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May 3, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit begins the series entitled “New Life in Christ,” with a message titled “Introduction to Ephesians,” from Ephesians 4:31-33.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today on The Daily Platform. Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University will begin a study series from Ephesians entitled new life in Christ. Steve has written a study booklet for the series.
If you would like to follow along.
You can order a printed copy from the website. The Daily Platform.com today.
Steve will walk us through an introduction to the book of Ephesians in chapters 3 and four.
I'd like to invite your attention this morning. Please to the book of Ephesians Ephesians chapter 3 this morning. Ephesians 3. Our theme this semester is entitled new life in Christ as study in Ephesians is actually Ephesians chapter 4 verse 17 to the end of the chapter verse 32. But we're going to take time over the next two weeks to deal with the book of Ephesians as a whole. An introduction to Ephesians and then understanding the message of Ephesians so that when we come to the context in chapter 4 beginning in verse 17 will have a greater sense a greater understanding and really a greater appreciation for what it is. Apostle Paul is calling us to do. If you are able to see the eclipse this past August 26. You probably experience what most of us felt and that was a sense of amazement of all, and excitement, in part, we were amazed simply because we've never seen that before. In other words, it wasn't a normal everyday experience man should question this morning.
Have you ever considered what would calls an angel to be amazed. I mean think about it. What is the normal daily experience of an angel in the Bible. Angels are mentioned over 1500 times. They are very powerful and very influential beings who are God's servants listen to what they did they make world changing announcements. They fight with demonic hosts.
They fly throughout the universe at lightning speed.
They watch history unfold in real time. They praise and worship God in a heavenly choir of 100 million Angels. Could you imagine what that would be like, they are actively involved in daily protecting and comforting the people of God and most of the time.
All of this is done while operating is God's invisible agents. So if all these things are normal for angels than what would calls them to be amazed, and that's what we find out in the book of Ephesians because in Ephesians.
It tells us that God is doing something in the world that causes them to stand in all and what is that. Let's read beginning in Ephesians 3 versus seven down to verse 10. I'll make notes as we read Paul says wherefore whereof I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given him to me by the effectual working of his power that is by God's power. Paul was called to be a preacher on the me who am less than the least of all Saints, is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles. Notice the word Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery that's very important, which from the beginning of the world have been hidden in God who created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent or here is why God has kept it a mystery but now he is revealing that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places. Who are the principalities and powers we read later own.
Ephesians 6 that it's worth going to angel so here he says it is to this intent that now unto the angels might be known by, or literally through the church manifold wisdom of God is what Paul is saying in essence that he was called to reveal a mystery through the preaching of the gospel is a mystery that had been hidden for ages and had been hidden from the Angels. However, this mystery is now being unfolded. It is now being revealed, and it is being watched by the Angels in real time, and they are all because they are observing the many sided, multifaceted, diversely rich wisdom of God. They are stun they are all they are amazed. So what is this mystery that leaves the Angels so amazed was we seek to understand this mystery and in particular how it relates to our theme this semester. Our new life in Christ.
I want to begin this morning with a little background check to the book of Ephesians before we move for just some very simple things about the city of Ephesus and the believers. There will begin with the city of Ephesus. Do you know where Ephesus is located day you heard of it but where is it well is located today what we know is modern day Turkey today. Ephesus no longer exists as a city it is primarily in ancient ruins. However, even though they're in ruins. It is a prime is a premier tourist site that has over a million visitors coming every year I've been to the ruins of Ephesus.
I think I've been there three times and they are spectacular. In ancient times. Ephesus used to have a harbor there in the city right on the Aegean Sea coast. But over time that harbor filled out because of silt that was deposited into the harbor by the Castro River. So currently the city of Ephesus is about 6 km from the Aegean Sea coast, which is about 3 1/2 miles during biblical times. Ephesus was a very large city, the fourth largest in the Western world only behind Rome, Alexandria and Antioch.
