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“Who’s the Boss?” Ephesians 6:5-9. Dec. 5, 2021; Esterhazy Baptist Church.
Call to Worship: I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1–2 (NIV)
Hymn: O Come O Come Emmanuel
Verse 1 – O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.
Chorus – Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.
Verse 2 – O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Verse 3 – O come Thou Wisdom from on high, And order all things far and nigh. To us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.
Verse 4 – O come Desire of nations bind, All peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy strife and quarrels cease, Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Today in Ephesians 6:5-9, the Apostle Paul is continuing to show us how Eph. 5: 21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” is to be applied to life; today looking at slaves and masters. While slavery is outlawed among us, we can apply principles from this passage to ourselves, especially from the perspective of work. But first, let’s consider the context of this passage.
When Paul wrote in the first century A.D., most households had slaves. Some estimates suggest there were 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire at that time, and that 1/3 of the population of Ephesus was made up of slaves! John Stott in his commentary says of slaves: They constituted the work force, and included not only domestic servants and manual labourers but educated people as well, like doctors, teachers and administrators. Slaves could be inherited or purchased, or acquired in settlement of a bad debt, and prisoners of war commonly became slaves. Slaves were considered living tools and their treatment was generally left to their masters. Yet by the 1st century A.D., ill treatment of slaves was generally frowned upon, if not because of public opinion then at least to protect the owner’s investment. Slaves could earn their freedom, be granted freedom or even inherit part of their owner’s estate and many were integral parts of the household. Unsurprising, some slaves were also Christians, part of the house churches meeting in many communities, and so Paul address them and their masters in Ephesians 6:5-9. Let’s take a closer look.
“5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Ephesians 6:5–9 (NIV).
The way Paul has written these verses should make us keenly aware of whom he wants us to focus on. Paul refers to the Lord Jesus in each of these five verses, using either: Christ (2x), the Lord (2x) or Master in heaven (1x).
Next we see that the call to obey, respect and serve well, is to be motivated by the slaves love, respect and desire to serve Jesus, rather than being based on how their master treats them. Paul is calling for those who are slaves to chose to transfer masters and complete their duties as if they are serving their Lord Jesus.
Finally, masters are also reminded to wholeheartedly serve their Lord, knowing they are being held accountable by Christ for whatever they do, because He is their Master! They are to treat their slaves as if Jesus owned them and so treat them as he expects them to be treated. Then Paul remind masters, make wise choices because the Lord is also your Master and he doesn’t show favoritism!
How can we apply this passage today? Paul words call us to check our attitude whether we work or lead. Are we acting as respectful and sincere as we would be if we were doing this for Jesus? It doesn’t matter if we are repairing equipment or making a meal, we are to consciously see ourselves as if we are doing this for Jesus himself. Employers, you are to lead your employees through Jesus, depending upon his strength and lead like Jesus, by displaying servant leadership.
When you find yourself struggling with having a Christ centred attitude in your life, review this letter to the Ephesians. Let Eph. 1:1-14 remind you of what God has done for you, and who you are NOW in Christ. Read over Eph. 4:17 – 5:21to remember how you as a Christian are to live in response to God’s love, while obeying the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Read Eph. 5:21 – 6:9 to see what it looks like in practical ways to submit to one another out of reverence to your Lord Jesus.
What if you love the Lord, but find yourself struggling with this whole concept of submitting to others, after all, you’re thinking “You don’t know my______! My situation is bad! To do what the Bible is asking me to do is impossible! You are right, I don’t know what you are going through or why the Lord has allowed you to face this right now. But I do know that He is with you and will help you do what he is asking you to do. In the Old Testament, when Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers, four times in Genesis 39 it says that people noticed a difference in Joseph because God was with him (vv. 2, 3, 21, 23). You are not alone, God is with you!
How could Paul write to slaves, and have it read for all the church to hear, that they are to obey their earthly masters with respect and fear, with the same attitude as if they were serving Christ? How could Paul look into Onesimus’ eyes and tell this runaway slave that as a Christian he needs to return to his master Philemon? Because of what Jesus did for us. Paul understood that the soul changing which takes place within us as we accept God’s gift of salvation came as a result of the most extreme act of submission possible. Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life laboring as a carpenter or stonemason. He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:3-17). Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Jesus understands humility and servanthood. The Lord Jesus, the second person of the trinity, left the glory of heaven and took on flesh and blood to play the penalty for our sins by dying in our place on the cross. Philippians 2:5–11 says: “5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5–11 (NLT).
With Philippians 2:5-11 in mind, listen to Eph. 6:5-9 once again: “5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Ephesians 6:5–9 (NIV).
Who’s the boss? This passage calls us to evaluate what matters most to us. Is it how we are treated or is it how I respond to things because Christ Jesus is my master? Does Jesus matter most? In Mark 8:36 Jesus asked “36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Mark 8:36 (NLT). Jesus gave himself for you, because he loves you and wants you to spend eternity with him, starting right now! Let’s not let what the world thinks is important distract us from what God says is really important, and live our lives in ways that bring honour to him!
Closing song: Make me a servant
Make me a servant humble and meek, Lord let me lift up those who are weak. And may the prayer of my heart always be, Make me a servant, make me a servant, Make me a servant today.
Benediction: “5 May kindness and peace be yours from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Jesus was the first to conquer death, and he is the ruler of all earthly kings. Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins. He lets us rule as kings and serve God his Father as priests. To him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6 CEV).
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Relationships between parents and children in the Christian home.
Ephesians 6.1-4. Nov. 28, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church.
Call to Worship: Psalm 90:12, 14, 16–17 “12 Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” “14 Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” “16 Let your work be seen by your servants, and your splendor by their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands— establish the work of our hands!” (CSB).
Hymn: Ancient Words
Verse 1 – Holy words long preserved for our walk in this world, they resound with God’s own heart, O let the ancient words impart.
Verse 2 – Words of life words of hope give us strength help us cope, in this world where’er we roam ancient words will guide us home.
Chorus – Ancient words ever true changing me changing you, we have come with open hearts, O let the ancient words impart.
Verse 3 – Holy words of our faith, handed down to this age. Came to us through sacrifice, O heed the faithful words of Christ.
Ending – We have come with open hearts, O let the ancient words impart, O let the ancient words impart.
We are nearing the end of our look at the Apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in and around Ephesus, as we start in Ephesians chapter six. This letter encourages both Jewish and Gentile Christians to be thankful for the overwhelming redemptive love of God. Our thankfulness can be expresses in praise & song, but Paul wants us to especially focus on Holy Spirit guided living. Being saved from the emptiness of sin and the certainty of judgment to forgiveness and adoption into God’s own family must generate a willful change in our behaviour. In chapter 5:1-2, Paul sets the tone for how we are to treat one another, especially within the family. Here are verses 1-2 from the Message translation: “1 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1–2 (The Message).
Christ’s selfless, sacrificial, extravagant love is the example of how Christians are to relate to each other, our spouses and as we shall see today, in the relationship between parents and children.
Ephesians 6:1–4. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)
It’s difficult for us to imagine how impactful Paul’s instructions would have been as Christians began to practice them. First century, Roman fathers had full authority, over their family, including children, for the lifetime of the father! He could sell them as slaves, make them work in his fields in chains, even apply the death penalty if the child was sickly, the wrong gender, or disobedient. William Barclay says: It was against this situation that Paul wrote his advice to children and parents. If ever we are asked what good Christianity has done to the world, we need but point to the change effected in the status of women and of children.
While it’s tempting to conclude we’ve got no problems within our families compared to the first century Romans, we do see the results of broken families all around us in the lives of young and old. The Lord’s words, spoken through Paul, continue to speak needed wisdom and healing we need to take heed of today to build healthy relationships between parents and children.
- The relationship of children to their parents (Eph. 6:1-3).
Paul gives us three reasons children are to obey their parents in the Christian home: Natural law, God’s revealed law, and the Gospel.
1- Natural Law: Children, obey your parents… Eph. 6:1a (NIV)
First Paul appeals to what some call a natural law. This “law” is something which is expected of children, by their parents around the world. It has been written on our hearts by God and is a universal standard of behavior in every society.
