BIG IDEA: We will miss out on the joy of the Scriptures when we fail to see that these words carry much more weight than our contemporary society wants to admit. The Bible is the communication of the creator God, to us his creatures. It is pregnant with the full weight of God’s authority as Creator. And when the Apostle Paul writes that he is not a mere saint, but an apostle, he is saying that his words aren’t merely his, but God’s as well.
When we’re in the thick of life, wondering what is true and real and good, wondering what to do and where to go, we must turn not to our own authority, but to the authority which is God speaking to us in the words of the Bible. This is revelation, and revelation is God’s abounding love.
When we read (not merely question) the Bible (including Ephesians) in this way – as authoritative – we will be led into overflowing worship as we marvel in the truth it reveals!
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1:1-2
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to all the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- We need authority to live: As children, we are born with the need for and fully accept the authority of our parents. As adolescents, we desire to usurp that authority, by questioning it and choosing our own supposed authority. Then, ideally, we mature into adulthood where we recognize that authority is a part of life and should be accepted (not blindly, but carefully and thoughtfully) once more.
- We no longer recognize this need: This natural progression from adolescence into adulthood has been stunted by our current culture. The prevailing attitude asks: “Who says?”
- Individualism is winning: The ethos that dominates our “Western” world is that true maturity is being without the need for authority. This is in it’s simplest form: “individualism.” We are encouraged to use our own reason to determine what is true and good and right. It isn’t true knowledge if we don’t come up with the answers to life’s biggest questions on our own.
- THE PROBLEM WITH THIS THINKING: We, as human beings, cannot know enough to rely on our own reason and logic alone to answer these biggest questions.
- AND SO, WE NEED REVELATION: We need someone or something with greater knowledge, insight, and wisdom to reveal to us certain things that we cannot know through our own human knowledge and experience.
- GOD IS THE ONLY SUCH SOURCE: Out of His deep love for us, God through the inspiration of the authors of the Bible (including the book of Ephesians by way of the Apostle Paul) reveals certain truths to us and explains then how they should impact the way we live in this world he has created for His glory and our joy.
- The Bible needs to become our authority once again. It should be the predominant (not the only) place we turn when faced with the overwhelming questions of life, trouble and hardship, and in even in the midst of seasons of blessing.
- When we return to reading the Bible in this way, as God’s loving and authoritative revelation, it will lead us into overflowing worship.
- God loves us so much that he has given us revelation that we cannot otherwise have. And as we will see when we read Ephesians, God illuminates for us the great lengths he planned to to have relationship with us, to bring us into his family, and to bring all things to their fullest ends.
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QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Who is Paul to you? What is the difference between an apostle and a saint?
- By what authority do you live your life and answer the biggest questions of life?
- What is the leading authority for Seattleites? Americans? Westerners? Easterners?
- What is one way that you live your life today that would indicate that you are both a citizen of Seattle and a citizen of the new society under the authority of Jesus Christ?
- What is something that you could change in your life that would make this reality of God’s authority more obvious?