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Sermon #45 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: The Family of God
Text: Ephesians 3:15
Subject: GodÕs Church a Family
Date: Tuesday Evening — September 13, 2016
Readings: Bobbie Estes and David Burge
LetÕs read Ephesians 3:13-19 together.
(Ephesians 3:13-19) ÒWherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.Ó
DonÕt allow my troubles to distress you. Some of you often express concern for my health and well-being, just as the Ephesians saints seem to have expressed their concern for the Apostle Paul, as he endured physical and spiritual hardships, and imprisonment, opposition, misrepresentation, and slander from his foes. With Paul, I say to you, — DonÕt let my troubles distress you.
ÒThis is your glory.Ó — That is to say, ÒAll these things are for your benefit.Ó By these things GodÕs servants are made better pastors, better preachers, and are made more beneficial to your soul.
(Verse 14) ÒFor this cause (for your glory, for your benefit,) I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
My text is verse 15.
(Ephesians 3:15) ÒOf whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.Ó
This third chapter of Ephesians is built upon one word. If we understand PaulÕs usage of that one word, we will have a key that unlocks the door of understanding for the entire epistle. That key word is Òfamily.Ó PaulÕs doctrine throughout this book is concerning THE FAMILY OF GOD. And that is the title of my message. — THE FAMILY OF GOD.
What is more precious to a man than his family? There is not a man or woman on earth who is not a member of some family. The poorest as well as the richest has his birth and kin, and can tell you something of his family. We all understand the meaning of that word Òfamily.Ó A family is a group of people living in one house, under the rule and government of a single head — the father. A family consists of men and women and their children, boys and girls, who are the descendants of common parents. We love our families. Our families gather together for holidays, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If at no other time of the year, most of your firesides will be crowded then. Children and grandchildren all come home. Brothers and sisters meet for a few hours. Parents and children sit down together. There is so much to talk about! There are so many questions to ask! There so are many interesting things to be told! How happy the house is when the whole family is gathered together!
Family gatherings are natural, and right, and good. It does me good to see them kept up. They are one of the very few pleasant things that have survived the fall of our race. Next to the grace of God, I know of no principle which unites people so much in this sinful world as family ties. Blood is a powerful bond. I have often seen people that will stand up for their family relations, simply because they are family. They refuse to hear a word against their kinsman, even when they have no sympathy for their tastes and ways. Anything which helps to keep the family feeling healthy ought to be commended. It is a wise thing, when it can be done for the whole family.
Yet, family gatherings are sometimes sorrowful things. It would be strange, indeed, in such a world as this, if they were not. There are few family circles that do not show gaps and vacant places, as the years pass. Changes and death make havoc of our families. All other delights cannot entirely to suppress those sad thoughts that rise up in us about faces we no longer see and voices we no longer hear. When our children grow up and begin to leave home, to go off to college, or to pursue their careers, there is a sadness that mom and dad canÕt avoid. — We know that the time will soon come when the whole family will seldom be together again.
You who have enjoyed the privilege of being raised in loving, happy, godly families ought to cherish your families. — Cherish every fond memory! Cultivate strong family ties of love and joy. But, at their very best, all earthly families must soon be broken.
But, there is a great family of which I hope you will all be members. It is a family despised by many, and not even known by some. But this is a family of more importance than any family on earth. It is the family of which our text speaks. It is THE FAMILY OF GOD. Here is a family which is everlasting. Not one member of this family shall ever perish! — Oh, what privileges belong to this family!
Oh, what riches belong to this family!
á The Riches of GodÕs Covenant! — Ephesians 1:3-14
á The Riches of His Everlasting Love!
á The Riches of His Grace!
á The Riches of His Goodness!
á The Riches of His Glory
Proposition: All GodÕs elect in heaven and in earth make up one holy family.
I ask your careful attention while I try to show you something of the unity and blessedness of Òthe whole family in heaven and earth.Ó I want you to see some of the amazing benefits of being a member of this family. I pray that each of you may be members of this family, when its gathering shall come. Our family gatherings on earth must have an end someday. Hear me, as the servant of Christ and a friend to your souls, as I try to speak for a few minutes about a family that will never have an end, a family in which there is no death — THE FAMILY OF GOD.
Divisions: Much, much more could and should be said about the family of God, about Òthe whole family in heaven and earth,Ó than I can say in this message. — But let me make just three statements about THE FAMILY OF GOD. With these three statements, I give you my message. May God the Holy Ghost deliver it to your heart, for ChristÕs sake.
1. The family of God is one.
2. The family of God is inseparable.
3. As the children of God we are anticipating a great family gathering.
1st — To begin with I want to show you that the family of God is one. What is this family that the Bible calls Òthe whole family in heaven and earth?Ó Of whom does it consist? And in what respects are the people of God in heaven and earth one family? I want to answer these questions for you from the Scriptures.
