Jul 9, 2013

Ephesians 4b - "Christianity 101"

The book of Ephesians is the first of the prison epistles that Paul wrote and is considered by many scholars to be the most majestic of all the  epistles.  Ephesians is fundamental to the "doctrine of ecclesiology", or the study of the church.  

11And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; 16from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:11-13).

So many themes come to light in this chapter, and they flow so eloquently under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as Paul chained to a Roman guard, is faithful in recording them. Let's selectively look at a few of many highlights.

Purpose of the Church
In chapter 4,  he describes some of the spiritual gifts that God gives the church.  Here in verse 12 to 16,  Paul also reveals the purposes God has  for the church.  It's for the "perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ, till we all attain unto the unity of the faith".  The primary purpose of your local church is not necessarily to evangelize the world, it's to assist people and equip them for the work of ministry, enabling them towards maturity. 
In Acts chapter 6,  we see the early church delegate their various duties in such a way that those best equipped [full of the Spirit and wisdom], were given the responsibility to "give attention to prayer and the ministry of the word", while others took care of  other necessary aspects of the church. Again, we see that

...the primary purpose of the church is to equip the saints.

Christianity 101 ....Forgive!
In our last study, we highlighted how significant good relationships are in the life of the child of God.  Again the Holy Spirit here is consistent in reinforcing how relationally we need to be,   "...speaking the truth in love".   When I'm angered,   I initially, often want to speak the truth directly and harshly,  really only displaying my selfishness and arrogance as I seek to put the other person in their place.  I can't be like that....I need to consider the needs of others around me and when necessary, confront in a loving way that builds each other up, and doesn't tear down relationships.  We need to be renewed in our attitude (v23).  The "old man" needs to be "put off" and the "new man" put on, which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  (Do these words move you, like they move me?  ...these are radical and powerful instructions from the Holy Spirit that I need to employ in my life....starting now!)

As we read the last paragraph in this chapter, the instructions on relationship and reconcilliation to us become even clearer!  If we continue in wrong relation with people, we "grieve" the Holy Spirt.  .....verse 32. states what should be obvious to us, yet we so easily overlook... 

Men, we are to be kind and forgiving towards someone who has wronged us.  Put quite simply ...Forgiveness is Christianity 101!  

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