We continue our Ephesians Series with Greg Beech preaching on the first seven verses of Ephesians 2:1-10, looking at how we were before knowing Jesus and the incredible good news of God’s love, mercy, salvation and grace for us in Jesus Christ! Stay tuned for Greg’s part 2 on the final verses in this section next week!
Sermon preached by Greg Beech on Sunday 23 March 2021.
In this sermon Tim continues with the second half of Paul’s sermon in Ephesians 1, unpacking how we have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead and what that looks like in our lives as we follow Jesus!
Sermon preached on Sunday March 14 2021 by Tim Giovanelli.
Ephesians Week 6
Today is our last week in chapter 1 of Paul’s letter to the church he had established in the city of Ephesus. This city which was obsessed with Gods and power and the supernatural.
Remember from the story in the Book of Acts, Paul ministered there for 2 years… We are told in Acts 19:8 that Paul argued persuasively about the kingdom of God.
And there is this great line in Acts 19:11. It says “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.” So it was a ministry of Word and deed. Or Word and Spirit. Or Word and power!
It was an intellectual appeal that was accompanied with demonstrations of great supernatural power.
I was listening to Nicky Gumbel from Alpha interview Jackie Pullinger, the amazing missionary to the slums of Hong Kong in the 80’s. She is the author of Chasing the Dragon.
And… where well do you start with Jackie!I mean she just moved and lived humbly amongst the drug addicts and triad gang members of what was called the Walled City. And it wasn’t overnight, but eventually God used her in power to minister to heroin addicts. And she would pray in tongues over these broken and marginalised people with the love of Christ.
And she saw many come cold turkey off drugs and into the kingdom. One thing she said that has always stuck with me… she said, whenever she felt distant from God or cold in her faith she would go out on to the streets and lay hands on the addicted, the poor and the forgotten… And she would see the power of the gospel and faith would come back alive to her and her team.
A reminder to me… that “this” (head) is important… but our faith is much more than just anintellectual assent. It is also power… There is efficacy to what we believe.
Are you with me?
So we get to the second half of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter one today (handout). Last week we received Paul’s prayer for wisdom, revelation and enlightenment… that we may know the Lord. It is a prayer for revelation (apocolypso) that we may see Jesus clearly in order that we may follow him well and know the glorious riches of our inheritance as God’s people.
So part 1 was about knowing God in Jesus and the hope to which he has called us…
And part 2 is about knowing and receiving his great power for us who believe.
Lets read it…Ephesians 1:17-23 (bit of a run up and a good follow through)
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Lots of things that don’t run very well with power…
Fridges without electricity, solar panels without sunshine… One of those is sailboats without wind… I haven’t done a lot of sailing, but I did go once on the Western side of the Spit Bridge…
And I remember you would come into these patches of the harbour where the wind would drop away… and the boat would just begin to drift… But then with a clever captain and positioning, the boat would catch the wind…
And whoosh! You’d be off again… and it was the most exhilarating experience to catch the wind andfeel this 40 ft yacht spring back to life, being thrown forward.And you know it is not a bad analogy for the Christian faith. You can’t see God’s Spirit, but you can see the affects of his power and presence… And you know that power when it comes to you… it is that wind that you catch that enables you…. To do what we are meant to be doing as followers of Jesus…
Without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives… We are like a sailboat without wind. We might talk the talk… or have the appearance of faith… but it is just another human endeavour.
But then we catch the breath of God, we feel his power, and it makes all the difference!
And obviously when talking about power, I am talking about what fuels its ability to work, rather than power in the sense of control or coercion or abuse.I am talking about the ability to fulfil what we are called to do and be.
Gordon Fee calls it God’s empowering presence… Great quote “For Paul the ‘power of the Spirit’ is not only for more visible and extraordinarymanifestations of God’s presence, but also for the empowering necessary to be his people in the world”What is he saying here?Basically that yes, the power of the Spirit is amazing when we see God move in extraordinary ways…
But fundamentally this is about being empowered to be God’s people in the world in our everyday lives. To live Christ-like-ly. In other words bring on the miracles… but more deeply, we just need the Spirit to be at work in our lives to be Christians… To live the life and calling God intends for us as his people.
So what is Paul’s prayer here for the church in Ephesus, for you and for me?Well it is for Power for us who believe…
For us… means to our advantage… He prays that we may know the kind of power and extent of power that God is empowering his children with. That you may know what is available to you… or for your advantage…
We are not sailboats left adrift with no wind or power… we are given what is needed to fulfil our calling!
So looking particularly at verse 19 Paul is praying… in order that you may know… “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…”Can we do a bit of the original Greek?
I know for the last 8 years you haven’t had a lot of that from me… but I’m kind of into it at the moment… So tough! Haha!
Power in Greek is the word dunamis – from which we get English words like dynamite… And it refers to the capacity to do what needs to be done. So think capacity… explosive capacity!It goes on… “That power is the same…” now in the NIV they have translated a different word as power here… But it is actually in the Greek a different word to dunamis. It is energeian!
And from the Greek word energeian we get English words like… have a guess? Anyone? Energy! Refers to the ability to do what needs to be done.
So, so far we have been given capacity and ability….It goes on… “That power is the same as the mighty strength.”Mighty is the Greek word Kratous… and from that Greek word we get all the ‘cracy words… like democracy (rule of the people) or theocracy (rule of God…) So mighty refers to the authority to do what needs to be done…the right that is given to rule…
So, so far, may we know that we have been given capacity, ability and authority.And then strength – ischuos – and there is no word in English that that relates to… But it denotes inherent strength to overcome… It’s inner power and will to achieve what needs to be done.That we may overcome obstacles and resistance so that we might be all that God calls us to be… in Christ.
So we have been given capacity, ability, authority and inherent strength as believers from God.Now all of these words relate to power and could even be translates as power…
So God has given us the Power (dunamis)– capacity to do what needs to be done.
So God has given us Energeian – ability to do what needs to be done.
God has given you Might – authority to do what needs to be done.
And God has given you Strength – inherent capacity to overcome resistance to do what needs
Wow! That the eyes of our heart might be enlightened to know the power, the energy, the strength,the might… to live as his holy people.
Paul is praying that we may know this power which is available to us who believe. Oh God, open our eyes to see how much power is at work, to our advantageTo comprehend this power… or to put legs on it, so to speak… Paul goes on to show how it works…What is the ability, this capacity, this authority, this strength?
He says; It is the same power that God exerted (verse 20) when he raised Jesus from the dead. Massively creative power… that has seated Jesus on the throne… Power that as the passage goes on to declare that has put all things under Christ feet and dominion. Power that has established the church in this world.
The same power that conquered the grave lives in us.I love to hear Paul preach… grace and truth, adoption, redemption, forgiveness…
But I also love to hear him pray… because he prays the gospel.And Paul was a sent one… an Apostle… we know his prayers pleases the living God.
