Saturday - 5 May 2001
By Dr. Ken Matto
Sometimes believers think that God has somehow abandoned us, or forgot about us, and I guess sometimes we feel like Moses being on the backside of the desert. But God had never forgotten even one of His children. He may allow us to be put on a shelf for a while to either discipline us or to teach us; and as He did with Moses, to prepare us for something. But the Book of Ephesians is going to teach us some very, very strong Truth. And it’s going to refute a lot of ‘pet’ Christian sayings that we have. For example, one saying that is prevalent in Christianity [is] that you have a lot of people running around –a lot of Christians running around—saying something to the effect of: "Well, I’m just a sinner saved by grace." NO, you’re NOT. You’re MORE than a sinner saved by grace! And we’re going to see what the word "saint" means and how that applies to the believer.
So just a little background on the Book of Ephesians –or on the actual town of Ephesus: The word "Ephesus" –the town named "Ephesus" means "desirable." And Ephesus is a place where Paul almost got stoned because he went against those who were making the idols. If you recall, Ephesus was where the temple of Diana stood. The temple of Diana was basically called "the cult of the virgin." Now if we were going to look for a cult today that speaks of a virgin, we would see that the base of such a belief has left Ephesus and has gone to Rome, teaching that Mary is a "perpetual virgin" when the Bible in Mark Chapter 6, verses 1-4, speaks of Mary having other children after the Lord Jesus Christ. So there’s no possible way that she remained a virgin. And when the apostle Paul went into Ephesus, what he did was he went against the cult there, and they tried to have him killed.
And of course, if you read the account in Acts Chapter 19, you will see the consternation that Paul caused. You see, whenever the Truth of God is preached, it’s going to cause trouble. Always keep that in mind. If you’re going through any type of adversity because of bringing the Truth, that’s part of the course; it’s going to happen. In 1 Peter 4:1, God tells us to arm ourselves with the same mindset -- the same mindset that the Lord Jesus Christ had when He was on this earth. He knew who He was [and] He knew the message He was bringing. He had an authoritative message. And that authoritative message has been handed down to us through the Bible. And we have the same authority that the Lord Jesus Christ had in preaching the True Gospel, because when we preach His Words, we’re going to be in the same boat. They’re going to say to us, "Who is this that has such authority?" and "Who preaches this that has such authority?" Because when you hold up the Word of God and you say, "Thus saith the LORD," the Word of God will confound and confront any false teaching that is out there. And they will not be able to mount a case against the Word of God. So what is going to happen is you’ll be on the ‘outs.’ And that’s what happens to a lot of us.
Let’s open our Bibles to Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 1, and we’re going to begin to look at some principles right at the outset of this book that I think is very important to us. This book, Ephesians, teaches the Sovereignty of God in the entire life of the believer, not just salvation. God rules in the affairs of men, and I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that. I believe he said that the longer he’s alive, the more he sees that God rules in the affairs of men. He does. God rules in the affairs of men, and He rules in this world even though the world doesn’t seem to be going the way we think it should. Yet it does. Yet the world is going just as God has planned it. So we don’t have to worry that something is going to happen that God is not aware of. We just continue on trusting the LORD that all things will work out according to His Will and according to His plan.
Now, let’s take a look at Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 1. Now I did not type out these verses for the simple fact that I’m going to turn my Bible with you all, so I’m not ahead of you… So we’re kind of in concert, except I do have tabs on the edge of my Bible and that kind of gives me a little bit of an advantage here… but that’s because you have to flip pages quickly like when you’re listening to Dr. Otero, you have to keep flipping, so you need those.
So in Ephesians 1:1, let’s take a look at what the Bible teaches here: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:" Now there’s few words in there we need to look at. First of all, we want to look at the word, "will." Paul became an apostle not because he said, "Well, I’m going to go to seminary and I’m going to take over a church, and hopefully someday, I’ll become a bishop and do what I want." No, Paul became an apostle -- "apostolon" or "one who is sent." And we’ll know, of course, that Paul was definitely sent– by the will of God. So turn with me to John Chapter 1, verses 12 and 13. These passages are familiar, but as we go through these studies, I’m going to be using these different verses which are familiar to us, because people will sometimes be coming in and out of this room.
