Ephesians 1:1
In Christ Jesus

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Greetings to the members of His Body, [1:1-2]: We are “in Christ Jesus” (as the body is joined to the head). This is the key phrase in the epistle. We are and have all, in Him. Paul’s gift was by God’s choice. As saints we are set apart for God’s use. As the faithful in Christ Jesus, believers are identified by their position and their Leader. The fact of being “in Christ” is referred to 9 times in the first fourteen verses.

We never know when we are committed to doing the will of God, the outcome of any work or testimony we may make as we travel from place to place. Paul and those with him had been busy in the Lord’s work on this second missionary journey and he was on his way to Jerusalem where he wanted to be at a specific time. Passing through Ephesus, a busy cosmopolitan city, that mixed business, pleasure and religion together, Paul met some Jews who claimed to be disciples. Those people must have stood out among the worshippers of the Greek god, Artemas, that the Romans called Diana. So naturally, as would any servant of the Lord, he asked a basic question that is linked to personal faith in Christ as one’s Savior and Lord. Those men were committed to the future of Israel and the coming Messiah, but had not heard of, nor put their personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not everyone who says they are a Christian is a child of God. The new nature imparted by the Holy Spirit, does not place us in Christ because of anything we do or any experience we have however dramatic it may have been. When a sinner comes in repentance to God and puts personal faith in Christ alone for salvation, that person is baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. The Spirit who regenerates us and baptizes us, indwells us and seals us as a possession of the Lord’s. We are “in Christ Jesus.” All of that does not depend on our degree of earnestness nor our activity. It is the work of divine Persons. We are called by the will of God, set apart by the Spirit of God, and are identified by our association with the Son of God.

Paul knew who he was, and what he had been called to do in his service for God. We are saved because “God our Savior wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” Those who yield themselves to the will of God revealed in the Gospel, are those who God saves and justifies. He also gifts those He saves to fulfill a work to which He calls them, and equips them by “His will” to do that unique service for the benefit of others. As far as apostles are concerned, they were in the foundation of the church and we are built on that foundation. Apostleship was for the beginning of the church. The gifts we receive today are for the building up of the church. The foundation was completed by the first-generation believers. Our work is to “take heed how we build thereon,” and add our use of the gifts God gave us to the work of others around us today so that we are building in “the unity of the Spirit.”

As regards the will of God: there doesn’t need to be a complicated set of circumstances we have to experience in order to discern God’s intention for us. If we are willing to do God’s will, when we take the next revealed step, the one just beyond that one will open up. Some principles that relate to knowing and doing God’s will are that I must seek it first [Ps.16:7, 8]. Another one we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in John 6:37, 38, is to have as a true purpose in life, doing God’s will. We not only desire it for ourselves but also for our children, and so we pray in line with God’s will [Mat.21:22; Jn.14:14], knowing that guidance will come to us through the Holy Spirit in us [Jn.20:22]. Doing God’s will does not mean we will have a comfortable life. Others before us ended up in prison [Acts 16:19-24], and others died in carrying out the will of God. Eternal life lived out today may lead us to travel to distant places with the Gospel and do things we thought were impossible, or to stay right where we are and do the daily tasks of life with our might “as unto the Lord.” But we know that it is “God who worketh in you, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” For me to do my own will may seem at first the best thing to do because it is easiest. However, as one who has been set apart by God as one of His saints, He may lead us through dark valleys and over rough roads.

That is what it is incumbent upon me; to be found as a faithful steward of Christ Jesus. A faithful person can be counted on to respond to the will of God in the work of God, and be found among the people of God. To be one of “the faithful in Christ Jesus” is a very great privilege that carries with it a very great responsibility. God is counting on us to be faithful to Him in every word and work in which we are involved. There are many of the fundamentals of Bible doctrine found in the first chapter of Ephesians. The begin with the definite article “the,” to state what that doctrine is. For instance in verse 1: “the will of God,” “the saints,” and “the faithful,” are each biblical doctrines that need to be taught.

To be “in Christ Jesus” is no accidental act. It has been God’s will for a long time, even before the world was formed, to have a people for Himself, a bride for God’s Son, a body of which Christ is the Head. Who would have thought when that small group of believers came into Ephesus that first time, that there would be such far-reaching effects on millions of people all over the world because of what happened when one man, “by the will of God,” would be involved in bringing people separated by God into the place when they would be put “in Christ.” We are still being influenced and taught truths from the book of Ephesians.

