Kids Talk: Ephesians (Big Read #10)

The Big Read – Ephesians (Download Powerpoint)

You probably don’t have the memory of an elephant that never forgets things.

Often we need help remembering things.

We may use post it notes, a diary, a family calendar, a to-do list on your phone.  We may write a note on the back of our hand or if we’re old school, tie a knot in our handkerchief.

Ephesians is a letter written to a church that was in danger of forgetting something really important.  This local church was in danger of forgetting all that God had done for them and so Paul writes a letter to them.

But he doesn’t just do that.  He tells them that he is praying that they will remember these things too.  ”I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

In Ephesians 1-3, Paul gives a wonderful description of what God has done for us.  How God has saved us by sending His Son.  How through Jesus, God has united us to Himself and to one another so that we are one people.  All this is done to grace.

But why is it so important that they and us remember what God has done?  It is so we live as people who have been saved by Jesus.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)

And Ephesians 4-6 is all about what it means to live out the unity that Jesus has achieved in response to the grace God has shown to us.  This will mean being patient with one another, building one another up, speaking the truth to people and so on.

So Ephesians is about some of the wonderful things God has done for us and also how we are to live in ways that make God happy.

More talks from The Big Read for Kids can be found HERE.

The Big Read: Ephesians

The Big Read: Ephesians

This month at Banstead Community Church, we’re continuing with ‘The Big Read’ and are reading through the book of Ephesians together as a local church.

At the evening service last Sunday, I gave a overview talk on Ephesians that included a walkthrough of the book and also focused on some of the things we discover in Ephesians about Jesus.

I also recommended The Bible Experience audiobook of Ephesians which is available to buy HERE.

Sermon: Ephesians 6:10-18

Sermon I preached on Ephesians 6:10-18 at Banstead Community Church on 22nd July 2012.

Download MP3

1. Remember who your enemy is

2. Remember who your captain is

3. Stand

More sermons can be found HERE.

Family Driven Faith

Family Driven Faith

There are many books on parenting out there, but if you were going to buy just one, Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. is certainly one that Christian parents should consider getting.  You may not agree with everything Baucham says but it will certainly challenge you to take seriously God’s call to do what you can with His help to raise children who walk with God.  Below I have written a summary of what the book is about and engaged a little with the bits I disagreed with. 

fdf

In the opening chapter of ‘Family Driven Faith’ Baucham assesses the current situation, which is that so-called Christian children are walking away from the faith when they reach adulthood, and asking why that is.  The answer given is that most of these so-called Christian children are not Christians, and that many Christian parents have yet to realise that their primary goal in parenting is their children’s walk with the Lord.  Baucham then calls Christian parents to do something about this trend by pointing them to the help in raising children which is found in the Bible, particularly Deuteronomy 6.  The principles found in Deuteronomy 6 are then discussed in chapters 2-8. 

Chapter 2 looks at applying Deuteronomy 6:4 in our parenting by being committed to God and living lives that honour Him.  Five ways in which we can do this (based on Ephesians 5:15-21) is by watching our walk (being good examples to our children); by being good stewards of the time (realising that we only get one chance to raise our kids); by understanding God’s Will (our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God so God’s Will for our children should be our top concern); by constantly yielding to God’s Spirit (which we do when we acknowledge God whenever we can); and by ordering our relationships by the book (which means making marriage the priority relationship in the home).     

Onto Deuteronomy 6:5 in chapter 3, where the big principle is that if we learn to love God we will learn to love period.  This requires us getting our definition of love right.  The biblical definition of love is that love is an act of the will (it’s a choice) accompanied (not led) by emotion that leads to action (it’s proved by our efforts) on behalf of its object.  This understanding of love is transferrable to all our relationships. 

In chapter 4 looks at Deuteronomy 6:5 and the need for our children to do not only what God’s says but also to submit their will to the will of God.  For this to happen, children need to be taught to think biblically because they act on what they believe.  Five keys areas our children need to be taught to think biblically in is about God, man, truth, knowledge and ethics.    

