We’re in week six of the Summer Series, Ephesians: True Identity. Pastor Chris tackles the subjects of the Mystery of Christ, Unity in the Church, and Affliction of the Faithful, in chapter three of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers. These foundational truths are summed up in the phrase, the Manifold Wisdom of God.
Three Ways that God’s Manifold Wisdom is Evident
- Unity of the Saints – “. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Eph. 3:4-6 (ESV)
- The Church – “…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Eph. 3:10 (ESV)
- Affliction and Suffering – “11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
3 Things Paul wants to teach us about affliction:
- We can be afflicted for other’s good.
- We can be afflicted for our growth.
- We can be afflicted for God’s glory.
13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
- What do you suppose ‘unity of the saints’ looked like to the Jewish believers of Ephesus when Paul wrote about this ‘mystery of Christ’?
What should it look like today, according to this passage, and other scriptures? (review the 20 Characteristics of the Early Church list for ideas)
- Paul asserts that God’s manifold wisdom is ‘made known’ through the church to the ‘rulers in heavenly places.’ What might God expect of us in the church to make this truth known?
- When you have encountered affliction or suffering personally, or through a friend or loved one, how did you first respond in your prayers? How could our attitude toward affliction strengthen our identity in Christ?
How can we follow Paul’s exhortation to ‘not lose heart’ in the midst of suffering?
In Acts 1.4, Jesus commanded His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for THE PROMISE of the Father had come upon them.
Acts 1:4 And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;
In Acts 2.33, Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, said that Jesus, having been exalted to the right hand of the Father, and subsequently the disciples have received THE PROMISE of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.
Romans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Psalm 133 (ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of David. 1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Matthew 18:19 (ESV)
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
John 17:21–23 (ESV)
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
20 Characteristics of the Early Church:
1. The people were desperate for God.
2. Repentance was radical (active turning from sin and demonstrated fruit).
4. Healing of the emotions and heart.
5. Physical healing.
6. An acute awareness of God’s holiness.
7. A need to testify.
8. A sense of urgency.
9. Fear of God.
10. God centered versus man centered priorities.
11. Great authority upon God’s teachers and ministers.
12. Hearts softened by God’s presence and the outpouring of gifts as a result.
13. Constant prayer: saw prayer as the difference between life and death.
14. A strong dependence on the leading of God’s spirit.
15. Strong focus of equipping to sending out for missions.
16. Acute awareness and obedience of God’s voice.
17. Spirit of worship.
18. Presence of the Holy Spirit is carried out of the church.
19. There were massive crowds to minister too.
20. Confidence in speech, evangelism, exhortation, through the power of Christ.