Ephesians 1:1-3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing gin the heavenly places,

Sermon Transcript:

Morning everybody invite you to take your bibles to the book of Ephesians if you have one of these little babies Uh, you can use that i’m going to be using that this morning. It is as as Roland already mentioned the scripture journal of the book of Ephesians And as many of you did during our series through the book of acts Hope you’ll get a hold of one of these And be reading through Ephesians writing down your notes in the margin um Really looking forward to this series.

Um, it is a new series and today we’re going to look at the theme of the letter uh next week, uh, we’re going to be going back and Giving us some historical context of what’s going on what’s happening Um why that matters but today I just would like to introduce the book’s theme and the book’s theme is the life Jesus gives you Um in the scripture journal There is a an outline here.

I think we can bring up that slide that is in each of these that we put together It basically leads you through the three sections of the book of Ephesians Which talk about the life that Jesus gives us first of all the wealth It talks about the riches that we are given as believers. It talks about our wealth in chapters 1 through 3 Who you are and what you have Because of Jesus Christ, of being in Jesus.

Then we’re going to look at the walk. And that is chapter 4, down to the middle of chapter 6. How we should live in Jesus. It actually begins in chapter 4, verse 1. It says, now in light of who you are, live like it. Now, uh, live these realities out in your life. And gets into the very practical part of the book and day to day experience.

And then the last part of the book of Ephesians talks about the war. The opposition that we face. In Jesus. And we’re going to be following that through. Dave Merck, uh, who did a family life seminar here about a month ago, Um, is a missionary to Brazil. He’s also a Bible teacher there. And, excuse me, when he was here, he taught us some hand motions that, uh, he has used in teaching through the book of Ephesians.

And they were, they were really good. And Pastor Jared has been teaching the book of Ephesians in youth groups. and has taught the youth these motions. In a moment, we’re going to have Jared and the students present those to us. We’re going to be trying to teach you those as we go through the series.

Today, we’re just using the video to introduce them to you, but if you look also at the logo, logo, logo, logo, I wanted to say logos, uh, the logo that is associated with this series. All of those hand motions are there. But I’d like to have you watch this little video put together by our young people, most of whom are on the winter retreat this weekend, so we can’t rave on them, but they did a super job presenting an overview in 60 seconds of the book of Ephesians using hand motions to help us remember it.

Here it is. Here’s a quick summary for Ephesians. Salutations, a unique Christian greeting for both Jews and Gentiles. Adoration, praising God for our spiritual blessings in Christ. Intercession, prayer to understand the blessings we have received. Salvation, by grace through faith, not by our own doing.

Reconciliation, to God and between Jews and Gentiles. Proclamation, with the mystery revealed that Jews and Gentiles are co heirs in Christ. Intercession, for love and power through faith. Christ Jesus, walking in unity, walking in holiness, walking in love, walking in life, walking in wisdom, walking in family, walking in the workplace, standing in the victory.

Final greetings of grace and peace. They did good, didn’t they? And I forgot to mention. If you had been, if you had had this outline, they led us right through the outline, all the scripture text is there. We’ll see that again as we go through the series, I’m sure. The theme of the letter is Paul is writing to this church and actually local churches around them.

It is a general letter, which means, though it is addressed to the church at Ephesus, it clearly was designed to be a letter that is used in other churches. As well. And in this letter he talks about the life that Jesus gives us, and I’d like to read verses one through three of chapter one by way of introduction this morning, and look at what he introduces us right out of the gate about this life that is found in Jesus.

Ephesians chapter one verses one through three. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God, our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

We’re gonna stop there, and that’s what we’re gonna talk about this morning, but first I’d like to, to pray.

Lord, we do come to you, the Holy One. Even as we sang about earlier. We come to you, the one that is unique, spectacular, set apart, and God we come delighting to hear you speak into our lives the truths of what we have in this life that Jesus has given to us. So, Lord, as we embark on this series, I commit this series to you, of all the pastors that will be preaching, of all the studies and sermons that we present, Lord, may ultimately they cause us to fall more in love with Jesus Christ.

We might adore you more. That we might worship you more, Lord Jesus, for the life that you came to provide for us, in which now we are allowed and enabled to live out through you. Guide us to that truth this morning, I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Paul starts his letter after introducing himself in verse 3 with this statement, 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. It’s an interesting way to start a letter, right? I mean, it’s an interesting way to say, uh, God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, more than you could ever imagine.

And so it begs the question, what is a blessing? What does that mean? Because, founded in this, is going to be these three chapters, talking about this life that we have been given. And he says, these are blessings that I’m going to be talking about. And these are going to be the blessings that you are empowered then, to live out your life on the horizontal level in chapters four through six.

