Paul: Prisoner and Steward
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Paul: Prisoner and Steward

Ephesians 3:1–2  (ID: 3188)

While a prisoner of Rome, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, desiring that his readers would know God and be united to Christ. Despite his unfavorable circumstances, Paul considered himself a prisoner for Christ and the gentiles, and his letter conveys a tone of exaltation toward God, not agitation or resignation at his situation. In this message, Alistair Begg encourages listeners to live in light of God’s providence, understanding that our circumstances are appointed by God so that, like Paul, we may make the Gospel known to all people.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Ephesians, Volume 4

The Mystery of the Gospel Ephesians 3:1–21 Series ID: 14904

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians and chapter 3, and we’ll read just the first thirteen verses:

“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner [for Jesus Christ] on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given [to] me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through … faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

Father, we thank you that the Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed over everything that the world throws against us; that he’s been tempted in every way as we are and yet without sin;[1] that he has walked straight into the valley of the shadow of death and come out triumphant on the other side, having borne our sins in his body on the tree[2]—dealt with sin, death, hell, the devil. And Lord, some of us need to be reminded of the wonder of this—just to help us, just to get through a Monday—to lift our spirits and enable us to rejoice in the wonder of who we are in Christ. So, as we turn to the Bible, we pray for your help, that we will understand it, believe it, live in the truth of it. And we humbly pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, I invite you to turn again to Ephesians 3. We have taken a break from Ephesians, as some of you will know. We studied the fruit of the Spirit; I noticed in the bulletin that they’ve already turned that into a series. Remarkable what can be done. And I guess I commend it to you. I haven’t listened to it. I mean, I heard every talk three times, but I haven’t listened to it subsequently. But it may well be of help to some, and we’re grateful to Truth For Life and for the work that they do in that regard.

Now, we need to ease ourselves back into Ephesians here. We come to Ephesians 3. I’ve read these opening verses, and there is an assumption, at least in large measure, that we remember what it was we were studying in the first two chapters. I know that’s a bit of a reach, but… And it takes us back, I think, to the end of June, since our last study in chapter 2.

But let’s begin at the very beginning just for a moment and remind ourselves that Paul is writing in this letter “to the saints”—this is 1:1—“to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus.” So, we reminded ourselves as we began our study that the true believer lives in two places—that they were in Ephesus, and they were in Christ. If you are a Christian here today, you have a residency that is in Cleveland or the environs, and you are also in Christ—that your real citizenship is to be found in the heavenly places, whatever your ethnicity or your passport may say.

And Paul, in writing to these Ephesian believers, is using the terminology which was his favorite terminology. He does not make mention of people as being “Christians” when he writes. In fact, I think he would have found it rather strange to have people ask him if he was a Christian. I don’t think he would have asked us that either. He would have said to us, “Are you in Christ?” Because he knew that his former life had been absolutely opposed to Christ. He wasn’t even close to him. He didn’t love him. He denied him. He opposed all who followed him. And so the wonder, in Paul’s experience, was that he, who had been such a rebel, such a blasphemer, such an insolent man, by his own testimony, now writes as a man in Christ to others who are in Christ.

If you came to trust in Christ, you were placed into Christ. And when you were placed into Christ, you were organically related to everyone else who, by God’s goodness, is placed in Christ.

And I commend to you a little rehearsal of that phraseology. If you just start at the beginning of chapter 1 and work your way through, you will find that it comes again and again. And Paul is affirming the fact that for us to be placed in Christ as individuals—and in chapter 1, he says, you know, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and you believed”[3]—he’s describing, if you like, a moment in time or a period in time where that which God had planned from all of eternity became the reality of these individuals. They were to later look back and see that this was grounded in the eternal will and counsel of God and that their security was in this.

