Standing Firm

SERMON NOTES
11/16/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 6:10-18

As we end our sermon series on Ephesians, I am reminded of one of the greatest books of Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand. He divides Ephesians into three key sections.

  • SIT – Our Position With Christ – Ch. 1-3
  • WALK – Our Life in the World – Ch. 4-5
  • STAND – Our Attitude Towards the World - Ch. 6

Theme: Stand firm in the power of Christ

Paul uses the image, the Armor of God. In the Greco-Roman world this would be a familiar metaphor, for us it may take creativity.

Belt of Truth - The center of gravity for followers of Christ is that there is absolutely nothing to fear, for Christ is victor!

Breastplate of Righteousness is the foundational fact of the justice and goodness of God, and the followers of Christ are “in the right” before Him through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Shoes of the Gospel - We are to be prepared to live out the Kingdom of God with our feet, our lives.

Shield of Faith – Our trust in our savior is what sustains us no matter what comes our way.

Helmet of Salvation is knowing that as followers of Christ we have received forgiveness, deliverance, and we are children of God.

Sword of the Spirit is where the Holy Spirit testifies to God’s entire redemptive story, through scripture and through the very gift of Christ’s living in us.

 

 

Live as Light

SERMON NOTES
11/9/2014
Mat Grover
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 5:1-14 

“Sleeper, AWAKE! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”
(Ephesians 5:14)

As you put our new self on, are we living in the light? 

What areas of your life need to be exposed? Need the light of Christ?

Like Henri Nouwen said, how can you “choose” light and keep “choosing” it everyday?

The New Nature

SERMON NOTES
11/2/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 4:17-32

Theme: Paul is saying that we the followers of Christ must shed our old self and put on a new self of Christ.

So what does the New Nature look like?
In verses 25-32 Paul gives very concrete examples of how to clothe yourself with the New Nature of Christ. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list; rather it is introducing to the new believers of Ephesus that there is a different way to live our lives as followers of Christ.

1. 1. (25) So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.

2.  (26) Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

3. 3. (29) Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up.

4. 4. (32) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Exercise

I ask you to reflect on the one person who has illustrated the nature of Christ to you the most using the measurements of this text.
 

· Who has spoken truth to you?

· Who has worked through any hiccups in your relationship with you?

· Who has been an encourager through words and actions?

· Who has been kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving?
 

Once you discover who that person is reflect on them and then reflect on how you can practically live like they live. What would it look like for you to put on the new self of Christ?

 

 

God’s New Society: Living a Life Worthy of Our Calling

SERMON NOTES
10/26/2014
Rev. Carla Williams
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 4:1-16

 Living A Life Worthy of Our Calling

In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul has set forth a foundational reality of the Gospel: that by grace alone, God has reconciled Jews and alien Gentiles to Himself, and brought them together in the  Person of Jesus the Son.  This action has created a new society, the ecclesia of God,  the body of Christ.  Now, Paul announces that God’s “yes” to both Jew and Gentile believers calls for a response from all believers (then, and now)

  • Be zealous in leading a life worthy of your calling (4:1-6)
  • Live into the unity that already exists as a result of one calling, one
  • Lord, one faith, one baptism by practicing the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerant love.
  • The gifts of God’s grace are gifts for both salvation (charis) and for service (charismata)  (4:11-16)
  • Evidence of a growing, healthy body of Christ is based on an ever maturing and growing faith, undergirded by truth and love. (4:14-16)
     

Questions for Reflection

  1. Read Ephesians 4:1-16.  In all of its diversity and differences, what  are the essentials that hold the church together?
  2. If humility, gentleness, patience and tolerant love are evidence of healthy church and maturing Christians, which of these four do you personally wrestle with in your own life?
  3. In what ways can our congregation of St. Andrew’s live into unity, without uniformity?
  4. What has challenged you the most about today’s text?

 

Filled With All the Fullness of God

SERMON NOTES
10/19/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 3:14-21

Filled with all the Fullness of God

 

John Stott makes a really good case that Paul’s passionate prayer is a staircase which he climbs higher and higher in his hope for his readers. His prayer staircase has four parts to it: strength, love, knowledge and fullness.

  • In verse 16 we see the hope for strength.
  •  In verse 17 we see the hope for being rooted in love.
     
  •  In verse 18 we see the hope for knowledge of Christ’s love.
     

When we tap into the power of Christ within us, when we are rooted in love for God and others, when we know the depths of God’s love for us that is when we start to truly live life, the life God has for us.

Theme: When we truly surrender to God’s love is when we fully experience God and Life.

Questions: John Stott – A New Confidence

1.   Read Ephesians 3:14-19. List all the requests in this prayer.

2.   Again Paul begins the passage, “for this reason.” What was the reason for Paul’s prayer?

3.  How is God characterized in verses 14 and 15?

4. We shall have power to comprehend these dimensions of Christ’s love, Paul adds, only with all the saints (v. 18). Why is this emphasized? (Is it possible to know Jesus apart from other Christians?)

 

The Tangible Kingdom

SERMON NOTES
10/12/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 3:1-8

The Tangible Kingdom 

Ephesians 3:1-8

Paul in Chapter 3 continues to unveil the beautiful mystery that Christ came not just for the Jew or even just the Gentile but Christ came for all. The Kingdom of God is for everyone who is willing to follow Christ.

Theme: We are called to be the Tangible Kingdom

The Gentile churches, even though they were at first viewed suspiciously by the Jerusalem church, took up a financial collection for the poor and needy in Jerusalem. I want to wrestle with this context of the Gentile Collection to reflect on the power of Stewardship for the Kingdom of God.

