Presentation on theme: "The Church in Action. Lesson 9 Lesson Text—Ephesians 1:9-11 Ephesians 1:9-11 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good."— Presentation transcript:
The Church in Action
Lesson Text—Ephesians 1:9-11 Ephesians 1: Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Lesson Text—Ephesians 1: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Lesson Text—Ephesians 1:12-14 Ephesians 1: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Lesson Text—Ephesians 1: Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Lesson Text—Colossians 1:26-27 Colossians 1: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Focus Verse—Ephesians 5:27 Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Focus Thought God’s church stands above reproach as a glorious entity, placed in the world as His gem and bride to hinder evil and provide a place for lost souls to find, grow, and function in Him.
I. A Holy Church Introduction The true church of Jesus Christ is not a building, but it is composed of people who have been redeemed and have surrendered their lives to the Lord. The nature of the church depends on the people who often worship in the church building. If they are individuals who have given themselves wholly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will exhibit the nature of Jesus Christ as part of His church.
I. A Holy Church Salvation involves more than only a single act of repentance. The Scriptures refer to Jesus as Lord far more than they refer to Him as Savior. In other words, we receive Him as our Savior through obedience to the plan of salvation, but we also must live daily lives that demonstrate He is our Lord. (See Romans 12:1-2.) The apostle Paul emphasized that the church is to be a glorious church (Ephesians 5:27).
I. A Holy Church The Greek word translated glorious refers to being “held in honor... of high repute... have glory... splendid, glorious” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). Basically, the church is composed of people who have turned from their old lives of sin to lives completely dedicated to God. Church buildings are only edifices that provide a meeting place for the members of the church. Believers have met in caves, under trees, in homes, and in modern church buildings. It is not the place but the people who are important to God.
I. A Holy Church Comfortable buildings are enjoyable and desirable, but it is far more important that believers have God’s Spirit within than it is to have a magnificent edifice without the Spirit of the Lord. In his sermon delivered on Mars’ Hill in Greece, Paul stated, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). Called-out believers comprise the New Testament church (I Corinthians 6:19).
I. A Holy Church Outwardly, the Tabernacle of the Old Testament was not an imposing structure. The final covering was of badgers’ skins and was not particularly attractive. Inwardly, however, the scene was completely different. There were three articles in the Holy Place, all made of pure gold. On one side was the table of showbread, on the other was the golden candlestick, and against the giant curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was an altar for burning incense, resulting in a sweet smell.
I. A Holy Church As the beauty of the Tabernacle was inward and not outward, so is the beauty of the New Testament church. The beauty of the church is seen within the believers who comprise it. The church is glorious because the believers are glorious before the Lord. As members of the church of Jesus Christ, we are pure, freed from sin, and completely dedicated to God.
A. No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish A Holy Church A.No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish Paul referred to the hope of the Christian in his letter to the Corinthian church: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:19). Our hope is not based in this world; rather, we long to be with our Lord when this life on earth is completed.
A. No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish God’s Word presents this great event in terms of a marriage. Paul assured believers that Christ loves the church like a husband loves his wife, and to such an extent that He gave His life for our salvation (Ephesians 5:25). We were all sinners at one time (Romans 3:23), but our merciful God has provided the means for our cleansing. We can now be received by Him as members of His family, but He expects us to be pure and holy without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.
A. No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish Jesus wants a pure church. Our spiritual purity is what makes us glorious to the Lord and to the world. Moreover, only the pure in heart will inhabit the New Jerusalem. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
A. No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish Paul listed seventeen works of the flesh in Galatians 5: He ended the passage by stating that those who were guilty of these sins would not enter the kingdom of heaven. Believers must have no spiritual defect, no spiritual decay in their hearts, and not be spiritually deformed or disfigured in any manner. The law of Moses was clear regarding the qualifications for the priesthood.
A. No Spot, Wrinkle, or Blemish Passages such as Exodus 19:22 and Leviticus 20:3 clearly pointed to the need for a priesthood that was completely clear of any defects. Christian believers are the priesthood of the New Testament (I Peter 2:9). God expects us to be completely free from the desires of this ungodly world. We may not be perfect, but we can and must grow toward perfection.
B. Holy 1. “Holy” refers to God’s virtue. That God is holy means He possesses perfect virtue and character. He alone is the Holy One, and our success as Christian believers is dependent upon our yielding to Him and experiencing spiritual growth in Him. Psalm 127:1 reveals that we are completely dependent on God. We depend on Him to meet our physical and spiritual needs.
