From the desk of Will Spokes, Senior Pastor
The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord, She is His new creation by water and the Word. From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died. The Church's One Foundation, verse 1
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
We are three weeks into our vision renewal series revisiting four key words (Worship, Grace, Community & Place) that describe who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing. This week we looked at the theme of community from Ephesians 2:11-22. The passage begins with a call to remember. It is the only command Paul gives in the first 3 chapters of his letter to Ephesus. Remembering what God has done for us in Christ is the lifeblood of all true religion! So what do you remember from worship Sunday?
Q&A Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.
Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4)
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
Food For Thought:
Peace is not a commodity given to us by Christ; it is a reality experienced in fellowship with Christ. -- Sinclair Ferguson
[T]he living God is constructing a new Temple. It consists, not of stones, arches, pillars and altars but of human beings....What it means, of course, is that for Christians a church building is not a 'Temple' in the strict sense. It is the people themselves who are the 'place' where God is now deciding to live....[T]he early Christians knew, the Jerusalem Temple itself had been solemnly condemned by Jesus. The living God was now seeking to make his home in the hearts and lives, and particularly the communities, that had declared their loyalty to Jesus, and were determined to live by the Gospel. -- N.T. Wright
Sermon Recap: See Ephesians 2:11-22
This week we looked at the word community as part of our vision renewal series. The connection with last week's theme of grace is this: God's saving grace not only transforms our relationship with Him (Eph. 2:1-10) but also our common life together as God's people (Eph. 2:11-22). Paul, writing to a mostly Gentile audience in Ephesus, begins by reminding them how utterly dependent they are on God's covenant promises to his chosen people for the grace they have now received through Christ. In other words, the possibility of true gospel community grows out of God's plan of salvation which has the power to weave together radically different people into a new community/humanity through the cross of Christ! (vs. 13-16)
Sounds great until we encounter the hostility of our own hearts toward people different than us. Sometimes the hostility is obvious and "out there." But perhaps even more common, the hostility is a kind of polite, kind, dismissal. What are we to do with our hostility, our enmity, our hatred? For Paul it must pass through the cross of Christ, (v. 13) but not in the way we might first expect. Paul tells us that through the cross we are reconciled to God. (v. 16) In other words, the cross of Christ is God's solution to his just hostility toward us. "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Rom. 5:10) The only way to find freedom from our unjust hostility toward those different from us is to see what it cost God to satisfy his just hostility toward us: the blood of Christ.
The cross kills hostility between people because it shows no one is righteous; no one stands in a position of superiority, entitlement, or privilege over someone else. The reconciling peace we all need is found in Jesus himself not our culture, our race, our heritage, our resume, our networks. (v. 14, 17) Any other basis for community is doomed to failure because it seeks for peace from a source other than the gospel.
Not only does the cross kill our hostility, the cross is the foundation (v. 20) upon which God by his Spirit builds a new community in which he dwells. (v. 15, 19, 22) Do you see what this means?! The church is where heaven and earth overlap! The church is where the world sees and experiences what God can do with craggy, sharp edged rocks that, left to themselves, don't want to be fashioned into something otherworldly, God's very house. This is good news for us! This is good news for our world rent asunder and fractured by pride and selfishness! What is your reaction to this message, to this vision for the church?
1. The possibility of community: remember. (v. 11-12)
2. The problem of community: hostility. (v. 13-18)
3. The healing of community: the cross. (v. 13-18)
4. The building of community: the Spirit (v. 19-22)
1. What stood out to you from this passage? What was new or compelling to you?
2. What questions does this passage raise for you?
3. Was there anything that bothered you?
4. How would you describe the connection between grace and community?
5. Which truths from this passage do you think we most need to hear and absorb into our common life together at RMC?
Over the past few weeks I've had several conversations about starting a bible study for a small group of people. If you are interested in starting a bible study please feel free to talk to me. I would love to talk to you about it. I am even open to leading bible discussions through books of the bible over a number of weeks.
Ephesians 2:11-22 casts a long look back to the Old Testament in just a few sentences. (v. 12, 14) For many people the Old Testament is an enigma at best and utterly unrelated or irrelevant to New Testament Christianity at worst. However, Jesus himself taught that the entire Old Testament was written about him. (Luke 24:44-47) Therefore, if we don't understand the basic story and significance of the Old Testament we will have a less than biblical understanding of Jesus and his life and work. In order to help those of you interested in learning more about the Old Testament for knowing Jesus better, let me recommend to you a little book called Loving The Old Testament. It is short and clear. I whole heartedly recommend it.
Songs For Sunday
Until next week,
Elect from every nation, yet one over all the earth; Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy Name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with every grace endued. The Church's One Foundation, verse 2