I was a little surprised when someone responded to my comment that Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus was actually written to any and all believers. As I explained in my first message on Ephesians, in the original text, the destination is left blank. Most scholars believe that the letter was sent to all of the churches of Asia, but it became known as The Letter to the Ephesians because Ephesus was a prominent city of Asia. The presumption is that each church would fill in its name, as they read it. It’s just that early scribes inserted “in Ephesus” into the text.
No, I am not a Biblical Scholar, and no, I am not an expert, but I have some dandy resource books that are written by some scholarly folks. So, I have to take their word for it. But, even if that wasn’t the case, I believe we are safe to include ourselves as receiving this letter.
Now, notice how the Christians are described: “saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” I’ll tell you what, it might be because of how some churches deify various people in Church history, but most of us shudder at the word, Saints. We don’t like to be called saints because we have such weird ideas what a saint is. We picture them as being unreal — so holier-than-thou, so unlike ordinary believers. Come on, be honest.
But that’s not the case for the Saints of the New Testament; they are people like us. They wipe their noses when they have a cold. They sometimes burp, pass gas, crave certain foods. All of the same things we do. Saints face struggles and difficulties, have disturbances at home, and problems at work, and troubles everywhere else. In other words, they are normal people!
However, there is one thing unique about them: They are different. That is what the word saint, means. It is derived from the word for holy. And holy means distinct, unique, set-apart, whole, belonging to God and, as a result, they live their lives differently. That is what it means to be a saint. Yes, they still have problems, but, they approach them differently. A saint has a different lifestyle. And that, my friends, is what Paul is talking about here. They are faithful, which means, of course, they won’t quit. That’s what a Christian is — a person who won’t — who can’t stop being a Christian. A true Disciple can’t walk away from following Jesus! Their lives — their whole lifestyle and mindsets — have been changed. There is no turning back!
But here’s the thing. Some of you have been living defeated lives. You feel like a failure. For years you have been carrying around baggage from your past. It could be abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional or mental. Things that you are too embarrassed to admit. They could be things you did or things that have been done to you. But Paul wrote something you need to know:
I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ. Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ. It’s like a fragrance that fills the air (II Corinthians 2:14)
Our Father will give you a victory because of your relationship with Jesus, and other people will become aware of the Knowledge of God. As Paul wrote, your victory “is like a fragrance that fills the air!” Oh, Glory to our God! [You can give Him a shout, now]
I had a brother send me an email recently, explaining that he was worn-out, bummed, flat-out discouraged and felt that he was a complete failure. He had lost all confidence in prayer because he figured that “no answer was going to come, anyway,” and he wanted to quit. Pick up his ball and go home!
I didn’t respond immediately. I wasn’t sure what I should say. But I finally wrote that brother back and told him, “Well, maybe you should quit! Give up. Stop being a Christian. Try it.” That may shock you, but I knew that if he even tried to stop, he would realize that he couldn’t. And he knew it, too. He immediately replied to my note and acknowledged it: “You’re right. I can’t quit. Jesus is my life, and I cannot deny what He has done in it” That is because, as Paul says in this letter, the Lord gave us the Spirit of God, and we are sealed with His Spirit! We can’t quit! THAT is the mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ!
Then comes the invariable prayer Paul offers these believers: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh, man! Those are the two greatest gifts of our faith! Grace and Peace.
Grace — God at work in our lives; and Peace — a sense of security, of trust. Someone said, “Trust is not knowing, and yet still being at peace, at rest.” Absolutely! If you already know something, you don’t have to trust. But trust is not knowing, and still being at peace.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.
These, my friends, are the billboards for our Christian life!