Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.
In our First 15 readings these next four weeks, we will be reading through the entirety of Ephesians together. This past weekend we started our message series focused on this letter Paul writes to the Christians living in Ephesus, one of the largest trading centers in the first century. We know from the book of Acts that Paul had spent three years in Ephesus planting and nurturing this community of Christians. Most scholars believe that this particular letter was written while he was imprisoned in Rome.
As we begin today we might ask,
Why does Paul write this letter?
What we will come to see is that each idea Paul addresses here are themes that Paul had already shared with this young Christian community. He writes to remind them of the essentials - what God has now done “in Christ,” the part that those who are now living “in Christ” are called to play in what God is doing in the world, and the supremacy that Christ now has in all things including the life that has been surrendered to Him.
Because of these themes that we will return to again and again in these coming weeks, I want to invite you today to reflect on the lyrics to a modern hymn that may be familiar to you. The song is titled, “In Christ Alone.”
As you read through this hymn, what words or phrases do you find especially meaningful?
What do you think it means to understand your life as being, “In Christ Alone?”
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
Holy Spirit, we pray that in these weeks you would teach us. We ask that you would reveal a depth of truth from these words that we may have never seen before. Enable me and my brothers and sisters who are sharing this journey with me, to see and understand what it means to find our life, “In Christ Alone.” AMEN.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.