Turn with me in your Bibles to Paul's epistle to the church at Ephesus, the book of Ephesians. And we'll take time this evening, we're going to look at the introduction of this little epistle and the salutation that we find in verses 1 and 2, we're only going to look at these two verses - because it's important as we look at any book that we lay are historical and contextual foundations of the book. In order to interpret any book of the Bible properly, it's important that we understand who it's being written to, who's writing it and what situation it's being written to. So we need to have a backdrop for this book of Ephesians to understand all the truths that are held therein. But in order to get the context of what we're going to be looking into the weeks that lie ahead, let's look and read the whole of chapter 1 of the book of Ephesians. If you want to shout 'Hallelujah' in the middle of any of these verses, you feel free to do so! I can't because I'm reading.
"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: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 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: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 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, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all".
We're looking this evening at verses 1 and 2 of this chapter, let's read them together again: '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: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ". Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the hymnwriter, wrote these words about the book of Ephesians - he said: 'It is the divinest composition of man'. The most beautiful letter, the most beautiful words that have ever been penned by any human being - but as we sit this evening and study these magnificent words, as we read them, we say that they are not simply the divinest words of a human being, but as we read them they testify very clearly that these are the words of Almighty God. Go home this evening and read these words - for perhaps they're the profoundest that have ever been written by any man. You can see the grandeur, the majesty, the dignity, the richness and fulness, the peculiarity of these words among the whole of the New Testament and the whole of the word of God - there is power in these words! This, perhaps, is not the longest of Paul's letters - but perhaps it's one of the profoundest, the most powerful, the most significant of his works and writings, humanly speaking.
Look at the book for a moment. The book naturally splits into two parts, two sections. The first section is chapter 1 to chapter 3 - 1, 2 and 3 deal with doctrinal belief, in other words: what believer's wealth is. What we believe, our doctrines of our faith that we build our life and build the church upon - 1 to 3 is doctrinal. Then chapters 4 to 6 are practical - not simply the believer's wealth, but the believer's walk. Because of what we believe Christ is, what He has done for us, what we have as our foundation - how then should we behave as Christians: our walk in Christ. Now the two key verses in both of these sections are found at the start of each of the sections - look at chapter 1 and verse 3, this is the key verse in the first doctrinal section of the book of Ephesians: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ'. And then the second key verse, for the second section, the practical section, is found in chapter 4 and verse 1 - the very start of the section: 'I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord', Paul says, 'beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called'. He outlines, in chapters 1 to 3, all that you are in Christ, all that we have, all the riches that we have inherited through the blood of Christ - and then in chapter 4 he says, 'Now, this is what you've been called into, now practically speaking you've got to walk worthy of your vocation of your calling'.
What is the theme of this little letter of Paul's? The theme is simply this: the mystery of the church of Jesus Christ. It's a mystery because it never, ever was revealed in the whole of the history of Judaism. This mystery was something that only came to being at Pentecost, in the New Testament when the church of Jesus Christ was formed. You can see it right throughout every chapter of the book of Ephesians. Look at chapter 1, for in chapter 1 and verse 11 we see there, a mystery: 'In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will'. Chapter 1, we have the mystery of the will of God. If you look at chapter 2, and you read it when you go home, there is the mystery of the church of Jesus Christ - how Jews and Gentiles, all sorts of pagans and barbarians, and the Pharisees even, and the Scribes, no matter what background you're from - how that God has wrought in Christ a reconciliation, and that God has broken down the middle wall of partition and has made the two, Gentiles and Jews, one in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you go to chapter 3 and verse 4, you see there the mystery - as Darby translates it - the mystery of Christ, the mystery of His person, the mystery of His being, the mystery of who and what He is at this moment in time in heaven. Go into chapter 4 and you read about the mystery of the unity of the body of Christ, all across this universe. You go to chapter 5 and you have some practical rules about how masters should relate to their servants, servants to their masters, husbands to wives, wives to husbands, children to parents, parents to children. But you remember, after Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, he says that this is the mystery - he speaks of the relationship between the Saviour and the saints, the Bridegroom and the bride, the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. And then, when you go into chapter 6, you see the mystery of the Gospel - look at chapter 6 verse 20: 'For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak'.
