Warren Wiersbe’s Be Rich commentary on the book of Ephesians does not a promote the “prosperity gospel”—insert prayers and gifts to televangelists and receive health and wealth. No, as the subtitle goes on to say. “Gaining the Things That Money Can’t Buy.”
Ephesians 1:3 says God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Just some of those blessings:
- Chosen in Him (verse 4)
- Adopted as sons (verse 5)
- Redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (verse 7)
- An inheritance (verse 11)
- Believers are “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” (verses 13-14).
Wiersbe says, “‘In Christ’ is the most frequently used phrase in the book of Ephesians, and the point is clear: If you’re in Christ, you have everything.”
Another theme in the book is unity. Not a unity that ignores truth, but unity based on truth. Paul, the author of the letter to the Ephesians, says God’s plan was “to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (1:10). The first half of chapter 2 tells how we can be reconciled with God; the second half says that God, through Christ, broke down the barriers between Jew and Gentile. “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God … ” (2:18-19). Chapters 4-6 share practical ways that unity in Christ is worked out in the church community, in the home, and in the workplace.
I’ve got dozens of quotes marked, but here are a few:
The Bible is our guidebook; the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. As we search the Word of God, we discover more and more of the riches we have in Christ.
Salvation is a gift, not a reward. Salvation cannot be “of works” because the work of salvation has already been completed on the cross. This is the work that God does for us, and it is a finished work (John 17: 1–4; 19: 30). We can add nothing to it (Heb. 10: 1–14); we dare take nothing from it.
By His death and resurrection, Christ overcame the world (John 16: 33; Gal. 6: 14), and the flesh (Rom. 6: 1–6; Gal. 2: 20), and the Devil (Eph. 1: 19–23). In other words, as believers, we do not fight for victory—we fight from victory! The Spirit of God enables us, by faith, to appropriate Christ’s victory for ourselves.
The Christian life is not based on ignorance but knowledge, and the better we understand Bible doctrine, the easier it is to obey Bible duties. When people say, “Don’t talk to me about doctrine—just let me live my Christian life!” they are revealing their ignorance of the way the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer. “It makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you live right” is a similar confession of ignorance. It does make a difference what you believe, because what you believe determines how you behave!
Of course, there’s much more to Ephesians and Wiersbe’s book.
Ephesians contains two of my favorite Biblical prayers that I sometimes pray for myself and others. I’ll leave you with those
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 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, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places (1:15-20).
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (3:14-19).
(Sharing with Worth Beyond Rubies, Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)
another really good book review Barbara, thank you!
I love the prayers you posted — also the idea that as believers, we fight “from victory” rather than “for victory.” How comforting!
That helps me, too–a similar thought from Romans 6 that we “reckon” (in the KJV) certain things and then act accordingly.
I love Ephesians.
And I’m especially struck right now, Barbara, that the things most valuable are those that money can not buy. For such a time as this …
Yes. I love the practical applications at the end, especially in chapter 4 about treating each other with kindness, love, and forbearance.
Thank you for taking the time to review this book. I did not realise that the phrase “In Christ” is so widely used by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. Indeed, “If you’re in Christ, you have everything.”
You’re very welcome. I think they author said the phrase was used 27 times–a lot for a book of only six chapters.
I think I have this on my bookshelf. I’m planning to dive into Ephesians next month using Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection as my guide, but I need LOTS of help. I’m going to find my copy of Wiersbe’s book.
Ephesians contains one of my favorite phrases in the Bible: “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”. I love the thought of being sealed with the Holy Spirit. What a blessing! I was just reading last night about praying prayers from the Bible rather than (or in addition to) spontaneous prayer. I like that concept too. Thank you for sharing these very good ones.
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I rarely read a whole book with commentary on a single book of the Bible; it’s typically online commentaries that I’ll gravitate towards. But this looks like a great resource for deeper study! Great review! The one book I can think of that I’ve gone through that takes such a deep dive is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, which I blogged about this week and am linking to my name. I wholeheartedly recommend it!!
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