Ephesians 6:1-9 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Playing a game, gotta learn the rules! Frustrating playing with someone who keeps changing them or twisting them to their own advantage.

-Game of life is similar! Need to obey the rules to get it right. Who do you think made the rules for our lives? God! 

READ/PRAY

-“Household code” rules that we all obey. Because you are a Strand, you must ___ 

-Remember Paul has been explaining what it means to “walk worthily,” which means your whole life now is meant to look different. 

-We’ve found other “household codes” from the 1st century, Aritstotle: “almost all things rule and are ruled according to nature. But the kind of rule differs; the freeman rules over the slave after another manner from that in which the male rules over the female, or the man over the child; although the parts of the soul are present in an of them, they are present in different degrees. For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authority, and the child has, but it is immature.”

-Do you see the difference? Where in Eph. 6 do you see “ruling”? Paul is taking a commonly understood idea (house codes) and turning them on their head, and this is significant, because these house codes are what lead to the flourishing of society. Remember throughout the OT God’s people live in a theocracy, under the NT we no longer live that way, instead we attempt to be the best citizens we can possibly be, we do everything in love, we celebrate where our culture believes in (as Francis Schaeffer said) “true truth,” and we order our alien society differently than the country in which we find ourselves. There are some other great resources out there that will help you with ordering your house, but only in so far as they help you live out the biblical principles. 

-Spurgeon: “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”

-One of the most unique aspects of Paul’s rules for the household is who gets addressed. Generally limited to those in positions of power, those who weren’t were only mentioned for how the powerful person should engage with them. So kids would be mentioned only in reference to the Father, how he keeps them in line, etc. Paul begins with those why are “the least of these”

-Jesus in Matt. 25:40 “As you did to the one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Jesus takes what we think of as common knowledge and flips it on its’ head! So the fact that we see children, slaves, wives brought up as the focal point would have been radically counter-cultural! Don’t miss that looking at this text through 21st cent. Eyes. 

-We’ll see in this text some explicit commands for the people mentioned, let’s dig in!

  1. Children: Obey (1-3)

-Obedience isn’t limited here. Obey your parents when it makes sense, obey your parents when you want to, obey your parents when you feel like it, no, it’s an explicit command. That being said, we’ll see how parents are to live in a minute!

-So kids, when your parents are talking to you, what does the Bible say to do? Obey! This is meant to come in the context of a relationship, so you can ask clarifying questions, can try to better understand why your parents are telling you to do something, but at the end of the day, what does the Bible command? Obedience. Why do you think that is?

-Parents are meant to serve as a picture/illustration of God, so we demonstrate our obedience to God by obeying our earthly parents. Gen. 1-3 teaches us that God began creation by creating the family. Adam & Eve were commanded to image God to the rest of creation by ordering and bringing structure to what He had created. Part of what that means is creating the various civilizations we see around us! But the basic building block of every civilization is: the family! As the family goes, that’s where the rest of society will go, which is why families matter so greatly to God! 

-That being said, because we’re humans, we have a tendency to ask the next logical question: Is there any room to disobey? Yes, but that shouldn’t be a regular part of your life. If obedience is the expectation, there should only be rare exceptions where you disobey, and the only time & place to disobey is when your parents are telling you something that is contrary to the Bible. One example I’ve seen some parents do is lying about your kids age to get discount food or entrance admissions to parks! There was a video that went viral a few weeks ago about a family sneaking a child into Disney World in a stroller dressed like a baby, and then as soon as they walked in the child came out! God’s rule is even higher than your parents rules, so help your parents obey God’s rules! That’s what Paul says next anyway:

-“In the Lord”

-Isn’t limiting to only believing parents, instead a reminder that children are indwelled by the Holy Spirit too.

-Remember, this letter was meant to be read in the gathering on Sunday morning for the entire church, which means because children are addressed, Paul is assuming they’ll sitting next to their parents! We are meant to be a multi-generational gathering! 

-It’s also important that Paul is rooting this command in previous writings, not something he came up with, it’s in both OT and NT (quoting Ex. 20:12 & Deut. 5:16)

-Proverb, generally true, but unfortunately nothing is guaranteed. Some of this means families are meant to serve as a preserving function in society, if you want your society to function well, families must be given prominence and helped to flourish, how do you do that: connect to a local church.

-But kids: pay attention to what this says about your parents too! Paul isn’t singling you out, your parents also have a job to do, and they’re going to be held responsible by God for how they raised you!

  • Fathers: Teach (4)

-Fathers in the 1st cent. had complete control, could conduct infanticide, sell into slavery, beating was seen as the best form of training. Remember what we saw from Aristotle! There was a literal hierarchy in society, and men, specifically free men, were the pinnacle, everyone else served the men.

-This command is hard! Part of it means in order to discipline your kids correctly, you need to be discipling yourself, not respond in anger because then you’re setting a bad example. When we read of God being described as our Father, it should give us pause, because we need to ask how well we’re doing at representing God to our children. Father’s we serve an incredibly important role in our family, and it begins by not provoking, not belittling, not demeaning them.

-Read a story of an incredibly accomplished theologian who was asked how he was able to write as much as he did, his response was that he sacrificed his kids. Far too many kids bear the brunt of the parents’ insecurities and issues, which perpetuates family wounds and struggles through generations. So dads: be intentional about what kind life you’re building, as well as what example you’re setting.

-Paul uses “bring them up” ektrephete in Eph. 5:29 “nourishes” his wife. Dads, instead of antagonizing your kids, nourish them, feed them, help them understand who God is, what He’s like, and how we should live with Him as our Lord. Paul uses 2 words to describe this:

-Discipline and instruction

-Not just “because I said so” (As often as that turns out to be appropriate I’ve learned, much to the dismay of my 7 year old self!) Instead, this training is supposed to be “Of the Lord” If you limit your correction and training to what God has commanded you’ll be doing well! If you keep your training rooted in God’s Word, not only will you be setting them up for success, but you’ll give them a holistic way of approaching the world and life. Legalism won’t accomplish that, it only leads to either fear of being outside the lines, or rebellion for not being able to measure up.

