faith is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead – made alive – and is raised up to be seated at the right hand of God in Glory. That is what happened to Christ – Here Paul tells us that this is what happens to the believer. 4x in vs. 5-6 Paul says “in/with Christ”. What has happened to Christ has happened to those who are in Christ. Those who are in union with Jesus Christ actually share in his resurrection, ascension and glorification.


We have been made alive – rasied up with him – seated with Him in the heavenlies. This is not meaningless mysticism – because even now we can experience new life – an real awareness of God’s presence and a love for God’s people.


Christains have been brought from death to life – in Christ.

We have been brought from slavery to sin into the freedom of being enthroned.

We have been brought from a place were we were objects of God’s wrath to being objects of His love.


Why has God done this??




Ephesians 2:7 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

The purpose of God for his church reaches beyond the church herself – it goes beyond the forgiveness and salvation of the individual believer – it goes beyond the fellowship and unity of the Chruch and the Church’s mission.


God is drawing out a people you will be the bride of Christ and his purpose is to show to all creation – not just this world order but to the whole universe the glory of his grace and love and wisdom.


The apostle Paul looks beyond this world to the coming age when God will display to the universe who he is and what he has done. It will be God’s people that will be on display – we are the trophies of his grace! We are the expressions of his kindness –


ILLUS,: John Stott tells how when he was a student and Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Rev Paul Gibson retired as principle and a portrait of him was unveiled. Pual Gibson in thanks paid tribute to the artist remarking that in the furure people would not ask “who is this man?” BUT rather “Who painted this portrait?”


God has done more than paint a portrait – he has give new life surely he should have all the glory!!


The purpose of salvation lies beyond this world – the purpose is the glory of God.


How does all this come about – through God’s grace. Paul doesn’t simply say “his grace” nor “the riches of his grace” BUT the “incomparable [sur-(super) passing] of his grace”


We were bound in sin and death – and God’s grace super overflowed to us.




Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no-one can boast. (NIV)

As we have talked about the salvation that is available in Christ the question must arise – ‘How do I obtain this salvation?’

‘How do I escape from this spiritual deadness and bondage to sin?’


The simple answer is – only by God’s grace! We have talked [point 1.] about God’s mercy and that how he takes the initiative and shows compassion.

Mercy – we deserve punishment BUT God does not punish us.

Grace – we do not deserve God’s forgiveness and salvation BUT he gives it.

Mercy is NOT receiving what we DO deserve and Grace is receiving what we DO NOT deserve!!


Not by works!

ILLUS.: the story is told of a man who wanted to know how to become a Christian. He heard that an evangelist was visiting the areas so went rushing along to the tent where the meeting was only to discover that it was over and the workmen were dismantling the tent. In desparation he asked one of the workers what he could do to be saved. “You can’t do anything, it’s too late came the reply!” Horrified the man asked,”What do you mean? How can it too late?”  The reply came, “the work has already been accomplished, there is nothing for you to do but believe it!!”




What can you do to be saved?? Nothing except believe !!! and even the faith to believe is a gift from God. As someone put is [Mac Arthur] Faith is simply breathing the breathe that God supplies!!


In order for us to have salvation we must believe that we need forgiveness and that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. And we need to exercise our faith in what HE has already done.


We exercise faith everyday – faith that the water we drink is not contaminated!

Faith that the tinned food we eat will not poison us! Faith that the brakes on our car will stop us when we are faced with a red tafficlight! No matter how skeptical and self-sufficient a person mught think he is, every one exercises faith.


If we have faith in people fallable and imperfect to provide safe food and water and motor cars how much more should we exercise faith in a loving God who is perfect and infallable and who longs to save us and show his great love towards us.


We must execise our faith in Jesus Christ and be saved or bear the consequences if we do not

John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (NIV)

To make it claer that there is no merit – that we in no ways contribute to our salvation Paul adds 9 not by works, so that no-one can boast.


No one will be able to strut about in heaven like a peacock – there will be no self display.


We do not secure the grace of God by working for it — it is the grace of God that secures us!! Any boasting on our part diminishes the grace of God.


So if salvation is not by works does that mean that we have nothing to do? Does that mean that we are on the “Salvation Train” and we can relax and put our feet up and simply enjoy the ride to heaven?


Paul must have realise that some might think that so he added v.10




Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

Salvation is not our work – we are the result of God’s work. His workmanship!! -His handiwork! We were DEAD and God has re-created us!


ILLUS.: If I go and buy a new car it is a wonderful piece of craftmanship – the salesman might even tell me that it is a unique car. BUT when I drive it home I see another one just like it and then another and another. It is awonderful machine but it is not unique.

If I go to Sotherby’s or Christie’s and buy a Rembrandt or I commission Stephen Owen to make me an exclusive piece of furniure these are unique- one of a kind. There is not another one like it.


There are two ways that something can be made – it can mass produced or hand crafted. Christian you are not mass produced – you are God’s masterpiece. You are unique. God knows who you are – where you are and he has created you and given you spiritual life NOT so you sit of a shelf and look pretty but so that you can work. We are the messengers of God’s Kingdom – we have a task – a commission – orders to follow – work to be done.

NOT as a means of gaining/earning salvation but as a response to having received it as a gift.

Because you are unique God has work for you to do that no one else can do.


E.G. God says “Love your neighbour” no one else can love your neighbour. He or she is your neighbour. I have a responsibilty to love my neighbour – not just the persons in the house next door – but all people who God brings into my life.


I perfer the KJV on v. 10 – it is more accurate. “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them”


“Walk” – denotes not simply isolated acts but a character and a direction of life that is predetermined by God.


No amount of good works can produce salvation BUT many good works are produced by salvation.


John 15:8 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (NIV)

How do we bear fruit?   – obey his commands!

– produce the fruit of the Spirit.

[ fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control] (NIV)



The human condition is not hopeless – yes by nature was are spiritually dead and cut-off from God. Paul has no illusions about the degradation of mankind -BUT because of God’s great love and mercy and grace he has shown his kindness to us in Jesus Christ.


As we look back over this passage and the lostness of human nature two phrases stand out   “BUT GOD” …..&     “BY GRACE”


By faith in Jesus we receive new live and an eternal hope – and as a response to God’s goodness we live lives that follow the pattern that he has set.






      – God’s love

      – God’s mercy



      – given spiritual life

      – given a position of honour



      – to show God’s    grace …

                                    kindness …

                                    glory … in Christ



      – by grace (not by merit)

      – through faith



      – as God’s masterpiece live the way he

            has planned:

                  by obeying his word

                  by producing fruit of the Spirit



Ephesians 2:1-3 – The hopelessness of the human condition – :but God…



Ephesians 2:1-3. (Part 1 of 2:1-10)



It is very appropriate that we come to deal with 2v1-3 today in the light of the debate in the media this week about the essence of sin – should we even use that word – Is it now not outdated? Is it just a Churchy word for what the Church consider to be wrongdoing??


ILLUS: Article in the Independent – Thursday 8 June 1995 – “Where to find sin in the modern world” [refer to cutting] Compare Church view to Secular view.


The debate this week has centred around the phrase LIVING IN SIN referring to couple who co-habit rather than marry. BUT whether it is called LIVING IN SIN or CO-HABITATION doesn’t change the situation one iota. And God’s view of it doesn’t change either. Whatever label you give it, pre-marital sex, is wrong in God’s scheme of things. There is however a case for redefining [or broadening] the phrase so that premarital sex is not seen as a worse sin than say living dishonestly – as if pre-marital sex is sinful but dishonest business practice or being unkind to someone is not.


In these first three verses of chapter 2 Paul is giving us an insight into the condition of Human nature.

Whenever we think of sin or wrongdoing we are prone to think or it in terms of what other people do. BUT Paul is very clear in these verses that his discrption of the human condition includes everyone. [v.3 “All of us … Like the rest of them, we….”]