But at the same time, for them to be placed in Christ was to be placed into a community that was a multinational and multiracial community called the church. And we ended chapter 2, at least in part, by, I think, saying to one another, “Isn’t it an amazing fact that all of the endeavors of our world in the realm of politics and economics and social services and so on that is expended in trying to create this kind of unity is at best an approximation, and that the place where you find the issues of race and of creed and of status and of gender being broken down is in the church of Jesus Christ?” So that if you are in Christ this morning, then I want you to know that although you may be an only child, you have brothers and sisters throughout the entire world. In fact, you have people with whom you are related that span the centuries—that, one day when we are all brought together in a new heaven and in a new earth, we will have occasion to say to one another, “Hello, brother! Hello, sister!” And for the present time, as you look around on a routine Sunday, we have a little indication of it here.

Now, I want us to really grasp this this morning. I noted that one of the books that is being represented on the screens as I was walking around today is the book by Josh Moody, How the Church Can Change Your Life. I think that’s what it is. But anyway, it’s a good book, and I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting that we’re recommending that; I’m glad that we are.” I also notice that we had a “Community Day”—and I’m sorry I missed that—and that we have “Connection Sundays” and that we seem to expend a tremendous amount of energy to try and get people to become what we are. Right? You see, community in the Christian life is not an idea; it’s a reality. It’s not a question of “Well, I became a Christian individually, and if I would like to get involved in the other bit, the church bit, then that’s entirely up to me.” No. If you came to trust in Christ, you were placed into Christ. And when you were placed into Christ, you were organically related to everyone else who, by God’s goodness, is placed in Christ.

And the magnificence of this is to be seen throughout the world. In the time that I’ve been gone, I’ve been with Arab Christians, with Jewish Messianic Christians. I’ve been in Athens with Greek Christians. I’ve been in—goodness knows where I’ve been! And everywhere I’ve been, I find a people that are my brothers and sisters. I never met them in my life. You have the same experience when you travel, don’t you? This is the wonder of the church.

And at the end of chapter 2… You say, “Well, let’s get to chapter 3. We’ve done 2.” I understand. But at the end of chapter 2, Paul says, “It’s important for you Ephesians to realize that you are sharing citizenship, that you are members of one family, and that you are stones or bricks, as it were, being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”[4] So in other words, although we come to know Jesus personally, our life with him in following him is not a private experience. To be united to Christ is to be connected to the whole body of Christ—and, I might say, whether you like it or not! In other words, it’s not an option. The question is: Are we going to live in the reality of our union with Christ? That’s the question.

Now, Don Carson, who was with us for our pastors’ conference—along with Josh Moody, actually—in May, has a wonderful quote regarding this that I only discovered this week, and I’ll share it with you now. This is what he writes:

The church … is not made up of natural “friends.” It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything … of [the] sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have been saved by Jesus Christ.

“In this light,” he says, “they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.”[5]

Now, if you think about it, that is unique. You don’t find that in a country club. You don’t find that in a golf club. You don’t find that in any kind of social environment. In most of those places, it all has to do with the fact that there’s a sort of homogenous dimension to it. But when you come to the church, you find that there is a diversity of intellect, of background, of ethnicity, of status, of gender, and so on. And someone might legitimately then say, “So what is it brings all these people together?”—which, incidentally, is why it is important to be together. Because on our own, we are unable to convey the wonder of what it means to be united to Christ. It is only in our togetherness that the world has an opportunity to say, “Well, there’s black, there’s white, there’s yellow, there’s gray, there’s young, there’s old, there’s rich, there’s poor. What are they all doing in there? Well, do they all like the same music?”

“Apparently not. You tell me.”

“Do they all this?”

“Apparently not.”

“Do they all this?”


“Well, what, do they even like each other?”

“Well, some days.”

“So what is it?”

“Well, they’re a bunch of enemies united in their love for Jesus Christ.” It’s amazing, isn’t it?

And what he’s going to go on and say is “If you want to see it at its most amazing, consider the relationship between the Jew and the gentile.” And remember, the one who’s writing was vehemently opposed to Jesus, and yet here he is now, the apostle to the gentiles.

You see, the Ephesians to whom he’s writing would never have thought of church as a location. They would have seen it simply as a community. They would never have understood the idea of it being a place to attend; they knew it to be a people to whom they belong. And they were discovering—and this letter was part of helping to that end—that the barriers of race and class and gender and status had been dismantled in Jesus.