The message of this little book is the present dynamic relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ, risen, exalted, glorified in heaven! The message is His dynamic, real, powerful relationship today with the church, His first love. It's quite similar to the book of Colossians, you see the book of Colossians speaks of the 'cosmic Christ', the Christ as He is today - not as He was, not as He was upon the cross, not even in the resurrection, but ascended, risen, exalted as He is now. But Ephesians differs in this respect: that it speaks not specifically of the 'cosmic Christ', but how the church has a 'cosmic' present role as the body of that same Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I want us to do a bit of work this evening - because we've got to think, we've got to understand the situation and the circumstances that this letter - and remember, it is a letter - that was addressed to the church at Ephesus [was written in]. Ephesus was one of the largest Mediterranean cities. It had approximately a quarter to half a million of a population, and for those days that was very large. But this city of Ephesus was richly blessed from hand of God, for this city had been touched with the preaching of Paul the apostle - and if you look on the back of your sheet, your handout, you'll see there the three missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. But Paul the apostle came across this city of Ephesus in his second missionary journey, en route from the land of Greece to the land of Syria - you can read about it in Acts chapter 18. But as he came across Ephesus on his second missionary journey he did not stay there long, he only stopped over there for a few nights - but as he was hurrying through that city of Ephesus, on to Jerusalem, he found time to debate with the Jewish leaders in the local synagogue. The word of God tells us that they were so impressed with what Paul was teaching and preaching, that they begged for him to remain with them in Ephesus - and he said that he would come back again one day if it was the will of God for him. Therefore, we read in the book of the Acts, that on his third missionary journey he made sure, he believed it was the will of God, that he would go again to the city of Ephesus and there, the word of God tells us, he spent three years.
Now, I want you to understand Paul's strategic way of his missionary journeys. He did not go 'willy-nilly' and decide, 'We'll preach here, we'll preach there, we'll go to this city, to that city', or wherever the path took him, there he preached - that wasn't the way he worked. Now remember that Ephesus was perhaps the largest city in Asia Minor, and Paul knew that if he could break the [impregnable] walls of that great city - where people travelled through, where businessmen came to, where cultural people came to in the arts, and music, and writing and so forth - that he was going to plant, as it were, a gospel 'atomic bomb' that would spread to the whole province of Asia Minor. Do you see his thinking? And therefore he comes to Ephesus, the biggest city - and we read in the book of Acts that for three months he resumed his confrontation with those Jews that he had talked with on his second missionary journey. He debated with them over and over, every day for three months until he had some opposition - and when he had the opposition he removed himself with his converts and went to a lecturing theatre and hall of Tyrannus. And there, day after day, morning after morning for two whole years he debated, he preached, he exhorted these men and women to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
What faithfulness Paul had in the Gospel. So much so that there was a riot in the city of Ephesus - and you can read about it in chapter 19 of the book of Acts. There was a man called Demetrius, and because his livelihood was threatened - he made little idols, replica models of the temple and of Diana of the Ephesians - and because Paul was preaching the Gospel and idolaters were being converted, he was going to go out of business. Leonard Ravenhill has said that you can't have revival without a riot. Ten years later Paul decides to write a letter to the church of Ephesus - and if you go to the very end of this book, you'll see in small writing - it's not inspired - but there we have: 'Written from Rome unto the Ephesians by Tychicus'. Paul, as he wrote this letter to the Ephesians, was under house arrest in Rome. He was imprisoned; he was awaiting the outcome of the appeal that he had made to Caesar. But I want you to notice, as you've already read the first chapter - and I hope you've read the other chapters of this little book - he is imprisoned for the cause of Christ, but he's not moaning! He's not whingeing, he's not grumbling, he's not griping - but perhaps this letter shows unbelievable, explosive joy that this prisoner for Christ had in his Lord and his salvation!
