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  2. Lesson July 15–21 Sabbath afternoon Read for This Week’s Study: Eph. 2:1–10, Eph. 5:14, Rom. 5:17, Eph. 5:6, 2 Tim. 1:7. Memory Text: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4, 5, ESV). What lesson do you learn from the book of Ephesians chapter 2 verses 4 and 5? How do you comprehend God mercy towards us? Sunday July 16 Subtopic: Once Dead and Deceived by Satan! Read Ephesians 2:1–10. What is the main idea that Paul is giving us here about what Jesus has done for us? What do these verses teach about the reality of the great controversy? At the same time, how can we draw comfort and hope in the knowledge that Jesus has been victorious and that we can share in His victory now? Monday July 17 Subtopic: Once Deluded by Our Own Desires! “All of us also lived among them [the disobedient] at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath” (Eph. 2:3, NIV). Apart from the intervention of God, human existence is dominated not only by the external forces mentioned in Ephesians 2:2 but also by internal ones: “the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Eph. 2:3, ESV; compare James 1:14, 15; 1 Pet. 1:14). What does Paul mean by stating that his hearers were once “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3, ESV)? Compare Ephesians 2:3 and Ephesians 5:6. Who hasn’t experienced just how corrupted our own nature is, even after we have given ourselves to Jesus? What should this teach us about how important it is that we cling to Him every moment of our lives? Tuesday July 18 Subtopic: Now Resurrected, Ascended, and Exalted With Christ! “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us”(Eph. 2:4, NKJV). Here, with two powerful words, “But God,” Paul pivots from his doleful portrait of the past lives of his audience (Eph. 2:1–3) to the new, hope-filled realities that mark their lives as believers (Eph. 2:4–10). In what sense do believers participate in Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and exaltation? When does this participation occur? Eph.2:6, 7. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7, NKJV). How do the verses we looked at today help us understand what Paul writes here? Wednesday July 19 Subtopic: Now Blessed Forever by Grace! Compare God’s planning for salvation in Ephesians 1:3, 4 with the eternal results of that plan described in Ephesians 2:7. What are essential elements and goals of God’s “plan of salvation”? “By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. . . . But not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which ‘angels desire to look,’ and it will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 19, 20. Thursday July 20 Subtopic: Now Saved by God! Read back through Ephesians 2:1–10, focusing on Paul’s conclusion in verses 8–10. What points does he highlight as he concludes the passage? Why is it so important for us to understand that our salvation is from God and is not rooted in our own worth or efforts? Friday July 21 Subtopic: Further Thought! Underlying the Epistle to the Ephesians is a story that is often rehearsed in part or alluded to in it. The major events in the narrative are the following: 1. God’s choice of the people “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4, 5, 11). 2. Their past, lost existence (Eph. 2:1–3, 11, 12; Eph. 4:17–19, 22; Eph. 5:8). 3. The intervention of God in Christ to save them (Eph. 1:7, 8; Eph. 2:4–6, 13–19; Eph. 4:1, 20, 21; Eph. 5:2, 8, 23, 25, 26). 4. Their acceptance of the gospel (Eph. 1:12, 13 and implied elsewhere). Having once “no hope” (Eph. 2:12), they now possess the “one hope” toward which believers move (Eph. 4:4; compare Eph. 1:18). 5. The present lives of the addressees as disciples. Though living at a time fraught with hazards and the opposition of the evil powers, they may draw on the resources offered by their exalted Lord (Eph. 1:15–23, Eph. 2:6, Eph. 3:14–21, Eph. 4:7–16, Eph. 6:10–20). 6. In the future culmination of history, the Spirit’s role as “guarantee” (Eph. 1:13, 14, ESV), or “seal” (Eph. 4:30), reaches fruition. In this crowning moment, the addressees will be rewarded for their faithfulness by taking possession of the “inheritance” already granted to them in Christ (Eph. 2:7; Eph. 6:8, 9); and, through their faith in Christ, they will be granted a place in the Christ-centered age to come (Eph. 1:21; Eph. 2:7, 19–22; Eph. 4:13, 15; Eph. 5:27). Discussion Questions: 1.The underlying story of Ephesians (see above) is not just the story of believers in the first century. It is our own story. Which of the major steps or stages of that story gives you the most hope in this moment? 2. Why do you think it is that Paul so frequently recalls the sinful past of his audience, inviting them to reflect on their preconversion lives? 3. Compare Paul’s summary of the gospel in Ephesians 2:8–10 to his earlier summary in Romans 1:16, 17. What similar themes emerge? In what ways are the two different? 4. While the good works of believers play no role in their redemption, in that they can never give people saving merit before God, what important part do they play in God’s plans for believers? Eph. 2:10.