And so we never know at what spiritual level anybody is at, just like when you preach to a congregation. There may be some who are there for thirty years, very strong in the faith; there may be some there who just got saved the day before. So we have to kind of hit both ends, and we cannot take for granted who’s mature and who isn’t. What we want to do is we want to include everybody and let the Holy Spirit begin to start teaching the younger believers, and the Holy Spirit will reinforce the older believers what we’ve already come to know. Of course the Bible --being absolutely unfathomable (and we can’t search the mind of an infinite God)-- will always render something to us and give us something new whenever we ask the LORD to open our hearts and minds, as He did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Now, in John Chapter 1, verse 12 and 13, we read: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. " You see, Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. People become saved by the will of God. Somebody doesn’t wake up in the morning and say something to the effect of: "Well, I think I want to become saved today." As a matter of fact, if you look at this world, nobody in their right mind will want to become saved, because it goes opposite of the world. I can almost guarantee that [for] everyone who’s listening here, that your troubles didn’t begin in this world until you became a Christian, because God’s Truth has gone against the grain of the sinful world. And as believers, we always look up and say, "Is it me? Am I doing something wrong, or is it the world?" And when we begin to look at the Scriptures, we realize that because we are in concert with God, because we are in concert with His teachings, we are able to realize that it’s because I’m saved. That is why I’m running into problems in the world. So we see that the will of God is responsible for making Paul an apostle. The will of God is responsible for making believers --true believers.
Now, we see here the word "will." Now the word "will" may also be translated "purpose" or "determination." You see that if you read it this way: "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the ‘purpose or determination’ of God." And of course, the purpose of God is for the believer to send forth the Gospel on this earth. That is part of our responsibility: To send forth the Gospel. Also, to disciple those who have come into the Kingdom, as the Lord said, "Lazarus, come forth," [John 11:43 KJV], He did the actual resurrection. What He did was He raised Lazarus from the dead and He told the people to take off the grave clothes "Loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44 KJV). And that’s what we have to do. You see, when a new believer comes into the church, they have those wrappings of death all over them. And it is our responsibility by taking the Bible and taking the teachings that God has given us, to strip that death cloth away, little by little. So we see that Christ resurrects them, and it’s our responsibility to teach them, to remove the death clothes, little by little, so they are no longer bound. They are free, as the apostle Paul said, that the Word of God would have free recourse.
Now, he goes on to the second part of that verse. He says here: "…to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." Of course the word "saints" come from the Greek word "hagios", which also means "holy, set apart." And of course, he also deals with sanctification. So those three words are important because we are set apart holy unto the LORD, and we are saints. Do you know that Satan’s people can also be holy unto Satan? –set apart unto Satan? --because the world is his people. But God set us apart with a true holiness.
Now, he says here: "…to the saints which are at Ephesus." Look at the last part of the verse: "…and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." Now it’s quite interesting that he breaks it up –it almost seems to be a dichotomy here. He says, "…to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful…" Well, wouldn’t we take it that the saints are faithful? Well, hold on… maybe not. It’s quite interesting, and as I was going over this verse, I was thinking of something that had happened in my life that I learned of, which brought this verse to light. It says here: "…to the saints… and to the faithful…" Now, I remember some years ago: I don’t know if any of you are familiar with a place called America’s Keswick. I used to be on the corporation board there, and they were going to build an activity center for the Men of the Colony of Mercy. It’s where people would go for a 90-day program (they ‘upped’ it to a 120-day now) to be free of any addiction. Back then it was primarily alcohol, but now, it is addictions for drugs, sex, anything. And it was free to the men. So they had asked us to look for volunteers to help raise money for the place. And as I made over 100 phone calls, I ran up a $118 bill. And I’m talking local calls too. I received all kinds of excuses why these people couldn’t help. You see, one guy even said to me, "My time is too complicated." If I wasn’t working for Keswick, I was gritting my teeth and I wanted to say: "Who gave you the time? You know, it is God who gives you the time.
So you see, here was a perfect example of a person being a saint, but not being faithful. You see, 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. I mean, you can be a saint and not be faithful in the cause of Christ, because you may not be involved to the extent others are --and may NOT want to be involved to the extent. Now I remember another episode, a friend of mine was visiting a large church out in Lancaster County, PA. And they were having a mission service in the evening. And they took up a collection for these missionaries. Now there were approximately 200 people in attendance that evening. And they took up a collection, and they collected $167… $167 for missions! You see, these are the saints, but they were not faithful.