2- God’s Revealed Law: “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph. 6:2-3 (NIV)
Next Paul quotes from the fifth of the Ten Commandments God gave to the Israelites after he led them out of slavery in Egypt and promised to take them as his own people if they would follow his law. John Stott in his commentary makes this enlightening observation: …many Christians have divided the decalogue into two uneven halves, the first four commandments specifying our duty to God and the remaining six our duty to our neighbour. But the Jews regularly taught that each of the law’s two tablets contains five commandments. The significance of this arrangement is that it brings the honouring of our parents into our duty to God. And this is surely right. For at least during our childhood they represent God to us and mediate to us both his authority and his love. We are to ‘honour’ them, that is, acknowledge their God-given authority, and so give them not only our obedience, but our love and respect as well. It is because parental authority is divinely delegated authority that respectful obedience to parents was invested with such great importance in the life of God’s covenant people. Moses was commanded to say to Israel: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father … I am the Lord your God.’ (Lev. 19:1-3) 
3- The Gospel: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Eph. 6:1 (NIV)
In this letter to the Ephesians, when Paul says “the Lord” he is referring to the Lord Jesus. Paul is saying that as believers in Jesus, we are to obey and honour our parents because of our own relationship with the Lord Jesus. Jesus in Matthew 15:3-9 was critical of what the Pharisees taught was acceptable behavior: “5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 6 In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.” Matthew 15:5–6 (NLT). This clearly shows Jesus’ expectation that even as adults we would honour our parents through being aware of their needs and assisting where possible. Next, Paul turns his attention to:
- The relationship of parents to their children (Eph. 6:1, 4).
“1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1 (NIV).
We have already seen that verse 1 in speaking to children, but it also shows us that parents are to be guiding and setting expectations for their children’s behaviour. It should go without says, but parents; you are to be involved in their children’s upbringing! Tony Merida in his commentary “Exalting Jesus in Ephesus” tells this thought provoking story:
I will never forget a story my friend Dr. Chuck Quarles shared at a pastors’ conference a few years ago while expounding Colossians 3:18–21. A well-known biblical scholar invited Dr. Quarles to lunch one time. Dr. Quarles told this scholar he was extremely inspired by his productivity as a thinker and writer, and he went on to ask, “I’m amazed by your work. How did you manage to be so prolific?”
This theological heavyweight mumbled under his breath, “I sacrificed my son.”
“I was stunned by his words,” Dr. Quarles said. He thought he misunderstood him, so he asked again, “What did you say?”
The scholar replied (almost angrily), “You heard me! I said I sacrificed my son!”
Dr. Quarles said this scholar added that he had been so driven to research, write, publish, and make a name for himself in the academic world that he neglected his family. His son essentially grew up as a stranger to his father. Now, as an adult, his son was a homeless man, sleeping on the streets.
Dr. Quarles tried to comfort him: “I’m sure that’s not your fault.” Even more angrily the scholar replied, “Don’t you try to console me.… Yes, I did that! Even though people seem to be amazed by my productivity as a scholar, the fact is, I would give up every one of those books and far, far more just to have my son back!” Then this prolific writer looked across the table, straight into the eyes of Dr. Quarles, and said, “Just in case you want to walk in my footsteps, know that I pray to God you won’t.”
This conversation echoed in Dr. Quarles’s mind for the next few weeks. He was so haunted by it that he began to take a close look at his own life as a husband and father. Dr. Quarles said, “I was blowing it.” That conversation led him to consider his own priorities and adjust his lifestyle. It ultimately led him to make a change in ministry roles and a change in a place of ministry. Dr. Quarles said, “I have never once regretted that radical change.”
That story had a powerful effect on my life as well. It still does. Now, obviously, kids can grow up in great homes and turn out rebellious. I understand that. The point is, parents must seek to love, nurture, and disciple their children.
As we have seen, that children are to obey their parents presupposes a parent’s authority over their child. John Stott says: Yet when Paul outlines how parents should behave towards their children, it is not the exercise, but the restraint, of their authority which he urges upon them. The picture he paints of fathers as self-controlled, gentle, patient educators of their children is in stark contrast to the norm of his own day.
Verse 4 addresses fathers, for they were the finally authority in the home. The word he uses here can include mothers, but Paul could have stayed with the same word he used in verse 1 if this was his main focus. He seems to especially want to get the father’s attention; telling them first, what not to do, and then what they are to do instead. Some speculate that Paul is drawing from the experience of his own upbring.
“4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6: 4 (NIV).
Paul is urging Fathers not to misuse their authority. Do not disciple in anger or frustration. Dr Lloyd-Jones says: “When you are disciplining a child, you should have first controlled yourself … What right have you to say to your child that he needs discipline when you obviously need it yourself? Self-control, the control of temper, is an essential prerequisite in the control of others.” 
Let’s remind ourselves that this section on family life is an application of Ephesians 5:15-21, which calls us to be wise, filled with the Holy Spirit and willing to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Parents, your ability to handle the challenges which come from raising your children will come as you daily submit to Christ and are filled and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Paul next encourages fathers to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV). The word we translate with the phrase “bring them up” literally means to nourish and has the idea of cherishing. The Amplified Bible says: “Bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The word translated “training” does include discipline and correction, which we all need to learn. Instruction of the Lord refers to verbal instruction in the Lord, but remember, your children are learning the most by watching how you apply what you teach them!
Let me close with some further thoughts from Tony Merida’s commentary: When you speak to your children’s hearts about the Savior, remember to teach them the biblical story line, not just biblical stories. Show them the hero of the Bible. In her amazing book The Jesus Story Book Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones writes,
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you will soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times, they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is—it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. (Lloyd-Jones, Jesus, 14–17)
A Word of Hope
Finally, in your communication and education you may feel insufficient. You are right. Parenting makes you desperate for God’s help. Some days I think success equals keeping my children out of prison; on other days I think success is keeping myself out of prison!
But we take great comfort in Titus 2. Paul says the grace of God instructs us for godliness (Titus 2:12). While parents have this responsibility to train their children, God in His grace is working in their lives. Look to God for grace and strength. The psalmist reminds us of our desperate need: Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. (Ps 127:1) 
This week as I was looking for an illustration on trusting God, for my service at Sumner Place, I came across the following story. I’ll read it for you then make some final comments. It is called: He grows men, not peaches.
A young man who was trying to establish himself as a peach grower had worked hard and invested all his money in a peach orchard. It blossomed wonderfully but then came a killing frost. He didn’t go to church the next Sunday, nor the next, nor the next, nor the next. His minister went to see him to discover the reason. The young fellow exclaimed, “I’m not coming any more. Do you think I can worship a God who cares for me so little that He would let a frost kill all my peaches?” The old minister looked at him a few moments in silence, then said kindly, “God loves you better than He does your peaches. He knows that while peaches do better without frosts, it is impossible to grow the best men without frosts. His object is to grow men, not peaches.”
We are sometimes so concerned about our material possessions that we fail to realize that setting our hearts upon them can stunt our spiritual development. God often has to open our eyes to life’s real values by taking from us its lesser ones.
Mom’s & Dad’s, sometimes it is your kids are the cause of frosts in your life. Put your full weight on the Lord to get you through, to learn what God has for you to learn from this as he develops you, and to teach your children the lessons they are to learn from the frost. And always ask God to open your eyes to what has real, lasting value treasure that!
Hymn: #535 – A Christian Home
Verse 1 – O give us homes built firm upon the Savior, Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide; Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor and gives his heart to Christ the Crucified: How sweet to know that though his footsteps waver
his faithful Lord is walking by his side.
Verse 2 – O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers, who always place their hope and trust in Him; Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers, whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim; A home where each finds joy in serving others, and love still shines tho’ days be dark and grim.
Verse 3 – O Lord our God our homes are Thine forever, We trust to Thee their problems toil and care; Their bonds of love no enemy can sever if Thou art always Lord and Master there: Be Thou the center of our least endeavor, be Thou our guest our hearts and homes to share.
Benediction: “24 And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen.” (Jude 24-25 NLT).
 Illustrations of Bible Truths. #142 He grows men, not peaches – pg. 47. ©1995 by AMG International Inc.
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Ephesians 5.21-33. A Christ centred marriage.
November 21, 2021, Esterhazy Baptist Church
Call to worship: “1 How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord, to sing in your honour, O Most High God, 2 to proclaim your constant love every morning and your faithfulness every night,” “4 Your mighty deeds, O Lord, make me glad; because of what you have done, I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:1–2, 4 (GNB)
Hymn: #1 “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee” (vv. 1, 3)
Verse 1 – Joyful joyful we adore Thee, God of glory Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.
Verse 2 – All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays. Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise. Field and forest vale and mountain, Flowery meadow flashing sea. Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Verse 3 – Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing ever blest. Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest. Thou our Father Christ our Brother, All who live in love are Thine. Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.
