March 10, 2013 Ephesians 1:1-2  Listen
Investigating our Eternal Foundation, Part 1
Pastor's Notes:
Why is the church glorious?  Because she has a glorious head, foundation, and shepherd – Jesus Christ.  When the church is promoted as a marketing tool of social good and philanthropy, she is robbed of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and His power to save.  God’s grace is what makes the church glorious.
 


Three Glorious Components of the Church:
Godly Leadership (verse 1a)
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul is allowed to write his name first in the letter.  This isn’t merely epistolary convention; there is a purpose and a lesson for us to learn.  As an apostle of the early church, Paul demonstrates characteristics necessary in any church leader.

Separation – Church leaders (those given the pastor-teacher gift) are to be separated unto God in conversion, in character, in mission and purpose, and in education.  Pastors must first of all be saved and transformed by God’s grace.  They must have a passion for the mission to which God has called them.  And they need an education that enables them to effectively carry out that mission with integrity.

Preparation – Paul doesn’t cite his education, nomination by others, or his own ambition to be an apostle.  His authority came from the will of God.  Just as salvation is accomplished not by our own will but by God’s drawing us to Himself, so are spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit at the same moment.  This is not only true for leaders – we are all ministers by the will of God!  There are no superstars in the church.
 
Holy People (verse 1b)
Consecration – Paul wrote “to the saints in Ephesus.”  In the New Testament, saints are simply those who believe in Christ; and if you believe, you are a saint!  God’s grace changes everything about you from the moment of salvation.  You will not act perfectly immediately, but positionally, God sees you as holy through His Son.  We now live out the consecration He granted.  As we do so in our social, academic, political, and former religious relationships at a specific location, the Gospel can’t help but change the culture.

Unification – “In Christ Jesus,” the most important phrase in Paul’s writings, is repeated 23 times in the 6 chapters of Ephesians.  All believer-saints are placed in union with Christ at the moment of salvation.  As the hymn says, “In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.”  We are forever perfect in the eyes of God in Christ.  When this doctrine is not taught, salvation is cheapened and growth is a struggle.
 
Divine Resources (verse 2)
Grace and Peace – These are ours at conversion and have their source in God.  As He is eternal, an endless supply of these blessings will always influence our lives.  There is no spiritual or practical circumstance we face that is insurmountable, because our resources are from God Himself.
All 3 members of the Trinity are involved in giving us grace and peace.  The peace Jesus promised in John 14 is the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:2 names “God the Father” to evoke the stable and restful environment a good father provides for his family.  Paul also mentions all 3 names of “the Lord Jesus Christ,” the mediator of our peace with God. 
 
Application Points
We must learn doctrine in order to live properly.  How can you apply what we learned today in your daily life?
 
  • Are you a saint? that is, have you believed in Christ?  How are you living this out in the culture?  What is your spiritual gift?  How are you using it to edify the body of Christ at your local church?
     
  • Read through the book of Ephesians and pay attention to uses of the phrase “in Christ” or its equivalent.  What can you learn about our union with Christ?  Especially if you struggle with getting back up after failure, find encouragement in your forever-favored status with God through Christ.
     
  • If grace and peace have already been given to us through salvation, we really don’t need to pray for more!  Try changing your prayers to ask, “Lord, give me a better understanding of how capable your once-for-all-given grace is.”  A little change in wording can have a huge impact on your spiritual growth and peace, as you remind yourself of the resources already available to you!
     
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • Colossians 1:18, 1 Peter 2:25, 5:4 – Christ is the head and foundation of the church.
  • Acts 9 and 13 – Paul’s separation and preparation.
  • Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Peter 4:10-11 – passages on spiritual gifts.
  • 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Peter 1:16-17 – the Gospel changes a culture.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13 – We are spiritually baptized into the body of Christ when we are saved.
  • John 13:1 – God’s grace is forever capable to nurture our soul.
  • Philippians 4:7, John 14:16-27 – God’s peace and the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Timothy 2:5, Titus 2:11-14, Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus Christ the mediator.
 
