The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)
The Foundation of a Great Church and of Great Ministries (continued)
Here was a church being founded and formed for tremendous purposes and with tremendous capacity. What spiritual capacity it requires to be a church like that - to be able to take all that an apostle such as Paul could give! That is a very testing thing. Those who minister in the Word of God, and in the Holy Spirit, know very well the capacity of their hearers by the liberty that they have to give the message. Sometimes they find themselves limited because their hearers cannot take more. They may not know the people, but they are conscious of the limitation. At other times they find themselves completely released, able without any difficulty to give all that they have. They are moving in the Spirit, and those to whom they minister have capacity.
Now these people at Ephesus had a capacity. In those three years they could receive "the whole counsel of God," and later they could receive this matchless letter which the Apostle wrote from his prison. A church with such capacity - and, let me add, Christians with such capacity - must know in a very real way what it means to receive the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is the beginning, the foundation, of all the work of building and enlarging.
Paul's ministry was great here, among these believers. Let us recall that Timothy, also, was a minister of the church at Ephesus, and that his ministry was enriched, constituted, inspired, instructed, by Paul himself. Paul was able to say that Timothy had followed his teaching and conduct (2 Timothy 2:3-10). Yes, Timothy had been in close association with the Apostle, for a long time and over a wide area, and he ministered at Ephesus. And then we remember that the great Apostle John was an elder of the church at Ephesus. What wealth John has given us, in Gospel, Letters and Revelation! What a church this was! What a church it became from these twelve believers! And it all sprang out of the receiving of the Holy Spirit. I commend to you a study of the place of the Holy Spirit in the letter to the Ephesians. He has a very large place in the letter from beginning to end.
(continued with # 11 - (b. What the Passage Teaches)