“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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-14).”
Paul wrote these words to the church in Ephesus. Let’s talk for a second about Ephesus. When we think about the churches in the first century, we don’t realize it but, we insert our current day into what we are reading. First of all, this was probably not a big church. This was not a mega church. The Gospel was moving, but Christianity was not the dominant religion of the region.
The big religious draw of the region was the Temple of Artemis (Diana) of the Ephesians. The Temple is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. We see in scripture that the people actually preached and passed on the notion that it just appeared one day out of the sky (Acts 19:35).
The religion that was practiced at the Temple was the worship of the fertility goddess Artemis. Artemis was worshipped in the temple by having sexual relations with priestesses known as the Amazons. Men were to be dominated and the women were to do the dominating. The draw for women was they got to be in charge and it taught a feminist message in a time where feminism was not a thing, and women in most places didn’t have rights.
Ephesus was a popular trade city, which had a strong blacksmith contingent who produced Artemis idols as a business and they were bought and sold and taken all over the empire.
Men were drawn to this, especially men who were travelers, because they could get off the boat and walk not far inland to the temple. Men were able to have casual sex on the road, seemingly without consequence or anyone knowing.
When Ephesians were converted to Christianity, they had to leave this pagan worship and sexually permissive lifestyle behind. Paul even had to address the roles of men and women in a specific way in I Timothy 2, because of the influence of Artemis ( See “Is the Bible Sexist?” – Chaplapreneur.com).
Another problem in the church of Ephesus was there were people teaching Gnostic teachings and swaying people away from the true Gospel. Paul is writing this letter because he was actually pressured to leave the city for preaching the gospel (Acts 19 and 20). The blacksmiths were especially concerned because Christians were anti-Artemis and this would hurt their business.
In spite of all of these facts, look at the verses above. They have an inheritance in Christ. It was predestined that they would be people who could reach their neighbors living in darkness. They were given the Holy Spirit as a small deposit of things that were to come. Paul explained to the Ephesian Christians that they are special and chosen to live the Christian life in Ephesus. No, it wasn’t for the weak. It wasn’t for the mild. Only bold people who have been won over by the same power that rose Jesus Christ from the dead could do it.
Ponder this as we live out our faith today. Don’t spend too much time watching the gloom and doom news. Get the news and get away. Hours of hearing how Christianity is going away, a new day is here, and Christians are losing the culture war, creates fear. That is what it is meant to do. Be informed, but don’t let it depress you. Balance the news by filling yourself up with the Word of God (The Good News). The Good News is what will help you be an influence in this culture.
When we stand with Jesus, we are in the majority. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord, because God saw this day. I have been given and inheritance and have been chosen to stand for Jesus in this day, and what a great day to live for Jesus. There is so much opportunity to help the world to see the true light, and your Savior, Jesus the Christ. So go out knowing you have a mighty inheritance and have been chosen for a great opportunity. Walk knowing your are blessed and loved by Jesus as you boldly shine His light. Inheritors of the greatest promise should not walk in any culture defeated.
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