A Hymn to Encourage:  “Arise, My Soul, Arise
 
Arise, my soul, arise!
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding Sacrifice
In my behalf appears.
Before the throne my Surety stands;
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above
For me to intercede,
His all-redeeming love,
His precious blood to plead.
His blood was shed for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
They strongly speak for me.
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry,
Nor let that ransomed sinner die!

The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away
The presence of His Son.
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

I now am reconciled,
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child,
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba, Father, cry.
 
Quotes to Ponder:
 “Peace belongs to the stream of spiritual blessings which issues from the fountain of grace.  This peace is the smile of God as it reflects itself in the hearts of the redeemed – the assurance of reconciliation through the blood of the cross – true spiritual wholeness and prosperity.  It is the great blessing which Christ by His atoning sacrifice bestowed upon the church.”
 
March 3, 2013 Ephesians  Listen
The theme of the book of Ephesians is The Church Glorified.
Pastor's Notes:
At Grace Church of Mentor, you will primarily hear expositional preaching of a whole book in its parts and not many topical series.  We preach this way because:

  • It cultivates the discipline of starting and finishing.
  • It helps God’s people sharpen their interpretation skills through learning context and hermeneutics in order to apply truth to the culture.
  • It reveals each person’s spiritual strength and weakness
  • It strengthens spiritual maturity.
  • It protects the flock from wolves within and without.
  • It helps us to systematically focus on truths mentioned in other places in the Bible.


 
Our next series will study the book of Ephesians, but first we need to cover some overview information.
 
Background: Paul’s Introduction to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-20:38).
Paul first visited the city of Ephesus, to whom he would write the letter of Ephesians, at the end of his second missionary journey.  Aquila and Priscilla, two quality teachers, accompanied him.  This couple stayed there though Paul had to leave quickly.

On Paul’s third missionary journey, he stayed in Ephesus for 3 years.  He taught first in the synagogue, then in the city’s academic center.  As a result, all the residents of the surrounding area, Jews and Greeks alike, heard the Gospel.
Ephesus was a strategic city in this part of the Roman empire, surrounded by 230 independent Roman communities to which the church in Ephesus could spread the Gospel.  The rest of the book of Acts and Revelation 2-3 show that the church did just that!
 
Origin:
The letter to the Ephesians was clearly authored by Paul: he identifies himself in the first verse, and it is characteristic of Paul’s writing in style and content.  Paul wrote it from prison, likely house arrest in Rome, and it was delivered by Tychichus.  While in prison, Paul received many visitors who ministered to him and to whom he ministered.  Epaphrus was one he trained who went on to plant 3 churches. 

There are some encouraging lessons here for faithful older saints!  Paul’s venue of ministry changed, but he still ministered to those who came to him and through writing.  Similarly, those whose ministry has been confined for other reasons can take lessons of spiritual creativity from Paul.  God never wants you to be idle in ministry.
 
Theme: The Church Glorious
Ephesians 1:3-6 describes the spiritual riches we have been blessed with in Christ.  Solely by grace, God bestows these blessings on both Jews and Gentiles to “the praise of the glory of His grace.”

A sub-theme is oneness or unity (1:10, 4:1-4).  In a world deeply divided both politically and religiously, there still remains the opportunity of unity in Christ among God’s creations.

How is the Church glorious?  It happens by the transformational grace of God in our hearts.  He cleaned us up from the inside out!  We have has been gloriously redeemed, and by the grace of God, are called to live that glory in the culture. 

The culture of Ephesus was not much different than ours, concerned about various social problems and seeking solutions.  It’s okay to help the culture socially, but that is not the culture’s greatest need – our greatest need is the removal of guilt and removal of the lifestyle of sin.  As people’s souls are led out of darkness and pessimism through Christ, our feet are now directed to multiple ways of righteousness and joy.
 
Outline:
Typical of Paul’s writing, chapters 1-3 deal with the Gospel, doctrine, and positional truth, while chapters 4-6 expound how to live out truth in the culture.

Hendrickson outlines Ephesians using an acrostic of the Greek word for “Blessed” or “praise” in 1:3.
  • Eternal Foundation We Have in Christ (chapter 1)
  • Universal Scope of God’s Redemption (chapter 2)
  • Lofty Goal (chapter 3)
  • Organic Unity that God brings to His body amid diversity (chapter 4)
  • Glorious Renewal, the influence that salvation has on our lives personally, domestically, vocationally, and communally (4:17-6:9)
  • Armor Given by God (6:10-24)
 Similarities with other New Testament books:
  • Half of the 155 verses in Ephesians are echoed in Colossians.
  • Ephesians contains 16 similarities to the pastoral letters (1, 2 Timothy and Titus).
  • 12 similarities to 1 Peter
  • 10 topics also found in Luke and Acts
  • many similar themes to John’s writing (gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, Revelation)
  • multiple similarities to Hebrews and James
Why so much repetition in the Bible?  Because we so easily forget.
  • Repetition and Remembrance grows us: A rehearsal of key doctrines and practices is necessary and healthy for any Christian and their growth.
  • It protects us and helps reinforce our defense against false teaching within and without.
  • It encourages us as we disciple new believers hearing it for the first time! (See Titus 2.)
 
Application Points
  •  It would be a great idea to read through the book of Ephesians in preparation for the series.  Take 1 chapter a day and you’ll read the entire book this week!
  • The more humans try to reform themselves or society, the darker the culture gets.  Where do you need to repent of self-sufficiency?  Is there an area in your life that you’re trying to change without the power of God?
     
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • Deuteronomy 6, Exodus 14-15, Deuteronomy 7:12-21, 2 Peter 1 – Israel’s forgetfulness and the importance of remembering.
  • Ephesians 1:22, 1:23, 4:4, 4:16, 5:23, 5:30, 2:19-22, 5:22-27 – 8 mentions of the Church.
  • Ephesians 2:12 – culture of Ephesus.
 
A Hymn to Encourage:  “To the Praise of His Glorious Grace”
 
What astonishing mercy and power:
In accord with his pleasure and will
He created each planet, each flower,
Every galaxy, microbe, and hill.
He suspended the planet in space
To the praise of his glorious grace.

With despicable self-love and rage,
We rebelled and fell under the curse.
Yet God did not rip out the page
And destroy all who love the perverse.
No, he chose us to make a new race,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

Providentially ruling all things
To conform to the end he designed,
He mysteriously governs, and brings
His eternal wise plans into time.
He works out every step, every trace,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

Long before the creation began,
He foreknew those he’d ransom in Christ;
Long before time’s cold hour-glass ran,
He ordained the supreme sacrifice.
In the cross he removed our disgrace,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

We were blessed in the heavenly realms
Long before being included in Christ.
Since we heard the good news, overwhelmed,
We reach forward to seize Paradise.
We shall see him ourselves, face to face,
To the praise of his glorious grace.
 
Quotes to Ponder:
“The merit of helping society in these ways must not be underestimated, but it must not be over-estimated either.”
 
“Governmental totalitarianism is the tendency to look upon the state to provide for every need ‘from cradle to grave,’ with consequent loss of the sense of individual responsibility and initiative. Another danger is the misunderstanding of man’s basic need. That need is nothing less than the removal of the load of sin and guilt by which he, being born in sin, is oppressed (Ephesians 2:3).”
 
February 24, 2013 Ephesians 4:11-12  Listen
Genuine spiritual growth only comes as the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God to people's hearts.
Pastor's Notes:
This week concludes our detailed look at Grace Church of Mentor’s mission statement: “Grace Church of Mentor exists to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints with the goal of Christ-likeness.”

Church should not be about appealing to the greatest number of people through style and programs.  The Spirit must draw souls to His church.  Our promotions must not focus on what we do more than who we are.  Church must first and foremost be about understanding and applying the Word of God.


Main Points:
Evaluation:
Many churches are run on models not supported by the Bible.  The pastor is not meant to be merely a clergyman or to be a CEO; the pastor’s responsibility is to train the people in making disciples.  When a Scriptural model is followed, Jesus will build His church.  Every other model consists of man building a church.

