Disciples are strong in the battle
Ephesians 6:10 "Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might."
This morning and this evening I want to us to be challenged from God’s Word about “Discipleship.” To “Be disciples who are growing in being strong in the battle.”
Briefly The context we are in, the context of the Bible and the context of Ephesians
The context we are in
The reality is that in human terms we are “middle aged” as disciples we are in midlife after over 40 yrs of churching together
The online Oxford Dictionary defines Midlife as "The central period of a person’s life, between around 45 and 60 years old: Are we in the central period in the history of our churches? May God give us not just 80 years but may He continue with us until Christ returns.
Those of us who are between the ages of 45-60 or over know that midlife is or was a time of deep and sober reflection: We didn’t change the world or fulfil all our dreams, we experience maybe deep suffering and loss. We know ourselves only to well. We long to spend what time God gives us changing so we might make Him happy. We long not to waste our lives. We want to be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In human terms we need to be challenged and stirred afresh about what it is to be a disciple of Christ. The risen Christ who makes disciples spoke to disciples who made up the churches of the Revelation. In their “Midlife.”He said in love to...
To the Church at Ephesus - You have lost your love for God’s truth or His people.
To The Church at Smyrna - You are unfaithful in the face of tribulation and poverty.
To the Church at Pergamos - You have embraced the false teaching of Balaam
To the Church at Thyatira - You have tolerated immorality in their midst
To the Church at Sardis - You are spiritual dead
To the Church at Laodicea - You are lukewarm
If these first century Churches are representative of all churches in all times what Christ says to them He says to us as Churches and we must have the courage and transparency to ask and identify where we are falling short of the glory of God, mourn and repent and pleading for God to change us and renew us again as Churches.
The context of the Bible
When thinking about being strong in the Lord we naturally think about the strength and power the Lord in creation. For God to be creator implies He must be strong, have creative power and energy. The bible is a book about power, From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation.
It is a story about the power of God and the plight of man. And we have amazing pictures of God’s power in feeding the children of Israel with Manna, turning back the Red Sea to redeem Israel from slavery in Egypt. Water flows from a rock when they are thirsty. Then we recall Christ and his power of nature, death, disease and forgiving sins. His power over sin and death in the cross and resurrection. What about Pentecost and the power that comes upon the apostles? Suddenly they turn from weak fearful men to those who are bold and fearless to preach the gospel. Then we recall the history of the church in revivals and the reformation.
The context of the the book of Ephesians
Ephesians is all about the reconciling all things through Christ. But here Paul brings some final exhortations. He ends his letter with the sober reality that the Church he exhorts is in a battle with the world, flesh and the devil. In Ephesians 10:6 He gives a call to arms or a battle cry to be strong.
So having considered briefly the context we are in; midlife as Churches, The context of strength in the Bible; we see God is creator, doing miracles in the old testament and through Christ, the early church and it’s subsequent history.
But how are we going to survive the shake-up of midlife change as Churches so we change and are renewed as Churches?
The great apostle answers is; “Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” Ephesians 6:10
So how are we going to be disciples strong in the battle. There are three aspects to this
1. What we are to be in the battle - Strong in the Lord
2. Why we can be strong - We are in the Lord
3. How to be strong - In the strength of His might
1. What we are to be in the battle - Strong in the Lord
Why are we to be strong in the battle? The obvious answer is because so often not strong in the Lord - Why?
Because of the power of the world, flesh and the Devil.
lets look at What we are to be in the battle - strong
2. Why we can be strong in the battle - We are in the Lord
Sinclair Ferguson explains union with Christ as;
If we are united to Christ, then we are united to him at all points of his activity on our behalf.
in his death (we were baptized into his death),
in his resurrection (we are resurrected with Christ),
in his ascension (we have been raised with him),
in his heavenly session (we sit with him in heavenly places, so that our life is hidden with Christ in God), and we will share
What we are to be in the battle - strong 2. Why we can be strong in the battle - We are in the Lord
3. How we are to be strong in the Lord - In the strength of His might
Not our strength - we have seen of ourselves we can’t withstand the power of the world, flesh or the Devil
What is the strength of His Christ’s might - His power
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm,
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
John Gill says "And when he is said to be worthy to receive these, it is not to be understood of his receiving the things themselves, but of the praise of them; and that these are to be observed in him, and to be ascribed to him: power belongs to him, as he is the mighty God; and as the Saviour and Redeemer of his people; and as risen from the dead, and as exalted at God's right hand, and made or declared Lord and Christ; having all power in heaven and in earth. " End Quote
Why can we be strong in the Lord? Because Christ was strong in His Lord and Father. God almighty. He was strong in temptation, He was strong in setting His face towards Jerusalem and the cross. He was strong beyond measure in soaking up the full measure of God’s wrath everyone of His elect sins deserve.
That’s why we can be can be strong in the Lord.
Reality is we are in midlife as Churches and therefore the temptation is to slack off in the battle. But we are called by Christ to be disciples who battle. And to battle means to be strong.
This begins humbly admitting we are weak but the Christ who calls us is strong has shown His strength in creation, in our conversion and redemption.
But the motivation to be strong in the battle is because we are in Christ, In union with Him. We are connected to Christ, this is our new identity. Finally we can be strong in the Lord only because of Christ’s mighty strength which we are to mediate on, believe and pray for in the battle