Sure, if you read many of the books of the Bible, some of the greatest of them were written in prison. And well might the Psalmist have said in Psalm 76 verse 10, that God makes the wrath of man to praise Him! You'll find within the New Testament, that three of the books that we have were written where Paul is at this moment - in prison, house arrest, in Rome. The book of Colossians, the book of Philemon, and the book that we read this evening - the book of Ephesians. We only have to look down church history, don't we? We go to the Reformation and we read of men that were imprisoned: Sivonna Roli (sp?) in Italy, Tyndale in England, Anne Askew - why was she imprisoned, a woman? She was imprisoned because she rejected the popish doctrine of trans-substantiation, she declared - had the guts to say - 'This is only bread, this is only wine', and she was thrown into prison. And before she was burned at the stake in Smithfield, do you know what she could write in poetic language?
'I now rejoice in heart
And hope bids me do so,
That Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe'.
Madame Guyon, the French saint, as she lay in a cold prison cell - do you know what she could write?
'My cage confines me round,
Abroad I cannot fly,
But though my wings are closely bound,
My heart is at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom, of my soul'.
Paul was in prison, but it didn't affect his spirit. Paul was in jail, he couldn't go out, he couldn't preach, he couldn't witness, he couldn't sing out in the open or with the children of God - yet he rejoiced in his Lord! Are you in prison this evening? What is it? Is it illness? Is it persecution? Is it your family? Is it friends? Is it your husband or your wife? People at work, your boss? And you feel that you're in prison, you feel that you're sealed in, you can't get out, you're kept! Listen: Paul, the prisoner of Christ, could rejoice - and so can you!
We read in the word of God that Paul was allowed some visitors, we read that there was a man called Epaphras - he would come in now and again and he would keep Paul posted with what was going on within the church of Jesus Christ at large. But Epaphras had come to Paul and disturbed him a little, because he had brought to him news that there were heretics in Colossae teaching that Jesus Christ was not who He was. That bothered Paul in jail, so he got started and he wrote the letter to the Colossians. And then, while Paul was in prison, he befriended a slave called Onesimus - he was a renegade fugitive, he had offended and frauded his master and his owner. But when he came in contact with Paul he was gloriously saved and converted, and Paul had the burden of this soul, Onesimus, upon his heart and he decided to write a letter to his master who was a believer, Philemon, and send him back to his master - hoping that he would be pardoned. The man that stayed with him much of the time in prison, was a man called Tychicus - he was the man who was going to take Onesimus back to Philemon with the letter. He was the man that was going to deliver the letter to Colossae. But he was also a native of the city of Ephesus, and he was going to be travelling through Ephesus, and Paul couldn't resist writing a letter to the church at Ephesus, and he took it with him.
Now look at verse 1, it says: 'Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus' - some manuscripts don't have the words 'at Ephesus'. Now that doesn't really matter, because we know that this letter was going to Ephesus - but what many believe is this: that this was not simply a letter for Ephesus, but it was an open-ended letter that was to be a circular letter that went round all the churches of Jesus Christ. I want us to notice three things about these first two verses that will give us an introduction to this great letter - I don't know about you, but I'm excited about it! It's full of spiritual dynamite, spiritual meat - and if you go away starving this evening there's something wrong. The author is the first thing that I want you to notice: 'Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God'. Now, there's three things I want you to notice - I want you to notice the author, secondly I want you to notice his authority and thirdly the source of his authority.
Look at the author: Paul. If you were to look at letters that were written - ordinary secular letters from friends and family and relatives - in the same age and day that this letter of Paul was written, you would find that they all began the same. They started with the name of the person that was writing - the author - and then the second name or place that you would read would be the addressee - the person being written to - and then the third thing you would encounter is the greeting - the salutation of the person, the author, writing to the addressee. That follows the same pattern and the same model here as we see. He says, 'Paul' - the author sending the letter. Now I want you to notice that he doesn't say 'Father Paul', he doesn't say 'Apostle Paul', he doesn't even say 'Elder Paul' or 'Pastor Paul' - he says 'Paul'. Paul was his Roman name, and we find throughout the epistles that Paul, he was the apostle to the Gentiles and whenever he was speaking as the apostle to the Gentiles he used his Gentile name 'Paul'. Remember what he said? He was [a Jew to the] Jew, he was a Gentile to the Gentile, he was everything to any man that he might bring them to Christ. That's what we need to be, that by all means we would save some.
