Ephesians – “What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
Text: Ephesians 6:14-20
Subtitle: “Standing Therefore”
Intro: Last week we looked at the principles of “readiness”.
- The Mindset (predisposition to trust)
- The Orientation (direction toward real enemy)
- The Objective (defining the win – to stand)
Today we move on to the equipment; the gear of the well-prepared disciple. Let’s take a look:
It matters how you attempt to stand (personal story of military term of “serviceable”)
I. Paul mentions 6 items:
A. Belt of Truth
- Waist “girded”
- “Base layer” of integrated armor
- Truth is the foundation, all else connects to it
Why significant? Because Satan is a liar. He lies to you about yourself and to you about others.
B. Breastplate of Righteousness
- It’s living a life of “right-ness” (a daily pattern)
- In Christ we have “positional right-ness”
- We must also live in practical right-ness”
Why significant? Because Satan is an accuser. His accusations are attempts to discourage and defeat us.
- Consistency leads to confidence
- Becoming “daily familiar” with God’s empowering produces a stronger sense of dependence on Him
C. Shoes of the Gospel
They’re what we stand on:
- Picture of Roman soldiers’ sandal-boots with nails in the sole for grip durability
- Dug-in, standing firm
Why significant? Because Satan is an intimidator
- Intimidation to water down the gospel
- Pressure to make the truth more palatable
D. Shield of Faith
- Individual defense and then together as a unit (shield to shield)
- Romans perfected the method and it was a strong, useful defense
Why Significant? Because Satan is an attacker. He hurls fiery darts, especially when we aren’t looking.
E. Helmet of Salvation
- Growing in grace and knowledge of Christ
- Right thinking about salvation (theologically) is crucial
Why significant? Because Satan is a deceiver. Heresies are rampant and a compromised gospel isn’t the gospel.
F. The Sword of the Sprit-The Word of God
- Jesus exclusively used the Word to rebuke Satan when tempted in the desert
- The Word is pure, strong, eternal and superior
Why significant? Because Satan is experienced.
- The Word is defense
- The Word is offense
- The Word is for close-quarters action
So, with the equipment, how do we engage?
A. Praying always
- An on-going conversation
- About everything (literally)
B. All types of prayers
- Quiet worship
C. In the Spirit
- Seek His guidance in prayer regarding how to pray
- “Lean into” his intercession
- Pray bold prayers
“Take up the whole armor of God”
- It’s active not passive
- There’s certainty that the enemy will attack
- Prayerfully prepare each day
Text: Ephesians 6:10-13
Intro: We live in a world filled with conflict.
- Personal conflict
- Family Conflict
- Workplace conflict
- Community conflict
- National conflict
- International conflict
The truth is, the world we live in has always been marked by conflict. However Jesus said:
“These things I’ve spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
So what does the “good cheer” look like? Paul gives us a picture in Ephesians 6. Let’s take a look:
– Read 6:10-13
There are three parts of “armoring up”. Today we’ll be looking at the first one- “Readiness”. Being properly prepared is vitally important and can be the difference between success and failure.
I. The Mindset of Ready (v.10)
Before the gear goes on, we need to get our mind right
A. The right predisposition (v.10) – being receptive, susceptible, and inclined toward the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- David (1 Samuel 17)
- Context of the battle
- Goliath – imposing size the taunts
- David’s response (v.37 & 45-47)
There was a predisposition to truth the Lord (based on His faithfulness). Which means there was a:
B. Confidence in the Lord
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Paul says to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might!
- Lord – He’s sovereign! Ultimately in charge…now!
- Power – he’s already defeated Satan’s most powerful weapon-death (Eph. 1:19-23)
Be confident and empowered!
II. The Orientation of Ready (v.11-12)
A. Directional Adjustment
Personal story of “adjust fire” (calling for artillery support)
- Our battle posture be toward the real enemy (Satan and his workers) not flesh and blood people (even though they may be used by the enemy).
- Battle can be confusing, so get your direction right first!
B. Anticipation of the enemies’ tactics
- “Wiles” of the devil – “schemes”, “methodiah” in the Greek
- This world “system”
- Mindful of our three enemies, “The world”, “The Flesh” and The Devil”
It’s no accident that it often feels like the things and events of the day are working together against what’s “right” – The world naturally thinks alike, but we must remember our purpose.
And that brings us to our last point:
III. The Objective of Ready
A. Defining the “win”
- The objective is simply “to stand” – we may complicate it but Paul made a simple and clear point, “and having done all, to stand”
- To glorify Him by “standing” in the every-day-stuff!
B. We’re already engaged whether we like it or not – no neutral ground
C. We can’t afford to get complacent
- Revisit David (heart of a true warrior)
- But he got complacent (read 2 Samuel 11:1-2)
As we close, here’s our take-away questions:
- Is your predisposition to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead?
- Are you aware of who the real enemy is?
