Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:1-2, ESV.
If your church could receive a letter directly from heaven, what would you want that letter to say? That might be a good exercise to do this morning. Jot down a few words that you would like to hear from God. For my part, I would like to hear words much like those in the book of Ephesians. Paul writes there of God’s grace gathering all peoples together into a new humanity in Christ. He then writes about how we should live together in response to that grace. It seems like a perfect letter for us today.
The opening of the letter is itself a blessing. Paul does not write as a proud man wielding apostolic power over the church. He writes as a messenger of Christ who can speak with authority because God chose him to be such a messenger and is working out His will in Paul’s ministry and writing.
Paul describes the church in concise detail. She is made of saints, people set apart to God in a real place at a certain time in history. He is writing a letter to a local church. He is glad to say that this congregation is faithful—they are united in their faith in Christ and in working out that faith in service to Christ. They are “in Christ.” Jesus Christ is the head of their body.
To this faithful church, God’s messenger offers a greeting of grace and peace, from both God the Father and God the Son. Could there be any better blessings for God’s man to wish upon God’s people than grace and peace? There is simply nothing we need more, be it in days like these or any other days. We need regular reminders of the grace of God and His offer of peace in the gospel. We will surely not make it through these days unless God shows His grace to us. The sin that has reared its ugly head over the last few weeks in our land is unmistakable evidence of that. As our nation erupts in conflict and our leaders seem impotent to bring calm, we are also desperate for peace. Such peace can only come from the God who has brought peace between His holy Person and sinful men through the sacrifice of His Son.
We need a letter like this letter to the Ephesian church. Praise God, we have it! The offer of grace and peace God offered to the church in Ephesus through Paul is an offer preserved for us today. This letter is not an ancient relic. It is God’s living Word. Will we take it up and read it? Will we believe it? Will we receive the grace and peace it offers?
May God bring you His grace and peace today. May it also fall upon our land.