Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 18 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #187)
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 3:7-13:
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.
13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Henry Blackaby said, “All revival begins, and continues, in the prayer meeting. Some have also called prayer the ‘great fruit of revival.’ In times of revival, thousands may be found on their knees for hours, lifting up their heartfelt cries, with thanksgiving, to heaven.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The law of prayer is the law of harvest: sow sparingly in prayer, reap sparingly; sow bountifully in prayer, reap bountifully. The trouble is we are trying to get from our efforts what we never put into them.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Only a few years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Herrnhut, the Moravian evangelist Peter Bohler preached the gospel in the colony of Georgia and then went on to plant the Moravian Church in England. At the time, England was desperately in need of revival. In the city of London, for example, one house in six held a ‘grogshop’ where a man could drink gin until he was drunk—and it would cost him only a penny. The rampant use of alcohol led to widespread crime in the street.”
As Paul is writing from prison to the young, mostly Gentile church at Ephesus, it is not farfetched to see how his audience could become discouraged. Even though Paul had just explained the revelation of God’s great mystery that they were a part of, two thoughts were likely going through these young believers’ minds: First, they might have felt badly for Paul seeing that he had risked his life and his reputation to preach the Gospel to them and all Gentiles, yet he was the one sitting in prison. Second, some must have felt some apprehension about this idea of being a Christian if it meant that they, too, might end up in prison.
Paul addresses such feelings in verse 13 where he writes, “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” Paul is the one in prison, yet he is writing to others not to become weak or weary in heart on his behalf. Paul was not looking for sympathy or even compassion. He recognized his imprisonment as part of God’s plan. Dr. Walvoord and Dr. Zuck state in their commentary, “If the Ephesians truly understood ‘the administration of God’s grace that was given to’ Paul, they should not be discouraged because of his sufferings for them. His sufferings were for their gain and glory. If Paul had not dispensed to the Gentiles the stewardship of God’s grace, then Jews would not have been hostile to him and he would not have been imprisoned. His preaching brought salvation to the Gentiles, but it incurred the wrath of many Jews on him. However, many others became members of the church, Christ’s body, and this was their glory.”
Paul chose to have a good attitude throughout his imprisonment. Instead of focusing on his chains, he focused on what had caused him to be put in chains. If imprisonment was the reward for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, he would gladly accept that reward every time.
In fact, Paul says that, for the Ephesian believers, his suffering is part and parcel of their glory. As members of the body of Christ, they are taking part in the great mystery that God was revealing to the world. There were forces — both spiritual and physical — that opposed this revelation. That is why Paul was persecuted. That is why early Gentile Christians experienced hatred from some Jews. But to be part of the glory of God was worth it all. As Paul told the Romans, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”