Summary: Paul's pride and joy was the good news he had received about the Ephesian believers that led to commendation of them and prayer for them.
Paul’s Pride and Joy
Ephesians - Live Like You Really Are
May 20, 2012
POWERPOINT: There is a PowerPoint presentation for this sermon available by requesting it from me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Ephesians 1:15-16 – “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.”
Illus. – Years ago my side of the family had a big reunion in Tennessee that I wasn’t able to attend due to my inability to find a fill-in for me when we were ministering in England. So Susan and the kids went back without me.
At the end of the day, all the relatives called to tell me they missed me and they were enjoying seeing and getting to know better our three sons. Each gave glowing reports about our two teen sons, Chris and Jon, stating how well mannered they were, how well-rounded they were and how much like their mom they were (!) and how they exuded an enthusiasm for God and the things of God.
When I hung up the phone, I bowed my head and thanked God for the sons He had given me, including our youngest who was also a very good boy. All the work, prayer, effort, concern, discipline and teaching we had given them HAD BEEN WORTH IT after all! All that week, whenever I prayed, our sons were the first ones I thanked God for and the first ones for whom I earnestly prayed for God’s protection and guidance.
You see, there’s something about a good report of your children that fills a parent’s heart with joy and thankfulness, and causes you to pray the more earnestly for them.
I think that’s the way Paul felt about the Ephesians. Acts 18 records the establishment of the church in Ephesus by the Apostle Paul. They were his spiritual children…and they were his pride and joy. But now Paul was away from them, writing to them from a prison in Rome. And like a parent, he longed for every bit of news about them. Apparently, someone had brought a good a report of the Ephesian church. He said that when he heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,” his heart was filled with thanksgiving and an earnest desire to pray for them. All his labor among them had NOT been in vain.
In these two verses, I would like us to see three important truths this morning:
I. FIRST OF ALL, NOTICE THAT PAUL RECOGNIZED FAVORABLE PROGRESS – Verse 15 – “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.”
Paul begins verse 15 with the word “Wherefore.” This is two words in the Greek—dia touto (δια τουτο, #s 1223 & 5124) which means “on this account” or “because of this.”
In verses 1-14, Paul had taught the Ephesians about their inestimable riches they had in Christ. But all the teaching in the world won’t help a person if he doesn’t apply it in his life. The Ephesians did.
Paul commended them for a pair of Christian graces:
• The first was FAITH in the Lord Jesus.
1) Of course, first of all this would include SAVING FAITH. Paul had just mentioned their chosenness in Christ Jesus; their predestination to the full rights and responsibilities of son-ship because of being in Christ; their acceptance and redemption in Christ; and their sealing with the Holy Spirit. How was all this received?—By doing good works? By human effort? By doing religious deeds? No, Paul later tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 how salvation and all its privileges are obtained – “For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
2) But Paul was not really referring to SAVING FAITH here, but to PRACTICAL FAITH
The Ephesians had already found the WAY to Christ by faith; but what encouraged him was how they continued to WALK by faith in their everyday lives AFTER salvation.
Too often we think of faith as simply the key to unlock the door to the JOYS OF HEAVEN, and it IS that, but it’s also the key to unlock the door to JOYS ON EARTH. The person who can trust the Lord with his life, his health, his future, his family, his employment, and his provision is a person who is at peace and without fear and worry. That’s what God wants in our lives—but it can only come by a consistent trust in God.
Illus. – I’ve seen God’s people manifest this simple trust many times, but one that stands out to me was a woman in our church in Wiesbaden whose husband had abandoned her for another woman. Through it all, she had a steadfast faith in God that somehow He would take care of her; somehow God would work it out for good; somehow God would balance the scales. Yes, she was hurt and grieving, but I do not recall a more poised, more calm, more trusting believer in all my ministry. It was a practical faith in God that got her through that terrible time in her life.