Appointed for God's Service
Welcome to Ephesians – a letter by the Apostle Paul to remind believers of their privileges and responsibilities as members of God's family! Although the word 'Ephesus' is missing from the earliest manuscripts we know about, the Early Church leaders certainly agreed that Ephesus was the intended hub-destination. To get orientated into this book of the Bible, do check out the BeaconLight Study Outline (https://beaconlight.co.uk/bible/ephesians). Paul probably invested more time with this church, personally and through his team, than with any other. Although he was writing from prison he still cared that the believers should become spiritually mature in Christ. They were precious to him (Acts 20:29-31) and, as his letter reveals, very precious to God too (Ephesians 2:19-20).
This church, and other churches in the area, were wrestling with being an unwanted minority in a multi-cultural, multi-religious, city. The letter gives strong encouragement to believers to stay faithful to the Lord, and strong challenges to live Christ-like lives. It is not a mere catalogue of Paul's opinions, but divinely inspired truth. What he wrote was God's Word to the churches then, and to us today. Paul's authority came directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, who appointed him to be an apostle, and tutored him (Galatians 1:15-21), so that he could define the gospel ministry of Jesus in the light of the Old Testament illustrations: so that Christians can be confident about what is true and know how to live in a way that pleases God.
Although he felt unworthy because of his shameful past (1 Corinthians 15:8-9), Paul accepted this responsibility from the Lord as a 'foundation messenger' (Acts 9:15; Acts 26:15-18; 1 Corinthians 9:1). As Paul's letters make a large contribution to our understanding of what it means to be a Christian, it is important that we realise that God had specially chosen to speak through his writing, to us. Although we may not think of ourselves as 'saints', we too are God's holy people – made special for Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – as are all who are trusting in Him for their salvation, through His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).
And yet life is often not easy for God's people. Sometimes we are tempted away from our faithfulness to Jesus, which is why we need the encouragement and challenges of this letter. Although it was probably sent to the biggest commercial centre of the area, it got carried to many other places. People who heard God speaking to them through it, shared it with others. Although you may feel unworthy of any kind of spiritual ministry because of your past life, if you have repented of sin and received Jesus Christ then He makes you one of His holy people. He wants to use you to strengthen others in Christ. Perhaps you might be the person who passes God's Word on in your workplace - possibly by forwarding this email and encouraging others to sign up to Word@Work. This series in Ephesians could also be a helpful basis for a workplace Bible discussion group too!
© Dr Paul Adams