Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Let's listen as Pastor Rich shares the second part of his message on Ephesians 1, 1 and 2. So who are the readers?
What does he call them? To the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus. Saints means holy ones. Holy ones in the sense of being dedicated as being set apart. In the classic Greek usage of this word, it meant something that is non-secular, something that is devoted to spiritual activity, non-secular. In all religions you have your holy men, right?
But Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus and he calls all of them saints. You are holy. You are non-secular individuals.
Stop and think about that for a minute. You're not secular. You are a spiritual being and you are a spiritual being who is set apart, devoted to God's service. That's true for all Christians. He's not writing to pastors and missionaries here, okay? He's writing to all Christians. Think about that for a minute because he says to the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
What does he mean by that? Faithful in Christ Jesus. Ones who have Jesus Christ as the object of their faith. You are the ones who have entrusted yourselves, you have surrendered yourselves in faith to Jesus Christ. Now he is the object of your faith.
And so with that authority we read this as believers and we know, we understand that Paul is writing indirectly to us as well. And he calls us saints. You are holy ones. You are set apart, devoted to service for God.
You aware of that Christians? I am a saint and you can say that. Say it with me. I am a saint. You are set apart. You are devoted to the service of God as a committed follower of Jesus Christ, as one who has surrendered himself, herself to Jesus as the object of your faith.
You are set apart, devoted to his service. This is what Paul calls us. In Ephesus, the faithful in Christ in Ephesus. Paul's letter usually addresses specific people at the end of the letter, not so much in this one. And so this letter to Ephesus is likely a letter to be circulated to many churches and it was.
Which is one reason why we're reading it today because it was circulated and copied and preserved by the will of God. And so he goes to his greeting which is a very common greeting. We find it in verse 2. His greeting begins, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you. That word grace means favor. It means good will.
It means kindness. It often speaks of a gift. The idea of grace is the property or act which causes joy to the hearer or beholder. Let me say that again. The property or act which causes joy to the hearer or beholder.
I'm borrowing this from Trench. What makes it grace is this, and this is so key. It is conferred freely with no expectation of return and finding its only motive in the bounty and free heartedness of the giver.
Let me say that again. Conferred freely with no expectation of return and finding its only motive in the bounty and free heartedness of the giver. Grace to you.
God who brings you joy. When Paul says grace to you, what he is saying is may your souls prosper in Christ. Grace to you. God gave himself to us.
Do we understand that? We have such a misconception so much of grace these days because we think of it as the grace period on a credit card bill, right? No, grace is something that is given. Grace is something that is lavished upon us.
God gave himself to us and he gave himself to us for our joy, for his joy, for our joy together and it was done only in the bounty and free heartedness of the giver. Grace to you, Paul says. That's how he begins his letter and then he says peace from God.
Grace to you and peace from God. It's eirene, the verb which means to join together. It's the idea of reconciliation. It means strife has ended when it's used in terms of relationships. It means there is no longer strife.
Why would he say that? Because if you are not in Christ, you are at war with God. You have declared war against God. You are alienated from the life of God. You are as good as a branch cut off from the tree.
The only thing that branch can do is die and starve and wither. That's where you are if you're not in Christ. But if you have peace with God, you have been grafted back into the tree and you then have life and you can be drawing life from the tree.
If you are alive, you can therefore thrive and that's the whole point behind the fruit of the Spirit that Dwight and I will be introducing tonight for the study during the month of May on the fruit of the Spirit. Paul uses this in Colossians chapter 1 verse 20. Colossians is a letter that went along with the letter to Ephesus.
But this Colossians was a letter written specifically to a church addressing specific issues. But he says this in Colossians 1 19 and 20, for it pleased the Father that in Him, Christ, all the fullness should dwell and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. What is it that reconciles you to God? The work necessary for that was accomplished when Jesus died on the cross, when He absorbed the wrath of God in your place and mine. That opened the door for you and me to be reconciled to God. Otherwise, we would be at eternal war with God. But His blood made peace. God was in the business of reconciling man to Himself. So to be at peace with God, that means that we are justified. And so here, as Paul is conferring peace, he is greeting the Ephesian church with peace. He is praying for the well-being produced by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the One devoted to God. Again, as I said before, Paul desires, he wishes, he greets them with the desire for the prosperity of their soul, the joy, the peace, the well-being of the One who is devoted to Jesus Christ. That's how he begins his letter. Peace from God, grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus. It is so important that he puts these two together like this.
It is massively important. From God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a very significant association of putting these names together because it shows that they are of the same essence. Christ is in fact deity. And both of them are the source of our joy, of grace and our peace.
Both of them are. The peace, the grace, the joy that comes to us is from them, from the Godhead. This is why Paul puts them together from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is in fact Trinitarian theology. It is the doctrine of the apostles. Now, what we're going to do now is continue last Sunday's sermon. We're going to bring last Sunday's sermon to a conclusion because it brings this Sunday's sermon to a conclusion as well. We've gone through the introduction to it. We've seen the back story to the apostle Paul.
We read about it in Acts chapter 9. The authority of the Word of God and who he is and who he is writing to. What are the themes in this letter to the Ephesians?
The first one is this. It's a phrase that includes two words. And I will present to you this morning that these are the two most powerful words in all of Scripture. In Christ. In Christ. As he is writing to you and me, the saints, believers in Christ, those who have entrusted themselves to Jesus Christ, through faith you are in Christ.
There is a specific emphasis to this and it's twofold actually. When he says in Christ, what is he speaking of? He is speaking of our union with Christ by grace through faith. Our union with Christ.
Remember that branch grafted back into the tree? When that is true, Christ's history becomes mine. His death becomes mine. His resurrection becomes mine.
His life becomes mine. When I am in Christ, it speaks of all that I am in Christ before a holy God who now accepts me and loves me deeply in Christ. It is our identity, it is our position, our status with God that we are in Christ. Because if you are not in Christ, he remains your judge. But if you are in Christ, he is your loving, bountiful, benevolent father.
Do you get the difference? And so, in Christ is a statement that speaks of our identity. Who are you Rich? I am in Christ.
I am blessed beyond measure because I am in Christ. It's kind of like he is our element. It's not like he is our element. If I am in Christ, Christ is my element.
What do you mean by that? What is your element? Oxygen, air, right? It's not H2O.
You just drink H2O. But think about a fish. A fish's element is water.
A fish thrives in water. Now how God looks at you is he has placed you in a position where you can thrive because you are in Christ. He is your element. And he looks at you far differently than the adversary of your soul. God looks at you as your bountiful, loving creator. You are in water and you are therefore able to thrive in the water as a fish in your element. The adversary, on the other hand, looks at you like you're a fish on a plate about to consume you. But God sees you as your loving, bountiful creator who placed you in the water to thrive. You've been listening to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. To discover how to live by grace, tune in on weekdays at 10 a.m.
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