Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. What a joy that we can open the Bible with eagerness and expectation, knowing that we're not reading man's thoughts, but God's own self-disclosure to us. God calls us not just to know the truth, but to surrender ourselves to those truths. He does not call us only to a mental ascent of Christ's work. He calls us to dwell in Christ, to abide in Him, because that is the place in which we will prosper and grow. The gospel is transforming lives, and now Paul is writing this treatise to the church at Ephesus and churches beyond to know what is the gospel of Christ, to be founded in it, to be established in it, to know who you are as followers of Jesus.
In Christ, we are redeemed, beloved, and free. Today, let's continue our study in Ephesians. Let's listen as Pastor Rich unpacks chapter one, verses one and two. We're in the book of Ephesians now, and we studied a little bit of background to the city of Ephesus and the church at Ephesus last time. So if you would, turn with me today to Ephesians chapter one.
We're going to still be studying a little bit of background here. Paul gives us a little bit of introduction in the first couple of verses. And actually, I need to conclude last Sunday's sermon.
So I'm going to do that part of today's message as well. There's a little bit of backstory here. This is why Ernie read Acts chapter nine, because the book of Ephesians begins, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. So Acts chapter nine is the backstory to that statement right there. That's exactly what happened in Paul's life. So let's look, first of all, with regard to the book of Ephesians.
Let's look at the writer. You know, we have a tendency to open the Bible. This is a scripture. This is the word of God.
And yeah, it's a holy book. But we need to recognize and understand. Remember that what we're looking at here is a letter. This is a letter written by a man. This is a letter written from a person to specific readers. There's a generality to what he has written because he's expecting that it's going to be spread around and circulated around to numerous churches.
But nevertheless, it is a person writing a letter. And as the churches read this, they recognized the truth in it. And it was recognized as authoritative by the church for the next several centuries.
And that is why we're reading it today. And we read it today as the authoritative word of God. The word of God is inspired. It is God-breathed.
It is like the sails of the wind in the sails of a boat leading the boat along. But you see in this human personality, God speaks through human agency. So let's remember that as we are looking at this text today, it is indeed the inspired word of God for the people of God. It was a letter from a man to his readers, a man who is an apostle of Jesus Christ. So the word apostle with the writer is an apostle and that means a special messenger, apostolo.
It's what that means. A special messenger who is specifically sent forth. You get that from Acts 9, right? And we read some more about that in his letter to the church at Galatia.
We get some history behind there. So he is an apostle. In Acts 9, his name was Saul, Saul of Tarsus.
Later on, his name was changed to Paul. He is one who is sent forth as a special messenger. Remember, as the Lord was speaking to Ananias, he is a chosen vessel to represent my name and I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name. Think about that. He is a chosen vessel to represent my name.
We are going to revisit that here in a moment. But he is an apostle, so who sent him forth? Who sent him out?
Who is he representing? Not his own ideas, he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. It is very important that he says that as he begins most of his letters, an apostle of Jesus Christ. In other words, there is a specific message and there is a specific mission that this apostle has.
He is not out on his own agenda. Just as Jesus came, he did not come with his own agenda. He came to do the Father's work. So as Paul is sent out, remember when Jesus appeared to the apostles in the upper room, the disciples in the upper room, Paul was not there then obviously, but he says, as the Father has sent me, so do I send you. And here is one, Paul as Jesus appeared to him, he is now sent out as a chosen vessel to represent his name. So he has a specific message with a very specific mission, but the fact that he is specifically sent out by Jesus Christ means that what he says and what he writes carries with it a particular authority, which is why we are reading it today.
It is an authoritative word because it is indeed the word of God. Paul speaks, Paul writes as an ambassador. He is a representative of Jesus Christ and he speaks with the authority that Christ gave him as an apostle. So he is an apostle of Jesus Christ. So let's remember that now as we go through this text that we are reading words that carry authority.
What does that mean? These words are to be brought to bear upon our lives. We are called to surrender ourselves to the truths in this letter because it was written by Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Now some would say and some did accuse him of just this run of the mill standard itinerant preacher that was so common in the day. And there were many of them and they would go around from town to town preaching messages, teaching things, but they would do it for a cost, they would do it for a price. And remember last time we studied that Paul went to Corinth and he met Aquila and Priscilla and they manufactured tents to sell.
So Paul worked with them. That was his livelihood. He did not charge his hearers a fee for his preaching.
He did it free of charge because he did not want anybody to think he was just another run of the mill itinerant preacher. He is Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. By the will of God. What does that mean? That one phrase by the will of God.
It means this. This role as an apostle and his place in this role did not originate with him. This wasn't his idea to be an apostle, to spread the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.
This was not his idea. It did not originate with him. That's why we read Acts 9 this morning. What did Saul begin to do? He was a zealous Pharisee of the religious order of the Pharisees, very scholarly in the Scriptures, very zealous for Judaism, for the Old Testament Scriptures. And he saw the way of Jesus Christ. He saw it as a threat to the worship of Jehovah. And so he set out with great zeal to arrest Christians. That is said in Acts 9.
Men and women to arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem. And his reputation was spreading. He was an opponent of Jesus Christ.
He wasn't looking for him. He was an opponent of his. We have to remember that. And that's why we read in Acts 9, it becomes very clear that this role now that Paul has of communicating the gospel of grace is a role by divine appointment and carries with it the authority of God's Word. So who are the readers then? Who are the ones to whom Paul sends this letter? And he sends it at the hand of Tychicus.
Tychicus was a native of Ephesus. And he was taking with him Onesimus, the runaway slave, taking him back to Philemon. And he's writing a letter to Philemon. Philemon, Onesimus is now your brother in Christ.
Accept him as a brother. That's so undermining of the whole institution of slavery, isn't it? But this is what Paul is doing. The gospel is transforming lives and now Paul is writing this treatise to the church at Ephesus and churches beyond to know what is the gospel of Christ, to be founded in it, to be established in it, to know who you are as followers of Jesus. This is who you are. This is what God has done.
This is what it means to be Christian. So who are the readers? What does he call them? To the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus. Oh, so Paul was writing to the upper tier of the spiritual people at the church at Ephesus.
No, he was writing to the church. Saints. Saints means holy ones. Santo is the Spanish word for holy. Saints means holy ones.
Holy ones in the sense of being dedicated as being set apart. I've used the illustration before of my wife being a seamstress and she has these special scissors and they're on her desk where her sewing machine is. And she looked at me and she says, Rich, you see those scissors? You don't touch them. I use scissors for everything from cutting wire, cutting paper, cardboard, bacon.
She says, Rich, you don't touch those scissors. They are meant for cloth and cloth only. Those scissors are dedicated. They are holy in that sense. They are set apart for a specific usage. So I stay away from them unless I have a thread I need to cut off my shirt or something like that.
It's the only time I use them. 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'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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