Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20040616.htm
APPLYING THE CHRISTIAN'S POSITIONAL RICHES IN CHRIST
Part XXI: Applying The Truth That Believers Are Of The Household And Family Of God
Lesson: In place of feeling "left out" from God's family and its hope for future happiness due to their town's setting, God gave the Ephesian Gentile believers HOPE of INTIMATELY BELONGING to HIS OWN FAMILY that, as a temple with a great FUTURE, was GROWING as His LASTING house.
- Due to their heritage, some believers struggle with a feeling of being left out in relation to other believers: consequently, they may tend to feel hopelessly destined to have a "second-class" fellowship and future.
- One of the positional truths a believer possesses the instant he trusts in Christ as Savior is that he is part the household and family of God, cf. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology , vol. III, "Soteriology," p. 252-253. We view this truth in its context in Ephesians 2:19 for edification regarding this need:
- Applying The Truth That Believers Are Of The Household And Family Of God, Ephesians 2:19.
- To appreciate what Paul meant when he declared the believer was "of the household of God" in Ephesians 2:19, we view in the context what his readers once had been in contrast to their current status:
- Prior to faith in Christ, Paul's readers were classified simply as "Gentiles in the flesh," Eph. 2:11.
- As such, they were alienated from intimacy with God's people, without hope and without God, 2:12.
- Being from Ephesus, their alienation from God produced real hopelessness due to the setting:
- A meteor had once fallen at Ephesus that was thought to have come from Jupiter, cf. Acts 19:35.
- This had led to the establishment of the worship of a fertility goddess named Diana whose religion became key to the commercial welfare of Ephesus, Z.P.E.B., v. Two, p. 326; Acts 19:26-27.
- The temple of Diana was so grand it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and Ephesus boasted "the largest of all Hellenic open-air, theatres" that seated "50,000 spectators," E. K. Simpson and F. F. Bruce, Ephesians and Colossians (New International Commentary), p. 15.
- Yet, by Paul's day, deforestation and its resulting erosion had caused the city harbor to start to fill with silt, threatening its trade that also endangered the city's future, Ibid., p. 324-325; Acts 19:27-34
- Accordingly, for Paul to say these Gentile believers of Ephesus had been without God and without hope was an understatement in view of the city's current harbor situation and its commercial trials!
- However, by faith in Christ, these "far off" Gentiles had become members "of the household of God" in ways that addressed their alienation from Israel and their city's cultural problem of a hopeless future:
- The enmity that once existed between them and the descendants of Abraham was removed by the cross, Ephesians 2:13-15a. Christ had formed of both parties a new kind of man -- a "Christian," Eph. 2:15b!
- Now, both former Hebrews and former Ephesian Gentile pagans could claim God as their spiritual father, and both were equally and intimately part of the same family and household of God, 2:16-19:
- The Greek term, paroikos rendered "foreigners" (KJV) or "aliens" (NIV) in Eph. 2:19a pictured a "proselyte from Gentilism" to Judaism, one who was accepted to a degree but not viewed by other Jews as a full Jew, Ibid., Simpson and Bruce, p. 65, ftn. #31.
- Thus, Paul labored to say that the new birth in Christ makes Gentiles far more than what they could have ever become as proselytes to Judaism: Christian Gentiles are fully "born" into the family of God, becoming intimately identified with God and His family as are Hebrew believers in Christ!
- All of these believers belonged to a temple that far exceeded in glory the great Ephesian temple -- they were part of the Church with the foundation of the apostles and Christ as the Cornerstone, Eph. 2:20.
- Instead of the hopeless future of the Ephesian temple and city with its harbor silt problem and the financial fallout that doomed even its religion, these Ephesian Gentiles, now Christians were part of a spiritual temple that was growing as a lasting habitation of the Creator God, Ephesians 2:21-22.
Application: If we feel alienated from other believers due to an "imperfect" background, we can focus on our POSITION in CHRIST as MEMBERS of the HOUSEHOLD and FAMILY of GOD; as this position offers FULL SPIRITUAL UNITY with all others in Christ and INTIMATE IDENTITY in a family that has a BLESSED FUTURE as GOD as its HEAD, we have cause to rejoice and be settled!