Summary: Paul wrote Ephesians in chains. But his heart was free. (#24 in The Christian Victor series)
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
As we come to the end of our study of this great epistle to the Ephesians, we take note of the progression of it. Paul began in the way that perhaps should mark not only our prayers, but even our communications with one another. He began by blessing God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only after acknowledging Him and praising His name, does he then begin to establish for the readers that they, as believers in Christ, are recipients of all the blessings of Heaven in Him.
From there He goes on to teach us that the mystery of the ages has been uncovered and revealed through Jesus Christ; that is, the way to be right with God and the things He had planned for us from eternity past.
He assures us that we now have free and constant access to the Throne of God Himself, and are invited and even commanded to draw near to Him there. Then he goes on to exhort us to walk according to what we are now reckoned to be. You were darkness, he says, now you are light. Walk as children of light, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
He exhorts us to unity as those made one by the Spirit of Christ, then teaches about successful interpersonal relationships, as those purchased with the blood of Christ and all under Him as our head.
Then, having established all of these essentials, he considers us ready to stand in grace, and go forward to build the Kingdom and battle the forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
So he has taken the reader from a babe, brought him up through the fundamental doctrines that, as he understands them will give him assurance and faith and a sure and lasting hope of future glory, and then sends him out into the work of ministry.
This is the goal of the scriptures, Christians; that you might be adequate, and equipped for every good work.
I’d like to take the liberty today to talk about this great man, Paul, Apostle of Jesus Christ, and in his own words, ‘ambassador in chains’.
Now here is where someone might say, ‘but Paul himself would not want the focus to be on himself, but on Christ!’ And you’d be correct. But I submit to you today, Christian, that to talk about Paul is to talk about Christ.
You simply cannot go far talking about the Apostle Paul, before you are talking about Jesus Christ.
“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”, defines Paul’s very existence after the Damascus road experience. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” he said, and his life and ministry manifested that truth daily.
What I’d like to impress upon you today, as we take a closer look at this great Apostle, is that of all men who ever lived, second only to Christ Himself, Paul has the God-given authority, and the earned right to exhort you and me to faithfulness, and sacrifice, and martyrdom if it comes to that, for the sake of the gospel.
I doubt that anyone has lived in all Christendom, who has more completely divested himself of the world and all it has to offer, of self –pride and self-service, of any worldly drive or ambition, to offer himself a living sacrifice to the One who sacrificed Himself for Paul.
We consider the monastics of the ages who, whatever the title of their order or their distinctive doctrinal persuasion, have utterly removed themselves from society and the things of the world in order to stay pure and focused on their devotions.
But Paul did this while, rather than secluding himself from society, immersing himself in it. Everywhere he went he sought, not to avoid people, but to present to them the message of a crucified and risen Christ. He would go first to the temple or synagogue, where he knew he was certain to be rejected, and then to the gentile population, where he would preach to them and encourage them to believe in the good news and be saved.
I repeat, second only to our Lord, in Paul we see the most shining example of one being described by Jesus when He used the term, ‘in the world, but not of the world’.