We are continuing our study of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. As we have seen, the first half of this letter celebrates God’s plan to save and restore people who respond to him. In the second half of this letter, Paul outlines what our response should be to our Saviour’s love. In Chapter 5 we are called first, to walk in love (v. 2), meaning to love as Christ loved us. Second, we are to walk in the light (v. 8) – lives of goodness, righteousness & truth which pleases the Lord. Finally, we are called to walk in wisdom (v. 15) by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our interactions with one another. What follows in Eph. 5:21- 6:9 is Paul showing how this is practically applied in the setting of the Christian home.
Let’s be honest, several of these verses are more popular with some of us than with others of us. Recently a lady from our congregation jokingly asked if I would skip Ephesians 5:22-24, which begins with: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” I said I would consider it if the price was right, and then wondered if I should take the highest bid between the men and the women. In the end I decided we all needed to reflect on what is meant by a Christ centred marriage.
Husbands, before you get too excited and start nudging your wife or casting a “now are you finally going to fall into line?” glance towards her, consider this. If your wife is struggling with submitting to your headship it may be due to the kind of leadership or lack of it you are giving her!
The theme of the Pastor and Spouse’s conference we attended this year was: “It all starts at Home: The minister’s marriage”. We were reminded that the health of our marriage is not only important to us as a couple, but also impacts both our church and community – we can be either a good or bad example of marriage. Christians, I believe this applies to all of our marriages, as Paul explains; the marriage relationship is a picture of Christ’s relationship with his church.
So, what’s our problem with Eph. 5:22-24? The main issue is that it says one party is to submit to another, and we don’t like submitting to any authority! Also, some men have used this passage to dominate their wives. Let me ask, why isn’t Eph. 5:21 an equal or even larger concern for all of us? It says we are to submit to one another! “21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 (NIV). Notice Eph. 5:21-33 begins by telling us that the motive for our submitting is to be out of reverence / awe for Christ.
The word submit in the Greek has origins in the military and means “to order oneself under a leader.” This is not one party taking full control over another. In Ephesians 5:21 it means voluntary subordination of the wife to her husband, and it comes from being filled and guided by the Holy Spirit of God. Our example is the Lord Jesus who willing humbled himself by becoming one of us and dying in our place out of love for us (Phil. 2:1-11). It is because of all that Jesus has done for us that we are to submit to one another. The verses which follow verse 21, show how we are to apply this principle in specific, practical ways in the relationships within our homes. As we look at these verses we must remind ourselves that we can only do this through our submission to Christ Jesus and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, otherwise our selfish nature will rebel and reject such self-sacrifice.
I. The wife’s role in a Christ centred marriage (Eph 5:22-24).
“22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22–24 (NIV).
Why does the wife need to submit to her husband? Is this coming from a cultural bias that can be let go of like head coverings and keeping silent in the church or is it a foundational principle we are to continue obey? In other passages (1 Cor. 11:3-12; 1 Tim. 2:11-13) Paul shows the headship of the husband is based on the order of creation. Adam was made first and then Eve. God gave Adam the responsibility of leading, to take the initiative, and to be the provider and protector of his family. Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh was to help him, and together they would steward this world.
Why didn’t God create Adam & Eve at the same time? One thought that came to my mind is that Adam needed to be convinced by his own experience that he needed a partner! This experienced also helped him to see Eve as a blessing to him from his loving God, yet she was not different from him in essence because she was literally made from his rib. From that time forward, every human has come from a woman, showing our need for each other.
Why didn’t God create Adam & Eve at the same time? The Biblical answer goes back to God’s pre-creation plan to send us a redeemer (Eph. 1:4-6), Christ, to be the second Adam who would right this sin torn world and redeem us to himself.
Bible scholar John Stott in his commentary on Ephesians in regards to this passage, says of Paul: Although he grounds the fact of the husband’s headship in creation, he defines it in relation to the headship of Christ the redeemer: for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour (verse 23). Now Christ’s headship of his church has already been described in Eph. 4:15–16. It is from Christ as head that the body derives its health and grows into maturity. His headship expresses care rather than control, responsibility rather than rule. This truth is endorsed by the surprising addition of the words and is himself its Saviour. The head of the body is the saviour of the body; the characteristic of his headship is not so much lordship as saviourhood.
The church submits to Christ, the one who reached out to us in love while we were dead in sin and gave himself up for us (Eph. 2:1, 4-5; 5:2). That Paul calls wives to respond to their husbands in this way, and then goes on to call husband to love their wives as Christ loved the church is staggering even in our time. One can hardly imagine the impact this type of relationship would have had in the first century where women had little to no rights as a person! Let’s look at the rest picture of a Christ centred marriage and notice there are nine verses devoted to the role of the husband (three times that for the wife’s!):
II. The husband’s role in a Christ centred marriage (Eph. 5:25-33).
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25–33 (NIV).
Spirit filled husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This involves:
1. Sacrificial love (5:25)
Christ Jesus endured the cross for his bride, the church. Sacrificial love includes modeling service (foot-washing love) which means dying to self, our schedules and ambitions for the sake of love for your bride. Men, we can’t do this without submitting first to Christ Jesus, who loved us and gave himself for us while we were still at our worst.
2. Sanctifying love (5:26-27)
As husbands, we cannot atone for sins or cleanse anyone, but we can help our wives grow in her likeness to Christ. We are to be concerned for our wife’s spiritual well-being, care for her soul and Shepherd her faithfully as we are Shepherded by Jesus.
3. Satisfying love (5:28-31)
Husbands, you are to provide, nourish, and care for your wives just as you care for your own bodies – really, that what God’s Word says! You both have become one flesh, seek to satisfy your wife’s needs as you satisfy your own.
Wayne Grudem, world-renowned theologian, was on faculty at Trinity University for 20 years. He served with scholars like D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo. They were the “Seal Team Six of Professors.” But his wife suffered from fibromyalgia, a disease that causes pain to many muscle groups and for which there is no known cure. She had a difficult time walking up stairs and doing household work. They had prayed and tried everything, but there was no relief. Her pain was aggravated by cold weather and humidity. Chicago was not the most ideal place for her to live.
Some friends invited the Grudems to Mesa, Arizona, for vacation, and they learned that the warm dry climate was wonderfully helpful. They made a few trips and even rode bikes together there for first time in 12 years. Dr. Grudem told his bride, “I would like to move here, but there are no seminaries.” A few days later they were flipping through the Yellow Pages and found Phoenix Seminary. Dr. Grudem called and asked if the school had any openings. The school was interested.
After much prayer and thought, Dr. Grudem began pondering the implications of Ephesians 5:28, that you should love your wife as you do your own body. He said, “If I were suffering like Margret, would I not want to move for the sake of my health?” The obvious answer was yes. But his bride did not want to move because she knew her husband had an influential role at a large, respected institution. So there they were. He wanted to move for her sake; she wanted to stay for his sake.
Finally, when Phoenix told him that they would give him a reduced teaching load with more time to write, Mrs. Grudem thought this was a wonderful incentive; the two began processing a possible move. Eventually she told her husband, “I’m going to trust you to make the decision.” In the end she followed the loving leadership of her husband, who made a great sacrifice in order to nourish and care for his bride (Grudem, “Upon Leaving”).
Husband, love your wife as your own body, even if it means sacrificing your career dreams. Nourish her. Cherish her. God ordained marriage. Christ set the pattern for marriage. The Spirit empowers marriage.
Husbands, God wants you let Him help you lead your family. You’ve been assigned the role of quarterback, but you can’t and shouldn’t try to do this all by yourself, you are a team, work with your wife as a team. Plan as a team, pray, worship and serve God as a team. Remember, God is holding us accountable for how we treat one another in our marriage! To have a Christ centred marriage is not something I can do without submitting myself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and by walking in the strength of His Holy Spirit. Go Team!
Hymn: #390 “May the mind of Christ my Saviour” (vv. 1, 2, 4)
May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day. By His love and power controlling all I do and say.
May the word of God enrich me with His truth from hour to hour. So that all may see I triumph only through His power.
May the love of Jesus fill me, As the waters fill the sea. Him exalting self abasing, This is victory.
Benediction: (May you) grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
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Call to worship: “8 Lord God Almighty, none is as mighty as you; in all things you are faithful, O Lord.” “15 How happy are the people who worship you with songs, who live in the light of your kindness!” Psalm 89:8, 15 (GNB).
Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul while in a Roman prison to Christians in and around Ephesus. Listen to Eugene Peterson’s introduction to this letter:
As we continue our look at Ephesians, today in chapter 5:1-20, Paul reminds us of what we know about God as his adopted children and our part in God’s “long-range plan” to bring everything together in Christ Jesus. It doing so, he calls us to live lives which reflect our new ‘parentage,’ not our old one. Listen to Eph. 4:31-5:1 from the Amplified Bible (AMP): 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence]. 32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave [a]you. 5:1 Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father] (AMP)
1. Walk in love (Eph. 5:2-7).
A. By: Following Christ Jesus’ example of love (v. 2)
2 and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. (AMP)
We are to imitate God by following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love – he loved us, and gave himself for us. Yes, we are to love God, but we are also to show this Christ-like love to others, seeking their best, not just what benefits us. Read this verse over again in the Amplified Version – this is NOT easy; we cannot do this without submitting ourselves to God and allowing his Holy Spirit to love others through us.
B. By: Rejecting sin and its focus on self (vv. 3-7).
3 But sexual immorality and all [moral] impurity [indecent, offensive behavior] or greed must not even be hinted at among you, as is proper among saints [for as believers our way of life, whether in public or in private, reflects the validity of our faith]. 4 Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God]. 5 For be sure of this: no immoral, impure, or greedy person—for that one is [in effect] an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God [for such a person places a higher value on something other than God]. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments [that encourage you to sin], for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience [those who habitually sin]. 7 So do not participate or even associate with them [in the rebelliousness of sin]. (AMP)
The sins Paul list focus on pleasing the self, which is opposite to the selfless love of Christ we are to reflect. They are contrary to who we are as children of God and some of the very reasons for God’s coming judgment – therefore we are to have nothing to do with them! Examine your heart before God for these things (vv. 3-4), work to rid yourself of them and put on Jesus Christ. Fill your mind with thoughts, words and actions which put the needs of others before yourself (Eph. 5:2; Phil. 2:3-8).
2. Walk in the light (Eph. 5:8-14).
A. By: Behaving towards others as Jesus would (vv. 8-10).
8 For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light] 9 (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [and letting your lifestyles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him—your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation]. (AMP)
We are again reminded of what we were and where we are now because of God’s life changing grace. We were darkness, now we are light in the Lord. Notice, we didn’t just live in darkness, but because of sin, darkness lived in us – we were darkness! Paul reminds his readers, as you received Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, you are light in the Lord, and therefore we are to live like Jesus. Walking as children of light means reflecting Jesus’ goodness, righteousness and truth to others through how you live – and this is done by being in moment by moment dependence on Jesus!
B. By: Living Christ lit lives, which show the fullness of Christ and the emptiness of sin (vv. 11-14).
11 Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; 12 for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for [a]it is light that makes everything visible. 14 For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.” (AMP)
Christian, if you are trying to live a Jesus led life by walking in his light, people around you will notice that something is different about you, and will try to figure out why. They may even tease you for your “boring weekends” because you are not filling your life with the things that captivate theirs. Their spirit is dulled, and needs to be awakened from the stupor of sin. However, some whom the Holy Spirit is awaking, will notice your life seems freer, happier, and in the end much less complicated than theirs and wonder why? When the question arises, the Holy Spirit is showing you he is working in their heart, tell them how God brought you out of darkness and into the light of his goodness! This leads to our next point:
3. Walk in wisdom (Eph. 5:15-20).
A. By: Making full use of the time God has given you (vv. 15-16).
15 Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], 16 [b]making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. (AMP)
Wise living is demonstrated by making full use of the opportunities given to us to do good. This is because we know an opportunity to represent Jesus may not be present for long, so we take them when they come – this is what Jesus did (I see my Father at work, and I join him, Jn. 5:17, 19-20). Walk in wisdom by making the most of every opportunity the Lord gives you. Also, walk in wisdom…
B. By: Replacing the world’s ‘wisdom’ with the Lord’s Wisdom (vv. 17-20).
17 Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him. 19 [c]Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, [offering praise by] singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (AMP).
What passes for wisdom in this sinful world rejects the authority of God and focuses on what brings comforts to ones’ self. Paul urges these young believers to resist the temptation to fall under the influence of the spirit of alcohol and instead to give themselves to the life changing control of the Holy Spirit – this is careful, wise living! The Holy Spirit controlling ones’ life is seen through the changed attitude of someone who has learned to praise God, encourage others and be thankful in all circumstances.
If what we know and believe about God has truly taken root in our hearts, then it must impact how we live and interact with our world – this is the nature of God’s truth! As Children of the God who loved us so dearly as to give himself for us, we are to live lives worthy of the calling we have received by imitating him! Walk in love as God is love! This world is a dark place because of sin; Walk in God’s light making the use of every opportunity to represent Him! Don’t dabble with the world’s wisdom, Walk in God’s wisdom and be guided by his Spirit!
Benediction: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;” (Numbers 6:24-25 NIV). Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.
 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Eph). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
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Call to Worship:“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5–7 (CSB).
Hymn: #220 He lives
Verse 1 – Iserve a risen Savior He’s in the world today I know that He is living Whatever men may say I see His hand of mercy I hear His voice of cheer And just the time I need Him He’s always near
We are continuing in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. As we have seen, Ephesians chapters 1-3 describe the incredible plan of God’s grace. It leaves no one out of the offer of forgiveness, eternal life, spiritual blessings and adoption into God’s family. Ephesians chapter 4 begins to explain how we should respond to God’s amazing grace.
Ephesians 4:17-32 builds on what Paul has urged us to do at the start of this chapter: 4:1 “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.” In this verse Paul identified himself as a prisoner for the Lord. Clearly, he sees self sacrifice as being worthy of our calling! In today’s passage, a life worthy of the calling Christ Jesus has given us involves a discarding of behavior resulting from our sinful past and choosing behavior reflecting our new nature.
In Ephesians 2 we see that God has given Gentiles the same opportunity to receive Christ Jesus’ grace and forgiveness as the Jews and that the two groups have become one, his body. Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to become Christians, however in chapter 4:17-32 Paul reminds his Gentile readers that this does not mean they can continue to live as they once did.
Ephesians 4:17-19 shows the downward spiral of sin that causes alienation from God. It may begin in secret but it leads to ever decreasing sensitivity to sin and concern for who else it may hurt. The good news is that anyone who responds to God’s whisper of redeeming love can leave this life of sin behind.
This is what Paul reminds them of in vv. 20-24. When they met Christ and the truth of Jesus’ love for them, they were taught “to put off your old self.” This is describing what we were (vv. 17-19), the old garment we have discarded. “Put on the new self, created to be like Godin true righteousness and holiness.” Tony Merida in his commentary notes that in this phrase we hear echoes of Genesis 1:26:“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ ” He says: “God made humanity in His image, but sin entered the world at the fall. Now, through Christ, we are re-created into His image. When we put on Christ, we put on a new person.” Paul is saying, since this is what has happened to us, apply it, put away sin practically, daily, and continually!
In verses 25-32 Paul shows us the power to change comes from God, and that we are to live out our new identity in Christ. Notice these exhortations are relational and our relationship with Christ should change the way we live in community. Paul wants us to see our sin affects others negatively, just as our righteousness will bless others positively.
1. Replace lying with truth-telling (4:25).
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)
We are to stop pretending to be what we are not, beginning with honesty in our speech. Beginning with “therefore” Paul now gives examples of how our new self, created to be like God is to interact within the body of Christ. “…each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor.” The phrase “Speak truthfully to your neighbor” is from Zechariah 8:16. Paul adds to the prophet’s command that we are to do this because now “we are all members of one body” God’s family, the Church. Our choices impact the body we now belong to – Christ’s body! In our physical body if our senses are sending incorrect information to the brain, we say we are sick. False or misleading words hurt the whole body; truth strengthens unity, therefore we are to speak truth.
2. Replace unrighteous anger with righteous anger (4:26-27).
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
Our emotional life is also to be submitted to God and ruled by the Spirit of God. Unrighteous anger is self-defensive, out of control and leads to a host of other sins. Righteous anger is a holy anger directed against sin. Paul lists three things necessary to guard that our anger holy: 1) Do not sin, guard your motives, we are defending an offense against God, not ourselves. 2) Resolve the problem quickly, not letting it fester or bitterness will grow. 3) Seek forgiveness and reconciliation quickly for Satan uses anger as an opportunity to sow divisiveness which damages unity within the body of Christ. As William Barclay says: the longer we postpone mending a quarrel, the less likely we are ever to mend it.
