Birthmarks of Faith

Birthmarks of Faith

Bryan Jones |

This message examines Paul's prayer for believers in Ephesians 1:15-23 and explores BIRTHMARKS OF FAITH.

New Life
Birthmarks of Faith – Week 2
Bryan Jones
March 26, 2023

A. Introduction (Ephesians 1:15-17)

Instruction manual….

So Paul is writing to the Ephesians and in verse 16 Paul says I give thanks for you because he’s heard of their faith and love. But he’s saying don’t stop, God is wanting to build you, grow, you mature you and complete you in Him.

B. Birthmarks of Faith: (Ephesians 1:18-23)

1. A defiant hope . (Ephesians 1:18a. C/R: Psalm 62:5; 121:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 15:32; Hebrews 12:2)

Where’s your hope level at this morning?

Let me ask this. Do you feel culture is growing closer to Christ, or further away? So how do you have hope?

Is the American church growing or declining? So how do you have hope?

Is there anybody is this room who is facing some difficult circumstance financially, physically, or relationally with family or coworkers… How do you have hope?

Ephesians 1:18a (NLT)

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called …

Ephesians 1:18a (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you …

What Paul is saying is he wants us to have Spiritual eyesight. Meaning that what the Spirit wants to do in each us is give us an defiant hope to look past what we see with our physical eyes in the culture, to look past the declining church, to look past circumstances and confidently look at Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:32 (Niv)

If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Defiant hope is different than human hope…

Defiant Hope = Christ/Circumstances

Hope and faith don’t pretend that mountains don’t exist. It just acknowledges that there is something bigger than that mountain and His name is Jesus.

And when you fix your eyes on Him, what wells up in you is a defiant hope.

How many heard that phrase God won’t give you beyond what you can bear? It’s not true… there are some things you simply can’t bear… Kid who’s fallen away… terminal illness?

I can’t fix this thing going on with my family… He can!

I can’t figure out how we are going to pay this bill… He can!

I can’t figure out what to do with this health issue… He can!

I can’t make a difference in this dark world…He can! I can’t see a way forward for the church… He can, that Jesus will build His church and the very gates of hell won’t stand against (Matthew 16:18) …

See whenever we have a lack of hope, whenever we have a hope problem, it’s because we are looking at the wrong thing. Remember what Paul just said, he wants the eyes of heart to be opened. He wants to give us spiritual insight. How do we get that, by looking at Jesus. By focusing on Him. By diving deep in His Word and listening to His voice and not our circumstances or our situations or culture.

Now is not the cultural moment to lose hope. When things are the darkest, light has the chance to shine the brightest.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

This means that if you are in Christ, if you truly are a follower of Jesus, you have been given by the Spirit of God in and through you a defiant hope.

2. Immeasurable value. (Ephesians 1:18b. C/R: Psalm 103:11-12; Ephesians 3:17-19)

Ephesians 1:18b (NLT)

His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.

Some versions say the riches of His glorious inheritance. What does that mean?

Now an inheritance is something you get when a relative passes away…

So, whose inheritance is Paul talking about? God or us? There is some debate, but a lot of commentators agree, and I do as well, this isn’t referring to us… notice it says His rich and glorious inheritance .

It’s referring to God. God has an inheritance? What is it? It’s His chosen people.

Paul is saying I’m praying you know that you are God’s greatest treasure.

Any men in here have a man cave? Ok I’m happy for you and also a little jealous. You know, Christmas years back a lot of my friends were getting flat screen tv’s, grills, things with motors and I’ll never forget what I got. I got embroidered towels. That was one of our main gifts. I knew at that exact moment my life was over, no man cave for me. But people who have one, a lot of times they have something on display. They have some collection, like sports memorabilia or something rare they are showing off. One of my friends in Texas has the second largest u2 collection in the world. Take a look at that picture. When you first walk into his house, you see this. It has immense value to him, and he wants everyone to see it…

Let me say this…. When you grabbed your coffee this morning, or when you got ready, or when you went to bed last night, did it hit you that you have so much immeasurable value to God that He puts you on display?

Some of you go He doesn’t put you on display…? Let me say this to the men or women too… maybe you never had a father who said I’m proud of you. God is proud of you.

Side note: With kids, don’t tell them you love them or proud of them with this phrase … I tell my son I love him because he is mine.

Psalms 103:11-12 (NIV)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Paul is saying, I don’t want you know this in your mind… I want you to feel it in your heart, deep in your spirit,

that you held so much value that He willingly let His Son be crushed so that you and I can become sons and daughters of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now Paul is not a flowing and poetic kind of guy… so this is a bit unusual for him. He’s usually like…. This is what God’s like. I am an apostle. This is what you should do. Now shut up… but notice he says this love surpasses all knowledge… and it transforms your heart.

No one says on a first date… hey I just want you to know what I’m like at my worst. Or if your online dating, no one adds a me at my worst tab… Why? Because we tend to hide those things.

So God knows our faults and shortcomings and yet we are still His inheritance. We are what He chooses to put on display Joyfully not begrudgingly… We have immeasurable value.

3. Real power.

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

What Paul is saying is that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives inside of you.

See sometimes we can be what I will call selective atheists. I believe God can heal anything, but I don’t know if He will heal me.

I believe God holds the whole world in His hand, but I don’t know if can trust Him with my kids or finances.

I believe God can overcome anything but I’m not sure I can beat this struggle.

Let me encourage you again… Paul is saying one of your birthmarks is that you have a real spiritual power.

That the same power that raised Jesus lives inside of you.

Listen, I’m impressed with people who have character. But I’m not satisfied until you have power.

God wants you to be a man or woman of integrity, but He also wants you to be victorious. He wants you in the power of the Spirit to break selfishness, to find courage where you have been a coward, to repair hopeless damaged relationships, to love God more than stuff and entertainment.

You go I can’t, you are right. But He can… and the Spirit of God lives inside of you.

But this is important. How do we see the Spirit’s power unleashed in our life?

God calls us to take a step of faith. Do you remember when the waters parted….

Joshua 3:15-17 it says when they stepped down, the waters part…

You can’t see people get healed unless you pray for them.

People can’t be saved unless you take a step of faith and talk to them about Jesus.

Addictions can’t be broken until you take a step and bring others into it.

God can’t bless you when you hold on tightly to your resources.

Doug… you’ve been running from God your whole life… and he responded to God, and he started attending Brookwood and he passed away from a sickness… and I thought, there is someone on the other side of eternity in heaven with God because someone took a step of faith… and God met this person, powerful.

Only when you move in faith will God move with miracles. … Only when you move in faith will God move with miracles.

How do you need to respond?

If you don’t know Jesus, you can’t have this defiant hope, this immeasurable value, or this real power outside of surrendering your life to Jesus.

The two most important days of your life is the day you are born and the day you find out why. If you don’t know Jesus, it’s no coincidence you are here. It’s time to become a follower of Him… respond.

This isn’t limited, this is what all of us have in the spirit… (instruction manual… ) these are the birthmarks.

Christian = Defiant hope.

Immeasurable value.

Real power.

Read More