And so we can pray Paul’s prayers with great confidence… His prayers can become our prayers… His experience of the living God, made know in Christ, can become our experience of knowing Jesus
His life of knowing the power made available to us who believe, can be our life of being empoweredby God to live as his children.So we pray; “We want to know you… give us an apocoplyso… a revelation… and we want to know and live what you have for us… we need to be empowered God… give us this power… Amen…
Now how do we apply this? I am tempted not to… just let Paul’s prayer wash over you and be a reality for you?
My guess is you know where you need God’s empowering presence in your life?
Maybe it is power to stand against injustice and oppression and to be a voice for the voiceless?Maybe it is power to be the new humanity… to live a holy life, set apart from the temptations and depravity of the world around us?
Maybe it is power to choose humility and gentleness in your life and relationships… that takes great power…
Maybe it is power to forbear in love in crumby circumstances?
Maybe it is creative power for a miracle in your life or a loved one around you?
It takes great power to live the Christian life…Holy Spirit come… we need you… we are so weak without you…
In this sermon Tim preaches on the first part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in verses 15-18. In this prayer Paul prays for revelation, and Tim shares about how the Holy Spirit gives us revelation so that we can know God better!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday March 7 2021.
Ephesians Week 5
Last four weeks, we’ve kicked off our new series in Ephesians…
I thought Adam did such a wonderful job last Sunday in helping us understand and experience the gift of the Holy Spirit
Loved that in that one verse in Ephesians, we get the past, the present and the future…
The past promise of the Holy Spirit, the present deposit of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the future inheritance of those who have the Holy Spirit. Brilliant.
To be honest I’d love to continue on just talking about that… after all the language of the New Testament is dripping with the life of the Spirit.
We may not get to physically walk and talk with Jesus… but we get to experience his presence through his Spirit alive today!
Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-18 (wondering where we are up to – diagram)
It changes gear a bit now… because Paul goes from reminding them of the glorious riches of the gospel… that they have received when they believed…
To a prayer for the Ephesians… so from sermon to prayer…
And I hope that we will learn to pray as boldly and as extravagantly as Paul… and that we may experience what he prays for us to receive!
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Amen.
Now the prayer continues for another 5 verses that we will look at next week…
And that is about receiving power for us who believe…
The same power we are told, that raised Jesus from the dead. So that is a biggie!
I’m assuming that needs a whole another week to unpack… unless you want to be here until midday? Do you? Do you?
So let’s focus today on this great prayer for wisdom, for revelation and for enlightenment..
Well what a blessing to hear the Apostle Paul pray
Remember this is the prayer of a man who was a persecutor and hater of the early church and Christians…
He thought the gospel was foolish, to be eradicated and those who believed it, to be punished.
And then he had a revelation. The eyes of his heart were enlightened… when on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, the risen Jesus appeared to him.
He saw Jesus. He came to know Jesus. He confessed Jesus as Lord. Jesus changed his life.
So he prays that they may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that they may know Jesus.
I assume, like he did. This is his prayer.
Because knowing Jesus more deeply will change everything!
We’ve already heard Paul preach…
This is a very, very rich book…
Already we have heard him preach in those first 14 verses about the glorious riches of the gospel…
About salvation, about the gift of the Holy Spirit, about forgiveness and redemption
About receiving grace and peace!
It is ok to feel overwhelmed…he has already preached about being chosen, adopted, about our glorious inheritance…
But all that leads Paul to remember the people who he had done life with in his 2 years in Ephesus and to pray for them!
I wonder do you ever do that? You think of someone… and immediately you just want to pray for them
That happens to me all the time… (call out people)… oh they need prayer!
Paul loves the children of God in Ephesus… and so he prays for them!
And I love hearing him pray… listen again…
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…
So Paul’s amazing prayer comes amidst awful circumstances…
He is not on a spiritual retreat on the beaches of Sydney. He is not even in a beautiful church
He is in prison, going on 5 years now… 3 in Caesarea, 2 in Rome…
He prays that they may know Christ like he does!
Now I am sure there were other prayers… maybe not as eloquent, that Paul prayed…
Prayers like… help!!! Do you ever pray like that?
I am sure Paul probably prayed for release from prison? From his circumstances…
I am sure he probably asked why?
Why God are you letting this happen to me? Has anyone ever prayed that?
And “Why?” was a perfectly good question for a student of the Old Testament…
The Book of Psalms are full of agonised prayers of why…
Think the prayer of Psalm 6: “My soul is deep in anguish, how long, Lord, how long? Turn Lord and deliver me. Save me because of your unfailing love.”
But by grace, Paul does not pray for himself… or his circumstances… but thinking of the Ephesians and their faith in God and love for one another.
Verse 16, “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers”
And so we get an insight into the prayer life of the Apostle Paul.
And so we boldly join Paul in praying…
I want to know you God, the one who fully revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ.
I want you to know – that is the major burden of this prayer…
I want you to know God… not just about God… but to know intimately, personally, the God I met on the road to Damascus and who has been with me ever since.
Now just a quick aside, How does Paul address God?
As a Jewish man and student of the Old Testament under Rabbi Gamaliel, he would have prayed to “The God of Israel.”
That is how his people had known God… through his actions in the story of the Old Testament…
But now he prays to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The God he prays to… the God he wants us to know closely… is the God who revealed himself in Jesus!
The one who said in John 14 “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Nothing compares to the revelation he had received and we can receive in meeting Jesus.
This is God’s full revelation. The one who laid down his life for us.
I want you to know this God.
And the benefits of knowing this God.
Now this assumes that God can be known…
Which is why we need revelation and enlightenment…
Maybe just to equip you a bit in apologetics… that is giving a reason for our faith… the idea of revelation is so important!
We can guess about God or even if there is one from what we see… and much of history is humanity’s attempt to know God… and we create God in our own image…
But to know God… well really he needs to reveal himself to us!
And I think it is the same in any relationship
In order to know anyone deeply, the person must reveal who they are to us.
That’s why women always ask men “what are you thinking…” Haha…
Victoria sometimes asks me this… and usually I can testify that I am not thinking about anything. Maybe like some old rugby league game I once watched or something?
But its just because they want to know us… and what… if anything is going on inside us! Who are we?
I had the privilege of studying theology in Vancouver, 15 years ago at Regent College and made many lifelong friends…
But I remember there was this one guy – Rob… he started the 2nd year I was there… and he was good looking, carried around a guitar…
So I made assumptions about him… I guessed about what he was like…
Ohhh I judged him… Oh… in my mind… how I judged him!
Too cool for school… what a… haha!
But then a group of us used to go on these amazing weekends away to Galiano Island and someone invited Rob.
And I got to know him… I got to really meet him.
Ouch… he was a really, really nice guy…
Turned out he had been the son of a missionary Doctor in Angola who had given up everything to serve the poor through their civil war…
And Rob had had polio and his legs were weakened… and he had had lots of struggles in his own life.
And we became friends… and I came to know this amazing bloke!
You see, you cant know someone until you truly meet them and they reveal things about themselves…
And in the same way, Paul prays that we will come to know God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus reshapes any guessing we may make about God.
