Summary: Our identity will determine our activity. We the body of Christ find who we are in Him. If we identify with Christ we live by faith that matures into love.
Intro: Last week as we began studying Paul’s letter labeled Ephesians we began to learn about our identity. Remember that I said that our identity is important because it determines our activity. What we will see this morning is God’s power in us. Paul got extremely excited in the first 14 verses that he almost babbled. Paul was recounting the plan of God from before time to the end of time. We were chosen, we were predestined, adopted, sealed, and promised.
Now Paul begins thanking God for how he worked in lives of the Ephesians and how He will work in us. He also prays for the benefit of the Ephesians. One thing that you discover as you read the prison letters of Paul he never prays with material requests. He does however again and again pray for their growth of character and their nearness to God (spiritual growth).
I. Evidence of God working in you
Paul was praying and giving thanks to God but what for? He was thanking God for the Ephesians genuine faith. Wouldn’t you love to have someone thank God for the faith they heard you had?
It was evident in the life of the Ephesians that God was at work in them. Philippians 2.13 tells us that it is God at work in us to will and to work for His good pleasure.
A) Faith in Christ alone 15a
Saving faith finds is foundation and focus in Christ. You are saved by grace through faith in Christ.
A fairly unknown verse of Rock of ages says it well
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Paul was thanking God for grace working out in the lives of the Ephesians. There is no creed or statement we can accept, there is no work or activity we can complete. If only people could really understand this. When we surrender to Jesus we are cleansed, we are set apart, we are now able to enjoy a relationship to God with nothing hanging over our head. Faith here means assurance, confidence in Christ’s finished work of salvation. Salvation is saying yes to a person you encounter by faith Jesus Christ. He becomes the foundation of your life. Not all of them were confident in Christ. There was faith among the Ephesians but not all of them had faith. Faith in the Lord Jesus uses a preposition that pictures a fixed position. Hebrews 6.19 tells us this hope, this confidence we have anchors our soul. It fixes us to God in Christ. He firmly connects us to God.
Are you confident in Christ, have you said yes to God?
B) Love for all the saints 15b
The Bible only gives one great proof that we are followers of Jesus. John 13.35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Saving faith should produce serving love. What is the true mark of a Christian, a Christ follower? Love. When God works in us in faith He then works through us in love.
I am talking of the God kind of love. Serving love.
Instead of us defining lets let the Bible define it.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 13 The great love chapter.
Are you enduring religion or enjoying a relationship? Paul said the Ephesians had love for all the saints! Why is this so amazing, because it is so unlike us as Christians.
Jonathan Swift observed, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” Surface Christianity gives us enough reason to criticize and keep people at arms length.
Paul uses agape for love in this passage. A love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13, a thoughtful, choosing, serving God like love.
Do you praise God when others are growing spiritually?
As you read this is love working out in you?
II. Experience of God working for in you. (Paul’s prayer)
1.17 (read) Paul petitions God to give the Ephesians a closer intimacy.
A) Better knowledge of Christ
Verse 17 finds Paul praying for the continual growth of believer’s relationship to Christ. He desired for them to move from milk to meat. Paul is for the Epehsian believers to mature in their faith. He is praying that their personal knowledge of Christ would increase. There is probably the Hebrew word yada behind this statement. It was translated in Genesis “Adam knew Eve his wife. That their spiritual life would become deeper and stronger. Do you take time to get below the surface with God? Do you have an exchange with Jesus Christ.