If you and I are tempted—and some of us, I think, are tempted; let’s just be honest—to view the gospel in terms of what it means to me as an individual, if I see it solely in those terms, then I will be tempted to regard “church stuff” as excess baggage, as just something else that’s a sort of optional extra—like, you know, you can get windows that you wind down in a car, but if you want to really get into it, then you can go zeee! and it goes up for you. But the person’ll tell you it’s not absolutely necessary. I mean, they’ll still try and sell it to you, because you make a little more money, but no, it’s not necessary. There’s some people that feel that’s the way: “No, it’s not necessary for me to be involved. No, it’s not necessary for me to participate. No, it’s not necessary, not necessary, not necessary, not necessary.” I’m going to really have to wonder whether you have understood what it means to be united to Christ if I view the whole thing in individualistic terms.

You see, that’s why when I say to you it really matters that you’re here, I’m not on about job security. I’ve got job security whether you’re here or not. No! It’s because of what it means to you and to me and to the watching world. What an irony that we would go out and try and invite the community in when the community that is in doesn’t even like being with the community it’s already in. How about we have a Community Day for our community, see if we can get the community here? Do you get it? Yeah, I think you do. I don’t think you like it, but you get it. That’s okay. That’s fine. The blood of Jesus Christ, Paul has already said, has “broken down” the “wall of hostility.”[6]

Now let’s get to chapter 3: “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner [for Jesus Christ] on behalf of you…”

Now, you’ll notice that Paul characteristically interrupts himself. You see this phrase “for this reason” in verse 1. Look down to verse 14, and he comes back to it: “For this reason…” So it would appear that when he starts it the first time, he’s about to say what he goes on to say, as he prays for them, on the second occasion. Therefore, verses 2–13 are essentially parenthetical. Paul does this all the time. He has these huge run-on sentences that all the English teachers complain about. Sometimes he breaks off into a doxology—essentially just starts singing, breaks into his thought, and then he comes back to it. But what he’s doing here is, it seems to me that he can’t get beyond saying, “I, Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ on your behalf,” without stopping and saying, “How amazing is this? How amazing is this?” And as he goes on down through there, you know, he gets to it in verse 8: “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints…” No, the interruption is understandable, and it is purposeful.

And I found it helpful this week as I thought about this to remind myself that he’s not writing a theological treatise here. He’s not writing a systematic theology. He’s writing a letter. And as he writes under the direction of the Spirit of God, and as he thinks about things, that which is in his heart pours out from his heart. And while the substance of Ephesians is wonderfully theological, the concern of Ephesians, as with his other letters, is pastoral. I mean, Paul is both evangelist and pastor. And if you look at how he ends the parenthetical section in verse 13, I think it comes across. He says, “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I[’m] suffering for you, which is your glory.” In other words, he says, “I’ve got a whole bunch of material that I’m going to get to, but I wanted to mention this and this and this and this, and I want to make sure, because I’m concerned for you and for your well-being, that you won’t lose heart on account of me.”

Let’s say, for example, that I was put in the jail; they took me and put me in jail in Cuyahoga somewhere, and I had to write you a letter. Now, it would be one thing if I was put in the jail for something that was a legitimate violation of the law. But let’s say I’m put in the jail as a result of telling people that there is only one Savior, who is Jesus Christ, and there is no way that you can come to know God except through one Mediator. The day could come. But let’s say that’s it. So then, when I write to you, and I write to you and I say, “Hey, I want you to know that I’m in here because of Jesus, and I don’t want you to be unduly concerned about me or worried about me at all, because this is directly related to the unfolding purpose of God,” that would all make sense. That’s exactly what he’s doing. That’s what he’s doing.

So he says, “For this reason I, Paul,” and then he goes, “I’m a prisoner for Jesus Christ on your behalf, and I’m also a steward of the mysteries of God’s grace.” Let’s just look at those in turn—and we may get to the second one; we may not.

