Browsing articles in "Ephesians Study"

Introduction to Ephesians Study

Sep 20, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study, Pastors Blog  //  No Comments

Sunday we began what I hope will be a richly rewarding study of the New Testament book of Ephesians. “Riches that money can’t buy” is the theme of this wonderful letter of Paul.

As Christians, it is vital that we know where these riches are found.  We also need to recognize what they are–far surpassing the gold and silver trinkets considered valuable by the world. Most important, we need to be Christian spendthrifts, living our lives in a perpetual spending spree. God has not called us to be misers.   He intends for us to spend our eternal wealth on those things that really matter in life, mostly relationships.

Rich, meaningful relationships are the primary investments in the portfolios of godly believers. As pastor, I’m asking each of us to spend time this week reflecting on the relationships in our lives.  Look over the questions below and let them guide you during this time of prayerful reflection.

  • What are the relationships in life I value the most? Am I fully invested in those relationships, or am I neglecting them?
  • Are there toxic relationships in my life sapping me of spiritual and emotional health?  What must I do about these toxic relationships?
  • What are some relationships that I need in my life? What do I need to do to establish and cultivate those relationships?
  • How is my relationship with God?  Are there issues and problems in that relationship that I need to give attention to?  What can I do to enhance my relationship with God and grow closer to him?

It is the greatest joy of my life to serve as your pastor.  The rich relationships that I have in SIBC are beyond words.  I love and appreciate each of you and will be praying throughout this church year for the riches that money can’t buy to be fully realized in our lives and church.

In Christ,

Pastor Dan

Printable Outline of Ephesians Study

Sep 20, 2011   //   by sibcweb   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

If you were not at the services on Sunday or just need to print another copy of Pastor Dan’s Ephesians outline, you can download it using the link below. This is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to read and print. Click here to download Adobe Reader free.

View / Download Ephesians Outline

Sermon Outline / Ephesians 1:3-14

Sep 25, 2011   //   by sibcweb   //   Ephesians Study  //  1 Comment

Here is a copy of the outline from today’s message. This is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to read and print. Click here to download Adobe Reader free.

View / Download Outline for Ephesians 1:3-14

The Mystery of God’s Will

Sep 25, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study, Pastors Blog  //  2 Comments

As I mentioned Sunday, one of the things I intend to do during this series is blog on issues that we just don’t have time for in the morning message.  For this week’s blog post, I’ve chosen Ephesians 1:9-10:

 . . . making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (ESV)

It is not an overstatement to say that these words, and especially the phrase “the mystery of his will,” are the heart of the doctrinal portion (chapter’s one through three) of this letter. What is Paul describing here?

Paul is referring to the great truth that God’s calling and salvation, and all the promises of His Word, are open not just to Jews, but to all people. Paul devotes a great deal of time to this topic in chapters two and three as he describes the metaphorical breaking down of the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles in the temple in Jerusalem, and the truth that in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are members of the same kingdom, and in fact, the same family.  This truth seems a bit anticlimactic in light of today’s predominantly Gentile church.  However, the greater truth in these words ought to energize all of us.

Unlike Macbeth in Shakespeare’s great play, we know that history is not, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” No, history is moving toward a great end, one that glorifies God through His son, Jesus Christ. In the “fullness of time,” through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God has demonstrated that there is clear direction, and ultimate purpose in this universe and in our lives. Here, in Ephesians, Paul describes it as the uniting of all things in Christ – things in heaven, and things on earth.  In Philippians he tells us that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10-11, ESV)

This universe and its purpose is a mystery to even the greatest of earthly minds. The great French philosopher Andre Maurois asked, “Why are we on this puny mud-heap, spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am convinced that no one has the least idea.” But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we clearly see “the mystery of his will.” And to the degree that our will is caught up in the mystery of his will, we will experience meaning, purpose, and significance in a world that offers to those outside of Christ only despair. Now that’s what I call riches that money can’t buy!