So what is a blessing? Well, we use the word blessing in a variety of ways. We use it to wish somebody, in the sense of wishing somebody well. Somebody sneezes and somebody says, bless you. You know where that comes from? It actually comes, most people believe, from the, um, Seasoned in the Roman era with the bubonic plague as it swept through when people would sneeze it was a sign that they probably had caught the disease and someone would would say Bless you and the sense of it was may God help you may God protect you that it was a well wishing statement We use the word, this is more, um, probably in the South.

A term of empathy. Well, bless your heart. Why you really tried out there, bless your heart. It’s like someone giving a big hug. You know, here it would be God looking down on people and saying, Why, they’re just a mess. Bless their heart. Uh, poor pitiful things. There’s a third way we use it. You hear athletes say this all the time.

After having a good game, how are you able to play? Well, I’m just blessed, man. Just blessed. You know, God’s blessed me. That’s actually the closest of the three, but it actually means much more than that. The word bless, and it’s used three times in verse three, is a combination of two words in the original.

The word well, And the word, to speak. It is speaking well. To, when it says, first of all, Blessed be God. It means, praise be God. Speak well of God. I see God’s glory is all in this. But then it says, God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. God gives us things that are well spoken of, that are good things, that are profitable things.

As a matter of fact, what he says is We are blessed with all things that are good, and that are profitable. It is an absolute statement. Everything your soul could need and long for, every single blessing imaginable is given to you in this life that I am going to remind you of in this letter, Paul says. I want you to know right at the beginning, this God that we bless, that we speak well of, has given you every spiritual blessing that you need.

These blessings are a description of the life that Jesus gives to us. And there are three things about this life that I’d like to just highlight here in this intro sermon. Where this life is found, what this life is, and how you know if you have this life. Where this life is found, well in verse 3 it makes it clear, these blessings are found in Jesus.

It says in That phrase is used 35 times in the book of Ephesians. It’s used in verse 3, in Christ. In verse 4, it says, in him, talking of Christ. In verse 6, in the beloveds, talking of Christ. In verse 7, in him, and 31 other times. Our connection in Jesus is the focus. It is not just when you receive Jesus, you get Jesus as your King, that you get Him as a King to obey, as a Lord to follow, as a Savior to love.

He says, you are actually put into Him. You are in Jesus. That means two things. Number one, it means that you are in Jesus legally. In Romans, excuse me, in 1st Corinthians chapter 15, verse 22, it says this, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. There are two spiritual families on planet Earth.

It’s always been that way, ever since the Garden of Eden. The family of Adam and the family of Christ. Whatever is true of your ancestor, Adam, or your ancestor, Christ, is true of you. In Romans chapter 5, it says if you are united with Adam, you are united with him in his spiritual death. You also are separated from God.

That all the realities that were true of Adam in his, his, his post, uh, rebellion state. That’s where we are, but then he says in Romans chapter 6, but there’s another identity you can be in Christ your lineage your ancestry spiritually now is taken from Adam to Jesus and Romans chapter 6 says you now share and are united with Jesus in his resurrection.

That he experienced spiritual eternal death for you, and you are now in him as you have been raised from judgment and condemnation. Here’s what it means to be in Christ. God treats you as just as free from condemnation as if you died on the cross. As if you experienced eternal punishment for your sins.

And now stand in complete acceptance with God, just as Jesus does. He says, in Jesus, all Jesus medals are pinned to your chest. That you stand in Him. And what is true of Jesus is true of you in your standing with God. If you haven’t embraced Jesus as your Savior, you are in, where all humanity begins, you are in Adam.

In a state of separation from God, under condemnation of sin. We are in Jesus legally, he says. And so you have all the blessings that come because of this life that you now have experienced in Christ. But you are also in Jesus vitally. Every spiritual benefit is in you by His Spirit dwelling in you. The Holy Spirit is living within you.

The very life of Jesus is within you through His Spirit. You’ll spend your whole life, your eternal life, living out these benefits that He’s talking about here. As He says, every spiritual blessing is yours because you are in Christ.

This transpired, not as a process, but as a moment of time. Many people today, if you ask them, are they a Christian? Or, uh, uh, uh, do you know God? Well, I’m trying to be a Christian. I’m trying to get there. I’m doing my best. Doing these things. But the issue is, you are either in Jesus, or not. You’re either in Jesus, Or you are in Adam, in that state of separation.

You are in Jesus, you are either adopted into God’s family through Jesus, or not. You are either forgiven, or not. You are either justified, or not. You are either born again, or not. It is not a, a process. It is a moment of time in which this takes place. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a spectacular moment.

