Ephesians, Part 2
Do you ever feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick? That things just aren’t fair because you don’t have the same opportunities as someone else? Many of us have felt that way, but God made sure that we never have to feel that way about salvation. As we study Ephesians today, we’ll see how God leveled the playing field so that everyone has the same avenue to grace regardless of their background.
The concepts of identity and background were a big deal in Paul’s day. Racial tension permeated the culture between Jews and Gentiles. That’s why Paul’s message to the Ephesians was so shocking yet refreshing. No matter who you are or where you come from, you have the same offer of forgiveness and redemption that God has offered the rest of humanity. Enjoy this week’s teaching, the conclusion of our 2-part series on Ephesians, that will impress upon you the absolute joy we can have in salvation through Christ!
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can Listen Now!
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover with me, as always, is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. And I'd like to encourage you, right at the top, to visit our website FOIradio.org. There, you can find out more information about The Friends of Israel Today and The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. You'll find archive pages to listen to six years of Chris's teachings and our interviews. Again, that's FOIradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, last week we started a look at Ephesians. And a few weeks ago, I was able to teach this lesson, this class, to a Word of Life Bible Institute, their first-year class on the book of Ephesians. So I thought the letter to Ephesians, I thought I would bring some of that teaching to the radio series. And last week, we actually looked at a riot that took place in Ephesus, that I think helps build out what the letter to the Ephesians is all about. And that's what we're going to look at today, the theme of Ephesians, which is all about the unity, the unity of the body in Christ. I think it's so important, especially for the day that we live in today.
Steve Conover: We sure hope you stay with us. But first in the news, Times of Israel reports, Israel plans to transfer some 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses to the Palestinians to help them with their floundering coronavirus vaccination campaign. In a statement, the prime minister's office said it would transfer doses that are about to expire. And that in exchange in September and October, Israel would receive shipments of Pfizer vaccines that were originally meant to go to the Palestinians.
Chris Katulka: Steve, here's my take. Israel is always under scrutiny for the way they manage the Palestinian people, especially during times of crisis. The Palestinian leadership, I find it fascinating, they do all that they possibly can to disenfranchise the Israeli people, the Israeli government. But in times of need, Israel, they believe, should foot the bill, take care of them, when that pressure comes. Prime minister Bennett is doing the right thing to show compassion to the Palestinian people whose leadership is more concerned with slamming Israel than actually caring for its people.
I want to continue our discussion on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Last week, we looked at an important moment in Paul's history with the church at Ephesus, when a riot broke out in the city between the craftsmen who made idols to the goddess Artemis, and those in the church in Ephesus, including Paul. The issue was over the fact that so many Gentiles had come to faith in Christ, that they had abandoned the goddess Artemis and all the craftsmen actually started losing income.
Paul's ministry in Ephesus had grown so much, pagans were turning away from their idols in droves, changing the economy of the city. And really, I don't know about you, but that's amazing to me to think about. But I want to turn to Paul's letter to the Ephesians now, because what happened in the riot in Acts chapter 19 was this sign that Gentiles who turned to Christ were leaving behind their pagan ways and embracing a biblical way of life, a biblical worldview. They turned from the plethora of idols that they served and the plethora of idols that they worshiped and embraced to the one, true God through his Son, Jesus Christ. And I believe that brought a sense of unity to the body of Christ, because that was a real issue in the first century church. You had Jewish believers in Jesus and you had Gentile believers in Jesus. And at one point, these two groups of people were at war with one another.
And now the apostle Paul is arguing to them that they are one in Christ, they are unified. Really, that's the theme of the letter to the Ephesians—Unity. So how does Paul stress this unity? Well, listen to the beginning of Ephesians chapter one:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestined us to the adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the beloved. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which he purposed in Himself. That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one, all things in Christ. Both which are in heaven and which are on Earth in Him. In Him also, we have obtained an inheritance being predestined, according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also trusted. After you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.”
Amen! Unity in the body of Christ is seen in the very personhood of God Himself. Did you hear how Paul describes God? He does it in a Trinitarian way, three in one. First, notice he starts with our God and Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and chose us since the foundation of the world.
Right away, God the Father is mentioned as the one who is in eternity past, choosing you and me. He is sovereignly in control of everything. He chose you to be holy and blameless. He predestined you to adoption. That means you've become a child of God. But the point that Paul is trying to make is this, is that God, the Father... Listen, he knows you. And he's known you from the very beginning. When it comes to unity, this concept really levels the playing field. Yes, God knew that there would be certain Jewish people who would come to faith in Him. And yet at the same time, God knew that there would be certain Gentiles that would trust in Him. Unity is easy to grasp, unity is easy to embrace, when everyone realizes where they started.
And Paul is saying, "You were all known by God, all of you, from the very beginning. He chose you. Doesn't matter your background, or when you came to Christ, or what you did in your past. He chose you from the foundation of the world. And listen, this radically changes the way that we should see one another." Paul then moves from God the Father, and his choosing of us from the past, to the Son. Remember what Paul wrote about Jesus starting in verse seven, did you hear it? He said, "In Him, we have redemption through His blood. The forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. Having made known to us, the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.” Hey, listen, God chose us. Jesus provided redemption. The redemption needed through His shed blood to provide forgiveness of sins for everyone.
