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Ephesians – Perfecting the Saints

Paul Writes to the Ephesians

Ephesus was one of the largest Roman cities, with a population of about 250,000 in 100 A.D.  Formerly Greek, it was located near present Izmir, Turkey, on its west coast. [1]  It was about 3 miles inland, on the river Cayster.

Ephesus was visited by Paul at the close of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19); he stayed there for two years on his third journey (Acts 19) and left in consequence of a disturbance caused by silversmiths whose trade in shrines of the goddess had suffered in consequence of the growth of the Christian faith. See also Acts 20:17; 1 Cor. 15:32; 16:8; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:18; 4:12. The city was also closely connected with the life of John. [2]

Girl crossing river from stone to stone. A quote about fundamentals perfecting the saints from Neal A. Maxwell.Paul’s epistle (letter) to the Ephesians contains Paul’s teaching regarding the Church of Christ.  The early faithful members of The Church of Christ were called “Saints.”  Sainthood was not reserved for those specifically chosen to be so honored, as is done in Catholicism today, but for all those who sought the kingdom of God, and who followed Christ and kept His commandments, especially the two great commandments, to love God, and to serve one’s neighbor.

We Are Foreordained to God’s Service

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins to talk about how we have been “foreordained” to serve God.  He says we were foreordained before the foundation of the world.  Only Latter-day Saints have much useful knowledge about life before the world was created.  We know through modern prophets and revelation that we all existed eternally before being born into mortality.  We were spirits, and Heavenly Father was the father of our spirits.  He is literally our Heavenly Parent.  During this pre-mortal existence, we knew and upheld Him.  He taught us His Plan of Salvation, and we upheld Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer; through Him worlds without number had been created.  To be “foreordained” means to have made covenants with God in the pre-existence that we would perform certain acts of service for Him during our sojourn on earth.  This is not the same as predestination.  One always has freedom of choice to follow through on promises made in the pre-mortal life.  It takes some spiritual searching, since we have forgotten our former existence, to find out who we were and what we promised to do.  If we fail to serve God in this life, He will raise up another in our place who can fulfill His wishes in building His kingdom on earth.

Verse 10 says,

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

This is the dispensation of the fullness of times.  The purpose of this dispensation is to build up the kingdom of God on earth in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christ will gather together all things in order to join His earthly kingdom with His kingdom in heaven.  During the millennium, this connectedness will enable us to commune with heaven as heaven communes with us on earth.  In process is the complete restoration of Christ’s original church for the Saints of the Latter-days.  The power and authority to accomplish this rests with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church.

Verse 13 says,

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…

To be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise means to have the promise of eternal life in the presence of God sealed upon you while you are yet living on the earth.  This is the promise of exaltation into God’s presence in the highest kingdom of heaven, the Celestial Kingdom. (See 1 Corinthians 15:40 – 42.)

Repentance Leads to Exaltation

In Ephesians 2, Paul begins by praising the Saints for repenting of their sins, and through the grace of Christ laying hold upon salvation.  In Chapter 2, Verse 10, Paul says,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Paul is talking about our foreordination to be worthy followers of Christ and in doing good works, if we will.  When he sounds like he is saying that works are not important, remember that he constantly is making the contrast between the Mosaic Law, to which the Jews and Jewish converts were so attached, and the grace of Christ.  Numerous times in the Bible, the Lord tells us through revelation that we will be judged according to our works.  It is unwise to toss out sections of the Bible that deal with works, which is really most of the Bible, and focus entirely on grace.  We are judged by our works and saved by grace.  In 2:19 Paul says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”   These people are “afar off” from the Jews and from Israel, yet they are accepted of Christ and are in full fellowship with Him.  This truth is emphasized by Paul in Chapter 3 of Ephesians.

The goal, as stated in 3:19, is “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

In Ephesians 3:5 Paul speaks of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and yet there are about 40,000 Christian sects in the world today, all basing their varied doctrines upon the Bible.  Only one church is actually Christ’s, led by constant revelation from Him, and holding what He has called the “priesthood power,” the power and authority to act in His name, perform miracles, seal ordinances in heaven as they are entered into on earth, and with all the truths needed for salvation and exaltation.  That is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with its apostles, seventies and Saints.  Christ’s ancient gospel has been fully restored in preparation for His Second Coming.

Paul then expounds on what it means to be perfect, which in the biblical sense, means “whole.”  It means to abound in love for God and man.  To abound in good works and good thoughts.  It means to understand and feel the love of Christ and to share it, to love family and spouse, to be a peacemaker at home and abroad.  To have an eye single to the glory of God.  In Ephesians 6 he gives the notable counsel to put on the whole armor of God to fight against the adversary, Satan ¾ truth, righteousness, prayer, and all things that will suit us for the kingdom of God.

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