It doesn’t, it actually doesn’t mean that there isn’t, for some people, a, a, a seeming journey. But there is still that moment of time. I remember reading the story of C. Everett Koop, the, the Surgeon General of the United States. And at the time he was a doctor at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. And when he was there, his wife would drag him on Sunday nights, that was his word, to church, um, at the 10th Presbyterian Church, where a great preacher was named Donald Gray Barnhouse.

And Everett Koop tells the story of going week after week, and he said, I found myself disagreeing with virtually everything the man had to say. But then he recounts that after a year, a year and a half, he said, I found myself saying, I agree with everything he’s saying. He said, intellectually, I became convinced and began to acknowledge that my own life reflected the condition of humanity that was being portrayed.

Eventually, he says, at some point, and he says, I can’t remember when. I don’t remember which sermon series I was listening to. I don’t remember the circum, but I, there was this moment when it all became clear to me and I knew that I had embraced, and he says this, I stopped trusting in myself to be able to earn my way to God at some point.

I trusted in what Jesus did for me, and I accepted Jesus as my Savior and my Lord. The point is, that there was a point, there was a moment when, when it came clear to him. He wasn’t sure when that was. He just knew that he had passed from being, if you will, in Adam, to being in Christ. That he now belonged to Christ, that God’s forgiveness was his, and he had experienced that reality in his life.

There is a point. You are either in or out. At some point, that may change. But becoming in Christ is a moment in your life, and at that moment, Life is received by grace and what he’s saying here all these spiritual blessings I’m going to talk about are for the individual that has changed their standing some of them may have been very religious very dogmatic in their going to church and zealous But they still have never embraced Christ as Savior and Lord.

They still are in Adam. But there’s that point when they cross over and it is then that these spiritual blessings become available in Christ. The second thing is, the second question is, what this life is. And here, verse 3, looks ahead. Now, remember who’s writing this letter, right? This is a guy named Paul.

Here’s his heritage. Paul was an individual who had, in his religious fanaticism, killed people. He would later, after embracing Jesus into his life as Savior, he would spend lots of times, and a lot of time with relatives and friends, of people. Whose relatives and friends he had seen executed and had been part of making that happen or had seen them financially socially Devastated he spent time with those people the self loathing and guilt must have been deep and excruciating for Paul He did not exaggerate when in one of his letters he said I am the, literally, number one, it’s actually the word protost, I am the foremost of sinners.

Some versions say I am the chief of sinners. It actually means, literally, I am number one sinner. Nobody could be worse than me. So how is Paul able to, to live with and deal with that reality in his life? It is the blessings, it is the identity, it is the sense of what it means to stand in Christ and to imbibe the, the, the drink of, of this standing that I have in Christ.

illustrate to you a couple because what Paul is going to do in verse 3 through 14 He’s going to do in a few other passages in this book and he does many times in the New Testament But here is one of the lengthiest ones He is going to talk about some of those every blessing that are available to the child of God.

And I just want to sort of whet your appetite. I’m just going to mention two of them that he talks about here. Just to try to say, this is just two of the blessings. There are blessings that he describes in this passage. There are other blessings he will describe in the remainder of the book. There are other blessings he will talk about in the New Testament.

There are other blessings, undoubtedly, that are not in the Scripture, that God knows are ours, that Maybe we couldn’t comprehend them right now. But he says, every blessing has been given to you that your soul could possibly desire or need. Here’s just a couple. He says in verse 4, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons.

Through Jesus, being in Jesus, God adopted us into His family as His kids. Well, that means some amazing things. It means, first of all, we have access to God that we didn’t have before. Jesus makes God your father. You’re his child, not just a servant or a worker or a citizen of his kingdom, but his child.

With the intimacy of the access that you have, a claim on him as your father that you never had before, he becomes your dad, your Abba, if you will, as scripture describes it. We have access to God. There is investment from God as his adopted child. He talks about how He disciplines his kids how he shows his love.

He says in a variety of passages by bringing things into their lives to change us, to train us, to shape us. He does that because we’ve been adopted into his family, and then he gives us an inheritance. You’ll notice in verse 4, he makes an interesting statement. He says, God the Father adopted us to himself as sons.

Now, why did Paul say this? As sons? I mean, is it a sexist statement? Why not use a neutral general gender statement? Neutral gender statement. Why emphasize it as sons? He does it intentionally. In the Roman Empire at this time, women had almost no capacity to inherit. There were some exceptions, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is why many, uh, fathers, if they didn’t have a son, they would adopt one.

