Scripture Reference: John 17:17, Acts 19, Acts 20:28—32, Ephesians 1:1—2, Ephesians 3:14—19, Ephesians 4:11—16, Ephesians 5:25—27, Ephesians 6:17, 1 Timothy 1:3—6, 1 Timothy 4:1—2, 1 Timothy 4:16, 1 Timothy 6:3—5, 1 Timothy 6:12, 1 Timothy 6:20—21, 2 Timothy 1:13—2:14, 2 Timothy 3:14—17, 2 Timothy 4:1—5, Revelation 2:2—7
The Word Of His GraceRev. Philip Miller | April 16, 2023
Scripture Reference: John 17:17, Acts 19, Acts 20:28—32, Ephesians 1:1—2, Ephesians 3:14—19, Ephesians 4:11—16, Ephesians 5:25—27, Ephesians 6:17, 1 Timothy 1:3—6, 1 Timothy 4:1—2, 1 Timothy 4:16, 1 Timothy 6:3—5, 1 Timothy 6:12, 1 Timothy 6:20—21, 2 Timothy 1:13—2:14, 2 Timothy 3:14—17, 2 Timothy 4:1—5, Revelation 2:2—7
Selected highlights from this sermon
The book of Ephesians begins with a typical salutation for first century correspondence. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But before Pastor Miller takes us deeper into the book, he gives us a sweeping New Testament overview of the setting and context—the reason Paul is writing this letter. So why is that important for us to know? Because these are real people corresponding in the real world. The real challenges they faced—with false teachers, false doctrine, and cultural pressures—are what every church, every congregation, every Christian must deal with. But when we need sustaining grace, we have a secret weapon—the Bible.
I was on a hike a few years ago when I saw this peculiar thing. There was an old dead stump that was decaying and crumbling away, and from the death, in the very center of this was growing a brand-new tree. And somehow, into all that death, a little seed had fallen and had taken root and had sprouted and come to life and had taken over the place. And I thought to myself, “What a beautiful picture of the life of Christ in us,” that into all the decay and deadness and rot of our lives this seed of the Gospel has fallen in and taken root, and the divine life of God has come alive inside of us and is sprouting and growing and taking over everything.
We’re now beginning a new series today in Ephesians, and the letter that Paul writes to the Ephesian church is all about what it means to be alive in Christ. And if you've ever wondered what it would take to become truly alive, this is a great book for you.
Have you ever wondered what it would take for the undying life of God to be planted deeply within you, to take root and to sprout and flourish and branch out into abundant living, and once it’s begun, to know that it will never stop? It will go ever deeper, ever higher, ever wider, ever greener all the days of your life, and then forevermore because, friends, to be alive in Jesus Christ is to be abundantly alive forever. Amen? Amen.
So, grab your Bibles. Let’s open up to the book of Ephesians. You’ll find this, if you want to use the pew Bible, on page 976. Nine Seventy-six. We’re just going to look at the first two verses today as we kind of wind up and begin this series.
So Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 1 and 2. If you’ll listen as I read, this is the Word of the Lord.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thanks be to the Lord for the reading of His Word.
Now, this passage begins with a salutation, like much of our examples of first century correspondence. It begins with an author. We get the apostle Paul’s name here. Apostle means “sent one,” so he is sent out by Christ Jesus he says, “...according to the will of God.” Now he’s writing about AD 60 or 61 during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul wrote four letters from that jail, Ephesians, this letter that we have, Philippians, Colossians, and another book called Philemon. And so these are called the Prison Epistles.
The recipients of this letter are the saints who are in Ephesus, and Ephesus was an ancient Greek city located on the coast of what is now Turkey, the western coast across from Greece. It was home of the magnificent temple to the goddess Artemis. If you use the Roman nomenclature, that’s Diana, just for your reference point. This temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was magnificent and beautiful.
