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God Supplies our Greatest Needs

Sermon Date:June 11, 2017

Sermon Topics:Ephesians 6:23-24

Author:Allen Burns

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-11 Sermon Title: God Supplies our Greatest Needs Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:23-24 Memory Verse: Ephesians 6:24 MAIN IDEA: Respond to God supplying our greatest needs with an incorruptible love for Jesus. God Supplies Our Need for Truth God Supplies Our Need for Peace and Love with Faith God Supplies Our Need for Grace Therefore, Love the Lord Jesus Christ   NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio and video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.  

Introduction: Closing a letter

There are many ways we may close a letter. We may say, “kind regards, very truly yours, good wishes, take care, cordially,” or “later alligator.” We may put great thought in how to close the letter or we may put no thought at all. The Holy Spirit inspires the Apostle Paul to close his letter to the Ephesians with words of great encouragement, wisdom, and spiritual depth. He writes: Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. (Eph. 6:23-24) These words represent grand, sweeping theology. They are not simple words communicating, “take care,” or “have a nice day,” rather, they speak of the glories of salvation. The readers have memorable words of importance; words such as peace, love, faith, and grace. And, they know they are to love Christ with an incorruptible love. The main idea of the message is this: MAIN IDEA: Respond to God supplying our greatest needs with an incorruptible love for Jesus. God is the source of all that is good. As James writes, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Ja. 1:17). We are people with great need, and God supplies our need. Let’s begin with the first point, which is:

God Supplies Our Need for Truth

God’s gifts of peace, grace, and faith begins first with His gift of truth. In other words, His gift of truth must first be received and believed before He gives any other blessing of salvation. People have an innate, God-given craving for truth. We need truth. This week, our government is holding hearings with public testimony because of a need for the truth. We send our children to school so they may learn the truth. Every culture and civilization seeks the truth. In the ancient city of Ephesus, people worship Artemis. Their life revolves around worshipping a false God. They are ignorant of the One True God. They do not worship Him or give Him thanks. They are people who go about life, blind to the truth of God and His goodness. They need the truth. The citizens of Ephesus are like the people of today. Today, people believe life is good. They do not know they are in condemned enemies of God. They are blind to the truth and believe the Bible is just another fairy-tale. Today, people need the truth. Eternal life begins with truth. The Creator of the Universe needs to reveal to us the truth about life, our needs, how to live, where to find joy, and how to be satisfied. God is the One who knows all truth. God, as it may be said, has cornered the market on truth. In 53ad, God sends His ambassador, the Apostle Paul, to Ephesus. Paul brings God’s word of truth and proclaims it to the people of Ephesus. Some do not believe. But, many do. Those who believe, become the children of God. Paul describes their experience in this letter. He says, “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him (in Christ) with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14) A church starts and thrives in Ephesus. People no longer worship a false God. Life has meaning and purpose. They no longer believe the lies and deception of the enemy. Now, they worship the One True God and His Son, Jesus Christ. They burn millions of dollars of books on the occult, and they melt idols made of silver. In doing this, the Ephesian saints become rich. They are not rich by the standards of Ancient Rome, but by the standards of the heavenly realm. They have the greatest of all possessions; Christ and eternal life. They sing songs of joy. They look at the world differently. They no longer live as pagans, but as holy children of a holy God. The truth of God is a rich possession. In ancient Ephesus, and today, those who do not have the truth have no idea of their need. They think they have everything, but without God’s truth, they are destitute and live in deception and falsehood. It doesn’t matter how much money is in your bank account, how many stocks you own, or if you have vacation homes in the greatest of locations, if you do not have God’s truth, you are poor, wretched, and dead. Two years after his arrival, the Apostle leaves Ephesus. The years pass, and over time, the Ephesian saints fall away from the truth and become deceived. They allow lies and temptations to lead them away from truth. God is gracious and, once again, God sends the truth. His Spirit inspires Paul to write a letter that will breathe fresh truth into their mind and heart. The letter returns the Saints to the pillar of truth, so they may stand firm in the Lord, and be strong in the power of His might. The all-wise God sees through time. He knows our need for the truth is the same as the Ephesians. God preserves the letter for us. We have the word of truth God sends to Ephesus. It strengthens us so we may stand firm with the Ephesian saints. How amazing, that a letter written to a church by a man in prison in the first century, proves incredibly valuable to us today. The truth of this letter changes the Ephesians and it changes us. How invigorating it is for our soul to learn:
  • God chose us from the foundation of the world, (Eph. 1:4)
  • We receive every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (Eph. 1:3)
  • We are adopted children of God, (Eph. 1:4, 5)
  • We receive redemption and the forgiveness of sins, (Eph. 1:7)
  • We have a shared inheritance with Christ, (Eph. 1:11)
  • and the surety of God’s pledge, guaranteeing all this, is the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13).
In Christ, we are together alive, rise, and seated at the right hand of God (Eph. 2:5-6). The truth humbles us. We are saved, not because of works of righteousness, but because of God’s great mercy and love. We rejoice in knowing we share salvation equally with one hope, one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and one God and Father over all (Eph. 4:4-5). With the truth of this letter, we are no longer children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Eph. 4:14). We speak the truth to one another in love so, we may mature in Christ and rejoice in the richness of salvation. God’s truth transforms our lives. We learn how to walk in love, live holy, and make the most of our time because the days are evil. The letter helps us relate to one another in the church, in our marriages, at home, and in the workplace. We are better people because of the letter to the Ephesians. We need this truth, and God graciously and generously supplies our need. Praise God for the truth of this letter to the Ephesians.

