This is the sermon for Wednesday, June 9th, 2010.
Two true evidences of your faith.
Ephesians 1:15-16 ESV – 15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Many people like to give a number of non-biblical evidences to faith. They may talk about the fact that they don’t struggle with sin (which is a lie actually, those who say they don’t struggle with sin are the ones who usually struggle the most), or they may talk about how much they may give in an offering or to some ministry, or they boast about some type of good work, amongst other things.
But Paul in the text that we are going to be unpacking reveals two main evidences that we are truly in the faith. Let’s begin unpacking our text.
The reason behind Paul’s prayer.
Ephesians 1:15a & 16 ESV – 15For this reason…16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Paul says he gives thanks for the believers in Ephesus and brings them before the Lord in prayer. This should be a great encouragement to the Ephesian church. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, regularly prays for them and thanks God for them. Why? Well, not because they are rich, or their pedigree, or some good work; but its all about Jesus and what He has done for them.
He is referring to what he wrote earlier in this chapter. Let’s look at the passage and see the work of Christ in it.
Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
What we have in Christ:
- Every spiritual blessing from heaven (verse 3).
- Chosen to be holy and blameless before Him (verse 4).
- In love we’ve been predestined for adoption as sons, according to His will (verse 5).
- Redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins (verse 7).
- The riches of His grace lavished upon us (verses 7-8).
- Obtained an inheritance (verse 11).
- When we heard the Gospel and believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit (verse 13).
- The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our future inheritance (verse 14).
That is the reason Paul is praying for these Ephesian believers – it’s not about them, it’s all about Jesus.
We should lift up fellow believers in prayer as well. Not for the good things they have done or the kind words they may say, but because of what Jesus has done for all of us.
Let’s now look at the two evidences of faith that Paul gives within our text. Hopefully you will notice that it is the first two points in our church’s mission statement: Upward and Inward.
The first evidence: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:15 ESV – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus…
Faith is the Greek word pistis (pis’-tis). It means, “Faith, trust, confidence, moral conviction.” It can refer too conversion, or ongoing faith, and in some cases in Scriptural doctrinal belief. Here I believe Paul is referring to their ongoing faith, commonly called the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. The Ephesian believers continued trusting in Jesus no matter the struggle, trial, or persecution.
Many ministers will pad their resume’s with how many people were “saved” or said the “sinner’s prayer” through their ministry. But true faith in Christ perseveres. It goes beyond the good feelings of conversion and grows in grace and in God’s Word. It stands during severe trials because it’s foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ, not some charismatic leader or some religious institution.
So while confession of Christ is important – persevering in Christ is true evidence of being in the faith.
Second evidence: Love toward other believers.
Ephesians 1:15 ESV – … and your love toward all the saints…
The Ephesian church genuinely had an unconditional love (agape) for each other. I’m sure there were disagreements and differences within the body, but their love for one another overshadowed those things.
Church, do we truly love one another, or is this just meaningless words? This is a question we all must ask.
The Apostle John speaks of the importance of the believer’s love toward one another.
1 John 2:9-11 ESV – 9Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
As we conclude tonight’s sermon I want to leave us with one important truth: Your love for other Christians is just as much a mark of true faith as your love for God.