- Are you complacent of prepared?
Text: Ephesians 6:1-9
Subtitle: “Living with Order-Entrusted”
Intro: Last week we looked at God’s order in marriage and how it’s part of “submitting to one another in the fear of God”. Today, we’re continuing the principle of 5:21 with the principle of being “entrusted”. Paul mentions several relationships.
The first of the relationships is where:
I. We are entrusted to others
A. As children-obedience (v.1-3)
- “It’s right” (v.1) but it also makes sense (parents have more experience and have the best interest in mind for the child)
- It’s a commandment-honor is an attitude (and we should want to honor them)
- Brings life-long benefits (when our disposition is to honor parents, we generally have a more healthy/productive mindset)
- Even as adults, we are to “honor” our parents in the way we treat them
B. As servants (employees now in the modern setting)
(backdrop on first century-around 6 million slaves in Roman empire)
(personal story related to getting that “first job”)
- With sincerity-“as to Christ” refers to motive (v.5)
- Working with diligence-“as to the Lord”-give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay whether the boss is watching or not (v.6-7)
- The Lord knows and keeps the records-when it appears that other employees get away with less effort or your work goes unnoticed, etc. (v.8)
II. Others are entrusted to us
A. As parents
- Children are a gift from the Lord-we are stewards for a short time
- Discipline-“training and admonition” is a biblical principle and represents love (Heb. 12:3-11)
- Both parents need to be on-board (and on the same page) for it to work
- Parents need to stay the course (if it’s biblical) even when it conflicts with grandparents’ or other family members’ opinions
- Fathers are to lead (v.4) do not provoke, but:
- Be consistent
- Be engaged
- Be available
B. As masters (bosses in modern life) (v.9)
- Take care of your people-(finding out you’re a Christian shouldn’t surprise them)
- Work hard “as to the Lord”-model a good work ethic, integrity and consistency
- The Lord keeps the records:
- He’s aware:
- He guides:
- He rewards
Prayer time for all of our “roles”
Text: Ephesians 5:21-33
Subtitle: “Living with Order-Husbands and Wives”
Intro: As we finished our look at “Redeeming the Time” last week, we ended with the instruction to “submit to one another in the fear of God”. It’s a broad and general statement that includes the whole church. As we move forward today, we’re going to start looking at the practical nature and application of what that looks like day-to-day.
Before we do, I want to reference I Cor. 14:40, “Let everything be done decently and in order.” If we’re to understand submission, we must understand “order” also. God is a God of order; in creation (sequence of creation), in boundaries (laws of physics, biology, etc.), and in organizations (Jews and the Church). Order isn’t the same as “rank”. For example, in Jewish life, the order of priests came from one tribe, but it didn’t mean that tribe had superior worth, it was God’s choice.
(personal story of being lined up alphabetically in school)
For our day-to-day, Paul started with the marriage relationship. Let’s take a look:
The reason I started with verse 21 is that the whole passage hinges on it. We can’t focus on verse 22 without remembering the big-picture truth of verse 21 “submitting to one another in the fear of God”. Technically, there is no verb in verse 22, it’s an assumed implementation of verse 21 and is:
- A “loving order”
- A voluntary yielding
- God ordained (v.23)
Then he makes a comparison between Christ’s relationship to us (His bride) and husbands’ relationship to brides.
I. Christ and His Bride
A. He speaks truth from the word to enrich, guide, build-up His Church (v.26)
B. He has the best interest of the Bride at heart (v.27)
C. He has a selfless attitude toward the church
- Gave Himself for us (5:2)
- Sacrifice involves a cost
D. He nourishes and cherishes His bride the Church (v.29)
Re-read verse 29
- He is acutely aware, mindful and involved
- We are treasured by Him
So, since this is the picture of what we as husbands are to treat our wives, let’s take it point-by-point.
II. Husbands and Wives
A. We men are to speak and live the truth from the Word to:
(to set our marriages apart-“sanctify”)
B. We are to have her best interest at heart
- We should want to see her “shine”
- We should want to see her feel good about herself
- We should want to see her succeed
C. We are to have a selfless attitude toward her
- We should give ourselves for her (love her more than self)
- We should make sacrifices for her (without being asked)
D. We are to nourish and cherish her
- Treasure her
- Be mindful of what’s going on with her
- Be involved in the day-to-day with her
And finally, he finished the section with this:
“Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself and see that the wife respects her husband.” (v.33)
A. Husbands-actively love (and she’ll respond)
- Verse 31 means a man taking initiative to leave home, to choose a wife, and to build a life with her
- Love her actively-be kind, tender, eye contact and listening (“as to the Lord” and not distracted)
B. Wives-provide respect (and he’ll actively love)
- Respect the God-ordained order
- Remember it’s “as to the Lord”
- Men, be worthy of her respect
Text: Ephesians 5:15-21
Subtitle: “Redeeming the Time”
Intro: Last week we finished with a verse that was a declaration of sorts. Paul anchors his thought to the Old Testament and basically says we’re raised up from sleeping deadness and now have Christ illuminating our path. With that in mind, let’s look at what it means:
Paul puts an idea out there of walking “circumspectly” or carefully, which gives us the word picture of steps that are deliberate, with purpose and have an exactness about them. We are to be a people that move with a purpose…a divine purpose. The thought reminds me of a foundational proverb:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
What does that mean for practical living? It means an active embrace of God’s authority and instruction versus my own prideful choices.
