The Source of Permanent Encouragement

Bible photo(Ephesians 6:22)  “Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.”

The Ephesians’ prayers for Paul were designed by God to encourage him as he battled in spiritual warfare. Tychicus, the beloved and faithful minister, was sent to deliver the news about Paul’s situation and condition. This epistle we are reading was also delivered to them. While prayer helped Paul, it was the doctrine in the Word of God that was meant to encourage these believers.

It was natural for the Ephesians who loved Paul so much to be concerned about him. These believers had a heart for Paul but we also know Paul had a heart for these believers. When Paul realized he would most likely never see them again, look at the reaction.

(Acts 20:36-37) “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.  And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,…”

The Ephesian’s ministry in prayer helped Paul. His heart was to give them something that would provide a source of permanent encouragement. The Lord had something bigger in mind than simply a letter that would be lost in the sands of time. Today, in this epistle, we hold a permanent source of encouragement contained in six short chapters. The first three chapters give us deep doctrine about the Body of Christ and the final three chapters show us how this can be applied to the details of everyday life. It is definitely comforting to know the eternal truths about who we are in Christ and the reality of how they can be lived by real people! The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and communicates it to our soul to provide what we need to live a transformed life that conforms to Christ Himself. Yes, this is the mind of Christ delivered to us – the source of our renewed mind!

Renewed Thought – The Word of God is God’s source of encouragement. It is a permanent fix for temporary discouragement.

How To Hear Jesus

(Ephesians 4:21)  “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:”

Years before the Ephesians received the gospel; the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. So then how could they have “heard Him” and been “taught by Him?”

The Jesus these believers received was the same Jesus taught by the Apostle Paul himself day and night for 3 years with tears of passion for the gospel (Acts 20:31). This Jesus was the One “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13). So again, how could they have “heard Him” and been “taught by Him” if Jesus no longer walked the earth and it was left to His followers to continue the ministry?

One of the mysteries and most amazing thing about Christianity is that even death could not stop the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the crucifixion and resurrection only empowered His message by providing the means for salvation. In Romans 1:16, we see the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation.” But not only does this provide the means for soul-salvation, it also provides the means for God Himself to indwell the one saved. As the gospel from the Word of God is preached by someone who is indwelt by God, then it really is “Him” we hear and “Him” who teaches. The words are God’s words and the messenger is the mouthpiece of God.

If we are the vessels to carry on His ministry in this dispensation of grace, then it is a heavy responsibility to ensure the message is His message for today. We must ensure our words are really His words. We must ensure our message is really His message. We are not preaching a meek and lowly Jesus who travels by foot from place to place demonstrating the power of God to communicate the coming Kingdom of Heaven. We are preaching the Lord of glory who sits on the right hand of the Father demonstrating His power through His message of redemption giving all who believe resurrection life in Himself. This is how all of us in Christ “heard Him” and were “taught by Him.”

Renewed Thought – What redemption, what power, what eternal value is there in a gospel that does not communicate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?

Learning Christ

(Ephesians 4:20)  “But ye have not so learned Christ;”

I learned multiplication in the fourth grade. I remember sitting in the classroom as the teacher would come around and challenge us to recite our multiplication tables. No, it wasn’t abuse – it was education! I “mastered” the tables one through twelve. This was a foundation that carried me all the way through school and into the rest of my life. I couldn’t imagine living without knowing how to multiply (or add, subtract and divide for that matter!) It is a natural part of living to rely on my ability to multiply. I can honestly say that understanding multiplication changed my life.

Notice what this verse doesn’t say. We aren’t told “ye have not so learned about Christ.” The issue isn’t knowledge about Christ. That wouldn’t accomplish anything. If I had learned about multiplication – the history, the reasons for it, the applications of it – but never used or mastered it, what good would it have been other than something trivial? When we “learn Christ” we receive knowledge that goes beyond intellectual understanding. It is knowledge so embedded that it affects how we live. In fact, it changes how we live.

Notice also that we “learn” a Person, not a subject. When we learn this deeply, we identify with the object of our learning – in this case the Lord Jesus Christ. We learn Him by understanding how He thinks, how He acts, how He feels. We learn Christ through the Word of God communicated to our soul. This allows the Holy Spirit to take the Word and transform our lives.

The real point is set up in the word “But,” which contrasts this verse with the preceding verses. God is telling us that life in Christ is radically different than life as an unsaved person. Our behavior should reflect not only the Person who we learned to master in our understanding, but it should reflect the Person who has mastered us.

Renewed Thought – Knowing about Christ is far different that knowing Christ. Only one of them will change your life.