Summary: There are two ways people think saints are made. Some believe sainthood is achieved while others see sainthood as received.
Happy New Year to you! Thank God 2020 is behind us. If you were given just one word to describe the year 2020, what would you choose? A recent survey asked just this and found the #1 word chosen to describe this previous year was “awful, terrible, or horrible.” I wonder what word you would use. I wonder what word our God would use. Let’s all tell 2020 goodbye! 2020 is the year our church family scattered but my hope is that 2021 is the year we gather.
Think about this: the average student today takes in 34 gigabytes of data every 24 hours. If you printed that out, that’d be equivalent to 4.5 million pages a day. We are in overload, complete overload. We are swimming in information but we desperately lack real hard and firm truth to guide us. When you drive your car on a bridge, you want to know the engineers who built it are interested in the truth. When you enter the top floors of a tall building in downtown Dallas/Fort Worth, you want an architect who is interested in knowing the truth.
Let’s find real hard truth for our lives for the upcoming year together. If you have a copy of God’s word would you find the book of Ephesians with me (page 1159 in the pew Bible).
When you read Ephesians in your Bible you should think of clarity and precision. Ephesians is clear because it is timeless truth. Ephesians is precise because it is timeless truth. In a day when oftentimes feelings trump truth, we need to embrace truth.
Why should you bother reading Ephesians or studying this short letter? Every time you turn on your GPS, you want the truth. You are asking for a truthful route to your destination. When you go to a doctor, you want the truth. You want a truthful analysis of your medical situation, not just how he feels about it.
When you study this book, you’ll learn the truth about …
• Spiritual warfare;
• Racial reconciliation;
• Marriage roles;
• How to pray;
• And, how to live out your faith in a hostile world.
In a day when oftentimes feelings trump truth, we need to embrace truth.
Around a century ago, a man named John said, “this letter is pure music … What we read here is truth that sings…” Ruth Paxson called Ephesians “the Grand Canyon of Scripture,” because the letter was both beautiful and inexhaustible at the same time.
I want to look at the introduction to this letter this morning. Now many people who simply skip right over this because we think it isn’t important. Yet, even the introduction to a letter in the New Testament can be life-changing. Why? Because it will help you process who you are and who you’re supposed to be.
Put your eyes on the truth of verse 1 with me. When you read this part of your Bible, you’re reading a letter. The letter tells us who is writing the letter: “Paul.” And we see who is writing the letter to: “To the saints who are in Ephesus.” So the first verse is essentially saying, “Hi, I am Paul and I am writing to all of you who are believers in Ephesus.” Every verse of your Bible matters.
Do you understand how valuable this book you have in your hands? Today in North Korea, if are found having a Bible in your possession, you’ll be shipped off to a prison labor camp perhaps for the rest of your life. Government workers will approach small children in a time of severe famine there and say something to the effect, “we’ll give you another chicken if you tell us if mom or dad have a Bible.” The kids, not knowing they'll never see their parents again, so the child will say, “Yeah, mom has a Bible stashed.”
Every sentence of truth matters. Don’t ignore even a scrap of truth this year.
This letter was written by a real person to real Christians: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-2).
Paul was born to a middle-class family and in a city that was between the mountains and the sea a little after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. His life would end at the hand of Roman emperor Nero who blamed the Great Fire of Rome on Christians in an attempt to strengthen his hand as emperor. Always a controversial figure throughout his life, Paul was beheaded by the sword on the order of Nero.
A little over twenty years ago, a survey was taken of college professors where the professor was asked who were the most important people in the history of Western civilization. The apostle Paul was tied for fifth place as the most influential person in Western civilization in the minds of college professors. I have my own opinions on this but here’s one idea that isn’t debated: after Jesus Himself, Paul is the most significant people in the history of Christianity.