The Signature Of The Church Ephesians 1:15-23
I. DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH. 15-16
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Verse 1 – Paul says that he had “heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.”
These are two things that a true church of Jesus Christ must possess – faith in Jesus and love for the saints.
If any church does not possess this – they are not a true church of Jesus.
The Apostle John says in 1 John 3:10-11, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”
Barclay says, “The two things which must characterize any true Church are loyalty to Christ and love to men.”
1. The faith that Paul mentions here is not a salvation faith.
He knows they are already saved, for he refers to them as saints in verse 1.
This faith is the everyday faith that existed among the saints – the everyday living kind of faith that constantly puts your faith to the test.
Many times in our Christian walk we face things that would make it easy to give up – to quit, – but true faith won’t let us.
Quitting is not for Christians. We cannot go back to Egypt, and it’s not wise to stay in the Wilderness.
So, we press on to the Promised Land.
Phil. 3:14, Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
It is said that Napoleon’s Bugle boy forgot how to play “Retreat” because there was no turning back with Napoleon.
* God teaches us to have faith through our trials and tribulations.
Oswald Chambers says, “Satan doesn’t teach us anything. He doesn’t want us to have faith. He only wants us to be available to him to work in and through us against the Kingdom of God. –
* The writer of Hebrews says in 11:6 that “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
2. The second thing that a true Church of Christ must possess is a “love for the saints.”
There are some saints and some Churches that are not loving – they argue, quarrel, backbite, gossip and just tear each other to shreds.
A Church of this caliber is totally out of fellowship with God, and yet they are the ones that so often will brag of their spirituality.
Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”.”
1 John 4:20-21, “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. ”
Barclay says, “The true Christian loves Christ and loves his fellow men. More than that, he knows that he cannot show his love to Christ in any other way than by showing his love to his fellow men.”
True love has both a horizontal and vertical position – if the horizontal (our love for our fellow man) falls, then so will the vertical(our love for God) also fall.
II. WISDOM AND REVELATION TO THE CHURCH. 17
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
A. Spiritual Wisdom And Revelation.
1. Paul is praying that God may work in the Saints that they will receive a wisdom and revelation from God.
This disposition of spiritual character should be the norm for God’s Church.
2. This is a necessity if we are to gain a knowledge of God.
The normal Greek word for knowledge is GNOSIS, but in this verse Paul uses the Greek word “epignosis” which means “a full, thorough and accurate knowledge.” The NIV translates it “that you may know Him better.”
3. For the Christian this growth in Knowledge and Revelation is necessary it is essential for Christian growth.
Barclay says, “A friendship which does not grow closer with the years tends to vanish with the years. And it is so with us and God.”
Since man was made in the image of God it stands to reason that the better we know God then the better we will understand and know ourselves and each other.
B. Opening The Eyes Of The Heart. 18
“ I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
1. Paul prays “…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”
It is the eyes of the heart that need to be enlightened – not the eyes of the mind.
As Dr. Vernon McGhee says, “One can be very brilliant intellectually, but that is no guarantee that there will be an understanding of spiritual truth.”
(See 1 Cor. 2:14; Isa. 55:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:15)
2. When we were lost and without Christ we had no hope. (See 2:12-13)
The hope of our calling should make us want to be holy, pure, obedient and faithful.
This hope should make us want be more like Jesus every day.
3. That we may know to whom we belong.
Most people see the Church only as an organization, building, or an institution.
But only with “the eyes of the heart” can we see the Church as God’s inheritance which is “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
Verse 11 speaks of our inheritance in Christ, but this verse speaks of us being God’s inheritance.
This tells us that we are very special to God. God’s saints are more special to Him than the splendor of all His creation.
4. It staggers my mind that God should look upon us as part of His great wealth – but then He paid a dear and high price for us.
III.POWER IN THE CHURCH. 19-21
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”
1. This is the same might and power that was used to raise Christ from the dead – Resurrection power.
In Phil. 3:10, Paul’s desire was. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” and that should be the great desire of believers in the Church today.
2. The same power that raised Christ from earth to sit at the Fathers right had Ascension power.
3. This is the power that is available to the Church today, and Paul prays that we may know the greatness of this power.
4. There is nothing above the earth, on the earth, or under the earth that Christ is not superior to and it is Paul’s prayer that the Church realize this and live as if they believe it.
IV. UNITY IN THE CHURCH. 22-23
“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
The greatest description and most blessed name ever given to the Church is “The Body of Christ.”
1. There is no unity in the world today.
a. There is disunity among the nations and disunity within the nation. (Political parties, etc.)
b. Disunity between the races and ethnic groups, Jew and Gentile – black and white.
c. Disunity in every man as good strives against evil.
2. But if there is one place that disunity should not be – it is the Church.
There is disunity between God and man and that is what Christ came to earth straighten out.
Jesus came to earth the wipe out the disunity among men – to rid the world of separation and bias.
It is as William Barclay says “He came to reconcile man to man and to reconcile man to God.”
3. But before this can happen all men must know about Jesus and that is what the Church is all about.
The Church is the body of Christ and once more quoting Barclay: “The Church is quite literally hands to do Christ’s work, feet to run upon his errands, a voice to speak his words.”
In Paul’s prayer he doesn’t ask God to give them things they do not have, but to reveal to them an understanding of what they already have.
Illus.: William Randolph Hearst, famous newspaper and magazine publisher, was a collector of art treasures. He heard about some valuable items that he felt he must have. He sent agents all over the world in search for these valuable items. After a considerable amount of time searching the agent finally reported that he had found them. They were stored in one of Mr. Hearst’s warehouses. He had been searching for something he already had,
Don’t we as Christians do this in the spiritual; sense.