(illustration of heeding advice for crossing a swift flowing river)
I. The Purpose-“Redeem the Time” (v.16)
- Time is a limited, precious resource
- The biggest threat to a productive “today” is the idea of “tomorrow”
- I must be moving with a purpose “today”
II. 5 Ways to Redeem the Time
A. Understand the will of the Lord (v.17)
- Big Picture-some of the over-arching truths of the Bible regarding God’s character, ways, provision, instructions, and expectations
- Personal-His will for me is always consistent with the same over-arching truths
B. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (v.18)
- “Filled” – biblically is not “empty to full”, but primarily controlled or influenced by
- In the present tense, literally means “be being filled”
- Bottom line-The Holy Spirit is a better guide than fermented spirits
My personal approach to the question of alcohol for a believer:
- Questions like “Where are the boundaries?”, “How much is too much?”, “Is social drinking ok?” are the wrong questions. That’s basically trying to determine how much I can be like the world before God frowns on me. The questions I prefer are:
- What is the best me? What do I/my family need in our life?
- After genuine prayerful reflection, the answers for those questions simply do not include alcohol.
C. Choose Joy (v.19)
- Speak words that nourish the soul (God-honoring, encouraging words like Proverbs 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”)
- Have a song in your heart that adds melody to life. There’s a lightness to the demeanor of someone who lets the Spirit of God place a song in their heart. Even someone who isn’t a music person can ask for a melody to be paced in their heart. It’s not about musical notes, but a life that expresses joy.
D. Be thankful (v.20)
- Thankful for the good – When we really pause and think about it, there’s a lot of good from the hand of God to be thankful for.
- Thankful for the not-so-good – admittedly difficult at times, and can often back to a point of making a cognitive decision to trust Him.
E. Being submissive (v.21)
- We are all clay vessels (not a potter among us)
- We must set aside pride “in the fear of God”
III. Conclusion: Closing thoughts and “take away question”
“How can I actually (not just theoretically) “redeem the time” in my life?”
- Maybe a better understanding of His will?
- Being more Spirit led?
- Choosing joy?
- More thankfulness?
- Or perhaps a change of attitude (setting aside pride) in order to have a more submissive spirit?
Text: Ephesians 5:7-14
Subtitle: “Living as Light”
Intro: Last week we ended with the concept of being a “sweet-smelling aroma”, a strong contrast to the environment around us, which represents the pleasing free-will offerings of the Old Testament and the obedient life-model of Jesus.
Today, we’re going to explore the subject of “light”.
I. We are light (v.8a)
Based on verse 8, we don’t just carry light, we are light. We were darkness (not just in it), and have been transformed into light through Christ.
A. Principle: God is Light (1 John 1:5)
- There are no shadows in Him
- His light isn’t directional, heaven is filled with His radiant light (at every angle)
B. Two examples from scripture
- Moses (reading Ex. 34:29-32 aloud) The light and glory of God made Moses’ face glow!
- Jesus (reading John 1:1-5 aloud) The same powerful light and glory of Sinai was embodied in Christ (Mt.of Transfiguration gives insight)
In both situations the presence of light disrupted the darkness which rendered:
C. Two results:
- Rejection-both Moses and Jesus were rejected by people (for different reasons but the discomfort that caused it came from the same light)
- Reception-both Moses and Jesus were received by people (for different reasons, but the same light drew them)
D. Modern examples:
- Our very presence will make some uncomfortable
- We will be rejected by some because of the light in us
- We will be received by some because of the light in us
The he mentions how to handle the results:
II. Walk as Children of light (v.8b-10
Read verses 8b-10
Light represents life (personal story of cutting down trees to let sunlight into a new garden).
Walking as children of light produces:
- Goodness (right interactions)
- Righteousness (right character)
- Truth (right values)
- What is acceptable
- By default, that also means what isn’t acceptable
- Light helps to define what good is
III. Be a good steward of the light (v.11-14)
Read verses 11-14
A. Be mindful of the light (no fellowship with darkness)
B. Be confident of the light (expose and reprove when needed, but with tact)
C. Be renewed by the light (live each day as a new beginning, like the reference to Isaiah
So, as we close, what’s our main “take away question”?
IV. Conclusion: The Question
“Does my presence make a difference?”
- Is there healthiness?
- Is there fruit?
- Is there exposure of darkness?
- Am I a representation of daily renewal?
Text: Ephesians 5:1-6
Subtitle: “Walking as Christ Did”
Intro: Illustration/personal story of attempting to imitate Dad’s mechanic skills on my bicycle as a kid. Today we’re talking about looking to Jesus as our specific example of walking in love.
I. Walking in Love as Christ Did
It’s not a generic “love”, but specifically as He did. Cultures have all kinds of definitions for “love”, but Paul is drawing attention to Jesus’ model.
A. Imitate His model
- As dear children, not nameless servants
- As our Father, He wants us to learn from Him and succeed at walking in love like Jesus did
B. Learn His pattern (take a look back at 4:20)
(We learn the truth by learning Him)
- As He loved us-How did Jesus love people then?
- Valued them enough to tell them the truth
- As He loves us-How does He love us now?
- Values us enough to tell us the truth
- Gave Himself for us
- Energy (physical and emotional)
- Ultimately His life
- The sweet-smelling aroma (re-read verse 2)
- His life of obedience was an echo of the Old Testament offerings that were a sweet-smelling aroma to God
- There was a difference between the sacrifices, sweet-smelling aromas (for example, Noah’s and Leviticus 1-3) were “of a person’s own free will”, the sin sacrifices were “payment” type offerings
- They reflected a heart desiring to please God (describing Saul’ failure in 1 Samuel 15:22-“obedience is better than sacrifice”)
II. Self-Love is the Opposite Model
Read verses 3-5
A. Self-love values the appetites of the flesh (v.3)
(He says there shouldn’t even be a mention of such things among the people)
B. Self-love devalues what is good and wholesome (v.4)
- It taints and twists things toward personal desires, recognition and appetites
- Instead he says to “give thanks”, which moves our attention to the source and giver of the good things
C. Self-love practices misplaced worship (v.5)
(creates various forms of idolatry in place of true worship of God)
III. Reject Deceptive Counsel
Read verse 6
The teaching that reinforces, rationalizes, enables, accommodates and even celebrates the self-love things in verses 3-5
- It’s the voice that says unbiblical fleshly appetites can co-exists peacefully with Christlikeness (since they’re natural feelings they must be ok)
- Or, that coarse language, stories, media are ok (just having some fun)
- We’re to be on-guard for such things “let it not be named among you”
So, as we close, what’s our main “take away”?
IV. Conclusion: Being “The Sweet-smelling Aroma”
- Eyes specifically on Him (personal story of coaching 3rd base for T-Ball)
- Look to Jesus as Hebrews 12:1-2 describes
Text: Ephesians 4:17-32
Subtitle: “Getting Ready to Walk”
Intro: Illustration of being dirty from yardwork, then after getting showered in preparation to go out for the evening, putting the same dirty clothes back on instead of clean ones:
- Initially cleansed in salvation (big picture principle)
- On-going cleansing by renewal (daily application principle)
I. Putting off old thinking
Paul describes the old mindset apart from Christ in his letter to the Romans with this:
“Professing themselves to be wise they became fools.” – Rom. 1:22
A. It’s futile (or vain) thinking (v.17)
(It’s a path of little value with dead end results)
B. It’s darkened thinking (v.18)
- Not much light to see details, dangers, and hidden things
- Personal story of stepping on toys in the dark (there all the time but didn’t know it)
C. It’s self-centered thinking (v.19)
- Giving oneself over to the appetites of the flesh
- The various appetites are never satisfied (greediness)
But it’s not just “putting off”, it’s also about:
II. Putting on new thinking
Read verses 20-24
A. Jesus personifies the truth (v.20-21)
- He didn’t just teach truth, He is Truth
- His ways literally are the “new thinking”
B. The “old man” is bent toward corruption (v.22)
(the word picture of “corruption” is rotten fruit, decaying and smelling)
C. Renewal is the process (v.23)
Read Romans 12:1-2
- It’s a daily refreshment
- It’s a decision not to be pressed into the world’s mold
- Personal story of “men’s dorm cleanliness and lack of it”
III. Putting away old habits
Read verses 25-32
A. He mentions some specifics:
- Lying (truthfulness should be a “non-negotiable” in our lives)
- Anger (not all anger, but sinful anger) Since we struggle with where the lines are between righteous anger and sinful anger, here’s a two-part question to ask of ourselves, “What specifically is making me angry and why?”
- Stealing (makes a point to not only provide for self but look after others too)
- Corrupt words (don’t let words destroy your witness or effectiveness, plus we should use words that edify)
B. Don’t give the devil a foothold
(Cain was the first example of the devil getting a foothold and was even warned about it)
C. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit (v.30)
- We’re sealed by His power (v.30) so it’s a “done deal”
- If we’re sealed, then He’s part of our life and the presence of sin will of course grieve Him
D. Replace “meanness” with “kindness” (v.31-32)
- Mean words, actions and intentions
- Kind words, actions and intentions
As we close, three questions:
- Is there anything you need to “put off” today?
- Are there are some things you need to “put on”?
- And third, are there some things keep showing up that need to be “put away” for good (renewal)?
Text: Ephesians 4:7-16
Intro: Story of Jesus’ parable of the landowner and workers (Matt. 20). Today, we’re looking at some of the spiritual gifting to the church regarding unity. Paul lays out three parts for us to consider and similar to the story of the landowner, Jesus gives these as He chooses:
The first part is:
I. The Precept of the Gifting
A. The measure of the gift (v.7). It’s according to Christ’s:
Like the landowner in the parable, He has the freedom “to do with what’s His as He pleases”.
B. The fulfillment of the gift (v.8-10)
- These verses are often misinterpreted to mean something more “cryptic”
- The bottom line is that Jesus earned the right by complete victory (on the enemy’s “own turf” to be the Giver-moving His plan along from O.T. to N.T.
II. The Positions Given (v.11)
Read verse 11 again
- Definition – “One who is sent with a commission”
- Jesus had many disciples, but chose twelve apostles
- They were all first-hand, face-to-face, chosen by Jesus, to be special witnesses.
- After Judas’ departure, Saul of Tarsus became the new twelfth. He spent three years being trained for ministry by the Lord (Gal. 1:6-7) and you could make a case for the Lord’s two half-brothers (James and Judas) who both have letters in the N.T. bearing their names.
- In the specific biblical sense of the position, the office of apostle ended with John the Apostle (last one to pass).
- Definition – “Proclaimer of direct divine truth”
- Last Old Testament prophet was John the Baptizer
- The early church needed prophets to deliver the truth as there was yet a completed, canonized scripture. They were always confirmed by special miracles or tongues
- Now, with completed scripture (revealed truth), there is no longer a need for this second position. We have the prophetic words of scripture.
- Definition – “Bearer of Good News”
- We all should evangelize, but some are gifted and empowered specifically in the area of evangelism. It doesn’t lessen our overall responsibility to share the Good News, but some are called to the position of “Evangelist”.
- The position should always work toward unity of the church (Billy Graham style of enlisting local assemblies to work together before, during, and after events). Not a positon to be used to set up a parallel, personal following to the local church.
D. Pastors and teachers
- Based on the syntax of the verse, theologians disagree on whether this is referencing one position or two. Based on the overall context of the verse, I personally believe he’s referring to one position with two ministries (shepherding and instructing)
- Either way, the purpose is the same (which is the last point)
III. The Purpose of the Positions Given
A. For something (three things-v.12):
- Equipping the Saints (geared up and ready)
- Work of Ministry (people standing on their own two feet)
- Edifying the Body (building up and strengthening each other)
Not only “for something” but also:
B. Toward something (three things-v.13-16)
- Unity of the faith (faith specifically in Jesus)
- Maturity (stability against the various winds of culture)
- Truth-telling in love (a deep commitment to the truth)
As we close, will you pray with me for these last six things Paul mentioned to be part of our church’s DNA?
- Equipping saints to be on-going
- The work of ministry happening daily
- Building each other up (edification)
- Unity of faith (specifically in the Person of Jesus)
- Maturity to withstand the wind of cultural pressure
- Deep commitment to speaking the truth in love
Text: Ephesians 4:1-6
Intro: Unity is a feel-good word that often gets used in political campaigns and various cause-oriented rallies, but is rarely seen in reality. Most of the time it isn’t easily acquired so “uniformity” is pursued in its place (usually by coercion, pressure or force). As the church, we’re called to be united and the scripture gives us clear direction on what it looks like:
I. The Worthy Walk (v.1)
A. Doctrine is the “Big Picture” of the trip
- Ch. 1-3 lay a foundation of doctrine (even though some may consider it boring or old-fashioned, Paul took the time to explain the doctrinal truths first)
- The “calling” is of God-God doesn’t change-we’re not in some kind of “progressive” version of Christianity where He has stopped caring about the serious things
Anecdotal story about the “dot com” boom
B. There is to be a seriousness about our walk and responsibilities
II. The Way we Travel (v.2-3)
Read verses 2-3 again
- The “Seven Graces”
- Lowliness (humility) – not low self-esteem, but a proper assessment of one’s self before God (good and bad)
- Gentleness (meekness) – Power under control
- Longsuffering (patience) – choosing not to be quick-tempered
- Bearing (forbearance, acceptance) – putting up with one-another’s flaws
- Love – God-type love, selfless
- Endeavoring (diligence) – willing to call out dissension and gossip
- Peace – “Let the peace of God rule” (Col. 3:15)
- The reality of it is though:
- We love to see these 7 in others more than in ourselves
- It’s easy to have a double standard and expect them of others first
III. The Landmarks of the Journey (v.4-6)
Read verses 4-6 again
Here’s the deal, these “seven landmarks” are true whether we acknowledge them or not. They’re like Mt. Everest or the Grand Canyon, they’re there whether we ever see them or not.
There is only:
- One Body – One functioning system locally and globally
- One Spirit – He is the power in us…all of us
- One Hope – The walk of faith in Christ is a forward looking faith
- One Lord – He is our Lord and obedience is to be the posture
- One Faith – Not a generic faith, but faith specifically in Jesus
- One Baptism – Identifying with Christ’s regeneration of our hearts
- One Father – We are God’s family and part of His household. He has the right to set to set the “house rules”
Here’s my declaration and prayer for our church, that we can honestly proclaim to the world that:
“We are part of the same body, indwelled by the same Spirit, look forward with the same hope, serve the same Lord, were saved by the same faith, were immersed in the same baptism, and have the God as our Father…WE ARE ONE!
Text: Ephesians 3:1-21
Subtitle: “The Mystery”
Intro: Assumptions are dangerous. We can choose to do (or not do) things simply because we’re resting on our own logic which may (or may not) be based on reality. When it comes to matters of faith and the things of God, we must resist our preferences and look to what scripture reveals. Today, we’re considering “The Mystery”. Not in the way of a “who-done-it”, but in the way a “sacred secret”- the deep things of God’s eternal working revealed to us:
I. The Mystery Explained (v.1-7)
A. The details of God’s plan weren’t revealed to the ancients before
- When details are missing, we can sometimes project our own assumptions onto God
- When that happens we can then develop wrong expectations of Him (for example, the Jews and their assumption/expectation of the Messiah)
But look at Isaiah 55:8-9, and 56:7-8. The plan was always bigger than Israel.
B. It was always His plan to create the Church
C. It’s a gift of grace:
- Gift to Paul personally
- Gift to us as “non-Jews”
He could have maintained a system of rules and ordinances indefinitely, but that wasn’t His plan.
II. The Mystery Entrusted (v.8-13)
A. God’s wisdom on display (v.10)
- Multifaceted wisdom
- We are a display to the angelic realm
B. Redemption of mankind as the eternal purpose (v.11)
There was to be nothing less than a full defeat of sin
C. Complete access to God (v.12) through Christ (v.11)
III. The Mystery Enjoyed (v.14-21)
Paul is saying “Now, with these things being true, here’s my prayer for you…”
A. To be strengthened (v.16)
- With might from His Spirit (only source of victorious power)
- In the inner man (fortified and braced up)
B. To comprehend (v.18)
- The width
- The height
A full 3-D understanding!
C. To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge
(Not only a cognitive understanding, but a heart understanding of His love)
Paul’s Close: read v.20 – He is able!
As we close, my prayer is the same for us:
- If you know Him, to be strengthened.
- To comprehend the full 3-D understanding.
- To know the love of Christ in a real heart-level way.
Text: Ephesians 2:11-22
Subtitle: “The Reality of Peace”
Intro: Throughout history, “peace” has been an elusive prize. For all of time:
- Nations have bargained for it
- Tribute has been paid for it
- Alliances have been made to keep it
- Kings have married for it
- Trade agreements are signed for it
- Treaties have been agreed on for it
Yet, none of it last. Strife continues. One of the most iconic failures of the 20th Century was British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain claiming “Peace in our time!” after signing documents with Adolf Hitler in 1938. And the Nazis began rolling tanks soon afterwards. It’s an elusive prize indeed…almost as elusive Pokeman in the new app!
On the personal level, it’s not much different. People search for personal peace through many pursuits:
But in the end, it’s an elusive prize. However, in Ephesians 2, Paul is talking about God’s kindness toward those who believe and the result is peace…lasting peace! Let’s take a look:
The truth about lasting peace is that it only comes through Jesus Christ and there are some very specific reasons why:
I. Sin is a Separator
A. Separation between God and man-Adam (Genesis 3)
- Paul describes it as hostility (enmity)
- We’re naturally against righteousness and for ourselves (you don’t have to teach a child selfishness)
B. Hostility toward each other-Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)
- There was no culture to blame for his violent act
- There was no outside influence to blame for his choices
- It was “just plain old sin”
Paul references it all as walls of separation:
Man vs. God and Man vs. man
However, those two precious words back in verse 4 changed everything…“But God” broke down those barriers
Read v.14-18 again
II. The Cross is the Peacemaker
A. Peace has come but it had a cost. The ugly wretchedness of sin was paid for on the cross!
B. Now there is peace with God for those “in Christ”.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ” – Rom. 8:1
C. Now there can be peace with others too
- Reconciled both (Jew and Gentile) to Himself
- He created something new from the old
- A new covenant not signed with a pen but with His own blood
- He created the Church and we are one in Him (all of us!)
III. We are the Dwelling Place (v.19-22)
Read 19-22 again
A. We have access to the Father:
- No more Temple protocol
- No more veil of separation
- The cross tore down the wall and ripped the veil!