And so, this letter is now written to the saints, the believers, the followers of Jesus, the church that is there in Ephesus. And he says here...he begins with a greeting: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
You’ll recall that the traditional Jewish greeting was Shalom—peace. But whenever Paul starts his letters, because of Jesus, he starts with grace and peace because it is by grace that we actually have peace with God. Right? And so, this is where he begins. That’s how it begins. It’s very straightforward. But before we get further into this letter, we need to first understand the setting and the context of this book. These are real people, writing real correspondence in the real world, facing real difficulties, and so, in order to gain a grasp on what’s going on in Ephesus, we actually have to look at quite a number of spots.
We have to look at Acts, chapter 19 and chapter 20. We need to look at 1 and 2 Timothy, and we need to look at the book of Revelation, the second chapter of the book of Revelation. That’s quite a spectrum so buckle up this morning. Okay?
We’re going to have a little tour de force of the New Testament. We’re going to see:
- a splendid beginning,
- a sobering warning, and
- sustaining grace.
There’s your outline. A splendid beginning, a sobering warning, and sustaining grace.
Would you bow your heads? Let’s pray, and we’ll jump right in.
Father, we need to know what it means to be alive. We want to come alive. Some of us are kicking the tires on what it would mean to believe in Christ and surrender our lives to you, and Lord, I pray that you would show the beauty of the life that you offer to us through this series. And Father, some of us have been following you for many years, and we need to learn to metabolize the life that’s available to us in a deeper, more meaningful way, and so, Father, we give you ourselves. We hold nothing back. Come, change us, teach us, mold us, remake us. We pray this for Jesus’ sake, Amen. Amen.
All right, so this begins with a splendid beginning, a splendid beginning. If you have your Bibles, flip over to Acts, chapter 19. Acts chapters 19 and 20 document for us the beginning of the church in Ephesus upon Paul’s arrival there in the fall of AD 54, on his third missionary journey.
This is where it picks up, Acts 19, verse 1. “Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus.” So let’s pause for a second. Upon arrival he found some Jewish disciples there who followed Jesus, but they had not yet been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit like Jesus had told them to be baptized. They didn’t know about that yet, and so Paul catches them up. He baptizes them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They receive the Holy Spirit with power, and it changes their lives.
Now skip down to verse 8. Acts 19, verse 8: “And he (This is Paul.) entered the synagogue (which is the Jewish worship center) and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way (This is a shorthand phrase for the Way of Jesus.) before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took his disciples with him, reasoning daily in the Hall of Tyrannus (which was a public lecture hall there in the city). This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”
So now for the next two years Paul proclaims the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good News of the Gospel (Right?) that through Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, God is reconciling all people to Himself, including you and me, that if we admit we are sinners, believe that Jesus has done everything to make us right with God, and commit our lives to Him as our Savior, our Lord, and our King, we can become children of God, alive in Christ.
Now notice that both Jews and Greeks are responding to the Gospel proclamation, so we have in Ephesus a very multi-ethnic church that has now been born.
Now, go down to verse 11: “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them, and evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus Christ over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the name of the Lord Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
Don’t you just love that the demon had heard of the apostle Paul? You know, his ministry was so profound that even in the underworld he had become a household name. I think that’s fantastic. And then these seven sons of Sceva attempt to wield the name of Jesus like a magic spell, and it goes very badly for them. I’ve never been in a lot of like fist fight moments, but I figure if in the beginning you’re wearing pants, and at the end you’re not, you probably didn’t win that round. Right?
So, everybody hears what happened and verse 17: “This became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. And many of those who were not believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of them who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. And the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
So, books in the ancient world were rare. Books of magic spells were in high demand. These fifty thousand pieces of silver put the value of the books destroyed in the category of several million dollars. These Greek believers are turning away from their false gods, their magic arts that they have followed all of their lives, and they are turning with all their hearts to Jesus, no matter what it costs. Isn’t that beautiful?
Now verse 23: “About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis (Remember the Greek goddess?) brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there’s danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.’”
