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Nurturing the New Nature - Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17 to 32 - JS Gillespie  

We note from 1 Timothy that the Ephesians had problems with letting go of the old life. These seemed to carry the baggage of their society and of what they once were before they were saved: 

Status of women in Ephesus and the religion of Diana of Ephesians, with it’s prostitute priestesses. The religious dominance of women within the religions of Ephesus were perhaps carried into the assembly, and had to be addressed in 1 Timothy: 

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1Timothy 2:12) 

The way women dressed was perhaps too a carry over from the surrounding pagan society of Ephesus. Leading to the exhortation: 

“that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” (1Timothy 2:9) 

Drunkenness, a further echo of the old preconversion life is referenced in : “Not given to wine,” (1Timothy 3:3) 

Deceit and lies had to be left too in the past (1Timothy 4:2). 

Gossip whilst accepted perhaps by society at large had no place in the Christian church, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1Timothy 5:13) 

Natural desires and the priorities of a materialistic culture were at loggerheads with their new found joy and satisfaction in Jesus: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Timothy 6:10) 

1 Timothy – The habits of the, “old man” bring them down collectively 

Ephesians chapter 4 – The habits of the, “old man” bring them down individually  

Ephesians chapter 4 is realistic in its portrayal of a Christian under tension. 

See the portrayal of a Christian as he chooses between 2 paths or 2 ‘walks’ that of the, “old man” (v22) or the “new man” (v24). 

The believer above and beyond all men is undoubtedly a man under tension. He is constantly pulled in 2 directions and often feels the tension of his spiritual condition. 

It is way much easier when in the world alone and unconverted! To be under the control of the world, the flesh and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3) is a far simpler state. Satan said, “jump,” we said, “how high?” 

Now that we are saved, it’s different, now we have a choice we never had before. 

Choose between Satan & God (1Jo4:4) 

Choose between Sin & Righteousness (Rom6:12-16) 

Choose between Flesh & Spirit (Rom8:1) 

There are choices to be made, and with it there is now the power to make those choices by strength of the indwelling Spirit of God, power to “put off” and to “put on.” 

This is the practical meaning of Ephesians 2:5-6, (3 fold “sun”- words), the 3 fold identification of the believer, “together with,” Christ in: 

  

His Resurrection (v5)  

His Ascension (v6)  

His Session (v6) 

These are past events with present consequences (note the significance of the aorist or point tense here). 

By virtue of our standing, “in Christ,” we are already partakers of His victory, raised above the sphere of the world & the, “Prince of the power of the air,” (Eph2:2) 

            

We are “Sealed,” with the Holy Spirit (1:13) individually and ‘gifted’ by the same Holy Spirit (4:7) particularly. The new nature is produced by the Holy Spirit (4:17ff) internally. 

The believer is in a whole different situation from the man or woman lost in the world. The believer has a real choice to make, and a real will to surrender, and very real flesh to subvert. 

The believer does have the power to make that choice, by the indwelling Spirit of God and to live a victorious Christian life. 

One of Satan’s lies is that we are powerless & helpless to resist every urge to sin. That was the case before we were saved, but it is not now. 

 In Ephesians chapter 4 we are encouraged to: ‘Nurture the New Nature.’ We say ‘nurture,’ it and not ‘produce it.’ 

 The nature is already created by God and in the image of God (v24) 

 This new nature is not the product of self-effort, it is a work of God created in us (Ephesians 2:10). 

“And that ye put on the new man…” (v24) 

It is worth noting that practically what we mean here, is putting on the character of Christ, as we see it in vs 25ff, eg verse 26 and 1 John 2:16ff 

Christ is the teaching (v20) 

Christ is the teacher (v21) 

It is worth bearing in mind, that as we listen to the word of God expounded accurately and truthfully, we listen to Christ and are consequentially responsible to Him for how we act upon His word. 

 The extent to which we minister the word of God accurately, is the extent to which you are responsible to Christ personally. 

Christ is the sphere or school of teaching (v21). 

To “put on” the “new man” is to “put on” Christ, but not just Christ as an example or pattern, we would be powerless to live such a pattern out. It is Christ who is the power for this new life (Ephesians 2:5-6; 4:23). 

Furthermore: 

Christ as: “The Way” 

Recall John 14:6, Christ claimed to be objectively, “the way, the truth and the life.” In response to the statement of doubting Thomas; “we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). 

Christ is “the way,” objectively & absolutely. The way to God in heaven. 

 objectively. 

 In Ephesians chapter 4 Christ is “the way” – personally, subjectively, and practically; that is Christ as, “the way,” we live out our Christian life. ‘How do you walk?’ (4:17). You walk in the way you have learned in Christ (v20) 

Christ as: “The Truth” 

 “the truth is in Jesus,” (4:21) 

  

As the “way” and the “truth” are worked out there is “life” (4:23) 

We are exhorted to “put off … put on the new man…” (v22, 24) 

We have noticed already that we are exhorted to, “put on” something which is already “created”; created in the image of God (v24). By this the fall of  Adam in Genesis is now overcome (Genesis 1:27). 

Scholars debate the translation; it could be translated, “since you have put off…since you have put on…” cf. Colossians 3:9-10. 

The Greek text seems to favour the Authorised Version; it is an instruction rather than description; the context also favours instruction (4:25-31). 

The main thought is that of behaviour; there is a nature to be nurtured “put off concerning the former conversation the old man” (v22). Putting on and putting off practically what we already are (Colossians 3:9-10). 

What about the, “new man” we’ve to, “put on.” What’s he like? 

