It’s very easy to read past the words, “in Christ”, as they are all over the New Testament. Yet if we can really get a feel for how prominent this idea of being in Christ is, and what it means, it will greatly help us. In the world it is dramatic to be identified with people of notoriety, but here we are identified with being in Jesus Christ. Nothing can surpass the spiritual blessings of being identified in Christ!
Turn to Ephesians chapter 1 verse 1. Paul addresses the church at Ephesus with these words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now I’ve heard preachers say, and I’m sure that this is very common for anybody who preaches through an entire book of the Bible. I remember hearing John Piper saying that when he got to the end of preaching through a book he began to recognize more fully what was being talked about at the beginning of the book. And that’s true, I found the same thing. I remember preaching through Romans, you get to the end of Romans and I recognized realities at the beginning of Romans that I didn’t really grasp, because I really didn’t have a good feel for the whole book of Romans. In view of this, what I’ve sought to do in preaching through a whole books is read the entire books through over and over and over again. When I preached through Hebrews I got it to were I could read the whole book through in 35 minutes. And I tried every week to be going through the book, beginning to end. Because I wanted the whole book fresh, I wanted to feel for the whole thing. Not only am I seeking to read Ephesians through from end to end. I had worked on trying to memorize the whole letter in the past, and so I’m trying to memorize the whole thing again. I’ve got it first three chapters down, and will be working on chapters 4, 5, and 6 in the in the days ahead.
But what’s happening is this, something is becoming clear, even here in the beginning in this introduction. When Paul says to the Saints who are in Ephesus and our faithful in Christ Jesus, he brings fourth three realities, 1) Saints, 2) faithful, and 3) in Christ Jesus. It’s interesting to me, especially in in just thinking through the first chapter as a whole, that these are three very prominent realities that come out in this first chapter. And what I’m recognizing here is that these three realities, about the Christian, are very much in concise form, that which he is going to go on and deal with in much more detail in these verses ahead.
These are three realities that we don’t want to pass over because they’re not just realities about the Christian life that Paul randomly pulled out of the air. What he’s doing here is he’s setting the direction, he’s setting the course, for where he wants to take us. When Paul went to write, he didn’t just start writing not knowing where he wanted to go, he knew the things that he wanted to say. And even in the introduction here, he’s drawing out realities that pertain to the very things that he wants to deal with. We looked last week at this reality, “to the Saints who are in Ephesus and our faithful in Christ Jesus.” We looked at saints, we really focused in on that, “saints” what’s the idea?
Just very quickly, in review, where does saint come from? Well as we looked at the term is actually very closely related to holy and to sanctified. You know where it comes from? Saint comes from the idea of sanctified….
(Rest of the transcript may come at a later date.)