There is no escaping the seriousness of the plight of the human race. Paul focuses on three things to describe those who are unredeemed:

Spiritually dead, enslaved and condemned.



Ephesians 2:1

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, (NIV)


Paul is obviously not referring to physical death because the people to whom he is writing are very much alive.


in your transgressions and sins …. discribes the kind of death that Paul is talking about. In fact this verse could be translated “… you were dead through [because of] your transgressions and sins.”


The basic problem that people have in life is not being out of step with their heritage or with the enviroment but being out of step with God. The principle problem is that there is no right relationship with God and consequently mankind is by nature physically alive but spiritually dead.


The two words Paul has used to describe the human condition are carefully choosen – transgressions and sins.


Tresspass or transgress means to go in the wrong direction – to deviate from the right path – it is to go into areas that are forbidden.

That is why you will see signs up on private properties that read “TRESPASSES WILL BE PROSECUTED”.


The word used here for sins [harmatia] carries the meaning of missing the mark – falling short, not reaching the standard. Thus – Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)


ILLUS.: If we were standing on the side of the M25 trying to cross but there was too much traffic – I suggest we jump accross – Some could hardly jump off the hard shoulder – others could possibly jump into the middle lane – An Olympic long-jumper might even make it to the fast lane – but no-one would be able to jump right across. –


Whether you get to the slow lane or the fast lane is immaterial – you haven’t made it across – jumping into the middle of the M25 would probably mean death anyway!!


So in this verse transgressions means actively doing wrong things and sins means neglecting to do something – not meeting the standard – sins of commission and sins of omission.

We naturally live in this way because we are spiritually dead. The actions and attitudes come out of a nature that is bent in a direction that is opposite to God.


Matthew 12:35 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (NIV)

Matthew 15:18-19 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (NIV)

BUT some of you may be thinking – this is not true – there are many people who have no belief in God nor any kind of Christian profession yet they are physically fit, have brillant minds and vibrant personalities. They don’t appear to be dead at all!!


But you see we are not talking about body or personality or mind – we are talking about a different sphere of life – the sphere of the spirit. It is in this realm that people are by nature ‘dead’. They can’t recognise who Jesus really is – they don’t hear God speaking – there is no relationship with God as Father – there is no desire for fellowship with God’s people —- no matter how alive and healthy someone may be physically or mentally – in the sphere of the spirit they are dead.


ILLUS.: In some countries coffins are left open at funerals – the deceased is worked on by a beautician to make them look as good as possible – often better than when they were living. A very pleasant looking corpse.

          Some people die on the battlefield and the corpse is left liying there in a state of decomposition – not a pretty sight.


BUT what difference does it really make – they can’t see or hear or respond in in anyway whatsoever – they are dead. And so it is in the spiritual realm –

By nature people are DEAD in transgressions and sins.


Our sin has cut us off from God: Isaiah 59:2

2 But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you,

so that he will not hear. (NIV)

That is the plight of every person UNTIL God in his mercy gives Spiritual life.




Ephesians 2:2       2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.   (NIV)

Paul shifts his emphasis now from the realm of spiritual deadness where there is no activity in relation to God — to the realm where people are active – They don’t follow God but they do follow the way of the world and all other forces that are opposed to God. ie the world, the flesh and the devil!!

In other words they live life according to an authority contrary to God.

“World” is used here in this way – the life of people apart from God – life lived in an earth-bound way – worldly motives!!


Whenever we speak of darkness and evil we tend to focus on violence and deviant sexual behaviour – the extremes of wrongdoing. We focus on Rwanda – on rapists — and armed robbers.


The outlook of society is secular – it is amoral [it rebuffs absolutes] — it is very materialistic [it glorifies the consumer market] – and people are carried along by these values in society – people like to think that they have a mind of their own but it is naive to think that they are not moulded by the media.


Philips translation says “we drifted along the stream of this world’s ideas of living”. Does this mean that the multiple murderer is equally as bad as the kind, loving, considerate self-giving person. They may not lead equally sinful lives BUT they are equally in a state of sin – they are equally seperated from God.


Being good on a human level is certainly a good thing – The unbeliever can and does perfom natural good; Jesus talked about that in Luke 6:33 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. (NIV)

but it cannot change a sinners nature nor his basic sphere of existence.


Worldly systems have many faces but the underlying commonality is that they oppose God and that is because the ultimate leader and master-mind is Satan himself.


– The prince of the power of the Air is a reference to the devil –

It is not popular – even in the Church to speak about a personal devil and the occult.

Yet in spite of it being unpopular to speak about these things, interest in the paranormal is on the increase – [there are more witches in the UK than there are clergy] – Not to speak about a personal Devil is also to go contrary to scripture – the Bible has a lot to say about Satan – and we would do well to give more attention to the fact the we are involved in a spiritual battle and that satan and his demons will use every trick available to keep people from turning to God.


the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient – It is not surprising that those within the realm of Satan’s control exhibit a similar spirit. A spirit of disobedience and rebellion against God. That is the nature of the devil who rebelled against God – it should not surprise us therefore that those who persistly disobey God exhibit the same spirit as Satan.


The phrase “at work in” [energho] – energy – the source of all evil and error and violence is ultimately Satan himself.


This word ‘energy’ is the same word use in Ephesians 1:19 19………. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, (NIV)

The believer is energize by the spirit of God the unbeliever is energized by the spirit of the Evil One. It is the power that raise Christ from the dead which is the only power strong enough to rescue us from the power of Satan.

To transplant people from the kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light.


But least we fall into the trap of blaming the evil for all our wrong-doing and sinfulness we need to move quickly to the first part of verse 3.


Ephesians 2:3 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts…… (NIV)

It would be very comfortable to be able to blame someone else for our sinfulness and some try to do that – even convince themselves that it is not their fault and actually believe that it is not their fault. But Paul knocks that idea on the head showing that.


The word Paul uses to refer to ‘our sinful nature’ is the word for ‘flesh’ – he does not mean the stuff that covers our bones BUT rather our passions and desires.





Regarding our passions and desires we need to makes two things clear:

1) our natural desires for food, sleep and sex are not in themselves wrong!! God made us and these desires and passions are part of our human nature.

2) natural desire are not restricted to the body but include the mind as well.


Sinful desires and selfish attitudes characterise the flesh – the natural God-given desire and need for food becomes sinful when it turns to gluttony — when sex turns to lust and all kinds of perversions then it becomes sinful. — When the need for sleep turns to laziness then we have moved from God-given natural desire to sinful desire!!

It is no good pointing out the sinfulness of sexual perversion while ignoring laziness.


BUT sinful passions extends beyond the physical to attitudes. It is easy to be pharisaical – holier than thou – —

what about a bitter spirit, a critical attitude, are there things you know are true yet won’t accept them,

Do you look down on those of a lower class – or resent those of an upper class?

When someone drives passed in a flashy new car do all the feelings of jealousy rise within you?

Are you derogatory about people of other nationalities?


Sin is very sublte and disguises itself in very respectable ways – but it is still sin.


Paul Galatians 5:16-21

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)

There is an inbuilt selfishness and self-centredness within us – it can express itself in sensual debauchery or self-righteous smugness but is till points to the fact that we are children of disobedience.


It is no wonder that God is anger with mankind!




Ephesians 2:3 ……. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (NIV)

The wrath of God is another subject that is not very popular today – We like to talk of the love of God and the kindness of God – and those things are true BUT God is also an angry God. We need to be careful how we understand God’s anger – He is not a capricious bad-tempered God who flies off the handles when we irrated him.


God’s anger is a settled and consistent indignation at people’s refusal to accept the gospel of grace and salvation that he offers in Jesus Christ.


These verses make is clear that God is angry with ALL people – not just with Jews or Gentiles but with everyone. The self indulgent Gentile was just as guilty and the self-righteous Jew. God’s judgement and anger is not arbitary – it is consistent and predictable. How is it predictable?? God is ALWAYS anger with sinners!!


Is it not true that God hates sin and loves the sinner??!! That might be a nice sentiment but it is not Biblical.


