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6. The Letter to the Ephesians

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So far, we have learned about Christ from Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians. Remember these truths about who Jesus Christ is and what He does for you.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.

In this lesson, we will look at Christ in the letter to the Ephesians.

“God placed all things under Christ's rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.” (Ephesians 1:22 NIRV)

The Key Question

Some people wear things that they think gives them good luck—a pair of socks, a special shirt, a rabbit’s foot. What about you? Do you possess anything that you think gives you good luck? Why do you consider that item as lucky? Do you think that item really has power to give you good luck?

Likewise, some things are associated with causing bad luck—walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror, or stepping on the cracks in a sidewalk. But, do you think those things really have power to give you bad luck?

The key word for our lesson today is power. The questions to ask are, “What kind of power? What has the greatest power?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to that question.

The People and Their Need

On his third missionary journey, Paul spent time in Ephesus, a large city of 250,000 people. The people living there were called Ephesians and were obsessed with power, especially witchcraft and magic. They were very afraid of evil spirits and bad luck so they clung to anything that would keep them safe—magic words written on socks or recited aloud to chase evil spirits away, necklaces with magic power to give them luck when playing sports, and books of magic spells to keep them safe. Ephesus was a mess!

So, Paul spent three years with the Ephesians, teaching classes every day to those who wanted to learn a new way to live. And, God did “extra-miraculous” miracles through Paul. (You can read about this in Acts 19:8-20.) God showed them that He was more powerful than their magicians, lucky charms, and magic words. God was more powerful than the evil spirits or any substitute they might trust for protection against evil. God knew what they really needed—Himself!

Many Ephesians trusted in Jesus for their protection then they got rid of their substitutes. They had a big bonfire to burn their sorcerer’s manuals, lucky socks, and magic necklaces. They attended Paul’s classes then spread out and shared the good news about Jesus throughout the whole area, establishing churches all over the place. Seven years later, while Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus, and churches in the surrounding area, reminding them that no matter how hard life gets, Jesus Christ is the powerful head of the Church—more powerful than any substitute “lucky charm.” Paul tells them that Christ will return someday to rule over earth and defeat all evil. And Paul tells them Christ’s power makes it possible for them to live God’s way today and not be afraid.

The Holy Spirit guided Paul as he wrote this letter so it is a gift from God to us. Paul says to them and to us: in Christ there is more power than anything else we can trust for good luck. Let’s find out how powerful Christ is and how His power works for us.

The Answer: Christ is the Powerful Head of the Church

1. Read Ephesians 1:13-14. When the Ephesians believed the good news, what did God give to them?

Let’s see what Paul says about this mighty power of God in us.

2. Read Ephesians 1:19-23. In verses 19-20, what does Paul want the Ephesians to know about the might of God’s power?

God’s power is great. It can't be compared with anything else. No substitutes for good luck are as powerful as God. And, His power is at work for us who believe.

3. In verses 21-23, what power does Christ have?

In heaven, Christ has the power of a great king—king above all other powers and kings.

4. Does that mean Christ is ruler over even the evil spirits? Is He ruler over anything that causes bad luck?

5. What is Christ’s role specifically for the body of believers called the Church?

In Ephesians, Christ is the powerful head of the Church. He is the ruler, the head who fills every need in every way. The Church includes everyone who has already trusted in Christ for salvation. With Christ ruling over believers and living in believers through His Spirit, there isn’t any need for lucky socks, magic words, or special charms to keep bad things from happening to the Ephesians, or to you.

Paul is saying, “Why trust in a substitute power like luck or magic which can never be as powerful as Jesus Christ Himself to help you live a good life?” Jesus’ power is available to every believer. Jesus Christ is living inside you through His Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the powerful head of the Church.

6. Read Ephesians 3:16-20. Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and us!) to know this power working within Christians.

  • What does Christ’s power within us help us to know (verse 18)?
  • What confidence do you get from knowing the truth about how much God loves you?
  • Is there a limit to Christ’s power working within us?

Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil. Let’s look at both of those.

