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Thursday, 8 May 2014

The church in action: Ephesians 4:1-16 (Bible Study)

1.      The church's one foundation 
        is Jesus Christ her Lord; 
        she is his new creation 
        by water and the Word. 
        From heaven he came and sought her 
        to be his holy bride; 
        with his own blood he bought her, 
        and for her life he died. 

2.      Elect from every nation, 
        yet one o'er all the earth; 
        her charter of salvation, 
        one Lord, one faith, one birth; 
        one holy name she blesses, 
        partakes one holy food, 
        and to one hope she presses, 
        with every grace endued. 

3.      Though with a scornful wonder 
        we see her sore oppressed, 
        by schisms rent asunder, 
        by heresies distressed, 
        yet saints their watch are keeping; 
        their cry goes up, "How long?" 
        And soon the night of weeping 
        shall be the morn of song. 

4.      Mid toil and tribulation, 
        and tumult of her war, 
        she waits the consummation 
        of peace forevermore; 
        till, with the vision glorious, 
        her longing eyes are blest, 
        and the great church victorious 
        shall be the church at rest. 

5.      Yet she on earth hath union 
        with God the Three in One, 
        and mystic sweet communion 
        with those whose rest is won. 
        O happy ones and holy! 
        Lord, give us grace that we 
        like them, the meek and lowly, 
        on high may dwell with thee.
Samuel J. Stone, 1839-1900 

The foundation of the Church is obviously the Lord Jesus Christ. But there is an effort required by the people of faith. As we simply go through the passage that we have read we will discover many (too many for tonight) concepts of faith that are important for an ongoing church and her witness.  The Lord Jesus gave us a command in John 13:35 that is the foundation of all that we learn from the NT as to how we should operate as the church. The command of course is that our witness depends upon our love for one another. “All people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another!” There has been a complete mindset shift upon our conversion. The Apostle Paul is a wonderful example of how that works out. His whole purpose before the Road to Damascus experience was to destroy the church. His rationale was that these heretics were so bad that they truly deserved death. It was not their lifestyle that bothered him but the Lord that they worshipped and declared. He hated the thought that Jesus of Nazareth could possibly be the promised Messiah of God.

Saul of Tarsus was not unique in this, in fact I would say that he was something of a prototype of the world during the age of the church. Christians love Jesus because He first loved them (1 John 4:19 but before we are saved we hate Jesus because of who He is; see John 15:18-19. Fallen man cannot tolerate the Righteous One because He exposes their evil deeds, we are His new creation and so reflect all that He is. The result of this is that the world will at least treat us with indifference but will have on difficulty in persecuting the church to the extreme as did Saul of Tarsus.  From the moment of his conversion the mindset of Paul was changed!  Read Ephesians 1:15-23 to see the difference. From murderous threats and hatred to love, respect, prayers and instruction for the church.

What has changed?

Verse 1 of the Church's one foundation has been accomplished. Saul of Tarsus was sought by Jesus, saved by Jesus and made into a new creation by Jesus. That makes all of the difference.

Now comes the time for discussion:

Consecutively through the passage consider the issues that Paul urges his readers to do (verse 1-3).
  1. Walk in a worthy manner.
  2. Humble.
  3. Gentle.
  4. Patient.
  5. Loving one another.
  6. United in the Spirit.
  7. Bound to peace.
What is the church (verse 4-6)?
  1. One body.
  2. Led by One Spirit.
  3. Called in hope.
  4. One Lord.
  5. One faith.
  6. One baptism.
  7. One God and Father who is Sovereign.
What are we gifted with (verse 7-11)?
  1. Grace in measure.
  2. Apostles.
  3. Prophets.
  4. Evangelists.
  5. Pastors and teachers.
The purpose of the gifts (verse12-16).
  1. To equip the church to be the church.
  2. To build up the church.
  3. To bring about unity.
  4. To understand who Jesus is.
  5. To become “men” of God: Mature in Christ.
  6. Not to remain as children. Grow up.
  7. Solid in truth. Discerning to the ways of the evil one.
  8. Speaking in love.
  9. Becoming like Jesus (growing up into Him.)
  10. Becoming His body in the local community built up in love.
Jesus stand among us
At the meeting of our lives;
Be our sweet agreement
At the meeting of our eyes.
O Jesus, we love You, so we gather here;
Join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.

So to You we're gathering
Out of each and every land;
Christ the love between us
At the joining of our hands.
O Jesus, we love You, so we gather here;
Join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.

Jesus, stand among us
At the breaking of the bread;
Join us as one body
As we worship You, our Head.
O Jesus, we love You, so we gather here;
Join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
Graham Kendrick.

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