Ephesians 1:1b lists three key components: saints, faithful, in Christ Jesus. In my last post I detailed both what I’ve learned and read about what it truly means that a Christian is undeniably a saint – whether I “feel holy” or not.
Now let’s focus on a couple of things: what does Paul mean when he calls the Ephesians faithful, the importance of the word order, and the reality of being “in Christ Jesus.”
First when I read “faithful” I immediately thought Paul was saying that these Christians were exercising exclusivity in their beliefs. Where before they were into pagan worship and sorcery, now they were “faithful” to believing in Christ. But that is only half of it, and the secondary meaning of the word used here. The primary meaning to “faithful” is “exercising faith.” The reality of their conversion was evident because they exercised their faith. If you look back in the gospels one of the things that Christ Jesus commended people for was their faith – not their “commitment” to the Jewish law, but rather the evidence in their heart that they believed in Jesus and had faith (the hope of things not seen). Often a miracle was linked to faith, and when the Holy Spirit was sent from the Father after the ascension of Jesus there was power in every believer to exercise their faith.
The importance of the word order was lost on me. I have so often sped through Paul’s opening address that I missed it completely, but Lloyd-Jones explains that a person cannot separate these identifiers and be either a saint or faithful. He also equates the terms to justification and sanctification. Saint-justified-cleansed by God from the inside and the outside; faithful-sanctified-continually exercising faith and maintaining a reliable commitment to Christ Jesus. The importance of the order is thereby clear from defining the terms further. Saint, Faithful, IN Christ Jesus.
Then let us note the importance of keeping intact the relationship between a saint and being faithful, the relationship between holiness and being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ…Dr. William Temple has said, ‘No one is a believer who is not holy, and no one is holy who is not a believer.” These two things must never be separated, you must never put a gap between justification and sanctification…Holiness is a characteristic of every Christian, and if we are not holy, our profession of Christ is valueless (Lloyd-Jones 33-34).”
Finally looking at “in Christ Jesus.” Every thing Paul has described has it’s source from this statement IN CHRIST JESUS. All of what has been talked about up until this point finds its worth in these three words. Without the miracle of being united with Christ, none of us could be identified as “saint” or “faithful.” Remember too whom the Ephesians were (Acts 19 and following); these were not straight laced, God-fearing folks but they were converts! They were instantly saints, and they were exercising their faith only because they were in Christ Jesus.
This should be true of me and anyone who says “I’m a Christian.” There needs to be a transformation from sinner to saint, from loose and lazy believism to committed and exercised faithful – to the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord. If I can’t say “I am a saint in Christ Jesus” because the statement feels false in my own mind, then I must recognize that is a necessary conviction. Also, if I can’t see the marks of exercised faith in my life making it difficult to say “I am faithful in Christ Jesus,” then some exercising needs to happen.
In Christ Jesus, power, the Holy Spirit, will be witnesses…How will I witness and exercise my faith this week?