When was the last time you’ve been blown away by God as you comprehended His power and glory revealed to you from His Word? If I had to state the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit in authoring the book of Ephesians, it would be just that. Ephesians exists for the people of God to stop and stand in awe of what God has done in one’s own personal salvation – in what He accomplished through Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, and how this is worked out in His church. Like no other book of doctrine, Ephesians gives us a magnificent sweep of God’s saving purpose initiated before the foundation of the world, revealed and summed up in Christ, and displayed in the teaching, prayers and worship of the church. There are so many exhortations and declarations of His bountiful blessings to His own, that anyone who is alive in Christ will not help but to have his affections stirred as he reads and meditates upon this Epistle.
It is the peculiar error of the church in this past century, that having forgotten God, it has become so subjective and egocentric. Ephesians lifts us out of our human or vertical plane of perception and carries us to the heights, where we can observe the great panorama of our personal salvation from beginning to end. From this vantage point we can better understand the array of particular details which have taken place in the course of our own Christian walk of faith. Like the salvation experience it describes, the Epistle of Ephesians does not start with man and ascend to God, but rather begins in eternity past before there was anything but God. We find that everything that God has purposed in predestining us to salvation from eternity past, He has carried out in Christ. God determines the timing that everything will happen, as He chooses us in Christ, calls us in Christ, and redeems us by His blood.
The Epistle moves from eternity to the here and now, as God’s purpose which He fixed in eternity is expressed in His church, as different people, with different personalities, from different nationalities and backgrounds, are yet “one in Christ.” Then it tells us all we need to know about who we are in Christ – so that, ‘having the eyes of our understanding enlightened,’ we might live our lives worthy of the name of Christ. It teaches us what life in Christ ought to look like.
With the whole world in financial disarray, wondering what their future holds, and what the outcome of the present trouble is going to be, how privileged we are to stop and stand back and see this revelation of God’s plan and purpose behind it all.
This week we begin our expedition through the verses of the epistle that has been called, ‘the crown of St. Paul ’s writings’ and ‘one of the most significant documents ever written.’ We all have our favorite books of the Bible; this was Calvin’s favorite – and for many reasons it has become mine as well. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has said, “if the Epistle to the Romans is the purest expression of the gospel, the Epistle to the Ephesians is the sublimest and most majestic expression of it. This week I would encourage you to read the book of Ephesians once through to get an overview of its themes, and then read it again and begin to grasp its directive. As you read take note of repeated words and themes of mystery, glory, riches, and redemption.