I’m going to give you an example of faithfulness. This also comes from the Congo, from a missionary I had supported for quite sometime. They’re back home in the United States, in fact, living in Warren, Ohio. And the fellow’s name is Gene Thomas –Gene and Sandy Thomas. They were working for United World Mission in the Congo. Now sometimes we ask the question, "Why does God allow these things to come into our life?" Let me give you the quick story on that. They had four boxes of tracts. They were going to take it downstream to four different villages. These tracts came from a place called World Missionary Press (Paris, Indiana). And what they did was, they sent out these boxes of tracts in the language of these people. As they were going down this river, the canoe tipped over and the boxes of tracts went 18 feet down in the river. And we’re talking about an African river with snakes and crocodiles present. What were they to do? Well, they got out of the water and Gene Thomas, the missionary, said, "Well, I tell you what, we have to go down to the bottom and get those tracts." So what the guide said, "Well, I tell you what, if you dive in, I’ll dive in after you." So Gene dove in. And he went down 18 feet. Now, we’re talking about a man who’s got a heart condition here. He went down 18 feet, got those four boxes of tracts, brought them out to the surface, sun dried them, went on their way; and as a result, that village got the Gospel that day. Now, here was an example of a faithful saint. How many of us would’ve gone down 18 feet in the water and retrieved those tracts? He was concerned, and he loved the African people so much that he wanted to be buried in Africa. But circumstances unfortunately led to him having to come home –he and his wife—and right now they’re doing good itinerant ministry for evangelism and missions. And that’s very important.
But you see, the key in this verse here: "…to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." The key is that you CANNOT be faithful, UNLESS you are committed or sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ. And you have to be committed. With any type of ministry that you are going to get involved in, you have to be sold out.
Let’s go on to Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 2. And the Bible says there: "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." "Grace" is the bestowing of something completely undeserved, such as salvation, and stemming from that grace is the peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace in the middle of turmoil. Peace in the middle of tragedy. When things are going wrong in our lives, and we have that sense of peace knowing God is in absolute control. We can rest back in that peace, the peace that comes from Calvary. As a result, we continue on in our Christian walk without setback. People will look at this and they’ll say something to the effect of: "Well, how do you do it? How can you remain so peaceful in such a time of turmoil in your life, in such a time of tragedy?"
One of the fellows that comes on Reformed Watchmen (a Christian list/chat group) --Mike Krall-- gave us an update of this fellow, Lucas Owen, who passed away, I believe from the cancer that he had. And he [Mike] was wondering how to minister to the parents. And the parents of course were putting their faith in holy water, in saints, in Saint Jude, and all of these things. And I told Mike, defer the conversation to a later time because emotions will be running high. There will be no peace in that family until the Lord saves one of them, and then there can be good conversation. "Peace" comes from the Greek word "eirene", which means a "cessation of hostilities." We have in Romans 5:1, a beautiful passage, which teaches us what peace is: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" It is through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can approach God the Father because we have the peace, that "eirene," that binding peace that binds us together with the Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s the peace that passes all understanding. How could a holy, just God take someone from the slime pits of sin and say, "I’m going to have peace with you." And that’s peace right in the middle of hell. And He brings us out of that hell pit. And He sets us on Higher Ground.
Now some time ago, back in the 1930’s and 40’s, there was a theological discipline, called "irenic theology." Now irenic theology (of course the word "irenic" comes from the Greek word, "eirene") --or "peace" theology-- attempted to bring harmony among Christianity and to do away with all the factions. Of course, this theological thought was the forerunner of today’s ecumenical movement. But this irenic theology (pacifist theology) wanted to do away with all kinds of doctrinal dogma --things that separate us-- and instead bring us to harmony. Well, if they really want to do that, it can be accomplished. It’s very simple: Do away with all the charismatic stuff, do away with all the free-willism, do away with all the other amenities, the creeds and traditions, and go right back to the Scriptures, and teach what’s in the Scriptures, and you will have harmony among the church. That means no matter what church you walk into, you’ll hear the True Gospel. But that will never happen. Because one way a church holds to their people is to create some type of plan and some kind of "do’s and don’ts" they have to adhere to, so this way, they believe they have pleased God. Well, unfortunately, there’s a lot of stuff out there that makes you happy, but it’s against the Word of God.
