The Benediction of Ephesians

Opening:

We have been in Ephesians for sometime now. I began this series on July 2 and now we are wrapping it up. When I began this series it was hot outside and now it is almost winter. We have preached this series through the seasons. I hope it was not too long for you. John MacArthur preached some 62 or 63 messages on Ephesians. This is expository preaching, which used to be very common.

We come to the last few verses.

Do you pray for Christian leaders? Do you pray for others? Do you pray specific prayers?

Do you love Jesus? How would you describe your love for Jesus? Is it “incorruptible”?

Do you have grace? Do you extend grace? Do you have love with faith from God, the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?

We see all these ideas listed in the passage today.

In his best-selling book The Reason for God, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares the story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how the grace extended to us through Christ’s work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:

Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with “rights”—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was (if anything) more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provided all this for her at infinite cost to himself.[1]

My theme and application:

Paul’s closing words: peace, love, faith, grace, love God with an incorruptible love.

Let’s read the passage:

Ephesians 5:21-23:

But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

  1. Let’s start by talking about verse 21 and Tychicus
    1. Who is this man? MacArthur notes: A convert from Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who was with the apostle during his first imprisonment in Rome, from where this epistle was written (see 3:1). He accompanied Paul in taking an offering to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 20:4–6) and was sent by him on several missions (2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12).
    2. Bible Knowledge Commentary: Apparently Tychicus was the bearer of this epistle. Paul considered him a dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord. In Colossians 4:7 Paul called him by these same titles and added that he was a “fellow servant” (syndoulos, “fellow slave”). Tychicus is also mentioned in Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12; and Titus 3:12. Tychicus was to inform the Ephesians of Paul’s welfare—how he was and what he was doing—in order to encourage them (cf. Eph. 3:13).
    3. I want to point out a different application on this verse.
    4. This verse follows Paul’s words on prayer. In the previous few verses, verses 19-20 Paul says: and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
    5. So, Paul talked about praying and now he talks about Tychicus communicating what is going on with him.
    6. Tychicus is communicating how they should pray.
    7. Tychicus is going to share with them what is going on in Paul’s ministry so that they can pray accordingly.
    8. You know we should pray as detailed as we can.
    9. Do you receive the church prayer chain? Let me know if you would like those?
    10. Every week we print out a weekly prayer list, do you pick up a copy? Let me know if you would like one.
    11. Do you pray for spiritual needs?
    12. Pray Spiritual prayers. Look at that verse 19 again: and prayon my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
    13. Paul was in prison, but he did not ask them to pray for his release he asked them to pray for the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul could have asked them to pray for his rest, his sores from the poor sleeping condition, his health, but he wanted prayers in proclaiming the Gospel.
  2. Now let’s get into the benediction:
    1. One source gives a NOTE ON 6:23–24 This beautiful benediction sums up the major themes of this very personal letter, reminding readers of the peace (v. 15; 1:2; 2:14–15, 17; 4:3), love (1:15; 4:2, 15–16; 5:25, 28, 33), and faith (6:16; 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13) from God and Jesus Christ.”
    2. Look at all those verses that reference these nouns.
    3. Peace: (v. 15; 1:2; 2:14–15, 17; 4:3): Do you have the peace of Christ. Do you offer others peace? Col. 3:15: Letthe peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
    4. Love with faith:
      1. Love is listed many times in Ephesians: 1:15; 4:2, 15–16; 5:25, 28, 33
      2. Faith is also listed many times in Ephesians: 6:16; 1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17; 4:5, 13
    5. This love and faith is From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all about Jesus.
    6. Grace (verse 24): Grace is listed in Ephesians quite a bit too, no less than 12 times in this letter (Eph. 1:2, 6, 7; 2:5, 7, 8; 3:2, 7, 8; 4:7, 29; 6:24).
    7. The Ephesian letter begins with the grace and peace of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and ends in the immortality of love.
    8. Paul ends the epistle as he opened it.

Ray Ortlund Jr writes:

We were married to Mr. Law. He was a good man, in his way, but he did not understand our weakness. He came home every evening and asked, “So, how was your day? Did you do what I told you to? Did you make the kids behave? Did you waste any time? Did you complete everything I put on your To Do list?” So many demands and expectations. And hard as we tried, we couldn’t be perfect. We could never satisfy him. We forgot things that were important to him. We let the children misbehave. We failed in other ways. It was a miserable marriage, because Mr. Law always pointed out our failings. And the worst of it was, he was always right! But his remedy was always the same: Do better tomorrow. We didn’t, because we couldn’t.

