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Ephesians: The Calling of the Saints

The Epistle to the Ephesians is, in many ways, the crowning glory of the New Testament. But perhaps this letter ought not to be called "Ephesians" for we do not really know to whom it was written. The Christians at Ephesus were certainly among the recipients of this letter, but undoubtedly there were others. In many of the original Greek manuscripts there is a blank where the King James translation has the words "at Ephesus;" just a line where the names of other recipients were apparently to be filled in. That is why the Revised Standard Version does not say, "To the saints at Ephesus," but simply "To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus..."

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The Forces we Face (Ephesians 6:10)

This passage introduces to us a subject which is so often treated as unworthy of any intelligent consideration that I feel it necessary to remind us, at the beginning of this series, that the whole Scripture has been given to us in order to enable us to face life in a realistic, practical manner. To put it another way, God is not interested in religion, but he is tremendously interested in life. You cannot read the New Testament without realizing that the Lord Jesus did not care a whit for the Sabbath regulations of his day when they were set against the need of a broken man for healing. In that, he revealed the heart of God, for certainly God is not interested in stained glass windows, organ solos, congregational hymns, or even pastoral prayers half so much as he is in producing love-filled homes, generous hearts, and brave men and women who can live right in the midst of the world and keep their heads and hearts undefiled.

22 Aug 2018

Rank #1

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Forgive and Live (Ephesians 4:30-32)

There is an oft-quoted prayer of an anonymous child who prayed, "Lord, make the bad people good and the good people nice." I think we all empathize with that prayer. So often it seems that being religious has a souring effect. We all know people who are undeniably "good" in the sense that they are moral, honest, upright, and truthful, but so often they are cold, rigid and unpleasant to be with, not nice at all. These are the kind who moved that child to pray that way.

31 Aug 2018

Rank #2

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Strangers in Darkness (Ephesians 2:11-13)

In the second chapter of Ephesians, we are looking together with the Apostle Paul at mighty truths, fantastic statements, which make us aware of what it means to be a Christian. If we ever really grasp what it means to be a Christian, we will never again be envious of anyone who is not a Christian, will never wish we were back in the world, nor in any way be drawn toward its outlook or its pattern of life.

19 Sep 2018

Rank #3

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The Great Mystery (Ephesians 3:1-6)

The first paragraph in Chapter 3 is, in many ways, the key to this great letter of Paul to the Ephesian Christians. Here he begins to describe in full detail the great mystery which he had devoted his life to propagating around the world. We all love mysteries. There is something about human beings which causes us to be fascinated by something hidden, secret, by cryptic truth which needs to be discovered and revealed. God understands us so thoroughly that he has hidden mystery in everything in life. We do not know anything fully. There is always an element we don't understand. Even terms we commonly use, such as love and joy and life itself, are basically mysterious to us. We know they are absolutely essential to our existence, but we don't know what they are. We struggle constantly trying to understand what are the great realities they represent.

16 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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Defense Against Defeat, Part 3 (Ephesians 6:17)

We are now embarked upon an attempt to explain life. We want to see why men are so bewildered at what is happening in the world about them, and why they are so impotent in solving the great problems which have confronted men for many centuries. Why is it we seemingly made no progress in this intense struggle that is our life? Our attention now is focused upon one verse of Scripture, Ephesians 6:17, which occurs in the midst of a great call to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might," (Ephesians 6:10). The apostle concludes the list of "the armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11) with this verse:

16 Aug 2018

Rank #5

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Turned on by Prayer (Ephesians 1:15-18)

With Verse 15 of Ephesians 1 we leave the great doctrinal passage in which the Apostle Paul has been teaching the great facts underlying the Christian faith, and we turn now to his prayer. This study will be a helpful revelation of the place of prayer in the Christian experience, especially in believers who are maturing, and in relationship to the study of Scripture. This brings prayer and the Scriptures together. The apostle, having finished the great passage in which he has set forth what the three-fold God is doing for us, now adds these words addressed to the Ephesian Christians:

25 Sep 2018

Rank #6

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Parents and Children (Ephesians 6:1-4)

In our series in Ephesians we are coming to another of the great relationships of life, that of parents and children. It is rather obvious that in our present world something has gone drastically wrong with this relationship. This is a day when juvenile delinquency and juvenile crime is skyrocketing to heights never before known. A conscientious policeman, not long ago, told me how heartsick he was to find that some of the most brutal crimes in his area were being committed by children -- not teenagers, children! -- children of ten years of age or even eight, and this is becoming more and more frequent.

24 Aug 2018

Rank #7

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Defense Against Defeat, Part 1 (Ephesians 6:14-17)

In this present series we are trying to understand life, both in the larger scene of the world and its ways, and in the immediate situation in which we find ourselves. We have already seen that it is a struggle. The passage we are looking at in Ephesians points out that life is a conflict. And our experience confirms this. We do not like it, perhaps, but we cannot deny it. When we ask ourselves, "Why is life a struggle?" the Apostle Paul says that it is not what we usually imagine to be the problem -- it is not flesh and blood, it is not other people. We are so inclined to blame someone else. But Paul says it is not against flesh and blood, rather, we are struggling against the principalities and powers, the world rulers of this present darkness, the wicked spirits which are in heavenly or high places. Philips translates that last phrase, "spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil."

