18th May 2021- Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

 



Hello Friends.

 

Canvey Island Methodist Church Bible Study- 

Tuesday 18th May 2021.

 

Studies From Ephesians. 

 

The Church- Putting it into practice. 

 

Welcome to this week's Bible Study, the sixth and final part of this series of reflections upon St Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Over the course of these last six weeks 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”; In week four we saw how the Church is “The Body of Christ” in today’s world; In  week five we turned the page upon St Paul’s description of the church as being “A community of the Holy Spirit”. And now, in this sixth and final week of this study we draw everything together as we look at how we should put what we have learned into practice 

However, before we do anything else let’s hear from Rev Peter who offered the following reflection upon last week's study on the work of the Holy Spirit in the church. Thankyou Peter.

 

Pondering together. Last Week's Theme-  A Community of the Spirit 

 

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?

 

From Rev Peter

“Thank you once again for another study. I have to confess that Paul often loses me in some of the meanderings of his convoluted mind but his summary of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5; 22f says it all for me!   “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.”

Those are the fruits I ask the Lord to help me cultivate in my life.

Bless you,

Peter

 

A Prayer 

Almighty God. As we gather once again around your word, we ask please, that your Holy Spirit moves and breathes upon us. Loving Lord, enliven our worship, sharpen our minds, and warm our hearts with your transforming grace and life giving love. Through Christ, our Lord we pray. Amen.

 

Study Six The Church- Putting it into practice. 

 

Introduction:

St Paul ends his letter to the Ephesian Church with some wisdom on relating well with each other and resisting evil. We’ll end our series by reflecting on how what we have covered over the last few weeks applies to our church. But first let’s hear what St Paul has to say about relationships………

 

Bible Passage:     Ephesians 5:21-33; 6:1-23;

 

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”[a]

4 Fathers,[b] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

 

The Armour of God:  10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 

Final Greetings.  21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

23 Peace to the brothers and sisters,[c] and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Footnotes

a Ephesians 6:3 Deut. 5:16

b Ephesians 6:4 Or Parents

c Ephesians 6:23 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.

 

Comment: 

 

Those of us with long memories might recall the Saturday afternoon sports program, “Grandstand” which ran between the years 1958 and 2007, and starred presenters such as Peter Dimmock, David Coleman, Frank Bough, Des Lynam and Steve Rider. It covered everything from football to athletics and everything else in between. One sport that has now largely disappeared from our TV screens (and some may say, “Thank goodness for that”) was one of these. It was Wrestling and no episode of Grandstand was complete without a glimpse of two, larger than life, men theatrically throwing each other around the ring until one of the combatants would pin his opponent to the canvas in a very painful looking “lock hold” until the poor chap slapped his hand onto the canvas and cried “submit”.

St Paul starts off the final words of his letter to the Ephesian church, with a clarion call, not to dominate each other, but rather to practice mutual submission.

 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

In fact for the husbands in the Ephesian church St Pauls clarion call for them to “show love for their wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” was a call for them to, quite literally, give up and to submit their very lives for their wives; quite the opposite of what many in our “cancel culture” of today might think that St Paul was advocating. Also, incidentally, the opposite of any husbands who might be looking for an excuse to justify coercive or abusive behaviour. That is certainly NOT what St Paul meant as “submitting out of reverence for Christ”.

This call to mutual submission then is really about relating well to, and with, each other, about putting the needs of the other person before our own, about seeing “the plank in our own eye” before we let loose about “the spec of dust” in the eye of a Christian brother or sister. It is about respect, about valuing each other, about being kind and gracious in our conversations and interactions. To, (as my dear Mum used to advise), “Count up to ten” before responding to any harsh or critical tone in the voice of another. Ultimately submitting to each other is about how we submit to God first of all.

Perhaps the most beautiful example of submission was shown by Jesus himself in the garden of gethsemane as he agonised over his impending suffering and death. He concluded his heartfelt prayer with, “not my will, but yours be done”. (Luke 22:42). 

St Paul addresses specific groups of people in these verses, (Husbands, Wives, Children, Fathers, Slaves, Masters, those in the church) . All are exhorted to show Love, Submission, Honour, and Service towards each other irrespective of marital status, social standing or age. 

Whilst some of us might struggle with this mentioning of relationships such as Wives, Husbands, Slaves and Masters in our 21st Century experience and context, this was not, in fact, what was so controversial and counter cultural about St Paul's teaching at the time! Rather, it was that he was advocating a mutual respect be shown to and between groups of people who, at the time, did not have this, and who, generally, experienced only the opposite kind of treatment. However, when people encountered the living Jesus through the Holy Spirit, all such relationships changed. They all discovered that, in Christ, they were equal, irrespective of race, colour, gender, marital status, age and position in society. 

Thus this was a pretty mind blowing letter for them to receive. 

The challenge comes to us also. Behaviour should match belief. 

St Paul then describes the spiritual armour that the Christian is invited to “put on” to enable them to live lives that show Love, Submission, Honour, and Service.

Someone who has the “belt of truth buckled on” will speak the truth and value the truth; they will be righteous; they will know God’s word; they’ll be ready to share the gospel and talk about what Jesus has done. 

And here is an “added extra”, when we live like this, wearing this spiritual armour, we will find it easier to resist evil and to take a stand against the devil’s schemes. Praise God!

So what of us in our church today?

The images of the church we have been thinking about over the last few weeks all highlight its communal nature.

“Tim Keller” (pastor, theologian, and Christian apologist) wrote this, “There is no alternative. You can’t live the Christian life without a band of Christian friends, without a family of believers in which to find a place”. I absolutely agree. You and I are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are Christian friends together, a family of God in a locality. As friends we learn of God together; As the family of God we share both our joys and our sorrows. As the local Church in Waarden Road we pray for one another, support each other and care about each other.

Do we get it right every time? I very much doubt it.

Do we give up? Certainly not.

Can we do better? In God’s Grace, strength and enabling, Yes.

How can we be so certain? Because the church is God’s work, the body of Jesus on earth, and the people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Or as St Paul described the church in his letter to the Ephesian Christians:

 

-We are the people of God, secure in our identity and involved in the mission of God.

 

-We are the bride of Christ, a diverse community who are committed to learning from each other.

 

-We are the body of Christ, being Jesus to the world around us.

 

- We are the community of the Spirit, transformed by God dwelling in us rather than by our own efforts.


 

Points to Ponder 

 

Of these characteristics of church, which resonated most strongly with you? Which of these do you feel our church is closest to at the moment? Which are we farthest from. 

As we are all part of the church, how could we make it better?

 

Song: We are one in the Spirit - Frisk Luft

https://youtu.be/xGD_BFSf90c

 

A Prayer:

 

Lord God, we thank you for our church, for one another, for Jesus whose church we are, and for the Holy Spirit who binds us together and who inspires our praise and worship.

Bless us as we worship and serve you together and through us, draw others to know you, your grace,  love and your peace that passes all understanding.

In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.

 

Blessing;

 

May Jesus, Gods ever living son, who gave his life for us, draw alongside us in service to him,

May God the Father, who loves us, grant us His grace, 

May God the Holy Spirit who inspires us, Fill our lives with his fire and purpose.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

I hope that this study series from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church has been a blessing to you. 

 

Next Tuesday, I am inviting as many who can share to a Pentecost Bible Study via Zoom. I will send out the Zoom link in the next few days.

 

In the meantime there is an opportunity to share the midweek communion service at  Canvey Island Methodist Church tomorrow morning at 10am. Hope to see you there.

 

God Bless

Colin