The family of God consists of all true believers. God does not have one family of Old Testament saints and another family of New Testament saints. Nor does he have one family in heaven and another on earth. GodÕs family is one in Christ. All real believers are in the family of God, all who have the Spirit, all who trust in Christ, all the saints of every age, people, nation, and tongue make up Òthe whole familyÓ of God Òin heaven and earth.Ó
The family of God includes all the household of faith. It is the same as the election of grace.
á The Mystical Body of Christ
á The Bride of Christ
á The Living Temple of God
á The Sheep that Never Perish
á The Church of the Firstborn
á The Church Universal
In a word, every man, woman, and child who has ever been born again and trusted Christ as Savior since the beginning of time is a member of this family.
Membership in this family does not depend on any earthly privileges (John 1:13).
(John 1:11-13) ÒHe came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.Ó
á To be a member of this family you must be born-again (John 3:5-8).
á Christ alone can make you a living member of his family.
á It is his new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
á Christ brings into his church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47).
The oneness of this family is set before us in the Book of God in many ways. Those the Lord loves in heaven and earth are one, because their names are written in one family register (Revelation 13:8; 17:8). That mystical roll which eye has not seen contains all the names of GodÕs children.
á The people of God are born by degrees; but they were chosen at once (Ephesians 1:3-6).
á Look by faith upon that book and know that those names are all inscribed permanently there.
á The saints of God are one, because we have one family covenant, Òordered in all things and sure,Ó a covenant made with us in Christ, our Head and Representative.
My God, the covenant of thy love,
Abides forever sure;
And in its matchless grace, I feel
My happiness secure.
Sadly, we are one with all the human race in our father Adam, for in Adam we fell. We realize that we are one in Adam, that we are one family by the common sweat of the brow, the common tendency to sin, by the common sorrows and troubles of AdamÕs fallen family, and the common certainty of death all men must face.
But, blessed be God, there is a another Adam, the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all the elect are one family! It is with him that the family covenant standsÉ
á As an Everlasting Covenant.
á A Sure Covenant.
He has, from eternity, secured to all the chosen family all the blessings of the covenant.
With Him, our covenant Head,
We stand or fall,
Our Life, our Surety, and our All.
Read the Book of God and see what Christ achieved for all his family.
á His death accomplished our redemption.
á His obedience accomplished our righteousness.
á His resurrection is the pledge of our resurrection.
á His eternal life is the guarantee of our eternal life.
á His holiness is our holiness.
á His sanctification is our sanctification.
á His acceptance in heaven is our acceptance
á His glory is our glory.
In Christ we have a nearer, surer, and truer oneness with the saints in heaven than we do with the ungodly on earth. We are one in covenant headship with the spirits of just men made perfect, but not with the ungodly. We are fellow citizens with the glorified spirits above, but upon earth we are strangers and foreigners. — ÒBehold, my mother and my brethren!Ó (Matthew 12:49; Mark 3:34)
Let us never lose sight of ChristÕs as our covenant Surety. As C. H. Spurgeon put itÉ
ÒChrist Jesus represented us even as he represented the glorified ones in old eternity, when the covenant was signed, and in that hour when the covenant stipulations were fulfilled upon the bloody tree, and he represents us with the glorified ones still as he takes possession of the inheritance in the names of all his elect, and dwells in glory which he is preparing for his one church.Ó
How blessed it is to remember that the saints in heaven and earth have the covenant promises secured to them by the same seal.
á The sacrifice of the bleeding Lamb is the ground of acceptance for the saints above and for the saints below (Hebrews 12:24).
á And God the Holy Spirit is the Seal of the family, by that circumcision made without hands in the new birth (Ephesians 1:13-14).
We are one with the saints in heaven, because we are all born of the same Father. God is Father to his whole family in heaven and earth.
á He loves us all.
á He forgives us all.
á He protects us all.
á He hears us all.
All who are members of this family, whether in heaven or earth, have been born-again by the same Holy Spirit. We are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. We are all born of one Spirit. We are all sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. We have all received the same Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, ÒAbba Father.Ó
The nature of all regenerate people is the same whether in heaven or earth, for in all it is the living incorruptible seed which abides forever, that Ònew man created in righteousness and true holiness.Ó
á The saints above are called the sons of God; and so are we.
á They delight in holiness; and so do we.
á They are the church of the firstborn; and so are we.
á They all love Christ; and so do we.
á They are immortal; and so are we.
Those saints above have shaken off the dust of earth and put on more beautiful garments, but they are the same as we are in nature. So slight is the change that it takes place in the twinkling of an eye that we read in GodÕs Word, — ÒTo be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.Ó
We are one with the saints in heaven, because we are all partakers of the same divine love.
á The love of God toward his children is not affected by their position. He loves those on earth just as he does those in heaven.
á Our gracious Father loves his people with a love surpassing thought, so that he gives himself to each one as an everlasting portion. What more can he do for the saints in heaven.
á He loves us all perfectly in his Son.