Christ’s power working inside us:

7. Read the following verses. What godly behaviors require Christ’s power in us?

  • Ephesians 4:2—
  • Ephesians 4:15—
  • Ephesians 4:26—
  • Ephesians 4:29—
  • Ephesians 4:32—
  • Ephesians 5:21—

These godly behaviors are hard to do and do not come naturally to us. Christ’s power in us enables us to live God’s way as we trust Him to work in and through us. By faith, we can access His power to help us.

Christ’s power working for us:

We will have trouble in this world because evil still exists until Christ returns. Paul told the Ephesians and us how to overcome bad things by trusting in the power of Christ to hold onto us and protect us.

8. Read Ephesians 6:10-11, 13.

  • Who can make you strong against anything bad happening to you?
  • What does Christ provide for you to put on?

The armor that Christ provides for you isn’t real armor. It’s things we KNOW to be true—spiritual armor. Christ gives us this armor so we can stand strong whenever we are attacked or tested. By using this armor, we learn to trust in Christ’s power rather than our own.

Helmet of salvation:

A helmet protects the head of the soldier. When we have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, He’s always with us, ready to protect us no matter what happens! Our salvation comes from Jesus and lasts forever. Remember that you have this helmet when someone makes you doubt that you are saved.

Breastplate of righteousness:

A breastplate protects a soldier’s chest and everything inside – the heart, lungs, stomach and liver. Our breastplate of righteousness reminds us that in Christ we are totally forgiven. We are protected from the devil’s accusations about our sin because we have been given Jesus’ righteousness! Remember you have this breastplate when you’ve done something wrong and don’t feel that God has forgiven you.

Shield of faith:

A shield protects a soldier from arrows and sword attacks. Our faith is in the truth that God always loves us and is always with us. Our shield of faith stops the thoughts that God doesn’t love us because we’ve done something wrong. When we shield ourselves with faith, we can handle anything!

Belt of truth:

The soldier’s belt holds his weapons—­knife and sword. When you know the truths in God’s Word, you’ll know how He wants you to live and can make good choices. Just like the belt on your pants keeps them from falling down, the belt of truth keeps you from falling down by making bad choices.

Shoes of the gospel of peace:

Soldiers needed good strong sandals to protect their feet so they could be ready to go wherever they were needed to fight. The Romans kept peace in the Empire so shoes represent our peace with God. We also need to remember our “gospel shoes” and be ready to share Jesus with others so they can have peace with God, too.

Sword of the Spirit:

Soldiers used a short and lightweight sword to attack. The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word. It is also the Spirit of God working in us. God’s Word cuts to the heart of anyone who hears it. We need to know it well so it can be used easily for ourselves and to share with others.

Prayer:

This isn't really a particular piece of armor but kind of holds all our armor together. By talking to God in fearful situations, we can trust Him to do amazing things on our behalf. Nothing is too big or impossible with prayer because God can do anything that He wants to do. He will answer the way He knows is best.

In Isaiah 59:17, God Himself puts on a breastplate of righteousness and a helmet of salvation to fight battles for His people. Isn’t that a comforting picture? With this armor, we are soldiers of the living God and "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Trust Jesus’ power to protect you and bring good into your life rather than lucky socks, shirts, diplomas or any other thing. Christ is more powerful than any substitute we could trust instead of Him. He is the powerful head of the Church, which includes all believers. You can trust Jesus Christ’s power to protect you and bring good into your life rather than anything you might consider substituting for Him.

Christ’s power makes it possible for us to live God’s way TODAY and not be afraid.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“God placed all things under Christ's rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.” (Ephesians 1:22 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

What things have you been relying upon for power in your life? Are you willing to give up those substitutes and rely on Jesus’ power alone to bring success in your spiritual life? Ask Jesus to help you know how much you are dearly and deeply loved by your God. Then, choose to trust in Christ’s power working within you to make a difference in your life.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Ephesians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Ephesians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Ephesians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Ephesians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Ephesians chapter 5. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Ephesians chapter 6. Reflect on what you read.

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