The focus of chapter 5 is the application of the first half Deuteronomy 6:7 and the need of getting our children into the word of God if we want our children to think biblically.  As Baucham points out: “We must get our kids into the Word of God if we intend to get the Word of God into our kids.”  The responsibility for doing this lies with the parents.  “You can impact your child’s faith-life by reading and teaching the Bible at home.  More importantly, God has entrusted and commissioned you (not the youth minister or the Sunday school teacher) with this awesome task.”  Three ways in which we can do this is by firstly, simply reading the Bible to our children.  Why?  Because the Bible is the very Word of God; it’s God’s primary tool in preparing us for a life of godliness and service; it’s an agent by which God conforms us to the very image of Christ, and it’s a change agent.  Secondly, by Q&A, spending time answering your children’s questions, and getting them to answer their own Bible questions.  Then thirdly, by getting them to read books that will encourage the development of biblical faith. 

Chapter 6 is all about applying the rest of Deuteronomy 6:7 and how we live the Word at home.  Baucham lists 3 phases.  Phase 1 is the discipline phase, the key aim of this phase is that children are taught to obey their parents, this means that they ‘do what they are told, when they are told, with a respectful attitude.  Phase 2 is the catechism phase.  “The goal of catechism is to impart biblical theology.  Through a series of questions and answers the child slowly learns what to believe and, more importantly, why.”  Then phase 3 is the discipleship phase which is about teaching children what to do with what they have learnt.  “Discipleship is the application of what we believe.  If our children do not know what we believe or why we believe it, they will have difficult time understanding why one lifestyle choice is superior to another.”  At this point Baucham, discusses the part education plays in discipleship making the point that state education ‘detracts rather than contributes to discipleship…limits the time we have to make disciples…does not teach a biblical worldview…does not teach them to love, know and obey God.’  For him this is a good argument for Christian parents to home school their children rather than send them to state schools. 

In Chapter 7 Baucham looks at some of the ways in which we can put Deuteronomy 6:9 into practice.  Ideas include have pictures and photo’s up which would direct their focus to God, playing songs of the faith in the home, have a special meal on Sundays.  But the prime way is family worship. 

Then in chapter 8, a warning is given about the pull of prosperity and how that can draw families away from God, and parents away from their all-important of raising their kids.  “God is not against your having things.  He is, however, against things having you.”   One of the concerns that Baucham has that both parents work fulltime not because they need to provide the essentials of life but so that they can be more prosperous and the effect this has on the raising of their children.  

On the whole everything Baucham says in chapter 1-8 I would agree with and is very helpful.  I appreciate his passion for parents taking responsibility for bringing their children up.  I like the biblical definition of love that he gives.  I agree that it is important for children to be taught a biblical worldview, and I think that he gives some helpful suggestions as to how this can be done.  One thing I thought was missing was a discussion about whether we are to understand the passage in Deuteronomy 6 differently now that we are living under the New Covenant.   Eric Lane explains in his book Special Children? that under the Old Covenant (when Deuteronomy 6 was written), children were brought up to live in a covenant community, whereas today, they are brought up under the New Covenant to live in the world.  I think this plays a part in thinking about the arguments for homeschooling (although like Baucham I am a home school dad!) 

In the final two chapters, the subject moves from the home to the church.  

In chapter 9 the question is asked: ‘If the Bible clearly gives parents the responsibility of discipling their children, what role does the church play in the process?’  This leads him to question the need for churches to have a youth ministry for three reasons.  1) There is no clear biblical mandate for it.  2) It can damage family dynamics as split the family up at church.  3) In America it does seem to be working (referring back to what he said in chapter 1).  Much of this is a reaction against parents who instead of discipling their children themselves, hand them over to the youth ministry to do this for them.  Baucham however, does except that the strongest argument for having a youth ministry is providing for kids who don’t have Christian parents although he would rather they be in church noting that “When kids are disciple and integrated into the Christian community, they tend to remain in the fold.”  