- We have been ushered into the King’s presence!
B. We have a purpose – ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20), but unlike political ambassadors:
- We speak on behalf of Christ regarding reconciliation
- We are to speak truth in love
- We must resist trying to trade truth for peace, for risk of having neither
C. We are still under construction:
- He is the Master Builder
- We are being fitted together as a dwelling place
- He compares us to the Temple where the glory of God resided burning bright
- We are His temple
- We are His Church
- We are to be where your powerful presence is
Close: 3 Questions
- Do you know this peace?
- Do have peace with others?
- Are you growing daily as His temple being fitted together?
Text: Ephesians 2:1-10
Intro: In nature, there are many interesting things about God’s creation. One that’s always intrigued me is warm-blooded vs. cold-blooded. A lot of species simply reflect the temperature of their environment, while others don’t. For us humans, if we’re the same temperature as our environment, we’re most likely not living anymore.
(Anecdotal story of military “heat sight”)
Today, we’re looking at Paul’s description of being alive in Christ. Let’s look at what he wrote:
Read Text 2:1-10
I. Dead is a Status
Spiritually, we’re all born dead (separated from God) and as a natural part of that status, he mentions two things:
A. Disobedience (v.2)
- Following the desires of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17)
- Following the imaginations of the mind
- Even though some “good” happens in the world, there is still a need for redemption
Which is the second part of the status of being dead:
B. Under Judgement – “children of wrath” (v.3)
- There is hopelessness
- There is lack of peace
Those two precious words change everything! But God brings to life the spirit in salvation! Now consider the motive and process:
II. Love Made the Difference
Read verses 4-9
Love is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8, 16). He would be that way whether we were ever created or not. His love is shown to us in there ways:
A. Mercy (v.4) – judgement forgone (when we don’t get what we deserve)
B. Grace (v.5) – favor unearned, (when we get what we don’t deserve)
C. Kindness (v.7) He lavishes kindness on us as an example to the world
“It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (v.9)
III. His Workmanship is the Process (v.10)
Read verse 10
Original word is “poiema” that we get our word “poem”. He’s constructing a poem out of us and our lives.
A. First, His work in us. Quite often there is preparation which may involve:
B. Second, His work through us:
- That we should walk in good works
- That we are to be examples of His work to the world
- That we are to be a living contrast to a “non-living” world
So, what’s your spiritual temperature?
- Perhaps the world has “cooled” you off (but you don’t have to stay that way).
- Perhaps you need to be brought to life to start with through faith in Christ, (right now is a great time)
- We all need to stop and let the Lord tell us what our temperature is.
Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
Subtitle: “Treasure Realized”
Intro: Story of a couple finding old coins buried on their property in 2014:
- 1,427 coins from the 1840s
- $27,000 face value
- $10,000,000 market value
- The treasure was there all the time but not “realized”
In our relationship with Christ, there is enormous wealth that we may/may not have ever realized. In Ephesians 1, Paul is pointing out that we have a Guide and there is much to discover…let’s take a look:
Read text aloud: 1:15-23
On this journey, there are a few things to remember as a matter of process, and they are all connected to the Holy Spirit’s work in us (a precept).
- He reveals truth from the Word
- He gives wisdom to apply the truth
- He empowers us to live the truth
In that process, there is enlightenment. Paul prays for it for the Ephesians and it applies to us as well. He mentions three areas of enlightenment:
I. The Hope of His Calling (v.18)
(A perpetual “Living hope”, 1 Peter 1:3), but it’s not just hope, but the hope “of the call”. What call?
A. We are called by grace
- By grace you have been saved…Ephesians 2:8
- Put away the scales, you don’t have to worry about keeping a balance between good deeds and bad
B. We are called to the light
(By default, our lives are to be a contrast to the world around us)
C. We are called to glory
(According to 1 Peter 5:10 he’s perfecting and establishing us…he started something when He saved us and continues the work)
II. The Riches of the Glory of His Inheritance in the Saints (v.18)
We are to His glory:
A. As testaments to the victory of the Cross
(The Cross was the turning point)
B. As Living Sacrifices (reading Romans 12:1-2 aloud)
- Not conformed
C. As His Bride now and in the future (There is something special about a bride, she glows!)
III. The Greatness of His Power Toward us (v.19)
The word picture in the original is very powerful. He uses:
- “dunamis” – dynamite, dynamo
- “energeia” – energy, work, production
- “kratos” – mighty
His power toward us!
A. Absolute power over life and death (v.20)
B. Absolutely supreme over every name and system of belief (v.21)
C. Absolutely capable as the head and decision-maker over the body of the Church (v.22-23)
As we close, which stage are you regarding the treasure? There are four possible stages to be at:
- Do you know Him? We must first know Jesus as savior to even have a “field” at all.
- Are you still walking past the treasure in your life unaware (like the coins?)
- Are you settling for the “face value” of the treasure (like the coins’ $20 face value?)
