Summary: In Christ, the Church has been empowered to change the world and - thus equipped - called to do just that!
THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST
ACT I: Foundations Of A Supreme Mystery – Identification
2. A MYSTERY EMPOWERED (Eph. 1:15-23)
When I look back at how God brought me to where I am today, I can’t help but notice that he did so through a multitude of ordinary people who had extraordinary faith and love. I think of my friends, Tim and Kyle who first lived out before me a life of faithful and real devotion to the Lord and His Word – even while loving me despite my own rejections and rebellions. I think of Bill Mummert, the humble, plain-spoken, boot-wearing, cattle-raising small town rural Pastor who first led me into the Lord’s saving presence and was instrumental in my early discipleship. I think of my Father-in-law who, despite little formal education and essentially no formal training planted and has since faithfully pastored their church in a small Hindu village – and, until this past year – did so without receiving a dime from the church. Yet, he has shown and taught me so much about ministry and even theology. I think of students I’ve ministered to from toddlers to teenagers who have taught me much from their unique perspective and inquisitive nature. And, I even think of the countless individuals whom I have never personally met, yet have been encouraged and instructed through hearing and reading about their faithful and loving service unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
I look back and wonder. . . What about me? I am not any more limited or fallible than they. But what is my legacy? Who would include little-old-me me in their short list of people who God has used to empower and strengthen their Christian faith and walk? Who have I inspired for Christ? Who would say that their life was in some way positively altered simply by observing or being the recipient of my faith and love? Sure, some would argue that, as a Pastor, this is my job and I should have a long list. But is this always true? If pastors inherently have this effect, why are there so many ineffective churches with so few recent stories of transformed lives? Clearly, living a life of impact is dependent on something much more and different than a title and position.
What about you? How many people would put you on their short list? Why or why not?
THE WORD: READ EPHESIANS 1:15-23
A.) AFFIRMATION (vv. 15-16)
Last week, we were reminded through Scripture that God, according to His love and grace, sovereignly elects us to be adopted into His family, to make us part of a special people, and to shower us with every spiritual blessing in His Son Jesus Christ. Having elected us for this, God has further accomplished this purpose through the redemptive death of His Son – paying the only just price for our sin in order to free us for our new identity and position in Him. Then, having been chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son, we are re-born, sealed, preserved, empowered and united in the Holy Spirit.
We would be hard-pressed to find another passage of God’s Word that better or more strongly expresses Christ’s supremacy over everything – even the steps of our lives. But, now, Paul turns to prayer. This begs a frequent question: if God is the determiner of all things, what is the point of prayer?
It seems like such a difficult question, but the reality is that there is a very simple answer. Having confidence and certainty in God’s sovereignty is not a discouragement, but rather an inducement to pray all the more. Because we know that God is at work and that He is good, how much more confidently and excitedly can we come to Him in prayer – whether to praise Him for who He is, what He has done and what He will certainly do, or to petition Him knowing that His will is always completed?! Remember, prayer is NOT about our influencing God, but rather seeking to bring our minds and will into harmony and agreement with His!
And so Paul’s reflections on Christ’s supremacy naturally leads him into prayer. Specifically, he prays for the faithful example and love of all the saints (believers) in the church at Ephesus.
Notice that he says all, not ’some’ or ’certain’ of the saints. It is very common and cliched for churches today to refer to themselves somehow as “the church that loves people/our community.” It makes for a great slogan on a sign or perhaps even a bumper sticker, but what does it really mean? Would others be so quick as to praise both the church itself and all of its members for their unusual faith and love? Illus: Brookdale.