B. Holy It is impossible for a person to obtain salvation through any goodness on his own part. Rather, only God can forgive sins. Through repentance of sins we are able to experience God’s forgiveness of sins and the initiation of a genuine relationship with Him. Water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ facilitates the remission of our sins, and the Lord fills us with His Holy Spirit. As we walk in the power and guidance of the Holy Ghost, our relationship with Christ grows and deepens.
B. Holy However, we are able to continue to grow in our relationship with Him only as we live our life as true believers, following and obeying the Holy Spirit’s direction, overcoming temptations, and nurturing our relationship with Him. This is possible only as we develop a complete dependence upon the Lord and His holiness.
B. Holy 2. “Holy” denotes consecration to God. One dictionary defines one who is holy as one who is free from sin. While that is true, being holy involves much more than that alone. The Greek word translated as “holy” includes the concept of being completely dedicated to God.
B. Holy According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, hagios (holy) means “properly reverend, worthy of veneration.... used of things which on account of some connection with God possess a certain distinction and claim to reverence, as places sacred to God which are not to be profaned.... of persons whose services God employs.... set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively his.... in a moral sense, pure, sinless, upright, holy.”
B. Holy To be a holy person means that one is wholly dedicated to God in every aspect of his life. It involves remaining completely free from anything that is contrary to God. Romans 12:1-2 expresses well the concept of complete consecration to God. We must present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him, and we must not conform to the model of this present world.
B. Holy 3. “Holy” demands service. The ancient Jews considered the priesthood as a position of high honor. Those who aspired to the priesthood had to possess the proper lineage according to the law of Moses (Ezra 2:62). Further, their bodies had to be free from imperfection of any kind and their marriages were governed by the law. God desired a priesthood that was pure and holy.
B. Holy Those who did not meet God’s qualifications and were not completely dedicated to Him could possibly lead the nation astray from the laws of God. This happened when Eli was the high priest. The sinfulness of his sons resulted in Israel’s treating the things of God with contempt (I Samuel 2:17).
B. Holy Believers today comprise the New Covenant priesthood of Jesus Christ. (See I Peter 2:9.) God expects His priests today to completely commit themselves to Him. We are to serve Him and to represent Him while we are on earth. To be effective representatives, the members of the church must be as God is— pure and holy both within and without.
C. Perfecting Holiness 1. God is holy. God gave Israel many instructions regarding the life that the people were to live in the Promised Land. (See Leviticus 11.) Their lifestyle was to be different from the people who would be their neighbors. God wanted His people to understand that He was holy and that they also were to be holy (Leviticus 11:44).
C. Perfecting Holiness The holiness of God centers around the fact that He is unequivocally good. His nature, essence, and character define the real meaning of goodness. Further, His Word is unimpeachable. He is righteous, pure, and altogether lovely, and our only hope of achieving a state of holiness is through Him.
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
Isaiah 64:6 2. God made us holy, or clean. God transforms our lives when we surrender ourselves to Him. Paul stated that we become new creations in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). He also wrote to the Corinthians regarding the change in their lives that once had been rooted in sin but had been dramatically changed when they were born again (I Corinthians 6:11). We have been cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus (I John 1:7). No wonder we feel so clean when we have been baptized in His name and filled with the Holy Ghost!
Isaiah 64:6 God wants us to become like Him. We may stumble and fall like a toddler learning to walk, but we become stronger in the Lord as we draw closer and closer to Him. 3. We keep ourselves holy, or clean. Following our turning from the world to Christ, we actually assume a certain measure of responsibility for our spiritual growth. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).
Isaiah 64:6 As we move close to God through prayer and applying the truths of His Word to our lives, He will respond by drawing near to us. We can further facilitate spiritual growth as we focus our thinking on that which is positive (Philippians 4:8).
Isaiah 64:6 God’s primary dwelling place is no longer in temples that are constructed by human hands (Acts 17:24). He now lives inside us; we are the dwelling places of the Holy Ghost. The destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 by the Romans was a tragedy, but it made no difference to God’s plan for the church. The new dwelling place for the Spirit of God on earth had already been selected.
Isaiah 64:6 As the dwelling place of God, we have an obligation to keep our lives holy and clean. We may not be perfect as Jesus was, but living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit will keep us clean and pure in the eyes of God. We must keep moving toward the ultimate goal of perfection.
Isaiah 64:6 4. We demonstrate holiness in attitude, action, and appearance. Unbelievers are not necessarily impressed with what we say, but they definitely observe what we do. Christian believers should live in such a way that those who are outside of the church will desire to experience what we have experienced in Christ Jesus. Very little good is accomplished by our testimony if we do not look and talk as individuals who have been born again. Every one of us can live a godly life that testifies to the saving power of Jesus.
