Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 13 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #182)
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 3:7-12:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Francis Schaeffer said, “In a post-Christian world and in an often post-Christian church it is imperative to point out with love where apostasy lies. We must openly discuss with all who will listen, treating all men as fellow men, but we must call apostasy, apostasy. If we do not do that, we are not ready for reformation, revival, and a revolutionary church in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “A popular evangelist reaches your emotions. A true prophet reaches your conscience.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Jonathan Edwards thought that sharing what God was doing in Northhampton would encourage others who longed to see revival in their community. He published a call to prayer encouraging Christians to unite in intercession for revival. He also published other works on revival that described to some degree what God had done in his community. When describing the revival he’d experienced, Edwards noted ‘an extraordinary sense of the awful majesty, greatness and holiness of God, so as sometimes to overwhelm soul and body, a sense of the piercing, all seeing eye of God so as to sometimes take away bodily strength.’ It was not uncommon to see people collapse physically under conviction of sin as they came to see the Lord as the holy God and to recognize his right to judge their sin. As a result, many experienced ‘an extraordinary view of the infinite terribleness of the wrath of God, together with a sense of the ineffable misery of sinners exposed to this wrath.'”
We have seen how that, by God’s grace, the Gospel began to be taken to the Gentiles. Speaking of this new development in the church Paul says, “Whereof I was made a minister…” God made Paul a minister of this new dispensation of the Gospel.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary states, “The word translated as ‘minister’ stresses the idea of service or serving, as one who is a waiter.” Paul does not claim the title of minister as a means of exalting himself above others or as a point of status. Rather, he sees it as a position in which he is able to serve and be of benefit to others. He preaches not for any glory on his part, but for the benefit of the Gentiles who need to hear the Gospel.
In fact, Paul attributes it to the grace and power of God that he is even able to preach at all. He serves “according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” Paul recognizes that it is God’s power working in him that enables him to preach the Gospel. Paul’s preaching in the service of the Gospel message was indeed of the grace of God as he had been one “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against the church. Of all the people God could have chosen to be the chief evangelist to the Gentiles, He chose Paul. What a dramatic transformation he went through to get to this point where He counts it a blessing to even suffer for Christ.
Our churches would be better places if we had more people who count it a privilege to serve God and less people who see their position in the church as just another line on their resume — more who rely on the power of God in order to fulfill their service to the kingdom, and less who try to preach and serve in their own strength.
Hark! ’tis the Shepherd’s voice I hear
Out in the desert dark and drear,
Calling the sheep who’ve gone astray
Far from the Shepherd’s fold away.
Who’ll go and help this Shepherd kind,
Help Him the wand’ring ones to find?
Who’ll bring the lost ones to the fold,
Where they’ll be sheltered from the cold?
Out in the desert hear their cry,
Out on the mountains wild and high;
Hark! ’tis the Master speaks to thee,
“Go find My sheep where’er they be.”