You would notice that he was different in his: 

            

Walk (4:17) – He walked not as other gentiles walked 

Words (4:25,29) - A conversation with him would stick out in stark contrast to the many conversations we have each day, on the telephone, down the street. Unlike other conversations you might have, a conversation with this, “new man” would, ‘build you up,’ (v29) not, pull you down – morally, spiritually nor personally. Every conversation was a ministry meeting in itself. Both an absence of, “lies,” as well as the positive presence of “truth”  (v25); there was nothing “rotten” (v29) here. 

Work (4:28) 

 If you had the pleasure to work with him in an office, on the factory floor, or in the building site, you would notice a special diligence in what he did; he was working for the Lord! He had given up thieving. He was no longer taking of others possessions, nor of employers time and goods. Nothing ever went ‘missing’ from his office nor building site. He worked hard, he “laboured” to feel fatigue; and by it became wearied, (v28). 

The way he handled things was different: 

Wealth (4:28) 

This man gave rather than took (v28). He realised that only riches laid up in heaven had any abiding value and so when he found need he gave liberally, to the Lord’s work, to the Lord’s poor & for the Lord’s sake. 

Wrath (4:31); he put it away (v31)! 

He was a man in control: not so much of his life; he didn’t know what another day would bring forth (Proverbs 27:1) and not of his destiny; he had committed that to another (2 Timothy 1:12), rather he was in control of things other men were not in control of: 

Temper (4:26); he started each day with a clean slate (v26), either by: 

forgiving and forgetting (Matthew 18:21; Ephesians 4:32) or by confronting and hammering out the problem; not the person mind you but the problem (Matthew 18:15ff) 

 Because he was in control of his temper this prevented an: 

Objective problem of sin against God (v26); consider Cain in this respect. 

Subjective problem of Satan getting in and bringing about “bitterness” (v31). 

Tongue (4:29) – Nothing “rotten” 

 It would be great to know a man like that! 

 Maybe you do know a man like that! It’s you we’re speaking of! 

 Perhaps then if we “put off” and “put on” these things the Spirit of God will move ‘ungrieved’ and unhindered in our life (v30). The environment will be right for the Spirit of God to move, we will have ‘nurtured the new nature.’

A message from our systematic bible study through Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

Audio recording below for free download or listen online as you study the book of Ephesians with us.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chapter 3 verses 14 to 21 - Christ Resident and President - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

Structure & Setting: 

There are 6 chapter in letter to the Ephesians: 

Chapters 1 to 3 are Doctrinal 

Chapters 4 to 6 are Practical 

There appears to be a clear division in the letter to the Ephesians, marked clearly by the closing doxology at the end of chapter 3. 

3:14-21 – is a transitional section where we move from Doctrine to Practice, from theory and thence into life 

We shall endeavour to expound this prayer within the limitations of our understanding & experience. 

All 3 persons of the Godhead are involved individually (3:14, 16, 17) and also  collectively (3:19) 

We are not speaking about salvation, but rather we are speaking about consecration, that is practical sanctification. 

Ever before we can, “walk” (4:1) we must first learn to crawl. 

Before the believer can “Walk” (4:1) for God, he must “Bow the knee” to God (3:14). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James4:10) 

Paul is looking for Great Results in the life of the believer: 

“to comprehend,” (v18) the Love of Christ 

‘to have an experiential knowledge’ (v19) of Love of Christ 

“be filled with all the fullness of God,” (20) 

Don’t despair, Great Results are expected but Great Resources are available: 

The Spirit of God (v16) 

“the riches of His Glory” (v16) 

A God who “is able” (v20) 

A “Power that worketh in us” (v20) 

3:14-21: The Deeper Work of Christ: 

“For this cause…” (3:14), In view of God’s work collectively in building His Church (chp2; 3:6), Paul prays for a work individually. 

The Church collectively will only be as spiritual as believers individually. 

Note at the outset: 

The Principle of Relationship: “Father” (3:14) – this is a  “Family” relationship. Paul’s prayer is for a deeper relationship with Christ & God. 

The Atmosphere of Love: This is the character and substance of the family relationship. Draw near to our Father not in fear to God. Cf. vs17 & 19. 

Note 7 Key Requests (8 Verbs in Total): 

“to be strengthened.” (v16) 

God’s Spirit comes & strengthens the believer in the, “inner man.” 

Note the purpose, note the conjunction, “that” (v17) – ‘in order that’ 

The Spirit does a preparatory work in the believer’s heart 

Remember how the Spirit performed a preparatory work when you were not saved, convicted you of, “sin and of righteousness and of judgement,” (Jo16:8). 

“The opening of the heart’s innermost door to the personal presence of Christ…& so the full appreciation of His salvation.” HCG Moule (p129) 

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (v17) 

Paul is praying that God would do individually in the Christian what He has done collectively in the church.  

You know that Christ is already “in” the believer, “how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” (2Co13:5) 

Paul is not praying that Christ would be, “in” them but rather that He would “dwell in,” them. 

Even that might not satisfy you, knowing Romans 8:9 goes further that the “Spirit of God” “dwells in” the believer as does the “Spirit of Christ.” 

Here is Paul apparently praying for something which has already happened? So what is Paul praying for? 

2 words used for “dwell” in those 2 verses: Rom8:9 & Eph3:17. 

Not just Christ present in the heart but Christ at home in the heart. 

The word for dwell in Ephesians 3:17 is more intensive, not just to be there but to stay there, settled and at home there, 

Not just Christ Present in our Heart – That is already our PRIVELAGE 

but Christ at Home in our Heart – That is our PROSPECT. 