In chapter 10, Baucham then outlines that alternative way of doing church without the youth ministry which is the ‘family integrated church’.  The distinctives of a family integrated churches are that families worship together; there are no age-specific groups; evangelism and discipleship is done through the homes with men being held accountable for this; and the majority of parents home school.  The motivation behind these features is a keen desire to promote a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education, and biblically qualified leadership. 

Once again I agree with much of what Baucham is saying.  I think his principles and motivation for saying what he does is spot on.  That said, I don’t agree fully with his application!  I believe that a youth (and kids) ministry can play an important function in working with and supporting parents as they seek with God’s help to raise their children.  I too, believe that it is important for families to worship together.  Three ways that the church I work for has tried to cultivate this is by firstly, having no age specific groups for children over 11 at the same time as our church services.  Secondly, having a family service once a month (and school holidays) when there is no children groups during the service.  Thirdly, by creating a culture where families sit together.  In addition I also believe that a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education and biblically qualified leadership can be promoted without adopting the family integrated approach to doing church. 

To sum up: Family Driven Faith was a helpful and thought-provoking read.  I’d recommend that parents and church leaders get a copy to read and think through what is said, even if they don’t agree with everything Baucham says (homeschooling and family integrated church with no youth ministry I think will be probably the two biggest areas of disagreement that some may have).  Thank you Voddie Baucham Jr. for reminding me again about the need to do what it takes to raise children who walk with God. 

Family Driven Faith is available to buy HERE

For more to with Family Driven Faith, check out Voddie Baucham’s website HERE.

Latest Links

The links of the last week worth checking out…

What does the Bible say about children and young people?

Here are some notes I made on what the Bible says about children and young people: 

1. It is not clear as to when childhood finishes and adulthood begins.   

Leviticus 27:3-5 suggests that a person ceases to be considered a child/young person at the age of 20. 

2. Children are the fulfilment of the creation mandate to be fruitful and to multiply. 

The command to be fruitful and multiply was given both to Adam at creation (Genesis 1:28) and Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:1).  Children are necessary if this command was to be obeyed. 

3. Children are a gift from God and a sign of God’s blessing.   

In the book of Genesis it clear that children are a gift from God.  The theme of a barren woman miraculously being able to conceive runs throughout the book.  Eve with God’s help gave birth to Cain (Genesis 4:1).  Abram recognises that God has given him no children (Genesis 15:2-3).  Rachel speaking after the birth of Dan said that God has given her a child (Genesis 30:1).  Jacob says of his children that they are a gracious gift from God (Genesis 33:5).  

Elsewhere in the Bible we are reminded that children are a sign of God’s blessing or a reward from Him.  In Psalm 127:3 we read that children (sons) are a heritage or reward from the Lord.  In Zechariah 8:5 a sign of God’s blessing is that children are playing in the streets. 

Whilst the birth of a child and the happiness of children is a sign of God’s blessing, the death of a child is an indication of a calamity or the worse of curses to an enemy.  The prophet Nahum prophesying about the fall of Nineveh, God’s enemy, speaks of infants being dashed to pieces (Nahum 3:10).  Psalm 137:8-9 speaks of the death of Babylonian children. 

4. Children are valued before they are born.   

God can relate to and deal with a person from the moment of conception (and before).  In Psalm 139:13 we are told that God knits a person together in their mother’s womb.  In Job 31:15 tells us that God made him in the womb. 

5. Children are valued as much as any other age group.   

God is a God of all human ages including children.  In the gospels we read that Jesus healed children (Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5, boy with an evil spirit in Mark 9), Jesus invited children to come to Him (Matthew 19:13-15), and Jesus knows about the lives of children (Matthew 11:16-19 or Luke 7:31-35). 

6. Children have a sinful nature. 

For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and facing God’s wrath, his righteous anger (Ephesians 2:3).  All includes children and adults alike.  Psalm 51:5 tells us that children are sinful from the time of conception. 