Romans 5:12-19

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned –…………… ….. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (NIV)

John 3:18    Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (NIV)

John 3:36 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (NIV)

God is anger with sinners because they have disobeyed -“Children of disobedience”


Let none of us ever try to kid ourselves that we are good enough to be accepted by God.

We must never down play the gravity of the human condition – people, ALL people, are sinful in the eyes of God and there is nothing you can do to remedy that situation.




NOW look at the first word of verse 4. “BUT” !!! {KJV “BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us..}


  1. BUT GOD…


Mankind is charaterised by sinful pride, stubborn disobedience and ignorant unbelief and will remain in that condition until God in his mercy changes the situation.


But God is rich in mercy – he hates the stubborness and impetitence of the sinner but he loves him as the creature he made. He loves the world – He gave his Son!! Can you get a glimpse of why God is so angry with those who spurn his love!!


Better education – better NHS — better ecomony — better legal system — all good BUT none can remedy the sickness of sin. Only Faith in Christ can do that!!


Christian, we have the remedy for the sinner – Jesus Christ — Why do do we pussy-foot around? Why are we content to be comfortable while our neighbours are hell bound? Don’t you care that your unbelieving friends are going to Hell!! What is more important, the salvation of your friends and neighbours or your comfort zone — your garden, — cleaning your house that you have already clean too much — What are you doing to warn people of the coming wrath of God?? We need to wake-up and get our priorites straight.


There is no one more selfish that a Christian who is content to go to heaven alone!!


If you have never put your faith in Jesus Christ – if you are unsure about your eternal future then get your life right with God today! What we have describe this morning is how God sees you and until you repent and turn to him he remains angry with you!!!

And please come back next week to hear the BUT GOD that follows!!




  1. The ‘living’ who are dead.

     – spiritual lifelessness as a result of sin

                  – sins of commission

                  – sins of omission


  1. The ‘liberated’ who are enslaved.

     – to the world’s agenda

      – to Satan’s influence

      – to fleshly desires

      – to selfish attitudes


  1. The ‘self-pleased’ who are condemned.

     – God’s anger directed against all:    


      &  self-righteousness


[The past condition of the believer]

[The present condition of the unbeliever]


BUT ….. GOD ….

Ephesians 1:11-14 – The Spirit’s sealing of the Christian’s inheritance

Ephesians 1v11-14

The Spirit’s sealing of the Christian’s inheritance.




Brief review of sections 1 and 2 below:-


OUTLINE OF v 3-14:


Facets of salvation.

  1. 1:3-6. Past. The Father’s electing – (adoption)
  2. 1:7-11. Present. The Son’s redeeming – (forgiveness)
  3. 1:12-14. Future. The Spirit’s sealing   – (inheritance)


Today we come to look at the 3rd point – future – our inheritance as Christians.


ILLUS.: Lottery fever has swept through UK in the last few months – some have bought a ticket just for the fun of it or out of curiosity not expecting to win anything. Other have a compulsive desire to win and spend vast amounts in the hope of winning the jackpot. The motive, I don’t believe, is to contribute to charity. The motive for the majority is greed.

Putting aside for a moment the ethical / moral implications of lotteries let ne ask you:

If I came up with a cast-iron guarantee to provide the winning numbers and offered people the chance to win a million pounds [guaranteed] – I bet they would be lining up. The condition would be that you would have to give all your money – everything you had – in order to qualify. The prize would not be next week but possibly in 6 months or a year BUT it was guaranteed.


Would you be willing to give everything knowing that you would definitely receive £1,000,000 or more?


What is it that makes such a proposition appeal to all of us? There is the greed element but there is also the desire for security and we are led to believe that security is measured in monetary terms.


But even if I could guarantee you a million pounds a year from now it would still only be temporary. Because either the million pounds will be used up Or you will die and leave it all behind.


But God promises something that is far more valuable than the Lottery jackpot and something that will last forever.

Listen to what Peter says:-


1 Peter 1:3-4

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, (NIV)

Going back to the Lottery illustration most people would say they were willing to suffer for 6 months if they knew there was a million pounds at the end of it. Well what is this life in comparison to eternity and we are not necessarily called to suffer – on the contrary, for the most part, we are greatly blessed now, which, as we will see, is only a taster of what is to come.


Let us look at the Christain inheritance.




1. We, ourselves, are God’s inheritance

and we receive and inheritance from God.


2. Our inheritance is given by God’s grace.


3. Our inheritance is received by believing faith.


4. Our inheritance is assured:

– by God’s seal              }

} the Holy Spirit

– by God’s deposit         }






11 In him we were also chosen, {Or were made heirs} {or chosen to be God’s inheritancee}


The word that is translated “chosen” in the NIV is actually a compound word that means to give or to receive an inheritance. So id could quite easily be that “we were chosen to be his heritage”. which is not inconsistent with the reaching of scripture.

It is quite clear form the teaching of the OT the Israel was God’s possession:-

Isaiah 43:20-21

20 ………………. I provide water in the desert

and streams in the wasteland,

to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21 the people I formed for myself

that they may proclaim my praise. (NIV)

Exodus 19:5 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. (NIV)

This is not only referring to the Jews but also to the gentile Christians:-

1 Peter 2:9

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, …………. that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

There are not two kinds of inheritance – one for Jews and one for Gentiles – Notice Paul’s progression through these verses:-


Ephesians 1:11-14

11 In him we were also chosen, ………13 And you also were included in Christ .[14]………. our inheritance ………………… (NIV)

WE – YOU – OUR. There is one people of God and they are His treasured possession – his inheritance. God in his sovereign will has determined that you and I along with ALL others believers [past, present and future] are his inheritance. We are God’s inheritance…….. BUT not only that




As I said earlier, this word “chosen” can mean to give or receive an inheritance.

That which we receive from God is Jesus Christ Himself – how many times have we seen in this passage that everything we have is “in HIM” .

“In Him” – we have every spiritual blessing – are chosen – adopted – redeemed – forgiven – predestined – given hope – are God’s possession ………….


BUT inheritance is primarily future – what we have received is wonderful enough but it is only a taste of what is to come.


But why I ask you are we given this inheritance in the first place – what is the reason for God’s favour – WHY????


— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, …… 7 ………, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.




God’s plan of salvation begins with grace and he brings it to fulfillment:

Ephesians 1:11

11 …………, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (NIV)

Our destiny is not determined by the unpredictable whim of a fatalistic diety – The heathen gods of Paul’s day were very fickle – as are the gods of today – there is not certainty about the future.


ILLUS.: In Islam no one’s salvation is guaranteed – you can be the most devote Muslim but the attainment of paradise is uncertain because they Worship an almighty Allah but an Allah who can on Judgement day send anyone or everyone to hell. Because while he might be all-powerful he is not a loving Father who I can know.


But the God of the Bible is not like that – he not only makes plans that include every aspect of creation BUT he also accomplishes – in time – everything that he planned in eternity.


We need to be careful that when we talk of God’s plans and about predestination that we don’t fall into the trap of being Deists – those who believe that God wound up the universe like an overgrown clock and now its runs on its predetermined course. The blue-prints of history. NO! NO! God is not like a computer who only does what he is programmed to do. God is a person. Yes he has plans BUT he is actively and continually working within his plans. The words “works out” comes from the word meaning energy – God’s energizing power that make his plans work out.




We have said many times in the past that salvation is all God’s work and that is true – it is!! But that does not mean that we are simply passive blobs. The is a human responsibility to respond to God’s offer of redemption in Christ.


It is clear from vv.12-13 that there was a respond from those who heard.

Ephesians 1:12-13 12 ….. we, who were the first to hope in Christ, …………. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, (NIV)

There is a human part to salvation. Throughout the Bible there is a tension between God’s sovereign will and people’s responsibility. As we have said the last few weeks, if we go to one extreme to the detriment of the other we become unbiblical – we must hold these two things in tension.


