Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3

Prior to engaging with today’s Gmail, please take a moment and pray for the families and friends of loved ones who died on 9/11.  

Hetty Green was known as America's greatest miser. It’s not that she was poor; in 1916 she died leaving an estate that was worth nearly $3.8 billion in today’s dollars. Yet she would eat cold oatmeal because she didn't want to spend the money to heat the water. Her son eventually lost his leg from a relatively minor injury because she took him to a number of free medical clinics instead of calling for a doctor. “How pathetic!” you say? God agrees and is extremely concerned that His children not be miserly with the riches of His character and authority that He has given us as an inheritance.

This fall, we will study together the book of Ephesians, written primarily for the express purpose of helping followers of Jesus understand the riches, fullness, and inheritance to be had in Christ.  The Book of Ephesians not only teaches us how rich we are, but also how we should invest our lives for Christ's glory.

The key repetitive phrase in Ephesians (used some 32 times!) to describe our primary worth is “in Christ”. “In Christ” is Ephesians’ way of explaining salvation and its benefits for believers, while also creating an ethic for behavior that is beyond natural, God-honoring, and life-giving. Ephesians is so abounding, one commentator writes that “...pound for pound, Ephesians may well be the most influential document in history!”

Why are we studying the book of Ephesians?  I’m so glad you asked! Our study of Ephesians…

* Will deepen our understanding of the Gospel: While the Gospel (the good news that new life is available through Jesus Christ) is a doorway to the Christian life, it is also the atmosphere with which followers of Jesus exist daily.  The Gospel is not just something we believed to become Christians, it is what we center our lives upon and live dependently on day by day. Ephesians puts this Gospel on full display revealing the boundless riches of Christ (3:8).
* Will magnify the importance of the church: Arguably more than any other New Testament epistle, Ephesians clearly lays out how the church is central to God’s Kingdom agenda on Planet Earth. The church is placed in the context of eternity and through the church, we will discover that God’s intent is to make known His multifaceted wisdom (3:10).
* Can forever change our lives: Throughout history, theologians have alerted followers of Jesus to the power contained in this little book. As early as the 4th Century CE, Jerome stated that Ephesians is “like the heart in the midst of the body,” and writes that “Ephesians has everything important in it that you can find anywhere in Scripture.” Twentieth century theologian D. Martin Lloyd Jones states that “the peculiar feature and characteristic of the Epistle to the Ephesians is that here the Apostle seems to be, as he puts it himself, in ‘the heavenly places’, and he is looking down at the great panorama of salvation and redemption...the Epistle to the Ephesians is the sublimest and the most majestic expression of the Gospel contained within the Bible.
* Will resonate with our twenty-first century lives on the Peninsula: Ephesians is written to ordinary people just like us! They were Christians living in the real world and they first needed to understand who they were and then how to live within their reality, just like us. Ephesians is relevant to us because it is written to followers of Jesus within a metropolitan, religiously pluralistic, hedonistic, culturally-diverse, sexually-saturated culture.  In the midst of this context, rather than spewing guilt producing demands, we discover grace-filled, truth-valuing encouragement.  If you ever get discouraged, tired, feel beat up, confused or lonely in your life, Ephesians is for you!

Key to our collective study of this book is engaging in what is called Discovery Bible Study. This will all be explained starting this Sunday, but can I encourage you to go to our website and learn for yourself? This weekend is also your last week to sign up for our small groups.  Can I encourage you to join one?  Everything you ever wanted out of church is greater experienced in a small group.  Sign up here.

I look forward to gathering together this weekend…read up in Ephesians 1:1-14 and come ready!
I love being your pastor!