So they had one, they could be sure they could pass on their, their inheritance to And Paul is emphasizing, God adopted us as ones who are guaranteed his inheritance. He even go, he talks about the fact that, that those who enter his family, enter as full heirs. The new heavens and the new earth that are one day coming, they’re yours.

If you stand in Christ, you’ll be able to walk on a cosmos that is the Garden of Eden, extended throughout the entire cosmos. He says that’s part of your inheritance, but you’ve already got a down payment. It’s described in verse 14. That down payment is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. He says the Holy Spirit, what is He?

He’s the down payment of the inheritance you’re going to get. Just a picture of what God is willing to give to us. That’s just, we’re adopted. He also says in verse 7, as just a second example of these blessings, we’re redeemed. In Him we have redemption through Jesus blood. I read recently of a guy that was in New York City, and he was telling the story of how he didn’t know the city too well, and he left his car, In a place that he thought was okay to park, and it turned out it wasn’t okay to park.

And he went back to get his car, and his car had been, uh, towed and was now impounded. And I was reading the story, and the guy was, right, sharing it in a humorous way, but the thing that caught my attention was he talked about where he went to. And he went to a place that was called the Redemption Center.

You actually had to pay your fine. To get your car out of the enslavement, captivity. It’s held there, it’s impounded. He couldn’t get his car back without paying the price. Jesus Christ provided a way that people could be free from the enslavement. Of sin in its penalty and its power now the interesting thing is almost every religion of the world perceives humans as in Enslavement, I remember reading of gandhi talking about this and he was actually commending.

christianity Even though he, he, he was a practicing Hindu. But he, he talked about how Christianity really helped with the enslavement of people. And by that he was saying, you know, he said both Eastern and Western religions agree at this point. That there is this enslavement. We’re slaves to selfishness.

We’re slaves to our ego. And Gandhi felt that Christianity provided a way for us to overcome our enslavement through Christ. But it was in this way. It was by way of example. That Jesus Christ came, and he said he was the great example of living a selfless life, an egoless life. That Jesus showed us how to be freed by forgiving others, by loving others, by serving others, even dying for others.

And Gandhi basically said, if you follow Jesus You’ll be free. The problem is it doesn’t work. Matter of fact, the more you come alongside of Jesus Christ And look at his life and say the man was not ruled by selflessness of selfishness The man wasn’t ruled by self absorption and pride and unkindness and ego It doesn’t make you say therefore.

I’ll be that guy. It makes you feel I can’t be that guy it actually reveals How enslaved we are. We don’t find liberation from our enslavement. By looking at the life of Jesus, we see it by embracing the death of Jesus. What liberates us is what He did for us in His death. That He paid the penalty for us.

He redeems. He adopts. And countless other blessings are provided to help the child of God see God has been about this process, even from eternity past, to place you in this new standing in Jesus Christ. See who you are. See what you have. See the life, the blessings. So how do you know if you have received this life?

It’s an interesting phrase that’s mentioned in verses 3 through 14. As the person is looking at these blessings that have been provided for us, Paul keeps saying this at the end of each section, to the praise of God’s glory, to the praise of God’s glory. You see all of this with The lens that Paul did, if you have embraced Christ as your life.

You don’t just believe in grace, you’re stunned by it. You are enthralled by grace. You know you are getting what you don’t deserve in grace. You know that you are enslaved, separated. Set apart from God, you know it’s your own fault and your own sins. But the story of someone sacrificing themself for you is mesmerizing.

Because it’s not earned or deserved, it’s to the praise of His glory. Within us there is the awareness that such action is the greatest expression of love and grace. There’s no more powerful moral messaging, no more impactful story than to hear of someone loving others enough to die for them. Someone like Harry Potter’s mom, Lily, who gave her life to protect her boy and then later when Harry is talking to Dumbledore and saying, why can’t the enemy Voldemort, why can’t he destroy me?

And he says, your mother’s love rescued you. You’re reading through the book as a 60 year old and say, yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector in World War II. They made a movie about him called Hacksaw Ridge. Great movie, actually. And it’s the story of a guy that was a conscientious objector, but he felt compelled to go to World War II.

And he ended up getting in a company, which is a company of 130 to 150 soldiers. Captain is over it, and as a conscientious objector, he was unwilling to carry a rifle, certainly would not use a rifle. And so he went in the medical corps, but they still wanted them to carry rifles, and he would not. And so, everybody in his company were angry with him, were frustrated with him.

Even his captain, the one that was over the company, was constantly belittling him, because he thought, this is not the guy that’s going to have our back. He’s a wimp, he’s not strong, he’s fearful, and all these things. And Desmond Doss stood his ground, and they actually went to the island of Okinawa, and it’s a true story, the movie depicts it.

