Monday, January 10, 2011

Ephesians: God Invites Us In

In my talk yesterday, I introduced a new teaching series that will be happening on Sundays for the next eight weeks, going through the biblical book of Ephesians.

The plan is to read through the entire book individually and together on Sundays. If you were at ECV on Sunday, you got an Ephesians Study Guide with the full text divided by week and some space for some notes as you study. If you weren't there, you can access and download the study guide online. Download it, print it out, mark it up; get your hands into the text.

In addition to the study guide, over at the ECV Bible Guide, we'll have a daily portion of the week's chapter with some specific questions to think about, suggestions for prayer—things to take directly to God. Today's bible guide is below, so you can get a sense of what that's about. Know also that you can sign up to have that guide sent to your inbox every day; just head over to and enter your email address in the spot in the sidebar on the right.

My hope is that, as we each read individually, it'll really inform our time together on Sundays—I want to experiment a bit with a more interactive format for at least a little bit of our time on Sundays, so that we learn from one another. My assumption is that God will be speaking to each of us as we encounter Him in Ephesians.

So, let's dig in, ask the tough questions, listen carefully for God's voice, and be changed in God's presence.

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 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, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Questions to Consider
  • Who is the primary actor in this passage? (Who is the subject of most of the verbs?)
  • Three times (vv. 1, 3, 4), the author uses the phrase “in Christ” (this phrase is used some 20 times in Ephesians, including 7 times in this chapter). What does this mean? How ought we imagine this? (spatially? figuratively (if so, how)? some other way?)
  • Where in your life do you see the spiritual blessings God has given you?
  • What does it mean to you that God chose you before the foundation of the world?
  • What would it look like to “be holy and blameless” before God? (“Holy” means “set apart.”) How is that different from what your life looks like now?

Possibilities for Prayer

“Chosenness” is a tricky idea for a lot of people. Often we can wonder whether we are “chosen” at the expense of someone else not being chosen. Just sticking within the text in front of us, Ephesians doesn’t seem to worry much about folks that aren’t chosen. For Ephesians, this much is clear: “we” were chosen. God thought of us—thought of you—before the world was founded, and has offered you every spiritual blessing in heaven. Have you accepted these gifts? Have you accepted your adoption as a child of God? Why not pause and ask God what it might look like for you to walk into those blessings and into that adoption?

Does your life reflect an abundance of spiritual blessing and a regular awareness of your adoption as a child of God? I wonder if we would experience more of those good things if we lived into the holy, blameless life that God desires for us. How could your life be more plainly “set apart” for God, dedicated to His purposes? Pray for the conviction of God’s Spirit to show you where you can walk in greater obedience to God’s will.

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