Lesson 29: The Benediction - Part 2 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
(Verse 24) The Christian’s Truest Test and Excellence.
Other things may be required to complete the character of the Christian, but without love for Christ, there can be no Christian at all. It is the Holy Spirit which must animate and enliven the whole combination; and in whomsoever, this spirit prevails we are entitled and instructed to welcome that person as a disciple.
I. Consider the love of Christ as a duty we owe to Him.—
a. Bring to your remembrance His personal excellence.
b. Consider the great and glorious object of all He did and endured—the everlasting happiness of human souls.
II. Consider the love of Christ as a principle which works in ourselves.—
a. It does not destroy natural affections but teaches us to fix them on proper objects and to give a right direction to their fullest energies.
b. A due sense of the Saviors love makes us feel at once that He merits all our best affections in return.
c. It gives delight in meditating on the precepts and promises of God’s word.
d. It helps in all the duties we owe to our fellow-creatures.
e. It animates the soul in the hour of death and the prospect of eternity.
Loving Christ in Sincerity.
I. On what account Christ is entitled to our love.—
a. He is a divine person.
b. He was manifest in the flesh. In the man Christ Jesus appeared every virtuous quality which can dignify and adorn human nature.
c. His mediatorial offices entitle Him to our love.
d. He is an object of our love because of His kindness to us.
II. An essential qualification of love to Christ is sincerity.—
a. Our love for Christ must be real, not pretend.
b. Must be universal. It must respect His whole character.
c. Sincere love for Christ is supreme. It gives Him the preference over all earthly interests and connections.
d. It is persevering.
e. It is active.
Finally, we must not miss the force of this final word of the epistle, translated here as “sincerity,” but more accurately rendered “incorruptibility.” It is a term rich in meaning (See 1 Corinthians 9:25; 15:52; 1 Timothy 1:17). Here it characterizes the enduring, deathless quality of the love of believers for their Lord. It is a fitting word with which to close this sublime epistle.
III. How sincere love for Christ will reveal itself.—
a. It will make us want to please Him.
b. We’ll be accompanied by humility.
c. We shall be fond of imitating Him.
d. We shall promote His interest and oppose His enemies.
e. We shall do good to His needy brethren and friends.
IV. The benediction connected with his temper.—It is called “grace”; God’s love and favor displayed in Jesus Christ to sinners. Without grace, we are spiritually dead, blind, lost, enslaved, guilty, and condemned. It comprehends all the blessings the gospel reveals and promises.
a. Justification before God.
b. The presence of the divine Spirit.
c. Free access to the throne of grace.
d. The gift of a happy immortality.
Love for Christ.—What is it that constitutes Christ’s claim to love and respect? What is it that is to be loved in Christ? Why are we to hold Him dear? There is just one ground for virtuous affection in the universe, and one object worthy of cherished and enduring love in heaven and on earth, and that is—moral goodness. My principle applies to all beings, to the Creator as well as to His creatures. The claim of God to the love of His rational offspring rests on the righteousness and benevolence of His will. It is the moral beauty and grandeur of His character to which alone we are bound to pay homage.
The only power which can be and ought to be loved is a beneficent and righteous power. The ground of love for Christ is His spotless purity, His moral perfection, His unrivaled goodness. It is the spirit of His religion, which is the Spirit of God, dwelling in Him without measure. Of consequence, to love Christ is to love the perfection of virtue, of righteousness, of benevolence; and the great excellence of this love is, that by cherishing it we imbibe, we strengthen in our own souls the most illustrious virtue, and through Jesus become like God. I call you to love Jesus so that you may bring yourselves into contact and communion with perfect virtue, and may become what you love. Paul prays that his readers will experience “love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” God has demonstrated his love for us in His election, in the work of Christ, and in the presence of His Spirit in our lives. I know no sincere, enduring good but the moral excellence which shines forth in Jesus Christ.
I. The Subjects of the Benediction.—“All them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”
a. The object of their love.—“The Lord Jesus Christ.”
b. The character of their love.—They love in sincerity. This is proved by the effects it produces.
i. Love of God’s word.
ii. Prompt obedience to Christ’s precepts (teaching).
iii. Brotherly love.
iv. Zeal for God’s house.
II. The Nature of the Benediction.—
a. The prayer embraces the communication of divine grace.
b. All Christians Need the Grace of God. The prayer closes with a prayer for the blessing of the whole church of God. To the believers at Ephesus, he said, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then reaching out through the church age until the Bride is complete and all born again are caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds in the air, Paul says tenderly, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” That includes you and me. Yes, the Christian life begins in grace, we are kept in grace, and we will stand before God accepted in the Beloved . . . in grace.
i. In all trials peculiar to the age in which they live.
ii. In a time of temptation and spiritual of darkness.
iii. In the discharge of Christian duties.
iv. To sanctify, refine, and make them prepared for the inheritance of the saints.
Paul’s own swan song is found in 2 Timothy 4:6-8: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Paul reflected what a good soldier of Christ should be and what rewards awaited him.
The apostle’s closing desire, then, is that the grace he has expounded will be the grace that we have experienced. If so, our love for the Lord will be a love that is undying. That is what Ephesians was written to teach.
Hear these clear understandable words: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” until we meet―if not on this earth, then in the City of God.” Amen.