Sermons of David Chadwell
INSIGHTS FROM EPHESIANS
First, we want to put ourselves in the frame of mind Paul was in when he wrote
our text today. To do that, play a game of "Let's Pretend" with me. Pretend that
you have a close friend you admire and respect. This person is a close friend
because he cared about you. In his care for you when he first met you, he went
"way out on a limb" to help you. He literally put himself in a situation that he
could be hurt because he helped you.
Continue to pretend with me. After he leaves you, your close friend does get
into trouble because he helped some people just like you. The trouble is so
serious that he winds up in jail. In fact, you are convinced that one of the
reasons he is in trouble is because he helped you.
And there is nothing you can do to help him. He is too far from you for you to
be of personal encouragement to him. You would have no influence on the people
who put him in jail if your were with him.
Then one day you get a letter from him. In the letter he is concerned about you.
He is genuinely concerned that you are discouraged because of his problems. He
wants you to know as fact it is okay that he is experiencing problems. He knew
from the beginning he would have problems because he cared about and helped
people like you. He saw his situation as a price he paid for helping people like
you. He saw his opposition as a God-given task the Lord gave him to help others
understand God's intentions in Jesus.
His concern: you might be discouraged by his problems. The thing that encourages
him most in his situation is knowing you are okay. He does not want his troubles
to discourage you!
I ask you to listen to or read with me in Ephesians 3:1-13 and see if you can
hear all of this in this passage of scripture.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you
Gentilesif indeed you have heard of the stewardship of Gods grace which was
given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery,
as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can
understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was
not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy
apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are
fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise
in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to
the gift of Gods grace which was given to me according to the working of His
power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to
the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is
the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who
created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known
through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ
Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in
Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf,
for they are your glory (Ephesians 3:1-13).
The issue is not "is Jesus Christ opposed." That has always been true. The issue
is "are you willing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?" Do you understand what
God did in Jesus' death and resurrection? Are you willing to let Jesus teach you
how to live?
- Paul the Christian personally cared deeply about the people he taught.
- When he understood that Jesus was resurrected, was the Christ (the Jewish
Messiah), he was amazed that God was so patient with him to the point of
forgiving him and letting him participate in God's mission.
- Listen carefully to what Paul the Christian said about himself and Jesus'
response to him in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me
faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a
persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted
ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with
the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy
statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found
mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect
patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
- In what way was Paul the sinner ignorantly acting in unbelief? He completely
misunderstood Jesus! He did not know who Jesus was!
- Listen to what he said about himself before he became a Christian in Acts
So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of
Jesus of Nazareth.
And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the
saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also
when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished
them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being
furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.
While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and
commission of the chief priests . . .
- The transformation in Paul from violent opponent of Jesus to encourager of those
who sought Jesus is astounding!
- In the scriptures we just read, we see how violently Paul opposed Jesus and
those who believed Jesus was the Christ when Paul did not understand who Jesus
was and regarded the reports of Jesus' resurrection as lies.
- Listen to the contrast Paul made from the violent man who did not know Jesus was
the Christ to the encouraging man who understood the work of God in Jesus. This
statement is made to the Christians at Thessalonica concerning Paul's behavior
when he was with them. It is recorded in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-12.
For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for
greedGod is witnessnor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from
others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her
own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to
impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had
become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how
working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to
you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and
uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how
we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father
would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who
calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
- The change occurred in Paul because he finally understood God was at work in
- The same kind of transformation will occur in you when you understand that God
is at work in Jesus.
- You will continue to change, to grow closer to God's character all your life, as
you deepen your understanding of God's work in Jesus.
- For the reason of spiritual growth and development, Paul never left new
Christians alone to struggle to understand their new life in Jesus Christ.
- Do you remember the charge the resurrected Jesus gave to the apostles in Matthew
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me
in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.
- I ask you to note four things.
- The first thing: God through Jesus' resurrection gave him all spiritual
authority, so the resurrected Jesus had the right to give the apostles this
- The second thing: The charge Jesus gave the apostles was a worldwide charge
meant for all people, not for a single nation nor a group of nations.
- The third thing: the core of the charge was to go worldwide and make disciples.