Well known ILLUS.:Picture a doorway as you look towards heaven – from the human side the sign above the door reads “WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME”. After you have entered heaven you look back and the eign above the door on the inside reads “CHOSEN IN HIM BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD”


The human side of salvation is the people [both Jews and Gentiles] must respond to the gospel message. Until there is a response to God our situation remains hopeless.


Ephesians 2:12 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel [THE PEOPLE OF GOD] and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (NIV)

The first thing that people need to do is to “HEAR”

Ephesians 1:13 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. ….., (NIV)

This hearing is not just a physical hearing with your ears BUT a spiritual hearing with your heart – a believing hearing.

You can listen to the accounts of Jesus Christ’s life – his death and resurrection – you can even agree with his teachings –

—- BUT until you BELIEVE and exercise faith in him you remain outside the Kingdom of God. That is why Paul continues in this verse 13 :…… Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.


There needs to be a hearing and a believing – it is not a sign of weakness to believe and Trust in Jesus Christ. In a society where success and independence are prized as high ideals it is not popular to admit that you need God. This is esp. true of men – BUT listen, if you want success, if you want to be involved in an enterprise where the profit margins are unbelievable high and the ultimate capture of the world market is guaranteed – where you have a product cannot be match by another competitor – if that is what you want THEN join God’s company. It is called THE CHURCH [The kingdom of God] And as an added benefit it has a pension plan that is out of this world!!


Any other business that you are involved in – no matter how good or successful it is – it will no last – it is a best a very short-term investment. Take an eternal view – God has an inheritance for you that will last forever.


And Christian if the only way for anyone to know this is by the “Hearing of the Word of God” [ and it is the only way] then we have a responsibility, an obligation to pass on the message.


Romans 10:9-14 9 …….if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …………………. ……. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)

That is why witnessing, and evangelism and missions is not an option for the Chruch or for the individual Christian – it is not a suggestion that we might like to agree to if we so choose – it is a command to be obeyed and if you are not in some way involved in the spread of the gospel then you are disobedient.


And if you are not a Christian you are also disobedient because [Acts 17:30 30 ]………., but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (NIV)

If people refuse to repent and turn to God He will eventually punish them because they have refuse to obey his command to repent and believe in him. BUT why would anyone want to do that when he offers them a place in his kingdom.


Once you have believed your inheritance is assured!




When you become a Christian you receive the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in your life.


Romans 8:9

9 ………….. if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

But when the Spirit lives in you he not only protects, strengthens and encourages you but he also guarantees your inheritance in Christ.

Romans 8:16-17 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,….. (NIV)

Paul says in verse 13 “we are marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”


….. : BY GOD’S SEAL.




A seal was used to guarantee the genuineness of a document or product. The king’s seal would be pressed into the hot wax to show it came from him. Even today products have seals of approval to show that they are genuine and good quality.


Today companies have registered trade marks which show the genuineness of the article – they go to grant lengths to protect those Trade Marks.


The Holy Spirit is the Christian trade mark – when the Holy Spirit lives in a person the result is spiritual fruit. Showing the genuineness of the Christian life.



ILLUS.: Cowboy movies – wild west – cattle branding to show ownership.

In Paul’s day slaves were sometimes branded with their owner’s seal to show to whom they belonged.


Christian’s are marked by God – not with external branding but God’s seal on the heart.

Christian, God owns you. You are God’s possession. He has marked you and no one dare remove that mark nor can they. Satan may try to persaude you that you are not God’s – he may try to place all kinds of doubts in your mind – “You are not good enough to be God’s!!” “No! I’m not but he chose me, he has marked me and I am his!”



A seal guarded the product against tampering.

ILLUS.: Why did the Jewish leaders want Pilate’s seal on the tomb of Jesus – so that no one would tamper with it. Death was the penalty for breaking a Roman seal.


A Roman seal could not protect the tomb because the power behind the seal was inadequate in the face of God’s resurrection power BUT when God puts his seal on someone he has the power to back it up –


How do we know that this is true – how do we know that this promised inheritance will be forthcoming…..




ILLUS.: Before a couple get married the Groom-to-be give the bride-to-be an engagement ring – it is his pledge that he will marry her.


The word used here for deposit is the same word used in Modern Greek for engagement ring.


ILLUS.: When you buy a house or car you put down a deposit. That is not just a promise to buy but it is also the first installment – the down payment.




In this the guarantee is not separate from the thing it is guaranteeing, but it is part of it, it is the first portion of it. In the same way the Holy Spirit is not just a guarantee of our Christian inheritance but is part of it. We already have our inheritance in part – We are God’s possession now but that will be fully realised in the future when we see Christ.


God is not just promising us a future inheritance but has given us a taste of it now.


Why Has God done this – for his glory – when we take the glory we rob God – God created us to praise him and for his glory. Sin destroyed that but God’s redemption in Jesus Christ restores it. Everything we are and everything we have has Christians is from God and the glory belongs to him.


Saviour, since of Zion’s city [Kingdom of God – God’s people]

I through grace a member am,

let the world deride or pity,

I will glory in your name:

fading are the world’s best pleasures,

all its boasted pomp and show;

solid joys and lasting treasures

none but Zion’s children know.     [John Newton ][Hymns for Today’s Church #494]












  1. We, ourselves, are God’s inheritance


     we receive an inheritance   from God.


  1. Our inheritance is given by God’s grace.


  1. Our inheritance is received by faith.


  1. Our inheritance is assured:

     – by God’s seal     }

                                      } Holy Spirit

     – by God’s deposit }


Ephesians 1:7-10 – Introduction





OUTLINE OF v 3-14:


Facets of salvation.

  1. 1:3-6. Past. The Father’s electing – (adoption)
  2. 1:7-11. Present. The Son’s redeeming – (forgiveness)
  3. 1:12-14. Future. The Spirit’s sealing   – (inheritance)


Last time we looked at Election – the divisions of these verses and the subjest matter are very lose; there is much overlap.


The issue of election was the cause of much discussion – that’s good – Two issues I want to clarify – 1) How do I know if I am elect?

-2) What about those God hasn’t elected?


1) If you have repented of your sin, asked God’s forgiveness, if you know Jesus as your saviour then you are elect!! The point is the salvation is God’s work and you chose him only because he first chose you! If you are elect then you believe and trust in him; if you believe and trust in him then you are elect!


2) Any one who knows God does so because God has elected him/her. If any one does not know God it is NOT because God has elected them to comdemnation BUT because they have not yet responded to his offer of salvation. We can never say that God elects some to salvation and others to condemnation.

1 Timothy 2:4 ……God our Saviour, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)

Romans 10:9-13 9 … if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10
…………. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” ………….., 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NIV)

The flip side of “God elects to salvation” is not that God “elects others to condemnation” BUT rather that “Whoever will may come”.


Paul having talked of God’s electing now goes on to speak of the basis upon which it is possible for God to elect any sinner, viz. the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.




It is a word that is use with reference to buying / purchasing in the marketplace.

It is also used when speaking of release from captivity. On this 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe we have seen and heard many people speak of their release from Prison camps – they are remembering they release [redemption] by the Allied Troops.

More than just release, though, redemption carries with it the concept of a price paid in order for the person or object to be released.

The price for Europe to be liberated from Nazi Tyranny was the 1000’s of lives lost in the fight – besides the economic cost.


Redemption is also the language of the slave market – not part of our every day but very much part of the everyday lives of the Ephesians to whom Paul was writing.


The only way a slave could be freed in the Roman Empire was if his/her owner gave him/her freedom as a gift to if someone else paid a ransom price and gave the slave freedom – either way it was a gift.


That is the picture of redemption that the early Christians would certainly have understood. They would have understood that release from slavery was only possible through the kindness of person.


And so, too, with Christian redemption – it is only possible through a person.





………which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption …………..


Jesus is God’s “Beloved”

Matthew 3:17

17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

Matthew 17:5

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (NIV)

It is only because God the Father loves Jesus His Son that he also loves us because when we have come to faith “in him” we are accepted “in Him”.


