- The Beloved Messenger (Verse 21-22)
- The Bountiful Message (Verses 23-24)
Let me welcome you to our Bible reading tonight, here in the Iron Hall. It's great to see you out with us, especially if you're visiting us this evening - we hope that the Lord will bless you in a very rich way as we meet around the Word of God tonight, to learn from Him.
Ephesians for the last time, and you remember last week we concentrated on Paul's prayer. In the final moments of our message we looked at verses 19 and 20. Paul said, 'For me - I'm asking you to pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me; that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.' What I didn't have time to intimate to you last week was the fact that Paul is often spoken of as being rude in speech. Some of the accusers, and the false teachers and the false prophets of Judaism, were saying that about Paul - and we, some of us, have interpreted that wrongly, as thinking that Paul wasn't much of a speaker. But, in fact, when he was in Greece itself as he stood and spoke, the public thought that he was Mercury who is the god of oratory, the god of eloquence. Here was Paul, a very eloquent man, the most learned apostle, the one whom Peter said wrote many things that are difficult to understand, and he is on his knees before God asking that God would give him the right words to say. It's remarkable, isn't it?
We're going to look, tonight, at verse 21 through to the end of the book. Verse 21, and continuing on in his prayer request he says: "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen".
Now, those words we've just read are almost in complete parallel to Colossians chapter 4 and verses 7 to 8. We've learnt as we've been going through this book that there are great parallels between the two books, but as you look at Colossians 4 you can see it's almost a word-for-word parallel in those things that Paul has said. If you cast your mind back to the book of Acts, you will know that Paul had visited the church at Ephesus for the very last time. Then later on, we find that after that last visit to Ephesus, briefly on a beach near Miletus, Paul met the elders of the church at Ephesus for the very last time. If you look at chapter 20 of the book of Acts and verse 22 you read these words: 'And now, behold', he said to them, 'I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there...and now, behold, I know that ye shall see my face no more'. There Paul, as he stands on that beach with those beloved elders of Ephesus, looks them face to face, he realises he will never visit the church at Ephesus again, he will never see these elders again. He prays, and says to them: "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" - and Luke records that 'they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him'.
The book of Ephesians is the last time that Paul would build them up in their most holy faith, the last time that he would be an instrument used of God for their sanctification. It's amazing, in the last words of this epistle Paul hardly mentions himself at all. He doesn't enter into personal matters but rather, as he comes to the end, he mentions a personal friend of his - Tychicus - and he mentions a few requests with regards to his preaching and his mission of the gospel. But here Paul, the great apostle, as he sits bound in prison, not knowing his future - his greatest prayer request is for the people of God, for the church of Jesus Christ.
You will know that along the way, in these six chapters of this book, Paul has been bringing these Christians - and the Holy Spirit has been bringing us, as we have followed Paul in these studies - into a realisation of what we have, the wealth that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapter 1 and verse 3: that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That is the theme of the book: the wealth that we have in the Son of God. Now, in these final verses Paul not only gives a summary of the blessings that we have in the Lord Jesus in the benediction that he gives in verses 23 and 24, but I believe Paul gives to the church at Ephesus a personification of every single thing that they have been learning over these chapters. He gives to them Tychicus, his 'beloved brother', his 'faithful servant in the Lord'! He presents this personal individual, who has meant so much to the apostle, as a gift to the church of Jesus Christ at Ephesus.
If you look at the verse it says that he sent Tychicus to tell the anxious Ephesians how he was doing. They were anxious, concerned about his well-being as he was in prison in Rome, and he was sending Tychicus to show them and to tell them the things that he didn't write about - personal things that are not found within this book. But we also see that he says, if you look at it in verse 22 at the end, that he was sent to comfort their hearts. The Amplified Version says this: 'He was sent to console and to cheer and to encourage and to strengthen their hearts'. He was sent to exhort them through the epistle of the Ephesians. Now, I have been richly blessed as I've studied the life of this man Tychicus. To think that Paul, at the very end of this unbelievable epistle, actually gives the gift of a personified version of every single thing that you find in this epistle to the church, so that they might see in the flesh what he has been speaking about. Therefore we have 'The Man With The Message'. He gave the church that he loved one of his best men, and one of God's best blessings - Tychicus. Sent to exhort them, sent to encourage them, sent to push them and press them, to implement all of the blessings that they would read about in this book - and perhaps Tychicus would read to them from the very hand of Paul.
How does that apply to us tonight? I believe that we are in a church - and I speak of the church of Jesus Christ in the West specifically - that desperately needs to appropriate what we find within the book of Ephesians. I believe that we live in a world that desperately needs to see a church that is appropriating what we find in the book of Ephesians. Therefore we are going to meet a man tonight who, himself, has appropriated these very truths and who has been given to the church at Ephesus as a gift - and I believe his life is given to us as a gift, to show us what it is to put into practice what we find within this book. The question, as we begin, is this - as we close and conclude this chapter of Ephesians and the whole of this book, the great question of the Holy Spirit of God is: Will we implement this book? Will we put it into practice? Will we receive God's best from God's hand?
How will we do it? Well, we can learn a little bit more about it from this man - the beloved messenger. Your first point: the beloved messenger, Tychicus. Look at verse 21 and 22 - read it again: "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister", faithful servant, "in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts". There are only five references in the New Testament to this man Tychicus. We read, from the book of Acts, that he was one of the party that travelled with Paul from Greece to Asia - you find that in Acts chapter 20 and verse 4. We find that, as he journeyed with Paul and his friends from Greece to Asia, that he actually travelled with Paul right to the end of his missionary work in the city of Ephesus. He was a native of the province of Asia, which today is modern Turkey, and we have learnt in recent days that Ephesus was the major city within the province of Asia, and it is likely that Tychicus was a member of that province - a member even of that city, Ephesus. In fact probability says, I believe, that he was probably a convert of Paul himself, from Paul's long missionary service in the city of Ephesus. If that is so it's likely that, in Acts chapter 19 right through to Acts chapter 20, that the Ephesians riots of the coppersmiths - you remember, Paul was preaching the gospel and they were being done out of a living because the god of Diana and the god of the temple that they worshipped; they couldn't worship anymore because the coppersmiths were getting converted. There was a great riot against Paul, and Tychicus probably witnessed all of that going on in the city of Ephesus. That was the riot that prompted Paul to leave Ephesus and to go to Macedonia - Acts 19 through to 20.
At that point, Tychicus was converted. Tychicus was an ardent supporter of the apostle Paul and there's no doubt in my mind, as we look through these historical facts especially in the book of Acts, that this man Tychicus shared the danger, the bravery and the adventure of the apostle Paul with him. We read in the book of Acts that a short time later Paul decided to return to Jerusalem where he would ultimately be arrested, and we learn that Tychicus was one of the seven who accompanied him as travelling companions: Acts 20 and verse 4. In fact, he was probably also one of the individuals that carried the offering for the poor in the church of Jerusalem. When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, then he was imprisoned in Caesarea, and all of those dramatic appearances that he had before kings and before governors, all of his miserable experiences, his terrible voyage across the sea, the shipwreck en route to Rome, his residence in the Roman house arrest, and all of those trials that Paul faced, all of the dangers - the likelihood is, and the word of God would lead us to believe, that this man Tychicus went through all of it with Paul. If that is the case, we can say he experienced a great deal!
In 2 Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 26 and 27 Paul says of himself these words, and I believe that they can be equally applied to this man, Tychicus: "In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness". We often see Paul, don't we, in those situations? But Tychicus was in them as well. Not only did Tychicus go with Paul as an ardent supporter right throughout all of those experiences with him, but we believe that just as he was the messenger for this particular letter, he was also the apostle's messenger at Colossae - you can find that in the book of Colossians chapter 4 and verse 7. The likelihood is that he took the letter of Philemon from the little prison where Paul was, and he took it to Philemon and probably stood and verified the conversion of his slave Onesimus, as he gave the letter over to Philemon. We're led to believe also that he went to minister to Titus in Crete, from Titus 3 and verse 12. Assuming, as we did at the very first study of the book of Ephesians, that the book of Ephesians is a circular letter - in other words, it wasn't just specifically for the church at Ephesus, but it was going to go around all the churches of Asia - Tychicus was the postman that took it round all of those churches.
