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October 8, 2023
Closing Remarks
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
Ephesians 8: 21 - 24

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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.

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Transcript

Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians 6:21-24. We’re closing our exposition of this text. Next week, we’ll wrap things up with a look at Revelation 2:1-7, which was a letter that Jesus wrote to the church at Ephesus. We’ll see how this church is doing 30 years on, but let’s wrap up our study. When you come to the end of a book, it’s kind of bittersweet. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. We have been enjoying Ephesians for months now, and we have loved it, and it’s instructed us and inspired us. It’s comforted us and challenged us, so that’s the bitter side, in a sense. We’re saying goodbye to an old friend. But the exciting side is we’re going to make some new friend here pretty soon as we’ll start a new series within some weeks here. But when I first looked at this text, I go, “What am I going to do with a greeting at the end of this book?” But you’re going to see there’s some really interesting stuff here as we dig our [inaudible 00:01:14] spade into the soil of Ephesians 6:21-24, a message I’ve called Closing Remarks.
Let’s read the text together, “But that you also may know my affairs and how I’m doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will make all things known to you, whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Amen. In a book I have in my home study on Irish humor, there’s this witty statement. “A conclusion is the place you got tired of thinking.” I like that. “A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.” Now, when we come to the conclusion of the letter to the Ephesians and Paul’s closing remarks, we need to conclude that Paul is tired of thinking, that he’s run out of material, that he’s suffering from writer’s block. In fact, he will write two more letters to the church at Ephesus.
First and Second Timothy while addressed to a singular person, Timothy, Timothy is pastoring in Ephesus and by implication, Paul’s writing to the church at Ephesus, so Paul’s not done. He’s not tired of thinking theologically on behalf of the church and writing for its edification. Paul’s not tired of thinking, but I think he understands that he’s given them plenty to think about, and it’s time to sign off and have them meditate on the gospel, to have them preach the gospel to themselves in the reading and hearing of this letter. Paul has given them plenty to think about. He has touched on the sovereign purposes and plans of God in election, Chapter 1. It all begins before the foundation of the world and God’s purpose and plan for a people. We have looked at the work of Christ in redemption and adoption. We have looked at the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit as a person. We’ve seen that we can grieve Him and hurt Him and sabotaged His work in our life. We need to be filled by Him, and we’re sealed by Him until the day of redemption.
We’ve looked at the identity of the Christian, and all that we enjoy in being in Christ and being in union with the Savior. We are redeemed, we’re adopted, we’re secured, we’re loved. Then we looked at the glory of our forever future, that God is going to show us His grace throughout the ages to come as an expression of His exceeding rich love for us. We saw the uniqueness of the church in this present dispensation. The church is distinct from Israel and the church in this age is a manifestation of the eternal wisdom of God. Then we looked at the everyday discipleship that you and I ought to express regarding our bodies in sexual purity, regarding our words, using them to edify, regarding our use of time, given the shortness of time and the fact we’re in an evil day. Paul talks about a Christian at work, a Christian in marriage. Paul talks about how we interact to the surrounding evil culture, which often is marked by spiritual warfare.
Man, Paul’s not tired of thinking, but he’s given them so much to think about, I think he wants to give them time to think, and so he brings the letter to an end. I was interested to learn that John Knox, the great Scottish reformer from my wife’s native Scotland when he was dying, it is said, and you can find this information in the flyleaf of Sermons on Ephesians by John Calvin that when he was dying, John Knox decided to do a study of the Book of Ephesians. He asked for Calvin’s commentary on Ephesians, and he read all 48 sermons. He went out of this world into the next world with the thoughts and theology of Ephesians ringing in his ears and harp. It’s a great book. Ephesians does not end abruptly because Paul’s tired. Ephesians ends appropriately because Paul is thoughtful. Paul’s conclusion, by the way, here in Verses 21 to 24 is a standard conclusion. Any Greek letter of around that time has this kind of closing to it.