Again, notice Paul doesn't highlight that those pagan Gentiles needed more of Christ's blood, needed more of Christ's forgiveness, needed more forgiveness than the Jewish people who were already considered God's chosen people because that's not what's happening. Paul is actually leveling the playing field. He is showing you how everyone, Jew and Gentile, in unity together needed forgiveness of their sins. And only through the shed blood of Jesus do Jew and Gentile find redemption equally. If you go back to that riot scene in Acts chapter 19 that we looked at last week, you can really see that animosity between Jew and Gentile in action when Alexander, the Jewish guy, steps up and tries to calm the crowd down. Again, this riot happened in Ephesus because Gentiles who were turning away from paganism, trusting in Christ, stopped spending their money on idols made to false gods, especially Artemis, the God of the Ephesians. And when Alexander, a Jewish believer in Jesus, got up to speak, do you remember what the text says in Acts chapter 19?
It says this, "And they drew Alexander out from the multitude, the Jews putting him forward and Alexander motioned with his hands and wanted to make his defense to the people. But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice, they started to cry out for about two hours, 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.'" Okay, so right there, you can sense, you can feel it, that racial tension between Jew and Gentile. As soon as the Ephesians found out Alexander was a Jewish man, they all started screaming over him, the name of a pagan God, for nearly two hours. Notice it wasn't even that he was a Christian, it was that he was Jewish. But Paul emphasizes the point that in Christ, there is unity. Gentiles have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Those who were once at odds with one another, those who were once enemies are now brothers and sisters in Christ. So as in the past, the Father provides unity among the body of Christ because he chose us before the foundation of the world. And now, think about this, Christ brings unity in the present because we are all in need of a savior, Jew and Gentile alike. Now, when we return, I'm going to show you how the Holy Spirit plays a role in this unity. It's so important to see this. It's a hope that we have, actually. We have it through the Father, we have it through the Son, and we have it through the Holy Spirit.
But listen, I want to encourage you to join us July 18th through the 20th, 2021. We're going to be doing our Jerusalem in Prophecy online conference. This is going to be such an amazing conference. World powers have been wrestling for control of the city of Jerusalem for 3000 years, but God is the one who has the final say on its destiny. Join us online to learn what God's Word says about the history of Jerusalem and its prophetic future. This is a live, online prophecy conference that focuses on Jerusalem’s past, present, and future. Steve, can you let our listeners know how they can register for the Jerusalem in Prophecy online live conference?
Steve Conover: Absolutely, Chris. Please visit FOIconferences.org to learn more. That's FOI conferences.org. There, you can find out more about the conference and receive a free PDF of the booklet, 10 Reasons Why Christians Support Israel, when you register. You'll also have an opportunity to receive 50% off Randall Price's book, Jerusalem in Prophecy. You can become an expert in understanding biblical prophecy and truths about the Holy City in this exciting and uplifting event that we're going to have. Again, that's FOIconferences.org.
Chris Katulka: Okay, so we've been talking about the theme of the book of Ephesians, the theme of unity among the body of Christ. And we already looked at the Father and the Son, and now we're going to look at the Holy Spirit. And let me just say this before we turn to that, it's pure genius for Paul to highlight the persons of the Trinity to emphasize the unity we have as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Here, Paul lays out the role each individual and the Godhead makes to bring reconciliation between the sinner and God. Here are three individual persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working together as one God, to bring redemption. Again, even in the Trinitarian picture, the picture of the Trinity, you see diversity and unity in harmony. And that's exactly what Paul wants the believers to see. He wants believers to see the Trinitarian model of who God is, that there are three persons, but one God.
And in the same way we should be as believers working together, we are all different, we are all unique, but God has given us gifts to work out in order to bless not only the world, to bring the gospel to the world, but to build up the church, encourage one another, and to share the good news of the Lord, Jesus Christ. But listen, Paul ends this by showing the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer today. Listen, not only were you sovereignly chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son, but I love this, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 and 14 says this, "And when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, when you believed in Christ, you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance until the redemption of God's own possession to the praise of His glory."
This is such an amazing verse to show that the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is not based on your race or your background, but on when you believed in Christ. When you placed your faith in Christ, you were sealed. That means right there, my friends, if you genuinely believe, you can never lose your relationship with God. God sealed you. Look what it says, "You've been sealed till the redemption of God's own possession." The apostle Paul is saying that you've been sealed until the very end. Even in death, you've been sealed. You've been sealed by the Holy Spirit until your resurrection, when you stand face to face with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You've been sealed till the day your salvation becomes complete and you are glorified. And look at what Paul says, "The Holy Spirit as a down payment for what's coming in the future." In Greek, that word is arrabon.
