We’ve already gone in-depth on the verse-by-verse & this lesson assumes some knowledge of the text. We’ll try to continue bringing the teaching out of the text, but with focus on the aspect of our new identity & position in Christ, & on the hope that we now have – how that plays out in our lives.
What is hope?
Maybe the best way to discover what you think hope is by asking…
Where do you place your own hope?
HOPE… is something we anticipate w/ pleasure, expectation & confidence – it gives life meaning
– from faith (our anchor (Heb 6:19), our helmet (1 Thes 5:8), our eternal hope results in immediate action
Today’s lesson is all about hope – the good & powerful reality of the hope we have in Christ…
PowerPoint & Teaching
J Let’s look at the world in terms of the “Realm of God”, the “realm of angels”, & the “realm of people & things”. Scripture gives examples of God sometimes communicating to humans by way of ministering spirits (angels). This is one-way communication from God – thus the arrow’s only coming down from Him to us. It’s by God’s Word & His Spirit that believers can experience two-way communication with God.
J Satan deceives – pulling “spiritual blinders” over the eyes of those that do not yet know Christ.
J Satan also seeks to deceive Christians – attempting to turn our eyes from Christ. He’ll do anything to steal from God the glory He richly deserves – thus often making us feel more like victims than like victors in Christ.
J But God’s told us in His Word that we don’t have to live like victims of the evil one. That’s because Christ (represented by the “X” on a chair) is seated at the right hand of God (shown as a “O” on a chair). And Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are “seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” – a very different place than we often feel or live!
J It’s our choice where we want to live – whether as victims of the lies & accusations of the evil one…
J or as victors – in Christ – living in the truth of Christ’s victory & who God’s said that we are now in Him. It’s a completely different spiritual reality to that of those that don’t know the Lord yet.
J We’re more likely to feel like victims of Satan’s lies & accusations when we’re living in isolation.
J Instead, we live out the truth of our identity in Christ together in unity & fellowship in the Body of Christ.
J Let’s take a look at this summary of Eph 1 & 2 to better understand how God lays this out… [continue through the PowerPoint, thoughtfully reading the verses until you get back to the overview]
Ephesians goes on (in chapters 4-6) to describe how we’re to live out the truth of our identity in Christ together in unity & fellowship in the Body of Christ.
J How do you sense that God comes to you? Does He say, “As you are accountable to my authority, I will affirm and accept you”? Or does He say, “I affirm and accept you and ask for accountability to my authority”? Can you imagine anyone going to God and saying, “Father, look how accountable I have been to your authority. I deserve to be a co-heir with Your Son Jesus”?
But somehow we often live with this backwards perspective – that our acceptance depends on how “good” we are (or at least how “good” we look before others)… & living that way steals the joy of the freedom we have in Christ!
What does the passage say about hope?
HOPE… is something we anticipate w/ pleasure, expectation & confidence. The hope we have is a product of God’s grace in our new positional reality: being re-created in Christ. Our hope in Christ is described as the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (as something good, to say the least) & as his incomparably great power for us who believe – as something real & powerful… that is effectual – experiencing & showing the light, purity, wholeness, & life that there is in Christ.
Our hope depends entirely on what God has done (observe who is the Causer of all the good things in the passage – esp. in all the past tense phrases) & has promised to do, e.g.:
1:3 – “with every spiritual blessing”
The past tense participle “has blessed” points to this blessing of believers as having occurred in eternity past. “Every spiritual blessing” means that He’s given us everything we need for a truly spiritual, Spirit-filled, life. Since, as believers, we’ve already been given these blessings, we don’t have to ask for them, but instead to appropriate, or use, them by faith.
So let’s take a look at these key elements of our hope:
1:18 – “eyes of your heart may be enlightened”
In the Gk, this isn’t a new sentence, but continues the thought in v.17. Some translations make this a part of the prayer (“that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened”), but the grammar (perfect adverbial participles are usually causal in Gk) seems to indicate that it’s actually part of the basis for the prayer (e.g. “because the eyes of your heart have been enlightened”).
The context both here and throughout Ephesians seems to emphasize that light is a property belonging to believers. Thus, it seems that the author is saying, “I know that you are saved, that you have had the blinders of the devil removed; because of this, I can now pray that you will fully understand and see the light of God’s glorious revelation.”
1:18 – “riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints”
We’ve summed this up as “good”… but that seems like the understatement of the year J. Because of what Christ has done & whom we are now in Him, our identity has shifted from “dead in sins” to being made “riches” – Christ’s “glorious inheritance” – “saints”, or holy ones. Let’s not gloss over that – stop & think about it for a minute… you are God’s “glorious inheritance” because of what Christ has done… is that how you generally picture yourself?
1:19-21 – “his incomparably great power for us who believe – that power is like…”
The word “power” means a spiritually dynamic & living force – the power of God directed towards believers. It’s pretty easy to look at our own weaknesses & lose sight of just what kind of very real power God’s given us to live out our hope in Him. The point is that the power required to live a life pleasing to God is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The power is real & is available to us to live out our hope in Him.
v. 22-23: What does Paul mean when he says that Christ “fills everything in every way”?
Another way to phrase the question might be “What does Paul mean when he speaks of ‘the headship of Christ’ in 1:10 & 22?”
The Headship of Christ is about choosing for Christ to “invade” every aspect of our lives w/ His goodness & truth. It’s not about fleshly power (forcing changes from the outside in), but about God’s transformational power (bringing change from the inside out). The term “fill” is used several times in Ephesians – it’ll come up again in 3:19, 4:10, & 5:18 – the last passage commands us to “be filled with the Spirit”.
It’s related to the commands of Rom. 12:1-2 – being transformed from the inside out, by renewing our minds.
Is my choice of eating this … under the headship of Christ, or under the headship of Satan? Seriously – & it’s not about a new legalism, but about learning to live – to really live – in the freedom each of us has in Christ. To not be in bondage to gluttony or greed, so that I can really enjoy what is truly good.
It’s choosing to be transformed – despite a hostile environment, which comes in the forms of our flesh (that is, our own brokenness – our transgressions & sins, 2:1), the ways/systems of this world (v. 2), & the evil one – the ruler of the kingdom of the air (v. 2).
2:3- “by nature, objects of wrath”
The word for “objects of wrath” is literally “children of wrath”. Children of wrath” is a Semitic idiom which may mean either “people characterized by wrath” or “people destined for wrath.” This contrasts with the HOPE we have in Christ.
This is what it means to live as an “object” or “child” of wrath… I think the concept was expressed well in a February, 2007 National Geographic interview with Francis Collins (a brilliant brother in Christ, who’s head of the human genome project):
“In spite of the fact that we have achieved all these wonderful medical advances and made it possible to live longer and eradicate diseases, we will probably still figure out ways to argue with each other and sometimes to kill each other, out of our self-righteousness and our determination that we have to be on top. So the death rate will continue to be one per person, whatever the means. We may understand a lot about biology, we may understand a lot about how to prevent illness, and we may understand the life span. But I don’t think we’ll ever figure out how to stop humans from doing bad things to each other. That will always be our greatest and most distressing experience here on this planet, and that will make us long the most for something more.”
Sometimes, whether bc either we’re growing up &/or living in a “Christian environment”, it’s easy to not realize what it means to live with a hope that is good & that is real – or what it means to live without hope. We live in a messed up world! The evil & the pain that we see in the world around us comes out of lives that do not know true hope – lives that are driven by…
– hate & fear
– control or manipulation of others to do what we want
– pride – that how I look to others is what’s most important
– thinking that your body is your primary commodity & value
– drowning out our problems with alcohol or drugs, with food or caffeine
– running from problems &/or filling our lives w/ enough activity to not think about them
– ignoring problems any way possible
– materialism – that once we’ll eventually “have enough” to be happy
– working hard enough to retire early & enjoy “the good life”
In short, things that inherently cannot provide HOPE – something that is true, eternal, real, & good… Jesus came to save us from ourselves, & to give us the hope that only He could provide.
Is our experience of life typically more characterized by Christ “filling everything in every way”, of being “made alive with Christ”, of having been “raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms”? Or is our experience more characterized by following “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air”, of sin & our own brokenness?
I think that, for many of us, the honest answer is “It depends on the day, or even the moment”. The fact is that we all still experience the pain of our own sin & brokenness. So, does that mean that this hope is just a crock – just something we talk about, but can’t really experience? Did God lie about there being any hope for you? For me? – No? Why not? From this passage – teens…
Becoming competent in love… learning trustworthy patterns of loving God, & others as ourselves, in appropriate ways as our continued experience of life… is something we learn over time, with ongoing choices to conform our lives to the gospel. It’s a battle – we just read that in 2:1-10 & we’ll talk about that in depth once we get to chapter 6. Throughout our study of Ephesians, we’ll be learning more about how to stand firm in our hope in Christ, & the roles that God’s Spirit, word, & body play in all this.
The choice is literally… get busy living or get busy dying.
These 1st 2 chapters are primarily indicative – helping us to understand whom God is, what Christ has done, who we were, & whom we are now in Christ… to prepare us to learn how to live out, the imperatives, of Christ’s headship. J [ READ SLIDE: “People may not live what they say they believe, but they will always live what they really believe – especially about themselves and God.” ] When we better understand our position in Christ, we’re better able to actually live out our hope – these “good works” that God’s created us to do.
How do we become “In Christ” – having a foundation for our lives based on the character & work of God & not just our works?
It’s by faith in Christ – & not by faith in our works…
– Eph. 2:1-10
The changes we’re talking about depend on whether or not we’re in Christ in the first place – if you’ve trusted in Christ as your Savior (& not on works of being “good enough”), tremendous changes have taken place in your life – changes that we’ll be exploring in the weeks to come.
Many Christians aren’t living free & productive lives because they don’t understand who they are & why they’re here. Who they are is rooted in their identity & position in Christ. If we don’t see ourselves the way God sees us, to that degree we’ll suffer from a false identity & poor sense of worth. Most of us don’t fully understand the gospel & the dramatic change that occurred in us the moment we trusted in Christ.
You have to know & believe positional truth about whom you are in Christ to successfully progress in your sanctification or you’re going to try to do for yourself what God has already done for you. The balance between the indicative (who you are) and the imperative (what you’re supposed to do or not do) is about equal in Scripture, but that’s often not the case in our conversations or our churches.
The proof is in the fruit – our works show what we truly believe. Faith is relational & an action word – not a matter of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. This is what it means when Russ talks about being competent at loving God & others.
ask for a few examples of times when “your belief of God’s character affected how you saw yourself & the world in a way that helped you to choose an action &/or attitude in a way that honored God”.
I’ll give a simple example to start things off.
My hope is that we’ll start to realize that these things – times when we’ve chosen God – are the goodness & reality of our hope in Him. Satan loves to accuse us & to focus our eyes on our own failures & to even use those to make us doubt how real or good our hope in Christ is. But if we look at our lives objectively, we can also see how our hope is good & real – as we see ourselves learning to love God & others competently. I hope.