All Saints Day (November 1, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Ephesians 1:11-23 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 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—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
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 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
We Are United with Christ!
Today is All Saints Day. We remember those who have gone on before. I know that sometimes we struggle with the word saint. It typically designates someone who is really spiritual or really seems to have their act together spiritually. We think of people who have great patience as being saints. But if we look at the Scripture, we see that the word saint is used for God’s people – united with Christ and set apart for His purpose. We may have our flaws, but God is continuing to perfect us and bring us to maturity and completeness. In his greeting to the church at Ephesus, Paul calls them God’s holy people, faithful followers of Christ Jesus. In other translations, it would be the word saint – for that is what a saint is – a holy people – a people set apart – who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.
I know that both Pam and I both owe a great deal to those who have gone on before. We have a wonderful spiritual legacy. And yet Paul is speaking to the living saints – those who are still here on earth. He prays that Christ would give us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we would continue to grow in our knowledge of God – he prays that we can understand the hope – the confident hope – that we have – that glorious inheritance.
This week our church will be praying for the persecuted church around the world. We will be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ – the saints. We will be praying for great power – Paul alludes to it in verse 19. “I pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” That same power – as Jeremy Camp sings, lives in us – that power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us – and gives us the confident hope that we will once again be reunited with our loved ones who died in Christ.
Paul writes great words of encouragement – Christ is far above any ruler or power or leader in this world and not only this world but the world to come. God has put Christ in charge of everything – including the church – Christ is the head of all things.
We are the saints – we are the children – we are the body of Christ – and Christ is the head – he fills (if we let him) all things everywhere with himself.
Today lets remember those who have gone on before and remember that we are saints in progress and live with the fullness of God’s power living in us.