ILLUS.: Muslim friend – Jalal – the patriarch of the family – accepted by him and was thus able to visit and be accepted by all the family. I was “accepted” in him.


There are three criteria that a redeemer need to fulfill in order to be able to redeem someome.


ILLUS.: Remember the story of Ruth in the OT. How after Ruth [Moabitess] returned with Naomi her mother-in-law, to Israel she was gleaning barley in the field belonging to Boaz. He was her kinsman-redeemer and in order to marries Ruth the land belonging to her through her deceased husband needed to be redeemed.

In order to be eligible Boaz had to be related to Ruth, He had to be able to redeem the land, He had to be willing to redeem the land — He fulfilled all three requirements.


This was a picture of redemption through Christ –

– he is related to us – he became like us – took on humanity.

– he is able to redeem because he is perfect

– he willingly redeemed – it was something that he wanted to do.


Which brings us to the next thing about redemption – it is always at a price.




Redemption might be free but it costs a lot!!


………….7 In him we have redemption through his blood,

“through His blood” must not be disassociated from the entire life of Christ and his voluntary sacrifice. This phrase is synonymous with “He gave himself” – “he laid down his life”.


The whole sacrificial system of the OT pointed to Christ’s death as a redeeming sacrifice for sin. In order for redemption to be possible sin had to be overcome. Sin was the prison that held sinners capture – The over-arching purpose for which Christ came was to seek and to save that which was lost and to give his life a ransom for many.


Matthew 1:21 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (NIV)

………… redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, These two things go togetherRedemption would be incomplete if there was no pardon / forgiveness.


ILLUS.: THE DYAKS OF BORNEO. The people watched as the village elders took the minature boat that had been made and placed it in the river. Two chickens were selected – both had to be healthy. One chicken was killed and the blood sprinkled along the river bank. The other live chicken was tethered to the front of the boat and a light was lit at the stern. The villagers one by one appraoch the boat and place an imaginery object on the boat between the chicken and the light. He / she has placed “Dosaku!” {My sin}. All wait anxiously while the elders wade chest-deep into the river and release the boat downstream. If it capsizes they will live in aniety until the ceremony is repeated next year. If the boat disappears round the bend in the river they all shout “Selamat! Selamat!” [We’re safe!!]

Only ’til next year.[“Eternity in their hearts” – Don Richardson. Regal. p115]


The Jews had a scapegoat. One a sacrificial goat paid for the sin – the other a scapegoat that carried the sin away!!

Jesus was two in one. BUT not repeatable! Once for all!!


When God redeems us our sin is forgiven and carried away forever!


Psalm 103:12

12 as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (NIV)

We must not miss what Paul says to describe the measure of God’s forgiveness.


in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.


ILLUS.: If I go to the piano and play with one finger “Baa, baa black sheep!” That is according to my ability. If Alan did the same thing that would not be according to his ability.


In a similar way if a multi-millionaire gave a beggar £10 it would be OUT OF his riches and not according to his riches.


God forgives according to the riches of his grace – lavishly!! There is no limit to God’s forgiveness.


Listen to the words of this hymn by Annie Johnson Flint:-

His love has no limit, his grace has no measure,

His power has no boundary known unto men;

For out of his infinite riches in Jesus

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

[Christian Hymns 801]




we have redemption [v7]………..the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us [v8]…………And he made known to us [v9]…….


It is people upon whom the redemption of God has been bestowed. It is necessary because we were dead in trespasses and sin [Ch.2] and that without God people have no hope. In chapter 4 he describes the kind of people that we once were —


Ephesians 4:17-18

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (NIV)

It is not good people who need a redeemer but sinners. Until a person comes to the realization that they need redemption they will see no need of a redeemer. Until there is acknowledgement that sin separates us from God and that we need his forgiveness – that we are slaves to sin – they will see no need for redemption.


The Behaviourists and those from other schools of psychology tell us that we cannot be blamed for our sin, it is as a result of our genes, our parents, our enviroment or some othert external force – I am not denying that these things have an effect on out lives – BUT, we can have all the excuses in the world BUT in the final analysis I am responsible for my own sin! I am NOT good, only God is good!!


If we were good we would not need a redeemer BUT

Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written:

“There is no-one righteous, not even one;

11 there is no-one who understands,

no-one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no-one who does good,

not even one.” (NIV)

BUT there is a way to be good and rigtheous and that is ‘in him’ [Christ]

In Christ we are as close to God as we can possibly be.



Listen to this poem:-

Near, so very near to God,

Nearer I could not be;

For in the person of His Son,

I”m just as near as He.


Dear, so very dear to God,

Dearer I could not be;

For in the person of His Son,

I’m just as dear as He.



Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is undeserved but it is free and it is complete. This freedom is now and for eternity. Does that mean that we no longer sin – NO — that we no longer need forgiveness — NO — BUT we don’t need the continued forgiveness of redemption. Remember what Jesus told Peter: John 13:10

10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” (NIV)

At salvation a person’s sin is forgiven but that doesn’t mean that we no longer sin nor that we suffer the consequences when we do sin. So yes we need daily forgiveness to keep us in close unclouded fellowship with God BUT sin’s power over us to hold us as slaves has been dealt with and we are “in Christ”




9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.


It was Shakespeare’s MacBeth who gloommly declared that History “was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”


It was the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes who said that from an “under the sun” perspective, from an earthly, human perspective, live has no meaning. To live and to die!


Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.”

3 What does man gain from all his labour

at which he toils under the sun? (NIV)

History is neither meaningless or purposeless! It is not bumbling along with no end. God is moving history to a climax – he has a plan!


This book of Ephesians tells us how God has brought Jews and Gentiles together in one new community of believers – the Church! But this present unity is simply a foretaste of what is to come in the future when ALL things in heaven and on earth will be unite in Christ!


At present the world is far from unity – there is division and strife – and Satan is still the “the prince of this World” causing havoc BUT the time will come [ kairos time not kronos time] [era] when God will draw everthing together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.


Philippians 2:10-11

10 ………at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

At the moment there is still discord in the universe, but in the fulness of time the discord will cease and the peace and unity we long for will come about under the headship of Jesus Christ. Tomoorow we celebrate VE day [Victory in Europe] then we will celebrate VU Day [victory in the Universe]


BUT we must avoid the trap that some have fallen into, that if thinking that this verse teaches universalism – that all people will be redeemed. That everyone will eventually be saved!!


You cannot press “the all things” of this verse into universalism. That would make the Apostle Paul the most idiotic and confused writer of all time!! Paul descibes in this very Book how in the last days the wrath of God will come upon those who continue in disobedience and refuse to come to repentence and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord!!

“All things” includes the saints living and dead as well as the angels but much wider than that – the whole of creation groans now because of sin BUT at that time God’s two creations, his universe and his Chruch will be brought together under the cosmic rule of Christ who is the supreme head of both!!


And this MYSTERY that God has made known to us is this cosmic plan of His – the plan of salvation.


ILLUS.: This mystery is not like that of a secret society where the adherents will be punished if they dare reveal the secret.


This is an revealed mystery, an open secret, so that it can be made known and accepted by faith, because it is by faith that people are saved.


As Christians we need this perspective of life.

Life is not meaningless!! We have been chosen by God to be his children, adopted into his family, we have a wonderful hope for the future.


Remember that as Paul was writing these words he was under house arrest in Rome chained day and night to a Roman soldier. His body was confirned to a house but his heart and mind lived in eternity. He knew he was in Christ!! His future prospects were wondeful!


How blinkered and narrow is our vision sometimes!! How easily we become preoccupied with the petty little affairs of this world!

We lose sight of eternity, we lose sight of the privileges we have in Christ, we lose sight of our past election and our future glorious hope.


Realising what we are “in Christ”, what we have “in Christ” , and what we will be and have “in Christ” in the future should lead us to do our duty BUT also to fall at his feet in wonder love and praise!!