It is possible to be at the point PERSONALLY where Laodicea was COLLECTIVELY (Rev3:20). Doors in our life and activity can at times be effectively closed to Christ. There can be areas of the believers life, in which Christ’s Lordship is denied, where Christ isn’t even at the negotiating table, e.g. choice of partner – unequal yolk, job, house etc. 

Notice it’s, “by faith,” (3:17), not pursuing some esoteric/physical experience, that wouldn’t be, “by faith.” A deep work of the Spirit of God in our life. 

 “being rooted and grounded in love” (v17) 

“Rooted” – Biological term      

“Grounded,” – Architectural term 

In both cases the ‘soil’ is the same – “love”         

We’ve been, ‘strengthened,’ & ‘indwelt’ by Christ & with His indwelling comes, “love.” 

The characteristic feature of the heart in which Christ dwells – “Love” 

Why “Love”? Surely Christ brings with Him a whole host of graces & virtues? 

Love as a Divine characteristic is fundamental and can’t be simplified it any further. 

There are some graces you can simplify. 

Take ‘Grace’ – Reduced back to ‘Love’ eg John3:16. 

“Love” is an Irreducible Spiritual Principle. It lies at the root of a whole variety of spiritual graces & virtues: 1Corinthians 13:5ff. 

Galatians 5:22 – A single “fruit of the Spirit,” all sharing the same character of that first fruit of “love” 

So basic/irreducible is this Spiritual Principle that it can only be traced back to the character of God Himself: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) 

 “be able to comprehend” (v18) &  “to know” (v19) 

Consider these 2 together, joined together by, “and” 

“Comprehend,”– to apprehend, to attain 

“to know,” 

Notice the contrast between the experience mentioned in v18 & v19: 

v18 – For a Collective appreciation– “all saints” 

v19 – For an Individual appreciation – “ye” 

v18 – For our mind – The Love of Christ appreciated 

v19 – For our heart – “passeth knowledge” – The Love of Christ experienced 

v18 – Objective – dimensions 

v19 – Subjective – ‘Better felt than telt’ 

Recall the contrast with the unregenerate man of Eph4:18: 

“understanding,” is in darkness – nothing for his mind       

“heart” is blind – nothing for his heart   

The believer has an enlightened “mind” & a full “heart”   

v18 – Is not this what we have just done in chp 2? Considered the Objective/Demonstrated love of Christ to us all in God’s plan of salvation. Considered the: 

“Breadth” – 2:14-16 – Encompassing Jew & Gentile 

“Length” – 2:7 – Extending on into Eternity 

“Depth” – 2:1-2 – To which His love reached down to us 

“Height” – 2:5-6 – To which His love raised us 

Here is something for all believers to meditate upon collectively. The love of Christ towards us. The love of Christ demonstrated at Calvary & beyond. 

“to know” (v19) 

The love of Christ experienced in the life of the individual believer, yet always surpassing the merely intellectual. 

Christ is ‘dwelling in the heart’ (v17) 

With Him comes the irreducible spiritual principle of, “Love.” 

The believer’s character is changed. This ushers in the revolution of Love in Believer’s Heart 

The presence of live is evidenced by its outpouring to others: “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1Jo4:12) 

From that love grows all of those graces of 1 Corinthians 13, accompanied by the fruit of Galatians 5:22. See what’s happening, something of the very character of God is being seen in the life of the believer. Christ is being formed in them (Gal4:19), We are approaching “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph4:13). 

“be filled with all the fullness of God” (v19) 

We are being: “Filled with all the fullness of God.” 

“But even though the love of Christ surpasses human knowledge yet you shall know it if you have Christ dwelling in you.” (Theophylact) 

I don’t measure up – It’s too difficult – I’m not able 

Human Inability is combined with Divine Ability: “He is able.” (3:20)

 

Notes from a message preached on Ephesians chapter 3 in our systematic series of bible studies in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, audio recordings free to download as mp3 files or listen online to the bible teaching preached in the Bridgend Gospel Hall New Cumnock.

 

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

1 Timothy chapter 3 - The Unsearchable Riches of Christ - J Stewart Gillespie  

Paul the Prisoner (v1-2) 
Paul the Prophet (v3-6) – forthtelling the mind of God 
Paul the Preacher (v7-13) – what he has received he now speaks 
Paul the Priest (v14-21) – undertakes a priestly activity 

 Not just about Paul, applicable to us: 

A Suffering Saint (v1-2) Lessons for us in our suffering 
A Privileged Saint (v3-6) Privileges believer brought into 
A Serving Saint (v7-13) The service of Christian life. 
A Praying saint (v14-21) The apostle’s burden for evangelism & for others has as a consequence v14, “For this cause.” 

The sanctuary is the preparation place for service 

Prayer is the prerequisite for preaching 

Paul the Prisoner: A Suffering Saint (v1-2) 

Situation – imprisoned, unjustly accuse, restricted movements. 

Had been given the task of evangelising the Gentile world, but now immobilised & incarcerated imprisoned. 

Depressed? Disheartened? Discouraged? Defeated? 

Through his suffering we can see a remarkable prisoner who can see: 

               The Purpose in a Prison Cell 

If there’s purpose in a prison cell, there’s purpose in a believers suffering 

Seen it at Philippi (Acts16) – Philippian Jailor & household saved. 

v13 continues the thought. 

Paul thought of his role as apostle to the Gentiles (v1). He could see his sufferings for their greater glory (v13) & for the building of the church, “For you Gentiles.” (v1)   

Thought developed in Phil Chapter 1, tells us exactly how this happened: 

His sufferings brought him into a whole new mission field (1:13). 

