Walk in Love — Part One
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Walk in Love — Part One

Ephesians 5:1–2  (ID: 3250)

As children mature, they often bear an increasing resemblance to their parents. Alistair Begg explains that the Christian life is similar: as believers mature in faith, we should look more and more like our heavenly Father as we seek to imitate Him. Our Christian lives should be marked by genuine love for others that follows the self-giving pattern of the cross.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Ephesians, Volume 8

Love, Light, Wisdom Ephesians 5:1–20 Series ID: 14908

Encore 2022

A Collection of Listener Favorites Series ID: 25918

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians and to chapter 5. And we’re going to resume our studies in Ephesians that we left off to look at the Psalms during some of these summer days. And we look just at the first two verses. Let me read them, and then I’ll pray:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Father, we humbly pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to speak and to listen, to understand, to trust and believe, to obey your Word, and to be brought into a life-changing encounter with you, the living God, as a result of our turning to the Word itself. Help us to this end, we pray, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Well, as we come back to our study in Ephesians, let me commend to you the possibility of reading through, for example, in Acts chapter 19, and into chapter 20 as well, to give you a little bit of a reminder of something of the context of Ephesus itself. It’s very important for us, as we study the Bible and as we read, for example, a letter like this, to remind ourselves that it was written to real people in a real place at a real point in history.

And the environment of Ephesus, into which Paul went as a proclaimer of the gospel, was a really daunting environment. I think we’re sometimes tempted to believe that if we could just go back to the first century, it would really be quite tranquil and inviting. In actual fact, Ephesus itself was a city that was fascinated with magic. It was drawn into all kinds of occultish practices, and it was a city where sexual immortality actually abounded and was virtually unrestrained. And so it’s important that we have that as a context to remind ourselves that Paul is calling on these people to live radically different lives in a framework that challenges them just about at every point.

Now, when you read Acts chapter 19, for example, you realize that Demetrius, who was head of the sort of guild of the silversmiths—that guild making little effigies of the Temple of Diana or the Temple of Artemis—and he was clever enough to realize that if this message of the gospel were to take hold in Ephesus, then it would shut down their business. Because their business was directly related to reinforcing the notion that the great mother of the earth—namely, Diana, or Artemis, as she’s variously known—that this great mother of the earth was supreme and needed to be paid attention to, and, along with that, other deities and divinities.

And into town comes this individual who says, “No, none of these things have any value or are valid at all. There is only one God, and he has made himself known supremely in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[1] And as a result of that, a complete riot unfolds, and Demetrius is at the heart of it, and a sort of sensible town clerk finally gets it all stabilized for a little while. It’s a great record, and I encourage you to read it. It’s quite funny in parts as it describes the fact that one group was shouting one thing, another group was shouting another thing, and most of the people didn’t even know what they were shouting about at all. So, when you see this on TV and you say, “Wow,” you realize that there’s really nothing quite new under the sun.

Being Different and Living Differently

Now, what Paul is actually doing here is he is saying to these individuals—and he’s been doing this largely since the beginning of chapter 4—he’s saying to them, to those to whom he writes, “You are in Christ, and you are in Ephesus. Now, I want you to live differently because you are different. I want you to live differently because you’re different.”

So, he has begun chapter 4 urging them to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [they’ve] been called.”[2] In other words, the conduct of their life is really going to make an impact in the community. In 4:17, if you recall it, he says, “I … testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” In other words, “You are going to make an impact by the very way in which you live your life.” Into chapter 5, and he’s on the same story. He’s going to say to us now, “Walk in love.” Down in verse 8, “Walk in light.”[3] Down in verse 15, “Walk in wisdom.”[4] So love, light, wisdom, truth, and so on—so that the community might realize that Jesus is alive and well.

Now, let’s be really, really clear that this is not just kind of passing advice that can be buried in antiquity—something of relevance to these folks who were around a long time ago and a long, long way away from here. If that were the case, why are we even studying it? No, what we understand is this: that because this Bible is God-breathed, what we have here is not simply the pattern for the believers in Ephesus but for all believers in all circumstances and for all time.

The way an invisible God is made known in the world is through the visibility of Christians who live in love with one another and who express that love to those who are actually the enemies of God.