-“Legalism will prove to be a bankrupt basis for behavior and ethics. Parents need to help their children transition to intrinsic motivations for good behavior.” (Arnold, 430) Another way of thinking about this is teaching them God’s Word, what it means, how to study it, and then taking God’s Word seriously yourself! Share with them how God’s teaching you, share with them about times you mess up, apologize when you’re leaning on legalism instead of God’s Word!

-Obviously this isn’t only for dads, moms play a huge role in raising children, but notice the ultimate responsibility and accountability God has given to Fathers. Take this job seriously! The kids you have are a beautiful gift from God that have been entrusted to you for this season of their lives!

-Practically, what does this look like? (Richard Coekin, pg. 184)

1. It takes a church to raise a kid – so show up! 

2. It takes the gospel to raise kids – so speak up!

3. It takes God to raise kids – so pray up! 

-If your relationship with your parents is strained, if they weren’t believers, thank God that you have a church! Get connected here, we’d love to walk alongside you! Paul in other cases encourages us to treat each other in the church like a family, and all that comes along with that!

  • Slaves: Obey (5-8)

-Need to talk about slavery. Often what comes to mind when we see slavery in the Bible is the chattel slavery that is an abominable reality of our nation’s history. Slavery was different at this time, I found this summary to be helpful:

1) Racial factors played no role. In the US that was the determining factor! How much melatonin in your skin served as the only factor for your role in society. In the 1st century, slaves could be any race, any background, and people even sold themselves into slavery as a payment for debts. 

2) Many slaves could expect emancipation in their lifetime. Slavery was for life here. No hope of freedom, no way to get out, suffer and bear it. Many people in the 1st century were worried about how many people were becoming freed, and started advocating that there should be an age minimum given so there weren’t too many former slaves in the world!

3) Slaves worked in a variety of specialized and responsible positions. Were far more than hired hands to pick the fields. Slaves could be household managers, doctors, and even:

4) Slaves received education and training this was seen as a way to get more value from the slaves. They would become better and better at their craft until they finally were freed.

5) Freed slaves often became Roman citizens and worked with their former masters Eventually given a privileged status and then a job to continue working in! Since they were trained, they became very valuable!

-While you won’t find a verse that says “slavery is sin” you have all the implications that land there. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor not own them, and treat others as we would want to be treated. 

-Paul in 1 Tim. 1:10 lists “enslavers” as living contrary to how God has commanded. As I’ve said before, remember that this text was read in the church, where both slave and free met in the same congregation, sitting right next to each other. 

Philemon is another example of this reality, this new way God wants us to live! Paul wrote the entire letter asking Philemon to free his former slave Onesimus, who ran away than was saved under Paul’s ministry! 

-Obey them like you obey Christ. Not as a lap dog, but as the position God had placed them in.

-Paul doesn’t ground slavery in either the OT or in a theological position. We’ll see next week husband & wives is grounded in both a theological truth and the OT, and so is the command for children. The reality that slavery isn’t grounded in God’s design for the world or with theological reason is significant! It’s demonstrating to us that there’s something different about slavery than there is wives and children.

-And this obedience should come about because of the transformed heard. It’s easy to work hard when you want recognition or attention, that’s normal! But what God has called us to is so far beyond our own power that it can only come about because of His Spirit at work in us! 

-Lorence’s berry farm throwing rotten berries.

-What would it mean to do your work in such a way that you behave like your boss is watching over your shoulder? (He is) That’s the point of vs. 8, God sees everything we do (and think) and wants complete obedience. Do you obey? Do you work hard? Do you view your work as an act of worship, obedience, and service to the Lord, or is it just a means to a paycheck? Remember God has wired you in a specific way, so even your vocation can be a ministry.

-Roots and fruit, doing and being, God cares about our internal motivations and wants to sanctify even our desires.

-Once again, unlike other household rules, Paul turns the idea upside down:

  • Masters: Honor (9)

-Same as slaves? This is radically counter-cultural! What is the same? Treat them as fellow image bearers. Don’t just worry about what other people think (people-pleasers) do good to them because God is watching.

-Threatening seen as the primary way to motivate slaves. We have a document from 61 AD (about the same time Ephesians was written) where someone talking about slavery writes “The only way to keep down this scum is by intimidation.” That’s not how Christians should serve as masters! Don’t threaten, we’re now commanded to do everything we do in love, according to how God has loved us. 

-And then to heap on the expectations, there’s an even higher master than the earthly master. Remember back to Aristotle’s idea, the master who is a male is the highest power, but for anyone in Christ that’s no longer true! Our true master is in heaven, and in his eyes we’re all the same. This last part is the final nail in the coffin for slavery.

-No partiality, we are all one in Christ. Col. 3. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, so live like it! Treat other people how you want to be treated, no matter your position, no matter your power, the way the world uses these things is corrupted, we’re to use them for good.

-Takeaways for us today, despite not living in the same culture. We no longer live in a culture where slavery is the norm (which should lead us to praise God for the common grace of that reality! So while we’re not slaves, all of us have some place we work. Some of us even have people who report to us in our jobs. So how should this passage change the way you approach your work?

-Whenever you work, do your best, work hard, and remember who you’re doing it for. I share regularly 1 Cor. 10:30 “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” which means you can add work in there! When you are at your job God is watching your interactions, He’s watching how you’re using your gifts, and He’s seeing if you’re representing Him well. I don’t say that to heap guilt (he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake) but instead to “make the best use of the time,” to live as Christ has called us to live.

-But this also cuts back the other way, if you have people reporting to you at work, are you honoring them as a human being creating in God’s image, or do you belittle, undermine, and use them to advance your own aims? Don’t threaten them (obviously there needs to be accountability), represent Christ to them.

-God has given us a pretty high bar to follow! Children are to obey, Father’s are to teach and train those children, servants are to obey like they obey Christ, and master’s are honor their slaves as fellow human beings. And all this is only possible through the same power at work in us that rose Jesus from the dead. As we pursue Christ-likeness, as we’re conformed into His image, He will give us the strength we need to be this faithful family.

Ephesians 5:1-17 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, when my sisters would copy my it drove my nuts! Now that I have kids it’s adorable and terrifying! I also see my kids starting to compare themselves to other kids they spend time with (according to my kids, every other person we know has better toys than we do!) In our age, we see imitation taking place all the time! From FOMO to trying to keep up with a family in CA to nervous tics developing in high schoolers because they watch too many TikTok videos. What you take in matters greatly for how you end up living your life!

            -bad company ruins good morals 1 Cor. 15:33

            -who/what are you spending time with?

READ/PRAY

  1. Walk in Love (1-2)

-Once again, Paul builds off what he said in the previous section with “therefore”

-Gave some specific instructions about things to “put off” and other things we’re supposed to “put on.” Not enough to just remove something, has to be replaced with the right thing, otherwise it will remain broken.

-Remember the last verse from Eph 4 last week: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Christ serves as the model for the rest of us as to what putting on forgiveness looks like, but then he takes it a step further at the beginning here: “be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

-Whether they want to admit it or not (depends on their age) children in some form or fashion imitate their parents. There’s good and bad things about that, right? There are some cases where I see my kids doing something I always do and I’m thrilled! There’s other times where I see my kids doing something I do and I worry because I know exactly where it will end up! Another way of thinking about this is asking the question: who do you look like? You can’t help but look, act, think like your parents! So does the way you’re living look like God or not?

-This imitation is bracketed by 2 examples: forgiveness and love. The 2 most difficult traits (I think) for us as believers. Jesus forgave literally everything, yet I struggle forgiving my kids when they break something! And Jesus loved all of us when we were His enemies, I struggle to love people that are annoying!

-But let’s think briefly about what this love looks like. 1 John has a lot to say about love, but 1 passage ties into this verse perfectly 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” How hard is that? We saw that a couple weeks ago “speak the truth in love” Our love must be visible in our lives, otherwise we’re not being obedient to God’s Word. And Paul goes on:

-This love is meant to be the same way that Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. This fragrant offering is a reference back to the OT as a way of signifying the offering was acceptable. Lev. 1 repeats 3 times “It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Because of Jesus’ perfect and acceptable sacrifice, we can now offer our lives as a living sacrifice Rom. 12:1 “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Church, this is how we imitate God: by pursuing sacrifice. But Paul doesn’t stop there in Rom 12, but goes on to say:

-Similarly in Ephesians, Paul goes on to describe what this transformation looks like:

  • Walk in Light (3-14)

-“But” Paul begins by noting that this is a contrast to the previous section. Being imitators of God means some things must not be true of us. 3 groups of 3 overview: sexual sin, the way you speak, idolatry.

-First 3: sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness. All referring to some kind of sexual sin. 

-First is the general “porneia” in the Greek refers to any kind of sexual sin outside the bounds of marriage. Must be said, there is a sexual morality, faithfulness to how God designed/ordered human relationships to operate/flourish. Throughout history there has been all sorts of deviation from God’s intended purpose to sex, our culture isn’t even close to as morally depraved as the 1st century!

-Second is impurity. This generally refers to a moral brokenness, and often some kind of sexual sin. 

-Third is covetousness, which connects directly to the 10th Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.”

-Paul is saying there shouldn’t be even a hint of sexual immorality among believers. “must not even be named” isn’t referring to talking about these issues, it’s saying that people on the outside looking in at believers shouldn’t have any reason to bring up these charges against a believer. Holiness, Christlikeness, demands that we fight against these sexual sins that have been issues since the fall.

-If you read much in the Christian news sphere, the time period I grew up in has been under intense scrutiny for what is now known as the purity movement. Good desires/motivations, terrible execution! The pinnacle was “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris, who went from there to serving as a pastor, and then just a couple years ago he announced that he was divorcing his wife and no longer following Christ. Again, good desires! The free love of the 60s led to a lot of hurt and pain in people, so in a desire to try to protect their children they did the best they thought they could! But when the only message given is: sex is bad, don’t have sex otherwise you’ll get pregnant and have a terrible marriage it leads to a whole host of difficulties! Add to that an unwillingness in the church to actually engage how we think about and pursue healthy sex, and it’s no wonder our world is confused about God’s point and purpose for sex.

-All that background to say, if you have sexual sin in your background, or if you’re currently wrestling through any kind of sexual sin (pornography, same sex attraction, lust) drag it into the light! Share your struggles with someone who loves you and cares about you, and if you don’t have anyone like that get more involved and invested here! This is literally why God has given us the church! We’ll be taking more about this issue when we get to marriage in a couple weeks, but don’t let today pass by without bringing your sin into the light so that we, as Christ’s holy bride, will not even have a hint of sexual sin in our midst.

-Similarly, Paul’s next 3 sins of how you talk: filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking, some of these words also refer to sexual jokes again. 

-Why does language matter so much? Jesus said that if you want to measure how well you’re growing in your sanctification, look at the words that come out of your mouth (Luke 6:45: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”) 

-You may hear something like this and think “what place does humor have?” I love comedians, I love a good joke, I love funny stories, is that what Paul is talking about here? Thankfully no! Even the Bible has some pretty funny situations and stories (ask me about Ehud sometime, the Southpaw assassin!) Even Jesus told jokes! He called the Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” and then accuses them of straining out a gnat but then forgetting to filter out the camel, he also said it’s easier for a rich person to get to heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. That’s a funny image! Yet jokes have a time and a place, and making a joke at the expense of another human is belittling and dehumanizing to them. This also tells us that there are some areas about which we shouldn’t joke. One of the ones I’ve been contemplating recently is using sex as a joke. It’s meant to be a beautiful picture of the union of the Godhead, but because we don’t like to talk about it, or it makes us uncomfortable, we turn it into a laugh. It’s easy to use a timely jab to alleviate tension or get a laugh, but it’s not how God has called us to live! Think of one of the verses Micah preached on last week:

Eph. 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Church, even in your joking, you should find ways to use it to give grace! And when, not if, you offend, be quick to apologize and seek reconciliation. 