By the end of the Philippian epistle he is able to send greetings from, “They that are of Caesar’s household,” (Philippians 4:22). 

Was this experience in prison described in the Philippian epistle, one of the occasions when Satan overstepped himself? 

Apostle Paul was then brought in chains to Rome. 

By this means he was placed at the very centre of the Empire and thus able to exert an influence in perhaps even in Caesar’s household. 

God moves, and a fledgling Church is established. 

Right in the very midst is the apostle himself. 

Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” 

Paul can see the hand of God in it all. 

His sufferings encouraged others to go out to a whole new mission field (Phil1:14). 

His sufferings brought Glory to Christ by the way he conducted himself during those sufferings (Phil1:20). 

        

 A purpose in Paul’s sufferings, a purpose in ours. (Rom8:28) 

 Don’t always know the purpose in them - Job 

Paul the Prophet:  A Privileged Saint (v3-6) 

 “Wrote afore in few words,” (v3) – refer back to chp2, when he wrote of Jew & Gentile in 1 body. 

v5 – A Brief Definition of Mysteries in General. 

 Not esoteric knowledge. Truth previously hidden & now revealed. 

 Not something only for the select few. 

 Not like the Masons. 

  

v6 – A Brief Definition of this Mystery in Particular. 

 Dealt with in Eph2:11-22. 

 Note 3 words with the Greek prefix of “sun,” (v6), cf 2:5,6. Three great  ‘Together’ words 

“Fellow heirs,” & 
“Same body,” & 
“Partakers of His promise.” 

 “Same body,”- only here in the New Testament. This is the earliest occurrence of this word in Greek literature. This word is not known in secular Gk. Could this be a new word for a new revelation? 

 Almost as though Paul is saying the Greek language is inadequate to describe this new revelation. 

 Perhaps we could best translate the word as “concorporate” – Jew & Gentile on equal terms. Not so much the idea of the Gentile being brought into Israel. 

“The Gentiles have not been added to an already existing entity; they are fully equal, joint members, totally necessary for the life of the body.” (Lincoln p181) 

               

 v6 – The Content of the Mystery 

 v4 – The Communication of the Mystery 

 The mystery is ‘revealed unto’ the apostle (v3) but it is to be ‘understood’ by the believer (v4). 

 The Privilege of the NT believer to understand & enjoy these truths previously hidden. (1Pet1:12) 

 Paul expects us to enjoy them: “when ye read,” (v4) not, “if ye read” 

Paul the Preacher : A Serving Saint (v7-13) 

 Principle of scripture: what God pours in is to be poured out (Jo7:38).  

 Note the humility with which the service of Paul is marked. 

“minister,” or “servant” this is not a clergyman of course, no such division between laity and clerisy was known in the days of the New Testament church. 1 Timothy 3 envisages many teachers or overseers and many deacons in 1 assembly. No 1man ministry ministry, not one man over 1 church or even one man over many churches! This would deny the truth of 1Corinthians 12. 

According to the “Gift” (v7) 
“the Grace of God.” (v7) 

 What his service is all about (v8): 

 The Missionary: “Unto me who am less than the least…” – A correct view of self. Paul takes a SUPERLATIVE & turns it into a COMPARATIVE – “leaster,” – another new word (cf. v6) 

 The Mission: “I should preach” – A fervour for our mission, single minded, undistracted & focused. 

 The Mission Field: “among the gentiles” – Clearly identified. If the unsaved are the mission field, why preach the gospel to converted we may wonder? 

 The Message: “Unsearchable riches of Christ.” – An appreciation of what we have. 

 “Unsearchable,” (v8) – Unfathomable, inexhaustible 

 “A wealth the limit of which no man can ever find,” (Wm Barclay). 

 “Suggests the picture of a reservoir so deep that soundings cannot reach the bottom of it. No limit can therefore be put to its resources.” (Lincoln) 

 Perhaps true to say the “unsearched riches of Christ,” for many. 

 Have a little glimpse into the “Unsearchable riches,” in Ephesians: 

Christ Personally: 

Christ as Prophet (2:17) 
Christ as Priest (2:11) 
Christ as King (5:5) 

Christ & His Relationship to the Church: 

Christ as Head of the Body (1:22) 
Christ as Chief Corner Stone of the Temple (2:20) 
Christ as Bridegroom to the Church (Chp5) 

Christ Presented As: 

Lord of Life: 2:5 
Lord of Love:  3:17ff 
Lord of Light: 5:14ff 

Christ Is The: 

Sphere of our Blessings (1:3) – All due to our relationship with Christ. 
Purpose of our Sanctification  (1:4) 
Origin of our Salvation (1:7; 5:23) 
Focus & End of the Dispensation (1:10; 3:9) – “Whatever’s the world coming to?” 
Object of our Adoration (1:12) – Now & forever. 
Means of Reconciliation (Chp2:11-22) 
Route of Communication (2:18; 3:12) 
Means of Creation (3:9) 
Bestower of our Gifts (4:7ff) 
Example of Dedication (5:2) 
Source of Illumination (5:14) 
Standard of Affection (5:25) 

This is what we have to offer men & women. Christ & nothing else. Especially not entertainment/Social Club 

 As Jew & Gentiles are saved by the preaching of the gospel, & incorporated into, “one body,” (v6), so the “administration” (not “fellowship,”) of the mystery is         ‘seen’ (v9). 

 Are these the longest verses in Bible??? (v9-11). They span in time from ‘creation’ onto ‘now’ and ultimately to ‘eternity’! 

 “the principalities and powers,” look on, (v10). From their appreciation of spiritual truth, perhaps not just evil angelic forces as per 6:12. (cf. Matt16:23) 

 When world was created, angelic powers present. 

 In garden of Eden Satan interested (Gen3:1ff) 

 Cherubim observed the fall & implemented the judgment (Gen3:24) 

 Perhaps in days of Noah angelic forces were interested in man (Gen6:4) 

 Angels involved with Abraham, Lot & destruction of Sodom (Gen18&19) 

 Michael in days of Daniel (Dan12:1) 

 Angels observe the birth (Lk1:11,19, 26; 2:9), temptation (Matt4:11) & sufferings (Lk22:43), & death (Jo20) of Christ. 

 Angelic forces saw man fall, creation crumble, world corrupted, Christ crucified. Was God’s work to come to nought? 

 But now “by the church” they see the, “manifold wisdom of God,” 

 “Manifold” – “much-variegated,” or “multi-coloured” 

 They see the working out of God’s “eternal purpose,” in Christ (v11), cf. 1:10. Thought of God’s purposes for believers in chp1 – at a practical level, but here is God’s one, “Eternal Purpose.” 

Paul the Priest : A Praying saint (v14-21)

 

Notes from a message preached on Ephesians chapter 3 in our systematic series of bible studies in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, audio recordings free to download as mp3 files or listen online to the bible teaching preached in the Bridgend Gospel Hall New Cumnock. 

Yours by Grace in Christ  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians Chapter 2 Vs 11 to 17 - He is our Peace - J Stewart Gillespie  

Afraid to live? 
Afraid to die? 
We have the answer. “He is our peace.” 

Ephesians chapter 2 verse 11: 
“Remember,” – Good to remember, “the hole of the pit whence ye are digged,” (Isa51:1). 

This is of course not so much remembering our sin! Rather remember the “mercy” (v4), “love” (v4) and “grace” (v5,8) of God. 

“The humility which springs from the removal of our sins must ever be deeper than that which springs from the discovery of them. The former connects us with God: the latter has to do with self.” (CH Mackintosh p313) 

Sometimes we might be tempted to think that now we’re saved, we’ve something to glory in, but all we are is what Christ has made us (2:8,10) 

“Gentiles,” & “Circumcision,” is “in the flesh.” 

This DIVISION of humanity is at the level of the FLESH. (2:11-17) 
The new and eternal DIVISION of humanity is at the level of the SPIRIT. (2:1-10) 
1. Those who are DEAD – Spiritually (v1-3) 
2. Those who are ALIVE in Christ – Spiritually (v5-10) 

Reconciliation therefore must also be at the level of FLESH (v15) 
“Flesh,” - Sometimes used of muscle tissue; It is used in this way in the last mention of, “flesh,” in NT (Rev19:21). 
More often in the Bible the idea od the flesh is used of the “fallen human nature,” eg when speaking of the “Works of the flesh,” (Gal5:19), cf Eph2:13 

Flesh can also be used in the sense of a “living humanity,” John 1:14, Hebrews 5:7, Ephesians 5:30, the word ‘flesh’ is used in this sense here. 

Note the 5 fold condition, mainly relative to the flesh: 

“Without Christ,” – refers to the Messianic hope in the context, cf. Romans 9:5 “The God of Hope,” (Rom15:13). “Without God,” thus, “no hope,” 

“Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless & Godless.” (W. Hendricksen) 

“No Hope,” A deep source of problems and of despair in our society. A deep seated problem underpinning spiraling suicide rates amongst the young, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse. Do we have a genuine care and thought for others? If so ought not this to spur us onto evangelism? 

Position (v13) 
“But now,” – The turning point of Division at the level of the Flesh 
cf. 2:4 – Turning point of Division, at the level of the Spirit. 
Position – “in Christ Jesus,” 
Reconciliation: Notice the Sphere of Reconciliation (v14-15) 

“in His flesh” & “in Himself” (v15) 

“He is our peace,” – Peace in a person, compare John 20:19, Isaiah 9:6 

PEACE with God & PEACE with one another this is OBJECTIVE PEACE 
There is also the personal experience of that peace consider the illustration of this in Mark 4:35,39,5:1 

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39) : This is a SUBJECTIVE PEACE. 

When Christ presents redeemed humanity to God, doesn’t present a humanity that is divided. Chris presents a united humanity to God. 
It is significant that it was at the level of the flesh there was division (2:11). 

Thus division is put away at the LEVEL OF THE FLESH (2:15). 
Consider also the division at the LEVEL OF THE SPIRIT (2:5). 

“Flesh”(v15), significant choice of words. Not just the death of Christ, as indicated by, “Body,” or “Blood,” but indicates the life of Christ (John1:14, Hebrews 5:7, Ephesians 5:30), given in death (Romans 7:4), to abolish the law, but continuing on as a new humanity (2:15). Cf. Luke 24:39. 

“These ordinances had their sphere of action in the flesh. But Christ (as living in connection with all that), being dead, has abolished the enmity to form in Himself of the two – Jew and Gentile – one new man…” (JND) 

Consider the Peace Offering of Leviticus chapter 3: 

Peace that on the basis of shed blood (Leviticus 3:8) 
Peace that was on the basis of a sacrifice (Leviticus 3:6) 

In the peace offering we note that God and the Priest and the offerer all having a portion (Leviticus chp7). This is a unique scenario in the law of the offerings! 

We are able to describe a procedure characteristic of the Peace Offering, found also in the Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:9), but only as the sin offering relates back to the Peace Offering (Leviticus 4:10). 
This procedure is performed upon the sacrificial animal. We note that in the Peace Offering that the priest is always to be careful to remove, “The caul above the liver,” (Leviticus 3:4,10,15). 

There is only one organ that is above the liver & kidneys; that is the DIAPHRAGM 
The priest was always careful to take the animal, to remove the diaphragm, the organ that divided the animal in 2 parts, chest and abdomen, “the middle wall of partition,” and to make, “both one.” The New Testament believer would understand this. 
There was to be no division in the peace offering. 
What Christ has made, we keep. 
“in His flesh” & “in Himself” (v15) - the Sphere of Reconciliation 
Saved Jew & Saved gentile both in Christ; brought together with that dividing wall between them taken down forever as it was in the peace offering, both are now part of a New Humanity in Christ. 

The Means of Reconciliation (v16) 

“By the Cross,” – The Means cf. “In his flesh,” (v15) – The Sphere 

“The Cross,” – Put away the law, which prevented Jew & Gentile coming together, (Rom7:4) 

“The Cross,” – Put away sin, which prevented Jew & Gentile coming to God, (Heb9:26) 

Bible teaching from Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 2. "He is our Peace". A message from our systematic bible study in the Ephesian epistle. Join us as we preach and study through the letter to the Ephesians, in this expository verse by verse Bible Teaching series. Yours by Grace in Christ, Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

 

 

Ephesians Chapter 2 Vs 1 to 10 - The Doctrinal Basis of Sanctification - J Stewart Gillespie  

The Doctrinal Basis of Sanctification 

Ephesians chapter 2 is the middle of the doctrinal section in Ephesians 
Chapters 1 to 3 – Lays the foundation of the doctrinal basis for Chapters 4 through to 6 of Ephesians. 
We see the development of the doctrine of sanctification in the Ephesian epsitel in both negative and positive terms: 4:1, 17; 4:22, 24; 5:18 
Paul lays the foundation for sanctification in this section here (2:1-10) 
There are 2 fundamental errors which will undermine your sanctification: 
1. An elevated appreciation of the world: A world which seems to the Christian so appealing, a place it would seem of unimagined possibilities, adventure, excitement, riches, pleasure 
2. An impoverished appreciation of Christ: What we have in the Lord Jesus seems hardly worth holding onto, let alone sacrificing anything for. 
The second of these two errors is usually the greater and more fundamental of the two! Perhaps the illustration of the strength and sanctity of a marriage bond is relevant here. A married couple stay together, not so much because everyone else becomes ugly to them but rather because they appreciate and value supremely what they have in one another. 
There are two ways you can preach sanctification: 
1. We could attempt to preach believers away from the world, exposing it for what it is. 
2. Preach & present Christ, what we have & can find in Him. 
Paul does both: 
1. What We Were in the World: Dead in Sins: Condemnation (v1-3) 
2. What We Have in Christ: Alive in Christ: Transformation (v4-10) 

What We Were in the World: Dead in Sins: Condemnation (v1-3) 
There are 3 great powers or influences that controlled our pre-conversion self: 
1. The World (v2) 
2. The Devil (v2) 
3. The Flesh (v3) 
The World (v2) – “the age of this world,” – an unusual phrase. This would indicate everything that characterizes this present age: 
• In the secular sphere of the world – Repudiating God 
• In the moral sphere of the world – Amoral – Repudiating Absolutes 
• In the physical sphere of the world – it is Materialistic – Glorifying money & possessions 

The Devil (v2): “The prince of the power of the air.” Paul chooses his title for Satan carefully, relates him to the earth, “air,” – used by Greeks to refer to lower atmosphere, between earth & moon, surrounding the earth.The REPRESSIVE, MALEVOLENT influence of Satan. 
The authorised text omits an “of,” at the beginning of this phrase in verse 2 – “of the spirit that now worketh,” – A Greek genitive. It is that spirit, which brings a pervading influence of evil in, “the children of disobedience,” 
Perhaps here we are able to perceive the all pervasive influence and atmosphere of Satan in the world! 
We recall at Ephesus the world and the entertainment it provided in the amphitheatre (Acts19:29), the world & its commerce seen in the silver shrines (Acts19:27) and the world & its religion; that of the great Temple of Diana of Ephesians. None of these secular influence were of positive spiritual value to a genuine believer; in fact they actively opposed and distracted from the Lord Jesus Christ! God sees all of this activity as under the influence of Satan! 
We have perhaps heard the question, what harm is in it? Perhaps we must first perceive, as the apostle does here in Ephesians chapter 2 that in examining the anatomy and structure of this world we discover that Satan is in it!! 
For the Christian the question often arises as to where to draw the line? Perhaps the correct answer is the one that many are most reluctant to apply in practice: ‘As far away from this world as possible!” 
Jim Elliot: “We cannot have both heaven and earth for our part & as our portion, a wise man chooses that which lasts the longest.” 

We notice that there were three features that characterised us in our pre conversion days: 
1. Death (v1) 
2. Disobedience (v2) 
3. Desires of the flesh (v3) 
We were spiritually dead in: “Trespasses,” – Broken Laws – Sins of commission and in “Sins,” – Missed Standards – Sins of omission 
That’s the mess, that’s what you were in the past 2:1,2,3, “were…times past,” – Don’t go back to it! The antidote to this is personal sanctification. 
What We Have in Christ: We are alive in Christ: Transformation (v4-10) 
“But God,” (v4) – Only God could do something in these circumstances 
God & His, “mercy,” (v4), “love” (v4), “grace” (v4,8) 
Notice in this section the 3 words beginning with the Greek prefix of ‘sun’ “συν”: 
v5 – “Quickened together” – linked with His RESURRECTION 
v6 –“Raised up together” – Linked with His ASCENSION 
v6 – “Sit together” – Linked with His SESSION 
Yet what do these 3 great statements all mean for me? I’m very much here on earth! These are great statements of what we refer to as positional truth: “with Christ,” (v5), “in Christ” (v6), “through Christ,” (v7). These are not theoretical nor abstract and certainly not pie-in-the-sky statements of truth! 
These are positional truths; meaning that these truths, these conditions and blessings which we have been brought into we personally do nothing to bring them about. As a consequence of course nothing you do will shake them either! Cf. Salvation John 10:28-29; Ephesians 1:4. These great positional truths are ours because of our ‘position’ in or perhaps better still because of our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Because we are personally connected the Lord Jesus certain attributes and blessings which rightfully belong to Jesus become ours too! 

“Quickened together” – linked with His RESURRECTION (v5) 
Perhaps we can understand a bit about ‘quickening’. We were once “Dead in trespasses & sins,” but by conversion and by salvation our condition has been radically transformed so that we now are the possessors of new life in Jesus Christ (John chapter 3). 
We can surely recognise the evidences of that new life by: 
• Our Appetite for spiritual food and nourishment, bread to sustain this new life in Christ – Heb5:12; 1Pet2:2. 
• Our Alienation from the world – Gal6:14; we really feel estranged from this world and it’s values, morality (or lack of it) and spirituality. We don’t belong here 
• Desire for the word – 1Pet2:2; a sure evidence of the new Divine nature in a human soul. 
• Fellowship with believers – 1 John 3:14 – a desire given by God; an attraction of like for like! 
• A Delight in the things of Christ – 1 John 2:3 – a phenomenon incomprehensible to a fallen world. 

“Raised up together” – Linked with His ASCENSION (v6) 
Does this refer to a time in the future? (1 Thessalonians 4:17, 2 Timothy 2:12) Note the tenses here however: an aorist tense or point tense, usually in the past. Notice too the timing here: “together with Christ,” associated with what happened to Christ in the past. If verses 1 to 3 tell us what we were in the world then verses 4 to 10 surely tell us what we have in Christ. We now move in a different sphere and belong to a different order. We belong to those “Heavenly places,” places above “the World,” and above “The prince of the power of the air.” We left all of that behind us. We are no longer under the old repressive regime of, the world, the flesh, and the devil. It used to be the case that when Satan said, “jump,” we jumped. We are now marked by: 
1. ELEVATION → Above it all, diff. Sphere/atmosphere 
2. LIBERATION→ Not controlled by the world, flesh, devil. 
• We share in Christ’s victory (1:20-22; 2:2) 
• 1Jo4:4, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” 
• Rom6:18, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” 
• Rom8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” 
• We may of course even as Christians fall or sin, but power is given to resist, when we fall we make a choice. We are now under a new regime and under a new authority. 
God did not “quicken us together with Christ,” simply to bring us back under the same old repressive forces. Brought us into a liberty & freedom. 
Here’s what we have in Christ, we now have the power to: 
• “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” (Eph4:1) 
• “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph4:17) 

“As living evidences of His kindness, we shall point people, away & beyond ourselves to Him, to whom we owe our salvation.” 
(Stott p82 on verse 7) 

Bible teaching from Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 2. A study in the sanctification of the Christian. A message from our systematic bible study in the Ephesian epistle. Join us as we preach and study through the letter to the Ephesians, in this expository verse by verse Bible Teaching series. Yours by Grace in Christ, Dr J Stewart Gillespie.

Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3 to 14 - The Privilege and Purpose of the Believer - JS Gillespie  

The believer is a man with a PURPOSE 
One of the key words in the chapter (1:9,11) 
Epistle to the Ephesians, like all other epistles, an Epistle with a PURPOSE, unlike all other’s an Epistle about a PURPOSE:  

1.    God’s PURPOSE for believers 
2.    God’s PURPOSE for His SON 
3.    God’s PURPOSE for believers & His Son together. 
Says Paul: “The church is like:” 

1.    A Building – but Christ is the chief corner stone (Eph2:20) 
2.    A Body – but Christ is the Head (Eph4:15, 5:23) 
3.    A Bride – one day to be united with Christ (Eph 5:32) 

Ephesians 1: 1-14 Introduction 

3 Sections each ending with an Exclamation of Praise: 

1)    God the Father (v3-6) 
2)    God the Son (v7-12) 
3)    God the Spirit (v13-14) 

The believer is a man greatly blessed, by all 3 persons of the Godhead! 

Overview of our Blessings in Christ: 
“blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (v2) 

1)    Election (v4) 
2)    Sanctification (v4) 
3)    Predestination (v5) 
4)    Adoption (v5) 
5)    Redemption (v7) 
6)    Absolution (v7) 
7)    Wisdom & Understanding (v8) 
8)    Revelation (v9) 
9)    Consummation (v10) 
10)    Worship & Adoration (v6, v12, v14) 
11)    Reception of the Holy Spirit (v13-14) 

A Purpose which: 

1)    PREDATES this world (v4) 
2)    SEPARATES us from the world (v4) 
3)    PREDESTINATES us out of this world (v5) 
4)    INSTATES us as Sons (v5) 
5)    REGENERATES & REDEEMS (v7) 
6)    CONSUMMATES with everything under the headship of Christ (v10) 
7)    GENERATES praise & worship forever (v6, v12, v14) 
8)    ANTICIPATES the fulfillment of the Divine Promise (v13-14) 

Overview of our Blessings in Christ:  (v3) 
As we consider our blessings, “in Christ,” – ought to have an effect upon us: 
“Blessed be…” (v3): describing what God is, “inherently worthy to be praised.” 
 “Hath blessed us…” (v3):  
As we appreciate what God has done for us, our hearts return in praise & worship to Him. How is our worship? How is our appreciation of our blessings in Christ? By the end of our study in Ephesians chp1 our heart ought to be lifted up in worship to God. 

1)    The SOURCE of blessings, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Blessings come from God & worship returns to God 

2)    The SCOPE of blessings, “all spiritual blessings” If I were to say that we had “a lot” of spiritual blessings in Christ, tell me I’m talking nonsense, don’t have a lot, have “all” or “every” spiritual blessing. 

3)    The SPHERE of blessings, “in heavenly places,” To begin to appreciate what we have in Christ , have to move into the heavenly sphere. Let go of the earthly & mundane, work & worries etc, move into the heavenlies.  

1)    Election & Sanctification (v4) 
“he hath chosen us in him” – Strange phrase, now we’re saved we’re, “in Him.” But here we are chosen, “in Him before the foundation of the world.” 
God chose us not because of what we were before we were saved but because of what God would make us after we were saved. 
ELECTION excludes PRIDE & SELF-WORTH. God’s sovereign Grace. 
Paul deals with ELECTION Practically, not like the theologians. Doesn’t debate Divine sovereignty & Human responsibility, or explain the how & the wherefores: 
1.    With respect to SANCTIFICATION (Eph1:4). God has chosen you. There must be some purpose to Divine chose. God must have something for you that is: SANCTIFICATION.  
Not MYSTICAL, not MAGICAL, but PRACTICAL. 
Rom12:1-2: Biblical double definition of holiness! 

2.    With respect to SECURITY (Rom8:29,33ff). God has chosen me; therefore my salvation doesn’t depend upon me! Not upon my grasp of Him but upon His eternal PURPOSES & COUNSELS. Plagued with doubts about your salvation? Am I good enough? Probably not! Am I trying hard enough? Probably not! Is my faith strong enough? Probably not! But for the purposes of eternal security it matters not one whit! (May affect reward of course). 

 “Holy” – POSITIVE & “Without blame” – NEGATIVE 

 “In love” – the whole issue of election is encompassed in an atmosphere of perfect love. 

2)    Predestination & Adoption (v5) 
v4 – Show the family likeness. v5 – Adopted into the family (Heb2:11) 

Adoption unknown in the OT. In Roman law the adopted son has the same rights as the natural son. 

3)    Worship & Adoration (v6, v12, v14) 

God’s ultimate purpose, to have a people who will both worship Him & cause Him to be worshiped for ever. 

Worship & Adoration, begins in time & perfected in eternity 
     
  
4)    Redemption & Absolution (v7) 

Purchased at a great cost (1Pet1:18). Redemption – Bought from something: 
1.    Freedom from the Guilt of Sin: Rom3:24 
2.    Freedom from Presence of Sin: Rom8:23 
3.    Freedom from Penalty or Punishment of Sin: Eph1:7, redemption is seen here as synonymous with forgiveness. 

Redemption ; therefore we are not our own.  

5)    Wisdom & Understanding (v8) 
God has given us all of these blessings, & with them the ability to understand/appreciate them. 
Sometimes wonder how folks can sit under gospel preaching & remain oblivious. Wisdom & understanding – a Divine gift.     

6)    Revelation (v9) 

Something hidden & now revealed – “a mystery” 

7)    Consummation (v10-11) 

 “Dispensation”: originally referred to the management of a household. This is the Divine management of the universe.     
All things headed up in Christ. 
 “We have obtained an inheritance,” – really The inheritance which we are, rather than the inheritance which we have: 
1.    The context emphasises us as God’s portion (1:4,5) 
2.    “Have obtained an inheritance,” is in the passive voice (Bruce) 
3.    OT background, Israel as God’s inheritance (Deut32:8-9;Ps33:12) “Then all the “seasons,” of the story of redemption will attain their “fullness,” will be fulfilled, accomplished, so that the actual result shall correspond to the Divine ideal.” (HCG Moule) 

  
1)    Reception of the Holy Spirit (v13-14) 

Hear ,  Believe ,  Receive (v13)– Note the order. The Spirit is a first blessing, not a second blessing. 
The Holy Spirit:  
God’s Seal Upon us: Property & slaves had a seal upon them. 

God’s Promise to us: The Holy Spirit which was promised? (Jo15:26, 16:7, Acts1:4). More to it than that. This is the Spirit who leads us into & guarantees for us, our blessings & purposes in Christ (Eph1:14; 4:30). Here at the end of all our blessings in Christ, we have ministry on the Spirit of God. No coincidence. The abiding work of the Spirit, cf. Jo16:15. Not tongues (1Co13:8), not healings (IITim4:20). 

God’s Pledge for us: “Earnest”: a guarantee, pledge, deposit payed by the buyer until purchase price paid in full, compare the modern Greek: an engagement ring. 

Bible teaching from Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 1. A message from our systematic bible study in the Ephesian epistle. Join us as we preach and study through the New Testament, in this expository verse by verse Bible Teaching series. Yours by Grace in Christ, Dr J Stewart Gillespie.