A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 4:1-3:
1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ulrich Zwingli said, “The business of the truth is not to be deserted even to the sacrifice of our lives, for we live not for this age of ours, nor for the princes, but for the Lord.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you’ll find your enemies are in your own church.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The Irish Rebellion of 1798 reflected the pain of a disenfranchised majority in Ireland, yet, despite the social unrest, both Methodists and evangelicals within the Church of Ireland experienced revival. While Presbyterians in the north were consumed with a doctrinal controversy, societies were established throughout the country for the purpose of evangelizing the nation and encouraging the cause of revival in the churches.”
In our last message, we talked about the significance of Paul telling us to walk worthy of our calling as followers of Christ even as he is in prison for doing that very thing. Paul viewed this activity of walking worthy to be more important, more weighty, more significant than any pressures placed upon us by the world.
Handley Moule wrote that Paul’s “bonds are due to his union with Christ. They are thus a strong Christian argument with the recipients of his letter. Under all aspects of life, Paul belongs to Christ. Whatever he is, does, or suffers, it is as Christ’s servant.” Paul was no longer his own man. He was not the world’s man, or the devil’s man, or the religious establishment’s man. He was God’s man. Whatever he endured, he endured in service to Christ.
Paul spoke of this captivity to the work of the Gospel in another series of letters. In First Corinthians he said, “Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” In other words, ‘I have to preach the Gospel. I can’t help but preach the Gospel. Woe is me — I’ll be damned — if I don’t preach the Gospel.’ Paul views preaching the Gospel as more essential than eating and drinking to survive. It is necessary. Again, he is not being forced to do it, but, knowing what he knows about God, Jesus Christ, the Gospel, Heaven, and Hell, he cannot imagine doing anything else.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men… for the love of Christ constraineth us.” “Constraineth” is another vivid word similar to “imprisoned” or “captive.” It means “to be taken with, to hold fast, to press in on every side, to be afflicted with, to be impelled or urged.” Paul is saying that Jesus’ love has him bound up so that he can do nothing but preach the Gospel. Every time he turned around he was reminded of the sacrificial love of Jesus and he said to himself, ‘I have to tell more people about it.’ That’s how convinced he was of the truth of the Gospel.
Paul did not even let prison keep him from walking worthy of his calling as an evangelist. His imprisonment to Christ was far more weighty than any Roman chains. He kept preaching the Gospel while in prison. And when the Romans released him after the first time he was jailed, he continued preaching. Paul walked worthy of his calling as a Christian believer. If he can do it, so can we.
Annie Johnson Flint wrote:
The great Apostle called himself
“The prisoner of the Lord;”
He was not held by Roman chains
Nor kept in Caesar’s ward;
Constrained by love alone,
By cords of kindness bound,
The bondslave of the living Christ,
True liberty he found.
Saints feel no prison walls
Though shut in narrow ways,
And though in darkness fettered fast
Can still rejoice and praise;
From sin’s dread bondage bought,
They own their Master’s ward,
They bear the brand of Christ,
Blessed prisoners of the Lord!