So, this is amazing, friends. You see the Gospel is changing society. It’s shaping, and now even impacting economic transactions. It registers in their world. Demetrius is stirring everyone up. He says, “We’ve got to do something,” and it goes on in the rest of the chapter to describe a riot that occurred, that the city clerk eventually had to calm down, but only after two hours of sheer mayhem. And so, here’s the bottom line. The Ephesian church began with Gospel power and transformed lives. The Ephesian church began with Gospel power and transformed lives. These folks went from death to life, from darkness to light, from magic arts to following the way of Jesus. Their conversion was dramatic. It was radical. It was decisive. The truth of the Gospel had won their minds, and the love of Jesus had won their hearts. It was a splendid beginning, a splendid beginning. Now, that’s how it starts.
Now let’s talk about a sobering warning, a sobering warning. After almost three years of ministry, Paul decides it’s time to keep going on with his missionary journey. He has other cities to visit, other places to proclaim the good news of Jesus, and so he leaves behind his protégé, a young man by the name of Timothy, to be the pastor of the church in Ephesus, as he continues on his way. Eventually he decides, as he completes his trip after several months, “I’ve got to go back to Jerusalem,” and so he’s headed for home, but before he goes home he calls the Ephesian elders together for one last brief meeting, and he gives them a warning.
This is Acts, chapter 20, and we’ll pick it up down in verse 28. Acts 20:28, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Paul says, “Look, you’re going to come under attack when I leave. There’s going to be a power vacuum and stuff is going to come at you, fierce wolves from without, twisted teachers from within. Therefore, be alert! Pay careful attention to yourselves and to the flock.”
What help will you give this church, Paul, as you leave? What protection, what safeguard do you offer this body of Christ? What does Paul say? “Now I commend you to God (You’re in his hands) and to the word of His grace (You have His Word.” Well, what good is that? What good is that? There’s wolves coming. There’s twisted teaching arising. What good is the Word of God? How can it help? “Oh,” Paul says, “it is able to build you up, make you strong, to give you the inheritance among all of those who are sanctified, the ones who are being made holy.
Paul says, “Look, if you want to be built up, if you want to be mature and strong and resilient, if you want to be sanctified, if you want to be holy and righteous like Jesus, if you want to inherit all the promises of God, all that He is going to give you...If you want all of that, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace. It may not feel like much, but it is, in fact, everything you need. Farewell!” And he heads out.
Now you may remember that Timothy was the one that Paul had left behind to be the pastor in Ephesus, and so we can actually gain some more insights on what’s going on in the church from Paul’s letters that he wrote to his protégé, Timothy. So flip over to 1 Timothy, chapter 1.
This is what Paul writes in verse 3. “As I urged you...remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion.”
So, Paul’s warning here...his warning earlier that he left with the Ephesian elders turns out to have been well-founded. There are certain persons known to Paul and Timothy who are running around teaching false doctrine. They are leading people astray. They are confusing people with speculation and myths and vain discussions. And this false teaching, Paul says, is leading people away from love, a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
If you flip over to 1 Timothy 4, the first two verses, this is what Paul writes. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.” So, this false teaching that Timothy is there to withstand is not just some big ideas that somebody made up. They are lies from the pit of hell that are intended to destroy God’s people.
1 Timothy, chapter 6, verse 3. Again, Paul writes, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, and evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
And you see the connection, friends, that corrupt teaching results in corrupt living. Do you see the connection? Corrupt teaching results in corrupt living, not just for individuals but for the church family, that this false doctrine in their midst is like a cancer that’s eating away at the body of Christ, which is why he concludes in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 with these words: “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.”
So, guard the deposit, Timothy, the one that’s been entrusted to you. Like a deposit at a bank, it’s valuable. Guard it. Protect it. Make sure you don’t lose it, Timothy, the deposit of the Gospel. It’s a treasure. It’s why I left you there, Timothy. Make sure you hold fast to the truth, the truth of the Gospel. Make sure the truth of the Gospel keeps winning their minds, and the love of Jesus keeps winning their hearts. Grace be with you, young Timothy.
Now, interestingly enough, we get another glimpse of what’s going in Ephesus three decades later when the risen Christ appears to the apostle John as he’s serving a prison sentence for following Jesus on the Island of Patmos. And Jesus comes and dictates a series of seven letters to be distributed along a trade route through Asia Minor. And the very first one of those letters is written to Ephesus. This is our Ephesus.
