Sermon Notes • October 25

Ephesians 1:13-15 The Holy Spirit and Paul’s Prayer 

Read. Ephesians 1:13-14.  The Holy Spirit is God in every way and, therefore, an equal member of the Trinity. That means that everything we can say about the Father or the Son we can say about Him. He is all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present, totally holy and totally loving and totally merciful etc. Because of that the Holy Spirit should always be addressed as a person, not a force. That does not mean He is a person in the same way we are, but He has the characteristics of personhood. Although a Spirit, He is described in Scripture as being able to think, love, be grieved etc. all of which are associated with personhood or personality. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is He, not it. 

The Holy Spirit was responsible for just about every aspect of our redemption except the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross. The Holy Spirit was the one who challenged each of us to become a Christian. He convicted us of our sin and prodded us to make a commitment to Jesus.  When we began to move that way, He gave us the faith to trust in Jesus and when we finally said yes to God, the Holy Spirit cleansed us from our sin and immediately took up residence in us. Since we made that decision for Jesus, He has been totally responsible for our Christian growth as we have allowed Him to work in us. The Holy Spirit is our true conscience and the one who gives us the desire and the strength to overcome temptation. 

Re-read Ephesians 1:13-14.  

Two critical truths are seen in those verses. First, the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer to bear witness with our spirit that we belong to God. If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit within. You will never have more of the Holy Spirit than you have the moment you believe. You cannot have half of the Holy Spirit any more than you can be half saved.

The imagery of being sealed with the Holy Spirit is foreign to us but was not to the first century Christians. The imagery was taken from the practice of individuals who wanted to send a message. They would fold the message up and then close it with wax. To ensure that it was not tampered with and that the recipient knew it was legitimate, the sender then used his distinctive signet ring to seal it with an impression that said to all, “This comes from me.” Paul used that picture to tell us that when we make a commitment to Jesus, God sends His Spirit to dwell within us as a way of declaring to Satan that we belong to God. 

A second aspect of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is that the presence of the Holy Spirit declares that the believer truly belongs to God and that every promise God has made will be ours. Paul called Him a deposit guaranteeing that the rest will come. The actual term is the one from which we get the word surety or the escrow we place down when buying a house. Christians are given the presence of God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit as an assurance that God intends to complete the deal and usher us into heaven. He is our down payment to assure us that God will not abandon us. 

ReadI Peter 1:3-4.  Peter went on in that chapter to discuss the inheritance we have and said, as recorded in verse 6, In all this you greatly rejoice.” Are you a happy Christian? We have been promised rich spiritual blessings. Jesus redeemed us from slavery so we can enjoy those blessings. Then God sent the Holy Spirit as proof that we are His. Knowing that, we can have faith and be filled with Joy. 

Moving on to verse 15, Paul finished his introduction, which was one long verse, and wrote another long sentence that is the rest of chapter 1. In that sentence Paul described what he thanked God for and asked God for when he prayed for them. He began by saying that his prayer was based what he had heard about them. That reminds us that our praying should be intelligent praying based on the life and needs of those we are bringing before the throne.

Biblical prayers help us see the kind of things we should be praying for ourselves and for others. In this case Paul’s prayer begins with thanksgiving and that encourages us to ask if others can be thankful for the same things in us.

Read Ephesians 1:15. What a combination of attributes to be known by, faith in the Lord Jesus and love for God’s people. Jesus was asked about the most important commandments. Read His reply, according to Matthew 22:37-39, 

Every Christian should be known both by what he believes and how he lovingly relates to others, especially those who are part of the family of God. The Christian life has two dimensions, faith in God and love for the brethren. The two should never be separated.

In Ephesians 1:1 Paul addressed the Christians as “saints,” a term applied only to those who had made Jesus their Savior. Here he wrote that he had heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus.

When we read that the Savior of the world is identified as the “Lord Jesus” we are reading more than a name, it is a description of Him. Both words have meaning in identifying the nature of our Savior.

The only “name” of our Savior is Jesus, or perhaps more elaborately, Jesus bar (son of) Joseph. That is the name God wanted Him to have. In Matthew 1:21 we read that the angel of God spoke to Joseph after he learned that Mary was going to have a child. Read what the angel said to Joseph in that verse. They were to call Him Jesus or in the Hebrew Joshua, which literally translated as Savior.

What is important to note here is that Paul did not simply say they had faith in the Jesus who is a Savior, but they had faith in the Jesus who was also Lord. He is the Lord Jesus

Of the 100 plus times “Lord” and “Jesus” are combined in the New Testament, only 2 occur in the Gospels. It was not until after Jesus’ resurrection that the title “Lord” took on real meaning. There are couple of reasons. The title “Lord,” was viewed by the Jews as a divine title. When, for an example, the pending birth of Jesus was announced to Mary and Joseph it was an angel of the Lord who spoke to them, that is an angel of God. While at His birth the angel said the baby would be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us,” it really was not until His resurrection that the disciples began to realize that He was divine.  It was not until after His resurrection that the disciples understood what John meant when he wrote “the Word who became flesh.”  It would, therefore, have been more natural to call Him “Lord” following that discovery. He is Lord because He is God.

But calling Him Lord was far more of a title that reflected the relationship we should have with Him. A slave always addressed his master as “lord” and the early Christians recognized that Jesus was to be the Lord of their lives. This is nowhere more evident than the way in which Paul introduces himself in Romans 1:1 where he wrote, “Paul, a servant or slave of Christ Jesus.”

In the New Testament the option was never to make Jesus Lord, He IS Lord. The challenge was to bow before His Lordship. Too often in the church today people want Jesus as a fire insurance policy that one takes out by faith to ensure that he doesn’t burn in hell, with any other relationship purely optional. That is not biblical in any sense of the word. The New Testament declares that if one wants Him as Savior one must also have Him as Lord. We cannot legitimately worship Him as Jesus the Savior and ignore Him as Jesus the Lord. 

Read Romans 13:14. The descriptive title “Christ” was used primarily when there were Jewish Christians present because that was the description of the promised Messiah. At the heart of Paul’s challenge here was to put on the Lord Jesus. The Savior of the world is Lord. He is Lord because He is God and because He desires to rule our lives so that He can give us real freedom. 

What a standard Ephesians 1:15 sets for us. We are challenged to be like the Christians in Ephesus and be known for our faith and love. We are challenged to follow Jesus not only as a Savior but as the Lord of our lives. Will you accept that challenge?