-How is thanksgiving the antithesis of this? Corrupting talk comes about because we’re not grateful for all the ways God has provided for us. 

-CS. Lewis: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

-Instead of using your words to tear other people down or revel in sin, use your words to give praise and thanksgiving to God for the immeasurable ways He’s blessed you! 

-Last set of 3 are a repeat of before, but this time Paul connects these ideas to false worship, that is idolatry. 

-One note that I’ve shared before is Ephesus had many cultic influences, home of one of the ancient wonder of the world, the temple to Artemis, the fertility god. Our culture is not the first to turn sex into a god. People are tempted by the same sins today, it just takes different names!

-What do you think the connection between covetous and idolatry is? We covet when we either don’t like what we have or we want more than what we need. I was having a talk with some guys last week about how much is enough? Just a little more. Did you know that a survey demonstrated that happiness directly correlates to your annual salary, but only up to $75,000, from there on out there’s much less of a correlation. How much is 75K? Solidly middle-class. Enough to provide for your needs, set up an emergency fund, and not be stressed about your next meal. From there on out it’s diminishing returns.

-Those who don’t kill these sins have no inheritance in God’s kingdom.

-Remember the big deal Paul made in Eph. 1 about the fact that we are adopted, and since we’re adopted we have all the rights and privileges of being children of God? Those rights and privileges are dependent on us looking like our dad, representing Him to the rest of his creation. Yet all of us fall short of that standard, don’t we? What hope do we have of actually imitating God like we’re supposed to? Thankfully that’s where along with adoption comes the fact that we are now “In Christ.” So it’s no longer about us perfectly measuring up to God’s standard, because Jesus already did, and when God looks at us He now sees Jesus standing in our place! However, there are going to be people until Christ comes back that will either downplay the severity of what God’s saying here, or will add additional rules and stipulations onto what Christ has already accomplished.

-“Empty words.”

-Quite the phrase, isn’t it? A bag of hot air! In context, this is referring to someone who downplays the severity of sin, or lowers God’s perfect standard. Let’s think back to the first time someone questioned the validity of God’s standard? The serpent in the very beginning: “Did God really say?” That’s the epitome of “empty words.” And even looking at the way Eve was tempted is true of us today: she looks, she notices that it’s delightful, and then she desires it and takes it. That’s a summary of every sin you commit!

-There’s increasing pressure in our culture today to cave into these “empty words” I see people responding with anger, or saying it’s time to move on from a gentle answer, or pastors accused of being woke for tweeting a Bible verse. Or even to downplay the reality and effects of sin (remember what we just saw about how destructive sexual sin is!). If you want to live a life to the fullest, be obedient to God, because otherwise you’ll be under God’s wrath. Sometimes that means there will be ramifications for your sin on this side of heaven, but it is guaranteed to have implications for eternity, which is why God gives us each new day as an opportunity to rededicate our lives to Him, and why we have the reminder in the Bible that His mercies are new every morning! So even if you give into the empty words, don’t run away from God, His grace is still enough.

-“Do not become partners with them.” How do we obey this and still obey the great commission to go into all the world and make disciples?

-We need to remember that we are both in but not of the world. We don’t live the same way, we don’t have the same motivating force, we’re living as citizens of heaven! We live a normal, human life, but we don’t participate in sin the same way the unbelievers we spend time with will. 

-Now, in your evangelism, don’t sin either! If you’re an alcoholic, don’t go to the local brewery as an attempt to witness to others! If you’re materialistic, maybe don’t go to the mall with your unbelieving friends. However, don’t waste the unique ways God has equipped you to evangelize. Your house isn’t yours, God has placed you there to be a light shining in your neighborhood, so don’t hide your light, don’t extinguish your light, shine brightly, and look for opportunities to share the gospel in what you say and in how you live:

-“Were darkness, are light” BIG difference! 

-If we are light, we carry the light with us wherever we go, so go into the darkness and bring the light to it. 

-If we are light, the fruit that comes out of that is the opposite of the 9 descriptions Paul laid out at the beginning. Should make you think of another fruit of 9 Paul lists in Gal. 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These fruit will never fail, never rot, never go out of style, and if put into practice will be radically different than the way the world wants us to operate. As I’ve shared before, I can’t get over the gentleness piece. Where do you see gentleness in our world today? You SHOULD be seeing it in those who claim Christ! If you’re not gentle, are you walking in the light? 

-The fruit of the Spirit is how we can please the Lord. By living a fruit filled life, we will by our conduct expose the unfruitful works.

-One of the pieces we need to be aware of as children of the light is we need to live our lives in the light. That means we need to bring our sins and struggles into the light and share our struggles with other believers. James 5 commands us to confess our sins to each other, to shine the light into the darkness of our sins. One thing this means is that we must be willing to share every area of our lives with someone(s). Doesn’t need to be the same person, but if you have areas of your life that no one else knows about, you’re not truly known, not truly living in the light, and not trusting God’s forgiveness for your sins.

-It’s ok to no be ok, but open yourself up to not just stay there, wallowing in your not ok-ness. Be connected to other believers (the church) who will love you despite your sins! Expose those areas to the light, if you’re in Christ you don’t have anything to fear! What will the judgment of humans do to you? Remember, you’re seated with Christ in heaven!

Vs. 14 connects to Eph. 2:1 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world.” 

-Now that we’ve been raised with Christ, Christ is shining on us, in us, and through us, therefore we:

  • Walk in Wisdom (15-17)

-God has given us wisdom through the indwelling of His Spirit who illuminates His Word to help us know how to live. That’s how we walk carefully. Word -> wise walking.

-My love for reading came about through paying attention to driving. “No parking” on a street we drove regularly. Need to know the rules in order to drive wisely, similarly we need to know God, who created and ordered everything we see around us, and the rules He has given that will lead to flourishing. This even ties into the next vs:

-How do we make the best use of the time?

-Extremism is workaholism, or guilt for having down times. Doing versus being. God has called us to be so that we can do, not the other way around.