This is the hope that the Holy Spirit gives us, that we've been sealed, and this hope unifies believers all around the world. And I have to just say something, this down payment is so important because it's showing that there's a greater thing coming. The Holy Spirit in your life is a down payment for what lies ahead in the prophetic future for the believer. Again, bringing unity to the body of Christ. God, the Father, sovereignly chose you in the past in his kindness. Christ, his Son, redeemed you by His blood, which provides salvation for you today. And the Holy Spirit seals us and serves as a down payment of the greater thing that's coming for those who believe in Christ. These truths Paul draws out from the Trinitarian model aren't meant to divide, but to unify the body of Christ around the truth of what God says about Himself and us.
Hey, listen, I know unity isn't always pretty. God never said you need to be best friends with everybody, but we're to love and support and lift up and build up one another knowing this, where we all came from. It's amazing, all of our testimonies, they don't center around ourselves. What Paul teaches us is this, is that our testimonies, how we were chosen by God, how we were redeemed by his Son, how we were sealed by the Holy Spirit, what does it show us? That our testimonies center around the Godhead, that's why he drives us to be one in Christ, to bear one another's burdens, to lift each other up in prayer. Because the God who sovereignly chose you in the past, saves you even today, and seals you for what's coming in the future.
Steve Conover: Chris, it seems that the result of being sealed should have a practical influence in my life to not be fearful and to have the confidence to step out into that relationship with others.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. The idea of being sealed is important because it shows that God is with you, even in those difficult moments or those moments where you might feel a lack of confidence to go out and share your faith or whatever the case might be in your life. To think that you're sealed, that there's the down payment of the Holy Spirit in your life today means that God not only is taking care of you now, where you are, but that He has the whole vision in mind of your sanctification and glorification all in one view so that He sees where you are and where you're going. That's the sealing of the Holy Spirit.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenaged Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the holy land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations. Many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Latrun is an area in Israel located on a hilltop on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the Ayalon Valley. It is where Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still. It's also where some of the fiercest battles against the Arabs have taken place. Many years ago, several believers came from a church in Latrun to visit our church in Jerusalem. When they realized that I am the Zvi, about whom Elwood McQuaid wrote in his books, Zvi: The Miraculous Story About Triumph Over the Holocaust, they invited me to their church to give my testimony. Recently, they asked me to return. However, for Israelis, Latrun is a dangerous place. So I responded, "If you want me, you can come to Jerusalem." Some came, most of them Arabs were not friendly to Israel. One asked, "Do you hate Arabs?”
I replied, “Those who try to kill me I will not go to with roses. I have to defend myself. "How can it be,” he asked, “that you who believe in Christ hate your neighbors?" I told them, "I have lived in Israel for 63 years. We have never attacked. We are merely half a million people, and you Arabs attacked us, and now you ask me such a question? We defend ourselves against you and you can see who has been on our side. Psalm 124:1 says, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when a wrath was kindled against us." Then I asked, "Do you believe all that is written in the Holy Bible?" I showed them many facts from God's Word, including Isaiah 41:8. "But you Israel are my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen. You are my servant. I have chosen you and have not cast you away. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced. They shall be as nothing and those who strive with you shall perish."
The man replied, "This is the first time we have seen this verse." "You remind me of the Ultra-Orthodox Jews", I replied. "They only read what the rabbis tell them to read, but now you have seen it with your own eyes. The Holy Spirit of God wrote this."
After a long discussion, one of the men asked if I had a Bible in Arabic. I gladly gave one to him. For many years, I would not go to the Arabs to share the gospel. But in time, God gave me courage. Today, it gives me great joy to bring them the good news of salvation through our Jewish Savior. Now we are beginning to see our work produce good fruit. But every now and then, I meet Arabs who truly want to know the truth, and I am happy to tell it to them.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for this two-part series on the book of Ephesians. Next week, we have our executive director, Jim Showers, with us.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. So we mentioned in the program that we're going to be running our Jerusalem in Prophecy online conference. And Jim's going to come in to share about his vision for this conference, why it's on his heart that we talk about Jerusalem, and to convey the truths of what Jerusalem means in the scriptures for believers. So I really hope that our audience comes back. Not only find out what's coming for the Jerusalem Prophecy conference, but to hear from our executive director, Dr. Jim Showers.
Steve Conover: Yeah. And to register for that conference, visit FOIconferences.org. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Once again, that's FOI Radio, PO box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And one last quick reminder to visit us at FOIradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Jerusalem in Prophecy Online Conference
July 18-20, 2021
Discover the fate of Jerusalem in our special 3-day, 12-session online conference! You’ll learn through Scripture what has made this city the subject of world powers’ attention throughout history, what is still to come, and how God is guiding its destiny.
Apples of Gold: It Is God Who Is On Our Side
Zvi was invited to speak to a Christian church in a not-so-friendly area between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Because of the danger that Jewish people faced there, Zvi instead preached from Jerusalem where many came to hear him. Many in the congregation were Arab and asked Zvi if he hated the Arab people. Zvi explained to them the difference between defending Jewish people against the Arabs and hating them. Listen to how he explains God’s protection of His people using Scripture.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us reach people all around the globe with our message of truth to bless the Jewish people. If the Lord leads you and you believe Christians need to hear the truth about Israel and the Jewish people, we ask that you prayerfully consider a gift so we can continue to bring these truths to you and others as well. Any amount is a blessing to our program and we are so thankful for your support.