3. Replace stealing with working and giving (4:28).
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)
Our new life in Christ is also to be practical and includes our behaviour. Two of the Ten Commandments are designed to maintain community and call for the respect of private property. Stealing was rampant and Paul tells Christians to resist this temptation and replace it with the satisfaction of doing some useful work. Notice too that Paul redirects the purpose of work from simply focusing on self-interest and reminds them that now they will be able to share with those who genuinely need assistance; this nurtures community as we look out for one another.
4. Replace corrupt talk with edifying talk (4:29-30).
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV)
The word translated “unwholesome” in the Greek means: “rotten, worn out, unfit for use, worthless, bad.” Why would we use such useless words in our conversations? Jesus in Matthew 12:34-37 tells us that the words which come out of our mouth reflect the condition of our heart and that we are accountable for those words! 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34–37 (NIV)
Do not take what comes out of your mouth lightly, it is telling you about your heart, your true nature. Evaluate your speech, what you focus on and enjoy discussing, not so you can “fake it” when you are among other Christians, but to ask the Lord to help you surrender to him and fix it. Rather than unwholesome talk, we are to speak helpful words which benefit those we speak to – isn’t that what Jesus would do, and we are his body.
We are also reminded that unwholesome words grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whom remember, dwells within the Temple/body of Christ and identifies us as God’s own! The Holy Spirit is a person, whom we hurt when we use words to tear down rather than build up. This reminder alone should call us to carefully appraise what’s going on in our heart when unwholesome speech is coming out of our mouths!
5. Replace bitterness & rage with kindness & forgiveness (4:31-32).
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
Verse 31 describes behavior and actions that divide and fragment the body of Christ. The Amplified Bible says: 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence].
What is the antidote to such natural tendencies which spring out of our old nature? It is to remember the love and grace extended to us as God in Christ forgave us prodigals (Matthew 6:12, 14-15; 18:21-35) and respond with kindness and compassion to others.
32 Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you. (Amplified Bible)
The Apostle Paul began chapter 4 by calling us to live a life worthy of God’s calling, including our determined effort to guard the unity of the body of Christ. Remember Ephesians chapter 4 and remind yourself: “This is my responsibility as a member of Christ’s body!” For our own good and for the good of the body of Christ we are to examine our hearts before God and remove those things which damage unity and replace them with things which reflect God’s presence within us AND build up the body of Christ! Then we will live lives worthy of the calling we have received from God.
Hymn: #387 O to be like Thee
Benediction:“11b Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” “14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11b, 14 (NLT)
 Merida, T. (2014). Exalting jesus in ephesians (Eph 4:22–24). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 157). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.
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Ephesians 4.1-16 – Together, we grow.
Oct. 17, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church
Call to Worship: Jesus said, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not forbid them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mark 10:14; Matthew 18:3 Amplified Bible
Hymn: #213 Because He Lives
Verse 1 – God sent His Son they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive. He bled and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
Chorus – Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.
Verse 2 – How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.
Verse 3 – And then one day I’ll cross that river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain. And then as death gives way to vict’ry, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.
Today in our series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are beginning chapter 4. Chapter 4 transitions from teaching about what God has done, to applying these truths to our situations.
In chapters 1 -3 Paul marvels at God’s incredible plan to offer redemption, forgiveness and adoption into his family to both Jews and Gentiles through the shed blood of Jesus Messiah. Chapter 3 ends with Paul praying that God having rooted us in Christ’s love through faith would allow us to begin to grasp the breadth of his love for us and his incredible power at work within us.
In the remaining 3 chapters Paul will apply these truths to our daily lives. Here is Eph. 4:1-16 from the NIV: “1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:1–16 (NIV).
Paul begins in chapter 4:1-16 by calling us to grow together in unity, starting with the Unity of the body of Christ (vv. 1-6), first with an appeal to unity (vv. 1-3).
I. The unity of the body of Christ (4:1-6)
A. The Appeal for unity (4:1-3)
“1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1–3 (NIV).
At first glance we may not see it, but these verses are full of God’s “turn your world upside down ideas!”
Paul begins by first appealing to us as “a prisoner for the Lord”? Why would he choose this title instead of using his authority, for e.g.: “As an Apostle of the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of your calling…” I don’t think he wants our sympathy; rather it is to remind his readers of how invested he is in his calling – which is to include the Gentiles in God’s salvation plan! It’s a way of reminding us that God’s salvation plan is so important it is worth staking one’s future on – Paul has, what about us, are we willing to?
Paul then, as a prisoner for Christ, establishes his right to challenge us to evaluate our own commitment to God. How does one respond to God’s incredible love and grace which not only saved us from eternal judgment, but welcomes us into his eternal home as sons and daughters? Should I pledge to become a missionary or will my estate to the church when I die? Both of these are fine if that’s what the Lord calls you to do, however that’s not what Paul asks of his Jewish & Gentile readers.
In verses 2 & 3 Paul begins with our heart, calling us to display the fruit of the Holy Spirit within, in our relationships with each other for the purpose of Christian unity. We read these verses and think, ok, standard Christian directives, what’s next? Paul’s readers would have been staggered by this! It would have caused enormous reflection and discussion. William Barclay says: humility… is actually a word which the Christian faith coined. In Greek there is no word for humility which has not some suggestion of meanness attaching to it. …before Christianity, humility was not counted as a virtue at all. The ancient world looked on humility as a thing to be despised.
…In the days before Jesus humility was looked on as a cowering, cringing, servile, ignoble quality; and yet Christianity sets it in the very forefront of the virtues. …what does it involve?
(a) Christian humility comes from self-knowledge. …true humility comes when we face ourselves and see our weakness, our selfishness, our failure in work and in personal relationships and in achievement.
(b) Christian humility comes from setting life beside the life of Christ and in the light of the demands of God.
God is perfection and to satisfy perfection is impossible. So long as we compare ourselves with second bests, we may come out of the comparison well. It is when we compare ourselves with perfection that we see our failure. …the Christian standard is Jesus Christ and the demands of God’s perfection—and against that standard there is no room for pride.
(c) Humility comes from the constant sense of our own creatureliness. We are in absolute dependence on God.
…We are creatures, and for the creature there can be nothing but humility in the presence of the creator.
Christian humility is based on the sight of self, the vision of Christ, and the realization of God.
This is just a glance at the attribute of humility! Each one of the attributes Paul is calling us to display as part of a life worthy of the calling we have received, is only possible in its fullness as we submit to the power and authority of Almighty God. As we do so in love to God and to one another, unity is the result. Paul likely had Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in mind as he called us to unity: John 17:11. “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” (NIV) John 17:20–23. ““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (NIV)
Why is it important that we approach the subject of unity with humility, gentleness, patience and love? Because it is not our plan, but God’s plan for us that we, through the guiding of the Holy Spirit, are to work to keep.
Ephesians 4:4-6 gives the foundation of our unity. Paul highlights seven reasons, all bathed in the Trinity of God.
B. The Basis for unity (4:4-6)
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4–6 (NIV).
· One body – Paul has explained how God the Father, in Christ has brought believing Jews & Gentiles together to make one church, Christ’s body. We are interdependent!
· One Spirit – The Holy Spirit of God who indwells the body of Christ, his Temple.
· One hope – God is in control and Christ is returning to make all things right.
· One Lord – we are united by our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
· One faith – the foundations of our faith in Jesus and what he has done for us.
· One baptism – our identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
· One God and Father of all – Therefore we are to allow nothing to be god or lord over us than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
II. Unity through giftedness (4:7-16)
Next, Paul looks at the unity we have as demonstrated through the gifts of the Spirit and their purpose.
Paul, inspired by Psalm 68:19, first celebrates that Christ Jesus as he ascended victoriously to the Father, sent down gifts via his Spirit for his body the church.
A. Christ gives gifts to the body (4:7-12)
These gifts are not for our individual edification but to unite the body of Christ in faith to for works of service to him.
B. Gifts unite and mature the body (4:13-16)
The purpose of the gift of these offices is for the ongoing unity and maturity of the Church. “13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:13 (NIV). This Spirit nurtured maturity that enabled the church to survive 2000 years of storms, is the only kind of unity which will enable us, to continue to flourish as we await our Lord’s return.
Hymn: #284 “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” (1,4).
Verse 1 – We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord. We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
Chorus – And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Verse 2 – We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, and together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.
Verse 3 – We will work with each other, we will work side by side. We will work with each other, we will work side by side, and we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.
Verse 4 – All praise to the Father from whom all things come, and all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son, and all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.
Benediction: “5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 135–137). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.
