God’s Plan for the Church – Ephesians 2:19-21 Sermon

We continue our Ephesians series by looking at the end of Chapter 2, where Paul describes the new humanity God is creating and our role, place and help in the Church!

Sermon preached by Chris Roberts on Sunday April 11 2021.

SERMON NOTES:

  •  After celebrating Easter last weekend we return to our Ephesians Series, taking a look at the end of Ephesians 2, verses 19-21.
  • First I want to tell you a story: Argentina, lost in the middle of the night, I felt  like an outsider, a stranger
  • Have you had a similar ecxperince overseas? Or maybe closer to home, maybe you felt like an outsider at work, at home or a part of a group? Unfortunately you might have felt out of place at Church
  • In today’s passage Paul stresses that there are no longer foreigners or strangers, or outsiders in the Church, that because of Jesus Christ we are all united and joined together to form a spiritual temple in which God lives by His Spirit. 
  • Today we will learn that all who believe in Jesus are members of God’s household and citizens in the Kingdom of God, that every believer has a role and place in the spiritual temple God is building and that the Holy Spirit is our powerful helper in joining and fulfilling God’s plan for humanity on Earth.
  • Let’s read the passage:
  • Ephesians 2:19-22
  • Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
  • Out three points today: Our place in the Church, our role in the Church, and our helper in the Church – The Holy Spirit
  1.  Our place in the Church 
  • It is important to know what has come before this passage, as it starts with consequently, so what came before this? 
  • If you were hear on Good Friday you may have heard Tim preach on this passage, but let’s do a very quick recap:
  • In verses 11-18, we see Paul describe how Gentiles used to be separate from Christ, alienated, far away, but have now been brought near through Christ, lets pick it up in verse 15:
  • His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have accessto the Father by one Spirit.
  • So with this knowledge, we read: we are no longer foreigners or strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of his household.
  • I first want to illustrate what Paul meant by foreigners and strangers
  • Back in Paul’s time, even in a muklticutkurakl city like Ephesus, there wer epretty clear classes and there two classifications of people on the outside,  The first was the roreigner and their life was not easy. One wrote home: “It is better for you to be in your own homes, whatever they may be like, than to be in a strange land.” The foreigner was always regarded with suspicion and dislike. 
  • The next step was a  stranger. Their situation was even worse. He was a resident alien, a man who had taken up residence in a place but who had never become a naturalized citizen; he paid a tax for the privilege of existing in a land which was not his own. Both the foreigner and the stranger. 
  • So let’s quickly unpack what Paul says we are given access to because of Jesus Christ
  1.  We are made Citizens – A citizen is someone with full rights and freedoms of a place. Paul is saying that both Jews and Gentiles have full citizenship rights to the Kingdom of God, God’s Kingdom is not a place with a boundary, but instead God ruling his people. We enjoy the freedom and security of citizenship and no longer are outsiders looking in.
  1.  Household – This is probably my favourite way Paul describes God’s church. A family. A household. Because most if not all families are messy, families sometimes have conflict, disagreements and people who we don;t like or get along with. But there is a unity that goes deeper.  Even more with God’s family. We aren’t just united by blood, but by the blood that Jesus Christ shed for us, and we will see later that it’s God who builds his Church and unites us by his Spirit. 
  1. Jesus is the Cornerstone

The cornerstone of a building is the most important part,it is the first stone layed out, and it sets the correct lines of the foundation. Every other stone needs to be placed in reference of the cornerstone, if the builders just start working on all different parts of the building without reference to where the cornerstone is it is unlikely they will be building in the right places, and the final building won’t come together as one whole strong stur structures. 

And the message is crystal clear to us. Without Jesus, there is no Church. We must not let the Church become about us, or about one person, or a group of people. It is not a comparison game with the church down the road. It’s all about Jesus. Ultimate reliance on Jesus. Jesus must be the focus of everything we do at the CHurch, all our ministries, services and evangelims must be focused on Him. 

