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As we’ve journeyed through the book of Ephesians, the big idea is who we are in Christ and how we live that out in our daily lives. When we live out who we are in Christ in our relationships at home, at work, and with other believers, Jesus is made much of and God is glorified. By living out who we are in Christ, we make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 3:10).
We see this idea in our series theme: In Him For Him. Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with all that we are and all that we have in Him:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3
What are we In Him? Paul lists all that we are in Christ in Ephesians 1-2:
-He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
-He chose us in Him to be holy and blameless.
-He predestined us for adoption as sons for His praise.
-He has blessed us with His glorious grace.
-In Him we have redemption by His blood and the forgiveness of our trespasses.
-He has lavished His grace upon us.
-He has made known to us the mystery of His will.
-In Him we have an inheritance.
-We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is our guarantee of our inheritance.
-We can know Him, His wisdom, His power, and His immeasurable, unsearchable love.
In Chapter 3, Paul transitions from who we are in Him to how we live for Him. The mystery of the Gospel is that the Gospel is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6). The gospel, the good news, God’s grace, is for all. We can’t earn grace with any merit or qualifying attribute; nothing can earn us a place in the presence of God. By living out the Gospel, we fulfill our intended purpose and God is glorified (Ephesians 3:10).
To live out Christ in our relationships, we need to have the strength of Jesus and to be rooted and grounded in His love. The great love of Jesus is our strength (Ephesians 3:14-17). God’s love has been poured out in our hearts (Romans 5). His love is perfect, endless, and eternal – He doesn’t love us anymore today than yesterday, and His love will be the same tomorrow. Our idea of love is limited by our imperfections, so we have to be grounded and rooted in the love of God to live out all that we are in Christ.
In Chapters 4-6, Paul instructs us how we live out who we are as a new creation in Christ:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1
Paul urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.
Next he gives us a living example of what it means to stand in the Gospel:
Pray also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts. Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Ephesians 6:19-24
Paul wrote these words from prison. He was chained to a wall or a guard, imprisoned for preaching Christ. He had not broken the law or committed some heinous crime; he was simply proclaiming Jesus. This was not his first time in prison, and if he was in a Roman prison (which most experts agree), then he was imprisoned for close to two years when writing this letter. What does Paul ask for? He asked for prayer; for boldness to open his mouth and proclaim the Gospel!
Paul had the correct perspective of prayer, not as a celestial Costco where we cry out for things that will make us comfortable, but a “wartime walkie talkie” (Piper), to keep us in touch with our commander and keep us supplied with what we need for battle.
Paul’s perspective and purpose did not change in prison, his mind was on mission and his purposed remained: to preach the Gospel and encourage the saints.
To preach the Gospel
Paul suffered for Jesus endlessly; he asks for prayer as he has prayed for the saints. Paul did not let his circumstances dictate his purpose, and did not doubt God, even while in prison.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:5-10
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12
We are afflicted but our purpose does not change because our God does not change! Paul suffered well for the glory of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed Jesus through his circumstances, not despite them.
To encourage the Saints
Paul proclaims the power and presence of God. He sends his beloved brother Tychicus to communicate everything that God is doing. Paul wanted the saints to know God’s provision and to be encouraged by God’s work. He reminds them of the promises of God: peace, love, and faith. “Grace be with all” – grace is for everyone, through no merit of our own. The incorruptible love we have for Jesus is the love He gives; He wraps us with His robe of righteousness.
What do we learn from Paul?
1. None of us may ever be imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, but we will probably all find ourselves in difficult situations. Our circumstances do not dictate our purpose or calling; God is the only constant. He is the anchor to the rock that remains the same. Circumstances may change how we fulfill our calling but the calling does not change and the exhortation to walk worthy of that calling does not change.
2. When we understand who we are in Christ and that our life purpose is for Him, we are less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others – His glory become our goal. In this present life, He is the one that never changes.