“I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. “
God has always had a plan for the universe, and it will be fully accomplished by grace through faith in Christ alone. The Church is God’s chief instrument of choice in this mission. Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus lays out this plan (see Ephesians 1;3-10).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the beloved.”
The Ephesian Church was so strategic that Luke’s narrative of the work at Ephesus spans three Chapters in the book of Acts. This Church was planted in a leading city of Asia Minor. Paul always planted in strategic cities for greater kingdom influence.
He spends three to four years laying the foundation to this Church, here he reveals and lays out God’s plan for bringing all things (Cosmos) together under Christ. The challenge of course, is that the devil isn’t going to lay down and allow the Church to retrieve and reconcile to God what he’s stolen without a fight, (hence the reason for the military armor imagery of Ephesians chapter six.
The Warfare Imagery
Working backwards chapter by chapter from chapter Six, will give us an overview of why the Church’s warfare is so fierce. In fact it’s nearly impossible to understand the purpose of this letter without the armor of God imagery.
- We are standing against the strategies of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-20).
- Because the Church is restoring, rebuilding, and protecting the family (5:15-33).
- Because maturing and activating the Church impacts society (4:1-16, 17-32).
- This impact comes from demonstrating God’s wisdom in Community, to the rulers & authorities in the heavenly places (3:6-12).
- The Church (Jews and Gentiles) together are being built up as the dwelling place of The Holy Spirit (2:13-22).
- This is all for the purpose of unifying all things in heaven and on earth in Christ (1:3-12).
The Armor imagery encompasses the entire letter. Paul begins chapter six verse ten by saying “Finally,” which is a summation statement. He’s driving home the point of the urgency of corporate prayer for the Church to accomplish the mission.
It is unfortunate that in a relatively short time, the Church at Ephesus conceded much ground to the powers of darkness, and had left their first love. We read in Revelation 2:4 “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” The warfare is real!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
- We are Gifted this new life in His family
- We are gifted the faith to receive it.
- The Five-Fold Ministry functions of Ephesians 4 is Gifted to the Church
- The works that we are to do are gifted to us – at an appointed time in the story line
- We the Church are gifted to the earth.
We are God’s workmanship, literally “For His workmanship are we.” Grace is given to us to do the work (2:10), and what grace is working in us, our faith can produce through us, That which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Adam and Eve to steward the earth
- Abraham to go to a place of which God would guide him to
- Moses called to go to Pharaoh and lead God’s people out of slavery
- The Prophets to guide, encourage, correct, and foretell the fulfillment of the assignments
- The fivefold ministry functions preparing the Church for the works they’re called to
- The Church to demonstrate the wisdom of God in community for the welfare of the cities
- Hebrews 11 is list of those who were faithful in handling the assignments given to them
- And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
- You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
- You shall be called the repairer of the breach,
- The restorer of streets to dwell in.
We the Church have been given the grace to carry out this ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-20). Abraham Kuyper a 19th century Statesman for the Kingdom said; “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”