It boasted of a population of 250,000 people and it was the capital of the Roman province of Asia just it put picture in your mind if you take the country of Turkey.
Asia was the province on the far western side of the country so when we say upstate South Carolina you could look at it is that region area, not Ephesus was most well known as a religious center. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Diana was located in the heart of the city. The Temple may have been the largest building in the world and that day it stood 200 feet wide and 400 feet long. So just picture the soccer field here at alumni Stadium. That's about the size of the width and the length of the of the building. The building had 127 columns that stood 60 feet tall. Many of the columns were overlaid with gold. And on top of the columns. There was a large roof so you can only imagine the size of the of this building in the middle of the temple there was a statue dedicated to the goddess Diana, who was the Roman goddess of fertility and hunt and every year they would have an annual festival that they estimate that 1/2 a million worship, worshipers would come to pay homage to Diana so it was a very, very important focal point of the entire city. So what about the church of Ephesus. What was that like when we go back and reread the book of acts. In particular, we read that the apostle Paul visited the city of Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey. If you remember the apostle Paul in his first missionary journey, went to the region of what we know as Galatia. His second journey he went through Galatia with the intention of going to Ephesus, but God redirected him to go across the a GNC to the country of Greece where he went to the towns of Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Berea and end in Athens.
So, on his second missionary journey trip. He was coming back to Jerusalem and he stopped in Ephesus and he dropped off to friends, a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila. They were Jews converted could come to current from the city of Rome and admit Paul there. This couple stayed and they were instrumental in instructing a great preacher named Apollo's commemorative Apollo's Apollo's was a believer, but he didn't understand Christian baptism. He only understood John the Baptist, baptism, and so they instructed him in a more accurate way of understanding God's word will Paul later returned to the city of Ephesus on his third missionary journey and he stayed there for around three years, preaching and teaching the gospel in his ministry there was both very fruitful and at the same time it was fraught with many dangers. He started out as is normal process of preaching in the Jewish synagogue. He was there for three months, preaching and teaching disputing arguing going through the Old Testament, explaining that Jesus is the Messiah. During that time. Some of the disciples of the John the Baptist were taught the full gospel, and they receive the Holy Spirit. However, the Jewish people began to mount a resistance against Paul and so we left the synagogue with the new converts and he went next door to the school of Tyrannosaurus in the school.
As far as we know, which is simply a private school and this is very important. It is right here that Paul begins to focus his attention on reaching the Gentiles.
Now we look at our study this semester we look at Ephesians 4 in verse 17. Look at what it says it says this I say therefore and testify in the Lord that you henceforth walk not is other Gentiles. The apostle Paul was reaching unconverted. He even was the impact of his preaching and teaching in acts chapter 19 verse 10 it says this and this is an amazing statement that the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks, God was working in such a powerful way that the gospel spread throughout the entire region of Asia. It went so far that it went to.
Even the city of Colossae where one of Paul's converts name Pappas went and started a church and began to reach the Colossian believers and what we see here is the ever widening ever-expanding circle and scope of the gospel and I believe this with all of my heart that when we are committed to the gospel. I mean really dedicated to it and we are engaged in the great commission that we should have an ever widening ever-expanding circle and scope of gospel influence that is this, that if God is really at work, then we should be now in the world, spreading the gospel and because of that people get saved and churches are started and churches are strengthened and revitalized. I think it was student body like Bob Jones University with 2500 students, we are really serious about the gospel. If we really believe the gospel, not just in the head, not just with the mouth, but with the heart, then the then there should be an ever widening ever-expanding circle where we are reaching out all over the upstate of South Carolina and in the North Carolina and into Georgia with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's what we should be doing.