  3. Lesson 3 [July 8–14] Kindly share your thought with us here!!! SABBATH AFTERNOON Memory Text: Through the Holy Spirit, believers may know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19, 20, NKJV). SUNDAY [July 9] Subtopic: Praying and Thanksgiving Motivated by news that believers in Ephesus are thriving in faith toward Jesus and in love toward each other (perhaps news shared by Tychicus, Eph. 6:21, 22), Paul reports to them how he prays for them. Compare Paul’s two prayer reports in Ephesians—Ephesians 1:15– 23 and Ephesians 3:14–21. What themes do the two reports share? Why is it important always to thank God in prayer for what you have to be thankful for? MONDAY [July 10] Subtopic: Experiencing Insight From the Holy Spirit “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:16, 17, ESV). Paul prays that the Holy Spirit will bring special insight to believers on what three topics? {See Eph. 1:17–19.} How can you better experience “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe”? What does this mean in daily life? TUESDAY [July 11] Subtopic: Participating in Resurrection Power In the remaining verses of Paul’s prayer report, Ephesians 1:20–23, Paul expands on the third topic of insight he hopes that the Holy Spirit will bring to believers: the enormity of God’s power, which He exercises on their behalf. Paul begins by pointing to two salvation-history events as the premiere illustrations of God’s power: (1) the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and (2) the exaltation of Jesus to the throne of the cosmos (Eph. 1:20). How is God’s power expressed through the resurrection of Jesus? {Eph. 1:20; 1 Cor. 15:20–22; Phil. 3:8–11; Heb. 13:20, 21; 1 Pet. 1:3.} What are the ways that you need Christ’s power in your life, and how can we better avail ourselves of that power? What practices might hinder our access to His power? WEDNESDAY [July 12] Subtopic: Christ Above All Powers Paul has celebrated the exaltation of Jesus, who now sits with the Father on the throne of the cosmos. Having defined the position of Christ in relationship to the Father (“seated . . . at his right hand in the heavenly places” [Eph. 1:20, ESV]), Paul turns to the relationship of Jesus to “the powers.” As coregent with the Father, Jesus is “far above” them all (Eph. 1:21). Compare Paul’s mentioning of evil, spiritual powers in Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 2:2, and Ephesians 6:12. Why do you think Paul is so interested in these powers? What are some present-day manifestations of these same evil forces, and how can we make sure that we don’t get caught up in any of them? THURSDAY [July 13] Subtopic: Jesus, All Things, and His Church Early Christians saw in Psalm 110:1 a prophecy of the exaltation of Jesus: “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’ ” (ESV). They read Psalm 8 in the same way, with its affirmation that God has “put all things under his feet,” (Ps. 8:6, ESV), the feet of “the son of man” (Ps. 8:4, ESV). While they believed that the powers of darkness in the heavenly places were over their heads and threatened to subjugate them, they laid hold of the truth that those powers were under Christ’s feet. Note carefully that having “put all things under his [Jesus’] feet,” the Father “gave him as head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22, ESV; compare “gave Him to be head over all things to the church,” NKJV). While “all things” is a universal, inclusive term, Paul still has in mind “the powers” mentioned in Ephesians 1:21. All things—the cosmic, supernatural, spiritual powers included—are under the feet of Christ, subservient to Him. What benefits does the exaltation of Christ to the throne of the cosmos, and His rule over all things in heaven and on earth, provide for His church? {Eph. 1:22, 23} What has been your own experience with the power of prayer? That is, not just answered prayers but prayer in general, and how does prayer draw us closer to God and the power offered us in Jesus? FRIDAY [July 14] Further Thought: Study these two descriptions of Christ’s exaltation from the writings of Ellen G. White: “When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 38, 39. “The Father’s arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’ Hebrews 1:6. “With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’ Revelation 5:12. “Songs of triumph mingle with the music from angel harps, till heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost is found. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.’ Rev. 5:13.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 834, 835. Discussion Questions: Ponder the “now” and “not yet” of the exaltation of Jesus. In what sense is Jesus already the Lord of “all things,” with the demonic powers subservient to Him—that is, the “now”? And in what sense does His full reign over all things look toward the future—the “not yet”? (See 1 Cor. 15:24–28.) To what extent are you living in the light of Christ’s rule over all things? Or to what extent are you living under the authority of these other powers, the fallen powers, whose authority is ebbing away anyway? How do you know which is which, and how can you get away from the forces of evil that, though certainly defeated, are still prevalent in our world?
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