God is not the universe… or like water… or an angry lightening thrower… or the fertility goddess Artemis.
God is Jesus who heals the sick, casts out evil, who stops and has compassion on the broken… who teaches in grace and truth!
God is most fully known in the Son who lays down his life on a cross so that we can be forgiven and redeemed and become the children of God.
Paul prays, may you know this God!
And to know in this way… Paul prays that we (verse 17) may be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which we have been called!
That you may know!
He is not asking that God would give them the Holy Spirit… that is done! You’ve received the Holy Spirit when you believed.
Instead he is praying for a particular work of the Holy Spirit…
He is asking that the Spirit give the Ephesians wisdom and revelation
Now, wisdom refers to skill – to know how…
So Paul prays they will get the know how’s of the how’s to know… that clear? Haha!
The know how’s of the how to knows…
Good… moving on…
And revelation – the Greek the word here is apocalypso… from which we get the word apocalypse…
Now we sometimes wrongly use this word to refer to awful cataclysmic events…
In 1st century it simply means an opening up… an uncovering… like that of a door opening or a curtain at a theatre revealing the stage…
Paul is asking that God may pull back the curtain so that we might know more fully, the God that Jesus knows and is…
So we join in that prayer – pull back this curtain so that we might know you.
Just to finish today…Why is this Paul’s prayer….
Why does he, when he remembers them… why is this the first thing he longs for them to experience? Wisdom, revelation, enlightenment?
An intimate knowing of God in Christ…and the hope to which he has called you?
And I think the answer, is because if we can see God clearly, everything else comes into perspective and makes sense.
The predominant worldview in the West is scientific materialism… that what we see is what we get…
That there isn’t hope beyond the grave. That there is only what we can measure and touch and see.
Indeed there isn’t really hope in this life at all.
Like Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets when he says “you make me want to be a better man.”
Oh hang on wrong quote… I mean when he says; “what if this, is as good as it gets.”
But Paul knows that if we get revelation, and know God in Jesus Christ, everything else becomes clear.
It makes sense of why we exist, why there is something and not nothing
It makes sense in light of Jesus, as to why we are broken and fallen and need help
It makes sense of our searching for meaning and purpose and to experience love.
It makes sense of our longing for eternity and to know who God is.
In the words of verse 18; “that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
And then once we know, we get a new set of glasses through which to see the world.
Paul was just another religious extremist and then he met Jesus. He had a revelation
The curtain was pulled back and he met Jesus and it changed everything…
Once he knew God, we was capable of love. Love that is patient, love that is kind, that is not self seeking, not easily angered or keeping record of wrongs…
I think he wrote something about that once.
He discovered a purpose and a message worth living for, worth dying for…
CS Lewis once said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Do you want to know true reality? True life?
May you know Jesus Christ. And by and through him… see everything else clearly!
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…
In this sermon Adam Achterstraat shares on the next verses in our Ephesians series, how the Holy Spirit has been promised in the past, we receive the Holy Spirit now as a seal of our love and adoption, and how the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our eternal secure future in God’s Kingdom!
Sermon preached by Adam Achterstraat on Sunday 2 March 2021.
In this sermon Tim Giovanelli continues our series in Ephesians and shares about redemption, how Jesus paid the price by his blood on the Cross to save us from our sins and bring us into new life and relationship with Jesus – praise God!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday February 21st 2021.
Ephesians Week 3
Welcome – introduce myself.
Last two weeks, we’ve kicked off our new series in Ephesians…
I thought it would be fun to speak more about predestination today… nah!
Ephesians is about knowing the gospel story that then changes our story
And after meeting Paul and his remarkable conversion story and ministry to the Ephesians..
We have already been introduced to big themes of the Gospel like grace and peace, being in Christ and adopted into the family of God.
Handout… where we are…
This week, much simpler… but no less profound… look at redemption and forgiveness.
Let’s read Ephesians 1:3-8 (like a good Pat Cummins delivery… need a little bit of run up)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.
So, focussing in on verses 7-8…
“we have redemption (in Christ), through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
In Paul’s listing of the glorious riches of God’s grace that we have in Jesus and the good news of our salvation, he lists in this one carefully crafted sentence, different aspects of the good news.
We… we who now live “in Christ” are so blessed… richer than we could ever imagine.
Dear church is Ephesus, we… are redeemed and forgiven!
The word redemption is not just another synonym for salvation.
The word has a particular meaning.
Our redemption is a particular kind or element of salvation
The Australian NT scholar Leon Morris notes that when we hear the word redemption, we think about it in religious terms.
But in Paul’s day, the people thought about it in non-religious terms.
The Greek word Redemption is apollo-tro-sis
The verb form of the word simply means to loose.
Redeem means to loosen.
So they would use this word apollo-tro-sis to refer to the loosening of clothing, or loosening tied up animals…
But it was particularly used to refer to the loosening of human beings who found themselves in some form of captivity to another.
One of the great desires of the ancient world was to be redeemed…
To be loosened from slavery. Or a prisoner loosened from jail
Loosening people from oppressive debt or governments.
And the word normally referred to the loosening happening through some kind of payment
Someone paying the price of redemption. Loosening came with a cost.
In the Roman Empire it has been estimated that up to 60 million people lived as slaves.
Individuals created in the image of God were treated like property, not much better than a piece of furniture or a prize cow.
They could be bought and sold like any other commodity or property.
If you have seen the movie The Gladiator, you are an expert on this…
And so it was a glorious thing to be redeemed… to be loosened.
To be purchased and set free.
Loosened from ownership by another.
In him (in Jesus) you have been redeemed, you have redemption through his blood.
One of the glorious riches of the gospel is that you have been loosened.
What you are oppressed by, what you are captive to, what you are slave to…
You have been redeemed through his blood.
One of the deepest longings of the human heart is to be loosened from all that holds us captive. To be set free
Played out before our eyes all the time – human beings long to be free.
Whether what we see in Myanmar at the moment and people longing to be politically free
Or free from debt, or free from addictions, or free from anxiety and worries,
Or free from controlling relationships…
But especially, I would argue, we long to be free from sin and all that separates us from God.
The words in this verse point us to the human condition, but for the grace of God.
We have redemption points us to the fact that aside from grace we are in bondage and kept captive
And unless we are loosened or released from this bondage
We cannot enter into an experience of our adoption into God’s family
In order to be a child of God we need to be freed.
Sometimes I think we think evil is out there… in an ideology, or a political party or a leader.
And we safely put ourselves on the side of the solution… or we think I’m not that bad.
All the while maybe minimalizing the condition of our own heart.
I found the author of the Gulag Archipelago Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was a Russian political prisoner helpful in this…
He says; “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…”
And sometimes coming to terms with this is the first step in our redemption.
We need to realise our captivity. We need to acknowledge that we are not free!
In another letter, the Apostle Paul would say “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
And so our redemption from sin, comes with the realisation that we need freeing!
Maybe the answer to our problems isn’t a bigger home or a different job or a more fulfilling relationship…
Maybe the answer to our problem is dealing with the human heart!
This is not something that Paul makes up… Jesus refers to his mission through this lens all the time.
In Luke 4 Jesus says he has come to set the oppressed free.
In John 8 Jesus says all who sin are slaves to sin, but whom the son sets free is free indeed.
In John 1 John the Baptist, seeing Jesus declares “The lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world.”
Now can we just pause here for a second… there was a lot there.
Because I think in these three verses from or about Jesus in the Gospels we see redemption worked out…
We see the Problem… The solution… The means… The result…
The problem is all who sin are slaves to sin. That is everyone!
The solution is Jesus saying I have come to set the oppressed free
The means is he is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The result is whom the son sets free is free indeed!
So back to Ephesians 1:7 Through his blood – through his shed blood… that is what redeems us, it looses us from our captivity to sin.
It loosens us from all that held humanity captive.
From curse of the law
Compulsion of sin
From the powers of spiritual forces at work in the world
From lies that have ensnared the human heart and mind
From the finality of death and therefore the fear of death
Jesus blood, shed on the cross, as the sacrificial lamb of God… pays the price so that we can be loosened!
Are you with me?
Now I am not good at talking about blood. In fact in year 8 woodwork I cut my finger on a saw, and seeing blood I fainted! A career in medicine was never on the cards…
But Paul tells us here that it is the blood Jesus shed on the cross that pays the price, that redeems us.
And we should understand this if we are to know the glorious riches of the gospel.
And key to this is that verse that Jesus is the lamb of God.
In the Old Testament, a spotless lamb would be sacrificed to make amends to God for the wrong we have done.
A price in one sense was paid showing their contrition, and to be right with God.
But what the Old Testament sacrifice could never do, because sin would rear its head again…
Jesus in offering himself as a spotless sacrifice for the sins of the world accomplishes once and for all.
It is why in Mark 10:45, Jesus knowing his redemptive mission says;
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins
In Jesus, a ransom has been paid to loosen us from the grip of sin.
Blood was shed, a price was paid by God.
In love, he gave himself so that we could be redeemed.
And now… (part of the meaning of the word redemption) is we now belong to him.
Sin is no longer our master.
What Jesus redeems by his blood, he now owns.
I am his. You are his.
When we confess Jesus is Lord we come into a new kingdom, a new family, a new inheritance, a new destiny!
So that we can live in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We are richer than we think.
Leads to the fact (verse 7) that we have the forgiveness of sins.
Not just a different meaning of the word redemption…
Not just a different word for salvation
But again an aspect of our salvation that leads us to join Paul in verse 3 of saying “Praise be to God”
Forgiveness is about the relationship.
We could be released from captivity but still not be in relationship
Someone could pay the price to get us released from jail, but then walk away… and not want anything to do with us.
Forgiveness is about restoring the relationship for our past sins and trespasses.
There are 3 main different words the bible to talk about this.
3 words used to describe the human condition apart from the grace of God.
Sin, transgression and iniquity
Find these in Psalm 32 where King David confesses his adultery and is forgiven
Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Sin, transgression, iniquity.
If you want to understand the human condition or your captivity, understand these words.
Sin refers to missing the mark (like an archer) – we all sin and miss the target
Does this resonate? Does anyone ever sin? No? Just me?
We know the right things to do, but we cant quite hit it.
Transgression means to cross the line – we come to a fence with a sign that says – No trespassing… but we go where we shouldn’t anyhow.
We overstep the lines and boundaries within which God has said we will thrive.
For King David this meant sleeping with another man’s wife.
And here is the most interesting one to me; iniquity
Iniquity is the thing in us that makes us miss the mark and cross the line.
Its our twistedness or perversion. It is what makes us want to cross these lines…
Our iniquity is our fallen nature that leads to the mess in and around us.
By his blood, Jesus rescues us from this iniquity, he releases us from its terrible grip on our hearts and minds.
By his blood he erases our sin… he wipes it clean
By his blood he forgives our transgressions… God does not hold it against us.
By his blood we can be brought back into relationship with him and his Father.
I want to finish there… but just to close, imagine with me, if you will…
Paul sitting in his prison cell, writing to the church in Ephesus that he had established over two years of ministry.
Dear friends who had come out from the grip of worship to Artemis the God of fertility, out from under the control of Caesar who demanded to be Lord.
Ordinary men and women, both Jews and gentiles… each with their own stories of challenges and struggles.
He reminds them… he reminds you and me of the glorious riches of what God has done through Christ in their lives.
Paul will get to how we are now to live our lives and what will help us…
But for now he reminds them: God has given them grace and peace.
He has chosen them and adopted them into his family.
He has redeemed them… loosening them from their captivity and slavery to sin
He has forgiven them of their sin, through his blood shed on the cross.
In this sermon Tim Giovanelli unpacks the next part of Ephesians as Paul talks about how we receive every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ, how we are adopted into God’s family and Tim also tackles the subject of predestination!
Sermon by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday February 14 2021.
Ephesians Week 2
Last week we kicked off our new series in Ephesians… as Dan Field texted the Dad’s… “bring on the next 25 weeks!” Haha! So we looked at…
Who were the Ephesians?
Who was Paul? And his remarkable conversion story and ministry to the Ephesians.
Finally, what was this impartation of grace and peace about that he greets them with in this letter?
And I have heard of lots of great discussions in the Life Groups.
This week we are going to venture 4 more verses into Ephesians… we are really flying people!
Handout… this is where we are.
Consider: What does it mean to be blessed “in Christ”?
What does it mean to be chosen and predestined (yep – we are going there)
Finally I want to explore this theme of adoption… which is one of the greatest gifts we are given as the children of God
Ephesians 1:3-6 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Firstly a word about reading Paul and this amazing passage… After Paul’s opening greeting to the church in Ephesus, written from a prison cell in Rome, he launches into his magnum opus or masterpiece description of the good news…
These are the blessings of the gospel in a believers life.
He has one, long, crafted sentence that is full of the gospel. We are going to take two weeks…
So Ephesians 1:3-14… is one sentence…
And to be honest, it is a hard sentence to read in English because it is so packed with ideas, thoughts, themes and clauses…
The old joke about Paul is that he thinks in paragraphs while we mere humans think in sentences…
So in the original Greek Eph 1:3-14 is one long sentence… 202 words… opening up every blessing we have as those who are in Christ…
Scholar Andrew Lincoln… suggests each thought builds on the previous one…
And it is all reasons for us to join Paul in verse 3 in saying “Praise be to God…”
Everything God does for the world in Jesus Christ leads to worship…
As my old Professor JI Packer used to say… theology leads to doxology. Knowing God leads to worship of God!
So Paul in this one sentence is caught up in the riches of the gospel…
So firstly, he reminds us, we are blessed to be “In Christ” Verse 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Now we are just 3 verses into the letter and we already have this phrase “in Christ” for the second time.
Paul wants us to know that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing because of where we are now located!
Are you with me?
Now we live in a city, do we not, where location matters… in fact many are obsessed with location.
As a general rule, we want to be near the water, or near the city…
Or in Todd’s case he just wanted to be near me and moved 6 houses up the street…
We know that location matters because you pay through the nose for your proximity to things.
And where we are located often shapes how we see and interact with the world.
Well in 62 AD, from a prison cell, Paul reminds the Christian church in this letter that they live “in Ephesus”
But more importantly, on a deeper level, they now live “in Christ”
That is why they praise God. That’s their new address.
Indeed Paul may be in a prison cell, but on a deeper level, he lives “in Christ”
And he will say this to the Ephesians in this letter a further 34 times.
Possibly the defining phrase of Paul’s life… he was convinced that there was a spiritual, or heavenly world that was breaking into the brokenness of this existence
And so no matter what he was going through or where he was located…
His deepest identity and address was “in Christ”
And it is the same for us… no matter what our circumstances might be… no matter where we live physically…
We are in Sydney, each with different challenges and stories… but that does not define us.
Our true location is in the heavenly places “in Christ.”
It is why later in Ephesains 2:19 he says “you are… fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”
That is your deepest citizenship, your deepest household.
In the bible reality is multi layered…
Authors of the bible would tell us… that beyond what we experience as reality… there is more.
In the secular world there are only 2 dimensions… our consciousness (thought life) and the environment (everything physical around us).
When things go wrong… it must be solved through our minds or the environment.
For Paul though there was the spiritual reality… the heavenly realms or dimensions…
And Jesus talked about this as the Kingdom of heaven, or the Kingdom of God.
John Lennon famously sung “imagine there’s no heaven, imagine there’s no hell…”
That is the main stream of thought running through much of modern Western culture and society… called secular materialism.
And even as Christians many of us live with no reference to spiritual things… we can easily become practical atheists. Right? We don’t live like there is a spiritual realm.
But when Paul speaks of the heavenly realms he talks of another reality that surrounds and permeates what we experience…
He knows this because of his conversion on the Damascus road,
He experienced heaven break in all around him. As he did through the rest of his life.
And so we “in Christ” also experience and live in that dimension… in our minds, in the natural environment and also in the spiritual realm.
You may have heard the phrase that some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.
But I would suggest that those with heaven on their minds are the most useful
Because we see things clearly… we know there is spiritual light and darkness…
We know that there is spiritual powers and evil activity in this world
But we also know there is a kingdom of heaven to which we belong that is breaking in around us.
That’s why we pray “your kingdom come”.
That’s why we are motivated to act for good and justice and compassion in this world. HOHI…
We may live in Sydney, we may face all kinds of circumstances and challenges… but we, on a much deeper level now live “in the heavenly realms in Christ.”
So Paul goes on to say in praising God that we are Chosen 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ
So Paul reminds those who live “in Christ” that the grounds for their salvation is not in ourselves, but is the gift and initiative of God. He chose us!
The Greek word translated as chosen is “exel-ex-ato” which in our language we get the word election from.
So he elected us, he chose us to be his people.
Now of course, as soon as we see words like chosen and predestined it brings up all kinds of questions…
Does that mean God chose some to be saved and some to be condemned?
And how would that square with free will and all the verses that suggest that we need to choose as to whether we confess Jesus as Lord
Romans 10:9 is typical of this “if you declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So that verse and so much of the scripture seems to suggest we need to use our free will to follow Jesus… it is not just a pre-known inevitability..
So it raises all kinds of questions… predestination.
Now a third of you are probably scratching your heads… a third of you are probably thinking… don’t go there… and third of you probably think this is the greatest moment of your life in church!
We are going to discuss predestination!!!
Well let me just make one or two comments, fully aware that greater minds than mine have wrestled and argued with this… and disagree.
That is ok!
So I would simply say, that I think, we read these verses in an overly individualist way.
We think… God has chosen me…
You know… “Maybe I thought I chose to follow God, but in his sovereignty… maybe it was God all along who from before creation knew I would accept him.”
And conspired all along that I would be a believer…
While so and so down the road wasn’t chosen.
But of course the language of chosen goes back to the Old Testament when God chose a people.
And of course there were disobedient people within the chosen people who didn’t follow God.
But collectively, they were chosen to be God’s special people.
And I think in the same way we can read this passage, not individually, but as the church.
We are his chosen people, but we still have the free will to respond to his love or to turn away.
Think of it this way… we run family movie nights up here and I think I chose Sing for the last one.
But on the day many of you had to respond to the invitation and either come to the movie night or reject the invitation.
But if you came, you could say “well Tim predestined 3 months ago that we would watch Sing”
But notice that I didn’t predestine you individually to watch Sing.
What I predestined is that whoever shows up at this family movie night would watch Sing.
Now that you decided (even on the day) to be a part of the movie night, what was predestined for the whole, becomes predestined for you!
Greg Boyd, and American theologian and Pastor puts it this way; “So too, from the foundation of the world God predestined that whoever is in Christ would become holy and blameless in his sight. But he didn’t predestine certain individuals — as opposed to other unfortunate individuals — to be in Christ. This is left up to our choice. Now that you’ve chosen to be in Christ, what was predestined for the group becomes predestined for you. You, with Paul, can say “In Christ WE (who have chosen to believe) were predestined to be holy and blameless…”
Right? That is how I read it… and its ok if you disagree.
But I do take passages like 1 Timothy 2:3-4 seriously. It says;
“This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Right, I could never believe that God chooses some to be condemned when he wants all to be saved!
So some Christians believe more in free will, some believe more in sovereignty and individual predestination…
But I really believe we need to read the scriptures like 1 st century Jews and gentiles and less like 16 th century Calvinists in Geneva…
We need to believe. We need to choose… but then we join what has always been predestined by God. That he would form a people, saved through his Son Jesus!
So final thing today… God chooses us to become holy and blameless as we are adopted into his family! Verse 5 “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ”
In the Roman world when this letter was written, a wealthy man would want to pass on their riches…
If they had no son of their own, or if the relationship was broken
They would select out of their trusty servants, one they would adopt for themselves as an heir.
Can you imagine how a servant would feel about that?
From rags to riches overnight.
No longer a servant… but now an heir. It would be like winning the lotto… from a place outside the family… to now destined to inherit all the blessings of being in the family.
In listing the riches of the gospel. In declaring the reasons to give praise to God.
Paul wants us to know, that we, entering into God’s plan to save the world and create a people for himself
A people that would be heirs to all the riches of God’s family.
A people who would be transformed into becoming holy and blameless…
That this happens through the gift of adoption!
And this happens out of sheer grace, God chooses broken humanity and brings them into his family.
JI Packer in his book Knowing God: Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel affords us.
Adoption is a higher privilege than even justification in which God declares that we are not liable to the punishment that we deserve.
Packer: “to be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.”
In adoption, God establishes us as heirs, as his beloved children!
And in that, we find a closeness, affection and generosity that are at the heart of any good family.
I love the Alpha Course… which you are still so welcome to join us at this Wednesday night.
But there is this clip I want to show to finish, that to me sums up the richness of adoption.
Let’s watch it… Gemma is just starting to talk about the nature of our relationship with God…
Greetings of grace and peace. Praise God we now live “in Christ”. Chosen to be a part of God’s eternal plan to form a family and adopted in out of the sheer riches of his generosity.
In this sermon Tim Giovanelli kicks off our Ephesians series by introducing the letter of Ephesians, Paul and the grace & peace Paul received and gives as a welcome in the opening verses! This is a great way to start our series and understand the context and amazing story behind this letter!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday February 7 2021.
So, we are kicking off this new series in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.
Going to go through the letter over quite a few weeks, but you can follow along the big picture of this letter with the handout.
The idea is that you can place what we are talking about in the context of the overall letter. So why not circle each week where we are up to… and take notes…
And Ephesians, you will see, is basically written in two parts.
First there is chapters 1-3 where Paul reminds the church of Ephesus of the good news of the Gospel.
Eph 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved.”
And then there is chapters 4-6 which basically describes how we are to live in response to the good news.
Eph 4:1 “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
So… Ephesians is something like… knowing the story that changes our story!
So we start with the first 2 verse today – Ephesians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (just show where we are on the handout and slide)
So I want us to think about 3 things today
Who were the Ephesians?
Who was this Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus?
And what did he mean by greeting them with grace and peace? (PAUSE)
3 In the same way that we long to visit the great cities of the world like New York or London or Tokyo
Ephesus was one of the leading cities of the ancient world.
Found where modern day Turkey sits.
3 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean Sea, it had a population of around 250,000 people.
It has been described as the first and greatest metropolis of Asia Minor… competing with Rome
And as it linked East and West, it contained people from all over the world.
It was a mixing pot of religions and philosophies with a 24,000 person capacity amphitheatre.
But most striking to ancient visitors though would have been the temple for worship of the goddess Artemis (or Diana as the Greeks called her).
She was the goddess of fertility, and her temple was larger than any modern day stadium.
And in its centre was a statue of Artemis, who was depicted as a woman with many breasts. There you go… never thought I would say that word in church!
And Artemis was also a goddess of power and the city was obsessed with demons and magical practices and spiritual power.
So the temple was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
And the city and life in Ephesus revolved around this temple and worship.
And interestingly, it also was the regional centre for the Imperial Cult of Rome.
When Augustus became Emperor in 27 BC, he enforced worship of Caesar as God.
And so another temple was built dedicated to Caesar Augustus… who called himself “the Son of God”. He was Lord.
And this was the glue that held together the Roman empire.
And Augustus imposed order and unity upon the world. Indeed the calendar was changed, to start from the beginning of his birthday.
4 But… starting in 52 AD… 52 years after the birth of Christ, 20 years after his death and resurrection, the city began to change!
Mired in superstition, competing philosophies, Imperial cult worship and idolatry
Good news began to spread about a crucified saviour named Jesus, risen from the dead.
And an Apostle, which simply means ‘sent one’ began preaching about undeserved grace and favour and love that had come from the Jewish God to all humankind!
And through this man Paul, people came to faith in Christ and came to a new understanding of the word Lord.
And so to us, who come to confess Jesus as Lord, as opposed to every other throne, philosophy and worldview
Things began to radically change.
So who is this Paul?
Paul is the name given to him after his conversion.
But originally he was named after the first King of Israel… Saul, and importantly for his subsequent arrest and trial, he was a citizen of Rome by birth
Which among other things in the ancient world, entitled him to a fair trial.
Saul was born in Tarsus – modern day Turkey. A university town… centre of learning… Pythagoras spent time teaching there…
And he grew up in a multicultural city of 500,000 people. Greeks, Romans, Jews all lived there.
At some point his family moved to Jerusalem.
And he became a disciple of Rabbi Gamaliel who we read about in Acts 5.
And Gamaliel was the Grandson and successor of Rabbi Hillel – one of Judaism greatest thinkers and teachers…
Saul was an excellent student and rose through the ranks of the scholarly Pharisees.
But here is what is interesting. The Apostle Paul was not initially drawn to the Gospel… indeed he was horrified by the Gospel – the Christian message.
Our first encounter with Saul is in Acts 8:1 where we find him giving approval to the horrendous stoning death of Stephen.
A saviour who had been crucified… awful.
Risen from the dead – non sense. He made it his mission in life to stamp it out.
The next we read of Saul is in Acts 9:1 where we find him still breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’ followers.
And then one day… one remarkable, history changing day, Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest the early Christians and take them back to Jerusalem to be punished.
On his way, around noon… a light from heaven, we are told, flashed around him.
Doctor Luke tells the story In Acts 9.
And Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
He responds “who are you Lord.”
And the voice says “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
And Saul was changed forever… he took on the Greek version of his name Paul.
But more importantly he is filled with the Holy Spirit, is baptised and immediately begins to preach (Acts 9:20) that Jesus is the Son of God.
Just stop with me for a second and consider this. Because I see it as one of the greatest reasons for the truth of the Christian faith.
In that Damascus encounter, Saul, the murderous persecutor of Christians discovered grace.
He hated Jesus. He hated those who followed Jesus.
He was out to erase the name of Jesus from history…
And yet… Jesus chose to love and reveal himself to Paul and use him to establish his church.
Paul discovers that Jesus is alive and risen. That he is merciful and kind.
Paul discovers that Jesus is not awful, not non-sense… he is actually Lord.
Indeed those were his first words in Acts 9 “Who are you, Lord.”
Paul knew the meaning of that word Lord… in Greek “Kurios”… it was his people’s way of speaking of their God.
It was the way citizens of the Roman empire referred to their Emperor Caesar.
Paul confessed, “Jesus is Kurios”… he is God, he is King.
And stop and think about this. The murderous, persecutor of the early church would pray this in Ephesians 3:17-19 “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
He prays for the Ephesians that they would experience God’s love in Christ…
Like he had! (Pause)
So Paul lived and served in Ephesus on 2 occasions…
The one who in Acts 9:15 gets described by God as “my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles.”
He goes to Ephesus. To spread the news that Jesus is alive and merciful
Firstly a short trip in 52 AD which we read about in Acts 18
And then in 53-56 AD for over 2 years which we read about In Acts 19 (top of handout).
First he taught and dialogues in the synagogue in Ephesus. Some Jewish people come to faith in Jesus but he also comes up against hardened hearts.
So Paul moves to the lecture hall of Tyrannus where he met and taught with people for 2 years in person in the school.
We are told in Acts 19 that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the Provence of Asia heard the word of the Lord. All!
And there is this great line in Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.”
Imagine that! Imagine being there…
Paul, the persecutor who had encountered the risen Jesus, now preaching the truth of the gospel and authenticating its power with miracles.
So, many were won to the message of Paul and the good news of the gospel.
And in Acts 19 as a sign of that – people broke with the city’s obsession with power and magic and the occult.
Because the gospel always frees people from oppression and lies…
We read people burnt their scrolls in the public square…
This then leads to a riot led by the artisans who made silver shrines of Artemis, the city’s goddess.
Jesus isn’t always good for business…
Paul says the city was thrown into confusion… people are dragged out… but fortunately cooler heads prevail and the rioting crowd is dispersed.
So Paul then leaves Ephesus, and 2 years later ends up in jail where he lives as a prisoner for 5 years…
First in Caesarea… then after a harrowing sea journey to Rome where he is entitled to a trial as a Roman citizen.
And in 62 AD from prison, in Rome, Paul writes this letter to the church in Ephesus…
Ephesians 3:1 “For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.”
And that (my friends) is the story of how we came to have the letter to the Ephesians.
So finally today, back to those first 2 verses…
Hopefully we now know a bit about Ephesus, a bit about Paul… but what did he impart to them?
What did he want them to know and receive?
Well Paul, the transformed, sent one, from Jesus Christ greets them;
Vs 1-2 “To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So just to finish I want to conclude with that greeting, that impartation to the Ephesian church of grace and peace! Paul reminds them what they have been given by God… grace and peace.
In Christ, God’s people have been given grace and peace.
Grace is the Greek word “Karis”… which we get words like Charity in English language. Means unmerited favour… undeserved love. It is a gift.
And then he imparts or greets them with Peace… it’s the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word… shalom… it means wholeness and harmony and completeness.
We are the recipients of unmerited favour and wholeness in Christ, grace and peace!
They say you cant impart of give away what you do not possess yourself?
I could greet you with “riches and good looks…” but it wouldn’t mean much!
Paul knows grace. Paul knows peace.
He is simply giving to them, what he has received when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
One of the most grace and joy and peace filled men I have ever met passed away from Covid 2 weeks ago in Malawi.
Hi name was Stephens Lungu and I had the privilege of meeting him and hearing him speak in Australia, South Africa and Kenya.
He radiated joy and grace and peace like no one else I have ever met.
Stephen’s mum abandoned him as a young child in a public toilet as a child and he grew up in gangs on the streets of Zimbabwe.
He grew up full of hate, stealing, killing and intimidating to survive.
One day his gang walked past a Christian meeting happening in a tent and they decided to blow it up and shoot the fleeing victims.
But he decided to go in and listen to the preacher for a few minutes to mock what he heard.
But Stephen would recall… never give God even 2 minutes…
Because he heard about a crucified saviour who loved the least and most broken people…
That night changed his life and he became a follower of Jesus.
Now obviously it is a much bigger story and you can read it in his biography ‘Out of the Black Shadows.’
But Stephen went on to be totally transformed from hate to love… not unlike the Apostle Paul.
And he preached to millions of people over his life all around the world telling his story.
One more thing… many years later… Stephen was preaching at a major meeting when afterwards a small older lady came up to him.
She came to him and said, from what you have said, I think I might be your mother.
They were reconciled and amazingly she came to live with Stephen and his wife until she passed away.
You see God is still in the business of giving away grace and peace to the most unlikely candidates.
He gave it to Saul… he gave it Stephen, he gave it to me.
And as we will discover in Ephesians, it is the story that changes everything about our story.
It did in Ephesus, it can for you!
As I finish I’d ask you, have you experienced grace and do you have peace?
If not, Alpha is a great place to explore the possibility that there is a God who wants to give these things to you.
And I’d love you to join us this Wednesday night at 7pm here at church.
In this sermon Victoria Giovanelli shares a great message for 2021, how do we truly put Jesus at the centre of our lives, have our hearts burn for Him and seek Him eagerly as to our purpose and calling this year? Victoria shares that the answer can be found in the story of the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3, a church that was rebuked for being lukewarm, for being stagnant in their love of Jesus. Victoria shares how we can give God our hearts to be purified and set alight to both grow in Jesus’ character and purpose this year!
Sermon preached by Victoria Giovanelli on Sunday January 31st 2021.
In this sermon Murray Bothma shares the story of Jeroboam from I Kings and compares that to his personal story of learning to put God first instead of his own agenda, using Matthew 6:33 to illustrate that point. This is a powerful, application focused message!
Sermon preached by Murray Bothma on Sunday 17th January 2021.
In this message Pastor Tim explores Paul’s exhortation in 2 Timothy 1:7 to have a Spirit of power, love and self control.
Spirit of Self Control
So we start the new year a bit like most of 2020… socially distanced… a few new regulations…
But compared to my friends around the world I went to bible college with… incredibly fortunate.
So welcome… and let’s do this Manly Life!
God loves his church and is faithful and pours out his Spirit on the thirsty and fills the hungry!
Well, it’s that funny time of year when we make New Years resolutions…
I didn’t make any this year… I think I was still in shock about being back in lockdown…
But last years admittedly didn’t go that well… I bought weights!
They now sit idly by my karate suit, my Nutri-bullet blender and Victoria’s gym membership card…
Issue, as is so often the case is what? Discipline…
We know what we want to do… but struggle to do it!
And I wonder as we start the new year, how often could you reflect on that feeling of letting yourself down. Not quite being able to live up to maybe lofty ideals you set for yourself?
And I wonder what that might be for you this year?
Maybe there is something in your character that you would love to see change or grow?
Maybe it’s a habit of addiction that you would like to break.
Maybe it’s a relationship you would like to see improve or reconciled.
Or maybe it is something here at church. You want to commit in your discipleship to Jesus, to bible reading or serving in a ministry team, or making your involvement more committed?
Maybe it is something a little less lofty like cutting back on the hot chips and red wine…
There is an amazing verse I want to look at
As we start the year, it is found in Paul’s letter to his young disciple Timothy
Now Paul had brought Timothy to the faith and commissioned him to do the work of an evangelist and church leader.
So Paul wrote to Timothy who was then in leadership in the church in Ephesus.
And it is an exhortation to faithfulness and to stand firm in the truth in the face of opposition.
But it also includes this wonderful promise of the gift, God has given to Timothy… and to you and to me…
2 Timothy 2:7 NIV: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 2:7 ESV: for God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.
Fascinating thing to me that one of the things the Spirit of God does in us is give us self control. Or self discipline.
Now, the Spirit of God is given as a gift to all those who trust in in his Son Jesus and confess him as Lord.
And we live in the age of the abundance of the Spirit. Poured out on believers in Acts chapter 2… and available to all of God’s children.
So the bible makes it clear that;
The Spirit of God, which is his presence, active and alive in the world today, does all kinds of things in God’s church and his people.
We get the assurance of adoption to sonship – you know you are loved.
The Spirit in us illuminates the word (the bible) and gives us revelation
The Spirit as we will see produces Fruit in our lives – changing your character
The Spirit gives us gifts for service in the church and mission – make you useful
Finally, the Spirit pours the love of God in our hearts
But here is the interesting thing… one of the greatest gifts given to us… imparted to us is self control.
Not a Spirit of timidity or fear or cowardice…
But of love, power and self control. And I think we all need that! So much!
As the followers of Jesus we get a Spirit of self discipline, that empowers us to live faithfully. That allows us to not be captive to our fleshy desires and egos and pride.
As we co-operate with God, we find ourselves not out of control, but able to live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and so on!
As some of you know, I do some teaching on leadership up at the International College of Management here in Manly.
Every student who graduates has to do a leadership weekend with me where I get to teach on servant leadership and the example of Jesus
And I also take all the student leaders through some training. And I love it… it’s a great privilege.
And a part of the student leadership training for the student leaders is they do a strength finder test
Right? So after doing a survey, it reveals to them what are their strengths and weaknesses… things like vision, courage, focus, compassion, justice and so on…
Consistently… every time… the lowest strength they always all posses… always… every single one of them… is??? Self control.
What that means… is that despite high ideals… or knowing what they want their lives to look like, they find they don’t have power to follow through.
Right? And maybe that is true for you? It is just all to easy to give in to temptations…
I know for me… there have been periods in my life when I haven’t lived up to being a follower of Jesus as much as I wanted to.
And I don’t think it is just the students at ICMS or this upcoming generation… I think this is typical of human nature.
The brilliant Apostle Paul described human nature this way in Romans 7…
Now listen to this… as you may find yourself in this passage!
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
It’s a good summary of the predicament of human nature… right?
Now does that relate to anyone here?
You know what you want to do, or you should be doing… but you keep messing up.
Pauls says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
And my guess is that is the case for everyone of us. For some obvious, glaring flaws… for others more secret but no less damaging flaws.
The issue is self control.
I remember watching a Simpson episode as a kid that for some reason stuck with me.
In it, Lisa plays a joke on Bart where she puts out a donut on a plate attached to an electrical current.
So Bart grabs it, gets a massive electric shock.
But he wants it, but it hurts him… so he braces himself and goes again… same result… massive electric shock.
He tries again…. Zzzz… tries again… zzzz…
And to me it was this insight into human nature… we have these things in front of us that we desire that end up hurting us…
But then even knowing the pain it causes… we keep going for it!
But this is serious stuff right?
I know of a marriage that ended because of the husbands addiction to pornography.
I don’t doubt he desired to do what is good and pure… but he just couldn’t carry it out. He lacked self control.
I think of a friend who lost tens of thousands of dollars gambling at the pokies…
So if we are going to live the Christian life… if we are going to have faithful marriages and integrity and live holy and pure and whole lives…
Then we need the gift of God… his Spirit at work within us… producing new life!
So Paul says one of the characteristics of the Spirit of God, given to us is self control or self discipline…
So how does that work? Are you zapped with the Spirit of God and never struggle again?
Do you become a Christian and all bad habits, toxic thought patterns, addictions to sin and sinful things disappear?
Well no… we know that from our own experience… we know that from Paul’s description in Romans 7…
And also Paul wouldn’t have to remind Timothy of what he had received if it wasn’t an issue.
No… we need to learn to appropriate what God has given us…
To co-operate with the gift of God’s renewing presence… his Spirit alive and at work within us.
So for Paul there were two states of life or two ways of living…
And we either end up in one category or the other.
Find it in Galatians… which is also going to give us the clue to how to appropriate this…
But for Paul there were only two realities…
Life according to the flesh and life according to the Spirit.
These are eschatological realities… these are the essential realities as Gordon Fee states of the two ages… before and after Christ!
The Greek is Kata Sarx… (living according to the flesh) and Kata Pnuema (living according to the Spirit).
So flesh is defined as our essential fallenness of life outside of Christ. It is being ruled by our sinful nature.
Living according to the Spirit of course then, is living with the presence of God alive within us, conforming us into his image.
Right? We get empowered to live in keeping with the in-breaking kingdom of God and its norms and values…
We find this particularly in Galatians 5… but indeed all through Paul’s letters.
So Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
So there it is, pnuema or sarx… Spirit or flesh!
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Right so two types of living that are contrary to one another…
The flesh where we have no self control and do whatever we want…
And the Spirit which guides us into a new life.
And just a side note… if we are led by the Spirit why are we not under the law….
Well… and this is another sermon… but again, like the flesh, the law belongs to life before Christ, that like the flesh was inadequate to bring about change.
Right… sometimes we just think if we know what is right or the law, that will be enough to do the right or moral thing…
But we all know the law can’t do that.
I remember being at Oxford University in one of the fancy colleges… and there was a sign on every lawn saying… “do not walk on the lawn.”
So immediately I had this desire to do what? Walk on the lawn…
And so sometimes the law that we read about in the Old Testament is like that… it actually arouses sin within us…
And at it’s very best it was still unable to produce a renewed life!
So then we get descriptions of what the two kinds of lives look like…
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Right? So it’s a bit of a list of naughty…
Santa would not approve…
But seriously, these are the things that destroy lives and relationships, that cause pain and brokenness in our lives!
We don’t grow up to aspire to these things…
So then the life of the Spirit is contrasted and the fruit it produces in our lives…
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
So don’t just put these things on a tea towel… actively pursue these virtues in your life.
You see if we belong to Jesus Christ…. The flesh with its passions and desires gets crucified.
Right? We no longer desire after the very things that harm us… we get a new set of priorities.
In the new age we live in, empowered by the Holy Spirit… this gets produced in us!
So that leads me to one final thing today?
How? How? How do we get the Spirit of self control.
Mentioned both in 2 Timothy 1:7 and here in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5?
Right? How do appropriate this?
How do we increasingly live kata pneuma and not kata sarx?
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
The Christian life, according to Paul is appropriated, becomes a reality by keeping in step with the Spirit.
As we learn to co-operate with God, his promptings, get immersed in his word
We begin to walk in the same direction as the Spirit of God directs us.
Now this has a Supernatural presupposition… this isn’t going to come from just trying harder…
It isn’t going to come by reverting back to a whole lot of laws.
It is going to come by getting to know the will of God and the voice of God and the ways of God and keeping in step!
And it will come through supernatural empowerment. I cant say that enough. There is a supernatural strength and self control that the Spirit alive in us, can give us.
We can overcome habits and addictions.
We can see our character change.
We can commit to righteous living and service in his church!
As I’ve thought about this… self control and the renewed life comes from 3 convictions
Conviction 1: Jesus is Lord.
Conviction 2: Jesus way, or truth, or will for my life truly is the best
Conviction 3: I will align my life with his will and co-operate with the Spirit of God.
One of the things my kids love doing is walking on my feet…
So they go where I am going… they learn to stay in the same direction… to get the rhythms of how to walk together.
So let’s get practical… we need to learn how to keep in step with the Spirit of God!
To when facing decisions or temptations to stop and pray…. And listen
Immerse yourself in the Christian community and practices… know the Word of God
And then pray… for the renewing of your mind… and the strengthening and control that comes with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Be blessed this week as you love and serve the Lord!