  • The accessibility of the Church is one that i’m going to keep mentioning. Jesus destroyed any and all dividing walls, in fact i am reminded by Pauls famous words in Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
  • So what does this mean for us?  If Jesus has destroyed any and all dividing walls that would make a person feel like a stranger or foreigner, we shouldn’t create new walls that keep people out of the Church. Here’s a test. It’s a Sunday and you are seated ready for the service and are looking out for any new people you could welcome, are there people you would just ignore or hesitate and hope someone else would welcome first. Maybe they are different to you, maybe it’s their gender, sexuality, personality, physical differences, language, culture, age difference, or something else.  
  • The differences between us are so incredibly insignificant into the riches of what Christ Jesus had done for each and everyone of us by welcoming us into his Church.
  •  I was so excited to see so many of our Church packed, it almost felt like a pre-taste of heaven, God’s children celebrating united together. I loved seeing the kids going in for Easter Eggs on every table, I loved seeing 6 different lasagnes, KFC, really healthy salads, all on the same table. It was a perfect picture of why I love our Church community. 
  • Let’s take pride in being welcoming Church, and keeping an eye out for new people and including people the same way that God has included us. 
  1.  Our role in the Church 
  • Now we know our place in the Church, Paul moves onto our role in the Church. 
  • built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
  1. Living Stones
  • What does it mean to be a spiritual temple? And what does that tell us about our role in the CHurch? 
  • It is important to understand the IMPORTANCE of the temple to the Jews. Solomon’s temple was the focal point of Jewish life and worship of God for over a thousand years. It was literally where God dwelled. 
  • But if everyone, anywhere in the world, regardless of education, family lineage, race, gender or culture can come to Christ and be a part of this new humanity, then how can there be a physical building to meet the needs of all these people. Surely a grand building in Jerusalem will not suit the needs of new believers in Ephesdians or to us here, the Church in Manly
  • You see, Paul is talking about something different to a physical building, but a spiritual temple where God chooses us to be ‘living stones’, the building blocks of His new spiritual temple 
  • Where people no longer need to find God in a building, but living inside of his believers, we can bring God to the world as a living stones. 
  • 1 Peter 2:5 
  • you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood,
  • If Christ is the cornerstone, we are all building blocks in the beautiful spiritual temple that God is building. You have a part to play, and every member is just as vital as the others, also, the building isn’t finished until Jesus returns again
  • Literally if we are a living stone, the Church is missing something without you. You bring a  unique masterpiece, Ephesians 2:10 with spiritual gifts, there is no one like you in the life of the Church. 
  • I want to take the chance to talk about and honour my youth team. 14 months ago when I started looking for youth leaders to kick off our youth group, I found it hard to find people who were free Friday nights and weren’t already serving the Church in another ministry capacity. That’s when God assembled me my amazing team, the ‘living stones’ of youth ministry. First, I had Janna, who moved here from the Phillipines and was in year 11, she immediately wanted to serve and as most parents in the Church would know, she is wise and mature beyond her years, the kids adore her and she is one of the most faithful, diligent people I know who is the definition of a servant-hearted leader. 
  • Then I had Charlie, move down from Newcatsle to play rugby for the Marlins, keen and eager to get on board, Charlie took it upon himself to ask Tim to serve! He found us!  brings an enthusiasm, an energy, a vibrancy to the ministry that encourages me. His passion is contagious and I’m so thankful for him. 
  • Then came Elly, who is a maestro of dance moves, in fact she cma eup with the actions your children performed this morning, she is so relational, kind, and an amazing role model to the many young women growing up in our CHurch. God put together this amazing team who serve our kids every Friday, they all bring something unique but God brings us together to make an amazing team, its incredible and it’s what God wants to do. There is a role for you, a place for you to glorify God with what he has given you!
  • So you are called to do two things: represent Jesus as a Living ‘Stone” wherever you go, and to play your part in the local Church, giving your time, gifts and talents as God isd calling you to. 
  1. Be United in Community
  • ‘The whole building joined together’ ‘you too are being built TOGETHER”
  • Community is a vital part of the Christian life. The Church should be a place of healing, restoration, encouragement and deep Christian fellowship. In fellowship we practice spiritual gifts, build each other up and learn to show God’s love and kindness to others. We simply cannot live a full Christian life on our own. 
  • Remember Jesus is the cornerstone, he makes this community possible. Grace, forgiveness, kindness, service, sacrifice, reconciliation, all these things are modelled by Jesus to us as an example of how we can remain united and carrying out Gods mission through conflict, betrayals and the sin that we stil struggle with. 
  • So our second role in the Church is to participate in the community of the Church. 
  1. Grow 
  • Built and rises up. There is an obvious implication that God wants to grow his Church, both in number and in Christian Character. He wants his Church to reflect Jesus to the Church. 
  • Pauls prayer for the colossians in chapter 1 verse 9 for us is 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
  • But you notice that God grows us together? You see our growth isn’t just a monk-like individual spiritual growth, but we grow together with others. The community of believers is one of the best ways God helps us grow, we can be encouraged, challenged and spurred on to keep following Jesus. 
  • We are called to surrender to the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives and produces the fruit of the SPirit, helping us individually and as a community continually reflect Jesus. 

So the application:

  1. As a living stone of God’s spiritual temple, how are you representing Jesus in your home, workplace and community? Where has God gifted you to serve in his CHurch?
  2. How is God calling you to bless the Church community you are a part of?
  3. Are you growing in your faith? Where is God growing you?
  1. The power of the Church (The Spirit) (ACCESS)

Where does the power come from? Well Tim spoke about this in his sermon on Ephesians 1, but we have the answer tight at the end of the passage. We are being built together to be a living temple where GOd lives by his SPirit, 

  1. We are called to be Vessels of the Holy Spirit

God Lives in us by His Spirit. We are first of all called to be a vessel a carrier of the Spirit wherever we go. This implies that we should constantly be in God’s presence, praying to the Spirit on all occasions and seeking the Spirit’s guidance as we go about our every day life. 

  1. The Holy Spirit helps us GROW

We have already mentioned this, but we have help to become more like Jesus? The Holy Spirit produces the fruits of the SPirit as mentioned in Galatians 5 – he prompts us and guides us into all truth so we can reflect Jesus to the world. 

  1. The Holy Spirit helps us ACT
  • The Holy Spirit gave the scare disciples courage and power to preach boldly on the Day of Pentecost, they performed great miracles in jesus name and the Church exploded with growth. 
  • The Holy Spirit has given you a gift to glorify God, maybe its singing or teaching or encouraging or serving, you can glorify God with your spiritual gift. 
  • However something God calls us calls us all to go into the world and make disciples and showing God’s love to the , the Holy Spirit gives us courage to tell our neighbours about Jesus, to pray for healing for someone, to ask someone to Church, to perform miracles and grow the Church.
  • I want to talk about another example, the upcoming Movie Night Family Event on Friday April 23. Last year when we hosted this event, two families who came for the first time joined the Church, finding family and community here. It was so wonderful to see them feel welcomed and keep coming back. because they were invited by the amazing families who attend Church here. 
  • I want to encourage families that this is a non-threatening and fun event to invite someone to who you may be praying that they come to know Jesus, this event could be part of their journey into leading them into the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit has put someone on your mind, and we can rely on the Holy Spirit to give courage and wisdom in how to go act on what he spaced in our hearts. 
  • What an encouraging passage! Paul has painted us a glorious picture of the purpose of the Church. 
  • You have a place in the Church, you have a role in the Church and a helper in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  
  • Everyone is invited into the Church.. I invite you tonight to ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind some ways He is calling you to glorify God in the Church.
  • Remember to focus always on Jesus, rely constantly on the help of the Holy Spirit and give thanks to Father God for his grace and forgiveness. We want the world to see and know Jesus, but more locally we want p join God in bringing life to Manly. , and he has chosen his p[eoiple to do that – what an honour and privilege that is. 

Lets pray.

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