Our appeal should come from being salt and light in our community.  If we have nothing more than an open Bible, with it being taught and applied so that every person increasingly demonstrates the character of Christ, that is enough.  Appealing to people’s felt desires is actually less loving than preaching the whole Scripture and living out complete obedience.

Chart: Three Different Types of Pastor
(For more information, see The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne.)

  Pastor as clergyman Pastor as CEO Pastor as trainer
Pastor is Preacher and service-provider Preacher and manager Preacher and trainer
Sunday is Service of worship Attractional meeting worshiping disciples with their Lord
Outside of Sunday Occasional service Range of events and programs Disciples reaching out to make disciples
Pastoral Care through Counseling and visitation Small group People ministering to people
Church is like A small corner store with one employee A department store with numerous staff  team with an active captain-coach
Results in Consumers in maintenance mode Consumers in growth mode Disciples in mission mode
*Chart taken from the Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne

Explanation:
One ingredient of maintaining unity in the church is the pastor-teacher equipping the saints.  The Greek word translated “equip” or “prepare” is also used to refer to resetting a broken bone.  Jesus heals and restores what has been broken by sin through His grace in salvation.  This process continues in the body He has assembled as pastor-teachers apply the Word of God.

Members of a local church should be learning, knowing, and warmly helping each other understand the Scriptures.  The “work of the ministry” in Ephesians 4:13 is the ability for every Christian to minister God’s Word to another.  How long does this last?  Until all can teach each other what God has taught them.

Training God’s people in the Word comes before all programs and style decisions.  A congregation that ministers the Word to each other will be able to discern the genuineness of leaders and is protected against being led astray.

Deduction:
Christians who are spiritually “a mile wide and an inch deep” are so because they have a shallow knowledge of Christ. Consequently they cannot live His character in a dark culture that overshadows their testimony. One clear way to reverse this condition is to be “built up” in the faith.

In our passage, pastor/teachers are to equip holy ones for the ministry of the Word, and while doing so, it becomes easy to deduce that saints will be “built up” and encouraged. The strengthening of the church through the building up of the body of Christ is always towards to goal of greater maturity in Christ. 

Application Points
  • When talking about Grace Church of Mentor with fellow Christians or unbelievers, how do you represent our appeal?  Do you talk about programs and style more than the centrality of studying and applying the Scriptures?
  • Are you learning to understand God’s Word and sharing it with others?  How can you put yourself in training to better know, understand, and pass on the truth of God’s Word?
  • Pray that our church would grow in this area.  Dig deeper into Scripture yourself, and practice transparency with members who can keep you accountable. 

Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  •     2 Timothy 4:3-5 – the danger for a congregation that doesn’t know the Scriptures.
  • Galatians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 3:10, Hebrews 13:21, Matthew 4:21 – other uses of the Greek word for “equip” or “restore.”
  • Matthew 5:13-16 – Christians’ charge to be salt and light.
  • John 15:12-19, 2 John 6 – How Christians should love.
  • Matthew 16:18, 1 Peter 2:1-8, Romans 15:20 – building up the church.
  • James 5:16 – transparency among believers.


A Hymn to Encourage:  “How Firm a Foundation”

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

Quotes to Ponder:
Richard Baxter (The Reformed Pastor):   “It is but the least part of the Minister’s work, which is done in the Pulpit….to go daily from one house to another, and see how you live, and examine how you profit, and direct you in the duties of your families, and in your preparation for death, is the great work.”

 
February 17, 2013 Colossians 4:2-3; 2 Timothy 4:5  Listen
Prioritizing the Gospel through prayer, planning, and purpose.
Pastor's Notes:
It seems everyone nowadays wants to influence those around them for the sake of a philanthropic platform.  As Christians, we are to have similar influence in our immediate vicinity and globally for the Gospel.
 


Main Points:
Prioritizing Prayer:
Evangelizing the lost never happens effectively without the support of prayer.  Jesus told His disciples to pray for laborers to evangelize the lost (Luke 10:2) and prayed Himself for all who would believe in His name (John 17).

