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A Purpose Driven Church

Ephesians 2:1-10

James R. Davis

My 3 1/2-year-old grandson's favorite word is WHY? He is intelligent enough to know that if he really doesn't want to do something all he has to do is ask, "WHY?" Explaining "WHY?" to a three 3 1/2 year old is not the easiest thing that I have ever done? Nevertheless the question "Why?" is a very important question. The question "Why?" seeks the motivating purpose behind whatever it is we are endeavoring.

Purpose is important because it is the driving force behind everything we do. As I read a particular chapter of the Bible, if at all possible, I like to pick out the thesis verse. This verse is one in which the subject matter of the entire chapter will revolve around. The thesis of the chapter will be the driving force behind everything that was written by the author. I believe that in Ephesians chapter 2 the thesis verse is verse 10. Notice what is written. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." In Ephesians chapters 1 & 2 Paul tells of our position and power in Christ. In Ephesians 2:10 he instructs us as to our purpose as we occupy our position live in God's power. Everything after Ephesians 2:10 points back to chapter 2:10 while explaining what it means to become God's new creation in Christ. In a very real sense you might say that this is the thesis for the entire Bible. (Ephesians 1:9-12)

Paul says that becoming God's new creation in Christ is our purpose as a church.

No higher purpose exists. The weightiest prayers that you will ever read in the Bible are found in Ephesians chapter 1 and 3. These prayers are to the end that we might become enlightened and filled with God's power to become his new creation in Christ.

What Is the Purpose of God's New Creation?

Before we came to Christ we were dead in sin. We followed the selfish ways of the world, the ruler of this world, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us were gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its sinful desires and thoughts. With no regard for others. But now God has raised us up to sit in heavenly places with Christ that we might become his new creation. (Ephesians 2:1-6) In verses 6 & 7 Paul states that God has done this is to manifest his grace to the world.

We are God's creative work in Christ Jesus, which God upholds to the world as example of his compassionate labor of love.

Ephesians 2:6-7
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

God has made the church a spectacle in the world and in the heavenly realms. It is through each of us that he has chosen to make his grace know to the world. God has chosen to make known his manifold wisdom to the world through the church.

Ephesians 3:9-11
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (KJV)

We along with the apostles have been made a spectacle to the world.

1 Corinthians 4:7-10
For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. (KJV)

2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Christianity may be ridiculed by the world, misunderstood by the ignorant and abused by Christians, but when rightly perceived and practiced it is the greatest spectacle to the world that there is a gracious God over all creation.

Imagine uniting the world into one place with each person having such an intense love for one another that each person would be willing to die for every other person. I'm not talking about a fanaticism like followers of the Heavens Gate cult . . . I'm talking about something far more radical. Imagine everyone in the world treating everyone else like they would like to be treated. (Matthew 7:12) Laying down all our selfish attitudes to make sure that others got what they needed. It would certainly have to be called a new creation.

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (KJV)

I heard a radio announcer asking his audience to make our area a nicer place to drive. He was encouraging everyone to give the other guy a break in heavy traffic. If someone is in the wrong lane and needs over in your lane give the other driver a break. We do that a lot here in our large metropolitan area. It does make getting in and out of traffic much easier. (I must admit that it is harder to do when the snow birds fly south for the winter. They are not accustomed to our way of doing things. After all they are not in a hurry they are on vacation. They don't understand that we are not on vacation, we work here.) But supposing we could get the entire world in every area of life to give the other person a break.

What a radical revolution this would bring about in the world if everyone were converted to this kind of thinking. What would this approach do for marriage? What would this approach do for racial divides? What would this approach to life do for Washington D.C.? What would this approach do for the work place? What would this approach do for our schools? What would this approach to life do for business worldwide? What would this approach do to our prisons? What would this approach do on the streets? What would this approach do for the autocratic power struggles in many local congregations?

If we could fulfill that one purpose the end product would be HEAVEN on earth! I know this is asking too much because the simplicity is too profound to grasp! Yet, this is what makes the sacrifice of Christ so profound. Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

How Do We Manifest God's Grace to The World?

To become a spectacle to the world of God's glorious grace we must demonstrate our ability to be united in peace. Paul wrote I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)

There must be a prior decision of determination to maintain peace. When your wife or husband promised to love with you "until death do us part" many of you were too young to know what you were getting into. But you have endeavored to live up to your vows. You have stuck to that decision. Neither of you ever dreamed what you would have to go through to honor that decision. You probably didn't know anything about lowliness, meekness, loooooooooongsuffering and foooooorbearance until you made those vows. Yet in spite of all of that you honor the sacred bond by striving to live in peace. And for that I am sure that both of you are eternally grateful. Through working to keep that commitment both of you have matured. As we live to honor a commitment we mature and grow as individuals.