7. Children are immature. 

This is implied in a number of passages where the immaturity of childhood is used to illustrate Christian immaturity.  In Ephesians 4:14, Paul talks of becoming mature as a Christian as being no longer infants.  In 1 Corinthians 14:20 Paul urges the Corinthians to stop thinking like children but to start thinking like adults.  Leaving childish ways behind is a sign of adulthood (1 Corinthians 13:11).  In Hebrews 5:12-13 a baby on milk is used to describe an immature Christian who has not grown up and made spiritual progress in understanding God’s Word. 

8. Children are dependent.   

In Matthew 18:3-4 (or Mark 10:13-16) Jesus tells the disciples that they are to become like little children if they want to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus was telling them that the helplessness and dependence that children have is what He is looking for in His disciples. 

9. Children become accountable.   

Children are held accountable as sinners from time of conception (Psalm 51:5).  But the Bible does teach that there is a time when children are not held responsible for the choices they make.  For example Deuteronomy 1:39 we read of the Israelite children that they “do not yet know good from bad” and because of that they are allowed to enter the promised land.  In Isaiah 7:15-16 we are told that there is a time when the boy (child) does not know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.   

As children grow up and mature their understanding of right and wrong and ability to make decisions increases, so they become more and more accountable. 

10. Children are part of the community of God’s people. (see Ian Fry, ‘What is Christian Youthwork?’ in FAQs published by The Good Book Company.  p.12-13)

It seems that whenever the people of God gathered for corporate worship, the children and young people were present.  Children were present whenever the Passover occurred (Exodus 12:26-27), when Israel entered into God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 29:10-15), at feast times (Deuteronomy 31:10-12), when the covenant was renewed at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:35), and at times of seeking God (2 Chronicles 20:5-13).  It was expected that acts of corporate worship would arouse interest of, and provoke questioning by children (Exodus 13:11-14). 

This pattern seems to be present in the early church.  When Paul wrote letters to the churches, he had instructions for children to follow (Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20).  He must have expected them to be present as his letter was read out. 

11. God does great things with young people. (see HERE)   

There are so many examples of God using young people to do great things for Him.  Youth was a time for service and heroism.  

Old Testament examples include Joshua who was Moses’ assistant since youth (Numbers 11:28).  The spies who investigated Jericho were young men (Joshua 6:23).  Jeremiah was called to be a prophet when he was a child (Jeremiah 1:5-7).  David was only a boy when he fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33).  Other examples are Joseph, Samuel, Samson, Joash, Josiah, Daniel and Esther. 

In the New Testament we have Paul’s nephew who warned him about a plot on his life (Acts 23:16-22) or the unnamed boy with the loaves and fish that Jesus used to feed the five thousand men plus women and children (John 6:9). 

12. Children must learn to love and fear the Lord.   

In Deuteronomy 6:2 we read that commands, decrees and laws were given by God to Moses to pass on to the Israelites so that they, their children and their children’s children may fear God.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 the command is to love God with all your heart, soul and strength.  This is to be on the parent’s hearts but also to be impressed upon their children. 

13. Children are to be told God’s Words and God’s Works so that they will trust in Him. 

In Psalm 78:4-7 parents were told to pass on God’s works (his praiseworthy deeds, v4) and God’s Words (statutes, law, v5), to teach these to their children so that would put their trust in God and keep his commands. 

14. Children need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved. 

Acts 2:21 or Romans 10:13 tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  This applies to children as we as adults.  They need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God. 

15. God says the prime responsibility for the spiritual nurture of children and young people lies with the parents. 

God places people in families, and the family relationship is important (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20).  Proverbs 1:8 tells us that it is both parents responsibility to pass on God’s truth.  The prime responsibility however falls to the father (Ephesians 6:4; this idea is found throughout Proverbs 1-9).  Timothy is an example of the positive impact a godly home can have on a person (2 Timothy 1:5).  

16. Parents are responsible for teaching and modelling God’s truth to their children. 

God chose Abraham to direct his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord by what is right and just (Genesis 18:19).  Fathers are to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the LORD.  Timothy was taught the Bible by his grandmother and mother from a young age (2 Timothy 3:15). 

