By Pastor Matt Black
04 June 2006
Lord's Day morning
Introduction: Open your Bible to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This morning we are going to see how a person who comes to know Jesus Christ is totally transformed. The title of this morning’s message is “Marks of a Transformed Life.” We will be looking at two marks this morning, and then two marks next week. Let’s stand together and read Ephesians chapter 1 and verses 15 through 23.
[Stand and read Ephesians 1:15-23]
In these verses we see that Paul heard certain things about the Ephesians that gave him assurance that they were believers and that caused him to rejoice.
One thing that marks every true believer of Jesus Christ—there is a great change. There is a turning from sin and a turning to God. There is a great transformation of the life. Without this change, there is no assurance whatsoever of the new birth. Something new and living has taken place. That which was dead now lives—a transformation has occurred.
In our text this morning, Paul has just finished talking about what God has done. God has:
· Made us saints and faithful in Christ (verse 1)
· Brought us to Himself through His grace (verse 2)
· Reconciled us (verse 2)
· Blessed us in Jesus Christ (verse 3)
· Elected us (verse 4)
· Adopted us (verse 5)
· Made us acceptable to Him by Christ (verse 6)
· Forgiven us all our sin (verse 7)
· Opened our eyes to His will (verse 9)
· Worked everything according to the counsel of His will in our lives (verse 11)
· Sealed us with the Holy Spirit (verse 13) and …
· Promised us final redemption (verse 14)
That’s all what God has done—that’s all from God’s perspective.
Now that God has done all of that, we are changed! We are transformed! We can no longer be the same!!
Now remember, at the time Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesian church, he was in a filthy Roman prison. The year is around 62 AD, and this is Paul’s first imprisonment. He would later be put under house arrest, but this imprisonment was the most severe.
John McRay has written about what it would have been like for the Apostle at this time:
“Roman imprisonment was preceded by being stripped naked and then flogged, a humiliating, painful, and bloody ordeal. The bleeding wounds went untreated; prisoners sat in painful leg or wrist chains. Mutilated, blood-stained clothing was not replaced, even in the cold of winter…
Most cells were dark, especially the inner cells of a prison, like the one Paul and Silas inhabited in Philippi. Unbearable cold, lack of water, cramped quarters, and sickening stench from few toilets made sleeping difficult and waking hours miserable . …Because of the miserable conditions, many prisoners begged for a speedy death. Others simply committed suicide.”
“The present situation is, therefore, very unpleasant, deeply frustrating. He is in a Roman cell: damp, with little light, and probably cold - very uncomfortable. At this time Paul was continually bound with chains, and he lacked adequate clothing and books, for he asks Timothy to bring his cloak and the books with him when he comes to visit him.”
So Paul is in the worst possible circumstances while writing this letter, but he is not at all concerned with himself. He does not mention how horrible the conditions are—he is selfless. He is blessing God, exulting in God, and concerned about the Ephesians. Listen to what he says in our text in (Ephesians 1:15-16) :
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Even though Paul was a thousand miles away in Rome, he is still concerned about the Ephesians. It had been about four years since Paul had left Ephesus. Remember what Paul had said in (Acts 20:17,22-23) , “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.”
And “bonds and afflictions” did await Paul. He is now in bonds and afflictions writing to the Ephesians, and he must have been receiving visitors who told him about the Ephesians—he had been kept well informed. Paul had heard about certain things that marked the Ephesian believers, and that marks all believers, and this brought joy and prayer to Paul. Let’s look at these marks right now.
>From this passage we see FOUR marks, or evidences of genuine Christianity. We see two of the marks in the Ephesians and two others in the life of Paul.
You see, when a person is forgiven and made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, when a person turns from his life of selfishness and sin, and turns to Christ, there is a deep and extreme transformation. Something is different! There are marks, evidences that show a change. In fact as (2 Corinthians 5:17) says, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” It is so massive a change that Christ calls it being “born again” (John 3:3), and he says unless this massive transformation has taken place, that person “cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Let’s look at these four marks of one who is genuinely transformed by the power of God. The first one is found right here in verse 15. Paul says that while he’s in this Roman prison cell, he gets word about the Ephesians. He says, “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus” (verse 15).
I. Mark number one: Faith. “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus” (verse 15)
So we need to ask ourselves the question: What is faith?
Faith is: A Vision of God in all things.
A. Faith has a vision of God beyond the ugly details of life.
A true believer is pushed to God by all the ugly details of life. If we only see with our natural eyes, then the ugly details of life will only make us bitter. But the true believer has a vision of God in all things. He sees beyond the here and now. He sees that this world system is just a sham—it is in rebellion against God. A believer knows that any evil that harms him is just temporal, because there is something more substantive that will last eternally beyond what we now see. The believer lives for the substance and evidence of those eternal things.
(Hebrews 11:1) tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Many people think that faith is mysticism. It is not mysticism at all! Faith is the opposite of all that. There is “substance” and “evidence” of these unseen things. Mysticism wishes and hopes and feels. Faith sees the evidence and substance of things not seen by the natural eye, but faith sees nonetheless. Yet it is not a natural sight, just as (2 Corinthians 5:7) says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (continued...)
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