Summary: Paul promises the Ephesians blessings that churches today can claim!
A CHURCH FULL OF BLESSINGS
INTRODUCTION… Beginnings of letters
READ EPHESIANS 1:1-2
I. THE WRITER SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY
ILLUSTRATION… Claire Schenot Burkat, "Five Myths of the Perfect Pastor"
His sermons were over their heads. His opinionated views alienated his colleagues. Coworkers found him boastful, even arrogant. A physical disability drove him to over-function in ministry. The first two congregations he pastored rejected his leadership, and, unable to still their internal strife and bickering, he went on to a third. By some measures of success, his ministry was a failure. This was no mythical pastor. This was the Apostle Paul.
We are introduced to the author first thing in the letter. He calls himself Paul and we
know from the book of Acts and many of the other letters in the New Testament, that this Paul is Paul of Tarsus whom Jesus appeared to on the Damascus Road. He calls himself an “apostle” by the will of God.
This title gives Paul much authority when it comes to teaching about Jesus, God, and spiritual matters. Why? An apostle was a disciple of Jesus who saw Him. At least, that is how Paul uses the term... to refer to those people who walked and talked with Jesus. Apostles, in many ways, were a one time thing, meaning that we cannot have apostles today. Apostles were the ones Jesus Himself gave authority to and this authority was unique. These were special messengers of Christ.
Paul had the credentials to be an apostle, even though he was “abnormally born” as he put it. Paul did receive authority from Christ since Jesus appeared to Paul. Paul also contends that his understanding of the Gospel, God, and other spiritual matters came from no one person, but from God Himself. We know from the book of Acts that much time passed between the time he met Jesus on the road and the time he was commissioned as a missionary with Barnabas. Paul’s authority, understanding, mission, and direction all are from God and all are divine.
II. HOLDS THE OFFICE BY THE “WILL OF GOD”
Paul is an apostle, not just because he says so or because he inherited it (which cannot
happen). He is what he is by the will of God. It is God’s divine positive purpose that makes Paul a man under authority and enables him to write with authority.
I think this is important because we need to know that what Paul says is trustworthy and from God. He is not just someone who claims to know what he’s talking about, not someone who claims to know Jesus, not someone who claims to know the heart of God… he does and has the authority to write to us about Jesus, His commands, and the Christian life.
III. DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH
A. Saints- people who have been separated from the world and consecrated to the worship and service of God. Christians, we, are called saints because we belong to the One who provided our salvation. Being a saint is not just a title, but means that we are given the revelation of Christ and the job of spreading Jesus’ teachings to all that will listen.
B. Faithful- Paul connects the fact that these who are separated by God are also continuing in their faith… being faithful. They are remaining faithful to God in a day when it was unfashionable. They were being faithful when the world had other ideas. They were remaining faithful in all circumstances and Paul praised them for it.
IV. BLESSINGS FOR THE CHURCH
Paul writes two very important blessings to the faithful saints of Ephesus. He blesses
them with grace and peace. To be honest, in most of Paul’s letters you will find him giving this blessing to those he is writing to. In addition, in most of Paul’s writings, you will find the word “grace” littered in each chapter, especially in Ephesians. Grace is free undeserved mercy from God. Peace is connected with grace as much as faith and works, they are twins. Grace is the only foundation to true peace. Grace and peace have their true source in God.
This morning, I want us who are the faithful saints, to remember that we have two very important blessings from God. First, we do indeed have grace from God. We do not need to feel guilty about our sins because grace has brought forgiveness. We need not worry about what lies after death because grace has brought us eternity in Heaven. Second, we also have the peace of God in our lives. Peace meaning we do not have to worry about tomorrow because God has taken care of it. Peace meaning we can cast all of our cares on Jesus because He cares for us. These two blessings we have because we are His people.