Redemption from sin is through Christ alone – the price was his life – the objects of redemption is us [people] – the purpose is that Christ may be supreme – the Lord of lords and the King of kings!!


There is a Redeemer

Jesus, God’s own Son,

precious Lamb of God,

Messiah, Holy One.


Thank you, O my Father,

for giving us your Son,

and leaving your Spirit

till the work on earth was done.



[1:7 – 10]













Ephesians 1:3-6 – Chosen by God [for his glory] to be His [special] children


Chosen by God [for his glory] to be His [special] children.




ILLUS.: We were on holiday in the northern part of South Africa once at a place called Blyde River Canyon – It ia a very mountainous part of the country and very beautiful – also very few people there – so you get these magnificent views with no houses, electric pilons or motorways. There is one particular viewpoint where you can look over the edge of the canyon and see for miles and miles. It is called ‘God’s window’ – the view is breathtaking – trying to discribe it would need more adjectives than the English language possesses.


Many of you will have had similar experiences – this I think gives us some idea of Paul’s difficulty in these verses.


Verses 3 – 14 is one long sentence in the Greek language. He begins by wanting to praise God for the blessings we have recieved – but as he mentions God’s blessings his mind runs off trying to enumerate these blessings which runs one into another. Election, redemption, adoption, forgiveness, assurance, inheritance, ……


This sentence has been variously described as a kaleidoscope, a golden chain or “a snowball tumbling down a hill picking up volume as it descends” [Hendriksen].

V.3 really introduces what is to come in the next 11 verses.

Just because Paul is overwhelmed by God’s blessings it does not mean that there is not structure or progression in what he is saying.


OUTLINE OF v 3-14:


Facets of salvation.

  1. 1:3-6. Past. The Father’s electing – (adoption)
  2. 1:7-11. Present. The Son’s redeeming – (forgiveness)
  3. 1:12-14. Future. The Spirit’s sealing   – (inheritance)


Ephesians 1:3

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (NIV)




Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – OR – Blessed be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


As Christians we use the word “Bless” in a very loose way – we bless someone when they sneeze and we very glibly say “God bless you”

What would you say if someone responded “How do you want God to bless me?”


In the NT the word blessed in used only of God – he alone is worthy to be blessed [praised]. People are blessed only when they receive God’s blessings.


Because God is the only one who is truly good [Matthew 19:17] our highest praise should be reserved for him alone.


It is in God’s nature to bless – God is the source of everything that is good


James 1:17 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV)


From God comes a continual flow of blessing — we tend to think in terms of the material. If we are comfortably off and don’t have too many problems then we say God has blessed us. Yes that is true!! Material thing are from God and can be blessings BUT material blessings and a comfortable lifestyle are not necessarily indicators that God is pleased with us — NOR if we do not have material blessing and have a load of problems does it follow that God is NOT pleased with us.


Paul qualifies what he means by the Blessings of God “SPIRITUAL” – this does not exclude material blessing BUT the focus is on the spiritual. And notice that Paul says ‘ … has blessed us …’


ILLUS. There is a famous story about HETTY GREEN – an American ladt who died in 1916 – she was so miserly that she ate cold porridge to save the cost of heating it. When her son injured his leg she spnt so long trying to finf free treatment that infection set in and the leg had to be amputated. When she died her estate was valued at $100 million [ back in 1916]


As Christians we can be in danger of treating out spiritual resources in the same way – we can suffer from spiritual malnutrition because we fail to take advantage of the great spiritual storehouse that God has put at our disposal


All to often we ask God for things that we need not ask for because he has already given them. We need to thank him for them and we need to ask him help us realise in a fuller way what we have received .

You can’t pray as a Christian for the Holy Spirit to be given to you — if you are a Christian the Holy Spirit lives in you. You can pray that you might be more aware of His presence, more available to him.   BUT ………..

Romans 8:9

9 ………..   if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

What does Paul mean when he says in the heavenly places? “In the Heavenlies”

Can refer to the sky or space BUT here refers to the unseen world of spiritual reality. Because we can’t seen something physically it does not mean that it is not real. There is a spiritual reality beyond this world and Christians are part of that spiritual world.

As Christians we are dual citizens – citizens of earth and citizens of heaven. How is this possible? Well Paul used his favourite two words “in Christ” — we have a heavenly citizenship because we are ‘in Christ” ( This concept of “in Christ” will become clearer as we go through this letter)


The teaching of v.3 is vitally important because we are Trinitarians – the father, Son and Holy Spirit – and here we have “every blessing of the Holy Spirit given us by the Father if we are in the Son” {Stott}


Of course we need to grow and become mature Christians, we need to constantly change BUT nevertheless we “in Christ” then every Spritiual blessing belongs to us already.




Election is one of the most difficult teachings of the Bible – no one finds it easy to understand let alone explain. BUT it is something that is clearly taught in scripture and we would be failing if we passed over it.


It is, as you would expect, a huge subject – one about which volumes have been written. We will look at just a few aspects which arsie out of these verses.

2.1. The Author of Election.


“For he [God] chose ….”


This concept of God electing is not something that man thought up – the doctrine of election is something that runs right through Scripture. We read in the OT the God chose Israel. Not because Israel was better than all the other nations but becasuse God in his sovereign wisdom chose to elect Israel or elected to choose Israel.


We know about election because God has told us about it in scripture and because we, as God’s people, have been elected. It is not a matter of speculation but a matter of Divine revelation.


2.2. The Timing of Election.


…. before the creation of the world …….. 5 he predestined ….


Probably the most difficult aspect of election is this concept of timing. God knew in advance who the elect would be. In fact God decided before creation had taken place. This was all part of God’s plan that is why Peter could write


1 Peter 1:20 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (NIV)


It is difficult to understand this yet we need to remember that God is not bound by time; God created time and therefore he knows the end from the beginning. Also remember that God is infinite and we are finite – it is not surprising therefore that we don’t understand – in fact it would be very surprising if we did!!


ILLUS. Try to explain the concept of time to a young child – “Granam and Granpa will be here next week – it is beyond the child’s ability to understand such concepts of time.


In a similar way it is beyond our ability to understand things the occur outside of time in God’s eternity!!




  1. The Objects of election.


….. he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,


The object of God’s election is us!!


But I can hear someone saying, “But didn’t I choose God??” Yes and it was a free chose BUT only because in eternity past God had first chosen you.


BUT you say, “Don’t I have a free will?” YES!! But not in the sense that we are completely free because apart from God all people are captive to sin. BUT nevertheless we were able to choose God because God has made that chose possible. Jesus said

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [JN.3]

John 7:37-38

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (NIV)


There is a clear command in scripture for the unsaved to respond to God’s call – it is clear that people have a responsibility to exercise the will God has given them .

YET it is also clear that no-one responds to Christ who has not been chosen by God.

Jesus in John’s gospel puts both these truths in one sentence: 6 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.


God sovereignly elects AND people have a responsibility to exercise their chose – these two things may seem irreconcilable to our puny minds BUT what we must not do is try to pick one or the other NOR must we compromise to some kind of middle ground. Both of these are true – God does elect and people are responsible to believe in Christ – we must hold these two truths in tension.


Why did God chose us?? God’s election of Israel in the OT gives us insight into why God choses.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8

7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (NIV)


Why did God chose Israel?? Because he loved them – WHY? Because they were better; stronger; more numerous than the other nations?? NO!! NO!! Because he loved them and because he chose to love them.


Why has God chosen us? Becuase we are better?? hardly!! Because we are more loveable?? NO! NO!


BUT notice very carefully – it is “US” – the saints – the Church – the body of Christ. While it is true that this applies to individuals we need to remember that Paul is addressing the Church as a whole. We tend to over-individualize things in our Western way of thinking – we must always bear in mind that he is calling out for himself a people to be the bride of Christ.


