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I’m your host AMBrewster, and today we’re starting our biblical family counseling sessions in the book of Ephesians.
Hopefully, everyone listening to my voice today is at least partially interested in how you and your family can be unified in a way that makes the world’s understanding of unity look like weak and unappealing.
Hopefully, you’re ready to hear what God has to say about growing closer together, less arguing, fewer consequences, more love, more fun, more truth, and less division.
I really hope you’re at least a little curious to see what your Creator has to say.
So, three things real quick:
1. If you’re listening to this as a family, I encourage you download the accompanying LifeWork page from TruthLoveParent.com. All you have to do is join the TLP Family (which is free to join), and then you can download today’s LifeWork. So, if you haven’t done that, stop the podcast right here, and do that first.
2. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Instagram, I invite you to follow me at AMBrewster. I love to help God’s people redeem social media, and I pray my posts encourage and challenge you throughout the day.
And . . .
3. Each episode in this series will not only have LifeWork available to members of the TLP Family, but everyone can access the free episode notes, transcript, and related resources by following the link in the description.
Okay, now let’s begin.
If you have downloaded the LifeWork, it should be pretty self-explanatory, but let me give you a little assistance.
First, you only need to print one out for each family member who can write on their own. If writing isn’t their strong suit, you can include them on your sheet.
The first part of each of these family LifeWork assignments is to read the chapter we’ll be studying. Then as you listen to this episode, fill in any blanks that may be there. And finally, when the episode is over, there will be questions for each of you to answer. The goal is to answer the questions and then discuss them as a family at some point. Maybe you want to talk about them when this episode is done, but maybe you’ll talk about them over dinner tomorrow, or perhaps you’ll discuss it one-on-one right before bed.
Regardless, it will be very important to be able to answer the questions and then discuss them as a family or as a parent and child.
Alright, assuming you’ve read Ephesians 1:1-23, you’ve already recognized that this chapter lays an exciting foundation. It starts with the consequences of God’s greatness in our lives. It outlines multiple blessings that are ours if we are born again followers of Christ. And it’s these blessings (which find their source in God) that will inform and empower everything else in the book.
Now, let’s get into the passage.
1. The Author
The very first word in verse 1 identifies the author of this letter. Of course, from a human perspective, this letter was written by a man named Paul, but Paul didn’t write it all by himself. God tells us that He inspired the Bible — He literally breathed it out. And He explains that the Holy Spirit helped Paul write this letter so that it would be God’s perfect Word — 100% trustworthy and helpful for us today.
2. The Recipients
The second half of verse 1 says that this letter was written to “the saints.” And, yes, that’s the first blank on your LifeWork sheet.
Verse 1 reads, “To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.”
What is a saint? Well, you may have heard things that have lead you to believe that saints are like super-Christians. They’re special people who have been given a religious-sounding title. But, biblically speaking, the word “saint” simply refers to anyone who trusts the God of the Bible to keep His promises and who desires to please Him by obeying Him.
Basically, a saint is someone who has a relationship with God. But it’s not a professional, contractual agreement. It’s a personal relationship with love and care.
People describe this relationship in many different ways. They may say that you’re saved or born again or redeemed or in Christ or a Christian. Well, if you are truly any of those, then you too are a saint. And the same truth that would help the Ephesian saints will help you as you learn it and trust it.
Now, if you’re not sure whether or not you have a personal relationship with God, we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
And then after identifying who wrote the letter and who was supposed to read the letter, Paul talks about . . .
3. The Lord
Let me stop right here and mention that Paul has started with the single most important topic in the universe. There is no topic of conversation more important than God Himself, and Paul starts off praising His awesomeness.
But how does Paul describe Him?
Verse 7 says, “In [God] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
This whole chapter is about how amazing God is — specifically in redemption.
Now, what does that word mean? Redemption has to do with buying something back. It’s like paying a ransom. The idea is that all people — everyone in your family, everyone in my family, and everyone who has ever lived — is born into this world in slavery to sin.
But God wants to redeem us. He wants to buy us back from our slave-master and have a relationship with us.
How is this possible? What’s the price that has to be paid to redeem someone?
That’s a great question.
In Leviticus 11:44, God explains that we need to be holy as He is holy. That means that we have to be perfect. We’re not allowed to do anything that isn’t perfectly good and right.
If we fail to do right, and if we do wrong, that’s called sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that sin is missing the mark of God’s expectations. And like I said before, Romans 3:23 also tells us that everyone sins.
And then Romans 6:23 tells us that the price of sin is death.
Here’s how it works . . . because God is so perfect and pure, sinful things can’t exist in His presence. It’s like turning on a light — you can’t have light and dark in the same place at the same time. It’s like fire and a piece of paper — when the paper comes in contact with the heat of the fire, it’s vaporized.
Therefore, we can’t have a relationship with God, we can’t live in the light as He is in the light as long as we are enslaved to sin.
So, because we’re sinners, we can’t live with God, and we will have to die. Hebrews 9:27 says that “It is appointed for [all people] to die once and after this comes judgement.”