We are all one, because we are all heirs of the same promises, whether in heaven or on earth. As a sinner trusting Christ, as one who believes on the Son of God, I am assured by God that heaven, in all its fulness, is as much mine as it is PaulÕs or PeterÕs. They are there to enjoy it and I am waiting to obtain it; but I hold the same title deed as they do. As an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ, my heritage is as large and as broad as theirs.
á Their only right to heaven is the grace of God in Christ Jesus, his blood and his righteousness; and that is mine.
á Child of God, do not think that the Lord has set apart some very choice and special blessings for a few of his people. All things are yours. ÒIf children then heirs!Ó
One more thing in this regard — The saints of heaven are one with us, because they are members of the same body, and they cannot be complete without us (Hebrews 11:40).
á May the grace of God teach us that all true believers are our brethren.
á I warn you that unless you are a member of this family by the new birth, you must perish forever.
2nd — The family of God is inseparable. Our text tells us of Òthe whole family in heaven and earth,Ó not of two families, nor of a divided family, but of one complete family. We feel pain and sorrow at the death of our loved ones; but we are comforted in our sorrow, because we are assured that death does not destroy GodÕs family. — Nothing can separate the members of GodÕs family from one another.
Death does not separate the household of God. Death cannot separate us from the love of God. The separation caused by death is only an apparent separation. It is not real.
á The family is still one.
á Is it possible that our Father can be bereaved?
á Death cannot separate us from our Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:24).
á Death cannot really separate us from one another.
Were not the tribes of Ruben, Gad, and Manasseh one with the rest of Israel, though separated by a broad river? So it is with GodÕs Israel. The whole family in heaven and earth is one, though the swelling Jordan rolls between us.
We meet with the saints of God of every age in worship when we come to God through Christ. It is impossible to restrict our communion with the people of God by the boundaries of time and place. We are one in all the earth; and we are one in heaven. We realize that part of the family is in an Upper Room, but we are one family. We feed in different pastures, but we are one flock.
Space does not divide the family of God. God comprehends all space. Space is the bosom of the eternal.
á I have friends in many parts of the world with whom I am in fellowship all the time.
á I have friends in heaven with whom I am in communion as well.
Sorrow does not separate the whole family in heaven and earth. Those in heaven are soldiers who have fought and won their rest. We are still in the battlefield; but we are one army.
Sin, not even sin separates the family of the redeemed.
á The saints in heaven have been washed in the same fountain as those on earth.
á They wear the same garments as we do.
á They are justified by the same atonement.
Let me say also, that the inseparable oneness of the family of God is presently displayed. The service of those who have departed blends with ours. They being dead yet speak.
á Are not the works of the apostles yet effectual?
á Today, we are reaping the benefits of mighty and faithful soldiers of the cross who have gone before.
á The work of the faithful will abide many years after they have gone to glory. One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase.
á The saints upon the earth continue to reap the benefits of those who have gone ahead of us to heaven by their prayers. The prayers they offered before they died are often answered many years after they have gone to Heaven.
á Many a mother has died without an answer to her prayers; but they shall be answered.
á Many a pastor has died without seeing the prayers of his heart accomplished; but God hears the cries of the righteous.
Does not the testimony of the saints above blend with that of the saints on earth? ÒThou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.Ó ÒThe whole family in heaven and earthÓ rejoice before God when a prodigal comes home.
Towering over all this, our oneness is presently displayed in the fact that Christ is the common joy of all the saints in heaven and earth.
á He is the object of our worship.
á He is the subject of our songs.
á He is the delight of our souls.
á He is the love of our hearts.
á We embrace him.
á He embraces us.
á He leads us.
á He comforts us.
3rd — As the children of God, we are anticipating a great gathering of the whole family. The prospects of our earthly families are uncertain.
á It is a great mercy that we do not know what a day may bring forth.
á We must all experience sorrowful separations.
á Many a fine boy will follow the prodigalÕs path.
á Many a fair daughter will follow the bent of her own will.
á Disease, pain, sin, and death will break the happy family circle.
á To say the least, many families have gathered as a whole for the last time.
But, oh, how I thank God that there is one family whose prospects are different! The future prospects of the family of God are not uncertain. They are all good. They are all happy. They are all sure!
á All the members of GodÕs elect family shall be brought home (John 6:37-38; 10:16, 28-30).
á The members of GodÕs family shall have glorified bodies one day.
á All the members of GodÕs family shall be gathered in one company at the last day (Ephesians 1:10). — We shall be one in mind and judgment. — We shall be one in perfect holiness. — We shall be one in everlasting reward. — We shall be one in the perfection of ChristÕs beauty.
Are you a member of the family of God? — Children of God, love your family, promote your family, protect your family, speak well of your family. — Family of God, take comfort.
Trust Christ, and all that belongs to and pertains to the whole family of God is yours.
Illustration: ÒAll this? Free, for nothinÕ?Ó
Seek in all things to honor our family name, the name of Christ, our God and Savior.