Usually, you’ll have a remark or remarks concerning the courier or the carrier of the letter explaining who they are, why they have been sent. Then towards the close you have a prayer wish or a benediction, and that’s what’s going on here. Another interesting little feature is that these verses are almost identical to Colossians 4:7-8. Let me read it. “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord will tell you all the news about me. I’m sending him to you for this very purpose that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts.” Now, if you want an outline as we go through these verses quickly this morning, want to notice the aim, the associate, the aspiration and the audience, the aim. What’s the purpose of the letter? Well, you don’t have to look very far. Look at Verse 22. “I’ve sent Tychicus to you for this very purpose that you may know our affairs and that he might comfort your heart.” There’s the aim. This is why Ephesians was written to comfort them and Tychicus was sent to inform them.
Paul’s going to fill in through the sending of Tychicus and an element of the content of this letter. He’s going to fill in the gaps in their knowledge regarding his present affairs, and they’re worried about him. They’re concerned about him. You go back to Chapter 3:13, he says, “Therefore, I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulation for you, which is your glory.” Now there’s two things going on. He wants to educate them and he wants to encourage them. On the one hand, he wants them to be educated. They suffered from a form of separation anxiety and were concerned about Paul’s condition. So he wants them to have the most up-to-date information and how he’s doing both on the inside, psychologically and emotionally and on the outside, physically and circumstantially. What we see here is swapping knowledge, sharing one’s whereabouts, updating the church or believers within the church on how you’re doing is part of Christian love. It is part of Christian fellowship.
We don’t want to miss something very simple but can have a profound effect that when Paul writes his letters, an element of his letters always typically towards the end or somewhat at the beginning is to inform and educate the believers on the state of his being, where his heart’s at, where his mind’s at, where his feet are at and what he’s dealing with around him. That’s part of fellowship, just swapping information on each other. We’ll come back to that. On the other hand, he wants him to be encouraged, not just educated but encouraged. Despite imprisonment, Paul is encouraged by what’s going on as noted in Philippians 1:12-18 and Philippians 4:22, we made reference to this in the last couple of studies. Ephesians is a prison letter, so it’s Philippians and Colossians, and when Paul writes to the Philippians around this same time concerning these same circumstances, he wants them to know this has fallen out for the furtherance of the gospel.
This bad thing is a good thing when viewed from a sovereign perspective. He tells us in that letter that the gospel is penetrated. The very top level of Roman society and even some within Caesar’s house. That’s something, some within Caesar’s house have come the faith. So his point is this. He wants the good news that Tychicus brings about his affairs, working out for the advance of the kingdom of God, to be a comfort to them. Don’t feel sorry for me, take comfort in the fact that through my suffering and my faithful witness and my fidelity to the gospel, God is using my pain as a platform. God is using my trouble as a testimony. God is using my mess as a message, so I want you to be comforted by that. Added to that is the fact that Tychicus brings them the letter of Ephesians, this magisterial letter outlining and explaining the gospel and no doubt, just this being read and explained to them by Tychicus would’ve been a means of tremendous grace.
Paul’s heart is to see them strengthened. Remember Chapter 1:18 is prayer for them that, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glory and the inheritance of the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty power.” He’s asking that God’s power would strengthen them. You get it again in his second prayer, Chapter 3:16, “That he would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened.” So when we get to the end of the letter, Paul is still at this end. He wants them to be strengthened and blessed and comforted, and that’s what’s going on here. Now, let me make an application and move on.
What is a takeaway for the rest of this day and every day this week? Simple. Maintaining our connections with people and deepening our fellowship through shared knowledge and life and prayer and biblical instruction is a good thing. Are you maintaining connection? Do we know you? Are you putting yourself in the way of our church and our leadership to be known? Do we know what’s going on in your life? Can we pray for you with knowledge in your small groups, in your discipleship environments, are you maintaining a connection with people? Are you taking an interest in each other? Are you asking how a brother or sister is doing? Do you read the prayer emails and pray over them, because there’s all kinds of information being disseminated on how our sisters and brothers are doing? This is what it means to love each other. You share information and then you respond in a loving manner to that information.