Another part of that passage where it says: "Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father." As a matter of fact, it has been said that Paul is using the word, "grace" addressing the Gentile Christians and "peace" addressing the Jewish believers who had come into the church. That’s fine, I guess that’s acceptable. Then he goes on to say: "Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father." Now, "our Father." Notice how he says "our Father" --NOT "the Father of the world." God is the Father of the world in the arena of creation, but He’s not the Father of all in terms of salvation. One cannot have the Father, unless they have the Son. Turn with me to 1 John 2:23. We’ll look at this verse and another verse. In 1 John 2:23, we read this: "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." Many claim that the Jews are God’s chosen people. But they are not because they reject the Son. If you reject the Son, you don’t have the Father. You have to come to the Father through the Son. That’s why the Islamics cannot have salvation, because they’re not going through the Son to the Father. They see the Son as a prophet, as nothing more than a preacher. And you must acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as eternal God, as the only way in which a person can become saved. In 1 John 5:12, let us look at this. It’s another passage that straightly teaches that you have to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. You see, you have to come through the Cross. You can’t go around the Cross, you can’t divert from the Cross to try to do a work in place of the Cross. All you’re doing is spitting in the face of God and spitting in the face of the slain Lamb. He says, 1 John 5:12: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Now there’s millions of people on this earth that have life, but they don’t have the Son. What he’s talking about here is he that hath the Son hath ETERNAL life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath NOT ETERNAL life. You must come through the Son to the Father, that you may have eternal life.
Okay, let’s go back to Ephesians Chapter 1. And now we begin to get into a section of Scripture which is one my favorite string of verses here, because Paul begins to show us in the next ten verses what God has done for us, of what Christ has attained for us with the salvation He has given us. I really feel sorry for believers --and whether they be in churches around the world or wherever-- who really do not know what God has done for us, how Christ has won salvation for us, and it doesn’t stop there. There are so many tenets of salvation that are found in the Bible, and we really need to dissect these and go and look at what God has done for us.
In Ephesians 1:3, we read here: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Now, the word "places" is not in the original, but it fits in concert with it in the heavenlies, in the "heavenly places." It does add to the understanding. Now, the word "bless" in this particular verse, it means "praise" – it means "to give praise." And it’s the word "eulogeo". And that word "eulogeo," it means "to extol" or "to speak well of." Have you ever gone to a funeral and somebody did a eulogy? Whether the person deserved that eulogy or not, you always hear, "Yeah, he got a nice send off." Well, whatever that means. But that means that the preacher just got up there and for 50 bucks, he told the family what they wanted to hear: "Oh, he was a nice guy…" I remember years ago in Perth Amboy, a friend of mine was telling me that he worked with someone who had a friend that had died and my friend asked him, "Well, was your friend saved?" And he said, "Nah, I don’t know if he was saved or not, but all I know was…" And he crossed his fingers and said, "…he was like this with Father Kerr." Father Kerr was one of the local priests down in Perth Amboy. So he tried to believe that because he was friends with a priest, that was going to guarantee him salvation. Of course my friend showed him the better way. I don’t know whatever happened to that person, to this day I don’t know. But anyway…
So it ["bless"] is a word "to praise." And we praise God and we speak well of God. We extol Him, we speak joyfully of Him, happily of Him --because He is our Heavenly Father. We never walk around with a long face and say, "Oh my, oh my… yeah, God, He’s a judge, He’s mean…" NO, we never walk around like that, and we never put God down –especially towards His children. Towards the unbeliever, He’s the judge, and He’s going to be the worse [judge] the unbeliever has ever faced. But to His children, He’s an eternal, loving, blessed God. And He has the Father’s heart, because He knows what sin does to His children. He knows when we get mixed up in the middle of sin that He’s right there to throw those big fatherly arms around us, to guide us, and to hold us, and to love us.
Now, it says here: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Now the word "hath blessed" – it can be translated, "having blessed." It’s the Aorist tense, and it means that it has a beginning, but it never speaks whether something is going to be complete, or does not reveal duration. So it’s speaking here of a specific action, "hath blessed us." Basically, this tense is ongoing action in contrast to the perfect tense which is the tense of completion. The Aorist tense continues on. And that means that God is continuing to bless us. Even though he’s having blessed us already --He named us before the foundations of the world.
In Ephesians 2:10, we see that He’s already prepared works for us to do. He’s already blessed us with so many things, and each day as we go on, we discover these blessings, little by little by little. So we want to think of the Aorist action here as the blessing, as the tense of ongoing action. It’s a blessing of ongoing action. And this is something beautiful that comes into your life and into mine: That God’s blessings continue each day. And I think that it’s wonderful that God puts these things in the Bible for us to see. Unfortunately, sometimes what we do is that we skip right over these beautiful Truths, and we allow ourselves to walk around in dust and ashes –in sackcloth—when we don’t have to. He’s going to give us the joys, the happiness, the holiness, the joy of holiness!
Now the next word he says, he’s "blessed us with all spiritual blessings." Now, if you notice this word, "spiritual." The word "spiritual" tells us that it’s not physical, because simply, the believer’s realm is in the heavenlies. You see, our blessings are going to come when we are going to be in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Ephesians 2:6, "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" Whenever we look and expect physical blessings, such as health, wealth, and prosperity, we’re looking in the wrong realm. Remember what the Lord Jesus said: "…My Kingdom is not of this world." [John 18:36a KJV]. Our rewards, our blessings are not of this world. Oh, yes, God can send a new car our way, or God can bless when somebody may become sick, and God may bless us and allow us to be healed or something like that. And we may plan an outing, and God may give us a beautiful day for it. And yes, those are definite blessings, and I wouldn’t take that away. But the blessings that He has for the believer, we don’t know what they are. We can’t comprehend it, because we cannot comprehend eternity. God gives us a little insight into these things like Revelation 21, something to the effect of a crystal sea made of glass, or of gold. How do we know what these things are? Even in those particular terms, we’re befuddled. So He says here "spiritual blessings."
Now it’s not wrong to pray for daily substance, or for anything we might think we need, but it has to be in concert with the will of God, and we must accept His answer no matter what it is. Turn with me to James 4:3,4. And I think we get a little insight here as to why we pray and unfortunately, our prayers seem not to be answered. But I’m going to give you "4 D’s" of answered prayer. See, God answers prayer --always, 100 percent. He never allows a prayer to go past Him. In James, Chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, it says this: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Then He says: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
You know, you’ve got a lot of these charismatic churches. Everybody’s praying for wealth and prosperity and all of this. Why? They always say, "Well, I’m going to help my friends." No, the first thing you’re going to do is go on a big vacation, you’re going to go and buy yourself a Lamborghini, you’re going to go and quit your job and so you have absolutely nothing to do. These are the things that you’re going to do with the money. I got a kick out of just a couple of weeks ago when IWON.COM handed a guy 10 million dollars in Atlanta, Georgia. I love to read the "woe is me" comments that some people have. They were so mad that this guy won and they said "Oh, it should be people that need it" and things like this. And well, of course we know that money doesn’t go to people that need it. Money goes to people that don’t need it. That’s obvious. That’s part of the world. But everybody was just "woe is me" because they didn’t win. You see, they were looking for blessings in all the wrong places. They were looking for blessings on this earth. They were looking for money, thinking that money is going to satisfy. Some of the most miserable people on earth are the wealthy.
And God tells us in James Chapter 4 that you can ask, but the only reason you’re not receiving it is because you’re asking amiss, just so you can consume it upon your lust --just because you want to take the blessings I give you, and use it for what you want. And this is why God goes on in verse 4 to say "adulterers and adulteresses." You know, every time we go out of the revealed will of God, even as believers, we become an adulterer and adulteress. This is basically spiritual adultery. And God tells us that’s friendship with the world. Of course, if I’m praying for a million dollars, that’s friendship with the world, because what if God granted you that million dollars? You know how many temptations you’re going to have? A lot of temptations. That’s why God blesses His children in the spiritual realm, because it gives us strength, it prepares us for each day. And the spiritual blessings never, never hurt us.
Now, I want to give you "4 D’s" of answered prayer. There’s a lot of people out there who say, "Well, I prayed, but God didn’t answer my prayer." Well, God answers prayer. First of all, the first way that God answers it is Direct –a direct answer. You may be praying for something and you get a direct answer. The second way that God answers prayer is that He Delays the answer. And that time of delay is to help you have faith and trust in Him, and to wait upon the LORD. "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…" [Isaiah 40:31 KJV]. Isn’t that something? We think waiting on the LORD doesn’t do anything for us. But God says you wait upon me, you’re strength will be renewed. That’s because when you wait upon the LORD, you wait and know Who our God is. Waiting is an investment. Then the next "D" of answered prayer is Disguised –a disguised answer to prayer. How many times you pray for something or for someone, and someone shows up in your life and they’re the worse person to work out something in your life. You never know. And then of course, the fourth "D" is Denied. God knows what we need when He denies an answer to prayer. So sometimes we don’t like to accept that, but the bottom line is God answers prayer.
Well, it’s 8:43PM here in beautiful New Jersey. What I’m going to do is I’m going to stop here, because we get into Ephesians Chapter 1, verse 4 next week. And I want to get into that a little bit, about Abraham’s seed, and I want to go into "before the foundations of the world" and really start getting into the meat of these passages. Hopefully, we’ll get through about three or four verses next week. All right, until then, may the LORD richly bless you. As Dr. Cook would say: "Walk with the King today and be a blessing!"