You know, and you heard last evening, that he was called Saul before his conversion - probably because he was from the tribe of Benjamin, and King Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, and the mother of Saul christened her son after the great King. But when he was converted, his name was changed. He became the apostle to the Gentiles, and what a work he did, but his name was changed from Saul to Paul - do you know what Paul means? This staggers me, it means 'small', small. That lion that ravaged, that breathed out murderings and cursings and threatenings against the church of Jesus Christ, that Pharisee that was instrumental in the murder of Stephen whose face was as an angel - that lion was brought down to size, made small by the Lord Jesus Christ. And the one who arrested Christians, on the road to Damascus was arrested by the Son of God and converted! It's amazing, God cut him down to size, but it was his smallness that became the medium for God's bigness. He said, 'When I am weak He is strong...His strength is made perfect in my weakness'. Do you know that, Christian? Maybe you're going through weakness today, maybe you're experiencing it, maybe God is bringing you down to size by some means - listen: His grace is sufficient for you. Cherish His grace, cherish the work that God is doing in your life and see that He is honing, He is digging, He is excavating in your life, maybe even in your flesh, a channel by which He will flow the life of Christ through you.
Paul, just Paul, that's the author - but what is the authority of the author? Look at verse one: 'Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ' - he is an apostle, now that's not a title, it was his role. We find this word 'apostle' throughout the whole of the New Testament, what it's doing here is simply giving an official stamp to the letter that is being sent to this church and to all the churches. But here, in this verse, it's used in a restrictive sense - what do I mean by that? Well 'apostle' simply means in the Greek, literally: 'sent out one', but there are many meanings for 'apostle'. For instance, to be a missionary in the New Testament could be classified as being an apostle, sent out from the church. Indeed, we read within the word of God of one Epaphroditus, who was called 'your apostle', simply because he was chosen by the church to be their servant. But the word 'apostle' here is not used in that sense, but used in the restricted sense of one who has been chosen directly by God, for God, to be a foundation member of the church.
Turn with me for a moment to Ephesians 4, Ephesians 4 and verse 11, and we have here what God has in mind when He calls Paul an apostle: 'And [God] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ'. Turn to chapter 2 and verse 20, the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone. When Paul calls himself an apostle here, he's using it in the restrictive sense of the twelve disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul the apostle here. Given gifts, given powers, many of them not with us today - many now, not all - to lay a foundation for the church of Jesus Christ. That's his authority, he was an apostle - he had seen the risen Lord Jesus Christ, which was a requirement to be made an apostle by the hand of the Lord there on the road to Damascus.
His authority - but what is the source of his authority? 'Paul', verse 1, 'an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God' - it's amazing to me, that Paul is banged up in prison but he accepted it as the will of God for him. I would have gone daft! Can't preach, can't read my books, can't run around, can't do what I want to - how can this be classed as serving the Lord? Many people that are laid up in a hospital bed, or locked at home, or are sick, or are ill - they think to themselves, 'How can I serve God? Lord, if you'd just make me well I'd go to the four corners of the earth for You!'. But he saw being banged up in prison as the will of God for him. All God wants us to do with His will is accept it! I wonder is there someone here this evening and you're battling, you're striving, you won't accept the will of God for you? See Paul, he accepted God's will - and I want you to see that he didn't become an apostle, he didn't bring it upon himself, he didn't choose that ministry, he had no aspiration for it, there was no usurpation of another apostle and he took his place - I want you to see this: that there was no democratic nomination of him! But there was a preparation of God, and a choosing and election of God.
This was God's doing - and let me say this, Christian: if you're to be strong, if you're to be calm when the storms of life come across your path, if you're to be an effective child of God - you must know God's will! And know that it's God's will and not yours. There are preachers in the pulpit and they cannot preach, there are missionaries on the mission field and they cannot evangelise, there are men and women as elders, deacons, ministers, members in works and it is not their gift - it is not God's will for them to be there, many a time it's their own will! Oh, make sure it's God will. You see when the storms of life come in, you need to know it's God's will. And I thank God, that when I was being called into the Lord's work, at the specific moment in time when I felt the call, someone said to me, 'Now God's speaking to you through the word of God, take a pen, take a piece of paper and write it down! Write what God is doing, for there is a day coming when you will despair at everything that is happening in your life, and you will think: 'I wonder was this God's will at all?''. Many a time I've looked back and I've opened those pages, despairing, discouraged, but I've rejoiced because it's the will of God that counts - that's all that counts!
