Thanks so much for taking the time to do our online portion of our study on the epistle of Ephesians. I pray God meets you right where you are. At the bottom of the page you will see a link that says “Ephesian notes”, that is the link for the study guide. This will be our “landing page” for Chapter 1. Feel free to use the comment section for discussion!
To get started please read Ephesians chapter 1 in its entirety. If you had to give this chapter a theme what would it be?
For me this first chapter screams of our identity and our resources in Christ. The eloquent language that gushes out of the inspired pen can often seem like a mystical allusion, it’s nice to think about but that’s where we leave it. perhaps that’s why we are in a rut in our walk, maybe that’s why we are trapped in a cycle of defeat and maybe that’s why we are deflated and depressed. This book carries with it the weight of our inheritance. Every word is saturated with the love and the grace of God. If we gather the proper perspective this epistle has the capabilities to change our entire lives.
This is a book about our spiritual heritage in Christ as adopted children of the Father. It’s here that we will find our definition and our direction: what outlines our identity and what moves us to our purpose.
The word heritage isn’t in the book itself, but the concept is all over the pages.
Heritage by definition is- something that descends from an heir; something that is transmitted or possessed as a result of one’s situation or birth.
Ephesians 1:3-5 says “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him, in love HE predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”
This verse tells us that we have EVERY spiritual blessing because of our “situation” (being in Christ), so then we are as adopted children brought into the wealth of the Father.
Romans 8:16-17 says “The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…”
Colossians 1:12 tells us that the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance, by adopting us through Christ we now are co-heirs with Christ. Meaning; that we are now participants of His wealth and partakers of His bounty. That what Christ has is now made available to us.
Romans 5 discusses the contrast between our past life in “Adam” and our new life in “Christ”. Adam represents the fallen-ness of man. That through him the curse was handed down to all mankind. It explains that the inheritance from Adam was death. Before Christ came as a sacrifice for our sin, our heritage was death but now those who are in Christ inherit life. verse 17 says “For if, because of one man’s trespasses death reigned, through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness to reign in life through on man Jesus Christ.”
Reign carries the overtones of victory, now because we reign with Jesus, our lives should be marked by the abundance and victory. Many scholars are divided on writher or not this verse means we reign in life with Christ now or in the future. I believe it’s both. The focus of the new testament epistles isn’t the future in heaven, in fact it is rarely mentioned. The writers under the unction of the Spirit were more concerned with the Christians present life being lived out in the fulness of Christ.
Ephesians is a book that is focused on the believer taking their place and reigning in life with Christ. This is the only way to experience victory and abundance; to lay hold of the blessing that we inherited upon our arrival into the kingdom. Too many Christians are wasting away in indignance and defeat, while the pages of Ephesian’s is beckoning us to come and grasp the reality of our sonship in Christ.
Abundant life is quiet simply living full; living a life full of the riches of Christ and living in the heritage given to us.
I once heard a story of a homeless beggar who slept under bridges, on the sidewalk and in the allies of England. This man begged for scrapes to fill his gnawing hunger, his shoes were worn, the holes allowed water to seep in and cause all kinds of infection. His clothes weren’t much better. This man lived the life of a pauper yet one day an add was ran in the newspaper looking for this very man. It so happened that his long-lost uncle passed and left the homeless beggar millions. The man never responded to the ad, weeks passed and then months, finally one day the man was found on the streets of England, froze to death. He had the resources of a millionaire yet he wasted away in his poverty.
Sadly, many of us would fit into this storyline in spiritual terms. We have all the riches of Christ yet we are living as spiritual paupers.
To have “every spiritual blessing” is to draw our identity and our resources from a higher plane. Though we live in this world it does not define us and we do not draw our strength from it. “Spiritual” describes these blessings, in that they are ANYTHING that is supplied and prompted by the Spirit. the Spirit manifests our inheritance as well as guards it (Ephesians 1:14).
