BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 5: Ephesians 5:22–6:9

Questions:

12. At the center is love, and not just any love, but the love like Christ had to sacrifice all for those He loved.  Christ became fully man.  A man invests himself fully in his wife, holding nothing back.  This isn’t 50/50 it is “all in”

13. How often my first thought is “I want them to” or “I need them to” whether at home, work or even church.  When my focus is on receiving I cannot be focused on giving or loving.

Thoughts:

There is a very significant call to husbands in these verses.  I think, too often, people get stuck on the wives submit to your husbands line.  But the expectation and call that is placed on husbands is hugely significant, and goes hand in hand with this statement to wives.  Verses 25 and 26 state, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…” This isn’t a theoretical I would be willing to die for my wife sentiment.  (I would catch a grenade for you, fall on a blade for you – sorry, broke into song there for a minute.)  This is a decision to love so much that you step down from every right and honor that might be due to you for the purpose of loving and serving and building up another to make her holy, clean, without stain or wrinkle.  It is not, what would you do, but what have you done and what are you willing to do every day.  As a husband, how much of your time and life is focused on yourself.  If we choose to marry we are judged by the holiness of our household.

Do men know how to love like that?  Only through Christ and only through examples of God-fearing men in the church.  This is not something promoted by society, culture or schools.  But it is what is right and true.

I love my wife and I find that my love for her grows deeper the more I learn of the bible.  I can see so many ways that God is working in her life and it is easier and more natural for me to give thanks for the blessings I see flowing through her even more so than in my own life.

And Paul doesn’t stop with husbands and wives.  He included instructions for children and parents, particularly fathers:  Don’t exasperate your children.  What an interesting verb: Irritate intensely; infuriate.  How do fathers irritate and infuriate their children?  how do they fail them? When they fail to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Children want to do what is right, but how do they learn and know – only when the parents provide opportunities for them to learn.

The same principles apply in those we work with.  Never forget, we all report to the same boss, the same Lord and master and He does not play favorites because of any earthly positions.

Advertisements

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 3: Ephesians 4:9–16

Questions:

6. Apostles: founders, leaders, backbone of church;  prophets: speakers of God’s unwritten truth, listen and tell His direction;  evangelists: Going forth to spread the good news to those who have not heard or do not understand; pastors: shepherds of a local flock of believers; teacher: those who explain and encourage believers in the word of God

7. By preparing God’s people for works of service we build up (strengthen) the body.  We do this through bringing people to faith, teaching, supporting, helping structure local places and practices, so they can do the work that God has called them to do with the skills and knowledge passed on by the holy spirit through the church

8.

a. As we mature in faith, Christ’s dwelling in us increases up to the full measure.  This fullness anchors us, like a rock in a bag, so that we are not tossed about by false teaching, whims, deceit, cunning and craftiness

b. By doing the work in my head to grow the spirit’s home in my heart.  He brings strength and weight and an anchor to my life – a firm foundation in Christ

9.

a. Talk more about God and specifically what the Lord is doing or what I am asking Him to do.

b. This is not an argument, it is prayer.  We speak the truth in love more by actions than words

c. Study and prayer.  I need to work to remove the hoarding in my temple so God can dwell fully

d. Flex, but don’t break.  Bend to reach out to others as God, in grace, bent down to save me.

Discussion:

Let’s look deeper at 4:11 and 12.  “It was He who gave some to be…”  the offices of the church and the people who serve in them are commissioned and selected, i.e., called by God.  While we may have processes in place to identify and select people for certain jobs in the church, our efforts should be directed to affirm God’s calling.  When it comes to leadership in the body of believers, God has already decided who is going to do what, we just need to listen prayerfully to His choices.

“some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”  Depending on how you count the last, this is either 4 or 5 distinct jobs in the church.  We often expect our leaders to be able to “do it all.”  But Christ calls people to different roles.  Now, it may be that He calls one person to different roles at different times in life, but we should expect that He has identified specific people at a specific time to serve in each of these specific roles within a body of believers.

“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  Newsflash: the purpose of church is not entertainment.  Even if we are not called into one of the 4 or 5 offices of the church, we are still called to do works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.  We are in the construction business, not the demolition business.  Our work of service is to get underneath people and lift them up.  God lays a new foundation under them – puts a new structure on the outside of them (new creation) all while filling them up with all new insides (the spirit) and, by grace, he let’s us play a part in that service.

At the BSF conference we were encouraged to learn about some of the heretical teaching of our day, to read some of the popular books that deny everything from the existence of heaven to the virgin birth to many other truths of scripture.  As I’ve read the books, what I have found is shoddy workmanship.  Rather than building to code, they are like bad builders who want to cut corners.  It sounds like a bargain at first, but then you see the cracks, the paint peels, the floor boards come loose, the roof like and the air conditioning doesn’t work.  I don’t want help from these builders – I want help from someone who follows building code standards – and, for a Christian life, those are all printed in one place, the bible.

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 2: Ephesians 4:1–8

Questions:

3. Live (i.e., do the work God designed for us to do, not be idle or spectators of life), be completely humble and gentle, be patient, make every effort to keep the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace (Christ is peace)

4. the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace

b. Eph 2:14 says, “He (Christ) himself is our peace.”  So unity with the spirit through peace is being in Christ and the Spirit in us – united.  We keep unity with others through the work of the spirit, not by anything we craft or do: We should pray to live life each day as God designed with the work He designed in advance for us to do through the power of the Sprit in us in communion with the saints (fellow believers) in His church.

c. According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Shakespearean Criticism, 1930), Organic Unity “is innate; it shapes as it develops itself from within and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. ” Organic unity is the unifying thread that makes all the parts come together, from the inside out, joined in one form so that everything is unified.  In the bible this is reflected in 1 Chor 1:12: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Organizational Conformity is outward in.  It is a set of norms and rules, goals and missions that are shared and observed but each part of the organization does not change within.  In scripture Christ observed organization conformity in Matt 22:21a: “Give to caesar what is caesar’s.” Also in Heb 13:17a “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”

d. To remember that the design of the church is to live in communion with man and God.  We should learn and teach, support, pray and work in unity with the spirit not being divisive or burdensome but loving and true.

5.

  1. one body: One church, not many churches, one as the bride of Christ to serve as he commands
  2. one spirit: A single entity (God) indwelling within all believers.  Not different spirits in us, but one spirit in all.
  3. one hope: The thing all believers long for is the same, to be reunited forever with our savior in God’s kingdom
  4. one Lord: We all serve the same Lord and master, not different Kings with different rules and privileges
  5. one faith: We believe in the same thing – Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.
  6. one baptism: We have all been washed completely clean of our sins through grace – no difference, all pure/white
  7. one God: The alpha and omega – there is only one God and Father of all.  He is consistent and true.

 

Additional Thoughts:

I thought this was an exciting segment to dive deep into and I loved the questions today.  First and foremost, we are called to “live life.”  I think we forget that sometimes and let life live us.  We go through the motions of another day.  We plop down in front of the TV to be fed stuff (that is the polite word) largely developed by others who do not share similar standards for not causing another to stumble.  Even at church we show up to be entertained or to “get something out of it”.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing against being fed, rested, inspired or even entertained, but those are inputs that should enable us to live.  They are filling stations, not the final destination.

I attended one of the BSF seminars this past week and the Assistant Teaching Leader really highlighted how the seminars are designed to fit into the structure of BSF.  Our groups and daily lessons are designed to feed and equip us, to grow, to share fellowship, to pray for each other, to learn and study.  The seminars are designed to help prepare us to do something with all of that and take it out into the world.  I thought that was great perspective and it was a really good seminar to help lead a small group in a bible study.