D. For His Pleasure “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4).
Romans 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
Revelation 4:11 God created all things for His own pleasure. It is reasonable and logical that all believers would desire to honor God and bring Him pleasure in everything they say and do. Our lives are not our own; we belong to Him. Jesus Christ purchased us with His own blood.
Isaiah 64:6 The driving force for personal holiness should be a consuming desire to please the Lord. Some individuals approach holiness with a mind-set of how close they can live to the world and still be saved; however, ours should not be an approach consisting of legalism, rules, and technicalities. Rather, the fervent believer does everything he does with a desire to please the Lord to the best of his ability.
A. Mystery A Revealed Church A.Mystery The term mystery was commonly used by the people of Paul’s day. The Greeks and Romans often used the term in relation to their many deities. However, Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers used the term in a different way. Jesus referred to the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” in His teaching (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11).
Proverbs 16:4 The New Testament writers used the term to relate to a truth that had been hidden from the world but was being revealed to believers. Further, Paul disclosed the idea that a great truth concerning the church was being revealed (Ephesians 1:9-11). Though it had been a great mystery, God was revealing His supreme purpose of bringing together all believers into the body of Christ, the church.
Proverbs 16:4 Whatever nationality, ethnic group, or culture, all people received the opportunity to be a part of His church. The church is open to everyone. God is pleased with a multicultural church that is reaching all people everywhere. He is pleased that many missionaries, both at home and abroad, are spreading the news of the gospel.
Proverbs 16:4 The early New Testament church accepted anyone who turned to Jesus Christ for salvation, and that continues to be the philosophy of the church today. The good news of salvation lies in the truth that anyone who is willing to surrender to Jesus Christ can become a member of God’s glorious church.
B. The Indwelling Holy Spirit Another amazing truth that Jesus Christ has revealed about His church is that believers now have a spiritual relationship with Christ through His indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul wrote that Christ is in us, which gives us our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). What a blessing we enjoy by having the Spirit of the Lord within!
B. The Indwelling Holy Spirit The Spirit of God moved upon certain individuals in Old Testament times, but we have the opportunity today to benefit from a permanent, intimate relationship with the Lord. In the Old Testament only certain individuals were privileged to have an intimate relationship with God, but now it is available to all people—whoever will receive it.
Acts 2:39 “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
I Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).
C. An Unexplainable Miracle Jesus did not go to the schools in the Temple to recruit His disciples. He went to where people were busy working. He called fishermen, a hated tax collector, and a zealot— men of varied and commonplace backgrounds. Jesus knew these men would be able to continue His work after He was gone.
Acts 2:39 Jesus always considered the potential of those whom He called. Saul of Tarsus seemed an unlikely candidate for a missionary, but Jesus knew what He could become. This is true even today. The Lord sees something in each believer that will enhance His kingdom. Talents and inherent abilities are useful and admirable, but He is most interested in calling those who can be counted on to be faithful (I Corinthians 4:1-2).
Acts 2:39 None of us was perfect when God called us and we are still not perfect. However, true Christians love the Lord wholeheartedly and desire to keep moving toward Christian perfection.
Acts 2:39 1. A Spiritual Building of Lively Stones. Believers are the building blocks of Christ’s spiritual house, the church, and Jesus is the foundation. In I Peter 2:5, the word lively means “living.” In other words, the spiritual people of God are alive, able to function as the body of Christ on earth. Our spiritual life is possible because God’s Spirit is within us.
Acts 2:39 2. A Royal Priesthood. I Peter is an epistle written to all believers, the people of God. In chapter 2, Peter recognized that believers comprise the priesthood of God— holy and royal (I Peter 2:1-10). The world may not regard us highly, but we are precious to God. We are His priesthood, having been selected to continue the mission of Jesus Christ throughout the world. This will happen as we completely dedicate ourselves to the service of God.
Acts 2:39 3. Sinners Saved by Grace. One of Paul’s chief regrets was his persecution of the church before his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road. Because of this he considered himself to be the least of the apostles (I Corinthians 15:9). He wrote to the Galatians that he had tried to destroy the church (Galatians 1:13). To Timothy, Paul further stated that Christ came to save sinners, and he added that he was chief among them (I Timothy 1:15).
Acts 2:39 Paul’s great message to those to whom he was writing was that if he could be saved, God could save anyone. He also reminded us that we did not deserve salvation; it was free. We could do nothing to earn it. He wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
III. A Purposeful Church A Purposeful Church As we have observed in this lesson, one of the reasons God created the church is for His own pleasure. Still, there is another weighty reason the church exists: to fulfill the great commission. The men who walked with Jesus have been dead for hundreds of years, but the message they preached is still very much alive. Through believers fulfilling the great commission over the centuries, the church has kept alive the power of the gospel message.
