While helping my wife through corneal transplant surgery and recovery, I will be taking a short break in posting new content on EffectiveBibleStudy.com. Thank you for your readership and patience.
#19 – How the Church Reaches the Fullness of Christ “Riches Beyond Measure” – Lessons from Ephesians
We now look at Paul’s writing in Ephesians 4:7-16. He has already spoken of walking worthy of our calling as reflected in our character (4:1-2); and of making every effort to be united in the Holy Spirit as reflected in our fundamental doctrine (4:3-6).
Now his next words are, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (4:7) This section, then, is going to be about the gifts that Christ Jesus has richly given His church and the purposes for which those gifts are given.
In Bible study and sermon or class preparation, many little things come into play that are part of my routine. After 50 years of ministry, I have pretty well defined my comfort zone for my work. This includes a certain table I like to use, which Bible I work from, and even what kind of pen and notepad I use for making my notes.
Yes, I am one of those old-fashioned guys that still takes all his sermon notes on a lined notepad. I may or may not enter the notes into the computer later, but it will always be the handwritten copy which goes with me into the pulpit.
Last lesson we heard Paul say that real unity in Christ’s church begins with love and right relationships. Today we see the second requirement for real unity in the church: unity in doctrine and belief. Paul makes it clear the right fundamental beliefs are essential. This passage is unique in the New Testament as it speaks of the “Ones” of Christian doctrine. We must believe in: one body (place for all the saved in Christ), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God.
In order for us as the church to continually bring glory to God generation after generation, we must be united. Remember that His purpose was that all be one in Christ. In God’s Great Plan, we are not only reconciled to God, but are reconciled to each other! To not live that unity out in our “faith communities” is to be demonstrating the opposite of what we are to be. According to Paul, this unity is accomplished in two ways: (1) by the way we live together in community, and (2) by being united in the doctrine provided by the Holy Spirit. In this article we will look at how the fruit of the Spirit in believers makes and maintains unity.
Each day I receive an email reminding me of some significant events that happened in Christian history on that given date. Today, October 31, is the 503rd anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church building door in Wittenberg. This date is widely celebrated in Reformed and Evangelical churches as the birthday of the Reformation. you can read more about the remembrance of “Reformation Day” on Wikipedia.
Here are a few resources I would encourage my readers to check out about this event in Christian history:
God’s purpose and plan from before the beginning of time is that the church, both as individuals and as a body, be to His glory (honor and praise) and to display His glory through out all generations. That can only happen if every one of us lives worthy of the calling we have received. As we begin Chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul’s emphasis changes; he moves from presenting God’s Great Plan to discussing how believers live out that Plan.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:1, ESV)
With my fondness for things in Bible study and teaching which are related to printing, I listened today to the latest podcast from 5 Minutes in Church History with more than usual interest. Dr. Stephen Nichols spoke about the coming of Reformation ideas (Lutheran) from Germany to Iceland around 1533. Soon, many of the Catholic churches in Iceland were converted to Lutheran churches.
I have mentioned before that I see printed materials as a key part of teaching and preaching. Most classes I teach include printed handouts. My Store section of this website features a few of my audio teaching series which have printed guides accompanying them.
Now I am blessed to work at Sunset International Bible Institute where I have access to several commercial full-color copier printers. This allows me to do short runs of my study guides when I need them along with handouts for various Bible classes I might teach. But copying, folding, stapling and trimming study guides is a labor intensive process even for 5 to 15 copies. And the quality, while good, is still not quite “print” quality to my eyes.
The immeasurable riches which we have already experienced in Christ are not the limit of what God will do for us. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think!” And it is His desire that He is praised, honored, worshiped and glorified through the church and Christ for ever and ever!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
The Gospel of Judas? Gospel of Thomas? Gospel of Mary Magdalene? In the last few years the popular media has made it seem like new “gospels” have been discovered which should compete with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for a place in the New Testament. We almost never see magazine articles or TV stories about why they do not belong!
To help my church history students know “the facts” about this imagined controversy, each year we watch a 45 minute video by Dr. Michael J. Kruger. Dr. Kruger is the President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. He is a renowned scholar on 2nd Century Christianity and the New Testament canon (i.e., the books that are in the Bible). Here is the video to watch:
Back in March, 2020 we recommended the Sunset Digital Library app. This is a project I have been working on along with two teammates for almost 3 full years now. Go back and read our earlier post for all the details including how to download the app free and access the website.
However, I am now recommending it again, primarily for two reasons: