This message begins a four-week series on the topic of ecclesiology: the church. Ephesians refers to Jesus’ followers as the “body of Christ” because each believer is brought into union with Christ when we become Christians. We are also brought into union with each member of the body of Christ, so that just as we bear a special connection to Christ, we bear a special connection to every other believer also.
This is why Paul exhorts us to maintain the unity of the Spirit: we are in fact one, let’s live like it! This oneness will show the world that God is doing something in our midst.
This message wraps up the first half of the book, the “theological” portion, in which the Apostle Paul unpacks the riches of God’s sovereign plan, the mystery of the new people of God, and the inexhaustible love of Christ for us. As a result of all this, Paul prays that the Ephesians would “tap into” the power of God for their lives.
At the beginning we spend some time talking about the recent renovation of our Nursery and Children’s Worship room, our financial situation as a church, and the need for generosity for our future mission.
This passage of Ephesians brings us face to face with the reality of the spiritual world. Paul the Apostle says that God is using the church to show his amazing wisdom to the spiritual forces and authorities–meaning, the demonic realm. It is as if God is showing Satan that he can establish a people for himself who love and serve each other, over against Satan’s desire to bring relational chaos to the world.
This is an amazing passage! And it forces us to look beyond the here and now and recognize we are a part of the biggest thing in the world: the church.
In this session we look at the more narrow definition of worship and then ask: How are we supposed to worship? We survey biblical aspects of worship, debatable elements of worship, and things that are weird and shouldn’t be done. Finally, we relate worship to mission, taking in the big picture of the church’s reason for existing and how that relates to music, preaching, prayer, food, fellowship and even the condition of our facilities.
This message looks at the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of worship (Part 2 will look at the How). Humans are incurably religious. We worship, no matter what, whether it’s money, sports, food, relationships, One Direction, or our bodies. The Bible shows us what true worship looks like, and why God is worthy of our “continuous outpouring” of praise and adoration.
There may be no clearer passage in the New Testament showing that salvation is a gift that we receive by faith. It cannot be earned by doing good deeds. From beginning to end salvation is a work of God on our behalf. All of this revolves around the cross of Christ and his taking the punishment for our sin.
Even dedicated believers need to be reminded of this fact because our hearts naturally veer off course, into a sort of legalism where we feel like we need to “do stuff” to earn God’s attention and love. Without this understanding of salvation sola fide (“by faith alone”), our entire Christian life will be affected–because this is the core of our understanding of the grace of God, the devastating effects of sin, and the inability of humans to merit salvation.[The end of this message got cut off. Yes, we’re still struggling to learn the fancy new recording equipment! So if you’re a techy and you’ve been looking to use your skills for God, we need you!]
If the Bible accurately addresses the human condition, then finding new life in Christ is the only solution. Ephesians 2:1 makes the problem stark: we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” And this wasn’t some sort of local problem. The world is following this destructive path of separation from, and rebellion against, the God who gives life.
The good news is God, whom we offended and fled from and became enemies with, went after us to rescue us and bring us to himself! We can be made alive by placing our trust in Christ for everlasting life.
If you want to know how to pray, the Bible helps a lot! It helps to read the prayers in New Testament–and Ephesians has two of the best! This is one of my favorite sections of the letter. In this prayer at the end of chapter 1, Paul requests something from God that we never request: that our eyes would be opened to the amazing hope and help God has for us.
This is the foundation of the Christian life: understanding who God is, what he has done for us, and who we are in Christ. This should take up more of our prayer time!