11th May 2021- Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

Bible Study 11th May 2021. Community of the Spirit



 

Canvey Island Methodist Church Bible Study-

Tuesday 11th May 2021.

 

Studies From Ephesians.

 

The Church- A Community of the Spirit

 

Welcome to this week's Bible Study, the fifth in this series from St Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In this series we have sought to explore the words that St Paul used to describe the church. In week one we saw the church described as being “The People Of God”; In week two came the glorious and ethereally wonderful description of the church as being “The Bride of Christ; Week three saw us delving meditatively into how the church must always be “Rooted in Love”; last week we saw how the Church is “The Body of Christ” in today’s world and for week five, this week, our theme is the description that St Paul used of the church as being “A community of the Holy Spirit”.

However, before we turn the page on to this exciting picture of the church, here are your comments from last week. I am grateful to Sue Sandling for sharing her thoughts.

 

Pondering together. Last Week's Theme-  The Church described as being the “Body of Christ”.

 

At the conclusion of our reflections last week we were challenged to ponder what St Paul meant when he described the Church, the body of Christ, as being filled with the “fullness of God”.

What did he mean by this? How can we stay connected to the other parts of the body of Christ and particularly to Jesus, the head of the body. How are we to embody Christ in our local community? How best can we serve Him, that the church may itself serve more effectively?


 

Here are Sue’s thoughts. Thank you Sue:

 

“I have thought about the points given to ponder on -   The fullness of Christ –  What does this phrase mean.  Well, I have found this very difficult to put into words. But I think the fullness of Christ is having a personal relationship with Him.  Believing and trusting in the love that God has for us, a love, which we read about last week, which is beyond measure.  To believe in this love and not doubt. To know that we can completely trust in this love and receive by faith all that His love means.  To know that God will never leave us nor forsake us, to know that He will make all things work together for our good.  To experience His presence by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

How do we attain the fullness of Christ – I think that we have to completely trust and rely on God.  We need to open our hearts to Jesus, because we need Him every day.    

 

How can we stay connected to Jesus and to each other in a way that sustains us and helps us be Christ to the world?  I think we stay connected to Jesus by reading the bible, by prayer, worship and praise.  We pray for each other and pray for our needs.  

 

Thinking about our church, how do we embody Christ in our local community?

 

I think our church works hard for our local community.  We pray for our community, and, when we were able, we held social events to encourage people to come into our church. We also have wonderful groups that the community are invited to.

 

Week 5- The Church- A Community of the Spirit

 

Ephesians4:17-32, 5:1-20;

 

Introduction:

One of the strange characteristics about constructing buildings on Canvey Island is that the normal approaches to laying foundations sadly don’t work.  Neither “Individual Footings” (where holes are dug into the ground, then fitted with a reinforcement cage and then filled in with a concrete mix to ground level) nor “Strip Footings”, (where concrete is placed into trenches and then built up to ground level using blockwork) can be used. The reason? The soil on Canvey Island is composed of river silt/sand (Alluvium) to a depth of 40meters or so, and underneath this is about 100 meters of London Clay. There is no rock of any kind until you get to below this depth. Therefore, the “ Wise man wanting to build his house upon the Rock” is faced with a dilemma. The intriguing answer to this conundrum is for the prospective builder to ignore these other techniques of laying foundations in favour of “making their own rock”; making reinforced concrete rafts and then going ahead to build upon these!!  Buildings that are constructed thus, when the ground heaves in wet winters and cracks in dry summers, all move as one with its raft and they stay in one piece. Well, that is the theory and it seems to work for most of the time!

(For any who are interested, here is a link validating all this, describing the famous Canvey Geological Survey Borehole of 1953 that hoped to find a coalfield beneath our sceptered island)

http://www.essexfieldclub.org.uk/portal/p/Geology+Site+Account/s/Canvey+Island+Borehole+(site+of)/o/Canvey+Island+Borehole+(site+of)

 

 

But why all this talk about foundations? Because foundations are not only essential for building stable and long lasting constructions, they are also vital for building stable long lasting and strong Christian lives. St Paul in Ephesians has been gently leading us, over these past four weeks, on a voyage of discovery ( or indeed of joyful recollection) of the foundations of grace that God has laid in our lives.  Chapter 1 focussed upon our “identity in Christ”and upon all that God has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus; Chapter 2:8 reminded us that we are saved by grace and not works; Chapter 3:17, underlines that we are to be “rooted and established” in love.

Of great encouragement to me are the promises of God that come our way from the pen of St Paul.

How the Holy Spirit is like a seal of identity on a document, a seal upon your life and mine, showing that we belong to God(Eph1:13); How the church is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:22) and how this  same Holy Spirit strengthens us with power in our innermost beings.(Eph3:16).

 

The foundation is laid, so how is the building to be constructed? And so on to this week's Bible Passage from Ephesians 4:17-32 and then Ephesians 5:1-20. These give some sound advice.(below).


 

Instructions for Christian Living

 

Chapter4v17. So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

 

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

 

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


 

Chapter 5 v1.Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[b] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

 

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

 

“Wake up, sleeper,

   rise from the dead,

   and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Footnotes

 

a. Ephesians 4:26 Psalm 4:4 (see Septuagin

 

b. Ephesians 5:5 Or kingdom of the Messiah and God

 

Comment:

 

There is a right way of living and a wrong way of living. I am reminded of a song of yesteryear which says much the same thing, but in a rather light hearted way. It’s called, “You can’t get to heaven by living like hell”. I found three versions of this for your delight and delectation!

 

There is Mark Cunningham’s version for those who like the Ukulele and who are slightly deaf like me, as the words are clearer.

https://youtu.be/f8TPB5Qt354

 

Then for a more soulful approach there is the version by “slim and the supreme angels”.

https://youtu.be/ysie6ucKOSo


 

And for any who like a Chas and Dave style there is Gary Sanford Paxton’s version.

https://youtu.be/OyueiWVEJng


 

St Paul tackles “head on” both the kind of lives that Christians should lead and also the kind of living that Christians should reject.

What comes across to me strongly is that Almighty God encourages us to be intentional in our response to His love and presence within us especially when it comes to choosing how we should live. If we were to summarise the contents of today’s reading in the form of a personal resolution it would probably read something like this:

 

This is how I am going to live from now on:

I am going to speak truthfully, use my hands constructively, share with those in need, build others up, be kind and compassionate, be forgiving, live a life of love, and be thankful.

 

This is how I am going to avoid living badly from now on:

I am going to put off falsehood, choosing not sin in anger, choosing not to give the devil a foothold, never stealing, choosing not to speak in any unwholesome way, not grieving the Holy Spirit, getting rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, slander or malice, fleeing from sexual immorality, impurity and greed; shunning obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking, choosing not to be immoral, Impure, greedy, idolatrous or deceived.

 

Notice that rather than giving a heavy list of do’s and don'ts, St Paul, instead, reveals what will enable us to live as God desires. He tells the Ephesians, and through them, to us, that we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18). This is meant for both the individual Christian and also as the church collectively. The Church is the Community of the Spirit, a community in which God Himself dwells.

God, wonderfully, does not only offer us gifts, but He offers each, and every one of us His very Self! This is really good news! We have been thinking at our Canvey church about what God might be calling us to do as individuals, and as a congregation, in terms of service, as we come out of lockdown. Taking a new direction or taking on something new can seem to be a daunting prospect, but here is God’s encouragement. There is nothing God will ever ask us to do for Him for which He will not also empower us. He has promised to build us together in this process. ( Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit).

 

A Prayer:

Loving God thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving each of us your very self and that you transform us from the inside out into new creatures of praise, cleansed by Christ, filled with your Holy Spirit and gifted to serve you in new ways.

Help us to live as children of light as a community of your grace and spirit. In Jesus Name we pray.

Amen

 

Hymn: Search Me O God.

https://youtu.be/QNqCvx_T46c


 

Points To Ponder:

 

-In Ephesians 2:22, St Paul describes the Church as the dwelling place of the Spirit.

Qu? What does it mean for the Spirit to be “at home” among God’s people? What challenges does such an image present us with?

 

- Think about a possible “Job Description” that the Spirit has in the life of our church. Compose a paragraph, “The things we expect the Holy Spirit to do in our church”. Then consider what we have read about the Spirit in Ephesians and in other key New Testament passages. Write another paragraph entitled “ The things the NewTestament suggests the Holy Spirit will do in our church”. What are the differences between the two? How can this gap in expectation become fuel for your prayers in the church?

 

During the week.

 

Start each day by asking God to fill you afresh with His Spirit, to enable you to put off your old self and to put on your new self.

 

Whilst today’s theme is likely to lead us all into private and personal reflection and prayer with the Lord, please do feel free to share any insights with this passage and theme that might help us all.

Blessings

 

Colin


 

For further study the following are passages that may prove helpful.

 

John14:25-29;Acts1:6-9;Acts2:1-4;Romans8:1-17;Galatians5:16-26; (As below).

 

-John 14:25-29 New International Version (NIV)

 

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

 

-Acts 1:6-9 New International Version (NIV)

 

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

 

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.


 

-Romans 8:1-17 New International Version (NIV)

 

Life Through the Spirit

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

 

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

 

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

 

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.


 

-Galatians 5:16-26 New International Version (NIV)

 

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the 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[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

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. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

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. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

 

Blessings


Colin