Physical death may seem scary, but it’s not the end of your life. You will live somewhere for all eternity. So, when it comes time for us to die physically, we will be judged by God. If we’ve enslaved to sin, we will be removed from God’s presence forever and ever in a place called Hell.
But if we could just somehow pay the price of our sin, we wouldn’t have to die.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to pay the price. It’s too much. You have to be perfect to pay for sin. And since none of us is perfect, we can’t pay for our sin.
But there is someone who can pay for sin. Jesus Christ is God the Son, and a long time ago He came to this earth where He became 100% God and 100% man. Only Jesus never sinned. He never fell short of God’s mark, and He never earned separation for Himself.
That meant that He could perfectly pay for sin because He was the holy God, and He could perfectly pay for the sin of man because He was a perfectly holy man.
And that’s exactly what He did. Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to pay the price your sin. He did it so He could redeem you by forgiving your sins.
He took your sin on Him, and He offers you His perfection.
Now, there’s a lot more to this than what I’ve shared here, but I’ve taken the opportunity to explain this for two reasons.
First, if you have never entered into a relationship with God by believing that you are a sinner incapable of saving yourself, and putting your trust in Jesus to redeem you, that means that you are still a slave to sin. And the consequence of that is eternal separation from God in hell.
God doesn’t want that for you, your saved family members don’t want that for you, and I don’t want that for you. But — most importantly — I don’t want that for God. God created you to have a relationship with Him. He deserves that, and I want Him to be able to receive the glory of saving you from your sin.
And second, everything we’re going to learn from the book of Ephesians only applies to born again Christians. All of the blessings and promises are only for saints. That means that you can’t be unified with God, and you can’t have the blessings of redemption if you’re not a saint.
Now, we must move on with our lesson from chapter 1, but I want to ask you to carefully consider whether or not you truly have a relationship with God. How do you know? Can you prove from the Bible that you’re born again? If you can’t, whether you’re the dad, the mom, or one of the children, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to find out for sure. The Bible says that you can know for sure that God is your Savior and King. And if no one in your family can help know for sure, any of our TLP Counselors would love to help you know as well.
In fact, if someone wants to know how they can be born again, all they have to do is send an email to counselor@TruthLoveParent.com and let us know that you want to know how you can be saved, and we will tell you how.
So, I hope you’ll carefully considering your relationship with God. If you don’t know for certain that you have been redeemed, will you please try to figure that out as soon as possible?
Now, hopefully, you’ve already read the chapter, which means that you know that verses 3 through 21 describe in amazing detail the blessings of being redeemed.
So, now let’s consider . . .
4. The Blessings
You may have noticed that the LifeWork asks you to write down your top three favorite blessings of redemption. So, as we’re going through this list, if any of them really excite you, be sure to write it down.
A. Verse 3 teaches that if we are redeemed (in Christ) we have access to every spiritual blessing. We learn the same thing in II Peter 1:3.
B. Verse 4 says that saints have been chosen to live holy and blameless lives. Now, that may not sound like a blessing right now, but when you learn that it’s impossible to live holy and blameless without God’s help, and you learn that it was the way that you were created to live, and when you learn the blessings of living holy and blameless lives, then you will definitely be happy that Christians can do it.
C. Verse 5 explains that because of Christ’s kindness to us, Christians are adopted into the family of God.
This is amazing because as a member of God’s family, we have access to all the benefits of being a part of His family.
D. In verses 6, 10, and 12 we learn that the saint’s adoption adds to the praise of the glory of God’s grace and that He freely pours that grace back on to us.
E. Verse 7 teaches us that we are redeemed from slavery to sin.
F. Verse 7 also tells us that the main blessing of redemption is that we are forgiven. God will never hold our sins against us!
G. Verses 7 and 8 say that His grace is lavished on us richly. Grace is the idea that God gives us wonderful things that we do not deserve. So, not only does He give us blessings we don’t deserve, He does so richly.
This doesn’t mean that He will make us financially rich, but it’s a word to describe the fact that God’s grace is so overwhelming we can’t begin to imagine it.
Have you found your three favorite blessings of redemption yet? That’s okay, there are 5 blessings left.
H. Verses 8 and 9 teach that saints have access to the mystery of God’s will. Because we have the Bible, we can know for certain what God’s plan is for our lives.
I. Verse 11 teaches that Christians have an eternal inheritance waiting for them with God in Heaven. This means that we not only have eternal life waiting for us, but we we have the most amazing, perfect, astonishing eternal life waiting for us.
J. Verses 13-14 teach us that believers have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? A long time ago important documents and letters would be sealed with clay or wax. This meant that it wasn’t to be broken open by anyone but the rightful recipient of the document. Well, the idea that God Himself has sealed us means that we can never lose our salvation. We will never be kicked out of the family of God. No one can break the seal except God Himself, and He will never do it.
K. Then verse 17 teaches that we have access to God’s knowledge and wisdom. We don’t have time to talk about how amazing this blessing is, but — let me tell you — the confidence to know for sure that we have access to truth, and the fact that we can put that truth to use in our lives is an awesome privilege.