17. Parents are responsible for disciplining their children as well as encouraging them. 

Children are born with evil inclinations (Ecclesiastes 12:1) so they not only need teaching but corrective, loving discipline (Proverbs 22:15).  Parents are responsible for disciplining their children (Proverbs 29:17).  Discipline is a sign that parents love their children because they want them to escape death and find life (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18).  The command to discipline is given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 [‘training' is more literally translated ‘discipline']. 

Encouragement is important too.  Colossians 3:21 tell fathers not emitter their child because they will become discouraged. 

Praying for Children

From Neil Robbie, a really helpful post on praying for children…

31 things to pray for your children/grandchildren/godchildren

  • 1 salvation Lord, grant your salvation to my children, ‘that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus’ (Isa 45:8, 2 Tim 2:10).
  • 2 grace and knowledge I pray that they may ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
  • 3 adoption and love Grant, Lord, that my children may learn that they are loved as your adopted children and so ‘live a life of love,’ through the Spirit who dwells in them (Romans 8:15-16, Ephesians 5:2, Galatians 5:22).
  • 4 sin and righteousness I pray that my children would know that you, God, made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become your righteousness. ‘ (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • 5 holiness Lord, may my children know that “just as he who called them is holy, so they should be holy in all they do (1 Pet 1:15-16)
  • 6 a love for God’s Word ” May my children grow to find your Word ‘more precious than gold, than much pure gold; and sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb’ (Psalm 19:10).
  • 7 justice and mercy God, help my children to love justice as you do and to ‘act justly’ in all they do (Psalm 11:7, Micah 6:8) and may they always ‘be merciful, as their Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).
  • 8 Unity and glory Lord God, please give my kids a spirit of unity with all believers as they follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth they may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 )
  • 9 respect and authority (for self, others, authority) Father, grant that my children may ’show proper respect to everyone,’ as your Word commands (1 Peter 2:17a).
  • 10 biblical self-worth Help my children develop a strong self-worth as they realise they are  ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:10).
  • 11 Let love and faithfulness never leave my children,’ but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts (Proverbs 3:3).
  • 12 strength and courage May my children always ‘Be strong and courageous’ in their character and in actions (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • 13 purity Create in them a pure heart, O God, let their purity be shown in their actions (Ps 51:10) remembering that ‘To the pure, all things are pure’ (Titus 1:15)
  • 14 patience Lord, grant that my children will be ‘patient in affliction’ (Rom 12:12)
  • 15 money and generosity Grant that my children may ‘be generous and willing to share [and so] lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age’ (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
  • 16 peace and joy May my kids be filled with ‘the joy given by the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Thess 1:6). Father, let my children ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace’ (Romans 14:19).
  • 17 May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection (Ps 25:21).
  • 18 perseverance Lord, teach my children to persevere in all they do, as they ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for them’ (Hebrews 12:1).
  • 19 Selflessness I pray, Lord, that my children will have the same attitude as Christ Jesus, ‘looking not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:4-5)
  • 20 Lord, ‘as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,’ may my children ‘clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.‘ (Col 3:12).
  • 21 responsibility Grant that my children may learn responsibility, ‘for each one should carry his own load’ (Galatians 6:5).
  • 22 contentment Father, teach my children ‘the secret of being content in any and every situation; through him who gives them strength’ (Phil 4:12-13).
  • 23 faith I pray that as they focus on Christ, faith will root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith alone they may gain what you have promised to them (Luke 17:5-6, Heb 11:1-40).
  • 24 a servant heart God, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, ‘as to the Lord, and not to men’ (Eph 6:7)
  • 25 hope May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
  • 26 hard work Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, ‘as working for the Lord, not for men’ (Col 3:23).
  • 27 a passion for God Lord, please instill in my children a soul that “follows hard after you,” a heart that clings passionately to you (Psalm 63:8).
  • 28 self-discipline Father, I pray that my children may be self-disciplined, living ‘a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair’ (Prov 1:3).
  • 29 prayerfulness Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Eph 6:18).
  • 30 gratitude and rejoicing Help my children to live lives ‘overflowing with thankfulness,’ ‘giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ as they ‘Rejoice in you always’ (Col 2:7, Eph 5:20, Phil 4:4).
  • 31 a heart for mission Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for mission, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples (Psalm 96:3).