Revelation 2:2-7: This is what Jesus says: “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not and found them to be false.” (So good job, Ephesian church. You’ve stayed doctrinally solid. Well done.) Verse 3: “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.” (So, they’ve been persevering under pressure, under persecution and hostility. It’s been a hard go for them, but they’ve stayed faithful. Good job, church in Ephesus.) Verse 4: “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Whew! I have this against you that you have abandoned the love that you had at first.) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand (It’s the imagery of the church, a shining light.) from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Now, we don’t know a whole lot about this group, but we do know from various places in the New Testament that this was a group that was trying to culturally accommodate the teachings of Jesus to the culture of the day, so they thought, “You know, the main thing is Jesus. These moral standards that come along are not all that important. We can kind of let that slide. You know sort of update, you know, the teachings of Jesus that fit with the cultural moment,” and Jesus says, “You hate that. I hate that too.” So good job, guys, for resisting that.) Verse 7: “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (the imagery of eternal life in heaven).”
So, three decades later, Jesus Himself commends the Ephesian church for holding on to the truth in the face of false teaching, for avoiding moral compromise in the face of cultural pressure, and for enduring patiently as they suffer for the sake of Jesus, but somewhere along the line they abandoned their first love.
Did you know it is possible to have all the right doctrines, all the right beliefs, all the right moral convictions, and yet lose your authentic heart of love for Jesus Christ? That’s entirely possible. And their affections have wandered. Their devotion has shriveled. Their love has faded.
So, bringing this all back now to the time when Paul is writing this letter to Ephesus some three decades earlier, we can say this. The Ephesian church was in danger of losing the truth of the Gospel and the love of their lives. The Ephesian church was in danger of losing the truth of the Gospel and the love of their lives. False teachers are coming. Cultural compromise is tempting. Hostility is rising. Fierce wolves from without! Twisted teachers from within!
This is a risky moment for Ephesus. It’s time to batten down the hatches. Right? It’s time to call in reinforcements. It’s time to get a secret weapon. Right? So, what does Paul do? He writes them a letter. (laughs) He writes them a letter. That’s it!
He writes them a letter, and that letter will turn out to be their sustaining grace, friends. This letter will be their sustaining grace. That’s why Paul begins Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 1 and 2: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I know fierce wolves are coming at you. I know twisted teachers are arising from within you. I know the cultural pressures are coming to make you compromise. And I know suffering for Jesus is on the horizon. And so, I write this letter to you. Grace to you. This is not just a friendly greeting. It is what this letter is. It is “grace to you.” This God-breathed, Spirit-inspired, Christ-exalting letter is itself grace, “grace to you.”
Paul says, when I left, remember I commended you to God, and to the word of His grace, and now I write to you the very words of His grace, the words you will need. This is why he ends in Ephesians 6:24 with “Grace be with you all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Chapter 1, verse 2: “Grace to you.”
Chapter 6:24: “Grace be with you. (It remains with you. The grace is coming in the beginning, and now that you’ve received the letter, may the grace remain with you.)”
In between these two, opening verse and closing verses, we have grace saturating every inspired Word of God. “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace” because it is God’s sustaining presence and God’s sustaining words that will make them strong and steadfast and faithful, and grounded so that they will hold fast to their first love. This is the key.
Paul prays in Ephesians 3, verses 14 down to 19: “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 (That’s what they need), 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.”
I pray that the riches of God’s glory will strengthen you with power on the inside of your being through the Holy Spirit so that the immeasurable love of Christ might fill you, and you might be filled with all the fulness of God!
And how will that prayer be answered? Ephesians 4, verses 11 down to 16: “And he (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, (See all the context clues to the situation?) by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (They’re at war.) Rather (And here it is, the key.), speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Remember the twin threats facing the Ephesian church. They were in danger of losing the truth of the Gospel, and the love of their lives. What’s the antidote? Speaking the truth in love! Truth and love! Being rooted and grounded in the love of Christ through the truth of the Gospel, they are now to become mature and strong as they speak the truth in love to one another, the truth of the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ. And this twin strategy is what will make us holy. It’s what Jesus is doing to make His bride holy. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 5:25 to 27...He’s talking about marriage, but he quickly shifts to Jesus Christ and the church.