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Call to worship: Shout praises to the Lord! He is good to us, and his love never fails. Everyone the Lord has rescued from trouble should praise him, You should praise the Lord for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us. Honor the Lord when you and your leaders meet to worship. Be wise! Remember this and think about the kindness of the Lord. Psalm 107:1-2,31-32,43 (CEV).
Song:“Give thanks with a grateful heart”
Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son. Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.
And now let the weak say I am strong, Let the poor say I am rich, Because of what the Lord has done for us. And now let the weak say I am strong, Let the poor say I am rich, Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son. Give thanks.
Ephesians 3:14–21. “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV).
The Apostle’s Paul’s letter to the Ephesians follows his usual format in that to address his reader’s practical struggles he first reminds them of what God has done for them, and then in the second half of the letter helps them apply those truths to their current situations. Ephesians is unique in how Paul teaches us about what God has done for us. Rather than reading a sermon (lecture) we are reading outburst of praise to God and then prayers to God on behalf of his readers. In doing this, we learn of God and glimpse what is possible in a relationship with him as we listen to Paul’s heart. Paul has been a little further down the relationship road with God, he knows what is coming as our faith, love and trust grow in our Lord.
Today is Thanksgiving Day Sunday. We have SO much to be thankful for. The time of Thanksgiving after the harvest season naturally calls our attention to how God provides for our physical needs, in order that we may provide for our families, communities and country. For all this we are truly thankful!
In this letter to the churches in the region of Ephesus, Paul is drawing our attention to the loving activity of God, planning before creation to offer us salvation by grace through the substitution freely given by Jesus, the Messiah. Incredibly, not only for those originally chosen, the Jews, but full rights to God’s kingdom are also available to all non-Jews who respond – an astounding act of grace! This is what inspires the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21; a prayer for unity of Jewish and Gentile Christians based on a growing appreciation of God’s love which made the two one. Paul prays that we would experience the power of God, the presence of Christ and the perception of his love, for which we have reason to be thankful!
I. Thankful for the Power of God (v. 16)
“16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16 (NIV).
First of all, Paul prays that God would strengthen his readers with the glorious riches of his power. As we think about all that Paul has told us about the God’s great pre-creation plan, we may feel overwhelmed by his greatness and hesitant to approach him. A young boy was feeling this way after hearing that his father had just been made a brigadier general. So he asked his mother, “Do you think he will mind if I still call him Daddy?” This prayer of Paul’s not only reminds us of the bounty of resources God has available for us, but it also invites us to draw near to experience them through a personal relationship with God as our Father (3:14).
On our own the thought of true unity between such diverse groups is an impossible dream, but we are not on our own! Just as Paul claimed God’s power as the source of his ability to be an Apostle to the Gentiles (Eph. 3.7-9), now he asks God to supply his readers with the strength they will need deep within to be the unified family God has made them to be (2:14-18). The power to do this doesn’t come from within us, but from God whose resources are unlimited. During the construction of one of the East River bridges in New York, the engineers were baffled by an old sunken barge. It lay embedded in the river bottom. Powerful engines, steel cables, derricks, and rafts—all were powerless to remove the obstruction.
A young man just out of technical school received permission to try his hand. At low tide he had a large barge towed out to the spot. The ends of it were fastened on the sunken vessel. As the tide came in from the Atlantic, the barge rose, bringing with it the submerged wreck. The young engineer had linked to his task the limitless power of the ocean tides. So we have the infinite power of God available to help us. Do you understand the power available to you from God to love those you once scorned? It is real, life changing and available to you through a relationship with Jesus Christ as your sin forgiver and life leader as you depend upon him and not yourself. Thank God for his power available to all disciples of Jesus. Be humble to ask and then bold to act!
II. Thankful for the Presence of Christ (v. 17a)
“17a so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:17a (NIV).
In verse 16 Paul prays that God the Father would through the power of the Holy Spirit working deep within them, in their inner being, and continues that thought praying for Messiah to dwell in our hearts through faith. This is where the true battle with sin and self is fought and this is where we need Christ’s presence. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we are told that while people look at one’s outward appearance God can see one’s true self, the heart. Paul is not now praying that we would know about Christ, but that through our growing faith in him we may experience the reality of his presence ruling at the core of our being! The word Paul translated as dwell means “to settle down” and carries the idea of a long-term resident. “20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV).
III. Thankful for the love of Christ (v. 17b-19)
“17b And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17–19 (NIV).
Paul’s prayer is not for us to love Christ more, instead we wants us as disciples of Jesus, to consider the vastness of his love for us, which is so great it is beyond our comprehension. William Barclay says: It is as if Paul invited us to look at the universe—to the limitless sky above, to the limitless horizons on every side, to the depth of the earth and of the seas beneath us, and said, “The love of Christ is as vast as that.” Paul wants the love of Christ to “take our breath away” as we try to understand how immeasurable it is, and for this to lead us gratefully into the loving arms of our God to experience his loving presence! Know that you are secure in God’s love, rooted and firmly established on Christ love, expressed before the foundation of the world (1:3-6) and love which brought us life in Christ (2:4-5). Harold Hoehner in the Cornerstone biblical commentary says: To fully comprehend the sacrificial love of Christ is beyond the capability of any human being. His continued love for believers is equally incomprehensible. In fact, no matter how much knowledge believers have about Christ, his amazing love surpasses that knowledge, and the more we know of that love, the more we should praise him for it.Amen, thank you Lord Jesus!
1939 He Merely Showed Hands
William Dixon lived in Brackenthwaite, England. He was a widower who had also lost his only son. One day he saw that the house of one of his neighbors was on fire. Although the aged owner was rescued, her orphaned grandson was trapped in the blaze. Dixon climbed an iron pipe on the side of the house and lowered the boy to safety. His hand that held on to the pipe was badly burned.
Shortly after the fire, the grandmother died. The townspeople wondered who would care for the boy. Two volunteers appeared before the town council. One was a father who had lost his son and would like to adopt the orphan as his own. William Dixon was to speak next, but instead of saying anything he merely held up his scarred hand. When the vote was taken, the boy was given to him. —Neil Strait
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV).
As we accept Jesus Christ as our sin forgiver and life leader we have so much to be thankful for: The love of God greater than our sin. The presence of Christ within us, guiding, changing and helping us to share live out his love to others. The power of God which, as we trust and obey him, enables us to do what he calls us to do!
Hymn: #67 “The love of God”
Verse 1 – The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win. His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.
Chorus – O love of God how rich and pure, how measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song.
Verse 2 – When years of time shall pass away and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, when men who here refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call. God’s love so sure shall still endure all measureless and strong, redeeming grace to Adam’s race, the saints and angels song.
Verse 3 – Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made. Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade. To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.
Benediction: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (NIV).
 Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 132). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.
 Hoehner, H. W., Comfort, P. W., & Davids, P. H. (2008). Cornerstone biblical commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon. (Vol. 16, p. 75). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 495). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
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The honour of being chosen by God. Ephesians 3.1-13
Esterhazy Baptist Church. October 3, 2021
Call to worship: “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 7 Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:3–7 (NET).
Song: “Refiner’s fire”
Verse 1 – Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver. Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold.
Chorus – Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You Lord. I choose to be holy, set apart for You my Master, ready to do Your will.
Verse 2 – Purify my heart, Cleanse me from within and make me holy. Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin, deep within.
Today we are looking Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, 3:1-13. Paul wrote this letter to the churches in and around Ephesus while he was in prison. Many scholars feel he wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome following his appeal to Caesar (Acts 24:1-12). Paul was being accused by the Jewish leaders of breaking their laws concerning the Gentiles and of preaching that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). To help us understand this passage better, I will start at 2:19 and read until 3:15. To his mostly Gentile readers, Paul says:
“19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” Ephesians 2:19–3:15 (NIV).
Despite the fact that Paul is incarcerated solely for preaching about Jesus Christ, the tone of this letter is one of rejoicing over God’s amazing salvation plan. In Ephesians 3:1-13 Paul is expressing his honour over being chosen by God for his service. First of all, we see Paul is:
- Honoured to Know – the mystery of Christ (3:1-6)
In these verses Paul explains God’s special plan unfolding through Christ Jesus, which has now been revealed by God to the apostles and prophets (3:5). This revelation, called ‘the mystery of Christ/Messiah’ was hinted at in the past but only fully seen now and Paul is honoured to have been included in the revealing of this mystery (3:3). Verse 6 explains the revelation: “6 And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6 (NLT).