-Jesus, when He was on earth, was limited by time and space. Do you know what He did really well? Sleep. Withdraw from the crowds. Pray. Spend time at the synagogue (church). Spend time with his closest friends. Partied. How do we make the best use of the time? We put God first, use everything we do as a tool to worship Him. Eating, drinking, sleeping, walking, nothing is off limits to worship Him! 

-This is how we’re not foolish, we’re not idolaters, and Paul lands with understanding the Lord’s will: 

1 Thess. 4:2 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” Holiness. 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

-This is difficult for us! To have not even a hint of sin, to rejoice always, to pray for everything, to be legitimately grateful people no matter what our circumstances are telling us. Yet that’s exactly what God allows us to be. It’s not work harder, it’s not clean up your act, it’s give up, die to yourself, and allow God to actually work in you. It’s be a perfectly normal human being, who has rightly ordered your life, who is shining as light (the fruit of the Spirit) and then day by day becoming better imitators of our perfectly heavenly Father.

Ephesians 4:1-16 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Played basketball in HS, remains my favorite sport (go Warriors!), yet there was something that still bothers me about the “team” aspect of it. All had to wear the same color shoes, couldn’t do headbands or arm bands, couldn’t grow facial hair, had to look as similar as we could, even wearing similar outfits on game day.

-All that disappeared as soon as practice started. 15 guys made the squad, only 5 guys play. For every 5 man drill, guess the breakup of the teams! The cherry on top was whoever won didn’t have to run suicides, so guess who just despised the starting 5 – everyone else! Anytime I’m with my basketball friends from high school and this comes up I can feel myself starting to get worked up again, I’ve mostly worked through it by now

-It’s one thing to have these external standards of conformity that we tend to view as unity. They look alike, they must therefore think and act alike. It’s a completely different ball game (pun intended) to actually be a unified people, despite the differences about us. Look around, we are not the same! Yet we’ve seen through the book of Ephesians these truths that we’re one people. So how can that work despite all our differences? 

READ/PRAY

  1. Unity Means We’re the Same (1-6)

-Paul continues all the thoughts he’s been building up until this point with “therefore” 

-One of the easiest ways to study the Bible is to trace the flow of thought. When you see a “therefore” in the text ask what it’s there for. It’s those silly little tricks like that that will help you better study the Bible!

-Paul’s been continually building on a single flow of thought through this book: apart from Christ Jew & Gentile (really everyone) are divided, once they’re brought from death into life now they’re a new people who can’t be divided. Last week I said the prayer served as the hinge point to transition from the theological exposition to the implementation of those beliefs (indicative to the imperative)

-A good way of summarizing what the implication of those beliefs are is vs. 1 “walk worthily” Remember, I shared back in Eph. 2, walk refers to your whole way of life. What do you think it means to walk worthily? Up until this point, what kinds of things has Paul said?

-“Love toward all the saints” (1:15) “Might reconcile us both to God in one body” (2:16) The church is where the manifold wisdom of God is seen (3:10)

-Unity in the church (explicit in vs. 3)

-It’s also important to note that this unity, this transformed way of living isn’t optional, because Paul goes on “of the calling to which you have been called.” God has called us to live our lives in such a way that it is worthy of Him. Paul has already said this earlier in 2:10 “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” How are you doing at this task of living out good works that are worthy of God? 

-Paul doesn’t just stop there though, and even my asking of that question should make you ask the next question: what does that look like, in practice? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a summary: 2-3

-Humility wasn’t held up as a virtue in the 1st century. It was seen as unbecoming of a man, unless it was a demonstration of someone’s lower class. It would be the same today as someone encouraging you to be prideful. How would you receive that? Then along comes Jesus who flips the world upside down. Matt. 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” When Paul tells us to be lowly/humble he’s telling us to be like Jesus! 

-Not just humility, gentleness too! What a counter-cultural idea today. I preached a whole sermon on this idea last fall from Phil. 4:5 “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.” Are you known as a gentle person in your responses, or are you known as an angry person? Have you ever felt yourself getting worked up in a conversation, only the have the temperature drop immediately by someone’s gentle response? Prov. 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” If all of us pursued gentleness first in our responses to each other, we wouldn’t even need some of the other reminders in this text!

-But almost as if to remind us that this task really is impossible in our own efforts, he adds patience! I remember joking with people that you need to be careful when you ask for patience, because God will provide the training grounds in short order! There have been seasons in my life where this idea has been pressed on me (I tend to get busy and keep pushing). I had one of those seasons in seminary where I would intentionally get in the longest line in the grocery store (I prefer self-checkout), I was commuting to seminary straight through the heart of Denver (mountains means there’s only 1 way) and would intentionally stay in the right lane (anyone that’s commuted knows how painful that is!). As I’ve shared before, I’m still not a patient person, but I’ve seen God continuing to beat some of that impatience out of me!

-Then, once you’ve got those first 3 down perfectly, you can do the next one easily: bear with one another. If only he stopped there! IN LOVE! We saw this idea last week in 3:17 “rooted and grounded in love.” It starts back there as a prayer, but then finds it’s necessary implication here. There’s a tendency among all of us to look down at other people who aren’t gifted the same way as us. I remember as I was growing up being baffled by people who weren’t musical, because it came so easily to me! Or having conversations with people who view themselves are more mature than they actually are, and then looking down on other people for not being at their level. Dear friends, the more mature we get, the lower the level we’ll be willing to go to “bear with each other.” 

-And Paul continues: “eager to maintain”, others: “Making every effort” What are you willing to do for us to stay united together? The two most important words in the English language: I’m sorry. This unity isn’t optional, it’s not a nice tag on, it’s a command. Jesus says this when he prays for us in John 17“that they may be one.” Yet how quickly have you seen people leave a church for a perceived slight, instead of making every effort to keep unity and peace?

-There’s a lot more that could be said about these first 3 verses, but we need to keep going! Paul continues to ground these traits in the same idea that he had been emphasizing in the first 3 chapters, look at this long list of ones: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God. We don’t get to determine who is a part of this body, God does. Just like you don’t get to choose the family you’re born to, God does. 

