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A Description of the Church

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Ephesians 1:1-2

A DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH

Christian Herter was elected to congress by the state of Massachusetts for 2 terms. He was very well know and highly respected in Massachusetts. After his 2nd term to congress he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. One day after a busy schedule of campaigning he arrived at a church barbecue famished. As he moved down the line, the popular congressman held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put just one piece of chicken on his plate. "Excuse me," Congressmen Herter said, "you mind if I have 2 pieces of chicken?" "Sorry," the woman replied. "I'm only supposed to give one piece to each person." The congressmen decided to throw a little weight around. "Lady, do you know who I am? I'm your congressman Christian Herter." The women replied, "Do you know who I am? I'm the lady in charge of the chicken!"

Today we want to look at a man who was in the position of authority. When he spoke everyone listened. He is the apostle Paul, the author to the book of Ephesians.

FIRST -- THE AUTHOR.

On a hot, muggy July evening in 1863, the President of the United States and members of his cabinet gathered in the Secretary of War's office. Tension filled the room, for this was the third day of an epic battle near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For the Army of the Potomac to lose on northern soil would be disastrous. As the hours stretched on towards midnight, several cabinet members left to try to get some rest. Abraham Lincoln remained, hoping for some news to come via telegraph.

Footsteps sounded in the hall: a telegraph messenger running towards the room! He burst through the door, handing the message to Secretary of War Stanton. The Secretary peered at the telegraph, then read aloud, "The Army of the Potomac holds the field; General Meade has won!"

When cheering broke out, the President raised his hand. "No celebrating is in order yet. Who wrote this telegram? Can we trust the author?"

Stanton replied, "The telegram is signed, 'Byington.' Who is this Byington?"

When no one in the room could respond, Lincoln commanded the telegraph operator: "Reply immediately with these words: 'Who is Byington?'"

Eventually the reply came: "Ask the Secretary of the Navy." Secretary Welles was roused from his sleep in order to verify that Byington was a newspaper reporter he knew well, who could be trusted. The battle was indeed won, and Robert E. Lee's daring invasion of the North was thwarted.

 

Ephesians 1:1

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:

Notice who the author is. Verse 1.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus

A. HIS APPEARANCE.

 

2 Corinthians 10:10

For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is    unimpressive and his speech contemptible.”

2 Corinthians 11:6

But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.

A more vivid picture, which Deissmann (p. 58) and Ramsay (CRE, pp. 31f.) incline to credit, occurs in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla: ‘And he saw Paul coming, a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace::

Galatians 6:11

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

Now why am I mentioning this?  Because spiritual gifts are not given you based on your personal appearance, personality, or even you natural ability.  Spiritual gifts are given out by the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit.

B.  HIS spiritual GIFT.

Notice from verse 1 what Paul calls himself.

Ephesians 1:1

“Paul, an apostle…”

In Ephesians 4:11, an apostle is listed as a spiritual gift. Which moves me to ask a question. Do spiritual gifts exist today? Absolutely they do.

Who has a spiritual gift?

The Bible tells us that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift (1 Peter 4:10), but this does not mean that any single believer (nor necessarily any congregation) has all the gifts.

                                                               

                      1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

 

The source of spiritual gifts.

Do you know where spiritual gifts come from?

Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit sovereignly (“as he wills,” 1 Cor 12:11) and specifically (1 Co 12:8–11).

Ephesians 1:1

…by the will of God…

Paul did not receive the gift or office because he took a Bible correspondence course, or because he attended a Bible school or seminary.   But it was the very will of God.  Not self

Someone may say, then is it ok to seek or want another or different spiritual gift?

The seeking of spiritual gifts.

Although the Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual gifts, the believer may have a part in their development. “But covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31) means that we do have a part to play in being zealous for (covet) better gifts.

 

The story is told of two men who were talking.  One of them was huge, the other quite small.  The small man was admiring the size of the larger man.  "Boy, if I were as big as you are, I wouldn't be afraid of nothin'.  I'd go out into the woods and find me the biggest bear there and tear him limb from limb."  The big fellow smiled.  "There's lots of little bears in the woods.  Why don't you go out and tackle one of them?"  This story has a moral that is greatly needed today.  Many youth of the church stand on the sidelines telling what they would do if they had the ability of someone else.  In the church there is work for all of us.  Perhaps most of us cannot take on the "big bears" of duty and responsibility; but this doesn't mean that we are to sit idly by and do nothing.  A host of us "little fellows" need to get out to the woods and tackle some of the little bears. 

 

The list of spiritual gifts.

Lists of specific gifts are found in Romans 12:6–8, 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, 28–30 and Ephesians 4:11.

Now Paul’s spiritual gift is an apostle. He is not just another guy with another opinion. He speaks for God. How many men in the entire Bible could call themselves an apostle? Do you know? Only 14.

