Willie Phyn - Australian Convention

Ephesians:  This is one of the letters of Paul that we are all fairly familiar with. That is true of many things we find in the New Testament.  There is so much that would cause us to be taken up with things seen and temporal and perhaps we neglect our service to God.  That is why God gathers His people together like this, that we might be able to come apart from the world with all its claims and examine our hearts, and understand just where we stand in the sight of God.  How much more important it is that we see ourselves just as God sees us.  That we might see just what is in our life that should be put off so that we might have a closer walk with God.  That, after all, is the main thing as far as our walk with God is concerned.

I noticed in connection with this epistle that Paul wrote to these Christians, that it was something like ten years since he had seen them, when he wrote this epistle to them.  He wondered how they were getting on.  He prayed that they might continue unhindered in the way of God.  I have often enjoyed thinking of the important part Aquila and Priscilla played in that church.  When I think of what they did in going from one place to another with that desire in their hearts, my thoughts turned to a man I know who has often done that, too.

I know of a man who has left a good position and gone to another place, in order to have an open home for the Gospel.  It seems that Aquila and Priscilla were doing this at this time, and when Paul had to go to Jerusalem, he left them there to make it easier for the Gospel to be preached there.

Paul spent three months preaching in the synagogue there.  After they had had a good opportunity, he left them and went on to Thyatira and preached to the Gentiles for three years.  A number got saved in that time.  Then as time had gone by, about six years later, Paul paid a visit to Ephesus for the last time.  He exhorted them to go on in the Way.  He must have left them with a heavy heart. He told them about their own selves, that some would rise up to root his disciples out.

Then about six years later we find him writing this epistle to them.  I noticed the number of times that Paul speaks of the hope of their calling.  Paul speaks of this high calling, and he tells them that he was not only thinking about them but praying for them, too.  His prayer was that the eyes of their understanding might be opened.  Why would he mention that as being part of his prayer?  I believe that the reason was this, that Paul thought of the difficulties that those people would be facing, and the dangers they would be exposed to as they went on from year to year.  One thing that would keep them going on would be the value of the things that they were called into.

That is why Paul is praying at this time that the eyes of their understanding might be opened.  We notice also, that because of this, those of whom we read in Hebrews 11, who died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and embraced them.  The reason why they were willing to go on and face all the difficulties was because of having their eyes open and seeing the value of what God had set before them.  I remember reading one time in history concerning the fall of the Roman Empire, of the armies going to drive the Persians back.  It tells us of certain tactics that the general decided upon, to make a night attack on the Persian camp.  So they made arrangements to surround the camp, and it tells of them making the attack and putting the enemy to flight.  It speaks of a Roman soldier going into the Persian camp and finding a bag full of costly pearls, but he emptied the pearls onto the ground and took the purse.  He did not understand the value of the pearls.  How possible it would be for us, if we lost our vision of the unseen and eternal things, to do what he did. He just emptied the pearls onto the ground and took the purse.

Paul also encouraged these Christians to pray.  In nearly every epistle he wrote, prayer was one of the things he encouraged the Christians to be consistent in. That was why Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray and not to faint.  How easy for His children to become slack in the matter of praying.  It goes on there to speak of the unjust judge who was moved with compassion because of the woman’s constancy in coming to see him. It was just because of her persistence in coming to him.  God wants us to be persistent in this matter of prayer.  He desires to give us that which we need.

I also noticed that Paul mentions five times the walk of the children of God, "I desire that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."  One thing that is necessary is that meekness, forbearing one another in love.  God looks for meekness and holiness in His children.  I was thinking of the Syrophoenecian woman who came to Jesus and made a request to Him.  First there was no reply and then the disciples said, "Send her away," but when He made a reply, it was in the negative.  She came a little nearer to Him and said, "Lord help me."  Jesus said, "It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and give it to the dogs."  The woman was not offended.  Do you remember the reply she made at the time?  "Yea Lord, but the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."  When the Lord saw humility to the extent that she was willing to be humble to that degree, He said, "O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee as thou wilt."

Here where Paul is setting before these Christians the matter of what sort of walk they should have, the first thing he refers to is meekness and lowliness, having this humility of mind that would enable us to win the favour of God in the way she did it.  Paul went on a little step further, and said, "... endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."  God longs to see this in all our lives. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  That is a thing I would desire to have more of in my life, as I go on in God's way.  It is easy to be trouble makers, instead of having peace and harmony among God's people that things run smoothly.  That is one of the most important things amongst the children of God, that we should be learning to co-operate with one another, so that the unity of the spirit might increase.

You remember that John, in his first epistle tells the result of this co-operation between Gods people. "... we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin."  It will not be a thing that will be put on from the outside, but there will be a real heart fellowship between one another that will speak to others in the world.  When I look back on the time I first came into contact with the people of God, it was the unity that appealed to my heart. Up to that time I knew nothing of that fellowship.  I was speaking to an uncle of mine in New Zealand not long ago.  He is very sick in hospital, and in life he has got on well and accumulated money and a great deal of this worlds goods.  One thing he told me was that he felt very lonely.  He needed fellowship.  The thing he felt he needed was the very thing that I had.  I feel that I would like to value it much more highly.  The wolf and the lamb shall dwell together.  Truly, it is a nice picture to see people of such different natures all having fellowship together, as a result of God's Spirit overruling.

Further down Paul says, "Walk not as other Gentiles do, in the vanity of their minds.  Be angry and sin not.  Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath."  That is something that every child of God knows of, this spirit of giving way to anger. Jesus spoke of this matter, and the need of getting victory over it.  Solomon said, "He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city."  Remember that it is only as I forgive that God will be able to forgive me.  It is a thing that softens my heart.  Only as we forgive others their trespasses will God be able to forgive us. How easy to say we will forgive others and yet keep a root of bitterness there.

It reminds me of a young man who once asked my advice regarding a difference he had with another.  I spoke to him of the need of forgiving, and he went away, and I heard an altercation.  Later he came back to me and said, "Well, I’ve forgiven him, but I won’t talk to him, to teach him a lesson."  If it is not possible to keep yourself away from anger, don’t give way to wrath.  Don’t let it become a root of bitterness in your life.  Don’t let the sun go down upon it. Paul saw how his anger had caused malice.

In another part Paul said, "Walk in love."  He understood the weakness of these people.  It was possible that there was some trace of this weakness in their lives at the time.  In I Corinthians 13,  Paul said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as nothing.” We would want to walk in love so that the love of God might be the pilot that would guide us in our walk with God.  This matter of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that is the responsibility that we all have to bear whether we like it or not.

I can look back on the time when I first realized this great responsibility that rested upon me as a child of God.  Every person who is a child of God, should seek to be a light in the world.  John the Baptist was a bright and shining light.  He only had one purpose.  That is something that it is possible for you and me to be in this dark world.  Jesus also spoke of the possibility of that light being put under a bed or hidden under a bushel.

Jesus also spoke of His people being the salt of the earth.  We know the effect of salt is something that is unseen.  It is something the world knows nothing about. We don’t just see the effect our influence has on others but we know it is there. You, like myself, can look back at the time when you were in doubt as to what to do.  That is the danger, the possibility of the savour going out of our lives.  There is no difference between us, and what they see in the world.  See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.  Then He gives advice to wives and husbands.

I would like to learn how to make my walk better in the days that lie ahead.