We also need to remember that we are elect “in him” – It is because we know Christ that we are elect and we are elect because we know Christ! Without Christ it is not possible to be Chosen by God. Without Christ it is impossible to know God.


  1. The Benefits of Election.


In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,


People were created to to live in fellowship with God as children of their Creator Father. Paul in Athens:-


Acts 17:28 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (NIV)

Sin destroyed that privileged relationship with God BUT by God’s grace and through Jesus Christ the restortation of that relationship is made possible – by being adopted back into the family of God..


Adoption was a common Roman practice – the adopted child had exactly the same rights and privileges as a natural one.


Romans 8:15 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NIV)

Any illustration of human adoption falls far short of what Paul is talking about here – not only do we get a new standing, a new name and a new family relationship [which is what human adoption entails] BUT we can a new image, the image of Christ.


Romans 8:29 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (NIV)

When we are adopted by God he puts his Spirit within us and makes us like Jesus – BUT I am not perfect; I am not like Christ. You are!! We might not yet be perfect BUT we will be when we see him and that is so certain that scripture talks about it as if it is already a fact – which it is!!


Do you know this in your own life? Are you a child of God? Do you have that close relationship with God like a child has with a parent?

No one is a child of God naturally – we must become children of God – we have to trust him – Jesus said:-

John 1:12 12 …to all who received him, {Jesus} to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — (NIV)

That fact that we must BECOME God’s children presupposes that we were not God’s children to begin with. There has to be a time when you change from being outside God’s family to being included in it. It might be a dramatic experience at a point in time or over a period –


If you are not a child of God you can become one – recieve Jesus – believe in Him – be adopted into his family – But you say, “How do I know if I am elect??” If you receive him and believe then you are elect!!

..to ALL who receive … to ALL who believe he give the RIGHT to become children of God……


If you need to talk more about this please see me or one the other leaders we would be delighted to show you how to know Christ!!!


The benefits of being adopted into God’s family is that you not only have Christ’s riches and blessing but also his nature.


  1. The purpose of Election.


in accordance with his pleasure and will — 6 to the praise of his glorious grace,


Why does God do all this for us? Why does he want to save people like us?

It is his will!!

Yes! I can will something – It is a matter of will that I go to the dentist; it is also a matter of will that I love my wife and children. The difference is that the latter is also a delight!!


God not only wills to elect us but he takes pleasure and delight in doing so.

God delights in the salvation of sinners.

He delights in giving good things to his children


Luke 12:32

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (NIV)

Philippians 2:13 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose [pleasure]. (NIV)


God take pleasure in his children – God chose and preordained his people before tha foundation of the wordl so that no one could boast or take the glory for themselves – the glory goes to God alone.

Salvation is not partly God’s work and partly man work – No!! It is completely and utterly the work of God so the all the blessing and praise and glory go to Him alone.


  1. The Responsibilities of Election.


…..to be holy and blameless in his sight.


God’s election makes us holy and blameless [perfect] – he gives us the same standing before him as Jesus has. We are ‘in Christ’ [the church] and it is Christ’s purpose to have a perfect and holy body of believers.


Ephesians 5:25-27

25 ………………   Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (NIV)


That is why a Christian can be confident and know for sure that he/she will be with God in heaven – indeed is already in the position.


This truth of election leaves no room for boasting – we should never imagine that he chose us because we deserved it more than anyone else. Election should move us to humility not arrogant boasting.


Nor is the doctine of election an excuse for sin – “I am safe and secure because God has chosen me therefore I can live as I please – I don’t need to worry about holy living!” WRONG!!


Election is no excuse for sin – it is the opposite, or should be; it should be the incentive to holy living.

“Holy and blameless” point to out final state of perfection – the process of becoming that starts in the here and now – Election is the incentive for holy living. In fact striving to living a holy life pleasing to God is one one who has been elected.


Being children of God implies responsibility – if God is our Father then we should exhibit the family likeness. So Paul writes in 5v1:-

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us …..


The realisation that God has chosen us should be the greatest incentive to holy, Christlike living.


MacArthur “The ultimate reason for everything that exists is the glory of His grace. That is why God’s children, Christians, should do everything they do – even such mundane things as eating and drinking – to the glory of God.[1Cor. 10v31]”




Facets of salvation.


  1. 1:3-6. Past.

                     The Father’s electing –



  1. 1:7-11. Present.

                     The Son’s redeeming –



  1. 1:12-14. Future.

                     The Spirit’s sealing   –




  1. The Author of Election

     (The sovereign God)


  1. The Timing of Election

     (from eternity past)


  1. The Objects of Election

     (us – the saints)


  1. The Benefits of Election

     (adoption as God’s children)


  1. The Purpose of Election

     (the glory of God)


  1. The Responsibilities of Election

     (.. to be holy and blameless..)

Ephesians 1:2 – Apostle and People: in Christ = in the Church


[belonging to Christ: belonging to each other]






As we come to study this new book – Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – it is not only interesting but also essential that we look at the background to the letter. Who wrote it? Who was it written to? When was it written? What were the circumstances at the time of writing? What is the overall theme of the book?


It is helpful to have a bird’s-eye view before we look at more detail.
Ephesians is a letter about the church. It has 6 chapters – 1-3 emphasize doctrine (teaching) while 4-6 emphasize behaviour. 1-3 is theological and 4-6 is practical.

If you prefer the first 3 chapters tell Christians “What they are!” and the second three chapters tell them “To now become what they already are in Christ!!”.

Paul says “This is what you are! Now live like it!”


To break it down a little more using John Stott’s analysis – it looks like this!


1:3 – 2:10    The new life which God has given us in Christ.

2:11 – 3:21  The new society that Gos has created through Christ.

4:1 – 5:21    The new standards that God expects of his new society, especially

unity and purity.

5:21 – 6:24  The new relationships into which God has brought us – harmony in

the home and hostility to the devil.


[Stott – God’s New Society – IVP Illinois 1979. p.25]


A few years ago, around the time of the Gulf war, President George Bush spoke about “a new world order“; before that Karl Marx spoke of the “new man” and “the new Society” – society restructed in economic terms bringing in a “classless society“;

John Major spoke of a classless society when he became Prime Minister. He did not mean the same things as Karl Marx – I’m not quite sure what he meant!!! “A society at ease with itself” I think he said!!


But these dreams and ideals are beyond the capacity of human power – no matter how hard mankind tries, no matter how sincere they are in their endeavours they fail again and again and again.


We try to be “tougher on crime” – to spend more on education – to provide better housing – to create jobs – rehabilitation programmes for young offenders …………..

ALL of these things are necessary and helpful but the notion that we can improve man’s inner condition by improving the enviroment is doomed to fail – history is littered with social programmes that have failed. Human happiness cannot be bought.


The basic problem with people – all people, is that spiritually we are dead in our sins …

Ephesians 2:1-3

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (NIV)


But Paul in this letter speaks of new life in Christ [for those save by grace through faith], the riches of God’s grace, unlimited blessing, the experisnce of the love and power of God, ……… and much more!


All this from God for the believers – a new life lived in a new community – the community of believers, the Church!! God’s alternative society.


The letter to the Ephesians is a book about the church. The relationship to her Lord, to each other and to the world!!


Christ Loved the church and gave himself for her – the church is HIS body – and Paul’s prayer is that you [the church] may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God. [3:19]


With that very brief overview let’s look at v.1-2. We will fill in some background as we go along.



1.1 Paul – a changed man.


Paul was a Jew, from the tribe of Benjamin – he was very well educated – he had studied under the famous Jewish teacher, Gamaliel. He was a shining light amongst the up and coming Jewish rabbis. He hated the christians and set out to make life for them as miserable and difficult as possible. He was prepared to go to any lengths to stop the spread of this new Jewish sect – the peolpe of the Way.


BUT God had other plans – Paul was dramatically converted on the Damascus road.

He spent three years in the Arabian desert and then helped teach and lead the church in Antioch. It was from there that God called Him and Barnabas to there missionary work!!


