Have you ever received a letter from someone that was 4 or 5 pages?
What do you do? You read it right?
Most of us would read the whole letter.
We would never just read one paragraph each week for 12 weeks.
The book of Ephesians is a letter.
The problem is that we have taken many weeks to study it and sometimes we get lost in the details and lose track of the main point.
So, today, before we begin, I want to do a review.
The letter that Paul writes is about a new society, the church.
It begins by talking about what blessings God has given us.
God chose us before the creation of the earth.
God sent His son to die to pay for our sins.
Because of that God would now call us righteous in spite of our sins.
God adopted us into His family.
We will become joint heirs with Jesus and all that He has we will also have access to.
We as God’s new society will inherit eternal life.
Because of all that God has done for us, we will spend eternity with God.
Paul was so excited about all that God had done for us that he praised God and prayed that we would fully understand just how great this good news, the gospel, was.
He prayed that we too would have our eyes opened and that we would be as excited as he was.
The mystery of God’s salvation was now revealed to us.
All of God’s mercy and grace toward us overwhelmed Paul.
So, Paul tried to build up our faith so that we would in return bring honor to God.
As I said, the main theme is that those who believe are a new society.
This society would be made up of all peoples who put their trust in Jesus.
The mystery of the Old Testament was now revealed.
Jesus the Messiah and Savior was the head of this new society.
And God’s Holy Spirit would now dwell within us.
Because of Jesus, we would now have full access to God.
Paul then went on to describe the structure of this new society.
There would now be God appointed leaders but each person would be given different gifts.
All of us were to use our gifts and work as one body.
We were to be one body united with a purpose, to bring glory to God.
This new society was to be like the first society of the Garden of Eden.
There would be full unity.
This unity would be formed by people who loved each other fully.
People who would forgive because of the fact that God had forgiven them.
People who would submit to each other as God Son submitted to the cross.
This new society was to be different from the people outside the church.
The people outside take care of number one first.
They don’t submit at all.
They argue about what truth is and what life styles are acceptable.
This new society had a higher standard than the world.
We submit to our elders as they submit to God.
An example of this is found in Exodus.
God appointed Moses to lead but they didn’t follow.
And instead of getting to the promise land in three weeks,
It took them forty years and they all died in the desert.
Would you have seen the promise land?
This new society was to be different and there was not even to be a hint of immorality.
Martin Luther said that the world never be able to follow the laws of God.
But, the church should live by God’s standards.
These people were to be holy as God Himself is holy.
This new society was not to be influenced by the world but it was to have an influence on the world.
Paul says that we are to be imitators of God.
In this new society, all of us are to submit to each other in love to create unity.
Paul tells wives to submit to their husband and husbands to love their wives.
But, in this new society wives were not property, they were to be treated with respect.
This kind of mutual submission and love were revolutionary at that time.
Today we will talk about parents and children and other relationships.
But, first I want to say a few words about how Paul ends his letter.
Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God.
As, I said this new society was to be like the old Garden of Eden.
In the garden Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan.
In this new society, God has given us a full armor to protect ourselves.
God doesn’t want us to be deceived once again.
And so, that’s the full picture!
Read Ephesians 6:1-4
This new society, as I said, was revolutionary.
Not only were wives to be treated well, but children were to be treated well also.
I know that this section begins by saying that children are to obey their parents,
But, this was not new.
At that time if parents didn’t like the way their children behaved they could beat them or even kill them.
In fact, the Old Testament law required parents to kill their children who refused to be disciplined. (Lev. 20:9 & Dt. 21:18-21
What was new was that now they were to be citizens of this new society.
They too were to be respected and treated fairly.
In Mark 10:14, Jesus surprised everyone by saying, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
This new society was good news if you were a child.
What was also new is that now parents were being told that they were to be gentle.
That they were to teach their children and correct them in love.
This new society would be one in which parents would consider their children as equal members in God’s eyes.
Children were equal to their parents in value even though they had a different role or position.
And so Paul tells children to obey their parents.
Children are to obey, respect and submit to their parents.
Have you heard this before?
In this new society we are all called to the same behaviors.
Those behaviors of submission and respect bring unity to the home.
And that unity is also brought to the church.
Paul says that children are not only to obey but they are to honor their parents.
Children are to make their parents proud.
And, they are not only to do this while they are children but for the rest of their lives.
Parents are to build their children and help them to be all that they can be in the Lord.
Children are a gift from God and it is our responsibility to help them reach their full potential.
One way that I have tried to put this into practice was by remembering that while I was a sinner Christ died for me.
And so, sometimes rather than punishing a child, use their breaking of the rules as an opportunity to talk to them about God’s forgiveness.
Kids remember times when parents forgive them instead of punishing them.
The goal is them becoming a working part of this new society.
Read Ephesians 6:5-9
In this new society not only were wives raised up and children to be treated with love and respect but slaves also were now to be part of the church and have the same rights as their masters.
Many would think this crazy at that time.
Christians were now told that their slaves were to be treated like brothers.
In the church they could have a position or role that you might have to submit to.
In fact, you would have to submit in the home somewhat also.
No longer could you treat slaves as property.
No longer could you abuse them.
Now, in this new society you were to consider their needs and desires too.
Some at that time would now train their slaves in a trade and then release them.
Can you see that this new society was revolutionary?
Paul doesn’t address whether slavery was right or wrong.
It was how their society worked.
But, the Jews and the Christians understood that all people were created in the image of God.
The type of slavery that was in America and is now in some countries is ungodly and should never be accepted.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the first result that we see is blame casting.
Eve blames the serpent; Adam blames God for giving him a wife who could be deceived.
After blame came all the rest of the sins, killings, lust, stealing etc.
Our sin does so much damage but Jesus died that we might be free from all of that.
In this new society God is giving us a chance to have it all back again.
All of the blessing of God are now available for us.
But the blame game has to end; the sin has to end.
Each of us needs to step up to the plate and act like the people that God has made us to be.
We are created in God’s image and we are called to live holy as He is holy.
God never intended for us to come to church; God intended us to be the church.
God never intended us to live in the world all week and then come to church.
God intended us to be the church; to be His new society; to live holy as He is holy.
This new society was bought with a high price; the blood of God’s son Jesus.
This new society has the benefit of giving us the very best of all that God has to offer on earth.
And the benefit of eternal life with God.
Are you willing to be part of this society?
Are you willing to submit to God and to each other to create this unity that God desires?
Are you wiling to get out of the desert and pass into the promise land?
Are you ready to be part of a revolution?
This new society is a society based on a divine unity that comes from mutual love and submission.