Online Worship for Trinity Nineteen, Sunday October 18, 2020
Sermon for Trinity Nineteen – Sunday October 18, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be to you and peace from God our Father,
through Faith in Jesus, the Christ, His Son. Amen.
Ephesians 1:15–23 (NKJV)
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
I’m sick and tired of it all.
I can’t even turn on the radio anymore without hearing and advertisement that leads with, “We are living in uncertain times.” Hmmm, really? May I ask, “When have we ever lived in certain times?”
I understand what people mean when they suggest we live in ‘uncertain times.’ I get it. They are talking about the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Certainly, life in our world has changed as a result of this now politicized health issue and the longer it lasts, people will grow more concerned about retaining their jobs and income and providing for their families.
If that weren’t enough, we have now entered into the annual ‘flu season’ and we are being urged to make sure we get our flu shots. If that weren’t enough, we get to elect a president and each candidate tells us that if the other is elected he will surely ruin our country and way of life.
Sigh. What next?
If you are at all like me, then from time to time, you get down, even depressed. Maybe it lasts for a couple hours or a couple days. All you can see and hear is what’s bothering you and you can’t seem to shake it. All you want to do is stay in bed and you become unproductive and downright negative (King Ahab Syndrome, cf. 1 Kings 21:4).
When the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians…he was in prison. He wasn’t there overnight; he had been under house arrest for three years. This wasn’t being unable to visit grandma in the nursing home for six months. After having spent three years in Ephesus and the surrounding region he hadn’t been back in a number of years. The last time that he saw any of them was at the close of his 3rd Missionary Journey when he summoned the pastors of Ephesus to the coastal city of Miletus, 63 miles away to say goodbye.
The last time that he saw them, the Holy Spirit moved him to warn them (Acts 20:28-32):
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
It was easy to get down when the pandemic began and we were told to ‘stay home and stay safe.’ Well, imagine being imprisoned knowing that people would try and ravage the congregation that you served and love!
What could Paul do? Curl up and cry himself to sleep? Well, actually, the Apostle Paul did what we should be doing, confidently, earnestly, continually – He prayed.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
The Apostle Paul began by giving thanks to God for all that He had done for the Ephesian Christians. In fact, He didn’t stop giving thanks for them in his prayers, because their faith wasn’t merely a matter of the heart, but was evident in the way that the loved their fellow believers.
In these ‘uncertain times’, instead of beginning our days complaining, we should give thanks to God for all that He has done for us. In His Grace and mercy, He washed away our sins when we were baptized, making us children of God and heirs of eternal life. He has given us His Word, which serves to nourish and strengthen our faith in Jesus by taking us back to His sinless life (as our substitute) and His sacrifice for sins and His glorious resurrection which confirms that we have an inheritance reserved for us in heaven and not chains in hell.
We should pray for each other, that the Holy Spirit would give us opportunity to show our faith and glorify the Lord Jesus by showing love for one another. It’s easy to be bitter and petty, that comes to us naturally because of our sinful natures. It’s a true challenge to be loving and forgiving and to pray for the spiritual benefit and growth in faith of the people we gather with for worship.
The Apostle didn’t only thank God for bringing them to faith and making their faith living and active in love, he also prayed that they grow in faith through the Word of God. The Apostle Prayed for them constantly so …
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,
The Apostle Paul prayed that the Holy Spirit give them – through spiritual instruction – the wisdom to understand heavenly things which would otherwise remain hidden to them. In particular, He asked that the Father of Glory would open their ‘spiritual eyes’ to see three things: 1) The hope to which God had called them; 2) the riches of the inheritance He promised them; 3) His incomparable power which He uses for the benefit of His People.
God had called them to faith so that they might be beneficiaries of a right relationship with him. Many of them had been born Gentiles, outsiders to God’s promises concerning the Promised Savior. He reminded of them of what they had been before God adopted them, by faith, into the family of God (Ephesians 2:12-13):
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Whatever their earthly fathers promised to provide them, it was nothing when compared to what their Heavenly Father promised them. It was an inheritance that he had written their names on before the foundation of the world. Earlier in this same chapter He had written (Ephesians 1:3-6a, 11):
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace…In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
How could they be assured that they were God’s Children and would receive the promised inheritance? It all depended upon His superabundant power. It didn’t depend on their hanging on or doing this or that. It depended upon God’s Power, as the Apostle Peter would also write (1 Peter 1:3-5):
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Therefore, instead of fretting and worrying about what might happen in the days and months ahead, God help us to remember with thanksgiving what God has done for us in the past. He has called us to be his own, and will not forsake us but will deliver us through death to life eternal. He has promised us an eternal inheritance.
All of this is a certain ‘hope’ because it depends -not upon us in any way- but upon the power of God. This is why the Apostle Paul also wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:7):
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Our certainty in these uncertain times is to be found in His Mighty Power, which He once displayed…
20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
How can we be sure of the future? It depends on God’s mighty power!
The same power that spoke and the universe was created out of nothing.
The same power that gave life again to a dead Jesus of Nazareth.
The same power that raised Him up and gave Him – our brother – the highest place of honor and authority.
Jesus is not only the ruler of every human king, president, governor and mayor…He is the exalted authority over every ‘principality and power and might and dominion.’ He is not only the highest authority on earth, but also in the heavens. He rules by right and by might over every superhuman power and might. He is master to every spiritual ruler, every angel, every demon, everything that is in very nature stronger than human flesh and blood.
There is in neither in the natural world or the supernatural world a superior to Christ. Sleep well.
Are we afraid of a virus? We are afraid of a microscopic bug that has a short earthly life? God has fearfully and wonderfully made us with bodies that do battle with such things without our even knowing! There are much bigger enemies and Christ is ruler over them all.
Moreover, there will never be a name – not in this era or in any other coming – that can or will surpass Christ. There have been many and will be others who boast, who claim to be greater…but they die and return to dust. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus lives…He’s not dead…he won’t be subject to death ever again. He is death’s master.
Jesus rules…He sits at the right hand of God and wields His power on behalf of those who trust in Him. How can we ever see ourselves as poor Christians? How can we ever imagine we are on the ‘losing side’?
Nearly every Sunday we speak the words that can, in fact should, chase away every fear. We confess that, “He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”
God help us to remember what that means! Jesus is the Ruler of the universe…the King of Kings. He is not far above us, He is our brother, the same person who in love chose to save in eternity and in time laid down His life to pay then entire debt of sin.
This same Jesus has been given to us as individual believers and to the assembly of believers in heaven and on earth.
In these uncertain times…what are we afraid of? The all-powerful Christ cares for us. We are secure. Don’t be troubled by what some suggest the future holds, because Jesus holds the future in His hands.
In all the strife of mortal life Our feet shall stand securely;
Temptation’s hour shall lose it’s pow’r, for Thou shalt guard us surely.
O God, renew with heav’nly dew Our body, soul, and spirit
Until we stand at Thy right hand thro’ Jesus’ saving merit. (TLH 437:3)