Friday, January 24, 2014

The Spirit's work in the life of the Christian in Ephesians

Ephesians 1:11-13 "also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise."

Introduction: The Believer's treasure chest is Jesus Christ and the key to that treasure chest in the Holy Spirit
God in all of His Triune glory is depicted in the opening chapter of the Book of Ephesians.  We see the Person of the Father as the Planner of our salvation in 1:1-6.  Then in 1:7-10 we see the Son as the Purchaser of salvation by the giving of His human life on the cross with the value of His infinite life providing sufficient salvation for all men with application to all who believe. The Holy Spirit then is the Applier of our salvation, taking what the Father planned and the Son purchased and applying it through His calling, regenerative work in saving faith to all who trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ in 1:11-14.  

The whole point of the Book of Ephesians is to explain the believer's inheritance or treasure chest that is Jesus Christ.  The sole key to that treasure chest is none other than the Holy Spirit of God.  It is he Who takes what was planned and purchased and applies it. As Paul writes in Ephesians 1:14  "who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

Tracing the Person and work of the Holy Spirit through Ephesians: changing the ordinary into extraordinary
Every chapter in the book of Ephesians contains a reference to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. As one journey's their way through these references, it is crystal clear how the Holy Spirit is the key that unlocks to the Christian their inheritance and treasure in Jesus Christ. As you will see, many of the areas touched by the Holy Spirit in Ephesians are transformed from ordinary to extraordinary.  Lets see what the Spirit of God does and what the results are when He touches an ordinary person to transform them into an extraordinary vessel for the King, Jesus Christ.

1. The believer is treasured by Christ.
Ephesians 1:13-14.
Whenever you read these two verses, you discover that at salvation, the Holy Spirit seals our salvation (1:13) and is given as a "pledge" of our inheritance (1:14). Quite literally when we read the word "pledge" in the original language, it would correspond to the idea of making a down payment on a house or property.  Whoever makes such a "pledge" is obligated to continue making further payments.
Being that the Holy Spirit is such a pledge, God is obligated to His own name no to forsake the Christian, even though they may at times feel inclined to walk away from Him. (compare 2 Timothy 2:13). 

To use a relational word-picture, an engagement ring is given by a man to a woman signalling that to her alone is he pledged, and that there will be a full wedding right around the corner.  The Christian is viewed as being engaged or espoused to her beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ. To prove to Christians just how treasured they are by Him, God gave of Himself and from Himself to the Christian.  He is the preview of things to come.  The infinitely valuable Person, the Holy Spirit, is pledged to us by the Father on the Son's behalf. 2 Corinthians 1:22 states similarly - "who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge."  Truly when the Holy Spirit seals us and pledges Himself to us at saving faith, we go from being natural sinners to supernatural saints - treasured by Christ, trophies of His grace.  But there is more..

2. The Christian has unlimited access to God, and God to them. Ephesians 2:18
Ephesians 2:18 states - "for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father." Imagine if we did not have the Person of the Holy Spirit. We come to know about God in the general revelation of creation and the conscience.  All men know that deep down, they are guilty before God. But without the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, we would have no way of accessing the God of creation.  Furthermore, without the Holy Spirit's inspiration of the scriptures, we would have know we of knowing the Second Person of the God-head, Jesus Christ. Further reflection will show that it was the Holy Spirit who made possible the Son's incarnation, empowerment for ministry and the events of His cross and resurrection.  Were it not for the Holy Spirit, we would have no access to the events of the cross and empty tomb, no solution, no hope.  
It is "in" or "by" the Spirit we have unlimited access to the Father through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is extraordinary indeed! But notice further....

3. The Christian has the ability by the Spirit to live supernaturally
The following passages in Ephesians all speak about the various ways in which the Spirit of God takes an ordinary person and transforms them into an extraordinary child of God. In Ephesians 3:5 and 16 we see the linkage between the Spirit's work through the scriptures and His work inside the spirit of the believer. Ephesians 4:3-4 reminds us of the fact that the Spirit not only initially calls us unto Christ at salvation, but it is He who continues calling us ever deeper in Christ in our sanctification. Ephesians 4:30, 5:9,18 all speak to the relational dimension that exists between the Christian and the Holy Spirit.  We must be careful not to grieve Him (4:30), but to walk by Him (5:9) and to be influenced under His leadership (5:18). 

4. The believer can, by the Spirit, walk in victory
Ephesians 6:17-18 give us the believer's two-fold method for waging successful spiritual warfare - by the word and by prayer.  2 Corinthians 6:6-7 states - "in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left." The believer can, by the Holy Spirit, walk in victory.  Sadly many Christians end up in the merry-go-round of repeated sin because of the their own choice.  A Christian sins because of choice, not necessity.  We need the Spirit's ordained means of empowerment for the Christian walk: His inerrant Word and intercessory prayer.   

We have seen today the Spirit's work in the life of the Christian in the book of Ephesians.  We noted how the book of Ephesians aims to show Christ as the believer's treasure chest, the the Holy Spirit as the key.  The following thoughts were gleaned in showing how the Holy Spirit's work can take the ordinary and transform it into the extraordinary:
1. The believer is treasured by Christ
2. The Christian has unlimited access to God, and God to them
3. The Christian has the Spirit-given ability to live supernaturally
4. The Christian can, by the Spirit, walk in victory

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