Grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
What do you think of when you think of the Church of Jesus Christ? What is it?
The Church is the theme of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Ephesus was a great city in that time, located in the country we know today as Turkey. Paul worked with great success among the Ephesians for three years. In this letter, the apostle speaks of the purpose of the Church and his office as pastor.
In the first place, the Church is the Body of Christ. As members of this Body, thanks to holy Baptism, we are the eyes, the hands, the voice of Christ. When we share in the life of the Church, we share in the life of Christ. "Wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them," says Matthew 18:20.
How is Christ present among us? When the pastor preaches the Word of God, Christ speaks through him. Also, the body and blood of Christ are present in, with and under the bread and wine in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. In our public worship we give all honor and glory to Christ and testify to our faith in His presence.
Who calls us to this gathering? The Holy Spirit. The Church is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God works among us through visible means of grace, that is, the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.
In the water and Word of baptism, we are changed into sons and daughters of God to live as His children. In the Lord's Supper, we receive God's forgiveness as He strengthens our faith. The Church is the place where we receive God's preparation to face the challenges of life.
All of this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Also, in every generation, the Holy Spirit calls men to care for God's flock, the Church, as pastors. When he wrote his letter to the Ephesians, Paul was a prisoner in Rome because of his preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, he did not consider this a shame, but an honor. I do not deserve the office of pastor, Paul told them, but I give thanks to God for the opportunity.
It is the same with me. I am working among you because some of you listened to the Word of God and asked us, why do you not baptize us? Why do you not confirm us as members of Christ's Body? The Holy Spirit touched your hears and therefore, you are the Church. The Spirit also has called me to serve as pastor here.
And as the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, I pray for you every day. In our Epistle reading for today, we find Paul's prayer. It is my prayer for you as well.
What did Paul ask of God for the Ephesians? What do I ask of Him for you?
- That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man;
- That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
- That you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
- That you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
I give thanks to God for every one of you. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.