We're speaking of a mighty man tonight. We're speaking of a man who stood with Paul through thick and thin, through dangers, through storms, through shipwrecks, through trials, through prisons, through whippings, through satanic attack in battle, and everything that you could imagine that was thrown against the apostle Paul - here was a man who stood with the apostle to the Gentiles and supported him. If you look at verse 21, the fact that he was entrusted with the important commission of bringing this book and telling the Ephesian Christians how Paul was doing is a great reflection about the reliability of this man. Paul describes him - look at this description in verse 21 - he describes him as 'a loyal, Christian servant and a dearly beloved brother'. He describes him as that, and the word of God leads us to believe that Paul was not the only one who held Tychicus in such high esteem, but the Roman Christians did also, and many of the other Christians that he visited and took messages to from the great apostle. He was the one that Paul chose to pass on the news of how Paul was doing. He was the one who Paul chose to go to Ephesus to tell them what was happening to Paul, how he was feeling, and literally to put fresh heart - in the Greek it says - into them to encourage them.
To that end he had a two-fold mission. First: to inform the saints concerning Paul's welfare in prison. But secondly: to encourage their hearts through the truth that we have found in the book of the Ephesians. Now, let's think about this. Paul has just finished writing about a new society, a society where there's no more Jew or Greek, where the wall of partition has been broken down through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and fighting factions can be united through the redemption that is in the Lord Jesus. He then goes on to great lengths to talk about this mystery of the gospel - how this has been in the mind of God throughout all eternity, but now it is only being revealed in the new covenant where there is one man, one new creation in Christ Jesus, where all tribes and nations and peoples and all kinds of individuals can be brought and united in one church in Christ.
Chapters 1 to 3: he takes great length in laying down the fundamental theological truths of Christianity. Chapters 4 through to 6: he then goes into the practical implications of what that means as a Christian, to implement those great truths practically in our everyday walk before men and before God. Think of him writing, being inspired with all these great truths of the blessings that we have in heavenly places in Christ...and the time runs out, and he puts down his pen, and Tychicus puts down his pen as Paul has been dictating to him. What was Paul's habit was that he that he took the pen off Tychicus and he finished the final words in the benediction that we find before us. We find that in 2 Thessalonians 3 and verse 17, he said there: "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write". At the end of epistle he takes the pen off Tychicus and he writes these final words that you have before you.
I can see Paul. I can imagine him looking into the eyes of Tychicus and smiling as he says in verse 21: 'I'm sending you this brother, this faithful servant in the Lord, this beloved brother'. Imagine if the great apostle said of you that you were his beloved brother! Imagine if that great apostle, that I suspect expected a great deal of many people, categorised you as a faithful servant! If you remember, right at the very beginning of the book of Ephesians he talks about the Ephesians as being faithful, and here at the end he returns to the subject of faithfulness, talking about Tychicus.
Now, you think of these two things: a beloved brother and a faithful servant in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a very rare thing to find those two things in one person, isn't it? There are some people who are beloved brothers, and they're very gracious, they're very gentle brothers. They're easy going and everyone seems to like them because they don't find fault in anyone and they don't call a sin a sin, and many people say of them: 'Well, isn't he nice?'. They're beloved by many people, but they're perhaps not so faithful.
Then there are faithful brothers, and some of them are just faithful brothers. They're not beloved brothers and they're too rigid - many of them err on the legalistic side and they go around hammering everyone with their faithful hammer because, they say: 'I'm going to be faithful no matter what it costs me'. Some of those people can be the most obnoxious, arrogant people that you will ever meet, even outside the church of Jesus Christ. But imagine a man in whom there is the loveliness of a pastor looking after the flock, yet there is the rigid faithfulness to the word of God where this man can be called by Paul the apostle: 'My beloved brother and faithful servant'. It's amazing, isn't it? Well, not really, because all it does is reflect the spirit of Christ that was in that man, because was it not John that said: 'We beheld his glory, even the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth'? Here was a man who reflected that in his life, and if you read right throughout the New Testament and indeed the references to Tychicus in the pastoral epistles - especially 2 Timothy 4:11 and 12 - do you know what you find? That at the very end of Paul's ministry, when he talks about 'I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith', and he is looking up at the executioner who is just about to take his head off with an axe - that Tychicus, to that moment, was standing with Paul!