Verse 25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her (Look at this phrase) by the washing of water with the word (The Word, the Word of God), so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
So, how will the church become splendid and holy and perfect in every way? It is through Christ’s sacrificial love, and through the sanctifying cleansing of the Word. The love of Christ and the Word of God!
John 17:17 Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth, for your word is truth.”
This is why Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Timothy, watch your life, the love you have for Christ, and watch the teaching. Watch your doctrine, the truth of the Gospel. Stay faithful to both, and you’ll save yourself and your people, your hearers.
First Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Second Timothy 1:13-14: “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you (Timothy).”
Second Timothy 3:14-17: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you have learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Timothy, I know the challenges that you are facing, the false teachers from within, the cultural pressures from without, the suffering that is coming your way for the sake of Jesus. And if you want to know the secret, Timothy, of being complete and equipped for every good work, everything that you need to do to be faithful before God, here is your secret weapon—the Holy Scriptures! They are breathed out by God. They are profitable for teaching to show you the way that you should go, for reproof when you get out of line, for correction to get you back on the right path, and to train you until righteousness becomes a habit of your life.
The Word of His Grace! The Word of His Grace! This is your secret weapon, Timothy.
Second Timothy 4:1-5: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Preach the Word, Timothy, in season, and out of season with people, when you feel like it, when you don’t feel like it, when people love it and when they hate it, when it draws a crowd, and when they walk out, because this is the Word of God, Timothy, the Word of His grace, and it’s actually your only weapon. That’s why he says in Ephesians 6:17, “Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” It’s your only weapon. I know you’re up against it, Timothy, but the Word of God is enough. That’s what Paul said when he left: “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
So, what is the Ephesians’ only hope? In the face of false teachers, in growing cultural pressures, with suffering barreling down upon them the Ephesian church must hold fast to the truth of the Gospel with all their heart as if their lives depended upon it.
Right? The Ephesian church must hold fast to the truth of the Gospel with all their heart as if their lives depended upon it. And what’s their secret weapon? The Word of His Grace. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ Jesus.”
Friends, this is our secret weapon. This is our only weapon. It is our only and all-sufficient guide for faith and godliness. Amen?
Friends, God’s Word is grace. God’s Word is grace. That tree that I saw on my hike, growing out of a dead stump, I’m sure it didn’t have an easy life. It faced disease from within. It faced storms from without. There were all kinds of pressures allied against it to try to destroy the life that had begun. But it found in the stump. Down deep it put down roots, and it found the nutrients it needed to grow healthy, and strong and tall. Those nutrients ensured its flourishing. And friends, God’s Word is grace. The Scriptures are the nutrients that we need to grow healthy and strong and tall in Jesus Christ. This is our secret weapon against false teaching, against cultural pressures, against suffering when it comes.
Read this, meditate on this, study this, wrestle with this, memorize this, surrender to this, abide in this, live in this. The nutrients you need to flourish in life in Christ are right here. So, take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It’s sharper than any double-edged sword. It never returns void but always accomplishes the thing for which God has sent it. “The grass withers, the flowers fall, but the Word of God stands forever.” (applause)
And so now, my brothers and sisters, “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
“Grace be with you all.”
Father, thank you for making us alive in Christ, and thank you for giving us your Word which nourishes us and strengthens us and makes us rooted and grounded and resilient and strong. Father, this world is full of all kinds of threats, threats from within, threats from without, and what we need more than anything is to stand strong upon the Word of God, so help us, Father, to metabolize the resources available to us. As we go through this study in Ephesians, Father, may the Word of God richly indwell us so that we might be changed people, alive in Jesus Christ. May we be rooted and grounded in the truth of your Word, filled with the love of Jesus Christ. Make us new and alive, we pray for Jesus’ sake.
And all of God’s people said, “Amen.” Amen.