“I really began to understand ‘fathers do not provoke your children,’ when my own children became teenagers,” said Dr. Stephen Pettit, president of Bob Jones University, as he preached Wednesday night. Emphasizing that we best learn truth through experience, he pointed out that the Ephesian believers were disheartened, thinking they were the cause of Paul’s suffering in prison. Paul wrote to them to dispel this belief and to encourage them with God’s truth.
In Ephesians 3:13, Paul told them two vital truths:
1. Do not be discouraged. God had revealed to them the great mystery of Christ, that is, the complete union of Jews and Gentiles to form the church of Jesus Christ. Paul reminded the Ephesians of the riches of Christ that had been bestowed on them. Dr. Pettit reminded his audience that this is good medicine for us as well.
2. You should be encouraged! Paul explained that his suffering was for the Ephesians. They could boast because God would receive the most glory. “You supply the weakness, God supplies the strength,” Dr. Pettit explained.
In verses 14–21 Paul used super superlatives to encourage the Ephesians. Dr. Pettit put it in today’s vernacular: “It would blow your mind.” We must truly understand the power of God working in us, he said. He reminded the congregation that believers get to be part of what God is doing in the world, and asked, “How can we not be encouraged by that?”