-Despite the reality that we are now a part of the same body, this doesn’t mean we’re all clones. Think of the Star Wars prequels (which, let’s be honest, were still largely better than the ones Disney made where they just copied everything from the originals!) This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but it’s kind of given away in the title: The Clone Wars. Bad guys have created an army of clones to fight their battle, everyone is exactly the same. That’s not how it works with God! We saw a hint of this 2 weeks ago in 2:10 “through the church the manifold (multifaceted) wisdom of God might be made known” So the way we demonstrate our unity seems counterintuitive: by using our differences.

  • Unity Means We’re Different (7-12)

-Vs. 7 Paul is saying when we’re brought from death to life, the Spirit gives us grace (a gift) that comes from Christ.

-Paul uses a quote from Psalm 68 next, which I’ll talk about more in sermon scraps tomorrow since there’s some debate about what Paul means here, so consider this the preview! This quote comes up as a way for Paul to talk about how Jesus fills us with His gifts. The means by which He fills all things is by His body (the church) using these gifts together.

-In order to fill all things, God provides specific order and structure to his church. That’s where, in vs. 11 he describes the various church offices as: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Let’s take a look at each of these offices.

-Apostles. Literally translated it means messenger, used by God to explain and bring God’s good news of salvation found in Christ (the gospel)

-prophets: at times predicted future things that would happen, usually would explain what the gospel meant and how to be obedient to God’s will

-Evangelist: share the gospel with any and everyone, some people are uniquely gifted at this! I knew someone who was unbelievably gifted at this, who onetime stopped by a shoe store between meetings and led the salesperson to Christ!

-Some debate on this last one, whether it’s 1 or 2 offices. There is a different conjunction between these two offices. All the previous are “the,” this one is “and.” Some have even translated this as “teaching shepherds.” Most people argue that this 2 separate offices (all pastors teach, not all teachers are pastors) Explain how “pastor” and “shepherd” connect 

-But these specific offices don’t exist for themselves. Instead, these specific offices are given from God for 1 purpose: vs. 12. So often we look to people with charismatic personalities, or leadership abilities when God tells us that unless they’re equipping the saints, they’re failing at their job. 

-Brothers and sisters let me be as explicit as I can be: if I as your pastor, if we as your staff fail at equipping this body, you need to call into question whether or not we’re doing our job. In a little bit, we’ll get to what equipping looks like, but I feel like there’s profound misunderstanding of what those who are called to ministry are supposed to do. 

-Story of Jake with small groups being asked to pray.

-Equipping the saints for the work of “service” 3:7 “I was made a minister/ servant” Friends, we are all called to serve one another. We don’t get the option to tap out of that service. Since we’re all part of the body, we all need to do our part! If we’re not doing our part, we won’t build up the body of Christ.

-One thing to talk about in relation to this is the competition game we all play. We get upset that we’re not gifted the same way as someone else, or even start to look down on someone else who is wired differently from you (like I did with music!). But that’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing here!

-AIO story of Mr Foot, Ms Lips

-“Since Christ is the giver of the spiritual gifts and spiritual functions, there is no place for human pride, as if the gifts were self-generated or in some way earned. Similarly there is no place for envy since Christ has gifted all and that in various and different ways.” (John Vooys)

-Yet even these various services have an expiration date to them:

  • Unity Means We Grow Up (13-16)

-The word “until” means there comes a time where the body of Christ won’t need to be built up anymore. However, as long as we’re on this side of eternity that moment won’t arrive! This also is meant to comfort us, because this means it will happen! 

-3 things about this maturity: communal, unity, the standard we’re aiming for

-Communal: “we all” We’re only as strong as our weakest link, which means we all need to be pouring into each other to grow into maturity. This is yet another reminder that we can’t just look down at other people who aren’t wired the same way, don’t have the same training or experiences, and instead we’re urged to bring them along with us (1 Cor. 11:1 “imitate me as I imitate Christ”) But this also should remind us that we all individually need to ensure we’re maturing, not for ourselves, but for the sake of those around us. Individually we all need to grow, so that communally our body can continue to grow. 

-Unity “unity of the faith” Our growth/ maturation is meant to lead us to unity, so why does it seem like those who claim to be the most mature are the most willing to separate? Or even a more intense question, if God has called us to unity, why are there so many denominations around the world? A really quick answer: unity does not mean uniformity. Since God is so great, He cannot be completely understood by 1 person or group of people, so each denomination emphasizes certain characteristics of God better than others. Second, don’t discount the work of sin, even in the lives of believers. It never fails to surprise me the reasons people will use as an excuse to leave a church, without being faithful to what Scripture has called and commanded in our lives. Friends, let me plead with you: don’t let sin have a hold in your life, don’t be easily offendable, and be quick to seek reconciliation. That’s a marker of maturity! Christians shouldn’t be a part of cancel culture, we’re called to be a part of reconciliation culture!

-One brief note on this unity, it comes through the knowledge of the Son of God. You’re not going to mature without growing in knowledge of Jesus, that’s impossible. And where/ how has Jesus revealed Himself to us? Through His Word. This means growing in maturity is growing in understanding of His Word, together.

-The standard we’re aiming for: “to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Scholar FF Bruce helpfully summarizes this idea: “The glorified Christ provides the standard at which his people are to aim: the corporate Christ cannot be content to fall short of the perfection of the personal Christ.” We’re supposed to represent Christ fully. No excuses, no other options. I had a prof. in seminary who asked why we often miss this idea. We have the same Spirit in us that raised Jesus Christ, we have access to the same power that Jesus did, why do we tend to be unaware of that reality, or forget to pray that that power would be demonstrated in our lives?

-I sometimes wonder if we’re too quick to jump to “that’s impossible.” Think of what Jesus commanded in Matt. 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s the standard! That’s the definition of maturity, which means until Jesus comes back, we still have work to do. 

-This 3-fold aspect to maturity all combines together to land us in vs. 14 “so that” the maturity aims for…”no longer children” a natural byproduct of “mature manhood” in 13

-“Tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about” If or when we are not mature, we are susceptible to following false teaching. 