III. A Purposeful Church Members of the church—the body of Christ—are to present God to the lost world and act as His representatives on earth. We live a life of separation from the world in order to reflect Jesus Christ to the world. Though separated from the immoral environment in which we live, we are not isolated from it. We continually reach to the lost to let them know that they can be redeemed, and we resist sliding into the morass of this world’s ungodliness.
III. A Purposeful Church This responsibility belongs to every member of the church. We must remain faithful to the work of God (II Corinthians 4:1-2) and, as Paul stated, serve as “workers together with him” (II Corinthians 6:1).
A. Hindering Evil The world of Paul’s day was wicked and cruel. Slavery was part of life; some have suggested that entire villages were sold into slavery. Crucifixion was a death so cruel some Roman historians would not even describe it. Unwanted babies often were left by the side of the road where they were sometimes collected by slave traders who would sell them into slavery.
A. Hindering Evil Still, in the midst of such a corrupt time and people, Paul pointed to a time coming upon the earth that would be even worse. Paul wrote in II Thessalonians of one coming who would exalt himself as God and who would demand worship (II Thessalonians 2:1-17). The man of sin of whom Paul wrote will be the Antichrist who will present himself as the savior of the world. He will be Satan’s offering as a worldwide ruler opposing our Lord and Savior.
A. Hindering Evil Paul stated that this period of time would be a time of great apostasy. The Antichrist will appear to a world in great turmoil, crying for help and relief from troubles of every type. Consequently, many individuals will readily embrace his leadership.
A. Hindering Evil Paul observed that the spirit of the Antichrist was already at work in the world, but there was a force hindering it from taking full control of the world. The only force powerful enough to resist Satan is the church—believers who have the Spirit of Jesus Christ within. When the church is taken from this world (raptured) the restricting, hindering force will be removed.
B. Soul-saving Station Just prior to His ascension, the disciples asked Jesus if He was ready to establish His kingdom on the earth. They were thinking in terms of His defeating the Romans and establishing a worldwide empire with Jerusalem as its capital. The Jewish people of that day longed for such a relief from Rome’s tyranny. Jesus did not answer their question directly, but He pointed them instead to His purpose for the church.
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8 reveals that they were to receive power from heaven that would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world. He was emphasizing what He had told them earlier concerning the great commission. Soon afterward, the church was born. On the Day of Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Ghost on those who had followed His instructions and were waiting in the upper room. The Lord added three thousand individuals to the church that day.
Acts 1:8 The worldwide spread of the church had begun. People need to experience the new birth more than they need any type of social program. Moreover, every program, function, and activity of the church must point toward a higher goal and purpose for its existence—the Cross. We must point souls to the Cross as a place where people can discover a genuine relationship with God.
C. A Bride for Christ Not only is the church to be a force to hinder evil in this world and a place where souls are saved, but it also is to become the bride of Christ. Psalm 45:13-14 describes the presentation of a bride to her bridegroom, the king. She was glorious both inwardly and outwardly. She wore beautiful clothes and smelled of sweet perfume. Prophetically, these verses describe the church, the bride who is to join her bridegroom, Jesus Christ Himself.
C. A Bride for Christ The bride of Christ will be perfect, without blemish, without spots on her garment, and without wrinkles in her wedding clothes. In other words, the bride of Christ must be holy in every sense—pure and perfect. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that he wanted to present them to Christ as a pure virgin. We must carefully prepare ourselves to be joined to Jesus Christ.
C. A Bride for Christ Many forces exist that would destroy the purity of the church. Only complete dedication to the cause of Christ will keep us pure and holy for Him. Satan does not care if we attend church on a regular basis or if we become involved in church activities, but he fears us dedicating ourselves personally to the cause of Jesus Christ.
C. A Bride for Christ Conclusion Jesus Christ loves His church. There have been many individuals who, like the apostle Paul, were enemies of God, but who were delivered from their enmity and who received the forgiveness of God. Christ is not concerned with what we have been, but with what we can become. He covers our past life with His blood, and He makes us new creations in Him.
C. A Bride for Christ The church is glorious! It is built upon a great foundation—Christ Jesus Himself. Further, the church is glorious in its progressive growth. The storms of persecution have beaten upon it, but it continually overcomes every attack of Satan’s fury. Finally, the church is glorious in its continued spread throughout the world, and it is glorious in its power, which comes from God’s power within. As believers we can anticipate a glorious eternity with our Lord. This is our great hope that we will realize one day.