Introduction: Welcome to ‘Living with Ephesians’
Cluster teaching materials Autumn 2008
(Click here for the introduction as a word document)
For the next weeks we are supplying some information on this letter in the hope of preparing ourselves for coming back together for the first few weeks in January 2009 in a redeveloped SMB building.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians must be one of the most exciting letters ever written! Here we read about what God has done for his people and how much he has given us in his Son, Jesus Christ. We see that God’s people - the church – are the body of Christ. And from all this teaching comes the practical encouragements about how to live in the world.
It is impossible to read Ephesians without realising how deeply and richly it speaks of local church life. Ephesians has often been called ‘the book of the church’. The letter was written to a place where glorious events took place as a church was planted and grew to rock a whole city. Things happened at Ephesus as the church took its place as the agent of the kingdom of God into city life, confronting and overthrowing other kingdoms and powers. The written word of God goes with the mighty work of God. Sometimes this proves very uncomfortable for us and we might even exclaim ‘Help – it is happening!’ A reaction like this took place at Nazareth when Jesus read out from Isaiah 61 and then said that today that scripture was happening.
Ministry and events at Ephesus to take seriously as you prepare for the first study
Some foundations might be helpful for you to take note of in your preparation.
In the wonderful process which took place at Ephesus we can see deep foundations being laid on which further ministry and growth was built. These include:
1. Discipleship - Acts 18:19 – 21, Acts 19:1 Paul, as always, had led people, if only a few, into discipleship, going beyond a conversion decision to a deep devotion and commitment
2. Team - Throughout Acts 18 and 19, the interweaving of ministry from Paul, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila, and later Timothy and others demonstrated a flexible team input and Paul writing to Corinth insists that each team member’s contribution is of equal significance. One-person-band operations are inevitably limited in scope.
3. The Word of God - Apollos clearly fulfilled the role of the preacher of scriptural truth, particularly the theme of repentance.
4. Teachability - So graciously demonstrated by Apollos, Acts 18: 24 – 28. Despite his eloquence and scriptural knowledge he yielded readily to receiving further input from Priscilla and Aquila. Such ‘teachability’ requires humility and hunger and it is often a rare quality.
5. Holy Spirit Power - Acts 10:1 – 7 Ministering where Apollos has been deficient, Paul ministers completely to the disciples i.e. people who were already Christians, for them to acknowledge in water baptism that they were in Christ and to receive a Holy Spirit baptism with Pentecostal gifts – God only needed 12 such people to turn Ephesus upside down.
6. Miracles - Acts 19:11, 18 – 20 happened publicly as the word of God was preached.
7. Deliverance - Acts 18:18 – 20 Christians confessed and were delivered from evil.
8. Continuing - The work at Ephesus after this was ongoing even at times a hard slog through the ministry of faithful people like Timothy.
9. Correction - Though Jesus commended the work at Ephesus it was rebuked for its loss of first love for him. Even the most wonderful of works can sadly go stale and great beginnings not always guarantee great continuing.
So there is a lot for you to enjoy over the next weeks……