But first of all, “a prisoner for Christ Jesus.” Well, humanly speaking, he was a prisoner of Rome. He was there, if you like, at the behest of Nero. But he doesn’t describe himself in those terms. He says, “I’m a prisoner for Jesus Christ.” In other words, he views his circumstances under the overruling providence of God. It’s a bit like Joseph, isn’t it, when Joseph says, “You know, you intended all these things for evil, but God intended them for good.”[7] He understood that God was sovereign over the affairs of his life. There had been all kinds of wicked things that happened to him, and he found himself in a really bad spot on a number of occasions, and he had legitimate grounds, if you like, for being resentful or disappointed or bitter. But he’s not! And Paul is here, and he’s in the same way: “I am a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

If you read church history, you realize how many have followed in his wake—those who today, in places around our world, who might equally write to their congregations and describe themselves as prisoners for Christ Jesus, because the reason they are where they are is because their unequivocal commitment to the gospel.

So, I made a note of just three words to try and help me with this. I said, “I notice that there is no indication of agitation on Paul’s part here.” It’s a straightforward statement: “I’m a prisoner for Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t say, “I’m here, just trying to figure out why this has occurred. I’m here; I’m disappointed by things. I’ve been a faithful servant, and look at where I am now. I’m here; this is not what I expected. I mean, if this is what it means to an apostle…” There’s none of that. No! No agitation: “I’m a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

There’s no resignation. That’s my second word: no resignation. There’s no stoicism. He’s not writing to them and saying, “You know, what are you going to do? Stuff happens, you know. You got to take the good with the bad. I’ve had good days; this is not such a good…” No! No! No resignation: “I’m a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

Paul views his circumstances under the overruling providence of God.

I think what you have here is exaltation. Exaltation. I think he should have put two exclamation marks at it and used an emoji at the end of it with a big, smiling face—just a big one—or maybe the dancing lady as well at the at the end of it. So it’s not [mumbles] “I’m a prisoner for Christ Jesus.” It’s “I’m a prisoner for Jesus Christ! I can’t believe this! I’m in here!”

Does the same thing with the Philippians, doesn’t he? “I want you to know … that what has happened to me has … served to advance the gospel.”[8] “Everybody in the whole place is finding out about Jesus; this is fantastic!” In other words, he views circumstances which from the outside would appear to be wretched, miserable, and beyond human control as the very place of the appointing of God: “This is the place he has set me, and I am his prisoner.” What an amazing encouragement it must have been to the readers! They immediately would have said, “Well, we should pray for Paul, but we don’t need to worry about him unduly. I’m sure he’s evangelizing like crazy”—which is what he was doing.

And what about you this morning? What about me? You’ve come out of a week. I don’t know your circumstances; you do. Aren’t you tempted to go at it in terms of agitation? “I can’t believe this. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. Why has this happened to me? Why are they getting sick? Why did I get this diagnosis? Why did my dog die?” Or resignation: “Well, so what?” You know? You meet Christians, they’re like… They’re not like Christians; they’re like non-Christians. Stoical: “Well, you’ve just got to take it, you know. Suck it up. You’ll be okay, you know.” That’s not Christianity. I don’t know what that is. No, Christianity is “I’m brokenhearted, but Jesus is my safety.” Christianity is “I did lose my loved one, and this is the hardest period in my entire life, but I’ve learned with Andrew Murray that he really got onto something when he wrote about his circumstances.” And I found this in 2007, and I’ve never forgot it since, in relationship to circumstances that unfolded in my own life. And I wrote down in my journal Murray’s words. They go like this: “I am here by God’s appointment, in his keeping, under his training, for his time.” “Here by God’s appointment, in his keeping, under his training, for his time.” Makes all the difference in the world. Doesn’t actually change the circumstance. It is what it is. “Through the storm, you are.” It’s not out of the storm; through the storm. And Paul writes out of the storm-tossed experience of his prison, and he says, “I am a prisoner for Christ Jesus.”