He wasn't a 'somebody' in the world's terms. He won't find any great fame in the annals of history, but here was a man who stood with Paul. Luke doesn't record any great mighty miracles and works that he did on his part, but ask the question of yourself tonight: where would we be without this man, Tychicus? We certainly wouldn't have the letter of the Ephesians that we have been studying in the weeks that have gone by without this faithful brother, without this beloved servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and Paul the apostle. When you take the faithfulness of this man and look at the lack of commitment, the lack of self-sacrifice in the world and in the church in which we live today, it is beyond the pale! It is foreign! It is unheard of, of a man who will lay his life down for the brethren! What a contrast it is to Demas, who Paul said: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world".
My friend, if we get to the end of this epistle - and this has blessed me immensely, especially today as I've been studying it - if we get to the end of this and ignore this man Tychicus, and ignore that Paul gave him as a gift to the church at Ephesus to be a personification - he gave a beloved servant, his best man he gave to the church to show them: 'Everything I am writing about: you can see it in him!'. There are many things that we can see in Paul's relationship to this man. Do you know what you can see? You can see how Paul had care for his Christian friends. You can see how he loved them, how he had a deep care for this particular man. You can see his view of his friends and the concern that he had. You can see the concern and the love that we ought to have for one another in the light of this scripture. Do you see the desire that Paul has? That these Christians would have these gifts that are implemented within the word of God? Is that not a true statement: that the ones that we love the most, we will only want the best for them?
What do we want for the ones that we love? What do we want for our children? What do we want for our friends and our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we want a good education? Do we want them to have a good career, to have a good profession, to have wealth, to have success, to have prestige? What do we really want? Do we want these spiritual blessings in heavenly places to be implemented into our lives? This is what I want to encourage you to do tonight, at the very end of this epistle - exactly what Paul was doing sending Tychicus. I want to encourage you to take what is yours in Christ. This man was an encouragement to Paul, and Paul was going to send him to the Ephesians to be an encouragement to them. This man who was the personification of peace, of love, of faith, of grace, would bless them with all those things.
It's very hard to say this at times but we need each other. We need one another! There is no such a thing as an isolated individual, a maverick Christian in the New Testament. You'll not find it. But the mystery of God is the church - His new man, His bride, the body of Christ. The church is the army that's going through the spiritual battle that we've been learning about; and that same church, just like any fleshly army, must stick together! They must encourage one another in love, in peace, in faith and with grace. That brought Paul to the message that this man was bringing: the message of peace, the message of love, faith and grace - the bountiful message. Your second point, verses 23 and 24 - look at it: "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity". We've said it before: whatever Paul's wish was for the church of Jesus Christ in the book of Ephesus is God's Holy Spirit's wish for us. He wants these things in our lives. We've said it: there is nothing more revealing about us than what we wish for those we love the most. What He wishes for us are the major themes right throughout the whole epistle of the book of Ephesians.
Let's look at the first one: peace - if you want to take that down - peace. If you look at chapter 6 and verse 15 - the armour of God. Look at it: your feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Look at chapter 1 and verse 2: "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ". Chapter 2 and verse 14: "He is our peace who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition". Verse 15: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances...so making peace". Verse 17: "And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh". Chapter 4 and verse 3: "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". What is the message of Ephesians? It is that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places - where? Where? Let me hear it! In Christ! So where do we get peace? In Christ! This is the message of this epistle.
I read a humorous story - it's maybe not so humorous - but [it was] about this couple and they were alarmed during the 80's about the prospect of nuclear war. The Russians had the big red button, and the Americans had the big red button, and it was: 'Who was going to press the big red button first?'. They wanted to move to the safest place on earth. They wanted to go to the least likely affected place on the globe for nuclear war. Therefore, the next Christmas, they sent their Christmas cards from the Falkland Islands, and a few months later - what happened? There was a war broke out between Britain and Argentina [in the Falklands]. That is a very simple story to tell us this: the Lord Jesus said, 'My peace I leave with you', not 'the peace of the world leave I with you', 'Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid'. You cannot get peace in this world no matter where you go, no matter what you try. Peace is where? Where? In Christ! "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ".