-Paul specifically mentions 3 things that lead people astray: doctrine (what about doctrine that doesn’t make sense or need emphasizes the wrong things “pisseth against the wall”), human cunning (People tend to be far too clever with their biblical studies, making weird connections that don’t need to be there. I had a member at one church who claimed to know the day Jesus was coming back from numerology and astrology), craftiness in deceitful schemes (good description of Mormons or JWs, or I would even argue people who are legalists). 

-Instead of being children who are repeatedly led astray, what does Paul say we should do? “speak the truth in love.” Friends, this is so hard to do! It’s easy to speak the truth, it’s nearly impossible to do it “in love,” especially over matters of doctrine, of beliefs that are essential to the faith. Yet how do we live in an understanding way with people who are at different stages of maturity in their walk with the Lord? John Stott understood this tension well: (long quote, but worthwhile)

-“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ‘the Spirit of truth’, and his firstfruit is ‘love’. There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.”

-Speaking the truth in love is the way God uses to help the church grow up into Him. He is the one who is joining and holding the various members together, but then all those individual members are called to work properly together. Do you see the interplay between the individual and the body here? Overemphasizing one at the expense of the other will lead to disfunction and unhealth. Another commentary helpful summarized this idea:

-“The church is not an assembly of self-sufficient individuals convening to discuss their similar experiences. Instead, it is an organism that grows as each part performs the task allotted to it.” (Mars Hill thing)

-As the organism called the church continues to grow/ mature, it is building itself up in, what’s the last phrase? “In love” Paul is reminding us that the single mark of maturity in the believer is love. Do you want to see how well you’re doing at maturing as a disciple? Take stock of how you’re growing in your love. Do you want to see how well we’re growing as a church? Looks at how we’re growing in our love. Again, not like the world defines it, love as God defines it in 1 Cor. 13

-Paul reminds us here that we must by united in Christ to grow in maturity. This unity is demonstrated in our diverse gifts, which all of us need to use to grow into maturity under the headship of Christ, which is all done under the ethic of love.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Struggle following along or want to find a quote? Go to my blog, also can get sermon notes at the welcome table when you come in every week

-More content every week on youtube.com/southsuburbanchurch or anchor.fm/south-suburban

-My dad can beat up your dad. If your dad is all powerful, that’s true!

READ/PRAY

  1. To Be Strengthened (14-17a)

-Up until this point, Paul has been expounding on the reality of the 2 distinct people becoming 1 new people in the church, with Jesus as the head. These verses serve as the hinge from theology into practical living, so next week’s text starts with a reminder to “walk in a manner withy of the calling to which you have been called.” That means live a different life. One author stated: “The ethic of chapters 4–6 has its foundation in this prayer” (Snodgrass, NIVAC)

-Many of the NT letters have explicit theology in the first half, leading to explicit commands for new life in the second half. Through chpt. 3 has been this high theology, next week we’ll start seeing what that looks like in practice. This is a reminder for us that we need to begin with good theology, but then make sure we also take the next step of living out that good theology in our day to day lives. 

-“For this reason” repeat of 3:1. Have you ever gotten distracted during a time of prayer? “God I’m so grateful for the sacrifice of your one and only Son. Man I’m hungry, I wonder what food we have in the fridge” You’re in good company – Paul did the same! What is this reason? Because of the nearness of God to us today.

-To be fair to Paul, he didn’t get distracted because he was hungry!

-“Bow my knees”

-Humble posture. Luke 18:9-14.

-“Father”

-God as Father. Starting point matters, don’t start with human and then project onto God, start with God and then start looking for places where He is demonstrated. Theology proper

-Earthly fathers are guaranteed to fail, that’s why we need a perfect heavenly father. Just as I said before, when you hear God described as “Father” don’t just replace that idea with your earthly Father. However, because that’s our tendency, God holds the fathers accountable for their families (we’ll get to that in a couple weeks, but the idea starts here)

-Paul uses it to describe the: source, starting point, provider, nurturer of every family. Play on words (paterpatria

-JI Packer “You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.”

-Whether the world realizes this or not, everyone and everything traces their source back to God. First catechism answer we gave: God is the creator. He designed families. We have to demonstrate how God designed families to operate, and be a bigger family that welcomes in anyone who doesn’t have an earthly family. This is also where we see the devil continually attacking the family in our world today! We’ll get to some of that in Eph. 4-5

-“riches of his glory”

-Our Father created everything, why do we worry that God won’t provide what we need? Talking to someone this week about Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Or reading through some examples in Acts of the early church 4:34 “there was not a needy person among them.”

-God has given us everything we need spiritually, and He’s given us the church to help us with everything we need physically. Do we live that out? Do we thank God for the gifts of each other? Do we ask God for these riches? As we go through here, be thinking through James 4:2 “you do not have because you do not ask” What’s stopping you from asking? But Paul doesn’t stop here! This is to remind us that God owns everything! Yet Paul doesn’t ask for everything, similar to Solomon who was offered anything he wanted, yet asked for wisdom.

-“To be strengthened with power”

-Can’t do it yourself (BE strengthened) Do you ask for this as well? This isn’t just grimace and bear whatever comes, this is intentionally asking God to sustain you through whatever comes.

-Comes only through the Spirit. The Spirit is what strengthens us, equips us, sanctifies us, brings us to life when we were dead. And now that the Spirit is alive in us, what do we have to fear?

-“In your inner being”

-Not Gnosticism (we are embodied beings, can’t separate) So much of what we see taking place in our world today connects back to this issue, we are gendered all the way down, can’t get away from that. We’re trying to train our kids this way, where Calvin is happy to be a boy, Ellie is happy to be a girl. Our world (our flesh & the devil) will try to train them differently.

-Paul is connecting to a similar idea in 2 Cor. 4:16-18 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Where are you focusing your attention?

-You’ve seen this if you’ve watched an older saint who’s faithfully walking with the Lord. Their faith gets sweeter, their temperament kinder. The fact that we’re still here breathing means God’s not done with us! He’s still helping us smooth out our rough edges, doing whatever it takes to make us more like Him.