There's the author, but then secondly there's the readers - for he says in verse 1, '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'. 'To the saints', that's the addressee, the person that he is writing this letter to - the saints. Now who are saints? Are they dead people? Are they dead people who have reached the top 10 of their field in Christianity, and they're the best so some church comes along and sticks an 'St' in front of their name and canonises them - is that what means? Does it mean after you die that the elders will come along and scrutinise your life, and if it's beyond reproach they'll canonise you as a saint? Or as some church teaches, that after two miracles you can become one? No, that's not what the Bible teaches. Even the dictionary has got it wrong - for if you look at chapter 1 and verse 1, you see saints are mentioned, look at verse 15 of chapter 1, '...unto all the saints...', verse 18, '...his inheritance in the saints...'. Let me say this: saints are alive! Not dead!
Look at chapter 2: 'You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others' - we were dead! But saints are alive, they don't perform miracles - have you ever performed a miracle? You haven't, have you? But saints have miracles performed on them - that's what a saint is! Not someone who performs miracles, but people who have experienced it - look at verse 4, chapter 2: 'But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ' - that's a miracle! Huh, my friend, a saint is simply a believer, a saint is simply - and this is what it literally means - a set-apart-one for God, one who has been taken out of the world spiritually speaking and placed, as Paul says, in Christ Jesus. As the Lord said in John chapter 17, 'You are in the world but not of the world', that is a saint. It's like the scuba diver: he exists in an alien environment because he possesses special equipment, isn't that right? And we exist here because we have the Holy Ghost!
It's the saints in Ephesus that are addressed, look at verse 1. This place of Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus there - and you see, Ephesus was so blessed because not only had Paul preached there, but Apollos had preached there after Paul preached there, Timothy preached there, and then at the end of his life John, in the first century, the last living apostle John preached and lived there and used it as a base. But not only was this city great geographically speaking, but the word of God clearly teaches us that this was a city great in iniquity. In fact the Bible calls it the site of total iniquity, the throne of Satan, the seat where he sat in the whole of Asia. If you had went into Main Street, Ephesus, you would have seen there the great temple, the site of the great temple of Artemis - and if you had went in through the doors you would have seen there the great statue of Diana, the goddess of the Ephesians that was reputed to have come down from God in heaven down to there. It's one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, and that city was a great city - it had an amphitheatre of 25,000 of a capacity. But the word of God - no matter what history says about this city, or films portray about it - says that it was Satan's very headquarters in Asia. You know, they had a book called 'The Books of Ephesus' - not the book of Ephesians now, but the books of Ephesus - and they were magical books through which they did divination and necromancy, this was an iniquitous core of the earth. It was a lucrative place, it had a great trade and selling about it, and they ran around the city selling little silver models of the temple and of Diana - that's why Demetrius got so upset when Christ was being exalted!
You remember that Paul faced two oppositions. You remember in Acts chapter 19 there were the seven sons of Sceva in Ephesus. Oh, they were into necromancy, they were into witchcraft and they thought - they saw this man Paul doing great miracles, and casting out demons - and one of them said, 'I think I'll do it'. You remember he went to do it and the demon said, from the man: 'Paul I know - but who are you?'. He faced it from a devilish world, he faced opposition from the economic, materialistic, commercial world - the whole of the commercial city went into a riot because their trade was at stake because of Christ. Do you know what A.B. Simpson says? 'A Gospel that goes down to the heart of Wall Street and turns business upside-down must have some power in it!'. Huh, it has power in it alright. Do you know something - and I want you to get this, for I believe this is for someone: you can be a saint in Ephesus, filled with iniquity, and your home is filled with iniquity, your work is filled with cursing and blasphemy - day by day you face it from your nearest and dearest and your loved ones, but you can be a saint in Ephesus! It's like carbonic acid, it's very heavy - carbonic acid gas sinks to the bottom of a cave - and if you're to survive, if you're not to let the contamination and the pollution into your system physically speaking - do you know what you have to do? You have to stand up straight and hold your head high! If we're to survive in this world, and if you're to survive in your Ephesus, you've got to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. You've got to hold your head up high - not in pride, but looking to Him and seeking Him - and then you'll survive!