Jeremiah said in [chapter] 29, in a beautiful verse: "I know the plans I have for you", literally translated, "plans for peace" - it's 'shalom' - "plans for shalom, and not for calamity, to give you a future and to give you a hope". Now, what was Paul saying here? Do you know what he was saying? 'You as a church, need to be reconciled to one another, need to be joined together in the bond of peace, Jews and Gentiles, all sorts of backgrounds and creeds - united in Christ!'. That was his prayer for the church. That is the first thing that he wished for: peace among brothers. You know, if you go into the book of Proverbs you find many abominations to the Lord, but do you know what you find one of them is? Those that sow discord among brethren, those who are always bickering, fighting, arguing. My friend, in case you didn't notice, there are people around us going to hell! We need to be united in the bond of peace. That was Paul's prayer for us, and that ought to be our prayer for one another - that we will be a united force for God and for good. Peace!
The second thing is love. If you turn to chapter 1 and verse 15 you find love there. He says: "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints". Chapter 4 and verse 2: "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing" - putting up with - "one another in love". Verse 15: "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ". Verse 16: "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love". Chapter 5 verse 25 - in the home: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it". Verse 28: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself". Verse 33: "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband".
It's used - the word 'love' is used some fourteen times in the book of Ephesians. Do you know something? Seven - that's half of fourteen! - seven times it's used in relation to the relationship between a brother and another brother, between a sister and a sister, and between everybody in the church of Jesus Christ. It is brotherly love! That's what he said in chapter 1 and verse 15, that's the way you stand out - yes, for your faithfulness, but you stand out as a church for your love one with another. It's easy to love some saints, isn't it? It's not easy to love them all, but that's what we're called to do. That's what the word of God teaches us - that although they did this and they did that, and they said this and they said that. Although these Christians were faithful in that very thing - they were faithful in loving one another - Paul had to remind them of it, and we continually need to be reminded that we are to love the brethren, we are to love one another, we are to care for one another in the bond of peace. We are to be enabled to do that because we love Him, because He first loved us. He loved us with an unconditional love - unconditional! For while we were yet sinners He died for us! We didn't have to do anything, and that must mean that we must show an unconditional love to those around us, even if at times they are unlovely. To the Colossians he said, "And above all things, put on charity with the bond of perfectness".
Thirdly, he told them that they needed faith: "Peace be to the brethren and love with faith" - love with faith. There are seven other appearances - eight in total - of the word 'faith' in the book of Ephesians. If you look at chapter 6 and verse 16 again, in the armour of God, you have the shield of faith. In chapter 1 verse 15: their faithfulness that we read about. In chapter 2 and verse 8 if you look at it - chapter 2 and verse 8: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". Chapter 3 and verse 12: "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him". Verse 17: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith". Chapter 4 and verse 5: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". Verse 13: "Till we all come in the unity of the faith". Here in these last verses of Ephesians, Paul is talking about both saving faith and practical day-to-day faith. Do you know what he's saying? 'You see this book that I've just read out before you? You've got to believe the truth of the word of God that you have just heard, but you have got to rest on it!'. You have got to stake your life upon it. You've got to conduct your life according to this truth. This is more than intellectual assent of theological points of view, but it is putting your full weight and life down upon the truth of God. Now, my friend, there is only one way you can do that, and that is through Christ. You can only have peace through Christ. You can only love other Christians when you realise we love Him because He first loved us, and you can only have true faith when you realise that we have confidence and boldness to come before God - chapter 3 and verse 12 - 'by the faith of Him'.
Then, fourthly, he prays that they might have grace - verse 24: "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity". If you turn back to chapter 1 you find that in the opening greeting in verse 2, the very very first word is grace, and almost the last word is the same idea. It's the twelfth occurrence in the whole letter. Do you know what Paul is telling us at the very end? 'Look, do you see this peace, the theme of this letter? Do you see love that has been right through it like a red thread? Do you see faith that I have been encouraging you to exercise in the great promises and the blessings that God has given you? None of those things are earned, none of those things are deserved, but all of those things are of God!'.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". As it is in salvation, it is in sanctification - it is totally of God. But even after we receive that faith and grace to be saved, there's a condition to maintain it, and he says to love the Lord Jesus Christ 'with sincerity'. Do you know something? There is nothing more important than loving the Lord Jesus Christ! Do you know that? We neglect that sometimes. We think it's a bit like 'works' or something. We talk about 'faith alone' and 'Christ alone', and that's right. But you remember the Pharisees came to the Lord and said: 'What is the greatest commandment?'. 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like unto it: love your neighbour as yourself. And on this hangs all of the law and the prophets' - and let me say this: on this hangs all of the book of the Ephesians, that grace may be with all those 'who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity'.