Now, he goes on to say, “And I’ll tell you why. I’m not only a prisoner, but I’m a prisoner on behalf of you gentiles. It’s because of what I have been preaching that I am a prisoner. I have been going around telling people that the wall of hostility between the Jew and the gentile has actually been broken down in Jesus.” He had been telling people that Jesus was creating a new people. He was creating a new people, and he was creating a new temple. And that was really disturbing to them—particularly to the Jewish people, who said, “No, we are the people.” It’s hard for us this morning to understand the depth of the of the gap or the breadth of the chasm between Jew and gentile at this point in history. The Jew regarded a gentile as a dog. The gentile was not allowed in the home of an orthodox Jew; that would immediately make them unclean. That was what Paul believed. Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. That’s where he was brought up. That was his background entirely. And as we’ll see tonight, perhaps, some of us, the mystery of it was that of all the people God might make as the apostle to the gentiles, he would take him, this fellow who was an insolent blasphemer, who was opposed to all this stuff. And he was so radically changed by it and unashamed of it that he was telling the whole world: “New people, new temple.”

Having just been in Jerusalem again, I have to disavow people. I don’t mean to dishearten them or spoil their trip. But it really freaks me out when I have them moving around, going, “I just have to touch this. Whoo!”

I’m like, “Why are you touching it?”

“Well, you know…”

I said, “No! ‘Well’ nothing! I don’t know why you’re touching it.”

“Well, this is where Jesus is.”

“Well, it might be. But I’ll tell you, he’s in Cleveland. I know that for sure, ’cause I was there. He’s also in Illinois. He’s in Beijing. He’s in the entire world. He’s no more in Jerusalem than he is in Kettering, Ohio.”

Well, people don’t like that: “Well, the temple!” What temple? There is no temple. It came crashing down. Jesus said, “This thing will go down and will be rebuilt in three days.” And they said, “How could that be?” He said, “’Cause I’m talking about me.”[9] The temple was the place where God met with his people. The temple was the place where sacrifice for sin was provided. The temple pointed to the fulfillment in Jesus. And once fulfilled in Jesus, it’s fulfilled.

So there is a new temple, and you’re in it if you’re in Christ. And there is a new people, and it is made up of all who are in Christ. Jewish people, who have all the benefits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Law and the Prophets, and all of that background material are placed in Christ by the selfsame work of grace as are gentiles who had no knowledge of any of that Old Testament. And that’s the point he’s making. And that’s the reason he’s in the jail: because they cannot tolerate the notion. It’s dramatic! It’s fantastic! The Jews couldn’t stand the fact that the gospel was a gospel for the gentile as well as for them. The gentiles were becoming children of Abraham, by faith, in exactly the same way.

If you read this for yourself, just read through Acts again, and you’ll find that this is true. For example, in Acts chapter 21, Luke records there how it just goes crazy after Paul has been purifying himself in the temple, ironically. The Jews set upon him, and because he has Trophimus with him, they assume that Trophimus has been taken into the Court of the Jews, and therefore Paul has violated all of that stuff, and so it’s a great hullabaloo. Eventually, they get it calmed down enough for Paul, and Paul says, “Could I just explain here what’s going on?”[10] So the tribune says, “Yes, that’s okay. Go ahead.” So he silences the people (you can read this in Acts 22), and he begins, and he gives them his testimony. And he says, “This is my background. I am one of you. I am a Jew. I don’t violate these things. I’m committed to this.”[11] And as he works his way through, he tells how he’s got an entirely new view of God’s grace and mercy and God’s people and so on. And it’s going along quite nicely—there’s no interruptions—until you get to verse 21 as it’s recorded. And he says that God said to him, “I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”[12] And then, Luke records, at that point, the thing went nuts. Because they said, “No! May this fellow be cast out from us, that he would take this story to the gentiles!”[13]

You see, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a radical gospel. The story of Jesus is not some milquetoast, namby-pamby invention in time. It is grounded in the fact that God from all of eternity has purposed in “the fullness of time, to unite all things in [Christ],” both “in heaven and … on earth.”[14]

Now, just think about that for a moment. Think about it as you deal with contemporary politics. Think about it as you deal with the tragedies in Syria at the moment. Think about it as you see thousands of people rescued in the Mediterranean and picked up on ships. Think about it in those terms. Think about the attempt of our world, politically and economically and socially, to try and create that union, and it’s faltering, and it’s failing, despite its best attempts. Will it ever be done? Can it ever be achieved? Where may a Jew and a gentile eat together and rejoice in one another’s company? Where can the rich and the poor be united? Where can you take an intelligent man from the university at Case and a dummy like me and have us sing the same songs together? Where does this happen? It happens in the church.