And we this morning gather in a context that confronts us with a culture that is increasingly fragmented, increasingly alienated from one another, increasingly broken up and brokenhearted. And in that context the message of Ephesus, and not least of all these next two chapters, speaks with a compelling urgency. We will, if God spares us, in the next few weeks and months be looking at what the Bible says concerning what it means to be a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, a parent and a child; what it means to live within the civil jurisdiction of law; what it means to live our lives in the awareness of the fact that the real battleground is not physical, but it is with spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places and so on. And so I say to you, read ahead. Read, think, pray, and let’s anticipate all that God has for us.

In one of Robert Harris’s novels, Conclave, one of the characters, Cardinal Scavizzi, makes an observation in the context of meeting with a group of priests. And he says to these priests, “We do not need a Church that will move with the world but a Church that will move the world.”[5] “We do[n’t] need a Church that will move with the world but a Church that will move the world.”

Now, that, of course, is the message of Jesus, isn’t it? Jesus said, “Father, I do not pray that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One, so that even as I was in the world, so they now are in the world.”[6] And as John picks up on that in his letters… And he essentially says that the way in which an invisible God is made known in the world is through the visibility of Christians who live in love with one another and who express that love to those who are actually the enemies of God.[7]

God’s Mimics

Now, here we are. And Paul is right there, right at the heart of all of this. And he begins with a striking and unique exhortation. Look at it: “Therefore be imitators of God.” He means exactly what it says. The word in Greek is the word which gives us our English word mimic. “Mimic God,” he says. “That’s what I want you to do.” You say, “Well, where did Paul come up with this?” Well, he understood what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Do you remember what Jesus said? “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”[8]

It’s a striking exhortation. It provides, if you like, the conclusion to chapter 4, and it provides the foundation to chapter 5.

As you know, I find J. B. Phillips’s paraphrase helpful, and I usually read it alongside my other English texts. And he begins chapter 5 by writing, “As children copy their fathers you, as God’s children, are to copy him.”[9] “As children copy their fathers you, as God’s children, are to copy him.” I’ve quoted the Paul Overstreet song before:

I’m seein’ my father in me, … that’s how it’s meant to be,
And I find I’m [looking] more like him each day;
I notice I walk the way he walks, I notice I talk the way he talks,
[And] I’m starting to see my father in me.[10]

If you doubt it, ask the grandmother. She will say, “You cross your legs in a chair just the way your father does. In fact, I walked into the room, and I thought it was the father.” How wonderful would it be if people were to say that in relationship to God as our heavenly Father?

That is what Paul is saying here: “I am going to outline for you,” he says, “certain family characteristics, and these family characteristics will provide evidence of your sonship—or the fact that you are, both as sons and daughters, God’s children.”

God’s Love for His Children

Now, let me reinforce this, because otherwise, if you’re listening to me, this could very quickly go wrong in the way that I fail to communicate or you fail to hear. Paul is not writing to well-meaning people who are seeking to live upright and moral lives and who are glad of a little encouragement. He’s not writing to a group of people who are operating on the “Santa Claus is coming to town” routine, who are trying to be “good for goodness’ sake.”[11] That message abounds in pulpits across North America this morning. There will be people sitting at church, and they come into church; they’re aware of the fact that they’re rascals, they’re vagabonds, or they’re self-satisfied rascals. And as the vicar continues, eventually they say, “Oh, I get it. It’s the same as last week. He just says to us the same thing every time: ‘Try and do your best, get out of here, and be good for goodness’ sake.’” And, of course, they know in their hearts that they’re not good and they haven’t been doing very good at all.

Paul is not doing that. That’s why chapter 5 comes after 4, which comes after 3, which comes after 2, which comes after 1. And he has started in chapter 1 by addressing those who, according to the immensity of the grace of God, have been adopted into God’s family. They were once not in that family; by grace they have been placed in that family. By the time he gets down to about verse 13, he says to them, “And you have heard the word of truth, which is the gospel of your salvation—you’ve heard it, you’ve believed it, you’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit.”[12] And so he says, “It is to you that I write these exhortations.” In other words, the commands are commands. They are also made possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer conforming the believer to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, I suppose, in earthly terms, it is possible to adopt a child and for that adoption to go through in all of its technicality and in all of its legality and yet not yield within that relationship the kind of love that one might have anticipated or hoped for. Unlikely, but possible. Vital to see here that this relationship with God is neither simply legal or technical, but it is distinctly wonderful and, if you like, emotional. “You are God’s beloved children.” His beloved children. This is terrific, isn’t it? God loves his children!

As I have driven around this week, particularly, I think, at the beginning of the week, I saw the school buses reemerge from their garages. Out they came, lumbering out, these big yellow things. And they’ve always filled me with a peculiar sense of something. I always view them as taking my children away from me. I never saw them… I loved when they came back at about four o’clock, ’cause they deposited again. You could have them back.

But as I drove around—I think it was partly just me, you know, sort of reading myself into circumstances—but I was at one particular stop sign, and as I looked across, I could see a mother and what looked to be the first-time-on-the-bus character just there. And so I was, “Aw, aw, aw.” I want to roll the window down and say, “It’s going to be okay.” But I think I was right. I think I could see a lot of what was in there.

Here’s the thing: you understand if you’re a parent. But let me tell you this: our love for our earthly children does not even compare to the love of our heavenly Father for us. His love for us is infinitely greater than the greatest, deepest, most profound love that I can feel for any one of my children. That when he looks upon us, he does not cause us needless tears. That even… And I read Lamentations this week; if you’re tracking with Murray M’Cheyne, so did you. And I was struck again by the fact that when you find that great statement concerning God’s mercy, which is “new every morning,”[13] and his faithfulness and so on, where does it come? It comes in the middle of just a horrible passage about everything breaking, collapsing, falling down, being opposed—everything just dreadful! Dreadful. And then it says, “But the mercies of God are new every morning.”[14]

New every morning is the love
[My] wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.[15]

Do you ever sing that to yourself? As I drove along 306 in the darkness this morning, I said, “What a miracle, Father: you woke me up again. Thank you.”

He knows my name,
He knows my every thought,
He sees each tear that falls,
And he hears me when I call.[16]

He doesn’t need a baby monitor from one side of the house to the other. We are his beloved children.

Now, you see how vitally important it is that we allow that to settle in our minds, because he’s now going to work out for us something of what it will mean to be an imitator of God.

God’s Command

If somebody immediately, taking this first exhortation, said, “Excuse me, Paul. How does that work? ‘Be imitators of God, as dearly beloved children’?” He said, “Well, let me tell you what it means. Here we go: walk in love.” “Walk in love.” Now, again, peripatéō, that’s the that’s the Greek word—peripatetic. He says, “As you walk around Ephesus, as you walk into the fellowship of God’s people, as you walk into the swimming pool, walk in love. This is how you’ll imitate God.” Peterson, in his paraphrase, which we know as The Message, puts it like this: “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn [their] behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love.” “Mostly what God does is love.” So “keep company with him and learn a life of love.”[17]

It’s wonderful, isn’t it? It’s very clear. Straightforward. If we wonder, then, about the nature of walking in love, we could reverse into chapter 4; that would save us from going wrong. If I walked in love, what would it involve? Well just look at verse 32. It’s on the top of my page; it may be on the top of yours: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, because that’s how God in Christ has treated you.”[18]

So, in other words, we’re not… Paul is not giving a little phrase here for people to pour into it whatever they want, so they can have a little conversation over coffee: “So, what does it mean to you to walk in love?” “Well, I was thinking this; I was thinking that.” “No, I was thinking the next thing.” No. There’s nothing vague and sentimental about this. This is not about trying to get a feeling in your tummy. No, it’s going to get far more demanding than that. It means “to walk in a manner” that is “worthy of the calling to which you[’ve] been called.” That’s the start of chapter 4. So there is a way that you can walk, there is a way that you can talk, there is a way that you can live that will then set forward the honor and glory of God.

And this is demanding, and it is a command, and it is not an option. That’s important for us to understand as well. It’s a command, and it’s not an option. You see, we understand this with our children. You send your children to a birthday party when they’re small, and you say to them, “Now, look, when you get there, make sure that you look the person in the eye, make sure that you say thank you to them, and make sure that when the party’s over, you thank them again, and then you come home. Now, can you do that?” The child says yes. And then you’ve got no control over it at all. Because your family honor is now at stake on the shoulders of that little rascal that you’ve just sent off to the party. And something of the nature of my family is represented in my child.

There is a way that you can walk, there is a way that you can talk, there is a way that you can live that will then set forward the honor and glory of God.

So God the Father through the Spirit via the apostle Paul says to the church, “Walk in love. You’re my beloved children. And realize this: it is an amazing privilege to be my child, and it brings with it a phenomenal responsibility.” Because the world, now, is going to make deductions about the nature of God himself on the expressions of the children of God. And so, again, this notion of walking in love is of vital importance.

God’s Pattern

And so, notice that he does not leave it hanging: “Beloved children, walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” This is of crucial importance as well. In other words, the love that Paul says is to be displayed is a love which he defines. And Paul does this all the time. Check it. Paul defines the love of God almost always in terms of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that he says, “If we’re going to think of what it means for God to love, then it is impossible for us to take our eyes away from the cross itself.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”[19] So that the whole focus of the love of God is there. Augustine said, “The cross is the pulpit from which God preaches his love to the world.”[20] Therefore, when Paul says, “I want you Ephesians”—and all who come after him, including ourselves—“to walk in love,” he defines it in terms of Christ’s love for us.

In addressing the divinity school at Yale in the ’50s, James S. Stewart, the Presbyterian preacher from Edinburgh, talked about a harmlessly vague and a hopelessly accommodating Christianity.[21] A harmlessly vague and a hopelessly accommodating Christianity. And yet, he said, it will accomplish nothing anywhere, anytime, except to undermine the very gospel itself.

There is nothing hopelessly vague or accommodating in this. Paul is saying, “I want you to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,” plural. What he’s doing there in Ephesus is essentially what he has done in writing to the Galatians. ’Cause remember, in the Galatians, he speaks in very personal terms, and he says, “The Son of the God … loved me and gave himself [up] for me.”[22] And that was a great wonder to Paul. And if you’re in Christ, it will be a wonder to you as well.

You see, the true testimony of a man or a woman in Christ is this: that if we were to ask another, “What about the love of God? What does it… Where is the love of God expressed? What does it actually mean to you?” Or, let’s say—let’s put it in more generic terms. You go to a congregation, you go to a church, and you ask them along these lines. You find out what is the drumbeat of the church, if you like. You want to go to a church where the response, the corporate response, is this: “The Son of God loved us and gave himself for us.” In other words, they define themselves, the gospel, the church, and the compassion and love of God in terms of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember that hymn? We sang it one night not so long ago. I think it had about twelve verses; people were asleep before we finished. But it is a wonderful hymn. It begins,

It is a thing most wonderful,
Almost too wonderful to be,
That God’s own Son [would] come from heav’n
And die to save a child like me.

I think it might have been written as a children’s hymn. My favorite verse is this:

I cannot tell how he [would] love
A child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful
If he [would] die my love to win.[23]

You see, again, this is the answer of the believer. If a man or a woman feels themself to be very good, or even quite good, as they drive in the car and they think about themselves—they go through their own checklist: “Well, I’ve never really harmed anyone. I’m living a good life. I try and help my neighbor. I did hang one of those things on their door,” and so on—then that individual will not be surprised that God would love them. They’d take it for granted: “I mean, I’m such a nice person. It’s no surprise that God would love me.”

You see, that’s why the gospel—and why we often pray as we read the Bible, “Show me myself and show me my Savior.”[24] Because until the gospel shows us ourselves the way it showed Paul, for example, himself… Because, remember, Paul was exactly that kind of individual. He says, “You know, I was… I went to good schools, I had a good background, I was a fastidious law keeper,” and so on. “I regarded myself as virtually flawless.”[25] What changed? Well, he met Christ. And when he met Christ, he realized, “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me, a self-righteous, religious freak”—the same wonder that grips those as we read through the pages of Scripture and as we look out on one another and we tell our story. This is the story. Paul’s perspective radically changed, so that when he writes to the church at Rome, he says, “And the wonder is this: in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[26]

Now, notice also that he doesn’t just say that “Christ loved us,” but he “gave himself up for us.” We’ll look at this, and then we’re finished: “And [he] gave himself up for us.” Notice that that is not passive; that is active. Let me give you three words that I’ve given you before, and I’m not going to tease them out. This can be your homework as well. Let me say three things about this phrase, that he “gave himself up for us.”

Number one, Christ’s death was voluntary. Was voluntary. Okay? Remember when he is speaking—it’s recorded for us in John—and he says, “I am the good shepherd.” He says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”[27] He says then, “Nobody can take my life from me. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again.”[28] Indeed, he says, “I lay it down in order that I may take it up.”[29] So when we think about the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, when we think about what is happening there on the cross, we need to realize that when Paul says, “and gave himself [up] for me,” Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross and offered himself up as a sacrifice of atonement.

That’s the second word. It’s not only voluntary but it is propitiatory. “Oh,” you say, “dear oh dear, some of the children are here, and it’s…” There’s no s-h in it, that’s all I’ll tell you. And you know this word, and you know what it means, because we sing it all the time: “[And] on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.”[30] In other words, he was a propitiation for our sins. By nature, we are alienated from God on two fronts: on our side because we’re sinful and rebellious, on God’s side because he is absolutely holy, because his justice has to be settled and his love has to be revealed. Both justice is served and love is displayed when “on that cross … Jesus died.”

The expression of God’s love was, in Jesus, forgiveness to those who did not deserve it.

Voluntary, propitiatory, and substitutionary. Substitutionary. The Lord Jesus is dying there in the place of sinners. That’s why many people, they’ve got no idea why we would have an emphasis on the cross, because their view is that the cross is just a sort of dreadful disaster that happened to a really nice ethical teacher for apparently no reason at all. And if there is any message in it, it is “You should not be like that to nice people, and you should try and be nice to people the way he was nice to people.” Then the cross is just a crass, mysterious disaster! It means nothing. So what does the Bible tell us? Well, you read your Old Testament: it says, “The sacrifice, and the altar, and the blood, and a sacrifice, and a sacrifice.” You’re reading through that, all the way through Murray M’Cheyne, and you’re saying to yourself, “Why all these sacrifices?” Because they’re all pointing forward to the sacrifice once for all time, made by the Lord Jesus Christ,[31] who was led like “a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before [its] shearers is dumb, so he open[ed] not his mouth,”[32] but he was given up for us all. How then, since he was given up for us all, shall we not then freely give him all things—shall we not then walk in love?

In other words, our walking in love must flow from and correspond to that of the Lord Jesus. That of the Lord Jesus. Now, we will come back to this, but at least we know this: that the expression of God’s love was, in Jesus, forgiveness to those who did not deserve it. And it was a sacrifice taken up, the bearing of a curse that justifiably would fall on those who did deserve it. Okay.

Our Walk

Therefore, this walking in love is expected of us because God commands it, and it is possible because God’s Spirit enables it. Therefore, when we walk out into our community—small community, immediate, larger community of state, larger community nation, and into our world—it’s hard to conceive of all that has ensued in these last months in America. And once again, the church and the representatives of the church are pulled hither and yon by all kinds of agendas. And it may seem simplistic to say, but it is valid to say, that if we as a church will ask God to show us in really practical terms what it means to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, then I believe we have a unique and compelling opportunity and responsibility to impact the culture at this point in time.

But it’s going to take all of that. You see, because then our Christian life is expressed not simply in a series of maxims or beliefs or principles. It is more than that! It is not just that we believe in an orthodox way. It is not just that we are committed to these things. It is that the Holy Spirit of God has invaded our lives, has placed us in Christ, and now, as children of God—beloved children of God—we have the opportunity to represent the family, to deal with men and women the way Jesus dealt with men and women. So that a community that is galvanized by this will not be arrogant. We can’t be. We mustn’t be. We mustn’t be self-sufficient. Mustn’t be that we gather together just to reinforce ourselves all the time. If we’re going to talk seriously about inviting people in, then when we invite them in, we ought not to talk about them or at them but to them and say, “You know, you’re probably here this morning, and you don’t really make much sense of this at all. I understand that. Why would you? But we’re so glad you’re here, and we hope you’ll come this afternoon and bring your children with you as well.” Why? “Because we’ve got a great story to tell to you.”

And the story is this: instead of it being “Excuse me, you should be careful about her.” “Why?” “I’ve known her for a while. She’s had four husbands, and she’s living with a guy.”[33] “Oh, really?” Perfect opportunity—unless you’re a pharisee. Jesus didn’t start there, did he? “We’re going to have to clean you up, ma’am. I can add you to my discipleship group. I could add you as a first female member, but it’s not going to work like this.” No. He knew she was looking for love in all the wrong places. So he says, “Can I have a drink of water?”[34]

Paul doesn’t go into Ephesus and take on Demetrius and the silversmiths. He goes into Ephesus and proclaims Jesus Christ and the gospel. He tells them about a love that will transform all loves. He tells them about one who has died in the place of sinners. He tells about one the essence of which is sacrifice and forgiveness. That’s our message. But then what Paul is saying is, “Unless my actions match my professions or my protestations, then it’s going to be hard for the culture of Ephesus or the culture of Cleveland to actually believe what I’m saying.”

So where are you going to go out from here? And God the Father says, “Now, my beloved children, you’re going out into Community Day. Remember, treat people the way I told you. I made my sun shine on the righteous and the on the unrighteous.[35] I don’t have a special category. So make sure that you look for the wanderers, that you greet them, that you welcome them, that you serve them. And in so doing, they may discover the love that is beyond every love, that is found in Christ himself.”

Father, we humbly pray again, as we prayed at the beginning, that you will so teach, train, change, and equip us that we might do exactly what your Word says. Help us not to turn your commands into optional extras. Help us not to turn them into externalism either. Help us to realize that the wonder of it all is that in the provision that you make in the gospel there is the very power to become all that you desire for us to be. This kind of love is amazing, and it is divine, and we rest in it. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Just one PS. I want to take a leaf out of Paul’s book and just say one thing as we conclude. I recognize that our congregation Sunday by Sunday are made up of all kinds of people from all kinds of places, and we’re all at different stages as we listen to the Bible. But I want to speak just finally and in a sentence or two to those who have actually never believed in the gospel, who have never believed in Christ.

And I fear that some of you are still where you are simply for that very reason: that you have not believed. And it may be because either I or others or yourself have created all kinds of hurdles and obstacles on the way. I was struck again this week by the reaction of the apostle Paul to the Philippian jailer when he asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?”[36] And he said, “Well, you need to get in the membership class. If you have heard of Christianity Explored, if you go through the doors to my right or your left,” or whatever. No, he said, “Believe.”[37] Believe.

So, if you have not believed, why not believe today? Believe that Jesus is the Savior that you actually need, ’cause you’ve broken his law, you’re gonna stand before him, you’re gonna answer, and he has given himself up for you. Believe. And then tell somebody: “You know what? I actually believe.” And then you know what? Then you’re a believer!

Father, forgive us when we complicate what you make so straightforward. Lord, we understand that the very inclination of our heart is away from you. But we thank you that not only do you enable us but that you save us. So, as we look out on the afternoon and on the coming days and weeks together in your providence, we pray that the love of the Lord Jesus will draw us afresh to himself, that the joy of the Lord Jesus will enable us and quicken us as we seek to serve him, that the peace of Christ will guard our minds when they’re unsettled and fearful, and that grace, mercy, and peace from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be the abiding portion of all who believe, today and forevermore. Amen.

[1] See, e.g., Acts 17:22–31.

[2] Ephesians 4:1 (ESV).

[3] Ephesians 5:8 (paraphrased).

[4] Ephesians 5:15 (paraphrased).

[5] Robert Harris, Conclave (New York: Knopf, 2016), 114.

[6] John 17:15, 18 (paraphrased).

[7] See John 13:35; 1 John 3:11, 16–20; 4:7–21.

[8] Matthew 5:48 (ESV).

[9] Ephesians 5:1 (Phillips).

[10] Taylor Dunn, Paul Overstreet, “Seein’ My Father in Me” (1990).

[11] J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1934).

[12] Ephesians 1:13 (paraphrase).

[13] Lamentations 3:23 (ESV).

[14] Lamentations 3:22–23 (paraphrased).

[15] John Keble, “New Every Morning Is the Love” (1822).

[16] Tommy Walker, “He Knows My Name” (1996).

[17] Ephesians 5:1–2 (MSG).

[18] Ephesians 4:32 (paraphrased).

[19] John 3:16 (KJV).

[20] Augustine, quoted in Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (1962; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2015), 175. Paraphrased.

[21] James S. Stewart, A Faith to Proclaim (New York: Scribner’s, 1953), 16.

[22] Galatians 2:20 (ESV). Emphasis added.

[23] William Walsham How, “It Is a Thing Most Wonderful” (1872).

[24] R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943).

[25] Philippians 3:4–6 (paraphrased).

[26] Romans 5:8 (paraphrased).

[27] John 10:11 (ESV).

[28] John 10:18 (paraphrased).

[29] John 10:17 (paraphrased).

[30] Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, “In Christ Alone” (2001).

[31] See Hebrews 10:10–14.

[32] Isaiah 53:7 (KJV).

[33] See John 4:17–18.

[34] John 4:7 (paraphrased).

[35] See Matthew 5:45.

[36] Acts 16:30 (ESV).

[37] Acts 16:31 (ESV).

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.