A series of homilies on Ephesians 5 & 6
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 5 & 6 (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 1:1-2:
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:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
C.I. Scofield said, “God’s purpose in promising to reward with heavenly and eternal honors the faithful service of His saints is to win them from the pursuit of earthly riches and pleasures, to sustain them in the fires of persecution, and to encourage them in the exercise of Christian virtues.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “AIl you have to do is decide to walk a little closer to God and you’ll be more criticized in some churches than you would in the bar down the street.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The influence of the Azusa Street Revival of 1906 spread far beyond the national boundaries of America. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada recognize their spiritual indebtedness to William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street mission, especially in the earliest manifestations of charismatic phenomena in Winnipeg and Toronto. Many of their founding fathers first experienced the Pentecostal blessing under Seymour’s preaching, or were mentored by him in their early Pentecostal experience.”
By way of a more formal introduction, Warren Wiersbe said, “She had gone down in history as “America’s Greatest Miser,” yet when she died in 1916, “Hetty” Green left an estate valued at over $100 million. She ate cold oatmeal because it cost to heat it. Her son had to suffer a leg amputation, because she delayed so long in looking for a free clinic that his case became incurable. She was wealthy, yet she chose to live like a pauper. Eccentric? Certainly! Crazy? Perhaps—but nobody could prove it. She was so foolish that she hastened her own death by bringing on an attack of apoplexy while arguing about the value of drinking skimmed milk! But Hetty Green is an illustration of too many Christian believers today. They have limitless wealth at their disposal, and yet they live like paupers. It was to this kind of Christian that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians.
The Author (Eph. 1:1a)
Some names in history we identify immediately, and “Paul” is one of them. His name was originally “Saul”; and, since he was from the tribe of Benjamin, it is likely he was named after the first king of Israel. Unlike his namesake, however, Saul of Tarsus was obedient, and faithfully served God. As a devoted rabbi, Saul became the leader of the antichristian movement in Jerusalem. But in the midst of this activity, Saul was “arrested” by Jesus Christ and was converted. Saul of Tarsus became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. While he was ministering in the church of Antioch, he was called by the Spirit to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he obeyed. The Book of Acts records three missionary journeys that took Paul throughout the Roman Empire in one of the greatest evangelistic endeavors in church history. About the year 53, Paul first ministered in Ephesus but did not remain there. Two years later, while on his third journey, Paul stayed in Ephesus for at least two years and saw that whole vast area evangelized. During these years, he founded a strong church in the city that was dedicated to the worship of the goddess Diana. For a description of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, read Acts 20, and for an explanation of the opposition to Paul’s ministry there, read Acts 19:21–41. It was nearly ten years later when Paul wrote to his beloved friends in Ephesus. Paul was a prisoner in Rome, and he wanted to share with these believers the great truths the Lord had taught him about Christ and the church. Compare Ephesians 6:21–22 with Colossians 4:7–9 and Philemon to get a better understanding of the historical background. Onesimus, a slave, ran away from Philemon, his master, who lived at Colosse. While in Rome, Onesimus met Paul and was converted. Tychicus, one of the pastors of the church at Colossae, which may have met in Philemon’s house, was also in Rome to discuss some problems with Paul. So Paul took advantage of the presence of these two men to send three letters to his friends: the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Epistle to the Colossians, and the Epistle to Philemon. At the same time, he sent Onesimus back to his master. So, the letter was written from Rome about the year A.D. 62. Though Paul was on trial for his life, he was concerned about the spiritual needs of the churches he had founded. As an apostle, “one sent with a commission,” he had an obligation to teach them the Word of God and to seek to build them up in the faith.”
From the first verse in Ephesians, we have talked about the challenge to live up to the calling of apostles and saints. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck said, “The faithful in Christ Jesus further defines the “saints” and could be rendered “that is, the believers in Christ Jesus.” These saints were in Christ Jesus, not in Adam or the goddess Artemis of Ephesus. While believers have geographical locations, spiritually they are positioned “in Christ”. Paul used “in Christ Jesus,” “in Christ,” or “in Him” quite frequently. In Ephesians 1:1–14 the phrase occurs nine times! Christians have their very life in Christ.” Today, we look at a third term which describes believers: “the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
The word faithful has two connotations in Scripture — one has to do with our mindset and the other has to do with our actions.
The type of faithfulness that has to do with our mindset is defined from the Greek as one who is “believing, confiding, or trusting; one who trusts in God’s promises.”
People use the term “faith” in different ways today. It is common to tell someone, ‘Have faith in yourself.’ ‘Interfaith’ gatherings and ceremonies are in vogue. People often speak of having ‘faith’ that a situation will work out. But when the Bible speaks of faith or those who are faithful (that is ‘full of faith’), it is speaking of a very specific representation of faith.
Biblical faith is not an abstract concept; it is faith in a Person. That is why Paul writes to those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus” who is One with the Heavenly Father.
When you awaken each day, who or what are you placing your faith in? Yourself? Your money? Someone else? The government? The ‘positive energy of the universe’?
God’s people ought to be full of faith in Him. That is the only way we will make it through this life without becoming discouraged. Whatever or whoever you have been placing your faith or trust in will eventually fail. All other helpers will eventually prove to be useless, and only God will remain because He is faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the only One worthy of our faith. Therefore, we ought to be “faithful in Christ Jesus.”