Summary: Are you really a Christian?
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."
This is the first of two prayers in the book of Ephesians. Paul begins his prayer for the Ephesian Christians with PRAISE and end with PETITIONS. He starts with THANKSGIVING and finishes with REQUESTS.
THREE THOUGHTS ON PRAYER
1. PRAYER SHOULD INCLUDE MORE THAN JUST REQUESTS. IT SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE THANKSGIVING.
• ". . . in every thing by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6).
• "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same WITH THANKSGIVING" (Colossians 4:2).
• "I will bless the Lord at all times: HIS PRAISE SHALL CONTINUALLY BE IN MY MOUTH. . . . I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Psalm 34:1, 4).
Sometimes we turn prayer into a grocery list? "Lord, I want this, I want that." "Lord, will You do this, will you do that?" We should thank Him more in our prayers.
2. PRAYER SHOULD INCLUDE MORE THAN JUST LISTING PROBLEMS TO GOD. IT SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE GIVING PRAISE TO HIM.
Paul began his prayer by praising God for the Ephesian believers’ faith and love.
3. PRAYER SHOULD INCLUDE MORE THAN JUST MAKING REQUESTS FOR OURSELVES. PRAYER SHOULD ALSO INCLUDE INTERCESSION FOR OTHERS.
Lehman Strauss, "Most of our prayers are taken up with ourselves or with those nearest and dearest to us. Needs of others occupy a small place in our prayer life" (Galatians and Ephesians, 130).
Illustration: I have heard that some people remember me in prayer everyday.
FAITH & LOVE
Paul was certain that his readers had a part in the amazing blessings listed in the first part of this chapter (v. 1). How is Paul so sure that the Ephesians are Christians?
The mere fact that a person may say that he is a Christian does not prove that he is a Christian.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There must be some test to determine the validity of a person’s claim to be a Christian. Paul provides us with a two-part test. The first part involves our BELIEF; the second part involves our BEHAVIOR.
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your FAITH in the Lord Jesus, and LOVE unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."
FAITH AND LOVE ARE INSEPARABLE. WHERE THERE IS FAITH THERE WILL BE LOVE:
• ". . . we heard of your FAITH in Christ Jesus, and of the LOVE which ye have to all the saints" (Colossians 1:4).
• "Hearing of thy LOVE and FAITH, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints" (Philemon 5).
• "And this is his commandment, That we should BELIEVE on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and LOVE one another, as he gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23).
• ". . . FAITH which worketh by LOVE" (Galatians 5:6).
THE TWO-PART TEST OF CHRISTIAN PROFESSION:
1. THE FIRST HALF OF THE TEST: "FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS"
Notice that Paul says "faith in the LORD Jesus."
The name "Jesus" means "SAVIOR." The title "Lord" means "MASTER."
Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,
. . . we must emphasize that you cannot separate the Lord and Jesus. The Person is one and indivisible. He is always the Lord. . . . a man cannot accept Him as Saviour only, and then perhaps later decide to accept Him as Lord, for He is always the Lord. The One who died for our sins is the Lord. And He died for our sins because sin is under the wrath of God; it is transgression against the law, it is enmity against God, so it must be punished. If I say that I need a Saviour it is because I need a Saviour from sin, including deliverance from the power of sin and everything connected with sin. If I have a true conception of sin I cannot only ask to be forgiven. I must desire to be delivered from its power and pollution as well. We cannot believe in "Jesus" and leave out "the Lord" (God’s Ultimate Purpose, 321).
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the LORD, so walk ye in him" (Colossians 2:6).
II. THE SECOND HALF OF THE TEST: "LOVE UNTO ALL THE SAINTS"
Craig Bloomberg, "The need for genuine, Christ-like love remains as great today as ever. Yet one of our greatest problems is defining love. Popular culture—in literature, music, advertising, and the visual arts—uses the word to mean just about everything except what the Bible means by it. So even Christians are easily misled into thinking love is primarily a feeling, something you fall in or out of. . . . throughout Scripture, love is first of all an action. . . ." (1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary, 264).