Sunday, October 9th, 2016
The letter written to the saints at Ephesus offers general instruction in the truths of God’s redemptive work in Christ; the unity of the church among diverse peoples; and proper conduct in the church, the home, and the world.
There are three main themes found in Ephesians. The first is that Christ has reconciled all creation to himself and to God. It also explains that Christ has united people from all nations to himself and to one another in his church. Throughout this beautiful letter there is an unmistakable theme that expresses the truth that Christians must live as new people.
As you read and study together, make sure to work hard at hearing from everyone that has gathered together. Pray for one another and be accountable to applying the word of God to your lives.
Questions for this week:
- In the first three verses, Paul lays out four ways that Unity and Harmony result-humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in love. In which of these four areas do you struggle most with? How can your missional community help you to work on this in the upcoming month?
- While there is a strong emphasis on the Unity of the Church in 4:1-6, there is a strong emphasis on diversity within that Unity in 4:7-16. In 4:7, Paul mentions that Christ has distributed gifts to ever body member. In other words, Unity is not Uniformity. How have you seen these different gifts in your Missional Community Group members? How do you feel about the different gifting of the individuals in your Missional Community Groups? Are you pleased or frustrated? How does the fact that God designed life that way affect your attitude?
- Many people think that as Christians we are not supposed to get angry, but verse 26 states to “be angry and not sin,” or, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” In what areas or times is it ok to be angry? How, as Christians, do we respond or approach situations where we may be angry?
- Verse 28 talks not only about a thief no longer stealing, but working so that they can help others in need. Looking at your own testimony, or experience as a believer, on what ways have you gone from sin to service? How can we use past struggles or experience with sin to love and minister to others?
What does putting on your new self actually mean? Does it mean to try and change your behavior to be more godly? Relate this to 2 Corinthians 5:17. What does being a new creation look like?
Paul writes to put off falsehood (lying), stealing, and unwholesome talk. By doing those things, are we not just changing our behavior? What is Paul’s greater message besides the don’t do’s?
What does it mean to “grieve the Holy Spirit”? Why does disunity in the body of Christ grieve the Holy Spirit?
Talk with your Missional Community about the areas in your life in which you can be kinder, more tenderhearted and more forgiving like Christ.
In the last section of Ephesians 4, verse 25-32, Paul indicates several ways that Unity can be attained (i.e. honesty, hard work, edification in speech, and kindness) and destroyed (lies, theft, unwholesome talk, bitterness and rage). In this section, he indicates that when we conduct ourselves the latter way towards each other, it grieves the Holy Spirit. How might it change your reactions if you were to stop and think about the fact that the way you respond might cause God the Holy Spirit grief?
In verse 32, Paul says that we should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. He goes on to provide an example of that forgiveness-God’s work in Christ for us. It is not coincidental that Paul lists this last. Divinely enabled forgiveness is the glue by which the pieces of fractured relationships are restored. The word, forgiveness, means to release. It enables us to release a debt that someone owes to us so that we are then able to move forward in life and continue to exercise ourselves in ways that represent God. Is there a fractured relationship that you have right now with a spouse, family member, missional community group member, or friend? Are you holding on to a debt that a person hasn’t paid yet? How might the realization that forgiveness is not only about maintaining unity, but also freeing yourself from something that prevents you from a healthy life, change the way you think about this delicate subject? What are some steps you can take this week, aided by your Missional Community Group, to move towards forgiveness that needs to occur?