What was the job of an apostle?

The apostles were the ones that God used to give the church the blue print on how to transform the world.

                                                                                Ephesians 2:20
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

The apostles were the ones that God used to gives us Bible doctrine and Scripture. Do you remember what was true of every believer in the early church? Acts 2:42

                                                                                Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Apostles provided the foundational doctrines for the church. They were the writers of Scripture. They performed miracles. They discipled leaders for the church.

All Paul needed for credentials then was to refer to his Apostleship. He doesn't have to say, "You need to listen to me because I graduated from Bible school and seminary." He doesn't have to say, "Listen to what I have to say, I was taught by Peter." Because he wasn't. He was taught by Jesus Christ himself. All Paul has to say is "I'm an apostle." That's all he needed to say to make everybody sit down and listen.

How did one become an apostle?

What were the qualifications to be an apostle? There are 2 qualifications.

First, Acts 1:22 and 1 Corinthians 9:1 tells us that to be an apostle you had to see Jesus raised from the dead. But there is another qualification. Not only did you need to see Jesus raised form the dead but,

Secondly, you needed to be personally chosen by Jesus Christ to be an apostle.

That's why Paul writes in verse one, notice it very closely.

Ephesians 1:1

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

Now there is something that I need to share about apostles. Because apostles were held in such high esteem and because they had such great authority, there were some people who claimed to be an apostle but were not.

Revelation 2:2

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;

How do you test someone who claims to be an apostle? The Bible gives us a clue? Look at 2 Corinthians 12:12.

                2Corinthians 12:12
The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.

I believe that you could test an apostle by asking the supposed apostle to perform a miracle. If the person claimed to be an apostle just take them to someone who was sick and say, "Heal them." If they cold not heal them, they were a fake. Acts 9:36 (Dorcas).

FIRST -- THE AUTHOR.

SECOND -- THE DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH.

Now if you are a Christian there are two words that should describe your life and you will find those two words in verse 1.

 

Ephesians 1:1

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:

A.  SAINTS

Paul says he is writing to the “saints“?  So who in the word is a saint, and what is a saint? A saint is a word that makes us all shudder a little. There is one word that we will never revive and that is the word "saint." The minute I say the word saint you think of some holy then thou individual.  

What does the word “SAINT” mean?  The word saint literally means to be set apart.

So what is a saint? A saint is anyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Do you know what the word saint means?  The word saint means to be declared righteous.

If you have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, God has made you righteous and that makes you are a saint. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, you're a saint. God is in the business of making saints out of sinners.

Nine times in this brief letter, Paul addresses his readers as saints (Ephesians. 1:1, 15, 18; 2:19; 3:8, 18; 4:12; 5:3; 6:18).

A little boy attended a church that had beautiful stained- glass windows. He was told that the windows contained pictures of Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint John, Saint Paul, and other saints. One day he was asked, "What is a saint?" He replied, "A saint is a person whom the light shines through." There is another word that describes the church.

B.  FAITHFUL – EPHESIANS 1:1

What does that mean? "faithful." This word can mean faithful in the normal sense of the English word -- reliable, steadfast. That means that if you are a Christian, you just can't suddenly drop out of the faith.  A true Christian as a person who can't quit being a Christian.

When Ray Stedman was pastor of Peninsula Bible Church a young man called him and shared how discouraged he was, how he'd lost confidence in prayer. He shared how he was ready to quit the faith. Ray Stedman interrupted him and said, "Then why don't you just stop being a Christian?" The man replied, "I can't quit being a Christian." Ray Stedman knew that if he tried to quit, the first thing he would discover was that he couldn't.

Why can't you quit the faith? Because God himself lives within us.

There is a third thing that I see here.

FIRST -- THE AUTHOR.

SECOND -- THE DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH.

THIRD -- A DOUBLE BLESSING.

Ephesians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The 2 great heritage's of a Christian are grace and peace. No matter what crises you are in, you can have grace and peace. You can have grace, which means that you can have God's forgiveness.

And you can have God's peace without anxiety, fear or worry. You can't have peace without grace. These are 2 characteristics which ought to distinguish every Christians at all times.

Grace and peace are not only a double blessing, but they were also a greeting. When people greeted each other they would say, "Grace." Why would they say that? It was a lovely term and it was a reminder that everything they have was by the grace of God.

If you were not greeted by the word grace, you would greeted by the word, "peace."

FOURTH -- THE SOURCE OF ALL GRACE AND PEACE.

Ephesians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Only eight percent of the time since the beginning of recorded history has the world been entirely at peace. In over 3,100 years, only 286 have been warless and 8,000 treaties have been broken in this time.

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD GUARATEES THE SUPPLY OF ALL OUR NEEDS.

 

Illustration:  Velva

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