Be Filled With The Holy Spirit – Ephesians 5:15-20 Sermon

In this sermon Jarrah continues our Ephesians by telling us how we can be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit and learnt to listen to the Holy Spirit!

Sermon preached by Jarrah Duckhs on Sunday June 6th 2021.


SERMON NOTES
Confusion about the work of the Spirit – on one hand we see biblically that we
can have these life-changing singular experiences with the Holy Spirit when he
“shows up”, where tongues, healing, prophetic ministry breaks out for
example, but on the other hand the bible speaks to this ongoing,
transformational work of the Holy Spirit in you that are even more life-
changing..This is what we are going to explore today.

Ephesians recap – Ch1-4 the revolutionary story of Jesus’ death, burial and
resurrection and we have seen from Ch 4 until now how our lives are radically
changed as a result of this gospel story. And we have seen some seriously
profound and life changing revelations of who the Holy Spirit is to us. This far
into Ephesians, we have seen that The Holy Spirit is the:

  1. Past, present and future realisation of God’s kingdom
  2. Provider of the “apokolypsis” revelation and wisdom / understanding to know
    Christ better.
  3. He is the Heart changing indwelling presence of God that sustains a constant
    energising, empowering, prayer generating, Christ imparting relationship to
    you at the core of your being.
  4. The power (dunamis) of God that strengthens your “inner man” (that is your
    soul) with the capacity, ability and authority to live a Godly life
  5. One who enables us to ‘put on’ the new man created in righteousness and
    holiness and repent, renounce and renew. Theme of Ephesians theme that has begun to play out through the book of
    Ephesians, and all of it begins to point to this reality – that all truly Christian
    behaviour is a result of the Spirit of God, living by the Spirit, walking by the
    Spirit. And, as we will see today, “being filled with the Spirit”.

Question:

  1. Are we both individually and corporately desperate to be filled by/with the
    Holy Spirit?

Sermon Body:
So Lets Read Ephesians 5:18-21:
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (or as other versions
say for this will ruin your life), but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another
out of reverence for Christ.

Verse context: We have seen from Ch4 through to now Paul building a long list
of instructions and exhortations on how to live in light of the gospel story what
we saw in Ch1-4. We see such imperatives as:
a. Chapter 4:22 To “put on” the new self created after the likeness of God
in true righteousness and “throw off” all patterns of sin
b. Chapter 4:25 To put of falsehood, and speak truth
c. Chapter 4:30 To not grieve the Holy Spirit
d. Chapter 5:1 To be imitators of God, being a fragrant offering to the Lord
e. Chapter 5: 3 To throw off sin
f. Chapter 5:8-9 To walk as children of the light that produce Spiritual
Fruit
g. Chapter 5:15 To look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but
wise, where Paul is picking up the theme, again, from 4:23 be “renewed
in your mind”.
h. Chapter 5:17 To not be foolish / act thoughtlessly, but to understand
what the will of the Lord is (which as we see in Romans 12:2 relies
upon the Spirit)

Paul brings this series of exhortations to conclusion, by urging us to be “filled
with the Spirit”. WE must see that here “being filled with the Spirit” is not just
another imperative that is bolted onto the rest, but it is the KEY, the only
means by which all others can be lived.
Here is how I want to approach this revelation packed passage:
a. Define what “being filled by the Spirit” actually is;
b. How we are “filled with the Spirit”; and
c. The implications and effects of the Spirit filled life.

  1. What is “being filled with
    the Spirit”
  2. As humans, are triune beings created in the image of God, that is made up of 3
    faculties, or components? Biblically speaking, we are composed of a Spirit,
    Soul and Body:
    a. “SPIRIT” (inner core of our being, the point within us brought into
    contact with the Spirit of God)
    b. “SOUL” (mind, will, emotions, intellect, understanding, decision etc).
    perceives, searches, imagines, desires, loves, hates, resolves, and so
    forth. Biblically, the Spirit and the Soul make up the inner man.
    c. “BODY” (the senses of our being that interact with the world)
  3. To understand what “being filled with the Spirit” means, we need to first lay
    out the foundation upon which this verse is written and see how the gospel /
    Spirit interact with these aspects of your life – so here are 2 gospel revelations
    to help us understand this:
    d. In Romans we see that Jesus saves and severs your “spirit” from sin
    through his death, burial and resurrection so that you get ‘born again’
    and your spirit is restored as God deposits his Spirit (that is, His
    presence) in you. Spiritually in that moment of justification, you were
    made brand new and made spiritually righteous seated at the right hand
    of God….But interestingly in that moment you get born again you still
    have a soul (mind, will, emotions, affections, desires) that has for years
    been taught to think, feel desire and respond to the fall of man. Don’t
    get me wrong, these also change when you come to know Jesus, but
    there is still potential for Patterns of sin to still exist! This is what 1 John
    speaks to. But this leads to the 2nd revelation of the gospel:
    e. Jesus sustains and applies our salvation through the ongoing, life-long
    transformational work of the Holy Spirit in our soul (mind, will,
    emotions); that is through a process called sanctification. 1 Thess 5:23 –
    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and
    may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the
    coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. So as a result of sanctification,
    patterns of sin are being broken, God’s kingdom advances in and
    through your life and produces righteousness and holiness which
    ultimately makes you become more like Jesus.

Paul is speaking to the Ephesians Church here, that is Christians, so the past reality of
salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit as a deposit, is clearly already established.
Therefore we must conclude that this passage “be filled with the Spirit” is therefore
making reference to the ongoing sanctifying / transforming work of the Spirit in you
walk in relationship with Jesus. And the Greek… definitions of “Filled” from Eph 5:18
and the word “Sanctification”.

FILLED – Greek “plerou”

  1. To make full – be full/filled
  2. To carry into effect, bring into
    realisation progressively
  3. To fill so as to diffuse throughout
    ones soul, take possession of, to
    permeate ones heart – to spread
    through and renew every part.
    Now reading this in the context of the
    verse – “Do not get drunk on wine, but
    allow the Holy Spirit to diffuse through
    your soul, take possession of it and
    renew it.
    Its like yeast that spreads through a
    dough. Its a process.

And check this out because look at the
Greek for the word sanctification which
presents the same reality:
SANCTIFICATION – Greek
“Hagiasmos”

  1. To separate from sin and dedicate
    to God – consecration / setting
    apart.
  2. To be Purified internally by the
    renewing of your soul to become
    more like Christ in righteousness,
    holiness and conduct (that is to be
    set apart for the purposes of God).

So now it is clear that biblically speaking, “being filled with the Spirit” is to be
sanctified / transformed by the Spirit as constant way of life. This is where the Spirit:

  1. Renews your minds, that is to give you the capacity to perceive and live out
    spiritual truth and ultimately understand His will (as it says in Romans 12:2)
  2. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our emotions, passions and desires to
    abstain from passion of the flesh (as it says in 1 Thesselonians) and
  3. The Holy Spirit transforms and renews our wills to align with His (as it says in
    Philippians).
    Through this process, your life ultimately becomes realigned with God’s authentic
    design for your life which is to become more like Jesus; where the fruits of the Spirit
    characterise your life. This brings the ULTIMATE glory to the Lord on the earth and
    is the ULTIMATE sense of life itself.
  4. How we are “being filled with
    the Spirit”
    Learned truth has to become living truth. 4 ways the bible says we are filled with the
    Spirit:
  5. How to be filled with the Spirit #1 – Get in His word and Presence daily

a. We see this in the NT everywhere, but Look at Colossians 3:16 the
parallel verse to Ephesians 5:18 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts
to God”. This is so interesting, because the word and the Spirit have the
same effect – singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We see the
beautiful interaction here between the word of God and the Spirit of
God, where the the Holy Spirit takes the word of Christ and transforms
our lives with it.
b. John 17:17 17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth.

  1. How to be filled with the Spirit #2 -Active surrender and yielding to the
    leadership of the Holy Spirit.
    a. To surrender to the Spirit is simply to “walk with the Spirit” and obey
    his leadership. It is to be under the influence, guidance and dynamic
    power of the Holy Spirit in each faculty / aspect of your life and actively
    / intentionally surrendering to his transformational work. This becomes
    a reality the more we are in relationship with him, as we grow in
    confidence and sensitivity in hearing his voice and obeying his leading.
  2. How to be filled with the Spirit #3 -“Putting on” the New Self by the
    strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
    a. We saw this in 4:22-24. “throw off your old sinful nature and your
    former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23
    Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put
    on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and
    holy.”
    b. Putting on the “new nature” is like putting on a cloak. Romans 13:14 –
    “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not
    think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh”. Our task is not
    to “weave” the garment, as this is the Lord’s, it is to “wear” the garment,
    “throwing off” the garment of our old nature, that is sinful practices.
    God has a walk in robe of new clothes already prepared for you to wear
    through the Holy Spirit.
    c. Metaphorically it is being clothed with new clothes woven by God, but
    practically it is walking in constant connection with the truth of God in
    his word and allowing the Holy Spirit to take this truth and transform
    our lives and character to cause the fruits of the spirit to define it.
  3. How to be filled with the Spirit #4 – Behold His Glory
    a. 2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the
    glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image
    from one degree of glory to another.[b] For this comes from the
    Lord who is the Spirit.
    b. YOU BECOME WHAT YOU BEHOLD. If you behold the glory and
    majesty of Christ, you are transformed into the image of Christ by the

work of the Spirit in you. Because the fruits of his life become the fruits
of your life.

DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN THE LEGALISTIC MINDSET. This is where I went
wrong for so many years, because these biblical “how to’s” and the imperatives we
saw in Ch4 and 5 this far aren’t just another set of hard and fast laws and regulations
we must follow in order to be “filled with Spirit”. Its not because “God HAS”
therefore “NOW YOU MUST” in a legalistic way, but rather it is a “God HAS”,
“Now you CAN” through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must understand who is
working in you and what this work in you causes you to do…
You are not the one “working” to be “filled with the Spirit”….because WE ARE
SAVED AND SANCTIFIED BY GOD THE FATHER, IN GOD THE SON AND
THROUGH GOD THE SPIRIT. It is and always will be God working in us. But see
there is this transaction that takes place – Philippians 2:13 says that God energizes
and creates in us the power (through His Holy Spirit) and the desire to will and
to work for His good pleasure. As you are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit creates in
you an ever-deepening faith and trust in Jesus and an ever-increasing delight in His
word, His Spirit and to do His will. So no longer can we interpret these how to’s “be
filled”, “work out your salvation”, “let the word of Chirst”, “throw off sin” as “work
fuelled by the flesh to earn the favour of God”, it is talking about “work fuelled by
faith for the Glory of God”.

  1. Effects of a Spirit-filled life
    We have seen “what” being filled with the Spirit is, we have seen “how” we are filled
    with the Spirit and now we must conclude with the personal and corporate effects of
    Spirit-filled life.
    Here is how the passage reads.
    18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the
    Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
    singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart 20 giving thanks
    always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus
    Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    It is in these verses that Paul draws out the ultimate imperative of “being filled with
    the Spirit” and that is this: That we (personally / individually) are so filled with the
    Spirit that we come to know God in all his fullness and we reflect this in the way we
    live in worship and thanksgiving to the Lord but with equal seriousness Paul is
    imploring God’s people collectively, as a body of believers, to be so full of the Spirit

that our worship, our church and our relationships give full evidence of the Spirits
work in us.