-Purpose: “so that Christ my dwell in your hearts”

-This is part of where we get the idea to “ask Jesus into our hearts” but in the Bible that’s a whole big life change, not just a 1-time decision (we’re not witches)

-Great illustration of this: 2 of the 3 houses Cara and I have owned has been slightly neglected when we moved in. Seriously, what was the deal with wallpaper and popcorn ceilings? Over time, you pull down wallpaper, replace floors, remodel bathrooms, maybe eventually add some space in to accommodate your growing family. That’s what God does in our lives. He moves in “through faith” at that very moment, but then he gets to work remodeling, and sometimes he’ll need to knock down walls you’ve built, and it’s painful, difficult, and inconvenient. 

-House projects never come about at the right time. Our fence blew over 6 months before Calvin was born, I was in school, Cara was in school, our church was moving to 2 campuses (I was in the build out for the 2nd campus), our dog chewed up our carpet the next month, Cara’s car got totaled in May, yet God worked in that time, church came around us.

-This illustration is where Paul (borrowing from Jesus) talk about building your foundation in the right place, which leads us right into the next section:

  • To Grasp Christ’s Love (17b-19)

-“Rooted and grounded in love”

-Rooted like plants, grounded like a solid foundation.

-Love is the new ethic of all believers, not optional, but also not as the world defines live, go read 1 Cor. 13 to see how God defines love, but also note that this isn’t option for a Christian. (hold on to that idea, because Paul brings it up again later)

-“May have strength” (connected back to 16) “to comprehend” what?

-Options: (1) the incredible power of God (2) multifaceted wisdom of God (3) the love of Christ (4) the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. Literally text: “To grasp what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ.”

-“Perhaps it is best to see all four of these dimensions as summing up this chapter. If this is the case they may be said to refer to a combination of the last three possibilities – the revealing of the mystery as a result of the love and wisdom of God. Paul is then asking for the multidimensional plan of God to work itself out in the church and the world, manifesting God’s wisdom and Christ’s love as one person after another is converted to Christ.” (Osborne, 102)

-“with the saints” You can’t begin to comprehend Christ’s love alone, you need the church, livestream isn’t enough, solo Christianity isn’t enough, your nuclear family isn’t enough (have been told “youth group isn’t biblical”)

-“To know the love of Christ”

-How do you know love? It’s not just a fleeting feeling. Marriage, for many of us, is the proving grounds of where we start to know this (starts with our parents first). You think you love someone the day you get married, but you it hasn’t really been tested yet. Takes time, work, walking through sickness and health, through richer or poorer, then you can start to “know love”

-Story of the twin 18 month old boys. Orphanage in Russia.

-“surpasses knowledge” never be able to understand it, but as time goes on you’ll know it more.

-“filled with the fullness of God” 2 primary aspects:

-become like Christ (the remodeling is toward a specific end)

-fullness of love (John 17:26 “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”)

-As I mentioned earlier, love is the new Christian ethic. However, this love cannot be divorced from truth! “Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.” Tim Keller

  • To Him Who Is Able (20-21)

-These great truths that Paul has been praying lead him to a doxology.

-Think of this reality: since God is all powerful, what can He not do? He can’t lie, betray Himself, can’t change. Because of that, God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. Church, you literally can’t out-ask or out-think God. God has already done it all and thought it all, your thoughts are merely derivative of His.

-But let’s take this in context, because what has Paul been asking for? Strengthening in the inner being (by faith), and growing in understanding of who God is (making and maturing disciples).

-This isn’t “name it a claim it” (explain) This is asking God to work in us and make us more and more of what He has created us to be. I read a really interesting book on this idea this past week titled ‘Plugged In’ where it talks about how we can engage our culture today. One of the pieces that stood out to me is that we don’t have a choice on this, we’re in this culture whether we realize it or not, the question then becomes: what is the best way to be faithful in the place and culture God has called us? We need to start looking at things through a gospel lens. I mentioned this phrase in a sermon a couple weeks ago, but it’s where I got this term “Subversive fulfilment” from. The gospel is subversive fulfilment to all the stories the world tells, because the worlds stories can’t hold up to the reality of the world around us. Another way of thinking about this is we, as Christians, need to get better at telling the better story (abundantly more than all we ask or think)

-(Strange, 102) “The gospel…subverts in that it confronts, unpicks and overthrows the world’s stories and fulfils in that it connects and is shown to be worthy of our hopes and desires encouraging us to exchange our old stories for new ones which turn out to be the originals from which our false stories are smudged and ripped fakes” 

-Look for opportunities/ways to point out where the world is right (common grace) and then think and process through where their thinking falls short and use that as a connection point to the greatest story that is still being written! How often do we view our mighty God as too small to be working in the world around us? Whether we realize it or not, God is working in and through human history with an end, goal, and purpose in mind! That end is something we can only dream about right now. That is: as we grow more like Christ, we’ll be more filled with the fullness of God and be a better witness to the world around us of what we’re supposed to be like. This aim leads us to the last verse:

-Glorifying God, and he answers where, how, and when. Where: “In the church.” How: “in Christ Jesus”, and when: “throughout all generations, forever and ever.” 

-If you want everything Paul promises in this section, you must be a part of the church, which today is made visible in local churches. There’s a reason I keep emphasizing the church as vitally important today! It’s not an option add-on, it’s literally meant to be your lifeblood as a Christian today. If you’re not a part of a local church you won’t be strengthened, you won’t grasp Christ’s love, much less demonstrate Christ’s love to the world (which is how we glorify God today) The church is going to last forever, under the Lordship of Jesus, throughout all generations, and on into eternity.

-Since God is now our perfect heavenly father, we get to ask Him (pray!) to strengthen us and help us understand and then live out His love for us, and by doing that we bring glory to Him in the church and in His Son forever. And this prayer is meant to be a global prayer because there are saints across the world! So pray that God’s glory would be seen in the making and maturing of disciples of Jesus throughout the world, until He finally comes back and makes us completely holy.