Grace! 'Grace upon grace', as John 1 verse 16 says - 'Grace following grace, grace heaped upon grace'. Do you want grace? Do you want grace to save? Do you want grace that is sufficient for every need? Do you want grace to live your Christian life? Do you want grace to implement the truths and the blessings that we have in heavenly places in Christ? Do you want grace to be the Christian that you want to be? Well then, love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity! This is a wonderful phrase. Do you know what it literally means, to love the Lord in sincerity? The literal meaning of the Greek means 'incorruptible love'. 'Loving the Lord' - look at the verse - 'with an incorruptible love'. If verse 23 is talking about love and peace among believers, this love in verse 24 is exclusively for the Lord. Do you know what Paul is saying? The true Christian love of a servant for his master, and of a saved person for their Saviour, and of a disciple for their Lord, is a permanent love! Permanent! Its flame may flicker and grow low at times, but it will never ever be extinguished. The word can also mean 'imperishable'. It will never dull. It will never go out. Literally, a love which once present can never ever perish!
"All those who love the Lord Jesus Christ". Can we just still ourselves for one moment here tonight, and ask yourself: 'Do I love the Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible, an imperishable, a sincere, a love which once present can never die, can never perish, can never dull?'. Do you love Him like that? For the opposite's not worth thinking about, which is where Paul says 'if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema'. What more can we want than 'Jesus loves me and I know I love Him'? I mean, is there anything better than that? What a note for him to finish at the very end of this epistle! What is he doing? He's bringing it to a great crescendo at the very end where he is focussing, at the end, the focus of the whole letter. The focus is on God. The focus is on Christ as the source of peace, the source of love, faithfulness, grace. He wants the readers to see that your life is in God - your prosperity, your blessing, your maturity, your growth. Your salvation is in God through Christ! If you want all of those blessings you're going to have to learn to love the Lord.
Harold Kuschner related a saying from the Jewish Talmud, which is a Jewish religious book. It goes like this, listen: "In the world to come each of us will be called to account for all the good things God put on the earth which we refuse to enjoy". That will not happen in Glory with regard to the good things on the earth but, believers, will it happen with regards to the blessings that we have in heavenly places that we have failed to implement in our lives? Will we give an account? Or will we come now, at the end of this series, and ask for God's best blessings from Him? Will we decide from this moment that we are going to be one of those beloved brethren, we are going to be a faithful servant in love to Christ? Will we receive the blessings that Paul has invoked and prayed for us?
Paul has long since left his cell and seen the face of his Beloved, and in the 21st century we are left with his great work of the book of the Ephesians. I want to close this message and close this series by quoting what H.W. Webb-Peblo (sp?) said at the end of the commentary of William McDonald. Listen to this, and this is my finishing remarks: "There is perhaps no writing in the book of God so majestic and so wonderful, and therefore how impossible it is for any man, as a messenger even from God Himself, to do justice to it in the space allotted to us". But he says - and this is my prayer: "I hope that we may draw nigh to it, simply seeking for teachings upon holiness; teachings by which we may be sent forth to live a nobler and a higher life than hitherto, and by which we may be enabled to glorify God".
Let us go and love Him with an undying love!
Let us pray. Lord, we are humbled by a man called Tychicus who stood by Thy servant Paul. When all forsook him there was a servant going round Asia taking the book of the Ephesians, telling of Paul and encouraging them in their most holy faith. Paul told Timothy: 'Commit these truths to faithful men'. Lord, we pray that You will raise up faithful men in this place; and those men that are faithful, that You will strengthen them in these days. But Lord, we pray most of all that You will give us a love for Christ that is an undying, incorruptible, imperishable love - a love that will say: 'For me to live is Christ and to die is gain'. We thank Thee for this book, and we thank Thee for all Thy blessings. We pray that in our own individual lives and in the life of this church in the days that lie ahead, that we will be given grace to implement these things to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. 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 thirty-sixth and final tape in his Ephesians series, titled "The Man With The Message" - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.
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