Latest Links

Here’s last weeks links…

Evangelical Minstry Assembly 2008 Summary

Here are the links to all my notes from this years Evangelical Ministry Assembly that took place last week.

Christopher Ash – Why preaching?

1) God’s people under God’s preached word

2) God’s people transformed by God’s preached word

3) God’s people transforming the world by God’s preached word

Simon Austen – Exposition for Expositors (Ephesians)

1) What we are spiritually!

2) How to become what we are!

John Woodhouse – Christ Exalting Preaching

1) Fullness in Christ

2) Supremacy of Christ

3) Proclaiming Christ

Kent Hughes

1) The Affections of the Preacher

2) The Heart of the Preacher

William Taylor

Evangelistic Preaching

EMA Session 9: Simon Austen – Ephesians (2)

My notes from Simon Austen’s talk in the ninth session at EMA (Evangelical Ministry Assembly)

How to become what we are! 

The Polaroid camera in the 1970s were the forefront of technology.  The picture after being taken gradually becomes visible.  We have become what we are in Jesus.  Unity has been won for us.  In time it will be seen in its fullness.  It should now be manifested in the local church.  The picture has been taken, it now needs to be developed.  We are to become what we are. 

In the second half of Ephesians, Paul gives instructions on how to become what we are.  How on earth we can become what we are in heaven.  God has already achieved unity.  How do we live this out in practice? 

Most churches are not Ephesians 4:1-6.  Ghandi said ‘if it wasn’t for Christians everyone would become a follower of Jesus Christ’.  We need this teaching in Ephesians 4 to 6. 

1. Word obeyed produces unity 

We become what we are as the word is rightly obeyed.  Jesus has won the victory and he gives gifts to the church which are word-based gifts (4:11).  We’ve already been told who the apostles and prophets are (see Ephesians 3:5-6).  Apostles and prophets are those to whom the Gospel has been given.  We have it in the pages of Scripture.  We need people to proclaim the Gospel for there to be a church so we have evangelists.  We need people to look after Christians so we need pastor teachers. 

Purpose is to equip people for works of ministry.  Unity is achieved as the people of God obey the word of God by ministering to one another with that work. 

We want Bible obeying churches not just Bible teaching churches. 

Paul wants a church to be an orchestra where everyone plays rightly and tune is heard because they obey the composer’s instructions. 

2. Word obeyed produces love 

Teaching obeyed produces the love that shows you are part of this new community.  It is produced amongst people who would not usually want to go on holiday with each other.  

What it look like to be God’s new people practically? 

Relationships within in the church (4:25-5:2) 

This leads to people who speak truthfully, who practically work to look after the needs of others, who only do things to build up others. 

Don’t let the devil stop you doing this. 

Relationships with the world (5:3-16) 

Don’t live like the world!  The world is constantly going to eat into the church but have nothing to do with this.  Especially in areas of morality. 

Domestic relationships (5:17-6:9) 

They are a sign of the Spirit.  Verses 19-21 tell us what it means to be filled with the Spirit by submitting one to another in three areas.  Concentrating here on the first two. 

Husband and wives 

How we live in our marriage should be a picture of what God is doing in eternity.  Husbands have a responsibility to present our wives before Christ.  Don’t forget to be word ministers at home as well as at work.  Ministers wives have become disillusioned with the church because of their husbands ministry. 

Parents and children 

Ephesians was read to the church at a time when children would have been present.  It would have been the father’s responsibility to answer the child’s questions about Ephesians 1 to 3 around the dinner table. 

Some problems with the presence of Sunday School during the church service is…

  • Predominantly women are doing the job the fathers should be doing.
  • Takes the children away from their parents.
  • It stops the fellowship of young people with their trousers halfway down his leg listening to his iPod with a 95 year old lady whose been knitting for most of her life. 

 If we can’t integrate children into the assembly there is something wrong with our understanding of the Gospel.  

Fathers, we have responsibility to teach our children.  Doing so is the right response to the word.  Don’t let our ministry prevent us from doing this. 

We want Bible obeying churches – the listening assembly! 

It’s possible because God can do immeasurably more, His power is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20-21).

EMA Session 8: Christopher Ash – Why Preaching? (3)

My notes from Christopher Ash’s talk in the eighth session at EMA (Evangelical Ministry Assembly)

God’s people transforming the world by God’s preached word

Text is three words: ‘Assemble the people’ (Deuteronomy 4:10). 

How is a broken world to be reassembled?  Pastors carry around with them the pain of a broken world.  Don’t you wish you were out there doing something useful to rebuild a broken world?  But human strategies haven’t been working very well.  Preachers have the seed that brings people into relationship with God and which rebuilds a broken world.  

1. The assembly in Deuteronomy 

Sinai the pattern for the assembly (Deuteronomy 4:10, 9:10, 10:4, 18:15f). 

Three times Moses refers back to a day God called the people to assemble at Mount Sinai.  Assembly is connected with the preaching of the word of God.  Preaching cannot be done by telecommunications, only done in the assembly.  The people are called together by the word of God and under the word of God. 

Israel defined by the assembly (Acts 7:38; Deuteronomy 23:2-4, 13:5 and 1 Corinthians 5:13). 

Israel is the church in the wilderness.  Israel is an assembly whose members may at times be dispersed.  There are rules governing who is part of the assembly. 

The assembly at God’s ‘place’ (e.g. Deuteronomy 12 and 26, 31:11; cf. Jeremiah 7:12). 

One place, the place of God’s choice.  The place of the word – where it’s read and preached. 

‘All Israel’ to be at the assembly (e.g. Deuteronomy 1:1, 5:1, 31:1,11; 1 Chronicles 13:5). 

It can’t be homogenous part or group of Israel, it’s all Israel! 

2. The assembly in its wider Bible canvas 

Scattering (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:25ff, 28:64). 

False worship always leads to scattering cf. Babel. 

The promise of gathering (Genesis 28:3, 35:11, 48:4; Nehemiah 8; Isaiah 2:1-5). 

The promise to Abraham carries the notion of gathering if people are to be an assembly.  The promise is to re-gather a broken world.  

From Sinai to Zion (Hebrews 12:18-29). 

Promise begins to be fulfilled when place of assembly moves from Sinai to Zion.  Sinai was meeting with God at arm’s length.  New covenant is still an assembly in the presence of God to hear his word.  The local church is patterned on Sinai with the difference being the place of access, the place of Zion.  Jesus is the place where all Israel gathers under the new covenant. 

The local church ‘dispersed assemblies’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2). 

In between Zion, the place of access and the throne we have the local church.  We have scattered gatherings.  Local church is a sign in a broken world that the world will be reassembled. 

Around the throne (Matthew 12:30; Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 7:9). 

All things will be re-gathered under Christ, the head of the assembly.  The ending is wonderfully anticipated at Pentecost. 

Practical applications: relating the assembly to preaching 

The significance of the assembly. 

We want to say ‘use whatever technology you like in order to hear God’s word’.  But gathering has theological significance. 

The significance of preaching for the assembly. 

First words Deuteronomy heard at Sinai was redemption – word of grace.  How is the world to be re-assembled?  Not by force.  Not by natural human affections – this does bring some people together but only like and like, it makes clubs.  Only way is by the preached word of grace.  When assembly goes wrong pastors instinct is to hold it by force – must preach grace and continue to do so. 

The word of grace shaping a people of grace. 

Hearing while assembled is different to hearing on your own.  Harder to be inattentive in case someone spots you.  Corporateness creates accountability.  Why writer of Hebrews tells them not to neglect assemblies.  

Preaching is about performance.  The corporate performance of the word of God by the people of God when preached in the assembly. 

Rebuilding a broken world by preaching grace to the church. 

In Deuteronomy 4:6-8, we have a description of Israel as Israel ought to have been. Israel was to have porous borders so world would look at them and see God.  This didn’t happen very often. 

We reach the world with the Gospel through the church.  People have to see the Gospel in action.  Evangelism is done as non-Christians see Christians together in a grace shaped community.  Remember that the Lord said to Moses ‘assemble the people’.  God the Father says to Jesus ‘gather my people’.  Jesus says to Christian ‘gather the people’ and to the preacher ‘gather the people to hear my word’. 

Preaching grace will shape a people of grace.  Preaching is massively significant.  Wonder is that the gospel of grace means that we begin to see unlikely people come into the assembly.  Local church is the place we see God assembling a broken world.

EMA Session 2: Simon Austen – Ephesians (1)

My notes from Simon Austen’s talk in the second session at EMA (Evangelical Ministry Assembly)

 
 
 

 

 What we are spiritually?  

In Acts 2 there is a glorious picture of what the early church was like.  Why is our experience of church so different from this? 

Churches are messy places, ministers are hurting people.  This is why we need Ephesians! 

The Identity of the Church 

Identity is important! 

Big church, little church, rural, urban, single, married, children, no children, football team support etc.  These are all markers which we use to identify self and demark ourselves from others. 

Paul is writing to profound demarcation of Jews and Gentiles.  There was an absolute barrier between these two groups.  Their identity was being a Jew or being a Gentile.  Paul puts down a marker in Ephesians 1:3.  If you are a Christian, your marker is ‘in Christ’ and ‘in the heavenly realms’. 

Understanding our identity affects our understanding of the past (1:4-6).

Understanding our identity affects our understanding of the present (1:7-8).

Understanding our identity affects our understanding of the future (1:9-10). 

God’s purpose for the world is that all people from all over the world, both Jew and Gentile sit under the lordship of Christ. 

The shock is that this should be happening in the church – Jew and Gentile brought together (1:11-14).  There is a new identity that overrides all other identities. 

In the church there are different cultures and sub-cultures but we find it difficult to mix.  We have these barriers outside and inside the church.  We need this prayer that we grasp our new identity (1:15f). 

Two things to know God better.  v18: Glorious inheritance possibly means to grasp what it is to be the church.  v19-23: Power that is available to be his people. 

Prayer that we will live the reality that God has created – to be the church.  Great prayer for messy churches to pray. 

Paul then shows the miracle of God’s grace in forming the church.  He tells us what it means to be part of this identity. 

All people are without Christ.  This is what we were.  We were powerless to become a new community.  We can’t do it.  We’ve got to understand the miracle required to create this new people.  God in great love by grace saved people.  God has raised ungodly Jews and Gentiles with Christ, he has overcome the divide.  Remember this (2:11).  Christ has destroyed the barrier that divides Jews and Gentiles. 

What God has done in heavenly realms is visible in the church.  ‘Church is a visual aid for the future!’ 

Church is a powerful apologetic for the gospel.  Only the gospel can explain how people get on, united as one people.  Manifestation of God’s wisdom is seen in the way people relate to each other. 

It’s hard.  Why do we only seem to be keen and able to evangelise a certain group of people?  Why don’t young and old in our churches get along?  

It’s a spiritual battle to be changed!  Devil wants to get into our relationships.  He doesn’t want believers to be the church.  The battle is spiritual.  

We can be the church because Christ with all authority is in the heavenly realms and spiritually speaking we are there.  Christ’s power is available to us. 

This helps us to make sense of chapter 6.  Battle to be the church is a spiritual one and we overcome it by being in Christ.  The armour listed in chapter 6 is found in the Old Testament ascribed to God’s Messiah.  The armour is what Christ wore into battle and it is what’s available to us. 

Be sure that Satan will want to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel, the means by which people become part of the church and will try to stop people living as church. 

But praise be to God.  God in his mercy has made it possible to be the church.