Look, we want our friendships in life and in church life to be deep and meaningful. That’s not easy. It’s not easy at any time, and it’s certainly not easy today given the internet and the illusion of connection. The internet connects us, but it has produced a more disconnected culture. I remember the days when boarding a plane I used to pray, “Lord, give me the strength of I end up having to talk this whole flight, and give me an opportunity to share the gospel.” You lived in dread on a 10-hour flight of getting a talking head, right? You don’t even need to pray that prayer today ’cause as soon as someone sits down beside you, what happens? The wireless headphones are on. They’ve got their Beats or whatever, they’ve got their phone out or they’re on the internet on the airplane, and you’re lucky if you get a hello. Here we are connected but increasingly disconnected, taking less and less interest in ourselves and people around us, children locked away in their bedrooms, disconnected.
I don’t need to give any more illustrations, you get the point; the speed of life, the superficiality of society, a self-absorbed culture. If people do talk to you at all, they’ll talk to you about their favorite subject, that’s themselves. They’ll hardly take a breath telling you who they are and what they’re facing and what they’re doing, but it’s selfish. It’s self-absorbed. You know that old statement if you want to have friends, it comes about by not you being interesting, but by you taking an interest in others. Paul’s swimming in those waters, and he wants them to know how he’s doing, and he wants them to be comforted by the knowledge he’s passing on to them. It is a simple thought. Just pray that you as a member of this church would work hard at getting to a deeper level of connection with one another, that if you’re a visitor and an attender, it’s time to commend a membership and go to another deeper level of connection. If you’re not in a small group, you need to go in another deeper level of connection through information involvement, intercession and inspiration.
Let’s be engaged encouragers. It’s been well said that we live by encouragement and we die without it, slowly, sadly, angrily. We all need people in our lives to look out for us and look in on us. Everybody is a somebody longing to be cared by anybody. You remember those plaintiff words back in Psalm 142:4, “No one caress for my soul.” What a terrible place to be in life where no one cares. A lot of Americans suffer from attention deprivation, but they should find it in the church, and we should exhibit it among each other. Very simple thought. The aim, I want you to know about my affairs, and thank you for taking an interest in my affairs. Let’s grow up in love together. When I pastored Placerita Baptist Church over in Santa Clarita, we had an Awana program on a Wednesday night. Somehow invariably as I came into park, one of our deacons, Kent Richardson came into park. 50% of the time on a Wednesday night, we just bumped into each other on the way to dropping our kids off to Awana.
Kent would always, always, always ask the question, “Hey, pastor, how are you doing?” I would always, always, always answer, “Fine,” and he would always, always come back with, “What does that mean? Let’s get beyond the superficial, “Pastor. How are you really doing? Tell me how I can really pray for you.” Let’s go to the second thought, the associate. The associate. We’ve got the aim, now we’ve got the associate. Tychicus, the trusted courier. Here we have him in Verse 21. You want to know my first, and I want to let you know about my first, so I’m sending Tychicus a beloved brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. Let’s spend a little bit of time getting to know Tychicus. He’s what I call part of the supporting cast in the New Testament. He’s not a headliner like Paul, but he’s part of the supporting cast. We do this in the movies and we do it in life. As soon as the movie ends and the credits start to come up, we’re up. We’re out of there.
I don’t need to know who did the lighting or the makeup or who drove Mr. Denzel Washington to and from the movie set, but you know what? Why shouldn’t I sit there for a few minutes if I enjoyed the movie and benefited from that? Well, you know what? It wasn’t just Denzel Washington or Tom Cruise. It was a whole supporting cast that made it happen, and we tend to treat each other the way we treat movies. We tend to focus on the movie stars, the pastors, the people on stage under the spotlight, and we tend to forget, which this little passage won’t let us forget the supporting cast. Tychicus is one of the supporting caste in the New Testament. Who is he? What do we know about him? Well, interestingly, no doubt before he becomes a believer, his name means lucky or chance. I’m sure he is a little bit embarrassed by that now he had come to believe in the sovereignty of God. But anyway, he was from the province of Asia, which is today part of modern Turkey. We know that from Acts 20:4.