One result of the conversion of the Gentiles with the fact that they began to forsake their paganism. For example, the Ephesians burned so many books of magic and we read about this next 19 that the value was equal 50,000 pieces of silver one piece of silver was one day's wage for an average laborer and you can do the math that's the equivalent to 140 years pay for an ordinary labor. That's what was happening. There was a separation going own from their paganism and the result of these new believers were announcing their idol worship began to endanger the local economy of Ephesus centered around the Temple of Diana, and what happened was that there was an idol maker named Demetrius, who incited a city riot against Paul because his own business was being affected by the preaching of the gospel that say to you that the purpose of the gospel is to save the soul, but when the gospel begins to transform the heart begins to transform society do you want to be a part of changing the world. One of the wonderful things about college students is your life is in front of you. God gives you dreams.
One of the great dreams as being a part of something that changes the world were living in will how do we do that we do that to the gospel. People are changed inside out and it changes society's it turns drunkards into sober people and prostitutes in the pure people it takes people living in ignorance and darkness and have no desire for knowledge and give them up first in a passion for the knowledge of God's word. It changes people he changes marriages. It changes families.
It changes lives. But when the gospel is preached. People get glad.
But some people get mad goes on all the time.
There will always be in reaction to the truth as of the church of Ephesus was in the center. This hub this perfect place to have an impact on the world and they were they up.
They were a significant church they had very notable pastors like Timothy and later on the apostle John. So question when is the church of Ephesus last mentioned in the Bible when is it mentioned in the last book of the Bible.
What is that book the Revelation and is mentioned as one of the seven churches of Asia that Jesus speaks to about the about the end times on his second coming. So that leads me to the last thing this morning and that is the letter itself. What we call the correspondence to the Ephesians. Now according Ephesians chapter 1 verse one is very clear that Paul was the rider of this letter. Look at what it says in verse one of Ephesians 1, Paul and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God to the saints, which would Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Now where was Paul when he wrote this letter will if you have your Bibles. And if you look at the very end of the book you have chapter 6, verse 24. You'll notice a little note at the end of it. This is written from Rome unto the Ephesians by bike actually pronounced to cook us so we know that this letter was written from Rome. Why Rome will look at chapter 6 and verse 20 Paul says, for which I am an ambassador in bonds.
What is that mean means Paul was imprisoned so this was a letter written while he was imprisoned in the city of Rome. Do you know of any other letters that Paul wrote we call them the prison epistles so you have Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, in the book of Philemon.
Just think of those books, how many times do we as believers read those books not only for instruction but for encouragement and strength and comfort.
Paul was suffering, yet through his suffering. We are being strengthened. So why did he write the letter. What motivated him well when you read Philippians in Colossians and Philemon is generally due because of certain issues or certain problems going on in the church.
But the book of Ephesians. As far as we know, there was no known or notable problem that motivated him to write this letter. Therefore Paul wrote to teach and instruct the believers in something and it's extremely important and what was it that makes this book so special and so unique will of the 21 New Testament letters Ephesians is the only letter where the focus is on God the father as the primary subject. In other words, Ephesians is about what God the father is doing and specifically it's what he is doing for his son and what is he doing for the son. That's what we call the mystery. The book of Ephesians is about revealing a mystery that had been hid in the past but is now unveiled in the present and what is that mystery.
Three things I want to say about the mystery number one. The first thing is this that God the father is preparing for God the son a bride God the father is preparing for God the son a bride and what we call that bride. It's the church of Jesus Christ. Look at Ephesians 532. He says this is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and his church. That's what God is doing in the world. If you want to know what God is doing in the world. Ephesians tells us he is preparing for his son a bride and that bride is the church of Jesus Christ.
The second point I want to make about the mystery is that this bride or this body called the church is inclusive of believing Jews and Gentiles. Not just a word about the Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were the descendents of Abraham. God made a promise. We call a covenant with Abraham and promised that his family would be blessed, and they would be a blessing to the world and that blessing by the way is the coming of Jesus. Every male descendent. Every Jew showed that they were God's chosen people because they were circumcised, so their name or call the circumcised, but what about the Gentiles the Gentiles were the descendents not of Abraham. Specifically, but of no life in general and they were divided by God at the Tower of Babel and that's where we have the nations of the earth coming from Genesis 1039 these are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations in their nations. The word nation. There is a Hebrew word gleam for which as we get the word Gentile, and by these were the nations dividing the earth after the flood. The name came to mean. He then unenlightened and idol worshipers and they were called by the Jews. The final circumcised is a term of derision and the Jews view the Gentiles as depraved in nature and enslaved in sin.