18 Aug 2018

Rank #8

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Defense Against Defeat, Part 2 (Ephesians 6:14-18)

Discouragement, confusion, indifference -- these are the signs of the devil's working. Discouragement, with all that means in terms of depression of spirit, the playing over and over again of vain regrets, and the dark outlook on life we call the blues. Confusion, with its doubt and uncertainty, disillusionment, strife, discord, and argument. Indifference, with its cynicism, callousness, coldness, and bitterness toward one another and toward the things of God. These are the major evidences of the devil's working through the flesh, the evil channel of the inner man. To produce these things, as we have already seen, the devil approaches us through our circumstances, or feelings, and through the workings of our minds by implanting doubts and uncertainties.

17 Aug 2018

Rank #9

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Defense Against Defeat, Part 4 (Ephesians 6:14-17)

We are now engaged in examining Paul's great exhortation to the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. We, as they were, are involved in the struggle and conflict which comes from contention with the principalities and powers and the wicked spirits in high places, the world rulers of this present darkness. In Verses 14-17 of the sixth chapter, the apostle focuses on the armor of God:

15 Aug 2018

Rank #10

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Hope, Riches, and Power (Ephesians 1:18-23)

I wonder how many of you are remembering my exhortation at the beginning of this series that you read through the book of Ephesians once a week until we have finished these studies. I'm sure that some of you have been faithful in doing this. Now, the rest of you repent, and begin again, will you? You will find that your life will never be the same again if you keep reading through this text thoughtfully and understandingly every week.

24 Sep 2018

Rank #11

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The Prince of Peace (Ephesians 2:13-18)

In Ephesians 2, we come now to a section in which the Apostle Paul deals with Christ's role as the great peacemaker among men. Here we will see him in fulfillment of that prophecy in Isaiah 9:

18 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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New Morality or Ancient Foolishness? Part 2 (Ephesians 5:5-14)

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, we are considering the section where the apostle relates the great principles of life to the thoughts and practice of a pagan world. He tells us how to live a Christian life in the midst of a blinded, confused and sick society. You cannot read this section of Paul's letter without seeing that the world has not changed essentially since the apostle's day. Oh, I know we can send messages around the world in two seconds. We can view events that happen anywhere in our world today by means of satellite television, and we are able to put men on the moon. These seem to be impressive capabilities, but there is not one whit of difference between the moral problems we face in this 20th century and those faced in the 1st century. We confront the same issues in society that they confronted; we struggle against the same forces they struggled with, and react in exactly the same way. Human nature has not changed one bit in twenty centuries. You only need read this ancient account to see how true that is, and also, therefore, to see how up-to-date, relevant, and pertinent the Scriptures are to our own time.

28 Aug 2018

Rank #13

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Living in Focus (Ephesians 4:28-29)

A number of years ago at Stanford University, Arnold Toynbee, the prominent historian, said that most people today have rejected Christianity on the basis of a caricature. What did he mean? He meant that most people have never seen the real thing. They have never seen real Christianity. What they have seen was a blurred, distorted and twisted picture of Christianity, and they turned away disappointed and indifferent to the claims of Christ. Well, what were they looking for? Perhaps more than we professing Christians may realize, men and women in the world today expect to see in Christians some likeness to Christ. If you listen carefully to the protest movements that are so vocal today, and which have captured the ear of the press and the nation, you will see that the heart of their complaint is that they do not see in Christians, and the church, that likeness to Christ which they have been led to expect. That is why they turn away so disappointed, often bitter in their antagonism.

1 Sep 2018

Rank #14

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The Call of the Hour (Ephesians 5:1-2)

The task of Christianity is not primarily to get us ready for heaven. Though this has been the emphasis in past generations, it is, in itself, a relatively simple task as far as God is concerned. He gets us ready for heaven by an act of faith in Jesus Christ. The major task of Christian faith, however, is to equip us for life, to live life.

30 Aug 2018

Rank #15

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The Cure for Conflict (Ephesians 5:21)

The most common charge leveled against the Christian church in our times is that it is irrelevant to people's real problems, and does not help people where they live. The church is accused of avoiding the blood and tears and guts of life. One of the most frequently heard charges is that the church is interested only in preserving the status quo. As someone has put it, "Come weal or come woe, our status is quo."

26 Aug 2018

Rank #16

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On Display (Ephesians 2:7-10)

In Paul's great letter to the Ephesians, we are attempting to understand the underlying realities of life and of faith. In the opening words of the second chapter we looked at the condition which lies behind all the difficulties and problems we have in life the state into which mankind has fallen, and how desperately hopeless it is apart from the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

20 Sep 2018

Rank #17

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But God... (Ephesians 2:4-6)

The title of our study this morning consists of two little words: But God... These open the fourth verse of Ephesians 2, the chapter in which the Apostle Paul is setting forth the greatness of our salvation and is helping us to understand what has happened to us in Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important than that we grasp these great words:

22 Sep 2018

Rank #18

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Beginning the Battle (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13 RSV)

21 Aug 2018

Rank #19

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Watch how you Walk (Ephesians 5:15-20)

We have been looking together at the great passage in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul is dealing with the preparation of the Christian for living in a sick society. We have seen that the problems the 1st century Christians faced were the same problems we face today, and the world in which they lived was essentially the world in which we live. We now come to the summary passage on this subject, found in Ephesians 5:15-20:

27 Aug 2018

Rank #20