In fact, he was sent a couple of times to Ephesus, which might infer given the fact that Ephesus is in Asia, was he originally even from Ephesus? Could be an interesting thought. He was clearly one of Paul’s main go-to guys to get things done. You see it here in Ephesians 6:21, and you can see it over in Colossians 4:7, where Paul uses him again and calls him a fellow servant in the Lord. Paul sent him, dispatched him, used him as a courier on a number of occasions on unspecified missions to different cities and churches. I think 2 Timothy 4:12 as a reference to the fact he sends them to Ephesus again and Titus 3:12 talks about him going to Crete. So it would appear from the biblical record that this man had been with Paul for several years of his life and functioned as one of Paul’s personal representatives to the churches. Now, as a little aside, I don’t want to get into the depths of this. He was a friend, a fellow servant, a trusted associate.
I want you to see how he’s described, back to Ephesians 6. He’s described as one who’s beloved. There was an affection. There was a connection brought up by, I don’t know what, by circumstances. Affinity in Christ, just the fact that they lent on each other and benefited from each other, but these men loved each other. Remember that statement back on the friendship of David and Jonathan and the Lord knit their hearts together? I don’t know what knit their hearts together, but Tychicus and Paul love each other, appreciate each other, value each other. Notice too, he’s called a faithful minister in the Lord. If you’re going to send an important letter in those days, given the possibility of disruption or defraudment, you want to send someone you can trust. This is an important letter. Paul wants it to get to the Ephesians and he’s got a confidence it’s going to get there because Tychicus is dependable. All right? Then notice he’s willing to get up and go and disrupt his schedule and travel, which wasn’t always fun in those days.
It wasn’t like he hopped into an air-conditioned car or jumped into a really nice airplane. It was dusty and dirty and not a fun experience, but he was willing to go. So I come up with this little light line. Write it down and play with it. Tychicus was a fob friend of Paul, fob, faithful, available, beloved. If you’re a friend of someone, be a fob friend. Be someone they can count on. Be one that loves them in a Christian manner and one who is available to them. Tychicus was a good friend of Paul. I hope you have friends. I hope you have good friends. I hope you’re a good friend because life without good friends is a bad thing. Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 18:24, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, someone born for adversity.” I love the words of John Piper in his book, beautifully said.
He said this, “John Donne is usually acknowledged to be the greatest of the so-called metaphysical poets. He was 21 years older than George Herbert and a friend of Herbert’s mother. Donne’s influence on Herbert was significant and some of his most famous lines are, ‘No man as an island, entire of himself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.'” “The older I get,” says Piper, “and the more of my life on this earth is behind me rather than before me, the more I feel the truth of this. I am what I am as a thread in a fabric, a grape in a cluster, a spark in a fire, a bee in a hive, a nerve in the body, an ingredient in a recipe, a stone in a wall, a drop in the ocean.” The older Piper gets the more he realizes, “I need help. I need friends. I need to understand that I’m stitched into the fabric of society through friendship that’s fab, where I have people in my life who are faithful, available and beloved.”
Sam Rayburn was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives longer than any man in American history, and there’s a wonderful story about him that reveals the kind of man he was. The teenage daughter of a friend of his suddenly died one night. The next morning a rap came to the door, and standing there was Mr. Rayburn. The friend said, “Mr. Speaker,” to which he replied, “I just came by to see if I could help.” You can imagine the grief, the disorientation. He said, “I don’t think there’s anything you can do, Mr. Speaker, where we’re just making arrangements, where we’re lost in the middle of all of this.” To which Rayburn replied, “Well, have you had any coffee?” The guy said, “I actually haven’t, and we’ve been so distracted by this, we have actually skipped breakfast.” Rayburn said, “You know what? Let me make some coffee and put on some breakfast.” So we hung around that morning and made that family some breakfast.
Then as they were eating the breakfast, the friend said, “Mr. Speaker, I thought you were supposed to be having breakfast at the White House with the president this morning,” to which he replied, “Well, I was, but I called the president and told him I had a friend who was in trouble and I couldn’t come.” I think that’s something of where we’re at here. That’s what it means to be a fab friend, to put all things aside and go to where your friend is at that moment they’re hurting the most and be a benefit, even if it’s just the making of a cup of coffee. Now, before we leave this idea of the associate, on a little sidebar. I touched on this with the reference to the supporting cast. Tychicus is one of the unsung heroes of the Bible. If I was to do a little pop quiz at any point, you’d probably do the same on me, I’d feel also and say, “Hey, who’s some of your favorite characters in the Bible?”