L. And then verses 18-23 teach that Christians are enlightened. Of course, you may be wondering what it means to be enlightened. This goes back to the idea of darkness and light. If you’re in the dark, you don’t know where you’re going and you can’t find things. But when the light is turned on, we can see where we are, find things better, and know how to move through the room.
The blessing of enlightenment has many different applications. Verse 18 says that born again saints can now understand the hope of God’s calling. We can also better understand the riches of the glory of the Lord’s inheritance. And we can understand the greatness of God’s power.
Paul describes God’s power this way: it raised Jesus from the dead. It seated Jesus at the right hand of the Father. God’s power raised Jesus above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every person that has ever existed or will ever exist. It subjugated everything under Jesus’ feet. And we’re told in verse 23 that God’s power has made Jesus the head of the church and fills everyone who has been redeemed.
Depending on how you count it, that’s 12 amazing blessings of redemption! And considering that the first blessing is the fact that we have access to all spiritual blessings (many more than we’ve discussed here), this list is even that much more amazing.
So, now I hope you’ve written down your favorite blessings. If everyone in your group hasn’t done that yet, you could easily pause the episode and let them write their list.
And once that’s done, we need to talk about . . .
5. The Application
What does all of this have to do with your family? What does all of this have to do with your family being unified?
A. Everyone in your family needs to have a personal relationship with God.
Here’s how it works. God created everyone in your family to have a relationship with Him. We will never be able to experience life the way God intended if we aren’t trusting Jesus to be our Savior and King.
Think of it this way, it’s kind of like a vacuum. Vacuum machines were created to clean floors, but if the vacuum doesn’t want to clean floors, it can’t do anything else. It will just sit in the closet unused and pointless. And that’s describing some of you!
Also, if the vacuum is going to do its job well, it can’t do it on its own. It needs to be plugged into a power source, and it needs help from a person to do what it was created to do.
And yes, even automatic vacuums need human involvement from time to time.
My point is, many of you have homes where some or all of you aren’t doing your part, and that’s affecting everyone else in your family. You would think that in a family of vacuums, the floor would never be dirty, but if everyone refuses to connect to the power of God and do what they’re suppose to do, the floor of your lives will always be filthy and gross. But even if only a few of you aren’t doing your part, it’s impossible for anyone else to do what God created you to do.
God wants you to have a relationship with Him. He has a special part for you to play in your family, and if you don’t do it, it won’t get done.
B. Your whole family cannot be unified with each other if your whole family isn’t unified with God.
We’re going to talk about this more during a later counseling session, but the reality is that a person who refuses to trust in God and submit to Him will never be unified with people who love God. Your relationships with your family will always be categorized by division, brokenness, and disunity.
Of course, we worked through those verses so quickly. But this is just an introduction. We’re seeing God’s vision for your family.
That’s why Paul starts his letter with the need and the blessings of redemption. That’s exactly where everyone in our family needs to start. We need for God to ransom us from sin and death. We need to give Him the honor and glory and obedience and love that He deserves. And He wants to lavish on us the richness of His grace and forgiveness and life.
And I can promise you that things will really start to turn around in your family — or if your family is in a biblically good place, things will continue to get better — only when we submit ourselves to God by living in obedience to His truth and His will.
So, how should this affect your family this week?
1. Before the end of the week, everyone from Elementary school up should be able to know for certain if they have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ or not.
By the way, we have an episode called The Second Most Important Question to Ask Your Child that will help you and your kids better understand if they’ve been born again.
2. If anyone in the family realizes that they’re not born again in Christ, they should ask a mature Christian in their life to show them how they can be saved.
By the way, don’t try to fake this. Don’t lie about it. If you’re not a Christian, and you don’t want to be, just be honest about that. It’s far better to be truthful than to try to trick your family.
The reality is that you’ll never trick God, so don’t try to trick anyone else either.
And that means . . .
3. If someone in your family does’t want to follow Christ and become a saint who submits to Him, don’t make fun of them or be mad at them; the rest of the family should pray for him or her.
Those three steps are probably the single most important things everyone in your home needs to do this week.
But if everyone in your family is born again and everyone knows it, then . . .
4. Use the blessings of your redemption.
You’ve been adopted into the family of God. You have access to God’s will, knowledge, power, and wisdom. God wants to enlighten you to the Bible. He wants to forgive the sins you think you’re hiding from everyone else in the family.
Take time this week to open God’s Word, learn it, study it, memorize it, and ask God to use it to change you.
If you go into this week actively trying to live the life God created you to live, you’ll be growing the right direction when we meet again, and you’ll be ready to learn about what it means to truly live.
Please share this series with all your friends. Every family needs these truths.
And remember that you can reach out to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894. We would love to show you how you can know for sure you have a relationship with God, and we would love to help you with your family struggles.
And I hope you and your whole family will join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to best worship God with our parenting.
To that end, we’ll be discussing what it means to be made alive in Christ!
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