And you, if you’re in Christ, this is you. This is your identity. You are it! You are the building! We are the temple! This is how the world is supposed to get a picture of how it will finally be when in a new heaven and in a new earth in Revelation 21: “And I saw a new Jerusalem coming out of heaven from God.”[15] We’re not going up to it; it’s coming down to us. It’s a wonder! You can tell I’m a little excited about it, but I must confess, I am! Galatians 3: “There’s neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor slave, Barbarian, Scythian,”[16] whatever it is. No!

You see, this is why I think contemporary America has got such a low view of the church—such a low view of the church—myself included. We don’t realize what an amazing thing this is that God is doing: that the church—even though, you know, in the hymn,

The church’s one foundation,
[Through] Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation,
By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her
To be his holy bride,
[And] with his own blood he bought her,
And for her life he died.[17]

And then it goes on, and he says, “You know, though it’s riven asunder, though people see these things, they realize that not everybody’s getting on with everybody and so on.” And the writer says, “That’s part and parcel of the growing pains, because what we have in the church is partial, it is unfulfilled, until finally it will be there in perfection.” But for the time being, our union with Christ—that I have been placed in Christ—is about the fact that I have not been placed in there to live alone but that I’ve been placed in there to rejoice in your company too.

And Paul says, “That’s why I’m in the jail.” And he says, “And that’s why I want everybody to know. I am a steward of God’s grace.”

Well, we don’t have time to get to “steward of God’s grace”—at least not now. So let’s just pause and pray:

Lord, we bring our circumstances to you this morning. We’re not in jail like Paul, but some of us might feel that we’re in jail—the prison of our own creating, by our own bitterness or anger. Perhaps the circumstances of life over which we’ve had no control have just dealt us a tough blow, and we’ve been sad, and understandably so, and we know that you care about all these things. And we want to learn to embrace Murray’s stuff, insofar as it’s biblical: that we’re here by God’s appointing, we’re under your training, and it will be for your time.

We want, Lord, not only to understand our place and to bow beneath your sovereignty but also to get a new view of what it means to be your people. Forgive us, Lord, when we just keep thinking that my Christian life is about me, about “I got forgiven, I’m going to go to heaven one day, and everything else can just frankly go fly.” Lord, when I’m tempted in that direction, it means that I’ve got a lot to learn about the wonder of your grace to me. Teach me, teach us the wonder of being included in your people, of being a stone in your building, of being a citizen in your kingdom.

Lord, grant that as we come to you, you will fill us again with your grace, in order that we might in turn share with others. We acknowledge freely we need your help. There’s not a moment of the day that we don’t need your help, not a moment of the day that we don’t have to turn again to the gospel to hide again in Christ, to remind ourselves that when temptation comes, we can run to you; that ultimately, we have no righteous standing of our own, save that which is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, we really need you, and we need each other, and we pray you’d help us to understand this. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

[1] See Hebrews 4:15.

[2] See 1 Peter 2:24.

[3] Ephesians 1:13 (paraphrased).

[4] Ephesians 2:19–22 (paraphrased).

[5] D. A. Carson, Love in Hard Places (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 61.

[6] Ephesians 2:14 (ESV).

[7] Genesis 50:20 (paraphrased).

[8] Philippians 1:12 (ESV).

[9] John 2:19–21 (paraphrased).

[10] Acts 21:37 (paraphrased).

[11] Acts 22:1–20 (paraphrased).

[12] Acts 22:21 (ESV).

[13] Acts 22:22 (paraphrased).

[14] Ephesians 1:10 (ESV).

[15] Revelation 21:2 (paraphrased).

[16] Galatians 3:28 (paraphrased).

[17] Samuel J. Stone, “The Church’s One Foundation” (1866).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.