The Greatest Message Ever Told
Let me begin by reading to you the words of Ephesians 5, verses 25, 26, and 27; “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
The part of that passage that I want to focus on today, is the phrase.. “..having cleansed her, by the washing of water, with the word,” Does anyone know what that phrase means? I’ll tell you right off, that “the washing of water” part, refers to baptism. Jesus Christ has “sanctified” the church, by cleansing her of sin, through baptism.
Of course “the church”, is the entire “assembly” or the entire “congregation” of all saved souls. And we know from scripture, that the way in which a person becomes a part of that entire “congregation” of saved souls, is for God Himself to add that person to the “congregation”; To the church. It is God Himself who adds the saved, to the church, which is Christ’s “body”. It’s the “body”, of the saved.
Just like an author might have a “body” of work, consisting of all the writings that he’s done, so also the Lord has a “body”, consisting of all the souls He has saved. When one is cleansed of their sins, in baptism, they are then “saved” from the consequences of those sins, just as we read in Hebrews 8, verse 12.. “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
And at that very moment, when those sins are forgiven and forgotten, the Lord adds you to His “body of the saved”.. His church, His assembly, His congregation, and His kingdom. They’re all “one and the same”.
No one has ever “joined” the Lord’s church, because God hasn’t provided a way to “join” His body. But rather, the Lord has provided a way, whereby every saved soul, would be added, to His body.
It’s just like what we read in Acts 2, verse 41; “So those who received his word, were baptized, and there were added that day, about three thousand souls.” And then of course verse 47 goes on to say; “And the Lord added to their number day by day, those who were being saved.” Saved from the consequences of their sin.
But I want to talk about verse 41, for a minute. Many bible versions phrase that verse exactly how I just read it.. “..those who received his word, were baptized”. Peter had instructed them to be baptized, and those who accepted those words, WERE baptized. How could one accept, and receive the words of God, without doing what those words tell you to do? To not do, what God’s words tell you to do, means you haven’t accepted His words.
Now, there are some versions that don’t say.. “those who received his words”. But rather, they say.. “.those who received his message”,
What’s the difference you might ask? Not much really, but I do think the word “message” is so much more descriptive of what went on that day, because the words that Peter spoke, constituted a very specific message. It was a message that is no doubt, the greatest message ever told!
What “message” is it, that Peter delivered that day? Well, here it is; Here’s the message that Peter delivered on that great day, the day of Pentecost, AD 33. And when I get done reading it, judge for yourselves, how great this message is. The “message”, is found in Acts 2, verses 22 thru 36..
“Men of Israel, hear these words..” (this isn’t only a great message, but it’s a great declaration!) “..Hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God, with mighty works and wonders and signs, that God did through Him, in your midst, as you yourselves know; This Jesus, delivered up according to the appointed plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed, by the hands of lawless men! But God raised him up! Loosing the pang of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” How could anything, hold or constrain the Son of God, right?
“For David spoke concerning Him, (concerning Jesus) “I saw the Lord always before Me, for He is My right hand (that means He’s my strength. Your version probably says.. “He is AT my right hand”, or “ON My right hand”, but that is simply not correct. Remember, this is worded as if Jesus were speaking. And what Jesus is saying, is that God the Father is My strength)” “I saw the Lord always before Me, for He is My strength, that I may not be shaken! Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced, My flesh also will dwell in hope. For You will not abandon My soul to Hades, nor let Your Holy One see corruption. (Both body and soul of Jesus would be resurrected!) You have made known to Me the paths of life; you will make Me full of gladness with Your presence.”
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day! (in other words, those words weren’t about David, they were about Jesus Christ) Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that He would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw, and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”
“This Jesus, God raised up, and of that, we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted, the right hand of God, (and again, “the right hand” refers to strength and power”) So then.. “Being therefore exalted as the power of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this, that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” (“This” which they were seeing and hearing, was the miracle of the apostles all speaking in various tongues, or languages, which were understood by the men who had assembled, from all the various nations, surrounding Jerusalem.
“For David did not ascend into the heavens; But he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, (in other words, the Father said to the Son) “Sit as my right hand”, (sit as my strength and power) until I make Your enemies, Your footstool.” By the way, the word “sit” in that verse, means to be “enthroned”. “Be enthroned as My power..”
And listen to this concluding statement.. “Therefore, let all Israel know with certainty, that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!”
Remember when Jesus asked His apostles who they believed that He was? And Peter declared.. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Mathew 16:16)
That’s the declaration that Peter made on that day, and that’s the “message” that he preached and declared, on the day of Pentecost. Is there any more powerful, or important message that man has ever heard, than that!
In Romans 1, verse 16, God calls that message, “the gospel”. The apostle Paul declared; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” And you might find this interesting.. The original Greek word in that verse, which is translated as “gospel”, is the word “eu-an-gel’-ion”. And that’s where our word “evangelize” comes from. And the literally meaning of “eu-an-gel’-ion” is.. “the good message”.
“I am not ashamed of the good message”. It’s the “good news” that a savior has come. And as we’re told in 1 John 2, verse 2, “He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 Corinthians 15; 3 & 4 puts it this way.. “For I delivered to you, as of first importance, what I also received: (That phrase.. “of first importance” means, this is the very core of the gospel message. It’s not the entire gospel message, but it’s the “core” and “foundation” of the gospel) “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures”
And another part of the gospel message, is found in verses 22 & 23; “..in Christ ALL will be made alive. But each in the own order: Christ the first-fruit, then those who are Christ’s at His coming,” Now that is great news!
And what about Romans 8, verse 34; Where it speaks of Jesus, and says.. “who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
What do you think? Is there any greater message than that?
Now I want to go back to that phrase from Ephesians 5, verse 26, which says.. “..having cleansed her, by the washing of water with the word”. As I said earlier, “the washing of water” refers to our baptism in water. And I explained how Jesus cleanses the church, by cleansing each and every member individually, by forgiving their sins, at the time of their baptism. You could say that Jesus cleanses His church, one soul at a time.
OK, so we know that Jesus cleanses us through baptism, in other words, through our being immersed in water, symbolizing a burial of our old sinful self, as we learn from Romans 6:3-4. But the question I have for you is this.. How are we buried in water, “with the word”? What does “with the word” mean? I had to do some research to find out exactly what phrase means.
I actually had to have a discussion with my friend over in Greece, and allow him to teach me a bit, about the original Greek words in that verse. And the first thing I learned, is that the word “with” (as in “with the word”) isn’t the correct word to be using. In a literal translation, the word would be “in”, and so it would read.. “in the word”. But even that doesn’t convey to us the clear meaning. As my friend put it, (and you’ve head this saying before).. “The meaning gets lost in the translation”.
And so here’s the meaning of that little word; It means.. “by means of”. And we all know what that means. “By means of” is like saying.. This is the means, by which something is done, or accomplished.
Now knowing that, here’s how Ephesians 5:26, would read.. “..having cleansed her by the washing of water, by means of the word.” Through the use of “the word”. That makes the meaning a lot clearer, doesn’t it?
But let’s go one step further; Let me say something about “the word” mentioned there. Think back to what I suggested concerning Peter’s “words” in Acts 2, verse 41. How that his words on the day of Pentecost, constituted the greatest message ever heard!
Well, here in Ephesians 5, verse 26, “the word” refers to a very specific “set of words”, you might say. It refers to .. “A saying, or a declaration, or a message.” What kind of a message or declaration? Well, it’s the declaration, and the message, of the gospel of Christ. It’s the “euangelion”, it’s “the good message”. That’s the message, being spoken of.
Jesus Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her; Having cleansed her through baptism, by means of the gospel message.”
How do we learn about baptism? We learn about it thru the gospel message. How do we learn any new covenant spiritual matter? We learn about it thru the gospel.
And here’s what the gospel message of Christ says about baptism..
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16) “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38) “Baptism now saves you!” (1 Peter 3:21) “And now, why do you delay? (in other words, there’s nothing to wait for) Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 22:16)
Jesus Christ cleanses us, through the washing of baptism, by means of the message preached. And when you stop and think about it, everything that God has done for us spiritually, is by means of the message preached.
Does anyone know off hand what 1 Corinthians 1:21 says? It says.. “For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom, did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Some versions say.. ‘through the proclamation”. Some simply say.. “through preaching’. And we all, now know what that means.
The world thinks baptism is foolishness. What do you think? The water is ready; And God is ready to forgive; And we’re ready to help in any way possible.
And so as the scripture puts it.. “Why do you delay?”