June 12, 2018
The Epistle to the Ephesians did not fall out of heaven and land in the leather bound libraries that we call Bibles. It was a letter written by Paul to a group of his friends. Friends who were trying to figure out what life looked like in the new creation reality of their new found humanity in Christ Jesus. And that letter has been preserved for us.
It's easy to miss that. We often read and study Paul's letters as though they were something other than just that, letters. We spend months dissecting them and in so doing run the risk of missing the forest for sake of the trees. In this, the last teaching of our five month walk through Ephesians, Dr. Adrian Smith leads us to lean against that tendency and experience Paul's letter to the disciples in Ephesus as it was intended to be experienced.
June 4, 2018
If Jesus is reuniting heaven and earth and transforming this world into the new creation reality of the world that existed before sin and the Fall, then we should not be surprised to discover that Satan, who came to sow chaos into God's good creation at the beginning would come again to sow chaos in among his new creation people.
That is why we, as Jesus’ Church —his body— must put on his armor to make war against the enemy of our souls. But it is not by our strength that we engage in this battle. It is by Jesus —and in Jesus— that we find our hope and strength.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
(Ephesians 6:10–20 ESV)
June 2, 2018
The good news of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is that all things are being brought together in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth. And all those things are being brought together, back to their proper order. That includes relationships between parents and children, masters and servants, relationships that were prone to abuse and brokenness after the fall.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”
(Ephesians 6:1–9 ESV)
May 24, 2018
In Ephesians 5 Paul is teaching the church how taking off the old self and putting on the new affects marriage. He shows us that the problems that exist in our marriages today actually happen as a result of the first sin committed long ago by our first parents in the Garden. Paul instructs wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives, and in so doing, points the church back to the curses that entered the creation as a result of our fall. Women are cursed with a tendency not to submit to their husbands and men are cursed with the tendency not to love their wives. But in the new creation reality of Ephesians, which is a return to the life that existed in the Garden before the Fall, husbands and wives both submit to and love one another, looking to Jesus as their perfect example of loving submission.
“...submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
(Ephesians 5:21–33 ESV)
March 22, 2018
An old old story about Israel has become the new story of everyone who has put their hope in the Jewish King, Jesus. And this old and new story is the only hope for humanity that is able to extinguish the hostilities that exist between the tribes and nations on the earth.
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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. 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.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”
(Ephesians 3:1–13 ESV)
March 15, 2018
We are the Temple of the living God being built by Jesus our King. In this teaching we discover what the Temple meant to the people living in Jesus' day, how Paul's audience would have responded to learning that they were the Temple of God, and how that informs us as a community of faith and how we ought to live out this reality as God's Temple in Waxahachie now.
“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 2:17–22 ESV)
March 15, 2018
The gospel isn't just saving people from judgement. It's also saving the world from the blight of sin and the destruction that sin brings upon human culture. In particular, with relevance to this text, we learn that Jesus came to destroy the dividing wall of hostility that existed between Jew and Gentile in his body upon the cross. But it isn't just that hostility that Jesus destroyed. It's also the walls of separation that exist in our own culture today that he comes to knock down. Hostilities between races, culture, the sexes, and politics, they're all knocked down because of what Jesus has come to do.
In this teaching Pastor Josh is joined by Andre Grey.
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostilityby abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
Ephesians 2:11–16 ESV
February 22, 2018
The good news that Paul is proclaiming in his letter to the disciples at Ephesus tells us what Jesus has rescued us from. We've been saved from God's wrath against sin, we've been rescued from death, slavery to the evils of corrupt culture, and that lies of Satan himself. But that's not where the good news in Paul's letter stops. He does tell us what Jesus has rescued us from, but he goes on to explain what we've been rescued by and what we've been rescued for. And if you slow down to listen, you might discover that Paul's news is much better and much bigger than you might have at first thought.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sinsin which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
(Ephesians 2:1–9 ESV)
January 17, 2018
In this teaching we discover the power of story and how it shapes the way we live our lives. The Father is writing a new story for his people different from the story that the world is telling. We are chosen by him to be holy and blameless in his sight. We have been destined by him to be adopted as his children. And this all is made possible through the redemption that takes place in Jesus and the power of his Spirit.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
(Ephesians 1:3–7 ESV)
January 9, 2018
This week we began a new series on Paul's letter to the disciples at Ephesus. In this teaching you will find an overview of the letter, paying particular attention to the theme found in Ephesians 1:10.