- Are you fully realizing the value of the treasure (like the coins’ $10,000,000 real value?)
Text: Ephesians 1:1-14
Subtitle: “Blessed to the praise if His glory”
The City of Ephesus:
- Major financial hub for the region
- Home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Temple of Artemis)
- Place where Paul had planted a church (Acts 19)
The Letter to the Ephesians:
- A general letter that was widely circulated
- Several recurring words/themes, “Saints” used 9 times, “Grace” used 12 times, “in Christ” used 27 times
So, what does it really mean to be “in Christ”? For our time today, based on the opening lines of the letter, it means “Blessed to the praise of His glory”.
Read Text 1:1-14
- Verses 3 through 14 are actually one long sentence in the original language without a period (a complete thought).
- This is the SCOPE of HOW we’re blessed
So what does it all mean? Here are three ways we are blessed to His glory:
I. He Chose Us
Election can be a confusing, divisive topic, but let’s think about it this way:
A. It was before linear time was even created
- We only know the sequence of time/knowledge. We’ve never simply known everything all at one time
- God is not constrained by time as we are
- God knew of our choice to choose Him beforehand, because of His all-knowing nature
B. He agreed to the cost (beforehand) of giving us freewill
- What did it cost Him to plant “the tree”? Everything (v.7)
- All of the “whosevers” (John 3:16) are chosen
Yes, it’s beyond our understanding. There is a mystery to it because God’s ways are far above ours. There are elements of choice and election in the whole process, and only God truly understands the boundaries.
Secondly, we are to His glory because:
II. He Changed Us
A. He changed our status, we are made blameless before Him.
B. We are accepted (v.6)
- As children not slaves (Gal. 4:1-7)
- Like an heir taking position as the mature adult
- We carry His family name
Lastly, there is security:
III. He Guarantees Us (v.14)
A. It’s His personal guarantee
- We are sealed by the Holy Spirit
- Our lives bear His mark like a signet ring in wax
- His guarantee is like earnest money paid down
B. It’s a specific guarantee
- Eternity with Christ
- Heaven and all the richness of it
Click here for a post that’s the major point of the close (Our Lives to the Praise of His Glory).
Fathers Day 2016
Text: Psalm 37:3-4
In our culture, “authentic manhood” has become a very relative term. And with so much confusion around, I would like to briefly explore what real biblical manhood looks like. First, let’s talk about “The Real Thing” (Coke illustration). When it comes to “The Real Thing” regarding manhood, the Bible gives quite a bit of information and direction.
Today, I want to consider a small piece written by King David, while also considering a term that’s been culturally re-defined, “courage”; and it’s actually applicable to all of us (not just men).
David was a genuine man of courage (Goliath, various military battles, etc.) and his walk with the Lord also displayed elements of courage. Look at Psalm 37:3-4:
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
According to verse 25, David is older at this point and speaking in retrospect. He’s calling out to all who are willing to commit to building a “heritage of righteousness” and there are four things we’ll consider today:
I. Courage to Trust in the Lord (v.3)
(The enemy hates this. One of the first things he did in the temptation of Adam and Eve was to get them doubting God’s motives.) When it comes to trust, we’re to:
A. Trust the Lord’s character (Do you trust him to be faithful to you?)
B. Trust that the right thing is always the right thing (It’s never wrong to do right and never right to do wrong.)
C. Trust Him with the results from doing A & B (sometimes that’s the hardest part)
III. Courage to “Do Good” (v.3)
A. When facing intimidation
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”. – John Wayne
This time of the year with Memorial Day, D-Day, and Father’s Day all being close together, I think about what it means to go forward even though there may be challenges. Paul also gave us insight and in his introduction to the Armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6, he mentioned this:
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10)
It’s His Might! We may be scared but we go forward relying on His power!
B. Doing good is also carrying the treasure in “clay jars” (2 Cor. 5:7)
- The treasure (the gospel) is precious
- We’re easily broken, but carry it anyway (even when we don’t have all the answers)
III. Courage to Delight in the Lord (v.4)
A. Choose to find your contentment in Him (even when others don’t)
B. Live expecting to delight even more in the future as you grow
And lastly, “The Real Thing” includes:
IV. Courage to ask of the Lord (v.4)
When we delight in Him, we want more of Him in all areas of our life:
A. Ask for wisdom and knowledge (like Solomon asking to wisdom to lead God’s people)
B. Intervention (like Hezekiah praying for God’s intervention against the Assyrians)
C. Asking for God’s provision (like Moses in the wilderness asking for God to supply at each point of need)
As we close, consider four questions in your heart before the Lord:
- Are you willing to trust the Lord?
- Are you willing to do good even if no one else does?
- Are you willing to choose to delight in the Lord?
- Are you willing to ask of Him for what you need?
Courage…be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!
Nehemiah Series – click here
Psalm Sermons – click here