Why must evangelism be accompanied by fervent prayer?  Because the eyes of the unsaved are blinded to understanding God’s truth.  Opening a lost heart requires a supernatural transaction, a miracle done by God.
 
Planning:
We saw last week that all members of the Trinity give an example of fervent action in commitment to the Gospel.  The apostles likewise prioritized evangelism (see Acts 15:7), and pastors are commanded to do the same.  But Jesus’ Great Commission was given to all believers, and we are all responsible to be evangelizing.

There have been 2 main enemies hindering personal evangelism:  Well-intentioned men who taught churches that evangelism is to be done by professionals, and reliance on methods as the proper way to evangelize.  All believers must evangelize in their own circles of influences, not relying on corporate outreach.  Our primary way to evangelize is not even inviting lost friends to church – first they must see a counter-cultural lifestyle, and we must speak to them of Christ ourselves!

Jesus intends for His people to be in the world, shining His light.  With much of our time dictated by commitments to work, family, and church, we have to deliberately plan opportunities to rub shoulders with lost people.
 
Purpose:
You must practice the doctrine of evangelism, or you will lose it. 
The content of the Gospel is the life of Christ and why He came.  We may not add anything to the Gospel in order to please other people.  We must guard the truth of the Gospel that has been given to the church.

Evangelism can be the hardest thing to maintain, but it is not an option – it’s a command.
 
Application Points
 
  • Much personal and corporate evangelism ends up fruitless because it has little to do with the activity of prayer.  How much time do you spend during the week praying for the salvation of specific lost people you know?  Who can you start praying for?
     
  • When is the last time someone asked you about your faith because of your testimony?  How can you shine the light of Christ for those you interact with?  Do you need to do more planning in order to rub shoulders with lost people?
 
Tools for Further Study
Cross References to Explore: 
  • John 17:15,18 – Jesus wants us to be in the world.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Acts 16:14, Acts 26:16-18, Galatians 1:15-16, Romans 8:30, John 6:44-45, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Matthew 16:16-17 – The eyes of the lost must be supernaturally opened.
  • Acts 15:7, 2 Timothy 4:2-5, Ephesians 4:11-12 – Evangelizing is a responsibility of pastors and those with the gift of evangelism.
  • Matthew 28:19-20 – Evangelizing is the responsibility of every believer.
  • Galatians 1:3-12 – Protecting the truth of the Gospel.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – the content of the Gospel.
  • Luke 15 – Three parables about the power of one.
 
A Hymn to Encourage:  “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!”
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessèd Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long:
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know there’s a crown that is waiting,
In yonder bright mansion for me,
And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
At home with the Lord I shall be.

Quotes to Ponder:
Francis Schaeffer: “When believing prayer has been offered with expectation towards God alone, there has always been evidence of the power of God unto salvation according to His covenant promises. And when Christians cease to pray for lost souls, not only are the priceless results of the saving power of God hindered, but the individual believer has suffered unmeasured loss in his possible reward … when the prayer of intercession has for any reason ceased.  Prayer presents the greatest opportunity for soul-winning, and there is precious reward promised to those who bring souls to Christ and are found to be suffering with Him in His burden for the lost.”
 
R.B. Kuiper: “Only God Omniscient can accurately appraise the results of evangelism.  Only He can count converts.  When through mass evangelism, many come to profess Christ, only He who searches hearts and minds can judge how many of them possess true and abiding faith.  And when Robert Morrison, father of Protestant missions in China, after 28 years of zealous missionary endeavor, numbered about 10 souls to his efforts, only God knew in how many additional hearts His Spirit was about to begin or even had begun to work.  When at the gates of Damascus, God turned Saul of Tarsus, He knew that through the labors of that one convert, millions would be brought into the kingdom at the very end of time.  And when His own Son, dying the death of a criminal, concluded his earthly mission in what appeared to be complete failure and ignominious defeat, God knew that, lifted up on the cross, he would draw to himself from every kindred, tribe, people, and nation, a throng which no man could ever number.”
 
Recommended Resource: The Best-Kept Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson
 

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