4 Reasons to Preach through Ephesians
In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul shows how the grace of God in Christ empowers the church to basic Christian living in a broken world. Paul’s profound expositions of God’s glorious grace and the practical implications of that grace provide pastors with countless reasons to preach through this epistle. Below are four for you to consider.
1. Ephesians is a treasure trove of God’s grace.
Paul begins this epistle by reveling in the breathtaking blessings of God for those who are in Christ. The imprisoned apostle invites the reader’s meditations back into God’s work in eternity past in order to explore the depth of God’s electing, sanctifying, loving, adopting, redeeming, forgiving, revealing, uniting, and lasting gifts of grace. God lavishes us with these gifts for our joy and for his glory.
Paul so longs for his readers to stand in awe of these blessings that he prays for our hearts to be opened to the hope, the inheritance, and the greatness of God’s power toward those who receive these gifts of grace. In fact, the opening chapter has so many gifts of grace to unwrap that Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached 35+ sermons on it alone! Pastor, it might not be wise for you to preach as many sermons as Lloyd-Jones, but with God’s help, preaching through Ephesians will take your church further into the treasure chest of God’s glorious grace.
2. Ephesians displays God’s unique grace to and through the church.
Another reason to consider preaching through Ephesians is because of how this epistle transforms our understanding of God’s work in and through the church. In Ephesians 2, Paul summarizes both our individual testimonies as Christians and our corporate testimony as the church. As individuals, we laid in spiritual tombs, but by God’s grace we were raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places.
His glorious grace simply cannot be contained in this age, but it will be eternally revealed to his church in the age to come. And in the meantime, as we walk toward that age, we walk into the good works he has prepared for us in this age. Oh what a joy it is when our churches are full of people who stagger at the abundant grace they have personally experienced in their own conversion to Christ.
The beautiful thing about Ephesians is that it encourages us to see how our individual testimonies accompany corporate implications. After all, we were dead not only to God, but to the people of God. However, Christ’s cross has obliterated the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile. By God’s grace we are united to God and to one another. Therefore, no matter our ethnicity, our social status, or our moral backgrounds, we as Christians are now fellow citizens, members of the same family, and strategic stones in the temple of God.
In today’s polarized and racially charged world, our churches have the grace necessary to put on display the reconciling power of the gospel—not only to the visible world, but also to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly world (Eph. 3:10). Preaching through Ephesians reveals that God’s grace creates a community built not on ethnic, cultural, or political preferences, but on empty-tomb affections. Our congregations would surely benefit from this lofty view of God’s grace to and through the church.
3. Ephesians explains how God’s grace empowers our pursuit of personal holiness.
The structure of Ephesians makes it clear that our gospel activity is meant to flow out of our gospel identity. Our gospel identity is grounded in God’s electing grace in eternity past; it doesn’t fluctuate according to our present performance. Knowing and believing this will help our churches avoid the dangers of legalism while at the same time guard our churches against a misunderstanding of grace that leads to licentiousness. Ephesians is crystal-clear: a grace-grounded identity produces God-glorifying unity and activity.
Paul helpfully applies God’s transforming grace to our real-life pursuit of personal holiness. He addresses honesty, anger, integrity, generosity, speech, forgiveness, sexual purity, discernment, and wise living in a wicked world. Our people need such practical instruction so that as we gather and scatter, we might display the gospel’s transforming power.
4. Ephesians explains how God’s grace transforms our relationships.
Not only does Paul address how God’s grace empowers and transforms our pursuit of personal holiness, he also applies the message of the gospel to our interpersonal relationships. God’s grace creates the church, a Spirit-filled community where its members are united in love. This loving unity leads to relationships in the church where we sing truth and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This grace also transforms the home. Marriage is meant to be a picture of the gospel of God’s grace. A husband must love his wife as Christ loves his church. He must be willing to lay down his life for his bride’s eternal good. And the wife must gladly submit to her husband’s sacrificial and loving leadership as the church does unto Christ. Our churches—and indeed the world—would benefit greatly from the kind of healthy, gospel-displaying marriages we read about in Ephesians.
Paul also addresses parent-child relationships. Fathers must patiently lead the disciple-making process required for the children in the home. Children must obey their parents. Families in our churches will flourish by understanding how God’s grace instructs and transforms the home.
Preaching through Ephesians will also help our people understand how grace transforms our vocational relationships. Rather than being motivated by the approval of man, Paul says we must work in a way that pleases our heavenly Master. Those who have positions of authority must treat employees with the dignity and respect that comes from understanding that God shows no partiality. This understanding of God’s transforming grace displays the glory of God in our watching workplaces.
Lastly, preaching through Ephesians will explain how the grace of God transforms our relationship with the broken world. Paul teaches that we are in a spiritual war and that we must put on the requisite armor so that we may fight against the demonic realm. As servants of the church, we must remember that we, along with our people, are fighting in a cosmic war that has already been won by Christ, whose victory is displayed through his church. We should preach through Ephesians so that our churches might be equipped for their current battles until they experience the final victory.
In Ephesians, Paul demonstrates how an understanding of God’s grace in Christ empowers the church to basic Christian living in a broken world. Preaching through this book will bring lofty theology down to street-level applications as we pursue both personal holiness and transformed relationships. May the Spirit use our sermons in Ephesians to help our churches stand in awe as they walk in the power of the glorious grace of God in Christ.
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. “The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust.” Free Sermon | Book of Romans | MLJ Trust, https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/book-of-ephesians/. Accessed 15 Aug. 2018.
Merida, Tony, et al. Exalting Jesus in Ephesians. Holman Reference, 2014.
Merkle, Benjamin L., et al. Ephesians: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. B & H Academic, 2016.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of Ephesians: Gods New Society. Inter-Varsity, 1991.