Hey, lets get together sometime. Sure, shoot me a text or Facebook me and we’ll meet up somewhere. This is honestly where I find myself initiating or being initiated into a conversation or get togethers these days. But these are not the only places that I find messages. Our world is a multimedia platform that bombards you with all kinds of information. You can find out the news about what is happening in the world (as well as the many different opinions on what should be done in light of the news). Along the way, you can discover the comical tidings of satirical memes (many I find quite humorous in their sarcasm or use of puns). Flip over a few pages and/or channels and you can get the word on various recipes and different cuisines. In just a few more clicks, you can pretty much get a political leader or candidate perspective of the day. And this doesn’t even count all of the various ads in between trying to compete for the use of your dollar.
In other words… our world is filled with messages… Some of them are quite similar to others while others are not so much. The fact that you are reading this right now means that you are tuned into some form of communication. Sometimes, we may wish we could just tuned everything out and calm things down quite a bit…but we would never want and should never want to be out of touch with all the messages.
Words and messages matter when it comes to life. Transformation and growth in this life is about understanding & applying particular messages. It is about discerning between bad news and good news and seeing the importance of the words therein. For there to be discernment, understanding, and application of these words, a message bus be heard, received, trusted, and then in turn, shared.
When it comes to Life in Christ and the life of a Christian the right message is certainly meaningful. This is not just about religiosity. This is about what is essential for true, real, genuine, authentic life.
Over the past few weeks I have been preaching and writing about this biblical prospective of Life In Christ. We have been looking in particular at the writings of the Apostle Paul to the church of the Ephesians. Overall, the teaching of the Scriptures reveals that Life in Christ is a gracious identity from God which leads to a glorious outcome through God.
How does this apply to hearing, receiving, trusting, and sharing the Word and message of the Scriptures? Let’s look at Ephesians 1:13-14.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Now to gain understanding from the Scriptures… I encourage you to think about the Four Questions I address here.
So, what can we learn here in Ephesians?
We can take note of a few things here. The letter was written most likely as a circuit letter between 60-63 A.D. while the apostle Paul was in his 2nd (and final) imprisonment in Rome under the reign of Nero. He is writing to a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in the city of Ephesus. He is trying to help the readers (listeners) understand their identity in Christ and the expected outcome of a disciple through Christ.
Here in this beautifully penned poem, the passionate apostle relays a bit about the necessity and essential nature of the Word. What is so essential about hearing, receiving, trusting, sharing the Word provided by God? Well, if it is understanding and applying particular messages that bring transformation and growth to our lives, then the Word of God that is revealed to us brings the defining and refining life-change from God.
We can see this revealed in particular ways by looking at…
I. the Word’s Origin…
In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul uses the phrases “In Him”, “In Christ” or “through Christ” some 23 times in the English translation. Up to this moment we have seen that in Him…
- He chose those that were His (1:4)
- He provided redemption (1:7)
- He revealed His kind intention (1:9)
- He gave us an inheritance (1:11)
So what does all of this mean?
- It means the goal of Paul in this letter (as well as the goal of all Scripture) is to make much of Jesus. And that message means we are who follow Jesus, make much of Jesus.
- It also reminds us that this word originated and is sustained in Him. A message is only as good as its source and there is no source nearly as grand, good, gracious, or glorious as God.
II. the Word’s Output…
Paul knew that in writing this letter, it would be read to a church (those people that had heard, received, trusted, and shared the Gospel). Paul states that they had heard it. He doesn’t just presume, assume, imagine, or even hope…He knows they had heard it, because he himself had been faithful and persistent to proclaim it. He had also entrusted others to continue this work and knew of their endeavors to share this glorious message of Jesus Christ.
Paul also knew the power and potential of this proclaimed message. Paul had delivered the content of the Scriptures and the declaration of the Gospel clearly, emphatically, passionately, and abundantly because he himself had spent years planting and growing this church among this community. During his stay among the Ephesians, Paul taught the essentials of and the implications from the Gospel. He did this by showing the scarlet thread of Christ fulfilling the Scriptures.
We must be clear with the output of the Gospel. This is different from sharing our novel ideas, common courtesy, potential programs, and quick stories. Sharing the gospel means sharing the complete gospel clearly. The message of the Word must be heard, received, trusted, and shared. Why?
Because the Scriptures declare… “Faith comes from hearing and hearing comes from the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) There is an expectation from the Scriptures that the content of the Scriptures would be shared. This is not merely for enlightenment, entertainment, or encouragement…but for life’s salvation and transformation. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a messenger?” (Romans 10:13-14)
Someone once said…
“The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.” – Carl F. H. Henry
I would add…The gospel is only good news if it is the gospel that is heard.
III. the Word’s Outcome…
There was/is an expected outcome when the Word is declared and that is this:
- that we would be given the truth of God.
- that we would receive salvation from God.
- that our faith would be awakened by God.
- that we would be sealed through God (the Holy Spirit)
This is so amazing as we look the promise of God and the oath that comes from the Holy Spirit. Think about how significance of the provision of God Himself through the Holy Spirit and the sealing of the Holy Spirit.
What is the significance of this sealing?
- It means salvation is a finished transaction.
- It means that God now hold ownership over our lives.
- It means that God now provides security and protection over His possession.
- It means that God declares the authenticity & legitimacy over His people.
When Charles Spurgeon wrote of the provisions of the Holy Spirit in our lives he shared that God Himself gives us…
- Delight in service
- Joy over repenting sinners
- Communion with saints
- Enlarged knowledge of God and of divine eternal things
- Victory over sin, Satan, and the world
- Security in Christ
- Nearness to our Beloved
God Himself gives Himself and He does so with a pledge from Himself. This pledge is an earnest, a guarantee and a promise about our inheritance through Christ and to Christ. And this inheritance comes at the costly price of God’s redemption that He willingly paid for us to not only be His possession…but His people.
Our relationship to God is not simply a commercial or legal transaction but a personal experience of love… a costly love.
According to Warren Wiersbe…Redemption is experienced in three stages.
- We have been redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7).
- We are being redeemed as the Spirit works in our lives to make us more like Christ (Romans 8).
- We shall be redeemed when Christ returns and we become like Him.
When I think about the pledge of God in this earthly realm that points toward an eternal reunion… I can’t help but think about how God does what is counterintuitive in this world’s perspective. Here, usually someone would give a small token of something greater that is ahead… and sure, in God’s promises heaven awaits. But that promise is only second in comparison to the fact that God first gives us Himself.
IV. the Word’s Objective…
The goal of all of this is that we too would be “to the praise of His glory” (v.14). We see that life in Christ is a gracious identity from God which leads to a gracious outcome through God. We must understand that when God acts and displays His ultimate love to man it brings about our good but ultimately reveals His glory.
What should this objective mean in directing our lives? Ultimately, that we would worship God.
- the worship of God is about responding to Him appropriately.
- the worship of God is about the revealing of Him abundantly.
Because we begin to see God for who He is, what He says, and what He does…worship takes a hold of our lives. We discover that there is an eternal purpose that is meant to take hold of our earthly present.
We hear this, receive this, trust this, and share this as we #FollowJesus
By His Grace. Through His Gospel. For His Glory.
The topics discussed are taken from the sermons during the Worship Gathering at Eastgate Baptist.
To listen to this sermon or other past messages…please go to this link.