Summary: Fifth in a series on Names for the people of God. Paul calls the Ephesians "faithful"---something we should all strive for.
Series: Names for God’s People
May 1, 2016
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request from me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Ephesians 1:1 – “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”
What’s in a name?
Illus. – The story is told of a soldier in the army of Alexander the Great, who was brought before the great world-conqueror for court martial. When the emperor had heard the charges and the evidence, he turned to the soldier facing condemnation, and said, “What is your name?”
“Alexander,” was the reply.
Again the emperor questioned, “What is your name?”
The second time the soldier answered, “Alexander!”
With a cry of rage, the emperor roared, “I say, what…is…your…name?”
And when the soldier answered for the third time, “Alexander!”, the great general angrily replied, “You say your name is Alexander? Then you are found guilty of your crime as charged, and I give you the maximum penalty for the charge. Either change your conduct or change your name, for no man can bear my name, Alexander, and do the things you have done.”
Again, we are reminded of the importance of names. We’ve been in a brief mini-series titled “Names for the People of God.” So far in our series we have looked at three names, and have tried to see how well we’ve lived up to our names as Christians. We’ve looked at the names of “Believer,” “Child of God,” and “Disciple.”
Today we want to look at the title given to the Ephesians in our text. Paul addresses this letter to the saints, which we will look at week after next, and also to the “faithful” at Ephesus.
In the Greek, as in the English, the word faithful is related to the word faith. In the English, we have the words faith and faith-ful.
The word for faithful is even closer in the Greek to the root word faith than it is in our English. The word for faith in the Greek is pístis; and the word for faithful is pistós.
The words pistós and faithful are related to their root words in their MEANING as well as their origin. Faith means “to trust in, to have reliance on.” Faithful means “someone who can be trusted in or one who can be relied on.”
Can you be described as faithful? Let’s look at faithfulness today.
But before we do, let me emphasize that everything I will share with you today is addressed only to those of you who are saved: people who have experienced God’s full forgiveness for sin by trusting in Jesus Christ and have become a part of God’s family. You can never be saved or receive God’s acceptance by being faithful.
Faithfulness is our OUTworking in our lives of the INworking of God’s grace, and has nothing to do with EARNING salvation, because it is impossible to earn salvation. Salvation is not a REWARD for faithfulness; it is a FREE GIFT to those who will freely receive it that is based on GOD’S faithfulness, not ours. But once you become a child of God, God wants you to be faithful.
So let’s talk about faithfulness in the lives of God’s people…
I. FIRST, CONSIDER WHAT OUR FAITHFULNESS IS BASED ON.
God’s expectation of our faithfulness is rooted in HIS faithfulness. God’s faithfulness is foundational to understanding His very nature. In fact, you cannot really come to a deep and abiding faith in God until you trust in His faithfulness.
Illus. – The Marine Corps has an interesting motto, Semper Fidelis. The short version is Semper Fi. Semper Fidelis are two Latin words which mean, “Always Faithful”—which is the code of conduct and character of those in the Marine Corps.
Folks, semper fidelis—always faithful—is the perfect description of our God. God is always faithful; He always keeps His Word; He always comes through for us; He never lets us down; He never fails to come through for us. He is semper fidelis—always faithful.
This is repeatedly emphasized in the Old Testament:
• In Psalms 36:5, David said, “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”
• Psalms 89:1 says, “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”
• Psalms 92:1-2 says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: 2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”
• But I love Lamentations 3:22-23 best, which was the inspiration for the last hymn we sang this morning, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” It says, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”