(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
It's an understatement to say that I love Ephesians. Ephesians is so gospel-rich; I mean there's so much gospel-fire in Ephesians; it’s a wonder the pages don't burn or melt. It’s just incredible! And Ephesians is probably one of those books that divides, very clearly, into two parts. I would entitle Ephesians, “Gospel Roots and Gospel Fruit.”
In the first three chapters of Ephesians, you get this explanation of the gospel. It's just glorious; every verse is just brimming with the explanation of this message that is our message of hope of the work of the person, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are some root themes here. The blessings of being in Him. Ephesians really emphasizes our union with Christ. We’re not just forgiven, we’re not just adopted; we are united to Christ, chosen, adopted, redeemed, with inheritance, all of those things are the product of our union in Christ. Christ in us; we in Him. As Paul says in Galatians, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” That too is the message of Ephesians.
And then that section ends with a prayer that we would really come to know God's love, know the depth and breadth of what it means to say that God has placed His love on us, particularly in the gift of love, the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I will dig for the rest of our lives into the love of God. We will dig for all eternity into the depth and breadth of the love of God. And he prays that we would be filled to full measure of God, that we would grow in grace.
Now, it's very clear that Paul understands that the gospel is not just something that you conceptualize. Faith is not just something you do with your brain; faith is a transaction of your heart that changes the way you live your life. You live what you believe. In fact, you could argue that if you don't live it, you don't actually believe it, that faith is really demonstrated by the way you live your life. So, Paul cannot help but apply this gospel to every area of life.
Look at the subjects to which he applies the gospel: to the church, to your thinking, to your desires, to your communication, to your anger, to your work, to your relationship, to your sexuality, to your marriage, to your parenting. He just looks at every aspect of the life of a normal person and says, “The gospel alters this, the gospel changes this; if you believe in Jesus, you’ll handle it this way.” You’re getting tracking, right down at street level, right in the hallways and bedrooms and living rooms of everyday life, right in the workplace, right in our neighborhood, what it looks like to actually live out of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a wonderful contribution of Ephesians.
But I love how Ephesians ends. Ephesians 6 ends with a discussion of spiritual warfare and a call to arm ourselves for the battle. Now, when you're reading through Ephesians and you hit that section, it almost seems like Paul is changing the topic, but he’s not changing the topic. What he’s saying is, “All those things I've talked about, the church, your thinking, your desires, your communication, your anger, your working relationship, your sexuality, your marriage, your parenting are all spiritual warfare.” Life between the ‘already’ of our conversion and the ‘not yet’ of our home-going is a great spiritual war! Arm yourself for battle! That war is a war against your mind, it’s a war against your theology, it’s a war against your living, it's a war of temptation. The gospel is your armor in that war.