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 1:3-6:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Blaise Pascal said, “The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of God.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “There’s going to have to come some heroism in today’s Christianity. It doesn’t necessarily mean burning at the stake, but it could mean that.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “It was the custom of the Korean church leaders to gather at Pyongyang each New Year’s Day for a ten-day Bible conference. In January 1907, 1,500 men gathered together, representing the leadership of hundreds of churches. For almost six months, missionaries had been praying for a mighty movement of God among the Korean church, and anticipation grew as the meetings began. On Monday afternoon, several missionaries gathered together for prayer. They pleaded with God to move among them. One of their number later testified, “We were bound in spirit and refused to let God go till He blessed us.” That night as they entered the church, it seemed the entire building was filled with the presence of God.”
One of the mistakes some people make when dealing with the issue of predestination and the election of God is not following through with the full intent of the election and predestination. Some ministers and religious teachers stop short with the idea that those who are called are those who become Christians but stop there. As we saw yesterday, God does not simply call people to salvation; He calls them to “be holy and without blame before him”.
This call to be holy and blameless cuts out those who claim to be Christians, but who are still living in sin. A true child of God will feel the urge and impulse to stop sinning, to make things right with those whom he has wronged, and to get back into a right fellowship with God. Anyone who claims to be a Christian but who does not have such conviction needs to examine their salvation to see if they truly are a child of God. Being holy and blameless does not mean you will be perfect. It does mean, however, that you will be constantly striving to love God, obey God, and please God in every aspect of your life.
That spirit is embodied in this hymn, “Help Me to be Holy,” by Adoniram Gordon:
Help me to be holy, O Father of light;
Guilt-burdened and lowly, I bow in Thy sight;
How shall a stained conscience dare gaze on Thy face,
E’en though in Thy presence Thou grant me a place?
Help me to be holy, O Savior divine;
Why conquer so lowly this nature of mine?
Stamp deeply Thy likeness where Satan’s has been;
Expel with Thy brightness my darkness and sin!
Help me to be holy, O Spirit divine;
Come, sanctify wholly this temple of Thine;
Now cast out each idol, here set up Thy throne.
Reign, reign without rival, supreme and alone!
In closing, we should also be warned against going to another extreme. Some people, in their quest to become holy and blameless, they try to do it in the flesh and end up becoming religious snobs, Pharisees, and legalists. That is why Paul tells us that we are to “be holy and without blame before him IN LOVE.” God wants us to be holy and blameless, but He wants us to do it by following Jesus’s example in the strength and power of His grace and Holy Spirit. Although Jesus never sinned, He never acted as though He were better than other sincere believers and He never acted as though He could not communicate with or be touched by those who were not believers.
We need both in the church today — blameless, holy living combined with Christ-like love for all people, saved and lost.