We (Gentile Christians) have become so used to this truth that we forget there was a time when it was stunning to those who first heard. It was literally unbelievable that God would open the doors of his Kingdom to the ignorant of God’s ways: godless gentiles without first requiring them to enter through the “door of Israel”! This truth was first revealed to the apostles and prophets (Peter, Paul…) and then taught to the church. Paul was honoured to have been chosen by the Lord Jesus to be in on this incredible news from the start – in spite of his previous distance from the gentiles as a Pharisee!
Not only had Paul been given insight into God’s plan to redeem all of humanity, God in grace, chose him to lead the way in bringing this message of Christ’s saving grace to the Gentiles.
- Honoured to Share – this good news with the world (3:7-12)
In Eph. 3:8 Paul writes: 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ (NIV).
It is fascinating that the word translated “less than the least” in the Greek was coined by Paul. He didn’t choose available words like little or less or even least. He added onto the word “least” giving it the meaning “less than the least” or “leaster.” When given special honour most people experience some pride and even arrogance to have been selected. What kept Paul so humble? He realized how unworthy he was of the task and also how inadequate he was to fulfill it! Then what was it that made Paul bold enough to do it anyway? Look at Eph. 3:7 – 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Paul realized that his call to serve Christ was a work of God’s grace and his ability to preach about Christ to the Gentiles only came as a gift of God’s grace. In other words: Since this is what God called me to do, I will trust him to empower me to do it!
I am reminded of Jacqueline Peeace’s message to us last Sunday from John 6:1-15 where fed over 5000 people – do I trust God to be able to use me? It takes humility and boldness to say: “I am only one person; I can only give $10; I’ve never done this before… but I trust you! I am the servant, you are almighty God!”
Are you honoured to know God’s salvation plan? Are you honoured to share it? Honoured to share the incredible news of hope that God the Father has revealed by his Spirit concerning his Son that will change peoples’ eternal destiny if they respond to it?
III. Honoured to _______ – (3:1, 14, 13)
What could be the third thing Paul is honoured with in this passage? Keep in mind how this passage started: 3:1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles…” This refers back to 2:19-22 where Paul rejoiced over the Gentiles being fully included into God’s household. After the parenthetical statement in vv. 2-13, Paul returns to this thought in v. 14 “For this reason I kneel before the Father.” In verse 14 Paul is returning to his focus in 3:1 – “…Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”, but notice how he links this “digression” back into verse 14. Listen to vv.12-13: 12 In him (Christ Jesus) and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…
Why does Paul not want them to be discouraged because of his suffering to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles? Because he is doing so as a servant, a prisoner not of Rome, but of Christ Jesus, and Paul is Honoured to Suffer – for Jesus Christ!
The idea of suffering for Christ as an honour may be a difficult concept for us. Usually, suffering is something we want to avoid! Large parts of our nervous system are designed to alert us of danger using pain, so we can respond before more suffering occurs. For example, touching something hot hurts and makes us pull our hand away in pain. We may get a blister, but the pain and our response to it prevented greater damage. So how does Paul understand suffering as an honour?
Paul felt honoured to be so identified with Jesus as to receive the same treatment as Jesus for following him, because Jesus told his followers to expect it (Jn. 15:18-21; 16:33)! William Barclay in his commentary on this passage says:
If a man is in prison for some great cause he may either grumblingly regard himself as an ill-used creature, or he may radiantly regard himself as the standard-bearer of some great cause. The one regards his prison as a penance; the other regards it as a privilege. When we are undergoing hardship, unpopularity, material loss for the sake of Christian principles we may either regard ourselves as the victims of men or as the champions of Christ. Paul is our example; he regarded himself, not as the prisoner of Nero, but as the prisoner of Christ.
Paul regarded himself as a sufferer for Christ. He did not expect the way of service to be easy; he did not expect the way of loyalty to be trouble-free… F. R. Maltby used to say that Jesus promised his disciples three things—that “they would be absurdly happy, completely fearless, and in constant trouble.” When the knights of chivalry came to the court of King Arthur and to the society of the Round Table, they came asking for dangers to face and dragons to conquer. To suffer for Christ is not a penalty; it is our glory, for it is to share in the sufferings of Christ himself and an opportunity to demonstrate the reality of our loyalty to him.
In the communion service we remember our Lord’s suffering for our sake. The bread reminds us of his body broken for us. The cup, his blood, shed as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.
Paul was honoured to have received the amazing news of God’s grace extended to him and ALL of humanity. He was honoured to have been empowered by God to share this good news with the world. He was also honoured to endure suffering to proclaim the life changing news of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus.
How about you and I? Have you responded to the mystery of Christ, that no one is excluded from the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and become part of God’s family? If you have accepted Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, are you honoured to share this good news with those around you? Are you honoured and willing to suffer for the name of Christ Jesus if called upon?
As I read the many stories about Muslims coming to Christ in closed countries, the common thread was: excitement over the opportunity to received God’s gift of salvation by grace, which encouraged them to tell others. Even with the likelihood of suffering, the good news they had discovered was worth any pain they might face on this earth! Let me close with Paul’s words from Romans 8:35-39
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35–39 (NLT).
Song: Knowing You, Jesus
Verse 1 – All I once held dear built my life upon, all this world reveres and wars to own. All I once thought gain I have counted loss, Spent and worthless now compared to this.
Chorus – Knowing You Jesus, knowing You, There is no greater thing. You’re my all, You’re the best, you’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love You Lord.
Verse 2 – Now my heart’s desire is to know You more, to be found in You and known as Yours. To possess by faith what I could not earn, all surpassing gift of righteousness.
Verse 3 – Oh to know the pow’r of Your risen life, and to know You in Your sufferings. To become like You in Your death my Lord, so with You to live and never die
Benediction: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! …To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! Revelation 5:12-13
 Briscoe, D. Stuart Let’s get Moving, A Bible Commentary for Laymen, Ephesians. pg. 69. ©1978 Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, Glendale, CA.
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Ephesians 2. “What a mighty God we serve.”
Sept. 19, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church.
Call to Worship: “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit.” Titus 3:4–6 (CEV).
Hymn #206: “There is a redeemer”
Verse 1 – There is a Redeemer Jesus God’s own Son, Precious Lamb of God Messiah Holy One.
Chorus – Thank You O my Father, For giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done.
Verse 2 – Jesus my Redeemer name above all names, Precious Lamb of God Messiah O for sinners slain.
Verse 3 – When I stand in glory I will see His face, There I’ll serve my King forever in that holy place.
Ephesians 2 (NLT)
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. 12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians begins in chapter one with a song of praise followed by a prayer for spiritual insight into all that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has done to make our salvation possible. Ephesians chapter two then makes it personal, by getting us to remember our situation before God reached out to us in Christ (vv. 1-3) and finishing with the blessing of being part of God’s reunited family in Christ (vv. 19-22). We have been brought from death to life, from an outsider to a member of God’s household, and from deserving God’s wrath to receiving God’s grace. How did this happen and how did we get here? Ephesians chapter two is a celebration of the answers to those questions, summarized in Ephesians 2:3b-10:
In this passage we see what God demonstrated through us, did for us, and designed us to be.
- What God demonstrated through us (vv. 4-5):
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
When we think of our salvation may we always be in awe of God’s mercy, love and grace that he extended to us. In our deliverance from sin the magnificence of God’s character is on display as he shows his mercy to us undeserving rebels (see Eph. 2:2-3)! Why does he extend us such grace? Because he loves us so much! “The distinctive word for “love” here is agapē (ἀγαπη) which speaks of a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the one loved, a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved. It is the love shown at Calvary (John 3:16).”
- What God did for us (vv. 5-8):
A – God saved us (v. 8)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
God saved us from the penalty of sin as a gift of his grace and not because of anything we have done. As we grow in relationship with him and live in the power of his strength we are being saved from sin’s power over us.
B – God gave us life in Christ (v. 5)
5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
Eph. 2:1-3 shows us our condition before Christ; we were spiritually dead in our sin. When Jesus willingly laid down his life for our sins and God the Father raised him from the dead, we were given life in him. Paul shows us this in Romans 6:1-4 by reminding us that our baptism pictures our burial with Christ and then our resurrection from the dead to new life with him.
C – God raised us with Christ & seated us with him in the heavenly realms (v. 6)
6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Our identification with Christ Jesus continues. In Eph. 1:20-21 we read that Christ Jesus was raised and seated in the place of authority in the heavenly realms. Here in 2:6 we see that because we are united with Christ, we are seated with him in the heavenly realms. We not only share in Christ’s life, but we now share in his victory over those things which once ruled over us!