You might go, “Hey, I love Abraham. I love the story of David. The story of Esther and Ruth, man, I can identify with that. I love Peter, bumbling Peter. I’m so like Peter,” and you go down the list. I’ll guarantee you, 99 out of a 100, Tychicus isn’t going to be on our list. When you think of your Bible, Tychicus doesn’t readily come to mind, but he’s one of the unsung heroes. He’s part of the army of the anonymous to some degree who make it happen, who are willing to work in the background, who feed into the background, who only come out of the background into the foreground just once in a while ever so briefly, and then they slip away back into the shadows. But Paul would have us know, this is a valued friend. This is a fab friend. Warren Wiersbe says this on this very passage, “As you read the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul, you can’t help but notice Paul’s dependence on his co-workers and his appreciation for them.
At least 36 different men and women are named as Paul’s fellow workers, and there are many more whose names are never included.” Let’s not be guilty of taking our fellow workers for granted. The Bible is full of quiet influencers. Just read Luke 8:1-5, and you’ll read about women who are named that help Jesus and a bunch of women who go unnamed that help Jesus. I wonder who they are. What about Romans 16:3-16 and all the names that Paul identifies there? Look, there’s off-stage and on-stage leadership, okay? There are those who are under the spotlight, those who make the headlines, those from whom we hear the most, see the most and are in danger of appreciating the most. But then there’s the off-stage leadership, those beside them or those beneath them who allow them to do what they do more effectively, who are skilled in their own right and this contribution must never be undervalued. The point of this text would be those who are on stage must never forget those who are off-stage.
Just for a brief moment, Paul wants you to know, “Hey, send Tychicus now, need to know about him. I’ve seen this for years. You’re only going to see it briefly. This is a good man. He’s fab, faithful, available, beloved, and I can’t do stuff without him or people like him.” Some years ago I read a book on Jim Tressel and his leadership of Ohio State, who by the way, are fourth in the rankings of the college football. I’ve been very quiet, but here’s in the book, he talks about the need for his players to understand that at the horseshoe within the campus of the university, there’s hundreds and hundreds of people that make Saturday possible. They’re the ones that are on ESPN or on Fox Sports. They’re the headliners. They’re the ones that the 119,000 people cheer for but make no mistake about it. They don’t get to run down the tunnel through the smoke out onto the pitch without an army of anonymous.
So Jim Tressel encourages them to stop and thank people, to try and get to know people’s names. He says that he was taught this lesson, I’ll let him speak for himself. “During my second month of college, our professor give us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I reached the last one, What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school? Surely this was some kind of a joke, I thought to myself, I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked the professor at the last question would count toward the quiz grade to which the professor replied, ‘Absolutely. In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, and if all you do is smile and say thank you, that’s a beginning.'”
Jim Tressel ends that little article by saying this, “I learned that her name was Dorothy,” and he never forgot that lesson. Who are the Dorothys and the Tychicuses in your life that are faithful and available and beloved? What about the third thought? We’ll speed up here a little bit, the aspiration. Paul had prayed for them right back in Chapter 1 and Chapter 3. Now here in Chapter 4, he prays for them again. In Verse 18, he has told them to pray for all the sins. In Verse 19-20, he has told them to pray for him. Now in Verses 23-24, he offers two prayers for them. Now this is interesting. This is a little bit more liturgical in nature. In fact, what we have here in Verses 23 and 24 is a benediction. It comes in the shape of a prayer wish for their spiritual good, peace be to the brethren, love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be on all those who love our Lord with sincerity.”
Did you notice that in Ephesians, we begin with a doxology in Chapter 1, and we end with a benediction in Chapter 6? Notice the four things he prays for, he wishes for them. As you pray for your spouse or your children, our pastors, your friends, pray this benediction on them. Desire this for them. Desire that they would enjoy sweet peace and that they would enjoy strong love and steadfast faith and sufficient grace. Just quickly, sweet peace. Verse 21, “Peace beyond the brethren.” Paul desires that this church lived a shalom of God, that they have a sense of well-being, that it’s well with their souls, and God is working all things together for good and that out of the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus, He’ll supply all their need. Paul desires that they enjoy the shalom of God. Remember, they had peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus.