  1. Look with me to v19 and 20. but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing
    one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
    making melody to the Lord with your heart
    We see that the effects of a “filled with Spirit” are one that results in a life of Worship.
    Paul alludes to two dimensions of worship here: both the personal and the corporate.
    The Personal Dimension:
    On the personal level, “being filled with the Spirit” causes us to worship and praise
    God with all your heart in response to what He has done, what He is doing and what
    He will do in and through us. So “being filled with the Spirit” causes us to respond to
    God with singing “Psalms” and “Hymns” – which simply mean “to praise God” and
    with “spiritual songs” which in other translations says “spontaneous songs of the
    Spirit”. This is the new songs to the Lord like the psalm 95-100 songs where our
    hearts are so alive by what the Holy Spirit is doing in us that our hearts break fourth in
    song and melody.
    And if this worship gives glory to God, as we have seen in the bible, then could you
    imagine what happens when a collection of people worshipping the Lord in this
    manner come together and corporately worship the Lord?
    The corporate dimension:
    This is exactly why Paul introduces the “corporate dimension” of the worship that
    results from “being filled with the Spirit”. See in v19 it says Speaking/singing to one
    another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs or as in other versions, teach and
    admonish one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. In both versions we see
    the expression of Worship whereby we “teach” or “speak” to one another as we
    worship, that is to impart instruction and instill doctrine into each other, and we
    “admonish” each other which is to edify and encourage. We praise God and edify one
    another at the same time. We may not realise it, but this is happening here every
    Sunday, every life group, every Wednesday worship night!
    This is the church that God is shaping across the earth, a church where, as we saw in
    Ephesians 2:21-22 the whole building is being 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.

Conclusion:

So Church, I ask you again – ARE YOU PERSONALLY / AND ARE WE
CORPORATELY DESPERATE TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Because the Spirit changes, transforms and brings life to you, but in doing so changes,
transform and brings life to this community, and every sphere you are in. And let me
tell you Manly Life, there is so much life in this Church which is direct evidence of
the Spirit being at work in this place.

Living in the Light – Ephesians 5:1-13 Sermon

We continue our series in the book of Ephesians with Tim preaching on living in the light, how we should leave the old life behind and embrace the new life Good has for us in His life!

SERMON NOTES

Well let’s kick on with Ephesians… this is the last week in some of the morality of Christian
faith, or the ethics of believers…

  • And we have been saying it all flows from the good news of the gospel story that then
    reshapes every part of our story.
  • So any imperative to truthful speech or not stealing or being compassionate and forgiving
    is always done in light of what God has done first!

How did you go with truthful speech this last week?

  • I know I caught myself a few times during the week. Not outright lying but just
    exaggerating things or embellishing the truth…
  • And I asked myself a few time, why was I doing that… and I realised every time it was
    because of self preservation, or trying to make myself look good.
  • So it’s a challenge… put off the old self and put on the new and speak truthfully.

Ok, so… Ephesians 5:1-14
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity,
or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity,
foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can
be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.7 Therefore do not be
partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the
fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases
the Lord.11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It
is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the
light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Star Wars has basically taken over my house… the kids have just finished the Mandalorian,
after already having done the 9 Star Wars films.

  • Luca has several lightsabres and a favourite game at the moment after dinner is we take
    turns pretending to be a Star Wars character and we all have to guess who it is.
  • I do a particularly good Jabba the Hut. It comes naturally…
  • But the kids are fascinated by the idea of a Dark side and turning to the light.

  • Luca is always asking when a new character appears in Star Wars “are they a good guy or a
    bad guy Dad?”

Good question… and we often ask that of people around us… are they good guys or bad guys…
often with most of us, the story is more complex…

  • But what if we asked that of ourselves?
  • Are we on the side of light? And where does darkness still reside within us?
  • Does our daily living demonstrate who we belong to by how we walk…
  • Last week we looked at speaking the truth and we asked do our words tilt the world
    around us to heaven or do they tilt the world towards hell?
  • And as the children of God, we have an incredible mandate to live as children of light.

In the Christian faith we soon learn a few truths…

  • Firstly, All of humanity starts on the darkside. Right we are all Darth Vader 😉
  • And I’ve never really had a problem accepting that about myself because I know my own
    heart and where my life would lead without God’s grace.
  • Secondly, Jesus brings us into the light through imputed righteousness. Right Jesus is Luke
    who brings Darth Vader back to the light.
  • Am I stretching this too far?
  • But we become light or righteousness through a gift from God. Not something we earn.
  • And finally, we are called to live as children of the light.
  • And for that I have no Star Wars analogy.
  • Other than maybe, beware the power of the darkside…

In Ephesians 5 Paul again sets up the contrast between the old way of living and the new self.

  • It starts pretty powerfully: “Walk in the way of love…” again it is done by explaining how
    God has done this first…
  • Verse 2 – “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
  • So walking in the way of love for us includes sacrificial behaviour… putting others first.

  • It shouldn’t surprise us, that so many of the ethical imperatives of following Jesus involve
    love.
  • And it being based on a love demonstrated or modelled through Jesus sacrificial love.

There is this great section in Romans where Paul is talking about how we should live as
Christians… Romans 13:8-10
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever
loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You
shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command
there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love
does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Isn’t that the best passage on ethical living in the New Testament?

  • He basically says, do everything through the context of “is this loving?”
  • Does this action or decision fulfil loving your neighbour as yourself?”
  • Right? You wont commit adultery or murder or steal or covet, because it is not walking in
    love.
  • The things you would want done to yourself, because you love yourself… you then do to
    others…
  • So we walk in the way of love. That is the lens through which as children of God we do
    everything!

This is kind of the 101 of Christian living… walking in the way of love.

  • 1 Corinthians 13 – if I do not have love I am nothing.
  • That has to be the defining characteristic of who we are.
  • Right? 1 John 4:7 says Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
  • And it says in verse 8 “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  • So let the love of God infuse you deeply… receive it, bask in it, know it, glory in it….
  • And then walk in the way of love as our response…


So Paul then moves on to a spray about old ways of living and new ways of living again.

  • I don’t want to rehash last week, but quickly, we said that any moral exhortation from Paul
    is always read in light of the good news of what God has done.
  • It isn’t… “because God has, you now must.”
  • But instead it is “because God has, you now can.”
  • It is because we are loved, forgiven, empowered that a whole new way of life is now
    available to us.

Some of the ones we find in Ephesians 5:3-4 includes

  • Have no hint of sexual immorality or greed or foolish talk amongst you.

And this is why walking in the light is going to become important, because in one sense these
are the areas of our lives we like to keep hidden.

  • Think about those areas… immorality, impurity, greed…
  • Maybe best exposed by what you could call the Mum and Dad test.
  • Would you be happy for your parents to know the details of your life around these things?
  • And don’t worry, it has to work for them too… would your parents be happy for their
    parents to know everything about their lives. Haha!

Timothy Keller is good on this. Because it says greedy people are idolaters.

  • He says, “Money, itself, isn’t usually an idol. But what you put your money towards does
    show you where your idols are usually.”
  • Ohhh that’s good.
  • You see if you are not generous with your money and your home and your time… it may
    expose what you really worship.
  • If you spend more on fitness than the kingdom of God… maybe your priorities are out.
  • If you spend obscene amounts on home improvements and never building other people a
    home… maybe you worshipping the wrong thing.


And then sexual immorality. Again Tim Keller who is a Pastor in New York speaking about the
early church.
“A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians
came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody
their money.”

  • Whoa! Read that again…
  • Or as my friend Charlie said… “Christians shouldn’t be able to keep their wallet in their
    pants…” haha as opposed to… ok you get it…
  • But we should be desiring holiness with our sexuality, despite it being a battle (I mean lets
    get real – it isn’t easy”).
  • I mean some of you could be part time models… (not David Jones models, but at least Best
    and Less models… the temptation must be extreme…)
  • And we should be ridiculously generous. Right – set and forget…
  • But actually don’t forget… keep on giving, keep on responding to need… let it hurt a bit!

Now we do all of this of course in a greedy, sex saturated world.

  • Victoria went to a parents evening held by the wonderful Melinda Tankart Reiss on the
    sexualisation of our kids.
  • And someone asked, when should I get my kid a mobile phone. And her answer was,
    “when you are ready for them to be exposed to porn.”
  • So we need each other, calling each other to a different narrative, a different way of life.
  • We need to uphold the beauty of being created in the image of God, and sex being special
    and for marriage and for faithfulness.
  • And when we get it wrong, we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, receive his grace and
    we try again!

So how do we do all of this?

In Ephesians 5, Paul then goes into this whole section on living as children of the light… and
that is where I want to finish the sermon today.

  • So what do we learn from this passage?

  • Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of
    light 
  • So there is our calling as the children of God.

Verse 8 “you were once darkness.” So we are back to Star Wars? I think we have run that
analogies full course…

  • So Paul starts with the reality of the human condition. Outside of Jesus we exist in
    darkness.
  • Maybe this could be called the doctrine of original sin, or the unregenerate state of human
    life…
  • But the reality is that every single one of us have things in our lives that we need saving
    from in order to be brought into the light or into a relationship with God.
  • Paul talks about things that people do that are (verse 12) shameful to even mention what
    the disobedient do in secret.
  • And that is probably a big part of living in darkness… it is the stuff in our lives that we
    wouldn’t want exposed.
  • We were talking last week about the truth and how we tell lies that we then cover up with
    lies… and it can all unravel.

I don’t know why, but one of my favourite films is the Woody Allen movie with Cate Blanchett
called Blue Jasmine.

  • It’s very un-hollywood because it doesn’t have a happy, neat ending…
  • And it’s really the story of the unravelling that occurs when you build your life around self
    absorption, lies and dishonesty…
  • The main character Jasmine is a formerly rich Manhatten socialite whose life comes
    crashing down when her husbands financial fraud and philandering comes out and he
    takes his life…
  • But rather than confront the truth, she continues to propagate her life on a series of lies…
  • And it all comes crashing down when the lies she has told to her new partner begin to
    unravel, and once again she looses it all…


I think it’s a great film, because it exposes how darkness and lies always tend to unravel and
come crashing down.

  • If truth sets free, lies destroy and wreak havoc in all directions…
  • If the light exposes the truth and illuminates us…. Then darkness compounds and devours.

Verse 8 continued “but now you are light in the Lord.”

  • This is of course a gift from God.
  • And the Greek is correctly translated here not as you are in the light. But you are light in
    the Lord.
  • Theologically this is an example of what you would call imputed righteousness.
  • It is not that we all of a sudden are a light, like Jesus when he says “I am the light of the
    world.”
  • Instead this is bestowed upon us because of the gift of Jesus. It is imputed to us.
  • Right, this is not something we actualise within ourselves, but rather it is imputed… or
    given to us or bestowed upon us.

In Colossians 1 it says;
“the Father… has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of
light. (verse 13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the
kingdom of the Son he loves.”

  • In the Alpha Course Nicky talks about a football transfer. Old course: David Beckham…
    Man U to Real Madrid
  • So you are rescued from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light.
  • You no longer belong to the old way of living. You have been purchased at a price to join a
    new family.
  • Or as it is put in Ephesians – you are now light in the Lord… (this is who you now play for)

The transfer analogy continues in verse 8…

  • Old club cant ask why you are not at training or still playing for them…
  • You now belong to a new club… and now you start playing in the new team in a new way.


Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 

  • So we begin to live like the new club we are a part of.
  • We begin to live in a transparent and illuminating way that throws off the darkness and
    embraces being a light in the world.

Let me finish today with one thought. If you are struggling majorly with an area in your life.

  • Let me encourage you to live transparently. And by that I mean, don’t keep it in the
    darkness… but bring it into the light.
  • That is one of the gifts of community. We can have accountability.
  • And good accountability isn’t judgemental, but it does in love encourage you to embrace
    the truth and walk towards the light.
  • Right? Let me encourage you to find someone you can trust who you can be honest with
    about your struggles.

Vulnerability is a really good thing.

  • Because we want to be in the light, we want to be the light. We desperately want nothing
    to do with the deeds of darkness…
  • But getting there is an adventure and it takes a bit of honesty and support and
    encouragement.

Well let’s do this. Just for ministry I was thinking about that idea of imputed righteousness or
imputed light!

  • That very last verse says everything that is illuminated becomes a light!
  • So clearly we need to have this prayed into us, or filling us…
  • And that is Jarrah’s sermon next week about the ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit.
  • But lets go after this today!

Speaking the Truth Sermon – Ephesians 4:25-32 Sermon

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday May 23 2021.

SERMON NOTES

  • Well isn’t Ephesians just a cracker of a book. Victoria was wonderful last week as usual.
  • She continued this pivot in the Book of Ephesians from the wonders of the Gospel to now how we walk out the life of the gospel!
  •  And that is what we have been saying… that in light of the Gospel story of grace and forgiveness and redemption…
  •  We are called to live a life worthy of that calling. We come into balance…And so we come today to some pretty direct, honest, confronting truths or exhortations for how we should live.

– As we put off the old self and put on the new self, made new in the attitudes of our minds and created to be like God.

Everything that Paul will say links to what has gone before… right?

  • If you read these rules for living, or these moral guidelines for life in community without the remarkable good news that has gone before
  • It would be easy to slip into legalism or to become judgemental of everyone’s life…

– But Paul is going to talk about how to live, as allowing the Gospel story to reshape every part of our stories.

So verse 1 of chapter 4, “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

  • The Gospel story that he has reminded them of should be something that we feel compelled to want to come into balance with, in how we now live our lives.
  • And Victoria quoted the message version of Ephesians 4:23-24… It says;“Everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”
  • So good… so good… all of this good news brings you in…
  • allowing for the possibility of a life renewed from the inside.So let’s have a look at today’s passage. Ephesians 4:25-3225 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
    29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.This amazing passage of contrasting ways of living, is generally summarised by scholars as being about truthful speech.
  • The encouragement, or exhortation from Paul in light of putting off the old self and putting on the new, is live a transformed life compared to what went before.
  •  I like in the Bible Project schematic that we have been following how they summarise this.
  •  Old self vs new self… what we take off and what we put on…
  • Take off lies. Put on truth
  • Get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Stop stealing. Be generous.
  • Don’t gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  • Don’t seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.
  • And the next two weeks. Don’t be promiscuous. Walk in the way of love.
  •  Don’t get drunk on wine. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.It’s brilliant right. Who wouldn’t want to live this life?

  •  And when we meet people who embody this kind of life, you can’t help but respect and honour and look up to them.
  • And the promise as Victoria said last week, is that as our minds are renewed… as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • These imperatives about how to live aren’t, “Because God has… you must…”
  •  But instead they are “because God has… you now can…”So we might read this section starting with… Ephesians 1:3 “Because God has blessed us with every Spiritual blessing in Christ…”
  • You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, you can refrain fromstealing. Be generous.
  • Because God has, you can now stop gossiping. Use your words to encourage.
  • Because God has, you can choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.
  • Right? And we can read any moral imperatives in light of what God has done…Let’s go another round of this… Ephesians 1:19 “Because of God’s incomparably great power for us who believe…”
  • You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  • Because of God’s incomparably great power for us who believe, you can refrain from stealing. Be generous.
  • Because God has, you can now stop gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  • Because God has, you can now choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.One more round… Ephesians 1:7-8 “Because God forgave our sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us…”
  •  You can now take off lies. Speak the truth
  • Because God has, you can now get rid of anger. Live in peace.
  •  Because God forgave and lavished grace on us, you can refrain from stealing. Be generous. Because God has, you can now stop gossip. Use your words to encourage.
  •  Because God has, you can choose to not seek revenge. Practice forgiveness.Are you with me?You see shame is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour.
  • Condemnation is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour
  • Fear of punishment is an awful motivation for changing our behaviour
  • But receiving every spiritual blessing in Christ. Being given great power. Being forgiven andlavished in grace…
  • That can compel and empower us to want to live a life worthy of the calling we havereceived.So let’s talk about some of the way Paul calls us to now walk as the children of God.
  • And I think it is good to remember that this letter was written to a community… these are ethics for how to live together…
  • Someone from this church was chatting with me the other day… and it was very encouraging what they were saying about what has formed here at Manly Life…
  • Particularly referring to all of the young families… and the sense of community and fun… and how great the services are…
  • And he said to me… “I mean what could go wrong from here…”

And I felt like such a party pooper… because what came to mind was the incredible human capacity to muck things up!

  • I have this incredibly high view of church community but also a very realistic view of church community.
  • Right? I absolutely believe that this is the place where people get saved and transformed and find friends and learn to forgive and share and be compassionate. I see it all the time.
  • But this is also a community full of broken people like me.
  • You know what could spoil this church community? Well I could… You probably could.
  •  If we are not committed to putting off the old self and putting on the new we can do allkind of damage. And it is in Paul’s list here.I mean we can tell lies to one another… we can let anger at a real or perceived relational hurt consume us.
  • People can fall out because of bitterness, rage and slander.
  • Right? Because we are doing life together, because we do become friends… we are rubbingup against each other… all the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • And it is so easy to make a judgement on another person and then talk about them behindtheir back.
  • In verse 27, Paul says this is giving the devil a foothold.So we daily, need to be reshaped in every part of our lives by the Gospel story.
  • It is why on the huge one of forgiving each other in verse 32, it is explained that we do this, “just as in Christ, God forgave you!”
  • Right? There it is again – it is the gospel story that reshapes our story. It is because God has… we now can too!Ok, I just want to finish today with truthful speech.
  • Interesting to me that in getting to some of the morals or ethics or ways of living out the Christian faith, Paul starts with speaking the truth…
  • And I think that is because of the absolute centrality given to truth in the Christian faith.
  • Truth is the Greek word Aletheia which means without concealment. Or out in the open.
  • In John 1 it says Jesus came in grace and truth.
  • He came without concealing anything… he revealed who God is. Fully, openly, perfectly.Isn’t that a great way to think about it…
  • He come to fully reveal who God is. Nothing hidden.
  • And his words are what you would consider the perfect conceptualisation of goodnesss.
  • Right – that is the Sermon on the Mount – pure unconcealed truth.
  •  That’s why he says in the sermon on the mount “be perfect as your Father in heaven isperfect.”
  •  Right? This is the absolute highest conception of moral truth…
  • It’s why Jesus says in John 8, know the truth and the truth will set you free…So Paul says put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour!
  •  So as Christians, as followers of Jesus we have a fundamental commitment to the truth and speaking the truth.
  • And why? Because truth speaks life into being… and lies speak hell into being…
  • The clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson… talks about our words tilting the world a bitmore towards heaven or a bit more towards hell.That’s a mic drop moment… truth speaks life and tilts the world towards heaven…. Lies and any co-operation with it speak hell into being.
  • So that is a good question to ask: Do your words tilt the world a bit more towards heaven or hell…
  • You see as we move towards the truth everything comes together… when we lie everything begins to fall apart…I find this such a challenge, but here is the reality… when we lie to each other, we find ourselves often having to lie more to cover up previous lies.
  • We end up entrapped by our own falsehoods…
  • And you can see why truthful speech is a great way to start for a transformed life.
  • See if you are committed to speaking the truth, then all the other stuff flows on…
  • You aren’t going to blow up in anger… which often leads us to say things we regret,.
  • We won’t steal because that involves fundamental dishonesty.
  • Instead, we begin to (verse 29) speak only what is helpful for building others up.Right? So then everything that then follows is in one sense a derivative action of telling the truth.
  • Bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander. These are all things related to the old way of living in which self preservation and getting ahead and selfishness rules our hearts.
  • But as we put on the new self… as our story is reshaped by the Gospel story… it says
  • “Instead be kind, compassionate and forgiving.”Again Jordan Peterson, he has written so much on the importance of speaking truthfully.
  • He says, “Use your words carefully and wisely and truthfully.”
  • He says the thing about telling the truth is that it is so adventurous… I like that.
  • You say not what you think will benefit me… or what will get me ahead in a situation.
  • But instead you speak what is true in every situation… and see where the chips fall…
  • I mean yes there is a think called tact… that’s important… but imagine prioritising truth!
  • Sometimes I counsel people… and the temptation is so strong to tell them what they wantto hear… you know “yeah leave your wife” or “yeah it’s all someone else’s fault.”
  • But I try and commit myself to speaking the truth. Of course in love. But the truth.As we finish… and I want to do some ministry at the end of the service… let’s just consider 3 places we can speak the truth.Firstly, In our workplace. I wonder what your work place is like? Good? Bit toxic?
  • I met with someone from church just this week who has just quit their job because the culture of their workplace was so oppressive.
  • And we spend so much time in the office or at school or the hospital or the shop…
  • And I wonder as a child of God whether you are titling it towards heaven or hell with yourwords?
  • You have an unbelievable opportunity right where you are to stand for truth and to speak the truth.
  • Selfridge story….
  • So shaped by the truth, be a person in your place of work who is committed to speakingthe truth.Secondly, At Home. I wonder what your home life is like and how words are used?
  • Most marriages that disintegrate have the common cause of truthful speech being an early casualty. (repeat that)
  • Starts maybe with little lies over where you have been, or what you have done with the finances or covering up addictions or bad habits.
  • And then lies are said to cover up lies… So a regenerated heart and renewed mind… leads to truthful speech.
  • My guess is you wont cheat on your partner if you are committed to truthful speech.
  • Imagine instead using your words only to encourage and build up and to speak truthfully.Victoria and I had a bit of a blow up one night this week. I think we were both tired and a few things had probably niggled each other the previous week.
  • And it wasn’t our finest moment…. But in the heat of an argument, your words can really sting!
  • Anyhow, the kids went to bed and we got a chance to talk… and we cleared the air and both committed to doing better.
  • And then bless Victoria, the next day she message me apologising for being a snappy turtle.
  •  And then I messaged her about how much I love her and how much she does and brings to the family.Right… but that is the power of following Jesus. Grace is a circuit breaker…
  • Instead of following the path of destructive words downwards and getting bitter and then slandering each other.
  • We forgive as the Lord forgave us in Christ Jesus…

– We then get to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

And then finally, at church! This needs to be a place of truth!

  • So this is going well… this is a great church… what could possibly go wrong?
  • Hahahah!
  •  Look… listen… we need to come as we are… broken and real and with all of our mess…
  • But we need to come, so ready to bless and encourage and build each other up!
  • We have such an opportunity for this to be a house of honour and grace and truth! But it takes every single one of us to be on guard and to watch our words!
  • Imagine walking into this place and being bathed in encouragement?

Put on the New Self – Ephesians 4:17-24 Sermon

Victoria continues our series in Ephesians by looking at how we can put off the old self and live in the new way that God has for us with the help of the Holy Spirit!

Sermon preached by Victoria Giovanelli on Sunday May 16 2021.

SERMON NOTES

Chapters 1 – 3 The wonder of the Gospel. Look what God has done! An then at the start of Chapter 4 we have shifted gears “Therefore”…  Chapters 4 – 6 Walking the Gospel. It’s about entering into it!  

I really enjoyed Tim’s sermon on the fivefold ministry and how those  roles are gifted by God to equip, the saints (us) for service and to grow in maturity! That a healthy community is alive in all 5 of these areas of  gifting.  

It has led many of us to the question – what is Tim? Haha…  

I also love the way Tim unpacked the word “worthy” previous to that in  Chapter 4:1 that Paul is now imploring us to walk in a manner worthy  of the calling with which you have been called. Many of us hear that  word worthy and we begin to feel weighted down: 

– I will never be worthy 

– I will never measure up 

– And it’s true you probably won’t – let’s be humble people.  

But we misunderstand the word. As Tim explained it is about coming  into balance with. Bringing our lives into balance with what Christ has  done.  

Imagine if I was held in a prison cell for all my wrong doings and then  along comes Christ, fights for my freedom, pays for my mistakes, takes  the punishment on himself, opens up that cell door of captivity to sin – – you’re free, come live a different way.  

– Take off your prison gear and put on these new garments I have  for you. 

Imagine if I respond,  

– “Praise God, thank you Jesus”.  

– But what if I never leave. 

– I never change my garments, I never get dressed for new life.  – I never actually walk outside that cell.  

That cell… 

– It’s the world that I know, that I lived in for so long 

– It’s the bars through which I see myself  

– It’s the behaviours I’ve lived out over and over in repetition for  years  

– It’s the sin I’m caught up in  

– The cell has perhaps defined me, my thoughts, my beliefs, the  state of my heart… it runs deep.  

But I’d be crazy to stay in that cell. And Paul is saying to us ‘Take off the  prison gear’ and dress yourself ready for ‘new life’. But it takes  partnership, it takes us doing our part to come into balance with.  – It’s not about striving to measure up.  

– Christ has done it all – now walk says Paul, in what he has  accomplished for you. Enter into the victory of gospel life.  – Don’t live a life of captivity to sinful ways that have been paid for!  The cell has been unlocked. 

We have just spent so many weeks basking in the goodness and the  power of the Gospel in Chapters 1-3. “Therefore” says Paul… now walk in the reality of it.  

And with this shift of gears we are going to be looking at Eph 4:17-24  today.  

17Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as  the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in  their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the  ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to  practice every kind of impurity. 20But that is not the way you learned  Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in  him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to  your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful  desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put  on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness  and holiness. 

So with Verse 17 – Paul starts to get specific on what that looks like to  walk in the fullness of what Christ has accomplished.  

He kicks off though with a warning… do not walk he says… and he paints a pretty dark picture… 

– darkened understanding 

– alienated from the life of God 

– ignorance 

– hardened hearts 

– callous 

– given over to all kinds of ungodly desires 

It’s a painful description…  

And his statement “the futility of their minds” is kind of offensive – let’s  be honest.  

The use of the word Gentiles here is rather in the context of those who  have rejected God. It’s really an image of humanity after the Fall.  

It’s a picture of the old-self which you’ll see from verse 22 we all need  to lay aside, Gentile or otherwise.  

How do we lay aside the old self because surely, we don’t want to live  in darkened understanding or alienated from the giver and creator of 

life, from the one who says, “I am love”, we don’t want hardened  hearts right? 

Sin is destructive. Sin destroys relationships, drives us in the direction  of greed, lust, murder, adultery, slanderous words, theft, pride that  puffs up and pushes others down, it’s the root cause of oppression and  injustice, violence, hatred… who would want any kind of sin ruling or  guiding the way we walk and live.  

I am pretty sure we could all think of an example of a sinful behaviour  from our past, or in our own lives right now that has or is creating a  path of damage in its wake. In Christ we find another way to live. In  Christ there is freedom to walk a new way.  

And in verse 23 we find part of the answer to the question how – be  renewed in the spirit of your minds. 

– I believe the greatest battle ground most often than not is the  battle ground of the mind and heart.  

– The condition of our mind and heart shape how we think, how we  see the world, ourselves, how we interpret and respond in  circumstances.  

– Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, for everything  you do flows from it. 

First I am going to talk about the mind… 

Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by  the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the  will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Paul is helping us through this passage to reconcile a one-time event of  transformation with the need for a continual process of  transformation. 

Verse 23 to be renewed – present tense – emphasising continual action  – keep being continually renewed in your mind. Why? Because there is 

a lot of renewing to take place, just ask my husband about the state I  can get my mind into at times, I’m sure he’s got some stories.  

– There are a lot of old ways of thinking we carry that need to be  brought into balance with the truth of God’s word. Because  thoughts are not always facts.  

– There can be ways of thinking that need to be surrendered,  repented of and dealt with by the cross of Christ.  

– It’s hard to walk a certain way unless you first of all believe in your  mind it to be the best thing for you.  

– Can I encourage you that God is so good and he wants to Father  you into the fullness of your calling and life in him.  

He knows we can’t do it in our own strength – so he has given us his Holy Spirit. All you need to do is partner with him, we need to invite  him into our thought life. 

– Everyday we have thousands of thoughts, emotions, urges,  memories and feelings.  

– It can seem for some us an overwhelming task to tackle this… 

2 Cor 5:10 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war  according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the  flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy  arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of  God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  

The Devil loves to get into our thought life with all kinds of sneaky little  lies.  

– He has been up to the same game since the Garden of Eden.  – Because if he can convince us to believe the lie it’s far more likely  we will act upon it and it will start to shape how we behaviour and  live. 

When it comes to our minds the greatest weapons we have is to know  the Bible, the truth that lives in scripture and the other weapon is the  great companion and partner we have in the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

My friend Hannah and I use to have this line we would pull out on each  other in the midst of conversations sometimes where we would  interject with “Stop – that’s a lie from hell”  

– For example I might be talking about a situation and say “I’m not  sure God will show up for me” 

– Little prayer I call: Repent, Renounce, Replace 

– Repent “I repent for believing the lie… 

– Renounce “I renounce any stronghold that lie has had on my life – Replace “Holy Spirit what’s the truth… his word says I will never  leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5) 

– God help me to know your truth and live in your truth 

Now, I am no psychologist but one of the major schools of treatment  for patients is called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. 

– And the basic idea is that our thoughts (our cognitive life) affects  our feelings and behaviours.  

– And so many damaging behaviours and patterns can be caused by  toxic thought cycles.  

– And so the basic idea is that if we can take thoughts captive and  not allow them to dominate our minds, then our behaviours  change over time.  

– How amazing then that God basically told us to do this 2000 years  ago! 

– “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 

So it is amazing to me that while the world has to try and do this in its own strength we have the Holy Spirit to help us. 

– So an example. You may have a train of thoughts that are quite  bitter or unforgiving…

– So when that little gem of a thought train seems to have you  captive!  

– Instead why not stop, take the thought captive, and say the Lord’s  prayer “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” – You see this is about developing the disciplines of faith that allows  the Holy Spirit to work.  

Because of what Christ has done our thinking can change… our  understanding can change… the condition of the heart can change… 

But before we shift gears on to the heart. There is this pivotal moment  in the passage that occurs in Verse 20: But that is not the way you  learned Christ. 

Learned Christ. Not learnt about Christ. Learned Christ. To know Christ.  This all happens through relationship with Christ. Not just knowing  about him but knowing him. It’s two very different states of being.  

You know when you hang out with someone so much that you start  finishing each other’s sentences, that you know what they are thinking  with just a glance or a nod.  

Why would it be any different with Christ. The more time we spend in  his presence, investing in relationship with him we begin to understand  how he thinks, how he would respond in a situation, and we begin to  respond as he would respond, think as he thinks, because we know  him, and know what he is like.  

Whatever you need to be doing to grow in relationship with Christ – just do it. Go for it. He is the best saviour you will ever get to know.  

So let’s talk a little bit about the heart now which is the other major  battle ground… 

Let me read for you Verse 24 in the message version: And then take on  an entirely new way of life – a God fashioned life, a life renewed from 

the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately  reproduces his character in you. 

Transformation starts within, on the inside, in the depths of our hearts  where it begins to shape our thoughts, our beliefs, then our character,  our hopes, our desires… it’s amazing!  

Who you are now on the inside, what has happen to your heart  because of Christ and is continuing to happen, should start to come  into balance with your external choices, behaviours and actions.  

So much damage has been done to the Christian faith because of  hypocrisy because of the balance being out of whack between the  Gospel message, the person of Jesus Christ and the outward behaviour  of the church at times and Christians.  

And the only way it’s going to change is with renewal of the heart and  mind.  

I love the way the passage says as God , a life renewed from the  inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately  reproduces his character in you – as God does this.  

It’s a work only he can do, and he has and he will, if we are willing to  surrender to it. We are not told to be idle in the process – Paul is  shifting gears here encouraging us to bring into balance what we say  and what we do with the ways of Christ.  

Ezekiel 36 

25 I (God) will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean  from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse  you. 26And I (God) will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I (God)  will put within you. And I (God) will remove the heart of stone from  your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I (God) will put my Spirit  within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey  my rules.

Christ – this is what he does! And it’s amazing, and beautiful, and not a  chore but a delight.  

And he is counting on us to display his likeness to the world.  

There is a truth here in this scripture in Ezekiel about Christ’s desire for  our hearts to not be harden, hearts of stone, but soft and fleshy. Why?  

Because then we can grow, we can be corrected and also I believe  because the heart is where we experience life in all its fullness – right? 

Hearts become hard because of hurts, wounds, the trials of life,  because of experiences.  

– Christ wants to soften our hearts, and heal them. 

– Because when we experience his compassion, we can be  compassionate to others 

– When we experience forgiveness, then we know how to go and forgive.  

– To experience his love, that we might be love in this world.  

I had such a heart of stone due to some pretty big trials I went through  in my teenage years. I shut my heart down because to feel was far too  painful. But it meant I also didn’t fully experience and feel all the  wonderful feelings that life has to offer.  

And because of those wounds at times I would leave a path of damage  in my wake.  

I had a pretty radical experience of God healing those wounds and after  the healing of my heart came this incredible experience of my  emotions coming back to life. 

– Lying in bed and speaking life to my heart  

– Grieving, indescribable joy 

– It was like the Holy Spirit was awakening all these emotions, and  restoring fullness to my heart. 

He renews our hearts. He renews our minds. With his help we can walk  it out.  

And he has called us to this process of transformation so that we might  radiate his true likeness in this world.  

The phrase we need to grasp is not “because God, we must now”… no  but rather  

– “because God has, we can”  

– “because God, we are”  

So, we take off the old and put on the new. 

Verse 24 says this new self we are to put on is created after the likeness  of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

I could preach a whole sermon on holiness and righteousness but let  me just say this as I close: 

– His righteousness is more than enough 

– His holiness is more than enough 

– We are being sanctified after his likeness which is mind blowing…  – To be sanctified is to surrender, let go of our pride, take off the old sinful ways, lay it down, start there… and put on the new, learn to walk in it. 

And I truly believe it begins in the battleground of our minds and  hearts.  

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old  has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

May we enter fully into it. May we faithful walk it out, empowered by  the Spirit, full of faith and trust in Him and all that He has accomplished so that we can. 

Ministry Time: What is the prison cell of thoughts, attitudes of the  hearts, behaviours that you still haven’t been able to walk freely out  of? Lay it down today because Christ has come to set you free. 

Five-Fold Ministry to Equip the Saints – Ephesians 4:11-16 sermon

This week in our Ephesians series Tim preaches on the 5 gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12 and how God uses His people to build up and equip the Church!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday May 9 2021.

SERMON NOTES

Ephesians 4:1-3 Equipping the Saints

Well isn’t Ephesians just a cracker of a book. I have been loving this series and I know many of you have commented on how much you are getting from it.  

  • Last week was the pivot moment in the letter, that Paul wrote from jail, to the church he had established in the city of Ephesus. 
  • He has spent the first 3 chapters talking up the glorious riches we have in Christ… forgiveness, redemption, adoption, strengthened with power, saved by grace…
  • And then he says therefore, live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received.
  • And for Paul that started with being like Jesus in our humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love.
  • Pretty cool – that is how God wants us to bring our lives into balance with the good news. 
  • That is the first way the gospel story is meant to reshape our story!

So Paul continues in chapter 4… but kind of detours before getting back into how we should live in light of the Gospel story. 

  • Because he wants to remind us that as the people of God, the way we grow and mature and become unified is through the church.
  • And so he goes into this section we are looking at today about how Jesus gives gifts to people in the church, so that all the saints get equipped for maturity and growth and love!
  • Right?
  • And the key to becoming who God wants us to be, the key to getting reshaped by the gospel, is being part of a community that helps us do this!

The problem is that at least in the West we read everything individually rather than communally.

  • You know we think I can do this Jesus thing on my own… or I know better than any collective wisdom. Or we get cynical towards the church. 
  • But Jesus goal in salvation was always to form a people who would work this out together.
  • So we need each other… and we need leadership. 
  • So lets have a look at this next passage on how the body of Christ (that is the church) may be built up. 

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

So there is a risk and a goal in this passage. 

  • The risk according to verse 14 is that we the people of God don’t get built up, or grow up, or become mature and unified… 
  • But instead the people of God end up being like infants, tossed around by people who would mislead us in their deceptive scheming. 
  • So the risk is that if we don’t have good, faithful, 5 fold ministry, we are in danger of being led astray!
  • But the goal is something remarkable… that the body of Christ gets built up, and the people of God grow, mature, and attain fullness and unity. 

And the reality is that history is full of stories of the people of God getting blown off track. 

  • Every move of God seems to eventually splutter out… great moves of God and movements of church growth become museums and monuments to glories past. 
  • People get deceived, and land in heresies, or even worse, than false teachings… they form committees… argh! 
  • But its true. Without Jesus gifted ministry leaders, false teachings can come into the church 
  • Name me a church movement that has embraced progressive, liberal theology that hasn’t gone into terminal decline. 
  • And also momentum in the Kingdom can be stopped by committees and inward thinking. 
  • Right? Jesus didn’t die on the cross to start a bureaucracy. 

But there is a way that God has ordained for us to get to the goal of the body of Christ being built up.

  • And verse 11 tells us that God has given to the church certain people with gifts to equip the saints…
  • Indeed it says Jesus has given these gifts! And they are often referred to as the 5 fold ministries. 
  • And the idea, is that this is the way that God has ordained for leadership to work in the church if we are to become unified and loving and growing!

So we have Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. 

  • And the point isn’t that these people do all the ministry and all the saints (that is you) sit back and watch…
  • No… instead these leaders (verse 12) equip the saints (that is still you) for service.  
  • Mike Pilavachi from Soul Survivor used to love talking about the church. 
  • He’d say: the church is like a football match – 22,000 fans desperately in need of exercise watching 22 players desperately in need of a rest… 
  • But what we need is for that to be flipped… 22 leaders cheering on 22,000 participants… doing the stuff of Jesus and the kingdom

So who are these people? And how do you know if you are cut out for this role…

  • Aside: we can all as the children of God play our part and reflect attributes of these roles… 
  • You can still be a teacher of the Word of God without having the title Teacher. 
  • You can Pastor people without being a Pastor. You can be prophetic without being called a Prophet!
  • Right?
  • But Paul’s idea here is clearly that there are leaders in the church who equip the saints for ministry. 

So lets work backwards through these roles. 

  • And remember these people aren’t perfect… Paul describes himself as the worst of sinners in 1 Timothy. 
  • And he is an Apostle… the highest office in the church. 
  • In fact in this passage it’s the church who are called the saints!
  • But these are the supernatural gifts Jesus has given to people to grow his church!

Firstly, Teachers – these are those make the truth and knowledge of the Word of God accessible to all. 

  • They have an ability for breaking confusion and misinformation. Often trained, they bring clarity and revelation from the scriptures!
  • They are gifted in helping people know the truth of God and also how it applies to their lives.
  • And their favourite verse is usually 2 Timothy 3:16 “all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
  • They just love the Word of God!

And you know you are around a Teacher because they are always sending you a meme of some verse… or asking you how your quiet times are going. Haha…

  • Right? They just love opening the Word with you… 
  • And there are great teachers… 
  • Trip to Dubbo I listened for over 2 hours to NT Wright (New Testament scholar) on Pauline Trinitarian theology… and it was brilliant. Insightful, revelatory, refreshing, correcting!
  • But also within the local church we find great teachers of the Word. Jarrah with young adults or Cass in the mum’s group.
  • So Jesus gifts leaders in the church to keep us on track with the Word of God… and we get built up!

Secondly, Pastors – Greek word is poimenas; which literally is the noun for shepherd…  

  • So Jesus gifts people in the church to be like a shepherd, to look after and care for the flock… 
  • So Pastors are instrumental in guiding people through brokenness back to wholeness and healing their soul from wounds that keep them stuck where they are. 
  • Pastors are gifted to create a safe atmosphere in the church of belonging. 
  • They bring life and healing to God’s ministry and allow people to feel like they are part of a greater family.

So a Pastors favourite verse is usually something like Matthew 9:36 which says;

  • “When he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
  • So these people say Amen to that and take on the compassion of Jesus for the people of God. 

Pastors just love the sheep… they love you! And they want you to be healthy and coming back…

  • Pastors are just gifted to love you, love you, love you… you know “tell me how you are… no tell me how you really are?”
  • Awesome to have in the church and the broader body of Christ.
  • Right? In our brokenness, we so need shepherds to care for us, and love us and nurse us back to wholeness… 
  • So the church desperately needs Pastors, but they are not necessarily cut out for leading churches! And I’ll talk more about that in a minute. 
  • But Jesus gifts leaders in the church to care for the children of God… and we get built up!

Thirdly we have Evangelists – which literally means messengers of Good News.

  • These are those Jesus has gifted to make the good news of salvation and stories of Jesus’s remarkable goodness and love famous. 
  • They are the carrier and proclaimers of good news and partner with Jesus in celebrating people’s transformation. 
  • They stir curiosity and a desire to know Jesus. They have a remarkable gift to extend the invitation to all to join the Family of God.

Maybe their favourite verse would be something like Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.”

  • Or maybe Romans 10:15 “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
  • Right they think they have amazing feet!

And the thing is, you know an Evangelist because they just want to go… go preach good news 

  • To be honest, with some evangelists, church bores them a bit
  • If they had their way there would be no chairs in church. Right? 
  • No time to get comfortable… we need to all go and preach the good news… we need to get out there!
  • My guess is we are all here because someone preached to you the good news about Jesus. 
  • And the people of God without evangelists are prone to tread water or decline. 
  • So Jesus gifts leaders in the church to proclaim the good news… and we get built up!

Fourthly we find the Prophets!

  • Now Prophets are effective in revealing God’s heart for His people wherever they go. 
  • They can accurately discern God’s heart for a situation. 
  • They help people experience God’s voice, maybe for the very first time and help them develop hearing the voice of God in their own life.
  • And time and time again I’ve seen how they are used by God to get people’s attention and reveal what God is doing in the midst of our mess. 

Maybe Prophets favourite verse is 1 Corinthians 14:1 which says; “eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” They love that one!

  • And I love Prophets, my wife has a Prophetic calling on her life. 
  • And this is a gift or office in the church that is coming under a fair bit of scrutiny at the moment, especially because of some of the misuse of the gift in the US around the last election by certain parts of the church. 
  • But here is the thing. I am the preacher and sometimes I cant remember the sermon 3 days later… but you sure remember every prophetic word you ever receive. 
  • Right? And they have a way of cutting through and changing the direction of people’s lives. 
  • So Jesus gifts leaders in the church to prophesy and reveal the heart of God… and we get built up!

OK, finally, the role of Apostles

  • Now you get those in the church who say we had the Apostles in the New Testament. 
  • They are those who were with Jesus, who wrote scripture and now that we have the bible we don’t have Apostles anymore. 
  • And no one with Apostolic anointing I know today is claiming they can write scripture…
  • But I think those who say we no longer have Apostles are using too narrower definition of the word Apostle. 
  • It simply means “sent one” or one “commissioned with a message”

So I believe Apostles are simply those who forge new paths for the Kingdom and are a catalyst for bringing the Kingdom and establishing the church wherever they go.

  • So these are your church planters and missionaries and those whose hearts beat for Jesus prayer “your kingdom come, your will be done.”
  • And I think someone like Greg has an Apostolic calling. He has led churches that influenced and planted churches. He has started Homes of Hope International. 
  • He leads leaders and his heart is for the widow and orphan and local church. 
  • And like Paul, who never settles, true Apostles are always on the move, dreaming and initiating the next move of God.

So there we go… Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets and Apostles.

  • And you can see, right, how if those leadership roles are in place, the church grows and builds itself up!
  • Right? It is taught the Word, it is cared for, it proclaims the good news, it is supernaturally tuned to God, and it pioneers new ground for the kingdom!
  • I feel what Paul is saying in Ephesians 4 is here are the leadership gifts that Jesus has given his church, to be exercised by humble servants. 
  • To prevent you from becoming an organisation… or to falling into strange teachings…
  • This is how moves of God are initiated, are nurtured and grow!

Now just a couple of notes on this whole 5 fold gifting thing! Time to get a bit controversial… 

Firstly, we have done a weird thing in the Western church where we call all paid church leaders Pastors… and I think we need to stop that.

  • Average church size in Australia is 50 people… and many never grow…
  • And the reason is because while Pastors are amazing, they primarily are good at caring for the existing flock.
  • And while it is very flattering when you call me Pastor… I am not really a Pastor. 
  • I mean I do love you guys, and I am here for you guys… but it is not primarily what I am gifted at. 
  • But clearly while God’s plan for the body of Christ being built up includes Pastors… they are not the ones who are meant to be leading the church.

Which leads me to the next thing, we need all 5 offices if the church is to fulfil its calling. 

  • You see, we say, thanks God, but we will just use 3 of them… 
  • Or we just employ a Pastor and then expect them to be great teachers and evangelists and pioneers of new ministries… but it just doesn’t work that way!
  • Right? We need teams and we need to release all the giftings!
  • Particularly we have been good at cutting the Apostolic and Prophetic from the church. 

So we need a rediscovery of all the roles that Jesus has gifted people in the church to exercise. 

  • As long as the church is not unified, mature, growing and demonstrating fullness…
  • My guess is we need more than ever these Spirit given gifts alive, active, and equipping the saints for growing the church. 

And final thing, I’d say is we need both men and women to fulfil every one of these roles, not just men. Not just white men. Not just balding, slightly out of shape, white men…

  • And part of the reason I believe this is that in the New Testament, I can point to women who fulfil every single one of these roles…
  • Right?
  • In Romans 16 Paul greets the female Apostle Junia who he calls outstanding amongst the Apostles. 
  • In Luke 2 we meet Anna the prophetess and in Acts 21 we meet Philip’s daughters who prophesied…
  • In Acts 18 we read about Priscilla who explains the way of God to Apollos. So an amazing teacher.
  • And her and others are clearly described as leading church households. So pastoring families of churches. 
  • And who was the first evangelist in the Gospels to announce the good news that Jesus was risen… Mary!

So let’s land this. Has this been interesting? Not so much. Well maybe I am not a teacher… haha!

Well just to finish, what happens when the five fold ministry is in operation… what will it produce?

  • Well we the saints, will be equipped for works of service
  • And the Body of Christ will be built up, reach unity in the faith and become mature
  • And I love this one, we will attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. That’s got to be another sermon. 
  • We are told the church will grow and build itself up in love
  • Right? And this beautiful body of believers wont get off track, but will fulfil the mighty calling God gives his people!

You see Jesus loves his church. He dwells in his church. He uses his church. He wont abandon his church.

  • And his desire is that we live lives worthy of the calling we have received. 

So I want to finish with an invitation. 

  • I wonder if there are some people here who feel called to these roles within the church?
  • Now if they are there to equip us all for ministry and service, we are all going to participate in these types of ministry.
  • But God is always calling people to step out in faith and put there hand up for ministry!

Live A Life Worthy Of The Calling – Ephesians 4:1-6 Sermon

Catch up with Tim’s latest sermon in our Ephesian series on our Facebook page!

SERMON NOTES:

I want us to dive right back into the Book of Ephesians today. And we are passing half way… 

  • It is always good to be half way on any journey! It often marks a turning point…
  • And it is the same with the book of Ephesians. At half way, Paul changes direction and starts talking about the implications of the Gospel… 
  • Reminder where we are on the Bible Project diagram! (things we have looked at)
  • Paul has summarised the Gospel story and now turns to how it should reshape every part of our story! (repeat – gold)
  • So Ephesians is the Gospel story that reshapes our story. 
  • Maybe you could sum up the next part as “how then should we live?”

Ephesians 4:1-3 – read from the English Standard Version today…

  • Now normally I read from the New International Version (that is what we primarily use here at Manly Life). It’s new. It’s international. It’s a version…
  • But today I want to read from the ESV – as their translation from the original Greek text is a bit more literal. And in todays passage I think that is important.
  • Let me just say, all of the major modern translations are great – you should have confidence in them. What we read in English is basically what the Greek says… 
  • But there are some examples of where for the sake of readability, we should err on the side of a more free flowing translation… 
  • And other times where a more literal word for word translation better communicates the authors intent. 
  • But in general, have confidence… modern translators are amazing!

So Ephesians 4:1-3 

  • Paul has finished chapter three by praying for the Ephesians… he says Amen…

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  

Now I want to focus mainly on verse 1 and then in verses 2-3 the first glimpses of what our lives should look like in light of the Gospel. 

So chapters 1-3 we have learnt so much about the Gospel and our new status as the children of God. 

  • You are forgiven, you are adopted into God’s family. You are redeemed from slavery to sin. 
  • You are loved by God, strengthened with power. 
  • You are recipients of the boundless riches in Christ Jesus… 

So Paul pivots… Ephesians 4:1 therefore! 

  • So whenever we see the word therefore, whatever is about to be written needs to be read in light of what has come before. 
  • Right? He is saying because of this… I want to urge you and exhort you to walk in a new way.
  • So Paul is making the connection between faith and practice, between doctrine and duty.

Paul wants us to know that being a Christian is not merely a way of believing… but a way of living… 

  • Knowing the truth will lead to living the truth!
  • Your justification will lead to your sanctification… two stage process… 
  • We get saved and then we get transformed. 
  • And to be honest, what we will see, is that our transformation looks a lot like the ways and walk of Jesus!

Important in Ephesians: it is not “if you obey me, then you will be blessed”, it is, “you are so blessed, so now in response to my love and grace, here is how we live.”

  • Note what comes first… it is not conditional… God’s love and blessings are not dependent on getting your act together first…
  • It is not shape up… and the riches of Christ will be yours… it is the riches of Christ are yours, so now be shaped in new ways of living by that truth. 
  • Right?
  • And I think that is so important… we don’t become Christians and then find ourselves burdened by the expectations of a whole new set of laws. 

So here is what Paul charges the Ephesians with – walk… walk, worthy of the calling.

  • So if chapters 1-3 were the calling… now we are shifting to how to walk, how to live, worthy of the calling…
  • And it is going to be about how we walk… 
  • In other words the practical, day to day living that will begin to set us apart from those who don’t live in light of the Gospel.
  • Our walk will be empowered and transformed as we begin to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. 

Now the word worthy in the Greek is axios. And it simply refers to having the corresponding weight of another thing of like value. 

  • So Pauls is saying live befitting or corresponding to the calling you have received. 
  • So to walk or live worthily means to bring your life into balance or to match or to be appropriate to what we have received. 
  • Are you with me? 
  • Scales: So good news of the gospel – up here… bring your life into balance

And I think this is not just Paul, or an invention of the early church.

  • Jesus says in Matthew 3 “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
  • Right… in turning to God and away from sin, we should produce new fruit in our lives…
  • To the woman caught in adultery Jesus says “neither do I condemn you, now go, leave your life of sin.”
  • Right – there is the incredible grace, but then the charge to live a new type of life. 
  • When Jesus seeks and saves the lost Zacchaeus the tax collector, we hear him talk about repaying those he has wronged fourfold and giving away half his wealth to the poor. 
  • So the goal of an encounter with the grace and love of Jesus, is the transformed life.

So as Paul begins to talk about how the gospel story reshapes our story… what does that look like?

  • From Verse 1 “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (verse 2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
  • Now church, hear the calling to which we are invited. 
  • It is the life of Christ!
  • And specifically he starts with the character of our saviour. 
  • Paul says bringing your life into some kind of corresponding shape to what our saviour’s looks like… humility, patience and bearing with one another in love!

Now of course the Christian life is going to have multi-faceted dimensions and callings and aspects…

  • But isn’t it interesting that Paul doesn’t start with a list of rules or laws or regulations…
  • You know… “now that you are a Christian – you better measure up. And here’s the code of conduct that you all must obey.”
  • No, instead he starts with virtues and relational postures…
  • To live worthily of our calling… is to be a unified community that does life together well. 
  • Walk humbly, gently, patiently, bearing with one another in love… in unity as one people. 
  • He doesn’t load you up with burdens… having just liberated you with the gospel, Paul doesn’t load you with a bunch of heavy, ill fitting requirements…
  • He exhorts us to walk in a new way… in the way of Christ.

See here is the reality – when we become Christians we all have old ways of living that need to be put off and a new self that we become. 

  • I mean he literally says that a few verses later. Verse 22 “put off the old self” verse 24 “put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
  • Remember the Ephesians were proud people, there was wealth in the city. They knew how to exercise power… or be on the receiving end of power…
  • Their models for how to walk and treat each other was coercive power…
  • They knew the might of the Romans army, the control of the temple worship to Artemis.
  • They, if they were anything like me, knew that their own heart are often selfish and puts itself before others.
  • But you… now saved by grace… therefore… you walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel….

Of course the gospel is Jesus Christ. It is the message of Jesus, but it is also the person of Jesus…

  • So Paul is saying, live like Jesus did… 
  • Where does your mind go when I say that?
  • Mine goes to Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
  • My mind goes to Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
  • My mind goes to the stories of Jesus stopping for the one’s and having mercy on them.

So we are encouraged to walk humbly and patiently and lovingly. 

  • Jesus changed the world by getting low…
  • We change the world by getting low… by taking on the character of Jesus.

One of my favourite Australian authors is Tim Winton. Do people know him? 

  • Twice nominated for the Booker Prize for his novels. Author of Breath and Cloud Street and Dirt Music.
  • Well he is a Christian and speaks about his faith. And I remember reading an article about how his family came to faith a few years ago.
  • And I was struck by how the Gospel story reshaped his story. 

Let me read from this article, because I think it captures brilliantly how we live a life worthy of the calling we have received. Particularly its about some bloke called Len. 

“In 1965, when the author Tim Winton was five, his father, John, a motorcycle cop, was riding through Perth, Australia, when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and collided with him. The impact sent John flying into a brick wall, crushing his chest, shoulder and hip. His ribs were shattered, and his lungs collapsed; when the paramedics got to him, they had to perform an emergency tracheotomy in the street. He’d also suffered massive concussion, and lay comatose for days in the resuscitation room at Royal Perth Hospital. 

When he returned home, he was a physical and emotional wreck. He’d gone from being the family’s sole breadwinner to being bedridden, unable to move or shower himself. It was up to his wife, Bev, to manage the house and cope with the kids: Tim and his three younger siblings, Andrew, Michael and Sharyn.

A week or so after John came home, a stranger showed up on the doorstep. His name was Len Thomas. The man said he’d heard about the accident, and that Bev was having a tough time, and that he wanted to help. “It was so weird,” Winton says, when we meet in Fremantle, Perth’s port city. 

“We had never met this guy before, and here he was, turning up, unannounced and uninvited, offering to give us a hand.”

Almost every day for the next few weeks, Thomas came to the house, where he carried Winton’s father from his bedroom to the bathroom and gently washed him. Tim didn’t know what to make of it: a stranger, in the bathroom, with his father? Now all he could do was sit outside the door, listening to the tap water running, and the two men talking in low, soft voices. As it soon became apparent, Thomas was an evangelical Christian: apart from washing John, he’d been laying hands on him, and anointing him with olive oil.

Thomas’ intercession, what Winton now calls “an act of grace”, changed the family forever. Soon after his father’s recovery, Winton’s parents became devout and lifelong Christians. Every Sunday morning, and in the evening too, the family went to church, where they would hear sermons on degradation and redemption. In Perth’s blithely secular suburbs, the Wintons’ conversion marked them as outsiders and oddbods. “At the same time, the church community was incredibly unifying and nurturing,” Winton tells me. “Your life had meaning and you belonged, and you had this amazing connection with people who weren’t blood relatives but who treated you like family.”

“Len showed me that there is another way of being a man, that you didn’t have to get a double century at the MCG or mow down a machine-gun post and get a Victoria Cross. You could be just decent and gentle and kind. For me, that was incredibly revelatory.”

Now I don’t know from this article much about this incredible man named Len except for two things… He was an evangelical Christian

  • And he was living a life worthy of the gospel through the way he walked… 
  • In response to the kindness he had received from God… the boundless riches of Christ. 
  • Len became a man who showed unexpected kindness. He got low… like Jesus and humble… like Jesus… and loved… like Jesus… and was patient like Jesus… 
  • That led to Tim Winton’s parents and then the whole family coming into the gospel story… whose lives have then been… reshaped by the Gospel.
  • And that is God’s plan to change the world. 

Here is what I have noticed in the world… it can be a sad and lonely and selfish place. Of course there is lots of amazing things…

  • But it is so easy for nations and communities and marriages and people to get in downward spirals of hurts and wrongs and revenge. 
  • It’s an eye for an eye… its dog eat dog. It is nursing grudges and bitterness…  it is addictions and cycles of bad behaviours. 
  • Jesus is the circuit breaker! Grace changes everything.

Chapters 1-3 of Ephesians has been about the circuit breaker – Jesus!

  • The unmerited favour of grace that we have received. Unconditional love and adoption into the family of God. 
  • Redemption out of slavery to sin. The kindness of God. 

And now in light of the gospel story, everything about our story begins to change. 

  • We can break out of the vicious downward spiral because of the circuit breaker of grace
  • And our story gets reshaped by the gospel too.
  • We begin to live a life and walk worthy of the Gospel. Like our savious we get called to come into balance. Into axios with our saviour. 
  • So Manly Life… together… united… 
  • Lets 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, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Amen.

Glorious Riches of Christ – Ephesians 3:1-13 Sermon

In this sermon we continue our Ephesians series as Tim moves into chapter 3, looking at God’s glorious plan for the Gentiles and the amazing riches we have in Jesus Christ!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday April 18 2021.

Ephesians 3:1-13

Introduce myself…

  • Welcome… Victoria and I are just back from a few days holidays!
  • We had a great time down in Jervis Bay staying at a glamping site in the bush. For those who don’t know what glamping is…
  • It is camping for people like me who are a bit precious and still need a King sized bed and oversized bath tub in their tent!
  • The kids had a great time. Particularly on Thursday at Jamberoo water park. We ran into Lisa and Bruce Dando which made it even more fun. 
  • So we are thinking an all in holiday down the South Coast next Easter with a church day at Jamberoo! 

Diving right back into the Book of Ephesians. And we are nearing half way… 

  • Reminder where we are on the Bible Project diagram!
  • And todays passage actually covers some of the themes that we have already covered like the new humanity formed between Jews and Gentiles through Jesus.
  • So I just want to focus on a few of the verses that are new material, knowing that we are not too far away from the big pivot of the Book. 
  • And that is the big shift from what the Gospel story is all about, to how we then are to live in light of this amazing story!

Helped in this series by a course I took on Ephesians by my old preaching and NT professor, Darrel Johnson from Regent College in Vancouver…

  • Got to this part of the course ready to take some notes…
  • And he skipped over the whole section saying he didn’t have time…
  • So I’m flying blind today! Haha… but I think we will be ok…
  • And it is an interesting passage, because as I mentioned, Paul in one sense revisits, or expands on what he already covered in Ephesians 2, that we looked at on Good Friday.
  • The new humanity, of Jews and Gentiles, who have both received peace from God and are now living in peace with one another.

I told the story on Good Friday about my South African friends who would meet illegally together during the apartheid regime to eat a meal in each others homes

  • Of course, eating together is one of the signs of peace and reconciliation.
  • Old saying… eating together turns enemies into friends…
  • And there is no greater meal to share, or to come around than the meal of communion…
  • The body and blood of Christ, the bread and wine, broken and shed for us…

But that has to start somewhere… and it starts with hearing the good news…

  • And for Paul, it started with becoming a messenger for the gospel after his revelation… his apocolypso of Jesus on the road to Damascus. 
  • So in this next section of Ephesians, Paul reminds us of his mission to the gentiles… which brings us into the promises of the Gospel, the boundless riches of knowing Christ. 
  • Paul saw his job as revealing the mysteries of God, now manifest through Jesus, that brings us all into the people of God. Into the family.
  • Lets listen… 

Ephesians 3:1-13

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

For Paul, this part of his letter to the Ephesians is deeply personal. He recounts how he found himself a servant (verse 7) in the great unravelling story of God’s mission in the world. 

  • You guys know the story…
  • God begins his involvement with a people in the Book of Genesis with a guy named Abraham.
  • He promises in a covenant with Abraham that he will be blessed, and all families will be blessed through his family, and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars…
  • From that story God reveals his character and faithfulness to the people who become Israel through ups and downs of their nation.
  • From slavery in Egypt to the exodus, to giving them the law, to the settlement of the Promised Land and the beginning of their Kings like David.
  • It is all about God revealing himself to and through a people (say again)

But here is the thing. It is always a tension between being set apart from other nations (the gentiles) and their mission to be a blessing to all nations. 

  • So as Paul says, it’s a mystery… that God has chosen to act through a people…
  • But now the time has come when God’s mission of forming a new humanity is now through Jesus, to expand to all people. 
  • And Paul gets chosen to explain this mystery to people like the Ephesians… that in Jesus, verse 6 they all become; “sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
  • And that is the mystery that Paul is now revealing. 

Leslie Newbigin who was a missionary to India and then came back to a post Christian UK has helped many of us understand the gospel in a pluralistic society

  • Because it is a bit of a mystery right? 
  • Why would God do things the way he does? Seriously…. Why?
  • Why start with one people? Why bring it together at one particular moment in history in Jesus Christ. 
  • What about other religions, other claims on truth?
  • And what about this and what about that… and to some of the big questions of what do you do with people who haven’t heard the gospel… 
  • Verse 5 even references people in other generations… 
  • It’s a bit of a mystery. And ultimately in these things I have to trust God, his character and that his ways are higher than my ways….

But Newbigin called the Gospel the Open Secret. 

  • Because what we believe is that the mysteries of God are no longer a mystery. The secret is now open.
  • John 1 says the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory.
  • So Paul in verse 9 says his role in preaching is “to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery.”
  • So while it still needs to be preached… in other words, the mystery needs to be explained…
  • It is open! It is a free gift available to you and me! 

And I love that. It’s a secret in that we live still in a country where the vast majority of people could not articulate what the Christian message is.

  • In fact many young people now only know Jesus as a swear word.
  • But it is Open in the fact that it is to be preached freely to all…
  • Newbigin “It is entrusted to those whom God has given the gift of faith by which the weakness and foolishness of the cross is known as the power and wisdom of God.” Again.

So Paul in verse 2 calls “the administration of God’s grace” that is what he saw his role as… administering the grace of God, the message of Jesus… the good news of the gospel.

He says; “that was given to me for you.”

  • So he saw himself as playing his part in this story of the unfolding revelation of God to the world.
  • Right he saw himself in the story of being part of the family of God that was to be a blessing to all nations…
  • Right? His story was about being uniquely called to the mission to the gentiles… which you can read about in the Book of Acts. 

 So verse 2 goes on… “that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation.”

  • And that is kind of the open secret. That God has now revealed himself.
  • We are the people of the revelation. And we need revelation!
  • I could ask you what do you think my oldest brother looks like? You could guess… maybe a bit like me? Bit bald maybe? As my Doctor once said to me… a bit short for your weight.
  • But at Easter he came up from Melbourne and many of you met him here at church
  • Deeply annoying because he is 6 foot 4 and got a full head of hair!
  • So it was revealed to you who met him what he is like.  

And that is what Paul did, that is what we are to do…

  • We introduce people to who we believe God is.
  • Remember we looked at that word a few weeks before easter. 
  • Revelation is that Greek word Apocolypso. And it means an opening of a door or the pulling back of a curtain. It means to see what is hidden. 

Challenge: play your part in the great revealing of the mysteries of God!

  • I took Jonathan and Jacquline’s wedding from church yesterday. 
  • And one of the privileges to a largely non-Christian wedding guests was to talk about Jesus. 
  • To preach about how wonderful Jesus is and what difference following his command to love makes in a marriage. 

Did you know that you can play your part in the mission of God?

  • You don’t have to know all the mysteries or finer details…
  • You just need to help people have an apocolypso… a revealing of who Jesus is and what he can do in your life. 
  • You might start by just sharing your story of meeting him, or something he has done or changed in your life. 
  • The story of being a part of God’s family and blessing others continues through you!
  • OK? You can do it. Comedian Uncle Nath. “Say nothing… nothing will happen. Say something… something will happen!”

Ok, here is what I want to focus on and finish on today…. Is what is that message? What is the heart of what Paul preached?

  • And as we have seen in the first 2 chapters, it includes lots of things… redemption from slavery to sin, and forgiveness and adoption into God’s family… 
  • It is undeserved grace from God to us! A gift we cannot earn!
  • But l love verse 8 of Ephesians 3… because I think Paul is summarising the whole thing
  • And for Paul, who had poured his whole life into following Jesus since that encounter on the road to Damascus, the message could be described as “the boundless riches of Christ.”
  • Amen?

8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.

The Greek word for riches is Plutous. It means a plentiful supply, an abundance, a plenitude.

  • So ploutos literally described in Greek material prosperity riches or wealth. It refers to an abundance of possessions exceeding the norm.
  • And from it we get words in English like plutocrat which puts together the Greek words plutous and krat, wealth and power…  
  • So Paul preached to the Gentiles in Ephesus, the boundless plutous of Christ, the riches of Christ.

Now we will get to the implications for this, including whether financial blessings are meant from being a Christ follower in a bit…

  • But I think what is obvious from all that Paul has written, that primarily he is talking about the spiritual riches we have in following Jesus.
  • This is his story. That in Christ he had received the boundless riches of Christ. 
  • Although he was writing from prison he felt he was the richest man in the world. 
  • That he was literally in awe at what he had inherited from God. 
  • He’d gone from a hate filled persecutor of Christians, to its main messenger of love to the Roman Empire. 

One NT commentator Kent Hughes puts it this way;

  • “What are the implications of this? Primarily, that Christ always enriches life. Christ never subtracts from life; he always enriches it with untrackable riches.”
  • Right? This is big…. 
  • It is big in preaching Christ… right? We are proclaiming good news, that in Jesus, everything in life in enriched…
  • And it is big in our own lives… from following Jesus, we too like Paul should be able to testify to the abundant things, the wealth of blessings that we have received.

Right? Can you think of an area of your life that knowing Jesus will not enrich?

  • Your relationship with God – clearly enriched!
  • Your relationships, particularly marriage – clearly enriched!
  • Your sense of purpose – clearly enriched!
  • Having community and friendship – clearly enriched!

I mean are you with me? In becoming a Christian, can you not testify, that following Jesus has helped! This is John 10:10 stuff…

  • Jesus said; “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”
  • This is 2 Corinthians 4; “we have this treasure in jars of clay”
  • 1 Timothy 1 tells us “the grace of our Lord is poured out on me abundantly.”

So there is not an area of your life that knowing and following Christ will not enrich!

  • And if I could just get personal for a minute, I am just so grateful.
  • Knowing God has saved me. 
  • In the negative from so many destructive tendencies and dispositions…
  • But in the positive, into such a blessed life. Enriched in every way. I don’t know what life would look like without Jesus. 
  • Think about how Jesus enriches and changes your life. 

I was reading an article this week about Abraham Piper. He is the son of a well known Pastor in America and he has rejected his families faith.

  • And he has amassed almost a million Tik Tok followers with these pithy videos mocking the Christian faith. 
  • And I get that he is probably reacting against a certain strain of evangelical faith… and who knows what his upbringing was like.
  • But here is the thing. His basic message to young people was… just get drunk and get laid. 
  • Right, throw off your faith and just live how you want to live. 

And it makes me sad… because I feel the exact opposite. I feel that knowing Jesus will never subtract from life, it will only enrich every area it touches. 

In your relationships, it wont be about getting laid or getting your way…

  • Right, following Jesus will teach you how to love unconditionally, to forgive when you are hurt, to serve when you feel like being served… 
  • But everything Jesus will touch in your life, if you are obedient… if you put it into practice will help!

Right? Paul preached the boundless riches of Christ. 

  • Think about the purpose you can have in being a child of the Kingdom of God
  • As it says in Ephesians 2, created to do good works… we are God’s handiwork!
  • When we follow Jesus, life is not meaningless, it becomes about being part of the light and overcoming the darkness. 
  • We should get involved in great causes… we should care about the poor and the marginalised in life like he did. 

Right? Think of community and friendship and how it is enriched by knowing Christ!

  • Think of that dinner we had here on Good Friday and the dividing wall of hostility that Jesus has broken down!
  • We have peace with God and peace with each other.
  • There is room at the table. We become part of God’s new humanity
  • We beckon all people to be reconciled to God and join the family that is called to bless all families on earth!

And even our finance. Now we know that Christianity is not a tool to make you rich.

  • Indeed if anything it should make you generous and we are warned about the dangers of loving money.
  • But I am always amazed at how when Jesus gets a hold of a life, it can create the conditions to succeed. 
  • Now I need to be careful here… but the reality is that integrity and hard work and making wise investments are Christian values. 
  • And you should be spared from the folly’s of get rich schemes, or cheating and getting found out. 
  • There is a solid rock, that Jesus puts under our feet that allows us to get focussed and purposeful and wise. 

How good hey? Never an area that Jesus subtracts, only the promise of enriching our lives!

Amen? Let’s pray!

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.

The 5 Promises of Easter Sermon

He is Risen! In this sermon Tim unpacks 5 reasons why the promises of Easter are the hope of the world! Why is the death and resurrection of Jesus so important? We hope you draw nearer to Jesus as you listen and we encourage you to find you hope and resurrection life in Him!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday April 4th 2021.

SERMON NOTES

Introduce myself…

  • Welcome this Easter Sunday! He is risen – he is risen indeed!
  • And after last year, being in lock down at Easter, I have to say, it feels amazing to be together, celebrating the good news of Jesus victory over death!
  • We came together on Friday night here at church to eat together and remember Christ’s death for us. 
  • My daughter Hope told me that yesterday is called Sad Saturday. I asked why… and she said because Jesus is still dead!
  • But today is resurrection Sunday! May our joy abound… that no matter how we have come this morning… this we know. Death has been defeated!

How did 12 peasant fishermen, tax collectors, farmers – how in the world did they multiply – 12 followers of Jesus to one out of every three people on the planet identifying as Christian? 

  • The answer is the resurrection
  • The resurrection of Jesus changed everything..
  • No other event has impacted the world so much as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • it is amazing to think about the fact that Jesus never wrote a book, in fact he never wrote anything down, and yet there are more books written about Jesus than any other subject in the world.

Jesus never composed a song, but there is more music written about Jesus Christ than any other subject, bar none, in history. 

  • Jesus never drew any pictures or did any sculpture, but more art has been made about Jesus Christ than any other subject in history.
  • Jesus never travelled more than 100 miles from where he was born, and yet, you can find followers of Jesus in every nook and cranny of the planet. 

And the reason Christianity spread is because “it really is good news” 

  • It’s not bad news. Some people seem to think Christianity is bad news… just read the comments section of some newspapers…
  • It really is good news. Do you know where the word ‘gospel’ came from? People talk about sharing the gospel. 
  • The word gospel was used in the Roman empire to spread the news a new Emperor was on the throne… 
  • A new Lord was now ruling in Rome… so the gospel was sent out….

Well after the resurrection of the one they had called the King of the Jews, it was like a shaken up bottle of champagne. 

  • The cork was popped and the message spread everywhere!
  • The good news of Jesus who has defeated death and brought us into a life giving relationship with God is now Lord! 
  • And the gospel spread about a new King on the throne. 

So today I want to talk about the promises of Easter in our lives!

The thing that Hope was most looking forward to was her Easter eggs… 

  • Frustrating because they look so big (so much chocolate) and yet they are hollow… (have one to crush)
  • They are kind of like what so many people in this world put their hope in… things that look great but end up being hollow.
  • Self empowerment programs, the latest spiritualties, get rich quick schemes…  
  • But if the world might be offering us empty promises… 
  • The promise of Easter is an empty tomb full of promise!!

So this Easter Sunday, here are 5 reasons the promise of Easter is the hope of the world… 

Firstly, Easter means we can be free and forgiven by Jesus’ death.

A friend of mine who did ministry in prison said that some of the inmates who had become Christians were more free than the people he met outside of jail…

  • How could that be?
  • Well he said that it had to do with their lives being set free and forgiven by Jesus…

Jesus said everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 

  • In other words, the thing that truly imprisons a person, are the things we do wrong… the things that diminish our lives and hurts ourselves and other people!
  • I had a friend at school whose Dad had a secret entire second family in another country in Asia… and then it all got revealed… and it was crushing for his Australian family.
  • My friend hated it and what it had done to his family… and yet he then revealed to me that he was now dating two girls at once.
  • That is how sin works… the very thing that we hate becomes the very thing that enslaves us.

But if we allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives, we can be set free.

  • Jesus said “whom the son sets free is free indeed.”
  • Galatians 5 says “it is for freedom that we have been set free”
  • Romans 3 says “we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Jesus.”

That’s the promise of Easter… that the very things that enslave us and diminish our lives can be forgiven by Jesus… we can be set free!

  • Jesus the one who lived a perfect life, endures the cross to win the forgiveness of sins…
  • It is the beautiful exchange that can change a persons life!
  • His sinless life, self sacrificed for our sinful lives. 
  • A punishment we deserved, taken on, because of love, by one who lived perfectly. 
  • Ephesians 1:7 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins”

Secondly, Easter means Jesus defeated death so we don’t have to fear it.  

It must have been amazing to have been there on that first Easter Sunday morning…

  • For his disciples to have seen him betrayed, crucified and buried would have been crushing!
  • And yet death we are told could not keep him down.
  • Jesus had said, “I am the resurrection and the life. All who believe in me will live, even though they die.”
  • And now it had all come true! 
  • The one who had promised to rise from the dead was now alive! And if he could rise from the dead, then his promise to us is true.

As Paul says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory!”

  • You know, we do all we can to avoid death… and as a society we have largely managed to remove it from being a part of our daily lives…
  • I think that was part of what was so shocking in the last 12 months… reading about the death toll of Corona Virus around the world. 
  • Death is confronting. 

I remember one of the big local stories here in Manly a few years ago. 

  • In the Manly Daily we read of some residents opposing the building of a funeral parlour in Manly… 
  • I quote from the Manly Daily, “Manly residents say they are appalled over a proposal for a funeral home in their neighbourhood, arguing they do not want “death and bereavement on their doorstep.”

Well rather than avoid it, I would rather face death with confidence is Jesus resurrection, and the promise that we too will be raised to life with him!

I heard of a son and Dad driving… son was terrified by a bee that had got in the car! 

  • The dad was ninja quick and grabbed the bee, pulling its stinger out! He then said, there is no need now to be afraid… 
  • The bee was still in the car, but the sting was now gone!
  • And similarly, we don’t need to live with the fear of the sting of death… it is still something we will all face… but its sting is gone.

In 1 Corinthians 15… the Apostle Paul who was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to one its main messengers after encountering the risen Jesus! 

  • He writes that because of Jesus resurrection “where oh death is your victory? Where oh death is your sting?”
  • When those first disciples met the risen Jesus the sting of death disappeared… 
  • To such an extent that they would face death themselves for the sake of spreading the good news. 
  • You know you would be pretty stupid to die for a lie. But Jesus resurrection was not made up – they had seen the Lord alive!

Thirdly, Easter means we get to have God’s spirit inside us. 

I think one of the dangers of Christianity is that we get stuck on those first two promises of Easter…

  • And of course that would still be marvellous… the forgiveness of sins, nothing to fear in death…
  • But the danger is that we are then sitting around, but nothing else really changes! But that would only be half an Easter message.
  • You see the promise of Easter is also a power to be transformed. 

Listen to this verse…

Romans 8:11 says “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.”

In other words the same power, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is now alive in us!

  • You know powerless Christianity is like a beautiful yacht caught out to sea with no wind! It is not going anywhere…
  • But then when the breath of God comes and breathes on you, like a mighty wind catching your sails… you receive power!
  • And that is the promise of Easter! The same power that raised Jesus to life now lives in us, meaning we have power to live transformed lives!

Lots of things can improve a person life… healthy eating, getting exercise, having close family and friends… 

  • But here is the secret… there is nothing like the Spirit of Jesus coming to live in you!
  • In Galatians 5 it says the fruit of God’s Spirit alive in you is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control….
  • Sometimes people are worried about what will happen to them if they become a Christian.
  • Well here is the answer… you will grow in love and joy and peace. 
  • God empowering presence will awaken patience, kindness, goodness and self control!

Fourthly, Easter means God loves us unconditionally. 

So not only do we get forgiven, have the hope of eternal life, be given a power to live transformed lives… but we also do it all secure as loved children of God.

1 John 3:16 says; “This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 

  • That’s the message of Easter. God loves you and shows it on the cross. 

You may wonder how God could love us even though we continue to make mistakes?

  • Made me think about my children. 
  • The other day, I don’t know what came over them… we were in the car and they just started pinching each other and yelling and whinging!
  • Must admit, I wasn’t happy… but it doesn’t lead me to kicking them out of the family or joining in the pinching festival! 
  • I mean they came close… (fingers showing how close)…
  • But they are the love of our lives and it is not their performance that dictates our love of them!

In John 8 Jesus says a slave has no permanent place in a family, but a son belongs to it forever!

  • In other words, once you trust your life to Jesus you become a child of God… and that means you are unconditionally loved no matter what you do!
  • This church is made up of people who aren’t perfect, but their savour is! And we will still make mistakes, but we will always be loved by God.
  • 1 John says, God is love. 
  • And oh what a difference it makes to live your life secured in the knowledge that God loves you unconditionally!
  • Easter tells us that Jesus who was motivated by love to lay down his life for us… 
  • And will continue loving us as we go through life following him. 

Finally, Easter means God has a greater purpose for our lives. 

One great theological mind, Tom Wright says; 

“Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project, not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”

  • “Colonizing earth with the life of heaven”
  • Come on… that alone should make you want to dance!

So not only is the promise of Easter that we are forgiven, that we have nothing to fear in death, that we have power to live a new life and are unconditionally loved… 

  • The promise of Easter is that we have a great purpose for our lives…
  • We get to join God in bringing the new life of Easter to Manly! 

The atheist Richard Dawkins once wrote; 

  • “What are all of us but self-reproducing robots? We have been put together by our genes and what we do is roam the world looking for a way to sustain ourselves and ultimately produce another robot child.”
  • I guess if that is all we are, there is no meaning, no purpose to life and no story of where things are going.
  • The result of living in that kind of universe is a pretty selfish and meaningless existence.

But Christians want to say… there is more! We are not random. This is not as good as it gets.

  • I truly believe that in light of Easter we know there is a God who is in the business of resurrection and making all things new!
  • And so we get invited to colonize earth with the life of heaven…
  • That’s why through history it has been the children of God who started schools and orphanages and hospitals.
  • Knowing that life is not hopeless and history is not meaningless, we get to play our part in the bringing of new life into a broken world. 

We don’t have to live selfishly as self reproducing robots… 

When I lived in London I became good friends with a girl at my church called Florisa. She was recently awarded by the Italian government the Order of the Star of Italy.

  • I am so proud of her. 
  • On the award is a depiction of the Good Samaritan. 
  • Over 15 years ago she left her corporate job in London and moved to a refugee camp in Malawi and began working amongst some of the poorest people on earth.
  • Because of her faith she set about starting educational and employment programs to help the people of the Dzaleka refugee camp. 
  • It’s been tough… really tough… but she has seen so much hope get restored into what the world would call forgotten people. 

Why would you do this? What motivates Christians to start schools and orphanges and medical clinics?

  • In fact what motivates ordinary Christians to love their neighbours and be salt and light?
  • Because Easter says life is not meaningless. It is not just destined for decay and death. 
  • As Christ has risen from the dead, so will we who belong to him, and that work of renewal begins now!
  • Ephesians 2:10 says “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

You know I’d love for you to make a decision this Easter about who you follow!

Not in things like a hollow Easter egg that turn out to be empty promises… but in the empty tomb that is full of promise!

  • Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. All who believe in me will live, even though they die.” 
  • But you got to believe…
  • The message of Easter is we can be forgiven, have the hope of eternal life, that we can be transformed and live unconditionally loved. It means our lives have purpose and meaning!
  • So have you responded to the good news? It’s still spreading through the world.
  • And we are always being asked to make a decision about Jesus, our Lord. 

Amen…

Options… 

  • Get connected… love to follow you up and invite you to explore faith or join community.
  • Ask more questions… brilliant Alpha Course…
  • Today I am in… I want to invite Jesus to be Lord. 

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