Ephesians

Keep Yourselves from Idols

In one of the most lovely letters written in the Bible, I John– which we will be studying during Sunday School in July–the apostle encourages us by the example of Christ that our joy may be full. And then in chapter 5:21, which is the last verse of John’s first letter, we read this remarkable little exhortation: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

We will consider this in the sermon more fully, but before we bow down to the only true God, what idols are we carrying along with us, even this morning?

All those virtues that we treasure: love, trust, hope; all of them can be turned on their head. What do we truly love, hope, and trust in during times of pain? Who do we seek when our lives are turned upside down? If any of these answers do not find their joy ultimately in the God who is righteous and just (I Jn. 1:9), then we have not heeded John’s warnings.

Brothers and sisters, as we come and confess our sins this morning, confess that you have not loved, trusted, and hoped in God as you ought. Confess that you have sought other gods before him. Confess them, and be still, and know that He is God, and there is none other before him.

Prayer: God Almighty, Father, Son, and Spirit, strengthen us today by your great mercy and transform us into the image of your own beloved Son, whom we love, trust, and hope. Amen.

We are God’s poem; His art work; N.T. Wright on Ephesians

N.T. Wright offers a simple, refreshing, and practical look at Ephesians. Here is part 1:

Jesus launched his heaven-on-earth project, and it is not going away until one day it is fully completed.–N.T. Wright

We are God’s poem; God’s art work. –N.T. Wright

The message of Ephesians is a message that will equip you to be God’s people in tomorrow’s world.’–N.T. Wright

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Jesus as lover embraces the bride in an imperfect condition. The bride is not lovable or attractive. She still needs a lot more beautification before the wedding feast. She needs to stop clinging to her past and putting aside her transgressions. As Peter Leithart observes:

Jesus’ affection for and devotion to His bride is clearly an affection for and devotion to a still-imperfect bride…Paul is not speaking of some beautiful “ideal” church, but of the bride-who-is-being-beautified. No theology of perfection can capture the wonder of this – no theology that says the perfect God can only love things like Himself. Jesus loves to make His bride like Himself, but He loves her when she is anything but.

The romance of redemption is the anti-Hollywood romance. Redemptive romance is about adorning and sanctifying the Bride by washing her with truth and wisdom (Eph. 5). Jesus is the beautifier of the Bride. He adorns her by His grace and mercy. He uplifts her and takes her from sin to glory. This is why the Bride finds Jesus to be the perfect lover. In the words of Charles Wesley:

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

Communion Meditation; Ephesians 6

Brothers and Sisters, the armor of God protects us from all the wiles of the devil and it conquers the authorities and powers. But every warrior must at some point stop and enjoy his victory. Not only does the soldier of the cross stop to feast and rejoice over the victory over his enemies, but he stops to be nourished for the battles ahead. Come and feast for Christ is our victory, come and be nourished for Christ is our strength!

Ephesians 3:14-21, Quote

Excerpt taken from my sermon (third in an eight part series) on Ephesians:

There is no doubt that the mission of the Triune God is one grounded and rooted in love. In fact, the members of the Trinity form a covenant of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. There is perfect love in the Godhead. The process of heavinifying[1] the earth calls the elect of God to reflect Trinitarian love. This love is to “be thoroughly fixed in our minds, so as to resemble a well-founded building or deeply-planted tree. The true meaning is, that our roots ought to be so deeply planted, and our foundation so firmly laid in love, that nothing will be able to shake us.”[2] If we are unstable in our affections, then we cannot see the deep, deep love of the Father to redeem the world through His son and unite the world under His beloved Son.


[1] A  expression used by few scholars like James B. Jordan, but very appropriate to describe the triune mission.

[2] John Calvin. Commentary on Ephesians 3.

Ephesians 2:11-20, Quote

Taken from my second sermon in an eight part series on Ephesians:

The Ascended Christ is conquering His enemies, so too, are we conquering enemies of Yahweh through the gospel. As the Father raised Jesus from the dead by His power, so too, He raises us from the dead. This means that Christ’s resurrection made us into a resurrected humanity. We become new Adams and New Eve’s.[1] This means that what the Old Creation/The Old Covenant humanity could not accomplish, we now in the New Creation/New Covenant can accomplish through the resurrection of Messiah. What Adam failed to conquer, we now conquer through Christ. The Old Serpent has been crushed by the Good Shepherd, who is Our Warrior/King. The salvation, which made us a new humanity, is the same salvation, which will bring creation to its ultimate restorative goal. As Peter Leithart observes, “Salvation does not cancel creation; salvation fulfills creation.”


[1] Thoughtful observations from Peter Leithart @leithart.com

Ephesians 1:3-14, Quote

Taken from my first sermon in a seven part series on Ephesians:

We cannot exercise dominion over this present world; we cannot bring the heavenly vision to earth without the Truth of the Word of Life. Civilizations have come and gone; flowers have faded; but the Word of the Lord lasts forever. Pity a nation whose foundation is not on the absolute truth of God’s revelation.

Sermons on Ephesians

Download

Ephesians: The Prosperity Gospel, Part I – from service on 07.12.2009
Sermon, Uri Brito, “Ephesians: The Prosperity Gospel, Part I”, Ephesians 1:3-14


Download

Ephesians: A United Humanity in Christ, Part II – from service on 07.19.2009
Sermon, Uri Brito, “Ephesians: A United Humanity in Christ, Part II”, Ephesians 2:11-22


Download

Ephesians: The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, Part III – from service on 07.26.2009
Sermon, Uri Brito, “Ephesians: The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, Part III,” Ephesians 3:14-21

Summary of Ephesians

My study through Ephesians leads me one simple conclusion. This is a conclusion reached by James Jordan long before N.T. Wright ever came into the scene. Ephesians teaches that the gospel is much greater than individual salvation or forgiveness (though this is strongly included in Ephesians), but the mystery of the gospel is as Peter Leithart summarizes:

The mystery of the gospel, God’s secret now openly told in the gospel, has to do with the union of all things in heaven and earth in Christ; it has to do with the union of the heavenly people (Jews) and the earthly people (Gentiles) into one new man who stretches between heaven and earth.