“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
This introduction to the letter to the Ephesians contains very rich spiritual truths. The first thing that we will focus in on is the statement “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” How was Paul an apostle? By the will of God. This is a remarkable statement, and it is a statement that should be a reality in every one of our lives. “By the will of God” should be the reason why we are what we are and the reason we are where we are.
Paul uses an introduction very similar to this one in 1 Corinthians 1. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1a). A very common misconception is that we think that the only ones who are to be called to something by God are those who are in “ministry.” That is simply not true. God desires that each one of His children be where they are and doing what they are doing because they have been called by His will. It doesn’t matter whether you are single by the will of God or married by the will of God. It doesn’t matter whether you work as a plumber by the will of God or an accountant by the will of God or something else by the will of God. It doesn’t matter whether you are home by the will of God or 7,000 miles away from home by the will of God. What matters is that you are what you are and are doing what you are doing and are where you are by the will of God.
It is only as we are in something by the will of God and as we receive His calling of us to that place that His Life can be lived through us in that place. If He is the one who has called us to into something, then it is His responsibility to do that through us. Our whole jurisdiction is to receive His will and to trust and depend on Him to do it through us.
Trying to find out the will of God and trying to be sure that we are in the place of being in His will can be frightening if we are looking to ourselves. The certainty of being in God’s will comes as we abide in Him and walk in a relationship with Him. It is only then that we can know His will and receive His will.
It is only as we have the certainty that we are in God’s will that there can be the freedom to receive all with thanksgiving and praise to God. Paul had the certainty that he was an apostle by the will of God. Paul went through many trials and hardships because he was an apostle of Christ, but even though the temptations to complain were there, instead he prayed and sang praises to God in the midst of the trials (See Acts 16:25).
Life involves suffering whether we are walking in God’s will or not. But, there is only the freedom to give thanks to God for the suffering if we are walking in the will of God. Suffering when we know we’re in God’s will draws us to Him if we receive it with thanksgiving. Suffering when we are just going through life doing what we want to do causes us to either become angry, depressed, or discouraged.
Will we walk in a relationship with the Lord and allow Him to reveal His will to us? Will we receive His will and allow Him to do it in and through us? Will we receive His will with thanksgiving and praise even when it involves difficult circumstances?
The next part of the verse at which we will look is “to the saints which are at Ephesus.” A saint is one who is set apart unto God. They are set apart from the world. They are not necessarily set apart from the world in body, but they are set apart from the world in soul. Our Lord Jesus’ desire and prayer to the Father for those that the Father had given Him was not for them to be taken out of the world; His prayer for them was that they would be kept from the evil (John 17:15). What God calls us to will involve us being in the world. Even Paul as an apostle was in the world. What will cause us to be a saint (one set apart to God) is our soul being set apart to God.
Romans 12:2 reveals how we are set apart from the world and set apart to God: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” As our minds are transformed through the receiving of God’s words through meditation, our souls will be set apart unto God, and the will of God will be proven and lived in and through our lives.
How can this be done? How can this happen? The last part of Ephesians 1:1 tells us. It says, “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The only way that we will walk with God and the only way that we will walk “by the will of God” is IN Christ Jesus. It is only His Life inside of us that can live in this manner. As we depend on Him and trust in Him, His will and Life will be lived in and through us.
May we all know God, receive and walk in His will and calling, be set apart unto Him, and be faithful through His life living in and through us!