There was a cliff called Hacksaw Ridge. It was almost straight up and down, and on top of it was a plateau where the enemy were encamped, and they had to take the plateau because it gave them, elevated ground for all of the areas on the island, so they had to take this ridge. So the company was taken up, they were, they were on the ridge, and they were decimated by the enemy.

They were just overwhelmed. And so the ones that could escape back down the ridge got ropes, but many of them had been riddled to pieces. And one of those that was still there that could have escaped but did not escape was a guy named Desmond Doss. And Desmond Doss, Corporal Doss. began to go after soldiers that were wounded and incapable of getting to the edge, getting some of them hundreds of yards in.

there was enemy fire all the time. There was mortar fire. And he went back and would drag people, as some he carried on his back. He would take them to the edge, he was the only one ambulatory at the moment, and he got 75 soldiers over the course of 12 hours, that he got to the edge of this large precipice, tied him with a rope, dropped him down, and then they would bring, he would bring the rope back up and do it with another one.

At the end of the 12 hours, he, he finally went down. He couldn’t find anybody else. His body was riddled with wounds, shrapnel from mortar fire. And one of the guys that he saved was his captain. We look at a story like that of a man that is willing to rescue others at the cost to themselves. We say this is the ultimate picture of, of, of, of human beauty.

sacrifices oneself for others. What Paul is saying to us is this, Jesus Christ did that for you to secure for you eternal glory and love. He does not ask you to renovate your life or earn his grace. The life he offers is to those who say, I see my sin, my guilt, my rebellion, my pride. I see my brokenness. I see my connection to Father Adam.

I’m no different from him. A rebel living apart. I see myself lying on the battle torn plateau and I see my rescuer come. I don’t know where you are this morning, but I really felt prompted this morning as we start this series that is going to present in such beautiful, a beautiful portrayal of the Christian life as it is designed.

The life we’re given in Jesus to say to you these realities, this life that Jesus offers to people. Is found for in those that have turned from being in Adam separated from God and have embraced Jesus Christ and seen I’m a broken soldier on the field, helpless to earn my way out to get away from everlasting destruction.

My rescuer came for me. Embracing Jesus Christ moves one in a moment of time from in Adam separated. To in Christ, eternally blessed by His grace. When I received Jesus Christ as my Savior in college, was the easiest thing I ever did, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. Easy because it’s a gift, right?

I don’t have to do anything. It was offered to me, but Jesus Christ did it all for me. But I had to say, God, I come to you with, with empty hands. I come with brokenness. I come with desperation. I come as a sinner, separate. I come as one who needs a rescuer. One who would adopt me into his family. One who would, Pay the price for me to be delivered from my captivity in my lifestyle and brokenness I don’t know where you are today We’re launching into a really cool series in a really cool book

But the messaging here is ultimately for those that are in jesus. Let’s pray together lord You look in every person’s heart here in mount laurel here in collingswood Others watching online. Lord, this life that Jesus offers us is staggering in its beauty, in its grace. God, I ask as you look into the heart of each person here that your spirit would even now be prompting people saying, I had you in this room.

I had you listening to this sermon because I want to be your rescuer. I sent Jesus for you. Lord, those that you look at and see their hearts in that state, my cry is that you would draw them into surrender this morning to Jesus Christ. To say, Lord, yes, today I want to embrace Jesus Christ as my Savior.

To stand forgiven, to stand redeemed, adopted, to embrace the life that Jesus died, that I could live. With every head bowed, every eye closed this morning, maybe you hear and God is speaking into your life right now. You say, God, I want that life that Jesus Christ came to provide. I don’t deserve it? I’ll never earn it, but I humbly embrace the gift that Jesus came to die and to offer me through his death and resurrection.

If you’re like that this morning with nobody looking around but me and God, I’m just going to say, Pastor Mark, I’m lifting my hand just to say, would you pray for me that I will embrace, I want to embrace Jesus Christ as my Savior. If you’re like that this morning, would you just lift up your hand? Say yes, would you pray for me?

Lord, I pray for these hands that are raised for the souls and the lives they’re connected to. Lord, how I pray that your spirit might bring the truth of embracing Jesus Christ as Savior into their lives. That this life that Jesus gives would be theirs. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen. Every Sunday we close our service with a song and every Sunday we have people standing up from our prayer team that are here To just pray with you, anything you want to come and share, as simple or as profound a request as it might be, they would love to pray with you.

It may be that some of you that raised your hands this morning said, I’d like to have somebody pray with me about my receiving Christ as your Savior. If He prompts you to come, won’t you come as we close our service together? Thank you. Let’s stand.