That’s Ephesians 2:11-22, “And having been reconciled to God through the blood of the cross, they are to pursue peace among themselves.” You go back to Chapter 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation.” What Jesus did on the cross removed the obstacle of our sin before God, bridging the difference between a Holy God and an unholy man and bringing about a reconciliation. Now that we are reconciled to Him, we are reconciled to all those who are in him ’cause now we’re part of the family of God. We have been adopted. He’s our peace. So in Chapter 4:3, we are told to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Don’t be a disruption to the body of Christ. Don’t hold grudges. Be quick to forgive, move on. We want the church to be a peace-loving community. As a peace-loving community, we then with that kind of testimony, with that kind of lifestyle established among us, we go into the world that’s fighting with each other and we preach the gospel of peace, Chapter 6:15.
He wants that for them and we want that for ourselves. Through Christ, racial divides, social barriers, economic and ethnic disparities are nullified and people are made right with God and each other. He prays too, that they would enjoy a strong love. Paul desires that this church live the final apologetic. That’s a phrase I take from Francis Schaeffer. He talked about the final apologetic. What’s the final apologetic? “By this, all men will know that you’re my disciples,” that you’re a Five-Point Calvinist and you believe in seven dispensations, and you’ve reduced spiritual gifts down to a buck 19. No, that those things are not worth thinking about and debating over. No, “They’ll know this by your love for one another.” That’s the final apologetic. When people come on to this campus who are not believers, they should just be hit by a sense of love and acceptance and grace among us. We’ve had this weather, haven’t we, that’s been hanging over us?
As soon as you open that door, you walk outside, you just get what, hit by a wave of heat. Anybody that walks into the church, into the company of God’s people with a presence of God as known and shown should be immediately hit by the warmth of Christian love. That’s the final apologetic. So Paul prays, not surprisingly, “I pray for peace upon you, and I pray for love among you.” Back in Chapter 4:2, “With all long-suffering and gentleness, with long-suffering bearing with one another in love, we’re to bear one another in love.” We’re to speak the truth in love, Chapter 4:15. We’re to build up the body in love, Chapter 4:16. At home, husbands are to love their wives in Christ, Chapter 5:25. Interestingly, the early church writer Jerome tells us that the Apostle John who would later minister at Ephesus kept repeating a single sermon to them. “Little children, love one another. Little children, love one another.”
Number three, here’s what I want for you. Here’s my benediction. Sweet peace, strong love, steadfast faith. Faith is used some at times by Paul in this letter. At its root, it means to rest one’s whole confidence and who God is and what He has done in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s a faith, it’s a confidence attached to a person, the Lord Jesus and the gospel He represents. It’s taking God at His word. It’s singularly believing in the one faith centered on Jesus Christ. Look at Chapter 4:5, “One Lord, one, faith, one baptism.” In Chapter 2:8, we see that faith is the door into the Christian life. In Chapter 3:12, we see faith in Christ gives us confidence to go to God in prayer. We see in Chapter 4:13, faith is a vital ingredient for spiritual growth. We saw in Chapter 6:16 that faith is like a shield. It’s a wonderful weapon in the context of spiritual warfare.
Here’s what’s interesting. True faith in Christ will bear the fruit of faithfulness to Christ. Notice Chapter 1:1 how they’re described. “To the saints who are in Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus. Tychicus is called a faithful servant. May you and I as people who have put their faith in Jesus Christ be faithful, give reason for people to trust us, and what we say we’re going to do and the promises we make, they can be sure we’re going to keep. Some years ago I was in the car in Northern Ireland visiting home, and I was out with my friend, Pastor Freddie McLaughlin. We’d been out and enjoyed dinner and a laugh together and caught up and he’s driving me home to my father’s home, and it was night. It was about 9:30 at night, quarter to 10:00, it was dark. As we turned down the street to our little home and we saw a figure walking in the dark. The closer we got we noticed it was my dad.