God Supplies Our Need for Peace and Love with Faith

Peace, and love with faith are a package. We receive them because we believe in the message of truth. Romans, 5:1-5, speaks well on this topic (scripture reading). It says, because we are justified by faith, we have peace with God. Faith is the door to the kingdom of peace. We move from being targets of God’s wrath, condemned enemies of God, to His kingdom of peace. Unless we hear the truth of God, we do not know we are His enemies (Rom. 5:10) and our disobedience makes us objects of His wrath (Jn. 3:36). Wrath is a very strong word for being angry. God is very angry over sin. He is so angry; He will punish those who sin against Him with eternal punishment. The only thing which keeps wicked people from experiencing God’s wrath right now is God’s sovereign timing. It is not a matter of if, but when. His wrath may come at any time. There is not a person strong enough to resist and stand up to God’s punishment. There is none who is innocent and undeserving of His punishment. The fiery pit of hell is prepared and ready. God’s angels stand ready. God is ready. There is nothing standing in-between God and sinners condemned as His enemies. The only people spared from God’s wrath of eternal punishment are those who believe the message of truth. Ambassadors of God proclaim the ministry of reconciliation, “Be reconciled to God. Beg for His mercy. Believe in salvation through His Son. Flee the wrath to come.” God’s children hear those words and believe them to be true. Faith in God’s message grants peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints of God no longer dangle over the fiery pit of hell, ready to fall by the command of God. They are at peace with God. God delivers us from the kingdom of destruction and brings us to the Kingdom of His Son; the Prince of peace. As citizens of His kingdom, we have peace with God and we are to live at peace with one another. We are to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). As citizens living in subjection to the Prince of Peace, we are to daily shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:16). We are ambassadors proclaiming the ministry of reconciliation. When God supplies peace, He also supplies love with faith. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 6:23) Our faith comes as a gift because of God’s love: God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5). We are spiritually dead, enemies of God, but because of God’s great love, He makes us alive in Christ. Salvation is because of God’s great love. God adds to His love, our faith. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Eph. 2:8-9) The “it” in the phrase, “it is the gift of God,” refers to the entire phrase; “by grace you have been saved through faith.” Our faith is a gift of grace (Ro. 12:3). “Love with faith” is from God. Those who boast will say, “I have faith.” The humble will say, “God gives me faith. My salvation is undeserved.” We must remember what Scripture says about our spiritual condition before salvation. All people are spiritually dead. Everyone lives according to the lusts of the flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind (Ephesians 2:1-3). Before salvation, no one understands, no one seeks God, no one does good, and there is none who has a fear of God (Romans 3:10-18). Give God the glory for salvation. He supplies peace, and He supplies love with faith.

God Supplies Our Need for Grace

For us to understand the magnitude of grace, it is helpful to know the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is not punishing someone who deserves punishment. God is merciful to remove the punishment we deserve. Grace is unmerited favor; receiving something we do not deserve.
  • Mercy makes us so that we are no longer enemies of God. Grace adopts us as His children.
  • Mercy removes the stain of sin. Grace clothes us with the righteousness of Christ.
  • Mercy forgives a debt we cannot repay. Grace grants us an inheritance in Christ.
  • Mercy keeps us from the lowest depths of hell. Grace makes us alive, risen, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places.
Listen to how the beginning of this letter speaks of God’s grace: He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Eph. 1:5-8) God adopts us so that, in the ages to come, heaven and earth will praise the surpassing riches of His grace. His intention with our salvation is for the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14). The transformation of the sinner to saint is a God-glorifying work (not man). God takes a rebellious enemy, loves him, and with His love, changes the heart of the enemy to love and obey Christ. It is the most beautiful trophy on the shelf of all achievements, above all gold medals, silver cups, or garlands of roses. The trophy of God’s achievement is inscribed with these words: “God’s grace is most glorious.” The lavishing of God’s grace is the gift of Christ, the Bridegroom, to the church, the bride. Christ is given as the head over all things to the church, which is His body. Grace is the means by which we enjoy Christ. God works the strength of His might to raise Christ from the dead and seats Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. God puts all things in subjection under Christ’s feet, and (get this), God gives Jesus to the church. (Eph. 1:19-23) If we only receive mercy, we may not enjoy Christ. Grace lifts us up to be with Christ. Grace joins us in union with God’s Beloved Son. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-7) The Son is rich and able to meet every need. He is powerful and nobody may take Him away from us. Without grace, we may not enjoy Christ as the most valued treasure of the Universe. Grace makes it so we may enjoy the unfathomable riches of our Savior and have every need met in Him. What is our response to peace, love with faith, and grace?