- What God designed us to be (vv. 7, 10):
A – Exhibits of his grace (v. 7)
7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
Stuart Briscoe in his commentary says: “Some parts of His creation, like the infinite reaches of the galaxies, will be exhibits of His power. Others, like the angels, will demonstrate His holiness. But only redeemed sinners will be able to show forth His grace…In eternity all things will have their place showing the many splendored majesty of our God. But you will be in the grace department.” 
B – Examples of his workmanship (v. 10)
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. In the original Greek the word order in the first sentence emphasizes whose we are, sounding something like: God’s masterpiece are we! The word translated masterpiece/workmanship is the Greek word from which we get our word ‘poem.’ Paul is saying that we are examples of God’s creative genius! He goes on to explain that we were crafted by God for a purpose, “to do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Our good works cannot save us; they are like oil stained rags. However when we accept Jesus Christ as our sin forgiver (Saviour) and life leader (Lord), we are remade, becoming and able to accomplish all that God intended us to be. These good works are now in response to God’s amazing grace which brought us from death to life. What are these good works? In a nut shell it is to reflect the character of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for us. We have been blessed to be a blessing and we go out under the authority and protection of our Lord Jesus Christ! What a mighty God we serve!
Closing Song: “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”
Verse 1 – Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
Verse 2 – ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved, how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed
Chorus – My chains are gone I’ve been set free, My God my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood His mercy rains, unending love amazing grace.
Verse 3 – The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.
Verse 4 – The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God who called me here below, Will be forever mine. Will be forever mine, You are forever mine.
Benediction: You have been given every good gift for proclaiming God’s presence and God’s love. The world is thirsting for this good news. People struggle for words of hope and peace. As you have been blessed, now go to be a blessing in God’s Name. AMEN.
 Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 4, p. 65). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
 Briscoe, D. Stuart Let’s get Moving, A Bible Commentary for Laymen/Ephesians. ©1978 Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, Glendale, CA.
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God’s blessings to us in Christ. Ephesisans 1.
Sept. 12, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church
Call to Worship: “How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord, to sing in your honour, O Most High God, to proclaim your constant love every morning and your faithfulness every night,” “Your mighty deeds, O Lord, make me glad; because of what you have done, I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:1–2, 4 (GNB)
Hymn: #66 “To God be the glory
Verse 1 – To God be the glory great things He has done So loved He the world that He gave us His Son Who yielded His life an atonement for sin And opened the life gate that all may go in
Chorus – Praise the Lord praise the Lord Let the earth hear His voice Praise the Lord praise the Lord Let the people rejoice
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son And give Him the glory great things He has done
Verse 2 – O perfect redemption the purchase of blood To every believer the promise of God The vilest offender who truly believes That moment from Jesus a pardon receives
Verse 3 – Great things He has taught us Great things He has done And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son But purer and higher and greater will be Our wonder our transport when Jesus we see
Today we are resuming our look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians by taking another look at chapter one. Here it is from the New Living Translation:
Greetings from Paul
1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom
15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1 (NLT)
Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single sentence song of praise to God for his actions to save us and adopt us into his family (vv. 13-14). It is from this praise that Paul builds his prayer request for these Gentile believers that form the purpose of his letter, explained in vv. 18 & 19. I would paraphrase it as: “That the Spirit of God would enable you to grow in your understanding of the hope, riches and power God has made available to Christians through Christ Jesus.” Paul wants his readers to understand that God is on their side and is supplying everything they need to live a life which brings glory to God.
Paul reminds us that an example of the power of God he speaks of was witnessed as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and given authority next to God in the heavenly realms. This was for the benefit of Christ’s representatives on earth, Christ’s body, the church (vv. 19-23). This is incredible, God is on our side!
In his song of praise in vv. 3-14 Paul marvels over the hope and inheritance given to believers in Christ. Let’s take a closer look at our Spiritual blessing in Christ:
- Because we are united with Christ we are spiritually blessed (v. 3).
- God loved & chose us in Christ to be holy (v. 4).
- God foreordained us to be adopted into his family through Christ (v. 5).
- We are overwhelmed with God’s grace to us through Christ (v. 6)
- We are brought to God & forgiven of our sins through Christ’s shed blood on our behalf (v. 7).
- We are part of God’s plan to unify everything together under Christ’s authority (vv. 9-10).
- Being united with Christ, we will receive an inheritance from God (v. 11).
- The presence of the Holy Spirit within us confirms we will receive all God has promised us in Christ (v. 14).
- God has called out a new people for himself from both Jews & Gentiles, the church to praise & glorify him under the authority of Christ Jesus (vv. 12-14).
There are so many blessings, and yet our salvation is not the end of the story, but a part of God’s plan to bring the whole cosmos under Christ. We have been chosen, in order to be a blessing to the world that our Lord is reaching out to. A number of Bible commentators feel that in this song of praise Paul is rejoicing in God’s work to fulfill the ultimate Exodus, freedom from bondage to sin. God plan in saving Israel’s descendents from slavery in Egypt was so they as his people would represent him to the nations. Now in Christ, God has chosen us, Jews & Gentiles together in the church, to bring the news of his redemption to the world.
The Lord Jesus willingly became our Passover lamb, shedding his blood to free us from slavery to sin. Now we are on our way to receive our promised inheritance (v. 14) guided and protected, not by a pillar of cloud or fire, but by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing the fulfillment of God’s promise to us.
It is amazing to get even a glimpse of God’s great salvation plan and our part in it. It is no wonder that Paul prays that the Holy Spirit would grant us spiritual insight to grasp the scale of what God is doing around us and in us and through us! It all makes me ask “What do we need to do?” Some people are highly motivated by incredible goals. Others of us are overwhelmed, wondering why even try to do anything; we are in way over our heads!
To deal with this dilemma, let’s remind ourselves how this letter of Paul’s began: 1a This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. Paul begins his letter by reminding us, already in his greeting, that this is all God’s idea, part of his gracious and powerful plan!
1- Paul was chosen by the will of God. We might not give much thought to this phrase, but Paul cannot forget what he was like when God chose him! Paul, in sinful arrogance was trying to impress God with his ‘perfect’ life. However, his obsession with keeping man’s interpretations of God’s laws led him to hate Jesus and persecute his followers! Paul deserved God’s judgment but instead God forgave Paul, choosing to adopt him into his family – what an amazing display of God’s grace! Listen to 1 Timothy 1:15–16. Paul writes: 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. (NLT) We need to realize that when Paul claims he was chosen by God, he is not expressing pride but amazement! This truth is the same for every single Christian! Our salvation is a work of God, through Christ Jesus and not of ourselves. We have been saved through an act of God’s grace as we express our faith in him.
2 – Paul recognizes he is an apostle of Christ Jesus. William Barclay says this would have meant three things to Paul:
(a) That he belonged to Christ. His life was not his own to do with as he liked; he was the possession of Jesus Christ, and he must always live as Jesus Christ wanted him to live.
(b) That he was sent out by Jesus Christ. The meaning of apostle is ‘sent one’. It can be used, of a naval squadron sent out on an expedition; it can be used of an ambassador sent out by his native country… The Christian all through life is to see themselves as a member of the task force of Christ. People on a mission, the mission of serving Christ within this world.
(c) That any power he possessed was a delegated power. The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. In matters of religion the Sanhedrin had authority over every Jew in the world. When the Sanhedrin came to a decision, that decision was given to an apostolos to convey it to the persons whom it concerned and to see that it was carried out. When such an apostolos went out, behind him and in him lay the authority of the Sanhedrin, whose representative he was.
The Christian is the representative of Christ within the world, but we are not left to carry out that task in our own strength and power; the strength and power of Jesus Christ are with us.
Paul through his introduction, praise and prayer wants us to see that salvation is a work of God that we have been chosen to be a part of. Relax in his plan and care. Trust him to provide the wisdom and strength to accomplish all that he was planned! I close with this summary from N.T. Wright: Look back over the story which Paul has told as an act of worship. God has taken the initiative; God has done what was necessary, at great cost to himself, to buy us back from the slavery of sin; God has given us the spirit as a sign and foretaste of the whole renewed cosmos which awaits us as our inheritance. Discovering that you are to receive an inheritance like that should change your whole life. How can you not join in the hymn of praise? 
Hymn: #350 “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”
Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.
Chorus – Jesus Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.
Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood. Just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.
Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease. Just from Jesus simply taking, Life and rest and joy and peace.
Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus Savior Friend. And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.
Benediction: “15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:15–17 (CSB).
 Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (pp. 13–14). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.