Following some weeks looking at who Jesus Christ really is, let me now turn to a New Testament letter – to Ephesians 1 verse 1.
A pearl is made when a little piece of grit gets into the shell of an oyster - and it begins to irritate and rub against the soft flesh inside. So the oyster protects itself by secreting a hard substance - and a pearl grows. A pearl is produced. What an amazing argument to support Creation!
In that sense this is a pearl of a letter - and as part of the Word of God it is so precious as well as being practical.
Ephesians is a letter written to a church which found itself in irritating circumstances.
Paul is in prison - chained - miles away - shut up - restricted - limited - away from his loved ones. Paul is an open air man who is presently enclosed in prison.
And yet - some have thought this is his finest letter - although it is dangerous to consider and place one part of Scripture above any other.
Paul was in difficult circumstances as were these disciples of Jesus in Ephesus.
Ephesus was a place where the worship of idols was prevalent - and strong - and yet he never protested against the worship of the goddess Diana.
We may need to look further at this later. What Paul did do was rob Diana of her customers.
I remember visiting the ruins of the temple of the pagan goddess Diana - it could seat some 24,000 people. That was how strong idolatry was in Ephesus - and yet, a church was born with 12 men baptised in water and in the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues and prophesying – Acts Chapter 19.
This letter deals with God's Plan - God's Purposes - and God's Power - and God's Protection.
God has a plan - and He has the power to put that plan into operation.
When we come to the Bible and feed upon the Word of God, we need a balanced diet – Genesis and the prophets and the Gospels and the letters.
We need all these various ways through which God speaks to us.
Paul had poured himself into this Church in Ephesus – and yet many think this was a circular letter which was travelling to various churches at that time. Early manuscripts do not have ‘in Ephesus’ – and there are no personal greetings.
Chapters 1 - 3 are concerned with that salvation which God works in – the blessings and riches of faith.
Chapters 4 to 6 are concerned with that salvation which you work out.
At the end of Chapter 3 Paul writes – Amen – as if to say, well that is that bit over – now I have more to say. It has all to be lived out. God has set you apart for Himself – that is what saint means.
Chapters 1 to 3 deal with belief and experience - and worship and witness and adoration - what we are saved by - and how we are being saved.
Chapters 4 - 6 deal with behaviour - our example to others - our walk and warfare - in other words what we are saved and rescued for!
And there is the application too - where Paul is virtually saying - Have I made my point clear?
What is the real message of this book? Do we learn about God – and about Jesus Christ – about the Holy Spirit – and about ourselves?
What does God want to teach us from these pages?
We are reading of - our relationship with God - our salvation in Christ - and the beauty and wonder and majesty of the Power of God.
Take time and make time to read these opening verses – and then read on.
“Lord our God, help us to receive the spiritual riches in this letter and to understand the profound and practical teaching which the apostle imparts to disciples of Jesus. Holy Spirit, illumine our minds and hearts – we pray in Jesus Name. Amen”
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