It's to the faithful, 'the saints', verse 1, 'at Ephesus...in Christ Jesus'. Didn't Paul love that? Every time you read an epistle of Paul, you ring those words: 'in Christ'. He talked about 'in Him', 'in whom we have', 'in the beloved' - and that's all that matters, to be faithful, and that means to exercise faith in Him, to have fidelity in Him, to be for Christ and Christ alone - and to be in Christ, that's all that matters! Then thirdly, and finally: we have the author, we have the readers and then we have the salutation. This is his greeting, look at verse 2: 'Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ'. You know that grace, the word 'grace' - 'karos' (sp?) in Greek - was the Greek greeting, it was like 'Hello', the way we would say 'Hello', they would say 'Karos' to one another. 'Shalom', in Hebrew, means peace - that was the Hebrew greeting. And Paul here in verse 2 says: 'Grace', that's the Greek greeting, 'be to you and peace', that's the Hebrew greeting, 'in Christ Jesus' - do you see it? Do you know what that means? Look at chapter 2, chapter 2 and verse 12: 'That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace'.
How else could you have an ex-Roman Catholic and - I say this - an ex-pagan Protestant standing on a platform together united in Christ? You'll not get it anywhere else. You'll not get it in Stormont. You'll not get it in South Africa. You'll only get it in Christ! Grace for the Greek, peace for the Jew - and there's no distinction in Christ! I wonder do you know the peace of God? That peace that passeth all understanding - do you know how you know it? Verse 2: 'from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ' - those blessings, grace and peace - they come in that order now, you must experience the grace of God in Christ through faith and salvation before you'll have any peace in your heart. Don't try and work at peace, you've got to have grace first, but it comes from our Father. And what Paul was saying here, as he links the Father with the Son here, is that they are both the same, they are both equal, they are both God, co-eternal, co-equal!
I want to finish with this: 'Grace be to you, to and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ'. That's His title you know: 'the Lord Jesus Christ' - He's the Lord, He ought to be your Lord, that means master, that means you're not your own, you belong to Him - you can't do what you want, you can't say what you want, or think what you want, you've got to do what He says because you're redeemed by blood - you're not your own! He's the Lord, Jesus, He's the Saviour. He shall save His people from their sins, and if you don't know Him by faith, He can save you now! Christ, He's chosen of God. He is God's Man, God's Prophet, Priest and King - glory to His name!
She was put down in history as the greatest miser in the whole of America. I don't know whether the greatest miser in all of Ulster is here, but she was the greatest miser in all of America. And when she died, she left an estate of 100 million dollars - and when she died it was found out that she ate cold oatmeal for her breakfast, her lunch, and her dinner because she didn't want to spend the electricity bill on heating it up. It was said that her son suffered an amputation because she delayed in looking for a clinic to treat him freely, and because of that he lost his leg. She was wealthy, yet she chose life of a pauper. In these next few weeks we're going to look at the riches and the wealth that we have in Christ, and I want to ask you this as we look into it in the future: Christian, are you living in His riches - it's all there - or are you living as a pauper?
Our Father, we thank Thee for all the riches that we have in the Saviour - and Lord, we've inherited it all. Nothing of ourselves, but through His death it has become ours. Lord, we must claim it by faith - Lord, we're going to see many things in these weeks that lie ahead, of what we have and what can be ours. Lord, help us not to be like children that look into the toyshop window, and we despair that we can't afford what we want. Help us to realise that it's been bought and all we need to, by obedience and faithfulness and fidelity in Christ, is to claim it in His name. Lord, help us to be what You want us to be. Lord, do Thy deeper work in us, we pray, and bless us now as we part from one another, and may that grace and that peace, that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, go with us now. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the first tape in his Ephesians series, titled "Introduction And Background" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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