Resources are simply: a stock or supply of assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively.
Everything we need to live an effective life in Christ is given to us and comes from a higher source. Our resources are in heavenly places.
To say our “resources” are in a higher plane is to simply state that the supply needed in order to function effectively in this life come from something higher than we are.
2 Peter 1:3-4 says “His divine power has granted to you all things that pertain to life and to godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, in order that we may be partakers of the divine nature…”
Power. We need it in order to be effective. The Greek word for power is “dunamis”, it is where we get our word “dynamite” from and it relies the idea of something being effected in such a way that it is forever altered, that makeup of an object is drastically changed. It is the same word used in the Gospels for the miracles done by Christ. Its most stunning attribute is that it is has accomplishing power over resistance.
Ephesians 1:19 uses the same word, it describes this power as resurrection power, but not only that its elevating power as well.
“his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, “
We have many things coming against us, in all areas, but we have more backing us than can ever come against us. Unless your situation requires more power than a resurrection and an ascension, then we have enough power working within us to blow down any wall of resistance standing in our path to abundance and victory. But there is a contingency on that promise in Ephesians 1; it works for those who are believing.
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Mark 11:23
I think we are scared of this verse. For many of us this verse is one of those that we tuck into the category of “nice but not useful”. It sounds really good but we don’t really believe it. when was the last time you saw a mountain move? For most of us we can’t remember. A cautious approach to abundance and victory is never recommended in scripture. The “mountain” in this verse is anything that stands between where we are and our God given abundance and victory. Many things that are blocking our pathway to abundance needs divine dynamite laid at before it and blown to smithereens.
Gods will for you is to live fully in the heritage given to you in Christ Jesus and that requires a resource much stouter than anything within us; it calls for the power of the Spirit.
Is there a power shortage in your life? Than we need the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18) what happens when our hearts are enlightened is the veil that was hindering the penetration of that power has been removed. For many of us the perception of our hearts need to be altered if we are ever going to live effectively. To be endowed with such power and not know we have it is a great tragedy among the modern Church. For the Spirit to leave His imprint on our lives in drastic fashion our hearts must be filled with the knowledge of Him and submit to His authority. So
Now we will look at what it means for our identity to come from a higher plane.
“In Christ” appears 164 times in Paul’s epistles, 36 times in the letter to the Ephesians and 11 times alone in chapter 1.
The word “in” is locative, meaning that we are position ally in Christ. It’s the position we hold, making us one spiritual body with Him. This means that whatever is true of Him is true of us!!!
We see examples throughout scripture: marriage, branches and the vine, spiritual temple (Jesus being the cornerstone and we being the building blocks), the body as one living organism. All of these have the idea of the union between two different entities that now make up one whole. We often here the expression “invite Jesus into your heart”, we have missed it if this is our perception. For we are the ones who have been invited in, not Him! So, from Paul’s standpoint, to be Christ is to be consumed with Him.
Look at 2 Peter 1 again, it says “Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” and latter “so that we may become partakers of the divine nature.” We have been invited to come into His bounty. The word partakers is the Greek word for fellowship. HE has called us to come and fellowship in this divine nature.
Since we are positionally in Christ, that means that Christ sets the parameters of your identity. Not your circumstances, your past, your failure, your accomplishments…none of that has the authority to define you-only Jesus!!
You are not limited by your accomplishments and you are more than what you are not-because Jesus is more!
Much too often we treat Christ as a resource instead of as our source. The former aids, the latter supplies.
What would happen if we started to operate out of Christs bounty instead of our poverty? I pray that through this study we will learn how to do just that. We will spend the next 6 weeks learning about our definition (who Christ says we are) and our direction (what and how we are called to) in Christ. on a piece of paper please copy this diagram. From now on every time the Lord reveals to us something about our identity we will write it in the vertical line. When He tells us something about our mission we will place it in the horizontal line. At the end we will see what the cross has to say about our definition and our direction.