- Disciples are the followers of a teacher.
- They were to understand that Jesus was the teacherl; they were to follow him.
- The fourth thing: Their message about Jesus would produce two results.
- The people who wanted to follow Jesus would be baptized (baptism then meant
- The people who wanted to follow Jesus would observe Jesus' teachings, his
instructions on how to live, his commandments.
- These people would not prove they belonged to Jesus just by being baptized, but
they would change the way they lived by following Jesus' teachings.
- Today, it is essential to teach people to be Jesus' disciples, to teach people
to allow Jesus' teachings and values to determine how they live.
- Paul cared greatly about the people he converted to Jesus Christ, and he did not
leave them to struggle on their own to discover how to be disciples.
- Sometimes persecution or other obstacles prevented Paul personally from
remaining and being of assistance to people newly converted to Christ.
- When that occurred, when Paul attracted so much opposition he was forced to
leave, he would either leave part of his team to teach the converts, or he would
send someone to check on them.
- Often, that person was Timothy.
- Listen to Acts 17:15, 16--
Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a
command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left. Now
while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within
him as he was observing the city full of idols.
- Paul was by himself in Athens.
- He was by himself because people who strongly opposed Jesus Christ came to Berea
because Paul was teaching there.
- The new converts perceived Paul's life was in jeopardy, so they escorted
him--for his own safety--to Athens.
- But Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea.
- Listen to 1 Corinthians 4:17--
For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child
in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I
teach everywhere in every church.
- Listen again to Philippians 2:19, 20--
But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may
be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred
spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.
- Listen still again to statements Paul made in 1 Thessalonians 3 --
Verses 1-3: Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to
be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and Gods
fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to
your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you
yourselves know that we have been destined for this.
Verses 6-8: But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us
good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us,
longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in
all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;
for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
- To this same person, Paul wrote these instructions and encouragement in 2
The Lords bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to
teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in
opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of
the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the
devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
- It is not enough for a person to be baptized into Jesus Christ.
- As important as that is, Jesus said it is not enough.
- The baptized person must dedicate himself or herself to living as Jesus'
disciple by learning his values and teachings.
- I want to end by directing your attention to today's text we read at the
beginning of this lesson, Ephesians 3:1-13.
- First, I want to note how deeply Paul cared about these people.
- Paul was Jewish by birth, and the people to whom he wrote were not Jewish by
- In Paul's lifetime, and long before, that mattered a lot.
- It mattered so much that typically devout Jews had only necessary interaction
with non-Jews (gentiles).
- Devout Jews worshipped the living God; gentiles generally worshipped idols or
believed in nothing.
- The lifestyle of Jews and the lifestyle of idol worshippers were quite
- Paul, who had been very Jewish (Galatians 1:13, 14), understood through God's
revelation that God wanted to save gentiles as much as He wanted to save Jews.
- That was not a popular understanding to have!
- People never like their religious beliefs to change, and Paul's understanding
would result in a huge change.
- Paul's understanding was not accepted by many Jews, and it was not accepted by
many idol worshippers.
- Paul said he knew his understanding by God's revelation meant trouble for him.
- However, that trouble was okay.
- He looked upon his understanding as a stewardship from God--God was in charge of
the understanding; Paul was only responsible for handling this understanding
- Paul labeled his understanding "the mystery of Christ."
- He said this mystery had not been previously understood by people.
- He said this mystery of Christ meant through the gospel (of God working through
Jesus Christ), God could make Christians of gentiles as certainly as He could
make Christians of Jews.
- Paul's responsibility was to tell everyone of God's grace expressed in the
- Paul wanted everyone to understand what God did in the death and resurrection of
- Paul wanted everyone to see how wise God was.
- He wanted everyone to see this was God's eternal purpose, not some afterthought
of God, not some crazy idea of Paul's.
- Paul's responsibility was to handle this understanding boldly and confidently.
- Therefore, Paul did not want them to be discouraged because he was being opposed
and physically suffering.
- He did not deny what he endured was the result of teaching them.
- However, he wanted them to understand that their continuing in Jesus Christ
glorified what God did in Jesus.
sermon posted 27 May 2008
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