I believe there is a similar dynamic happening in the greater church today like the great Jewish and Gentile division. The world is looking at the church with skepticism and suspicion. There are barriers. However, those barriers are starting to be broken as the church community starts to penetrate the greater community with resources. Some authors call it the Tangible Kingdom when the church allows its resources to be a tangible expression of the Kingdom of God.

The definition of Stewardship is the Scriptural practice of the beautiful tapestry of God’s people in Christ sharing talents, time and financial resources for the sake of the Kingdom.

Questions: N.T. Wright – Life After Death

1. What is one dream you’ve had that came to fruition?

2. What three great privileges did the Gentiles attain (together with the Jews) in this plan (v.6)?

3. How can your Christian fellowship explore the riches of Christ described by Paul?

 

Enlarging the Church

SERMON NOTES
10/5/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 2:11-22

Enlarging the Church 

Theme: We need to have a larger view of the Church. We need to enlarge our view of the Community of Believers.

Ephesians 2:11-13
There had always been a growing divide between Gentiles and Jews.

Ephesians 2:14-16
As followers of Christ, Jew and Gentile become one. Paul is saying that through the cross of Jesus Christ the barrier has been torn down between these two families.

Ephesians 2: 17-19
This is the image and position Paul declares for the Gentile Christians. Once you were foreigners and strangers in relation to Israel, the family of the one true God. But now you are full members, you are citizens not by circumcision, not by the law, simply through Christ.

Ephesians 2:19-22
But Paul is claiming that the church, the community of believers is the new Temple. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we all are the dwelling place of God.

 

Questions: N.T. Wright – Life after Death

1.   Read Ephesians 2:11-16. Spiritually, we become part of a new group too. How does Paul describe Gentiles before they became part of this new group (vv. 11-13)?

2.   What did Jesus do specifically for Gentiles on the one hand (vv. 23-14) and for Jewish people on the other (vv. 14-15)?

3.   Consider how those receiving this letter from Paul might have reacted to these verses. How easy or difficult do you think it was for them to live out the oneness they were called to as fellow believers in Christ?

 

The Gift of Grace

SERMON NOTES
9/28/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 2:1-10

 

The Gift of Grace

Today we are going to walk through the first few verses of Chapter 2 that show a description of the bondage of this world. Then we will read the power of God’s mercy as we look at the subject of Salvation.

Ephesians 2:1-3 – Bondage, Satan and Spiritual Warfare

Blueprint Worldview –

Warfare Worldview –

Biblical view of Satan and Spiritual Warfare -

Ephesians 2:4-7 – Salvation

Jesus took the projected evil of the world and drew it on Himself. The cross speaks of a world reborn. The story of the redemption is a story of how a loving creator, when His creation went awry, redeems the whole world.

Ephesians 2:8 - Faith is the trust in which we receive Grace

Through Christ we have been made alive, exalted and seated in the heavenly realm.  Grace is God’s free and undeserved mercy towards us and faith is the humble trust in which we receive that grace.

Ephesians 2:9-10 – Grace to Others

Paul is telling us to receive that free gift of salvation and grace and then to give that grace to others.

Questions: N.T. Wright – Life after Death

1. 1. What, according to Paul, characterizes people who are going in the wrong direction (v.3)?

2. 2. God made us alive and raised us up in Christ (vv. 4-6). What does verse 7 say God desires to accomplish by this?

3. 3. Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What is the means of our salvation (vv. 8-9)?

4. 4. Why did God save us (v. 10)?

 

The Power of the Resurrected King

SERMON NOTES  
9/21/2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series
Ephesians 1:15-22

 

The Power of the Resurrected King

This opening chapter of Ephesians is actually a prayer of Paul’s that celebrates the greater story of God, and when we understand this greater meta-narrative we start to understand our own story.

 Ephesians 1:15 & 16 – Paul’s Thankfulness

Paul was touched and thankful for the church at Ephesus. But then Paul starts to shift in verse 17 to share his hope and expectation for them.

Ephesians 1:17-19 - Spirit of wisdom as you come to know Him.

According to Paul the depths of God is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us a window, a peek, lifts the veil at different moments of our lives so we can see God’s depths, wisdom and glory.

Ephesians 1:20-22 - Paul describes the power of Jesus

So right here in the first chapter, Paul wants to make it clear:
     · God’s ultimate power was displayed in the resurrection.
     · Jesus is seated at God the Fathers right hand in the heavenly places.
     · Jesus is far above all rule and authority and power.
     · Jesus is the head over all things for the church.

Ephesians 1:23 – The Church fulfills Jesus’ reign here on earth

We as individuals and as churches often neglect opening ourselves to the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church needs a recalibration of living into the power of the resurrected Christ.

 

The Roots of Faith

SERMON NOTES
9/14//2014
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Ephesians Sermon Series/Ephesians 1:1-10

The Deep Roots of Faith 

Ephesians offers a wide view of the entire landscape of early Christian theology and reflection: It covers the subjects of God, the world, Jesus, the church, the means of salvation and even Christian behavior.

 

Introduction to Ephesians

Who:

Where:

What and Why:

I believe as we become deeply rooted in understanding God’s Glory, we start to merge our roots with other believers as a church and in turn this new rooted depth helps our life start to make sense.

 

Verses 4-6 – Chosen by Grace/Children of God

  

Verses 7-10 – Christ’s redemption on the Cross

 

God chose you before all of creation!

 

God loved you so much that Jesus took the projected evil of the world and drew it on himself!

 

You are a Child of God! You belong! No matter how many people tell you differently. 
You Belong!