In 54 AD, Paul came to Ephesus on a brief but very effective visit. He had to be at Jerusalem at a certain date to fulfill a vow he had made. He left Aquila and Priscilla there and went on to Judea and was there for quite a lengthy time. When he returned to Ephesus he was there for nearly three years of whole-hearted, active service that we read of in Acts 19 and 20. This first of two letters that were written to Ephesus was written probably 10 years after the activities described in Acts. He was in prison in Rome and you can imagine the thoughts of the apostle as he describes the calling of the Church from the depths of sin to the heights of redemption and takes the saints into the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. There are a lot of key words and phrases that are repeated. The idea of being “in Christ” is repeated often in the first two chapters. The word “walk” is repeated particularly in the latter chapters. “Together”, “therefore”, “according to”, “heavenly places”, “riches”, “love” are other words repeated. Also, in the epistle there are three figures of the Church given: [1] Temple, 2:21-22 [2] Human body. 1:22-23; 4:15 [3] Bride. 5:25-32. The Body is the main emphasis. The distinctive teaching is the Church is the Body of Christ and as believers we are members of that sacred Body.

The background of these people is similar to our place and time. They had religion and pleasure as the main pursuits of life. Ultimately these two things came together in Ephesus as the goddess Dianna became the center of their worship. Most people want to worship what makes them feel good. Today, as in those days, people make statements like, “I feel comfortable there.” “I just love the music because it makes me feel like I can forget my problems.” This is made in the context of religion. Some people are caught in the bonds of substance abuse because of how it makes them feel. Alcohol makes people feel less inhibited and so they drink to “drown their sorrows”, “makes me feel less pressured to watch what I say or do”, “makes it easy to laugh.” Drugs of any kind are given to make us feel good. That is why we buy aspirin, Demerol, Tylenol, and a host of other drugs to take away pain and make us feel better. People are pressured to try hashish, cocaine, marijuana and other dangerous drugs because it makes them feel good for awhile. Religious activities are often geared to making us feel good and so sin is not mentioned or any other doctrines that make people feel uncomfortable. Buildings are erected to inspire a feeling of awe so the doors are big enough to drive an 18- wheeler through. Interiors of buildings are such that people are almost compelled to whisper even though no one else is around. People have this need to have feelings satisfied. We are made like that. But feelings are not lasting and can easily deceive us. That was true in Ephesus as their man-made worship led them into sexual orgies under the guise of worship because the senses were appealed to.

When the Gospel came to Ephesus, there was even a riot because “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” “Mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” This teaching was not based on emotion or feeling but on the name and message of a living Person who was crucified for our sins, buried temporarily and raised the first day of the week. God saved many people in that city and the word of God prospered. After a number of years passed, perhaps as many as 30 some, another letter came to those believers in Ephesus. At first glance things seemed to be going on well in that assembly. Their works in the Gospel and in the community were know; their labor for the outreach of the Gospel was known; they were noted for their patience, maturity, stand against evil and willingness to deal with wrong when necessary. They did all of that for the Lord. But something gradual had come in almost unawares and they hardly knew it. They only had a short time to make the necessary changes or their assembly and all its testimony and fellowship would be lost. What was so seriously wrong that they were in danger of ceasing to exist as a scripturally gathered New Testament church? They had left their first love and weren’t doing their first works.

What is it in my life that I really want?
What are the things I can do that will really count?
What could I commit to that will make me happy – not sad?
What would bring God pleasure – really make Him glad?
Doing the will of God!

What would bless other people and help them on their way?
What would not bring shame nor waste the hours of this day?
What would have the effect of bringing to others some good?
What would help me live this day as I really should?
Doing the will of God!

When I join with others in sweet fellowship,
When I return home again from a distant trip,
When in prayer and praise I give God His due,
What gives me peace when each day is through –
Is doing the will of God!

It is my responsibility in this life to be faithful.
In that way my labor may produce for God that which is fruitful.
When my speech and actions reflect my Lord’s holy grace.
When I do God’s will with enthusiasm and unwavering faith –
Then I will be doing the will of God!

“Father, this day has been one in which many of my thoughts and prayers have been focused on brother Albert Hull. He has been a faithful preacher and teacher. His passion has moved many to live holy lives and has stirred souls to come to Christ. Please, whatever brings Thee the greatest glory, be glorified in Thy servant – and give him peace. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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