He had come from the little Baptist church he had gone to for some 50 years. He had his Scofield Bible in hand, and he was heading home after the prayer meeting and Bible study. Freddie looked at him and he said, “Philip, your dad’s a solid man.” I said, “I don’t know if you use that phrase here, but we like it. When someone’s like you can trust them. They’re dependable, we call them solid.” “Your dad’s a solid man,” and Paul wants us to be solid saints, robust, committed, shaken, unassailable, faithful. Finally, he asks for sufficient grace, sufficient grace. Paul opens and closes the letter with the thought of grace back in Chapter 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father,” and that’s where we’re at here in Verse 24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus.” What is grace? The unmerited favor of God channeled mediated through the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is the divine energy rooted in divine affection, lapping the shores of human need in abundance. Grace is all things Christ.
You’ll notice in this letter and tied to this passage that grace is the sum and substance of God’s handling of your life from beginning to end. We tend to think about grace in relation to the initiation of salvation. For by grace are you saved, and that’s amazing, astounding. But grace doesn’t just save and justify us, Chapter 2:8-9, it keeps us, Verse 7 of Chapter 2, it makes us holy. It shows up in God’s workmanship creating us in Christ Jesus on the good works. It meets our every need. Back to Chapter 2:17, I love this verse where we read that, “In the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace.” It empowers us for service Chapter 4:7, where we’re giving grace gifts, and it’s meant to oil our relationships. We’re to not let any word proceed from our mouth, but what is good and necessary for edification and that which will impart grace to the human. The Christian lives and moves and has their being in grace. Grace is not just for the beginning of the Christian life, it precedes the Christian life. It begins the Christian life.
It underwrites the continuance of the Christian life, and it will be shown through all of eternity, beyond the Christian life on earth. I like the story of the little boy who had an accident, was taken to hospital, was made comfortable, and the caring nurse came out with a large glass of milk. These were the older days. She sat it on the cabinet there beside his bed and the little fella just looked at it and had never touched it. You see, he’d come from a poor home where his hunger had never ever been totally satisfied. If there was milk in a glass at home, it was only a half of a glass and it was to be shared with the siblings. Eventually, he looked up to the nurse and he asked her, “How deep may I drink?” To which she replied, “Drink it all. There’s more.” Isn’t that beautiful? Paul would say, “Man of God’s grace, “Drink it all. Just don’t stand inside the door of salvation, move beyond. There’s grace to live victoriously and grace to forgive and grace to excel and grace to prosper.”
Let’s get to the last thought and we’re done. The audience, you didn’t think there was as much in this little text, huh? Neither did I. I looked at it like money and go, “What am I going to do with these verses?” But once you get into the Word of God, it’s so rich. Even a gracious greeting has got so much to teach us. Verse 24, the audience, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity.” Talk about what a Christian is. Give me a definition of a Christian. Here’s one that’s as good as anyone. What’s a Christian? Who’s a Christian? Those who love our Lord Jesus. In fact, the opposite is true, isn’t it? According to 1 Corinthians 16:22, “If any man does not love the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed.” It’s a strange verse, isn’t it? See, not to love Christ is not to believe in him and not to believe in him is to be an unbeliever and cursed by God, abiding under his wrath, John 3:16-21. Now this word sincerity is interesting. “Love the Lord Jesus in sincerity.”
If you’ve got an NIV, it translates it, “Love the Lord Jesus with undying love.” If you’ve got an ESV, it translates it, “Love the Lord Jesus with an imperishable love,” and you know what? That’s a good translation. This is a word according to Leon Morris, a trusted commentator, it’s not a common word in the New Testament. It occurs only seven times all in Paul’s writings, and it’s mostly used in a sense of immortality. This is a word that’s used of our bodies being made immortal, undying, imperishable, and that’s where we’re at here. Paul writes and finishes his writing with this thought. You know what? Given God’s eternal love for you, where He chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world, and He intends to love you to such a degree that you’re going to enjoy His exceeding grace in the ages to come. Nothing diminishes or dies concerning the Lord’s love towards you and me. Amen?
Amen.