It is interesting that God called the leaders of the church to go – also that Paul and Barnabas were not on cloud 9 waiting a voice from heaven they were involved in the church where they were —- if you have desires to serve God abroad – the best way is to start serving him here!!


God changed Saul from an anti-christian persecutor into a godly preacher of the good news.


1.2 Paul – a commissioned man.


Paul was an apostle – lit. “a sent one” – This word could be used in a very broad sense to refer to anyone sent out on a mission. We could use it of ourselves in the sense that we too are commissioned by God to be his witnesses. BUT Paul uses it in a much narrower sense with reference to himself and the other 12 who Jesus called.


This apostleship which Paul has received is not because a Church council choose him – nor that he volunteered for the job BUT he was choosen and appointed by God [the will of God] to be a messenger for Jesus Christ. He is not just a great teacher or a missionary hero BUT a God-appointed APOSTLE.

His teaching is therefore in the name of and with the authority of Jesus himself.


That is why when we read Paul’s words in this letter we are reading God’s message to His Church.


God changed Paul and then commissioned him. God does the same thing today – we don’t have leaders with the same authority as Paul and Peter and the other Apostles – their authority is now recorded in scrpiture – but all christians have been changed and commissioned.

This we will see clearly in the letter – changed from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive!! Commissioned to live for God and bring glory to his name!



2.1. Saints and faithful.


Paul calls the Ephesian christians “saints” – if he were writing to us today he would write ”

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints in …. [BINSCOMBE] .. the faithful in Christ Jesus:


Saints?? Us??? you must be joking? NO! Saints – holy. Those set apart or consecrated to the Lord. Saints are not a groups of super-spiritual elite who are canonized and called “Saint” after they have departed this life!!


In the OT Israel was called a Holy nation – a nation that belonged to God – in fact that same terminology is applied to the church in1 Peter 2v9.


Something that belongs completely and exclusively to God.


ILLUS.: My toothbrush is “holy” mine – it is set apart for my exclusive use – I don’t even want my wife to use it.


You get the idea of what holy – saint means.

Another interesting thing about the word saint in the BIBLE is that it is never used in the singular – 68 x [45 in the NT] but always in the plural.


In our Western individualised world we tend toward viewing our faith and our religious life as a very private matter. BUT it is not – we need to come to Christ as individuals BUT the Christian life is not individualistic – it is a community life. Paul picks this up in ch.3:-


14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.


We are not just a group of individuals who because we have a few common beliefs join this club called Binscombe Church. This is not a club – We can’t simply pay our dues and then flit in and out – if that is how you view the church then you need to think again.


Saints are also referred to as faithful – if you are a saint you are one of the faithful and if you are faithful you are a saint. It is only possible to be a saint and to remain faithful because of the saving power of God in our lives. He gives the saving faith to believe and then the faith to remain faithful to him.


Faithful not only to Christ but to each other, because being related to Christ relates us to each other. We are all “in Christ”


2.2. ” … in Christ Jesus..”


We said a moment ago that we are not a club – because we are not just in the church as an organisation BUT “in Christ”. This is one of Paul’s favourite phrases.[172x]

“In Christ” means that I have been given spiritual life through Christ and have become part of his body. “In Christ” sums up my whole existence as a Christian. In order to be a Christian you have to belong to Christ – united to Christ.

Jesus spoke of this in term of the vine and the branches.


John 15:5

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

To be “In Christ” means to be part of the Body of Christ – the church – Therefore to be “in Christ ” = “in the Church” and “in the Church” = “in Christ”. The church not as an institution but as a living spiritual body.

You can be a member of Binscombe Church or any other Church – you may have been christened, baptised, married in the church, you may give money to the Church and be involved in all kinds of religious activities and good deeds BUT ifyou do not know Jesus Christ personally – if you haven’t come to faith in Him you are not “in Christ” and therefore not in His Church – part of his body.


Being “in Christ” means not only that we belong to Christ but also to each other – a body does not consist of detached bits – so if God has placed you here in this body and you are not functioning as you should then you are causing harm to the body of Christ.


2.3. “… in Ephesus.”


We are not just in a spiritual realm but also in a physical one. One of the tensions that Christian have to live with. Between the “already” and the “not yet”.


Paul’s readers lived in Ephesus — [OHP MAP] — this was orginally Greek colony and then later was under the Roman [ at the Time of Paul]. It was a port [now silted up] and it also housed the temple to the goddess Artemis [or Diana] [one a Gk. one Latin]. This was one of the seven wonders of the world –

In Acts 19 we have Pul in Ephesus and in trouble with some of the citizens who were silversmiths – they mad models of the temple and sold them – Paul’s mesage threatened their trade and they were not happy.


Acts 19:23-28

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. (NIV)

Being “in Christ” and “in Ephesus” caused the christians to be in conflict with their world. There will always be conflicting view between the Church and the world – and when there isn’t maybe we need to question our effectiveness for the gospel.


We are always in danger of either pursuing Christ and withdrawing from the world OR becoming preoccupied with the world and forgetting that we are also in Christ.


So we are “in Christ” and “in Binscombe” – God has placed us here to be his body HERE – What the people out there see of Christ is what they see in us. What kind of a picture does the world have of Christ – for the most part they see him as irrelavant and unimportant – why?? probably because that is the image the church has projected! So when we decry the state of the world we need to look inwards and decry the state of the Church.


ILLUS.: 1910 Edinburgh missionary conference – Andrew Murray [known for his devotional writing especially on prayer] invited but could not go – World very optimistic – technology was taking off – telephones, radio, motor cars, flight, before the First World War dashed a few hopes – Theme of conference “We can evangelise the world in this generation” After reading the papers from the Conference Murray wrote a book – not one of his most popular!! He wrote ” It is a wonderul theme but there is only one problem – ‘The State of the Church’


We are “in Christ” and in the world so that we can bring Christ to the world!!

That is the task of the whole Church working together.




2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


This is a greeting that Paul uses many times [sometimes adds mercy]. These themes will follow through this letter of Ephesians –


Grace – “… by grace you are saved …” God spontaneous love that deals with sin and brings the undeserving sinner into a loving relationship with himself. And not just a little bit of his grace but the immeasurable riches of his grace [ch.2].


MacArthur “Grace is the fountain of which peace is the stream“.

Because of his grace we can know His peace – peace with God because our sin and guilt have been taken away by Jesus on the cross – the barrier between us and God has been removed so we can know him. As a result we can be at peace – not a tranquil existence cut off from the real world but a spiritual contentment in the hubbub of life.


This grace and peace is not something that we can invent or work up within ourselves but it comes from … from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Jesus Christ dominates Paul’s thinking :

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus …….,

To the saints ……. in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace and peace … from …… the Lord Jesus Christ.


Jesus so dominated the life of Paul that he has to almost mention his name in every sentence. That is why Paul could write:


1 Corinthians 11:1

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIV)


May this be true of us – my our lives as individuals and esp. as a Church be examples of Christ. And I pray that as we study this letter of Ephesians together over the next few months that the Lord will renew of vision of what the church should be and then by his Spirit help us to be a Church that reflects the character of the Master.




Closing prayer:


Ephesians 3:15-21 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)






1:3 – 2:10      The new life which God has

                     given us in Christ.


2:11 – 3:21    The new society that God

                     has created through Christ.


4:1 – 5:21      The new standards that

                     God expects of his new

                     society, especially unity

                     and purity.


5:21 – 6:24    The new relationships into

                     which God has brought us –

                     harmony in the home and

                     hostility to the devil.







[[John Stott -God’s New Society – IVP Illinois 1979. p.25]






  1. THE WRITER. (verse 1a)


Paul – a changed man.

Paul – a commissioned man.



  1. THE READERS. (verse 1b)


Saints and Faithful.

in Christ – Spiritual location.

in Ephesus – Physical location.



  1. THE GREETING. (verse 2)


Its Content – Grace and peace.

Its Source – Father & Jesus Christ.