The proprietor of a dry-cleaning and dyeing business hung this quaint sign in his shop window: "We dye to live, and live to dye; the more we dye, the more we live; and the more we live, the more we dye." For the child of God, it is also true that the more he dies, the more he lives!

Someone asked George Mueller the secret of his marvelous fruitfulness as a Christian. He replied, "There came a day when George Mueller died, utterly died! No longer did his own desire, preferences, and tastes come first. He knew that from then on Christ must be all in all!"

I am thankful that this congregation has peace. But do you realize that for us to have peace there are those who have to be lowly, meek, longsuffering and forbearing. Unity takes people who are determined to become mature as they work together in Christ. The first step to maturity in Christ requires you to make your first mature decision. That decision is a determination that you are going to do what Christ is calling you to do until death do you part. Many are thinking that when they become mature then they will make that decision. The paradox is that we will never become mature until we make that commitment. Maturity comes as a result of the difficult things encountered as you seek to keep your word.

The maturity developed from this type of mindset enables us to speak the truth in love so others may grow up in Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-16
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

It is really a test of our spiritual maturity when we must live among those who are determined to continue living according to the futility of their own thinking. (Ephesians 4:17-22) Even in these situations we must be so determined to manifest God's grace to that we continue to speak the truth in love. In such situations our commitment to Christ demands that we live up to our high calling.

Churches that fight spiritual battles with carnal weapons always have problems. Once when a preacher was working for a very troubled church he encountered a woman so angry that it seemed as though she could bite nails into. She was shaking, talking with a very strained voice. She was mad about something that was going on in the congregation. The preacher was naive. He ask the lady if she thought that was the way Christians should act? Her eyes got real fiery, she clinched her fist and her voice became even more strained as she asked "Don't you know that this is the way spiritual battles are fought?" The naive preacher indicated to her that he didn't understand that spiritual battles were supposed to be fought in that manner. Very true story! The preacher learned a valuable lesson through that experience. How to keep his mouth shut!

It is at times like these that we must determine to follow God more closely as we look to Christ's example and ask God to strengthen our inner being.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

1 Pet 2:21-25
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (KJV)

With God's help we must pray "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

To become a spectacle of God's glorious grace we must demonstrate to the world a new way of thinking. "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:23-24)

Paul teaches us that in order to put on the new man we must put off the old man. We must stop lying, learn to control our anger, stop stealing and avoid corrupt speech. These things are to be displaced with hard work so that we might contribute to the needs of others. We must not let the sun go down on our wrath and God's grace must be seen in how we talk to others.

We must put away our hatred. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)

It is not easy but those who strive for peace will of necessity adapt a new way of thinking as they are enabled by the power of God.

There was a man who decided that he would enter the monastery. There was a vow of silence on the monks. They were only allowed to speak two words each year. These words were to be spoken when the bishops evaluated them at the end of each year. The first year's evaluation came. The man was asked what he thought of the place? He replied "food cold." The second year evaluation rolled around and he was asked the same question. What is your evaluation of the monastery? The man said, "Bed hard." The third evaluation rolled around and he was asked his evaluation of the monastery? The man said, "I quit." The Bishop said, "That comes as no surprise to us, the whole time you have been here you have done nothing but complain."

Becoming a spectacle to the world of God's glorious grace involves demonstrating a new way of living to the world.

Ephesians 5:17-20
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In a New York rescue mission a derelict would sit slumped over in his seat while the sermon was being preached until the speaker made a slight mistake in quoting a Scripture verse. At that moment he would straighten up and give the exact reference and correct wording. The workers called him "Chapter and Verse Charlie." He knew a lot of Bible verses. He heard many sermons, but he never changed his way of life. A preacher who had read about "Chapter and Verse Charlie" was reminded of him one day when a young man carrying a big Bible told him he didn't think he preached "hard enough." The young man said, "My preacher really lets us have it!" He apparently likes to hear the truth shouted, but does it change his life? Apparently not. He made life so miserable for his wife that she left him, and his fellow workers have lost respect for him because he is a pious pretender.

Becoming a spectacle to the world of God's glorious grace involves demonstrating submission to the world. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."(Eph 5:20-21)

In Christ's sacrifice he gave himself for our sins and that is exactly what submission involves. (5:25-27) Giving up self for others.

Submission involves mutual sacrifice of both husband and wife. (5:22-33) If you find a couple willing to die for one another, you will find a very successful marriage.

Submission involves mutual honor of both children and parents. (6:1-4) When you find parents and children honoring each other you will find a great relationship.

Submission involves mutual respect of both slaves and masters. (6:5-9) In the first century when you found slaves and masters dedicated to Jesus Christ and seeking to please Christ as they served one another you found a great place to work.

Conclusion:

The purpose of the church is to submit to God's battle plan for victory. (6:10-24) We will only succeed as we discover God's purpose for being here and surrender to his power which is available to enable us to do his work.

Ephesians 6:10-12
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ . . ."
 
 
 

 

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