Sermon: The Mysterious Gospel (Ephesians 3:1-13)

The Mysterious Gospel

Ephes. 3:1-13 (ESV) 

    For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles- [2] assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  [3] how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.  [4] When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,  [5] which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  [6] This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

    [7] Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.  [8] To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  [9] and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,  [10] so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  [11] This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,  [12] in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.  [13] So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Introduction

Four times in this passage Paul uses the word mystery.  I love a good mystery.  I love to watch movies that don’t unravel till the end.  It’s a good movie if you’re kept on the edge of your seat and then at the end it all makes sense.  That’s what the word means today.  However, that’s not exactly what Paul means by the word mystery here in this text.  For Paul, he uses this word to express something beyond natural knowledge, but has been opened to us by divine revelation through the Holy Spirit. Read More

Sermon: Christ’s Work of Reconciliation (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Christ’s Work of Reconciliation

 

Ephes. 2:11-22 (ESV) 

    Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands- [12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  [14] For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  [15] by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  [17] And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  [18] For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  [19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  [20] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  [21] in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  [22] In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

As we begin to unpack these verses, let’s notice together how the Apostle Paul is moving us along. In this section of Scripture he wants the Ephesians to remember where they once were. Like the section found in Ephesians 2:1-10 where he taught that we were once dead and God brought us to life. Here, he wants us to see that we as Gentiles were once separated from God, alienated but because of Christ we are reconciled to God.

The key focus in this text is reconciliation. Wayne Grudem defines reconciliation as…The removal of enmity and the restoration of fellowship between two parties. In our text today, restoration happens between man and God and between man and man. Christ has removed the enmity between us and God. He has taken our sin away and He has performed His mediatory work bringing us back into fellowship with God. Read More

Sermon: The Language of Salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The Language of Salvation

Ephes. 2:8-10 (ESV) 

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

As we begin, I want us to see that this text of Scripture and others have been challenged throughout Church History. A salvation that is at the mercy of God is not popular among the masses. In America this doctrine is fought against very viciously. People in general want to work and earn their keep. For the most part they want to say they have acted well toward God and so He somehow owes them salvation. We hear things like…I’m a good person, I try my best, no one is perfect, God and I have an agreement.

This type of teaching has been around from the beginning of the church.

The first famous surfacing of this false teaching happened around the fourth century. A British monk named Pelagius began to teach that mankind really wasn’t dead in sin and transgressions but born in a state of innocence, that Adam’s sin didn’t affect anyone but him. He also taught that man is unimpaired spiritually. He taught that mankind without any help from God through his freewill can choose that which is spiritually good. Mankind was not corrupt but basically good. Pelagius probably would not have liked this passage at all. This is, however, the reality of salvation…The Language of Salvation   Read More

Decisional Regeneration by Jay Adams

DECISIONAL REGENERATION

James E. Adams

 

Introduction

What is Regeneration?

Except a man be born again1, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that the new birth is so important that no one can see heaven without it. Mistakes concerning this doctrine have been very destructive to the Church of Christ. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God. It is not a work of man. It is not something that man does but something that God does. The new birth is a change wrought in us, not an act performed by us. This is stated so beautifully by the Apostle John when in the first chapter of his Gospel he speaks of the children of God as those “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (v. 13).

What is “Decisional Regeneration”? Read More

Anxiety by A. W. Pink

Anxiety

Arthur W. Pink

Be anxious for nothing

Philippians 4:6


Worrying is as definitely forbidden as theft. This needs to be carefully pondered and definitely realized by us, so that we do not excuse it as an innocent “infirmity.” The more we are convicted of the sinfulness of anxiety, the sooner are we likely to perceive that it is most dishonoring to God, and “strive against” it (Heb. 12:4). But how are we to “strive against” it?

First, by begging the Holy Spirit to grant us a deeper conviction of its enormity. Second, by making it a subject of special and earnest prayer, that we may be delivered from this evil. Third, by watching its beginning, and as soon as we are conscious of harassment of mind, as soon as we detect the unbelieving thought, lift up our heart to God and ask Him for deliverance from it.

The best antidote for anxiety is frequent meditation upon God’s goodness, power and sufficiency. When the saint can confidently realize “The Lord is My Shepherd,” he must draw the conclusion, “I shall not want!” Immediately following our exhortation is, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God.” Nothing is too big and nothing is too little to spread before and cast upon the Lord. The “with thanksgiving” is most important, yet it is the point at which we most fail. It means that before we receive God’s answer, we thank Him for the same: it is the confidence of the child expecting his Father to be gracious.

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought (anxious concern) for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:25,33)

Sermon: But God… (Ephesians 2:1-7)

But God…

Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- [6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Paul has finished his prayer for the believers. Remember, his prayer was focused on the topic of seeing Christ clearly through knowledge of Him and that they would see where they were going. He prayed that the Ephesians would be Christ focused and heavenly minded.

One can best appreciate his current standing before God if he remembers where he was before Christ. The old saying, “Don’t forget where you came from” can well be used here in this text. The Apostle Paul was reminding the believers where they came from. Read More

1 John 2:2 by A W Pink

1 John 2:2

Arthur W. Pink


THERE is one passage more than any other which is I appealed to by those who believe in universal redemption, and which at first sight appears to teach that Christ died for the whole human race. We have therefore decided to give it a detailed examination and exposition.

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This is the passage which, apparently, most favors the Arminian view of the Atonement, yet if it be considered attentively it will be seen that it does so only in appearance, and not in reality. Below we offer a number of conclusive proofs to show that this verse does not teach that Christ has propitiated God on behalf of all the sins of all men. Read More

Sermon: A Prayer for the Church (Ephesians 1:15-23)

A Prayer for the Church

Ephesians 1:15-23

 

Ephes. 1:15-23 (ESV) 

    For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,  [16] I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,  [17] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,  [18] having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  [19] and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might  [20] that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,  [21] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  [22] And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,  [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Introduction-

The Ephesian Church had a reputation. They were known for a few things. Paul had heard of their… faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.

Paul’s heart rejoiced as he learned that these believers were living out their faith in Christ. They were showing the fruit of true conversion. Read More

Sermon: The Spiritual Blessing of Our Inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-14)

The Spiritual Blessing of Our Inheritance

Ephesians 1:11-14

 

Ephes. 1:3 (ESV) 

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 

 

Ephes. 1:11-14 (ESV) 

    In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

If you remember when we began the Book of Ephesians, I mentioned that one purpose of the Book was to show that Jew and Gentile come together to form a new humanity called the Church. Here, Paul stresses this truth.

He began this extended sentence in verse 3 and carries it through to verse 14, one long, run-on sentence. For the apostle, the praise of God was more important than grammar. Once he began thinking about the blessings God has lavished on His people, he forgot all else. Read More

Some Thoughts on Church Planting

Some Thoughts on Church Planting

As I read various papers and articles on the subject of church planting, I often run across one that seems to rise to the top. I believe this one really lays out irrefutably why we should be busy planting churches. This short article is mostly compiled statistics over almost two centuries of church life in America.

Church Planting and Church Attendance 

            In 1820, there was a church for every 875 Americans. But from 1860-1906, Protestants planted a new church for every population increase of 350. By 1900, we had 1 church for every 430. In 1906, one-third of all congregations in the country were less than 25 years old. As a result, the percentage of the U.S. population involved in the life of the church rose steadily. For example, in 1776, seventeen percent of the U.S. population [was] “religious adherents,” but that rose to 53% by 1916.

            However, after WWI, church planting plummeted. Once the continental U.S. was covered by towns with church buildings in each town, there was resistance from older churches to any new churches in “our neighborhood.” But the vast majority of congregations reach their peak in size during the first 25 years and then remain on a plateau or slowly shrink. Why? In general, older churches cannot reach new residents, new generations, new social groups, and un-churched people very well. And as those groups increase in a community (which they will inevitably!) the original churches reach a smaller and smaller segment of their town, and the percentage of un-churched increases. Nevertheless, older churches fear completion from new churches and oppose them. Mainline churches, with centralized government, have been most effective at opposing new churches; as a result they have shrunk the most.

            CONCLUSION: Church attendance and adherence overall in the United States is decreasing. This cannot be reversed in any other way than the way it originally had been so remarkably increasing. It is unlikely that we can ever plant a church for every 500 residents again, which resulted in over 50% of the population becoming churched Christians.[1]

I present these statistics to remind us all of the importance of consistent church planting. If we could plant churches in our surrounding communities, think what change would begin to take place. Our prayer at Grace Reformed Fellowship is that we would become a self-supporting church that would be in the business of planting other churches. Please pray for us. Good things are happening some easy and some hard but all from God. Thank you for your support in this effort. You are truly a vital part.

May God’s Kingdom expand through your loving support,

Pastor Brian  

 

 


[1] This article came from the Church Planting Manual put together by Redeemer Church Planting Center.