Did you see the BBC TV series ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’? The idea was that you got a feel of what dinosaurs were really like and became acquainted with them. The same principle applies to knowing your Bible — that’s why I chose this title for my article.
I will take a chapter (in this case Ephesians 1) and share a few basic points and applications with you. This doesn’t aim to be an exposition. It is just a starting point — with the idea that with a little help we can lift to a new level the time we spend studying the Bible.
Hopefully it will encourage you to pick up your Bible and start going into passages in greater depth, that is, start to walk with your Bible. Then, of course, we have to live it out practically in everyday life.
Ephesians 1 tells us about the greatness of God. He is in complete control of everything — especially the salvation of sinners for his own glory. Let’s look at a few things it says.
Blessings in Christ (vv. 3-14)
The Charismatic movement is hugely popular amongst young people. I know many of a similar age to me who have left reformed Evangelical churches to go to Charismatic ones — the main pull being the music.
But alongside the music, Charismatics also teach about the blessings they offer in Christ. I have listened to some TV preachers who tell me that if I become a Christian I’ll be rich, have good health and live a happy life.
But is that really what salvation is about? We must look to God’s Word to find the truth. And this passage makes the whole issue fall into place because it is all about ‘spiritual blessings in Christ’, not material blessings like money and health.
Please quickly notice that these spiritual blessings are found in Christ(v.3). They come to us because as believers in Christ we have been joined to him in his death and resurrection (see Romans 6:4-6). The blessings include:
Being chosen (vv. 4-5)
God ‘chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love’.
‘Unconditional election’ (number 2 in the doctrines of grace) means being chosen by God for salvation by his mercy and not for anything we have done or will do. Every time I read this great truth in the Bible a really warm love wells up within me and I feel so secure.
Being forgiven our sins (v.7)
‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace’.
Now I don’t know what really excites you about the Christian faith but one thing that is vital to us all is the forgiveness of sins. Read the different accounts of the crucifixion in the gospels and ponder. Take notes if you wish. Sometimes cross-referencing and thinking help a lot. I find that soon I am into a time of praising God.
Receiving an inheritance (v.11)
‘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’.
Would you like someone to leave you a fortune? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, someone already has! God has fixed our destination — we shall inherit a kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). And as those who are ‘blessed by the Father’ we have started to enjoy that kingdom here and now!
Being able to praise God (v.12)
‘That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory’.
Our natural reaction to all of this should be to praise God and give him thanks. In many churches today the term ‘worship’ means singing and we can easily forget that you worship God by your life, through prayer and by giving thanks. That’s important.
When we pray, we often just go through our spiritual shopping list. But we should always start by giving thanks. We should:
• Give thanks without ceasing (v.16). When I see how often the apostle Paul prayed it makes me wonder how he had time for anything else. But I think he means ‘keep it up — give thanks without giving up’!
• Give thanks in advance (vv. 16-18). Paul not only praises God for what he has done but also for what he is going to do for these people — by opening their eyes even more to the goodness, purpose and sovereign power of almighty God.
• Give thanks for who Jesus Christ is (vv. 19-23). He is risen, glorified, enthroned, Lord of all, and head of the church. And, wonderfully, every believer has a share in his great riches!
Read and be blessed
So read! If these things don’t thrill your soul then I would ask why. After all, my God is your God too. If we are truly God’s children then passages of Scripture like this will come to life as we spend enough time reading them and thinking about them.