1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Paul’s apostleship is his source of authority and it is further validated “By the will of God.” Paul can, with authority, say listen up church at Ephesus “Thus says the Lord.”
Paul was not interested in what he had to say but what the Lord had to say through him. As Paul said in writing to the Corinthians, he was one who spoke “not in words taught…by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit.” This is important because it means that the letter Paul wrote is not to be regarded as other books but as God’s own revelation. This is the word of God and it needs to be handled very carefully. There is so much that so many pastors can learn by this. The pastor MUST be able to stand before his flock every time he stands behind the pulpit and say with authority the same thing, “Thus says the Lord”. The pastor that cannot say that should sit down and stop causing further harm to the flock that has been entrusted to him. It’s time for preachers to stop the story telling or feel good sermons or teaching the latest pop psychology and start preaching the WORD of GOD. The pastor is instructed to feed and protect the sheep not pet the sheep.
The letter is written to the “Saints” and “The faithful in Christ Jesus.” We find in this very short phrase is the essence of what a Christian is. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls it the “irreducible minimum of what constitutes a Christian.”
Christians are “Saints”
Christians are “The faithful”
Christians are “In Christ Jesus”
The word saint means to be set apart, to be set apart for God by God. If we are truly set apart, if we are truly a Christian, we have a new nature, a new set of loyalties, a new agenda, and we belong to a different kingdom. The Puritan intentionally sought to be different from everyone else. The Puritan purposed to apply God’s word to every facet of their lives. This is what set them apart and what gave them the title “Puritan”.
“The faithful” has two meanings. First, it is an exercise of faith that one is saved. The Christian has heard the Gospel and by God’s grace has faith in that gospel or believes it. Second it has the meaning of perseverance; it means to continue in faith. The Christian is faithful to the end.
The words “In Christ Jesus or In Him” are used some 164 times in Paul’s writings. It’s used 9 times in just these first few verses. The words describe the union that a Christina has with Christ. The bible uses numerous images to teach us about this union we have. In Eph. 5:22-23 you have the union between a man and a woman in marriage. In John 15:1-17 we see the union between the vine and the branches. In Eph 2:20-22 we have the temple where Christ is the foundation and individuals are the stones. In 1 Cor. 12:12-27 the union between the head and the other members of the body. John Murray wrote, “Union with Christ has as its source in the election of God the Father before the foundation of the world and it has its fruition in the glorification of the sons of God. The perspective of God’s people is not narrow; it has the expanse of eternity. Its orbit has two foci, one the electing love of God the Father and the counsels of eternity, the other the glorification with Christ in manifestation of His glory. The former has no beginning and the later had no end..
Apart from Christ our condition is absolutely hopeless; In Him our condition is glorious to the extreme.
Father of Jesus,
Dawn returns, but without thy light within
no outward light can profit;
Give me the saving lamp of thy Spirit that I may
the God of my salvation, the delight of my soul,
rejoicing over me in love.
I commend my heart to thy watchful care,
for I know its treachery and power;
Guard its every portal fro the wily enemy,
Give me quick discernment of his deadly arts,
Help me to recognize his bold disguise as an
angle of light,
and bid him begone.
May my words and works allure others to the
highest walks of faith and love!
May loiters be quickened to greater diligence
by my example!
May worldlings be won to delight in acquaintance
May the timid and irresolute be warned
of coming doom by my zeal for Jesus!
Cause me to be a mirror of they grace,
to show others the joy of thy service,
May my lips be well-tuned cymbals
sounding thy praise,
Let a halo of heavenly-mindedness
sparkle around me
and a lamp of kindness sunbeam my path.
Teach me the happy art of
attending to things temporal
with a mind intent on things eternal
with a mind intent on things eternal.
Send me forth to have compassion
on the ignorant and miserable.
Help me to walk as Jesus walked,
my only Savior and perfect model,
his mind my inward guest,
his meekness my covering garb.
Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit,
my delight the gentle ranks of the meek.
Let me always esteem others better than myself,
and find in true humility
an heirdom to two worlds.
Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth page 248.