Paul says the Gentiles were aliens and strangers to God's covenant.
They had no Messiah. They had no hope. They were without God in this world and here's what Paul is saying what God did is he brought them the gospel, the Gentiles were redeemed to God through the blood of Jesus Christ and what did God do for the Gentiles. He made them citizens of God's kingdom and he made the members of God's family. A look at Ephesians 3 in verse four through six and we see this is what Paul says whereby when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, appalls the revealer the mystery which in other ages was not made known of the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. So God kept it a secret. In the Old Testament, revealing in the New Testament and here it is. Verse six that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. So what's the mystery. It is the inclusion of the Gentiles into this body we call the church. Now let me say to you this morning.
If you are not Jewish, then your Gentile in this room really ought to be believed. I Jews. We got Gentiles. So if you are not a descendent of Abraham.
If you don't have Jewish background in you that everybody is a Gentile.
Now you may be a European, Gentile, or you may be an Asian, Gentile, or you may be an African, Gentile, or you may be a Gentile from the islands.
But if you're not a Jew, your Gentile if your Gentile you and you are a Christian. It means because God is been merciful to you and he has brought you into his plan. His plan is called the church and at least me to the third point and that is this that the spiritual division that once existed between Jews and Gentiles is now removed and the two groups. That is, Jew and Gentile, have become a new humanity, who are united together in one body, the church of Jesus Christ go back to chapter 2 in verse 11 we see what Paul says explains in here when he read it to wherefore remember that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh who are called on circumcision.
That's a term of derision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands that think about it. Jews had basically names for the Gentiles, that does not make for good relationships. Verse 12 that it that that at that time the Gentiles you are without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who were sometimes for all are made nigh by the blood of Christ of the Gentiles now, or may close to God. Verse 14 for he, Christ is our peace, who have made both one that's Jews and John Gentiles. He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us.
Verse 15 have an having abolished in his splash. That's by his death, the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances for to make in himself up to claim another to Jews and Gentiles watch this one new man, so making peace were 16 and that he might reconcile both Jews and Gentiles under God in one body by the cross. So what's he saying what's the mystery he's brought Jews in Gentiles separate and he is made them more wine in a new body, a new humanity that is called the church of Jesus Christ. That's what God is doing in the world and God has created this unity, but this is a group that is as much diverse city because they come from tribes, tongues and nations is bringing them into this one body and this body needs to come together in solidarity, which is an agreement in your feelings and actions and that is a commitment together to Jesus Christ. So how does that fit with our thing because in Ephesians chapter 4 in verse 17 he writes, and he says to the Gentiles.
I want you to live differently than the way that you used to live in your choices and your relationships.
I want you to expand in your understanding of the father's love for you. I want you to grow and that love by the way, a change live always starts with a comprehension and an understanding of the of the contours of God's love for his children. The breath the link. The depth height.
In other words were overwhelmed with God's love, which is the great motivation for us to live for him because if we love him. Then we keep his commandments.
And so he writes to these Gentiles and he says be overwhelmed and grow in God's love and then begin to live out your faith in your choices and live out this new life that you have in Christ.
That's what our theme is all about living that out is Gentiles in the world today so this is the mystery that amazes the Angels. I wonder how many of them say why. Let's pray father, thank you for your word and thank you for what you are doing in real time and converting Jews and Gentiles and bringing them into one body called the church father I pray that you will help us to have solidarity in our fitment to Christ and especially as Gentiles living out the security that comes in the life of a believer who loves Jesus Christ. We ask this in his name. Amen. You been listening to a sermon from Ephesians chapter 4 the sermon as part of the study series called new life in Christ by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform