To the Faithful in Christ Jesus
by Ed Corley
EPHESIANS TRUTH is sent to the saints and to the faithful in Christ Jesus—Ephesians 1:1. The saints are the people of God's government in the earth. They are His "staff" through whom He will make known the power of His Kingdom. They walk detached from the carnality and downward pull of the world as they are given over to what God wants and to what He is doing in the earth. Although they remain in the earth and render unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, the higher rule for their lives comes from the heavens.
People don't become saints after they have died and the church has decided they were holy and did good works. Saints are people who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus and, while still in the midst of life's demands, have given the rule of their lives over to Him.
Saints are ordinary people who face difficulties. There is a wonder about the trials of saints, however. The more difficult the trial the greater the purity it can produce. Even if brought on by Satan himself, the trials of saints will work toward good. All things in life, even low and demeaning intrusions, become occasions for new testimonies about the greatness and mercy of God.
Recently I was talking with a woman who has become committed to Christ's rule, but whose affairs of life have only grown difficult. She had come to a point of despair and sat with tears while packing some material we were sending overseas. Although I'm usually a sympathetic type of person, I wasn't allowed of the Lord to be so with her. I noticed tears falling on the material and said that helps it become more anointed. We laughed. Then I began to talk from the standpoint of Ephesians Truth. I said, "The Lord Himself is the only One who can handle what you're going through. It's time for you to know where you are in Him and where He is in you. No matter what you're going through, you're still seated with Him in the heavens. Now let Him have a go at what you're facing today."
We didn't stop to pray; we just took a few minutes to consider Him and to consider who she is in Him. The next day I started getting her testimony. It has continued coming. What was impossible and demeaning has become an opportunity for the Lord to show His triumph. The trial has touched her personal life, the way she relates to her husband, and how she deals with her children. God is using it to work into her a new dimension of holiness for His Kingdom.
In trials saints find an inner resource for daily living that issues from the Throne of God. They learn to move with vitality and authority through times of trouble and distress. As they learn not to cave in, they come through with another quality highly regarded by the Lord-they become faithful.
This is the other term Paul used to describe those who will receive the Kingdom with the Lord Jesus. So, it is for these he laid out the understanding of his Epistle to the Ephesians. He sent it to the saints and the faithful.
Being in the company of the faithful is as important as being in the company of the saints. In fact, faithfulness is one of the qualities of character for which Jesus looks in those who will inherit the Kingdom with Him. Take note of what He said in His last Parable of the Kingdom. Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord - Matt 25:23. The faithfulness of the servant brought him into being ruler over many things. It also won him an invitation into the joy of his lord. Faithfulness is a quality that develops over time. It begins with faith. Faith points to what we do, faithfulness to what we are. Both are the work of God's grace in us.
The Greek word Paul used in Eph 1:1 for faithful is pistòs. You can see it is kin to the word pìstis which means faith. Pistòs means "faithful, believable, trustworthy." Whereas pìstis applies to a person who believes, or who has faith, pistòs applies to a person who can be believed. This is one in whom others can place faith.
"Faithful" is a beautiful word. As a little boy I learned another word to describe this same quality of life and spirit. It was "fidelity." I wouldn't have known this word so early had I not learned it from my mother. In the little church we attended they gave names to the Sunday School classes. I learned hers was the "Fidelity Class." Fidelity means "faithful devotion to duty or to one's obligation, or to one's vows." It means loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance.
When I first heard "fidelity" I didn't know what it meant. I just knew it sounded pretty and I associated it with my mother, perhaps the most faithful person who ever touched my young life. Now I associate it with the Lord Jesus Who has become my faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God-Heb 2:17. What fidelity He has! He abideth faithful-II Tim 2:13. Now I also have a faithful wife, a faithful family, and faithful friends and associates. The meaning of faithfulness is increasing. Apart from the Lord Jesus, none of us can have the kind of faithfulness that will withstand the furious onslaught of the enemy who is determined to wipe it from our lives in the time of the end. He hates nothing more than our faithfulness to Jesus. If he can destroy this in us, he supposes he can get us back into his dark camp to work for his purposes.
Faithfulness is a quality we first see in God. Moses made a powerful statement regarding this in Deut 7:9. Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, Which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations. With His faithfulness we find that He is a Covenant Keeping God. We can trust Him. And see this also: since there are none perfect who can rise up to claim His blessing based on their own accomplishments, He offers His mercy with His faithfulness. This reaches to a thousand generations. Thus, it touches on infinity and includes you and me. Look what the Psalmist had to say about the enduring mercy and faithfulness of the Lord. I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations - Ps 89:1.
As we grow in our relationship with Him, it becomes increasingly clear that God is faithful. We can quote Scripture and join with Paul in saying, He abideth faithful, but through years of knowing Him and serving Him, the conviction becomes our own. We can know He is the faithful God because we find Him so. The more time we spend in our devotion to Him and in doing His good pleasure, the greater this conviction becomes. We come finally to the place where we can consider nothing higher about Him than that He is faithful. In considering this, we become faithful too.
When going through trials, some might be inclined to doubt God's faithfulness. Peter has some good advice here. He left all to follow the Lord and saw much affliction along the way. Eventually he, himself, was crucified. He said, Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator-I Pet 4:19. Those men of old suffered in their commitment to the Lord, yet they came through with amazing testimony. Paul could say, There hath no temptation (Greek-peirasmòs, a test, a trial, a putting to the proof-sometimes involving calamity and affliction) taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted (tested) above that ye are able; but will with the temptation (test) also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it-I Cor 10:13. No matter what you are going through you will find God is faithful. It will always become manifest if you but wait and look for it.
When we know that God is faithful, we ourselves are well on our way to becoming settled in our own faithfulness.
We have a great deal to learn from the Lord Jesus about faithfulness, especially as it applies to a quality in believers at the end-time. In Matt 24, one of the most end-time of all passages, He used that word pistòs ("faithful") when He talked with His disciples about the end of the age and His coming to the earth again.
In a parable He named two qualities He considered important in choosing those who would inherit His Kingdom with Him. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods-Matt 24:44-47. This is the picture of a man who held a small position in a large company. It was his responsibility to distribute the daily ration of food to other workers. His was an honorable, but not highly exalted, position. He enabled other to have strength to carry on their daily responsibilities and receive the recognition of the master. But it was this one, in his piddling task, who took the master's attention. As a servant he was prudent, discreet, and considerate of what was right, both from the standpoint of his master and of the other workers. As he took the attention of the lord who employed him, take note of the two qualities that equipped him for promotion-he was faithful and wise. Jesus was saying that these two qualities make a man ready for promotion in His Kingdom.
The same two words are together again in Luke 12:42. And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Faithful is from pistòs. The lord in the story that Jesus told looked for a steward who was believable and trustworthy. He needed someone on whom he could depend because he was ready to commit to him great responsibility, beyond what he had known. This is the way with Ephesians Truth. The Lord will commit its apprehension and expression to faithful persons who can receive it, and then move with its wealth through the demands of daily life-to spread His triumph.
We take note of the quality Jesus coupled with faithfulness. The steward must also be wise. Let these two words lodge in our minds-faithful and wise. There is something interesting about the word wise. It comes from the Greek phrònimos and describes one capable of exercising sound judgment in practical matters. It means sensible and prudent. This is the wisdom of a person who can listen to his inner responses and yet assess situations with an objective view void of emotionalism. Human emotion, if allowed, will override wisdom and bring faithfulness down. A person's emotions often carry things like fear, human judgment, anger, resentment, apprehension, infatuation, or worry. The list goes on. The wisdom to which the word of Jesus points is found in those who have learned to listen to the higher voice of a healed inner man set free from emotional baggage and garbage. He considers if we are faithful and wise in conducting lesser affairs, we will bring this same quality into our Kingdom responsibilities.
As the end-time draws on, the quality of being faithful will come under attack like never before. The Lord will allow it. While it is the enemy's design to destroy all faithfulness-and wisdom-in us and make us useless for Christ, an amazing thing will happen. For those of us who have placed our implicit faith in Christ, what the enemy designs to make us useless will make us more useful for our Lord and His Kingdom. God has a powerful way of sanctifying things the enemy means for our destruction. Watch carefully what we glean regarding this from the Book of Daniel.
As I have considered this matter of faithfulness, there has come a prompting-I believe from the Holy Spirit-to see a further significant connection between Ephesians and Daniel. In Daniel we find some powerful examples in people who faced strong anti-God forces, yet remained faithful unto the Lord. How they remained faithful in trial provides instruction for us.
All the stories and visions in Daniel took place in Chaldea where many deity-demons were recognized and worshiped. Babylon was its capital. It was there the Lord allowed the children of Judah to be taken as slaves in the 5th Century B.C. after the fall of Jerusalem. Among the captives were four young men chosen to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans-Dan 1:4b. It was the intention of Babylon to corrupt them in mind, in will, and in character-and thus, destroy their faithfulness to their God.
Take note in Dan 1:4a of three things regarding their minds as they arrived from their homeland where they had learned the ways of the Lord. They were children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science. In these three terms lie some of the secrets behind their ability to remain faithful under trial. Skillful in wisdom means they were diligent and prudent in their quest for sound judgment that enabled them to act in a manner right in the eyes of the Lord. Cunning in knowledge means they were perceptive of truth and could discern what was false. That they were understanding science means they had the gift of insight into matters that could not be perceived by the human mind, alone. They were taught of the Lord. The Holy Spirit imparted to them wisdom, knowledge, and discernment. How important that we open ourselves to Him today! If we but let Him, He will work the same in us.
Those men guarded their minds; note how they progressed mentally. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams-Dan 1:17. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm-1:20.
Daniel used all the significant Hebrew words in the terms noted in verse 4 to describe qualities in overcomers in the end-time. The words hold keys that will open the way for us to stand in the last days when our understanding will come under attack. Take note of the following statements full of these words. They describe people who have overcome the downward pull of Babylon and have maintained their faithfulness to the Lord. …but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits-Dan 11:32b. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many 11:33a. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament-12:3a. Éand none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand-12:10b.
Those who have kept their minds pure for the Lord will have sufficient spiritual strength to stand with faithfulness through the fury of the last days.
There is something more to perceive about those young men in Babylon. They exercised self-control and thus were able to maintain a discipline over their carnal nature. This is a point of weakness the enemy delights to find in us. Take note of the Babylonian intention to weaken them with carnal enticement. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king-Dan 1:5.
But Daniel and his three companions resolved to eat pulse and drink water-Dan 1:12. Pulse was a vegetarian diet. By eating thus they refused the meat and the wine that had been used in sacrifice and libation to the demon gods of Babylon. By giving themselves to a simple lifestyle and learning to subsist off the most basic elements they equipped themselves to survive the difficulty they would eventually face.
Those who pamper their flesh and follow carnal desire soon find themselves entrapped-addicted, if you please-to what the world offers. Thus, they set themselves up to follow the beast and reject Christ's rule during a period Daniel called the last end of the indignation-Dan 8:19. Though most interpret this indignation as the wrath of God, its context will only allow that it has reference to the final-day wrath of the anti-Christ as he seeks to corrupt the saints.
See what follows in Dan 8:23-25. Take note how the king of fierce countenance makes it his goal to destroy the mighty and holy people. This is that furious period when all the strength of the enemy will find its release against the people of God to destroy their faithfulness unto Him. And in the latter time of their kingdom (the end-time rule of the principalities that gained ascendancy under the ancient governments of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, and continue through the ages), when the transgressors are come to the full (when sin has reached its full and judgment is eminent), a king of fierce countenance (unyielding and merciless), and understanding dark sentences (cunning and able to hide his true intention-the anti-Christ himself), shall stand up (come upon the scene as a dominant power). And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power (allowed, instead, by God and energized by Satan): and he shall destroy wonderfully (spread his corruption in a marvelous and awesome manner), and shall prosper, and practice (carry on his deeds for a while unhindered), and shall destroy (spread his corruption toward) the mighty and the holy people (of God). And through his policy (cunning skill) also he shall cause craft (fraudulent deceit) to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart (become swelled with pride, thinking he can accomplish his full goal), and by peace (the offer of prosperity and security) shall destroy (corrupt the faithfulness of) many (who once stood with the Lord): he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself); but he shall be broken without hand (at the bold appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth). This is the same time described by Paul in II Thes 2:7-12, a passage that offers much enlightenment as we approach the time of the end. In Eph 6:13 he called this time of difficulty the evil day.
The only hope the enemy has in his final days is to destroy our faithfulness. But we are learning the secret of abiding in a relationship with our Lord that cannot be broken. At the end of Rom 8 Paul gives insight that connects right up to Ephesians and fits in with Dan 8. It will help us withstand the last-days attack of the antichrist See Rom 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation (Greek, thlípsis-distressing circumstances, extreme pressure, affliction in daily life), or distress (stenochória-being crowded into a narrow place, cramped from action), or persecution (diogmós-being chased, pursued by an enemy), or famine (limós-scarcity of food, hunger), or nakedness (gumnótes-want of proper and sufficient clothing), or peril (kínudos-living in eminent danger), or sword (the weapon of an executioner)?-Verse 35.
The answer is clear in Rom 8:37-39. Read this passage. It starts with I am persuaded. This is from pèpeismai, a Perfect Passive form of the Verb peítho. This is the root word on which pístis (faith) and pistós(faithful) are built. That it is a Perfect form means an action has taken place the results of which continue. That it is a Passive form means something was done to the Subject. More clearly we could translate it "I have been persuaded." It means "I have become convinced. Something has happened to me to make my faith so firm nothing can remove it. Even in the face of anti-Christ's determination to destroy me, I am incapable of becoming unfaithful." This is a work of God's grace.
Faith is a gift from God. Faithfulness is a quality we let Him work into us as we go through tests. Being persuaded comes from that persistent operation of His mercy and grace that holds us as we pass through trials. The closer we come to the end, the greater will be the trials. The more intense the trials, the greater the release of God's grace in us. It comes over on us as enabling grace. This sets us up to move on in the strength of His powerful Kingdom.
The "prayer starters" with this article are designed to help you grow in faithfulness while under the pressure of difficult circumstances. Use them daily for a month and see what happens in you.
CONTINUE TO PART 4: The Nine Actions of God
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