God loves us, always has and always will. Given that reality, shouldn’t we have an undying devotion to the one who has loved us eternally? That’s the challenge, and you get that sentiment, and like John, you know why I love Him? ‘Cause He first loved me. My love for Him didn’t start with me loving Him, my love for him started with Him loving me when He shouldn’t have loved me, given my sin and arrogance and ugliness, but He did, and I’m amazed at His grace. You know what? It doesn’t stop with justification and it doesn’t stop with sanctification. It goes on to glorification. Is there any other path for me to take than undying devotion to the love of God in Christ for me? So as we close, I got a question I think Paul would want me to ask you. It is our love for Jesus alive and well and growing, or is it dying? Is it flat lining? Remember what Jesus asked Peter? “Peter, do you love me?”
It’s a question you had asked us this morning. We love Him by keeping His commandments, John 14:15. We love Him by loving the church, Ephesians 5:25. We love Him by loving one another, John 13:34-35, and we love Him by loving on Him and worshiping Him. Revelation 1:5-6, “Unto Him who loved us and released us from our sins, to Him be glory.” As the time comes up, let me tell you a story I remembered this morning and added to my notes. One of my favorite books on Christ is a book by a British expositor called Peter Lewis entitled The Glory of Christ. In it he talks about he’s an Englishman and him and his wife were in a little seaside area on the west of Wales and they went to a English-speaking service there. Amidst the distinguishly-dressed Welsh parishioners, there were several English people there in their colorful anoraks and they stood out.
But he said there was one thing that stood out about that service was this distinguished pastor got up and with a seriousness and a blood earnestness, he led the worship and he preached the word, but he began to sense a rustling among the natives. It was about 40 minutes into his sermon. It was maybe a hot, sultry, sunny night, no air conditioning in a British church, and he began to sense he was losing the congregation. So as he closed the service and closed the sermon, he lent over and he said this, I’m going to read his words and go straight to prayer, but listen, let them be a challenge. “When I was a boy of about 12, I had a great hero. My hero was a local sportsman who achieved the rare distinction of playing rugby for our country.” Now, rugby in Wales is a religion. “He also played cricket for our county, so I admired this man.
I papered the walls of my bedroom with press cuttings and photographs of him and loved to talk and hear about his exploits on the field. He was my hero. Then when I was 14, I actually got to know him personally. He was a king angler and I used to go fishing with him. On those occasions, I was able to observe him from an entirely different viewpoint and got to know the man and not merely the image. At this point, the preacher paused,” says Peter Lewis. “He looked closely at the congregation, shook his head slowly from side to side. With an air of considerable authority and with empathetic tones,” he said this, “and the nearer I got, the smaller he became. In a few brief sentences, he sketched the young man’s disillusionment as he discovered the true character of the man whose public image he had so captivated him. No doubt everyone in the congregation that morning recognized the experience and sympathized with the preacher.
But attentive as we now were, we were hardly ready for what followed. Suddenly with a rising voice, with arms, outstretched voice breaking with emotion,” he said, “But God eventually led that down cast schoolboy to a new hero, and I have walked with my Jesus for 35 years. In that time, I’ve often disappointed Him, but He has never disappointed me. I have got to know Him better and the nearer I get, the bigger He becomes. My wife and I, like everyone else, left that quaint old chapel walking on air. It was so utterly true, Jesus was getting bigger and bigger for all of us, undiminished by the years, not dwarfed by any crisis, not regulated by any game, not lessened by any intimacy, always with us, always before us, always leading us on, we growing daily in admiration and gratitude, He revealing more and more of His majesty and love. We have been awed and elevated by seeing just big our Lord and Savior is.”
To all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love, Father, we thank You for our time this morning in the letter of Ephesians, in the letter of Ephesians itself. Lord, as we wrap this study up, we agree with Paul in the greatness of the Lord Jesus and in the bigness of God’s grace and the never ending manner of God’s love, that will echo out into eternity. Lord, help us to realize that apart from Jesus, everything we see and touch in this world over time will diminish. The closer we get, the smaller it will become. But regarding Him, the closer we get, the bigger He is always. So help us to grow in our love of the one who died for us. May we give Him an undying devotion for Jesus’ sake. Amen.