**I'm not quite sure what's going on with the formatting here. It may be just as well to open it up in Google Docs. Sorry! :) **
Dearest friends – I must, before we get into this week’s lesson, tell you the WEIGHT that I feel in going through this book! Not weight in a “burdensome” sense but in a HEAVY, “weight of glory” kind of way! I know that all of scripture is FULL of the glory of God and weighty in the message that it communicates but there is something about this book that is just so Heavenly, so glorious, so FULL that I just feel so inadequate to even attempt to go through this with you all. I am encouraged, though, that God’s spirit lives in us that that through prayer and the power of His Holy Spirit we can have spiritual eyes and can understand God’s word. I pray that our feeble attempts to discuss these weighty things together will benefit us in some small way and that we would be driven to the scriptures with a new love for God’s word and a desire to know Him more through it. This week we will be going through Chapter 1:15-23 and then Chapter 2:1-10. The end of Chapter 1 is a prayer of Thanksgiving for those who are reading the letter. I believe that this includes us! It behooves to listen carefully to what this Apostle prayed and pray it for ourselves and for The Church.
As we have discussed, Paul was God’s chosen messenger and as you look carefully at all of His letters you see the close relationship that He had with the Lord through prayer. We also see in various places that he was visited by the Lord and that he was given many visions (one of a man in Macedonia pleading with Him to come there, another of Heaven, and others). Paul had a deep fellowship with the Lord Jesus and in this prayer, he was asking God to grant all believers this depth of relationship and understanding of God’s mysteries.
Paul starts off this prayer of thanksgiving by saying “Therefore” or as some translations say “For this reason” – and anytime we see that in scripture we should STOP and see what the writer is referencing. As many preachers like to say, “you have to see what the “therefore” is there for!
After encouraging the believers with the amazing truths about God’s plan, he will now give thanks and offer prayers. He says that he is offering prayers of thanksgiving because he has heard of their faith in Jesus and their love for the saints.
Paul was hearing reports from Ephesus. This church that he had planted and spent nearly three years watering (the longest he spent with any church on his missionary journeys) was healthy and flourishing and he was hearing of this growth. Remember, Ephesus was a hostile place for Christians to live but even despite those conditions, we do not find any admonitions for them but rather praise for the way they loved one another. He may have heard reports of believers helping each other out in times of persecution and hardship. He knew that they loved each other so well because of the way they were showing the love of Christ to one another. He attributed these visible manifestations of love to their faith in Christ. In this way, the request that Jesus made to His Father on the night that He would be betrayed was being played out in this community of believers. Paul knew they were believers by the way they loved each other.
- That God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him and that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened.
- Raised to new life
- At the right hand of God
- In the heavenly places
- Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion
- Above every name that is named not only in this age but in the age to come
- With all things under his feet
- The head of the church (his body)
- Filling all things everywhere with Himself
- When did He deliver us from wrath? Before He made the world.
- By what means did He do this? By His Grace, out of love for us, through the atoning death of Jesus that paid for our sin.
- What was the REASON that He did this? “So that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” He did all of this to show the riches of His grace. His grace is amazing!
Let’s look at those three things one at a time:
- We are God’s handiwork. His workmanship. His masterpiece. His poem. His delight. He rejoices over us with singing. Just stop for a minute and read that again. Read it 17 times. Read it until it soaks in. Can you see it? Do you know it? Know it and let it WASH OVER YOU.
- We, the loving work of His hands, were created (made anew, brought to life) IN CHRIST JESUS. When Jesus was raised, we were raised to LIFE with Him. The family of God was created through Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus was raised to life after three days? Good. Do you believe that we are HIS BODY raised to life WITH HIM? Believe it! Know it and let it WASH OVER YOU.
- God chose us before the foundation of the world and He prepares works for us to walk in. GOD HAS PLANS FOR US, CHURCH! Think of it – We are His Body. When we do these things prepared in advance for us to do, we are being the “hands and feet of Jesus.”