I began a sermon series on the book of Ephesians back in September, 2007. With breaks over Christmas and summer, I am still working through that series. In September 2008, I began the series again at chapter 5. On September 27th, the day that Emily was killed, I was working at home on my sermon introducing the “household table” of 5:22-6:9. I finally preached that message – mostly unchanged – last Sunday (January 11th).
This is the first part of the introduction:
The most important thing that a church and a preacher can do for people is to help them make Gospel connections in every area of their lives.
The first and most important thing is clear communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that people who are under God’s wrath and on their way to Hell may come to repentance and faith in Christ so that they are forgiven and clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
We are to be ambassadors of the Gospel – together, every day. The Gospel must be the centerpiece of our weekly worship service as well – singing, preaching, prayer – everything.
The Gospel is the Good News that God saves sinners like you and me through the life, death, resurrection and eternal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is news to be believed, not advice to be followed.
- Advice says, “If you do these things, if you are good enough, you might make it to Heaven.”
- Good News declares, “Believe this message that God in Christ has done all that is necessary for your salvation!”
The Bible makes it clear that the Gospel is for all of life – for real life. In our relationships as husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, at home, church, as citizens of Canada, we must be Gospel people if we claim to be Christians.
I paused at this point to make a last minute decision. I hadn’t decided until that moment whether I was going to mention the date on the top of that sermon (September 28) or the fact that I wrote it on that last afternoon of Emily’s life. I decided I would mention it – in spite of the fact that it might prove to be a distraction – because I wanted to testify to the fact that I am so thankful that Emily understood the Gospel and was being formed by God through it. This reality underscores the central importance of getting the Gospel right, living in it and applying it to real life.
I went on to say that the importance of the Gospel means that it must be lived out in the little, everyday details of home, work and neighbourhood. What Paul teaches in 5:22-6:9 is built on the foundation of the Gospel declaration that comes earlier in Ephesians. We can’t simply nod and murmur agreement with the wonderful message of Ephesians 1-3 and then rebel against God by rejecting the authority structures that He has established in the church, home and society. It all goes together.
It was hard to get through that introduction. It took me back to that afternoon of September 27. I am so thankful, however, that God is sovereign and that He has done all that is necessary to insure salvation for everyone who believes His wonderful Good News in Jesus Christ.