Then Mr. Law died. And we remarried, this time to Mr. Grace. Our new husband, Jesus, comes home every evening and the house is a mess, the children are being naughty, dinner is burning on the stove, and we have even had other men in the house during the day. Still, he sweeps us into his arms and says, “I love you, I chose you, I died for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And our hearts melt. We don’t understand such love. We expect him to despise us and reject us and humiliate us, but he treats us so well. We are so glad to belong to him now and forever, and we long to be “fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10)!

Being married to Mr. Law never changed us. But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows.[2]

Christianity is all about Jesus.

 

  • Final application: Love Jesus with an “incorruptible love.”
    1. Love our Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love Verse 24. This could also be translated “Undying love.” What does that mean: NET Bible note: The term “undying” which modifies it captures the sense of the kind of love the author is referring to here. He is saying that God’s grace will be with those whose love for Jesus never ceases.
    2. Another source points out some more applications with this: “Incorruptible” or “undying” love has the idea that believers’ love for the Lord Jesus Christ is to be pure, not corrupted with wrong motives or secret disloyalties.
    3. Does your love for Jesus cease?
    4. Do we really love Jesus?
    5. 2 Cor. 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves and make sure we are in the faith. How often do we do this?
    6. Is our faith in Jesus pure?
    7. 2 Tim. 3:7 talks about people who are always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
    8. Do we love Jesus or just things that we think Jesus represents?
    9. Do we love the Word of God, or do we just like to study?
    10. I say the following with great respect and caution.
      1. To some Jesus represents morality. The values are good, but do we love Jesus with “incorruptible love.” We don’t love Jesus we just love His values.
      2. To some Jesus represents the Judea-Christian values: we don’t love Jesus we just love the values.
  • To some Jesus represents our family history. We have always been going to church and so we go. We don’t love Jesus, we just wish to stay true to our family history.
  1. To many in the United States Jesus represents our American founding and history and so there are many in this fine country who really do not love Jesus from day-to-day and week-to-week, but they do when we talk about American values.
  2. There are some that love Jesus around Christmas time or Resurrection Sunday. There are some that love Jesus on Mother’s Day. In which case, He really is not loved. Either He is Lord of all, or not lord at all. In this case Jesus is not loved with an “undying” and “incorruptible” love.
  3. To many Jesus is loved until He messes with their life. For example, you love Jesus until you have a boyfriend and you want to move in together and be sexually active, but not get married. In which case, you compromise the Bible and say it is okay. In that case you love your boyfriend and hate Jesus.
  • Do we love Jesus?
  • Do we organize our affairs around Him?
  1. One source sheds light on the Ephesian church: what happened with the Ephesian Christians? Unfortunately, some Ephesian believers later did lose the fervency of their love for Christ (Rev. 2:4). Paul’s benediction, though unusual (cf. the chart “Paul’s Concluding Benedictions in His Epistles,” at Rom. 16:17–20), was certainly fitting.

The Real Jesus Christ

The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

There’s the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

There’s Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

There’s Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

There’s Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

There’s Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

There’s Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

There’s Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

There’s Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

There’s Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that “all you need is love.”

There’s Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There’s Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding “the god within” while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

There’s Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

There’s Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on “the system.”

There’s Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

There’s Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

There’s Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

And then there’s Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God’s reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father’s Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.[3]

As you leave have an incorruptible love for Jesus!

It is my hope and prayer that you now, know this book more in depth or in a different wy than you did before. The value of preaching through books of the Bible is that we can really learn a book of the Bible. This is called Expository preaching. This means that we teach the Bible text, by text, during the sermons. John MacArthur is a wonderful Bible teacher and he has taught all through the New Testament at his church. He did this over a long period of time, some forty or more years. Now, we are at a point in the church calendar where we begin to think about Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Ephesians fits with Jesus’ birth as we think about how much Ephesians speaks about us being “in Christ.” We are “in Christ,” we are held in God’s love.

Go, love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

Eph. 5:23: Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

 

 

 

[1] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Riverhead Books, 2008), pp. 189-19

[2] Ray Ortlund, “Who are you married to?”The Gospel Coalition blog—Ray Ortlund (2-15-15)

[3] Kevin DeYoung, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)

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