Today we begin a new message series called “Live Out God’s Purpose.” In this series, we’re going to be studying the book of Ephesians. The theme of Ephesians is God’s Purpose for every believer and for the church. What is God’s purpose? God’s purpose is really God’s plan for your life. The first three chapters of Ephesians show us powerful principles about believer’s salvation. The last three chapters contain practical instruction for living out those principles.
Last Sunday, we studied in Acts 2, how Jesus began to pour out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Peter preached a powerful message on that day culminating in his call to action in
Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
These instructions tell us of three essential experiences for every believer. First is salvation by faith alone, second is believer’s baptism and thirdly is Spirit baptism. At the end of Peter’s message, 3000 people were saved, baptized in water and in the Spirit. The church experienced exponential growth throughout the book of Acts.
Yet over the next 300 years, the church became apostate, it fell away from the truth. Salvation was taught as coming by good works, not by faith alone. Believer’s baptism was replaced with infant baptism. Finally, Spirit baptism was neither taught nor experienced, so spiritual gifts died out. The falling away of the church led to the period of the Dark Ages for over 1200 years. But God had a purpose and plan for His church and He began to restore the truth.
In 1517, Martin Luther rediscovered salvation by faith alone and the Reformation began. In the 1700’s, the Baptists rediscovered believer’s baptism by immersion. And finally, in 1901, Spirit baptism was rediscovered, and the Assemblies of God was founded in 1914.
So, you and are privileged to live in a wonderful time in history, when New Testament Christianity is being restored. With the restoration of the three-fold foundation of the church, we are on our way to fulfilling the Great Commission. Spreading the Gospel to every nation in the world through the power of the Spirit. Once the Gospel is proclaimed to every nation, Jesus Christ will return.
Today’s message is entitled “Find Blessing.” We’re going to learn about the importance of this three-fold foundation in the start of the church at Ephesus. Then we’re going to learn more about the blessings that God has prepared for us as His children.
Our story today begins with a preacher named Apollos in Act 18. Apollos went to the city of Ephesus and began to teach accurately about Jesus. However, Scripture tells us that he knew only about the baptism of John. The baptism of John was a baptism for repentance, not a baptism for a believer in Jesus. So, two co-workers of Paul, Pricilla and Aquila, took Apollos aside and explained to him about water baptism and Spirit baptism. Apollos did not have the three-fold foundation, he only understood salvation by faith. Our story continues in …
Acts 19:1b-2 (ESV) … Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Apollos had left Ephesus and now Paul comes to the city. He found some disciples of Jesus and he asks them a very interesting question. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed in Jesus? As we’re going to see, these disciples undoubtedly had been taught by Apollos. And they had not been further instructed after Apollos learned more. So, they only understood salvation by faith.
Paul must have sensed that something was missing in their lives, so he asked the question. The question of Paul indicates that he understood that it was possible to believe and be saved but not receive the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit is another way of describing being baptized in the Spirit. The disciples replied that they had received no teaching on the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19:3-4 (ESV) And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.”
Now we see that these disciples had learned from Apollos about John’s baptism. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance from sin that was appropriate before Jesus’ death and resurrection. John’s baptism prepared people to believe in Jesus, as Paul explained to them. These disciples had believed in Jesus, but Apollos had not taught them the next two steps as a disciple of Jesus. As we see throughout the book of Acts, the apostles always made sure that everyone believer was also water and Spirit baptized.
Acts 19:5-6 (ESV) On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Now, this verse makes it clear that these were indeed disciples of Jesus, as Paul would never have baptized someone who was not. They were water baptized by immersion, as the word baptism means to immerse in the Greek language. Now, they had the first two foundation stones in place. Paul laid his hands on them, they prayed and the Holy Spirit came on them. They received the Spirit and were Spirit baptized.
What was the outward sign that they were Spirit baptized? Just as on the day of Pentecost, they spoke in unknown tongues and also prophesied. Tongues are speaking or praying in a language you have never learned. Prophesy is speaking a message from God in a language you have learned. Now, these new Christians had all three experiences, preparing them for God’s plan and purpose for their lives. Salvation by faith alone, believer’s water baptism and Spirit baptism. They understood and had experienced the biblical foundations for their lives.
In today’s world, there are many different kinds of denominations. Some have none of these foundations in place and really are not Christian at all. thers have one or two in place and a few, like the Assemblies of God have all three in place. Oftentimes, people say that the only thing that is important is that a person is saved. We see from our story today, that was not the attitude of Paul.
In fact, in the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Jesus Himself makes it clear that believers need to be water baptized and to obey all of Jesus’ commands. Jesus’ commands include seeking Spirit baptism to receive power to be His witnesses.
These three biblical foundations have two major applications for all of us. First of all, we need to make sure that we have these three foundations in place in our lives. Secondly, being a witness for Jesus involves not just getting people saved by faith alone. It also involves teaching people about the importance of water baptism and Spirit baptism. Just as Pricilla & Aquilla helped Apollos and how Paul helped the disciples in Ephesus. God will help us understand and tell others about these essential biblical foundations. With these foundations in place, we can …
Ephesians 1:3 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Paul writes this letter to the Ephesians from arrest in Rome about ten years after he founded the church. This letter is very encouraging and uplifting, especially when we personalize it. God has blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing. As a believer in Jesus, you have every spiritual blessing you could ever need.
