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Grace and Peace, Peace and Grace
This is the last sermon on Ephesians, a sermon of victory in a letter of victory.
The Apostle began his greeting to the Ephesians and to us with Grace and Peace. He now ends with Peace and Grace. These are the wonderful bookends of a life of victory over the world, the flesh and the devil.
There truly is no weapon formed against us that will stand. If anyone is in need of assurance, you have it here in spades.
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Paul asks for prayer that he utterance would be given to him by the Holy Spirit and that he would speak those utterances boldly. This is a very important statement for the modern church. Many preachers open their mouth so timidly that the mystery of the gospel is barely revealed.
Paul has spoken boldly in this letter but he reminds himself and the Ephesians that it is easier to speak in letters than in person. To proclaim the glory that is in Christ through the forgiveness of sins requires great boldness.
First, in order to be candidate for grace, one needs to understand that our sins are an offense to the Holy God. In the opening verses of Ephesians, he calls the Ephesians to holiness. But no man can be holy without the forgiveness of sins.
Thus, it is right and fitting for preachers to remind the people of their sins. Certainly it is right to remind those who are outside of Christ, Gentiles by nature, without God and without hope. But it is also fitting to remind those who are in Christ, if indeed you have tasted of the goodness of the Lord. For without grace there is no peace.
The Lord is faithful and just to forgive men their sins when they confess them. But for those who resist the will of the Lord, there is only a certain expectation of judgment. So, confess that you might receive grace and peace.
There are multiple levels of the ‘mystery’ of the gospel. He uses that phrase in the opening chapter to declare how God has united to men, Jew and Gentile, into one new man. But the way God did this is through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here, his emphasis is the gospel itself. The gospel is a great mystery. Why and how did God enter His creation? Why did Jesus need to die for sinners? What is the significance of the Resurrection and the Ascension? What does it mean to be in Christ and in His Spirit. These are all revealed in the gospel such that it is no longer a hidden mystery. It is now revealed.
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul was quite literally a messenger of Christ in chains. He was a prisoner of the Romans but he considered himself a prisoner of Christ. Paul had some reason to fear man and the consequences of his words. His words had already caused conflict with the Jews in such a way that they pushed a charge against him which ended up in a Roman court. Now, he was at the mercy of the court.
But we see that when he testified before rulers and kings, he was faithful and bold to speak the truth. At that point, he realized that his ambassadorship was from Jesus Christ. He is not merely a man commissioned by the church to gain converts but rather a man commissioned by Jesus Christ to proclaim the glory of the gospel. Thus, he was not his own. He did not have the right to speak his own words but only those words for which he was commissioned.
Paul is calling for prayer. He knows that he is an ambassador for Jesus and that he ought to speak boldly.
A preacher ought to speak boldly. That ought has moral content. If a preacher does not speak boldly, then he is not being obedient to the Lord.
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
Here is a simple aside that teaches us. Tychicus was a faithful minister with Paul. Paul trusted him to deliver various letters for him. Thus, we see that Tychicus’s work is an extension of Paul’s work.
When Paul says that Tychicus will make all things known to them, he is affirming that Tychicus will teach them exactly what Paul would teach them, exactly what Jesus would teach them.
This little aside also speaks to us about the need for personal contact. Obviously, in our modern era, we have a greater ability to communicate at a distance. But in Paul’s day, he still could have sent letters back and forth through couriers. But he needed more than a courier, he needed an ambassador, one whom he could trust to speak his words after him.
Paul is an ambassador of Christ and Tychicus is an ambassador both to Paul and to Christ. Paul wanted him there, face to face, with the Ephesians.
We should keep this in mind as we support various works. Right now, we support the work in Poland. It is one thing to send letters of encouragement or to send financial support. But face to face extended time is invaluable.
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Tychicus was not there merely for information. The need for bodily ministry in the body is apparent. Ministers are to comfort the hearts of the saints.
What comfort might he afford them?
1. That Paul, who is in chains, is doing well.
2. That Paul’s chains do not imprison the gospel.
3. That they, themselves, are overwhelming victors in Christ Jesus.
4. That God’s grace and peace abides with them.
We see in Tychicus the need for the extension of the ministry through other faithful ministers.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks a wonderful benediction to the saints, peace. He sends God’s peace and his own love and the love of the Father and the Son.
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.
Paul ends with grace to those that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. What would this sincerity consist of?
1. Honesty- the need for grace. This means that you must admit not only that you are a sinner in need of grace but that you sin and are in need of grace.
A. A sinner- We are part of the fallen Adam. All men need grace. We are born into sin and are guilty before God as sure as we are men.
B. One who sins- We need ongoing grace because we continue to sin. We do not continue in sin that grace may abound. But we do continue to sin. In order to continue to receive grace, we must continue to walk honestly before the Lord admitting our need for grace.
This is one reason why a holiness doctrine is so dangerous to saints. If you think that you can sin less and less until you are sinless, you will likely confess less and less until you are confessless.
2. A radically changed life- Although we are sinners and we do sin, Paul makes it clear that we are no longer under the direct sway of the principalities and powers. We have been set free and seated with Christ and so we should act like free men.
3. Love for All Saints- This radically changed life is manifested in the ordinary life of the saints. We love one another and are means of grace within His church. Thus, Tychicus and we are means to comfort the hearts of the saints. We are His body, the extension of Christ on the Earth.
4. The power of His might- We do this not in our strength, never claiming the victory in our own name but rather in the power and might of the risen Lord Jesus. We live this way according to the present work of the Holy Spirit.
So, be sincere in your love for Jesus. Rely upon His grace. Walk in newness of life. Cultivate a love for all saints that we might be mutually benefitted in our walk in Christ. Embrace responsibility and accountability in Christ’s church. Be glad about bold preachers who remind you of the need for grace that leads to peace.
Finally, do not grow bold in your own strength but be bold in the power of His might. Thus, you will walk in the peace of Christ.