 Therefore, Love the Lord Jesus Christ

24Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. (Eph. 6:24) There is a qualifying characteristic of the recipients of grace. They are identified because of their love of Jesus. In other words, the evidence of receiving God’s grace is an incorruptible love for Jesus Christ. The implication is that those who do not love Jesus with an incorruptible love, do not receive grace. Paul expresses this very clearly in his closing to the church in Corinth. He says, If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. (1 Cor. 16:22) To be accursed is to be damned. Instead of asking people, “are you saved,” we may just as easily ask, “do you love Jesus?” If they say, “Yes, I love Jesus,” we may follow up with the question, “Is your love incorruptible?” We need to encourage one another to love Jesus with an incorruptible love, or else face eternal damnation. First off, we need to know that loving Jesus with an incorruptible love is impossible for men and women. It takes a work of God for us to love Jesus. God’s work of grace produces an incorruptible love for Jesus in His saints. People who receive grace are God’s workmanship. God’s work always produces the results God intends, and nothing less. The same Holy Spirit who raises Jesus from the dead and seats Him in the heavenly places is the same Holy Spirit who works in our heart to produce in us the fruit of an incorruptible love for Jesus. Every true believer loves Jesus with an incorruptible love. So then, we must ask ourselves, how do I know I love Jesus with an incorruptible love? Because, if I do, God’s grace is upon me, and if God’s grace is upon me, I am saved. What is the evidence of love? There is identifiable evidence of love. When people love someone, they talk about that person, spend time with them, do nice things for them, and they give them a little sugar on the jaw (Andy Griffith). We might say, well, we see evidence of love, but, how do we know their heart; how do we know the love is real? Let’s recognize that it is hard to fake loving someone. Incorruptible love may not be faked. What is incorruptible love? To understand incorruptible love, let’s place the word into another context. If we say that a politician is incorruptible (impossible, but, let’s just go with the example), what will we think of the politician? We will think they may not be bought. The positions and values may not be swayed; they are not crooked or dishonest. We will think the politician is not shady or unethical or a fraud. We will think, when it comes to representing a viewpoint, they are the real deal. They will have the right view next year, and the next year, and so forth. The love of God is poured into our hearts through His Spirit. His Spirt gives us an incorruptible love for Jesus. God’s gift is perfect. It never perishes, it is incapable of being destroyed, it may not be bought or sold, and it is pure and sincere. God’s grace is effectual. There is no mistaking the outcome. It is impossible to fake God’s work of grace which is for us to love Christ. God’s grace brings about an exaltation of Christ in the heart. There is a direct relationship between love and worship, and love and exaltation. We exalt that which we love. God’s purpose in the Universe is the exaltation of Jesus Christ. God states it everywhere in the Scripture, including this letter to the Ephesians: And to Him (the Son of Man) was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14) … He will come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:18) God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11) God gives us love with faith, and by His grace, He opens our eyes to Christ so we may delight in His glory. The evidence of loving Jesus is that He is our greatest desire and passion. He is the treasure and joy of our heart. The thought of losing Christ brings anguish and heartache. He is in our heart, and out of the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks (Mt. 12:34). It brings pain to hear people speak badly about Jesus and when people speak well of Jesus, we rejoice. Our love for Jesus spills into love for others. Men love their wives as Christ loves the church. Children obey their parents as they obey Christ. The workplace is transformed when the love of Christ impacts behavior. Incorruptible love is a persevering love. Ask a person who is saved by grace, “Did you love Jesus the day you were saved?” They will say, “Yes.” Do you still love Jesus today? “Yes.” What if life becomes very difficult? “Difficulty will not change my love for Jesus. Storms come and go. People mock my faith.  The laws make it more and more difficult, but I still love Jesus. The culture mocks Jesus, but I still love Him. There is no amount of money which will change my mind. Cancer will not change my mind.” When we love Jesus with incorruptible love, we love Him in sickness and health, in riches and poverty, and for better or for worse. Love that is unchanging, persevering, can’t be bought, and can’t be moved is an incorruptible love. Will we fail Jesus? Yes. But we will still love Him. We might sin, but we will hate the sin, get up, dust ourselves off, and continue to walk on the road that leads us to eternity with Him. We are rooted and grounded in our love (Eph. 3:17). Our love is a root of nourishment. He is our bread of life and our living water. Without Him, we shrivel up and die. We are grounded in our love of Jesus. He is our firm foundation, our Cornerstone. We may not be moved. We do not build upon the sand, but upon a solid rock. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. (Eph. 6:24)