As we go through Ephesians, we’re going to learn more about those blessings. These blessings are something to thank God for, even as we learn more about them. Let’s look at the first blessing that the Scripture reveals to us.
Ephesians 1:4 (ESV) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Did you know that God knew that you would be His child before the world was created? Not only did God have you in His heart, He had a purpose for your life. Here we see the first purpose, that we would be holy and blameless. How is that possible for sinners like each one of us?
Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
In Jesus we have redemption through His blood. Redemption means that Jesus purchased us from being slaves to sin to being His children. All of our sins and trespasses were forgiven through Jesus’ death and resurrection. How did that all happen? Through the riches of God’s grace. We didn’t earn God’s forgiveness through our good works. God simply chose to offer forgiveness to everyone who would believe in Jesus.
Ephesians 1:9 (ESV) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
God’s will for our lives is a mystery. But the good news is that God makes know to us His will as we seek Him. God’s purpose for your life is that you know His will and follow it. Each of these verses can be personalized so that you can be encouraged. God I thank you that you are making known to me the mystery of your will. As I learn more of your will for my life, I will follow you in that. As I follow your will, I expect to walk in your blessing more and more.
The Bible teaches that people can either walk in blessing or curse. We walk in blessing as we follow God’s will for our lives. We walk in a curse when we are not following God’s will for our lives. The path of blessing is called in Scripture the highway of holiness. God has chosen you to walk on that path with Him.
How can each of us more consistently walk on the path of blessing? We need to learn to speak and think in keeping with what God’s word says about us. The way that you think and the way that you speak will dictate your actions and the degree of God’s blessing. Let’s take verse 3 and say it together. I have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing. As you say it, choose to believe it. Do we know what every spiritual blessing is? No, it’s beyond our imagination, but it is a good thing that we can give thanks for.
The alternative is to speak and think the things the devil is tempting you with. These are the exact opposite. He will give you thoughts like “everything always goes wrong for me.” I can’t do anything right. Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? And so on. Reject those thoughts and focus your mind on God’s Word and His blessing. As your faith grows, you will walk more and more in those blessings in your life.
Ephesians 1:11 (ESV) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
In almost every verse we’ve looked at in Ephesians, we have the words “in Christ” or “in Him.” There is a profound mystery here, that we as believers are spiritually in Christ. That is where we can find our blessings, in Christ. That is where we find our inheritance from God, in Christ.
Our inheritance is found in the kingdom of God, that will last forever. Every believer has been predestined to receive that wonderful inheritance. We begin to receive our inheritance in this life, but receive it in fulness in eternity. The sovereignty of God is shown in this verse, as He works all things according to His will.
Ephesians 1:13 (ESV) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
Verse 13 speaks of how a person is saved. We hear the gospel, the word of truth and we must respond in faith by believing in Jesus. When we do, God’s Word tells us that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s day, important documents were sealed with a wax upon which the owner’s insignia was impressed. In the same way, the Holy Spirit comes to live within every believer. The Spirit impresses Himself into our lives, showing that He owns us. We are no longer our own, once we believe and are now in Christ.
Ephesians 1:14 (ESV) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. In other words, the fact that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, guarantees that we will one day receive our full inheritance. The Scripture tells us that we cannot even imagine all that God has planned for us in eternity, it is so wonderful. When we take possession of our inheritance, we will praise Jesus forever for it. Of course, the biggest aspect of our inheritance is simply to be with Him. We should be filled with joy and thanksgiving for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Oftentimes, we speak of inviting Jesus into our hearts. There is truth in that. Yet, Jesus is really in heaven now, ruling and reigning. He lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Jesus. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of every believer. He is our comforter, our counselor, our encourager, our intercessor. The Holy Spirit speaks to us, the Holy Spirit prays through us, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s plans and purpose for our lives. As a believer, you are never alone, for the Holy Spirit is always right there.
Having said that, we must be careful not to quench or grieve the Holy Spirit. Sin in our lives grieves the Holy Spirit and damages our relationship with Him. Sin in our lives makes it difficult for us to hear the Spirit’s whisper. But the good news is that Jesus has made a way for us to be forgiven. As we repent of our sins, He forgives and cleanses us and restores our relationship with His Spirit. All the blessings that God has for us in Christ, come to us through the Holy Spirit. May we learn to appreciate Him and rejoice in His blessing.
The church at Ephesus was built upon the three-fold biblical foundation of salvation by faith alone, believer’s water baptism and Spirit baptism. If you’ve never been water baptized by immersion since you’ve believed, you can sign on your Connect Card. Due to pandemic restrictions, we will most likely not be able to offer baptisms until things ease up later this year. If you’d like more information on Spirit baptism, I strongly encourage you to pick up the book Power for Life on the info table.
God desires for you to walk in His blessing, day in and day out. Walking in God’s blessing is a choice that we make. We choose to believe God’s Word and to obey God’s instructions. As believers, we are in Christ and His Spirit lives inside of us. We can and should rejoice in Spirit, each and every day. He has a plan and purpose for each day of our lives. May each one of us grow in living out that purpose of blessing more and more.