Pastor Dan

Sermon Outline / Ephesians 1:15-23, Part 1

Oct 2, 2011   //   by sibcweb   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

Here is a copy of the outline from today’s message. This is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to read and print. Click here to download Adobe Reader free.

View / Download Outline for Part 1 of Ephesians 1:15-23

The Goal of Bible Teaching

Oct 2, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

In Sunday’s message I took some time to talk about a subject that I believe is vital to the life and future of the church–the nature of spiritual truth. I said that right doctrine or teaching does not necessarily lead to right living. To put it another way – Accurate knowledge of the Bible does not guarantee that we will display the character of Christ. I’ve listed some Scriptures below to help you see this truth as it is found throughout the New Testament.

“. . .knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (I Corinthians 8:1, NIV)

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40, ESV)

“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, (Gal. 4:19, NKJV)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NKJV)

“. . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17, ESV)

I see two distinct and opposite errors in many churches today. The first is simply basic humanism. That is, the belief that man is the measure of all things. Humanism always leads to a lack of reverence for God’s Word and its’ power to change lives. This is behind the movement of many emerging churches who have left what amounts to two millennia of orthodox teaching. The second error I see in many churches today is bibliolatry. Teaching ministries that succumb to this error emphasize right doctrine and historic orthodoxy, but these things become an end in themselves. They fall short of leading people to the life that Jesus clearly teaches is found only in him. Churches that commit this error mistake the formation of knowledge in disciples for the formation of the life of Christ. The Word never becomes flesh in their people. They are full of truth, but lacking grace. This is a subtle error and one that I have been guilty of as a pastor. It’s very difficult to see, because most who fall into this error are committed, sincere students of Scripture, as I believe the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were. Unfortunately it is an error that causes us to take, rather than give the life of Christ. Could this be part of the reason for the backlash Christianity has experienced in various nations over the centuries? It’s something to think about.

Let’s keep our focus on the goal of Bible teaching – “the knowledge of Christ.” (Ephesians 1:17) “Knowledge” here means “recognition”, or “knowing”. That’s what the study of God’s Word should produce in our lives – the recognition of the person, character, and heart of Jesus. That’s my prayer for SIBC as we passionately pursue our groom, Jesus Christ. Let’s be serious about the study of His Word, and let’s allow it to accomplish the purpose for which it was given. Let’s never allow the means to become the end.

Pastor Dan

Faith and Love

Oct 9, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

We’ve been spending some quality time with Ephesians 1:15-23, a passage I like to call, “What You Need to Know.” I’ve entitled it that, because that’s what Paul is praying for. He says, “. . . making mention of you in my prayers . . . that you may know . . .” Of course, as we’ve said, this knowing is not for the sake of satisfying intellectual curiosity, or acquiring more Bible facts. Not at all! It’s information that leads to transformation in our lives. But let me ask you a question – What kind of believers are most likely experience this kind of transformation? A lot of the answer to that question can be found in Paul’s words in verse fifteen of our text.

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints . . . “

How significant these words are – Paul says, “I’m praying for certain life changing knowledge to come to you, because I’ve heard about you, and what I’ve heard is that you have a strong faith in the Lord Jesus. And the result of that faith is love; not exclusive love, not self-serving love, but love for all the saints.”

Which of us are most likely to experience Bible knowledge that transforms our lives? Simple–those trusting the Lordship of Christ in our lives, and loving all the saints. It really is true – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, ESV) And when we give our trust to God, through Jesus Christ, His son, and our love to all his saints we receive the life transforming power of His Word in us.

Are you trusting? Are you loving “all”?

Sermon Outline / Ephesians 1:15-23, Part 2

Oct 9, 2011   //   by sibcweb   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

Here is a copy of the outline from today’s message. This is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to read and print. Click here to download Adobe Reader free.

View / Download Outline for Part 2 of Ephesians 1:15-23

Marriage and the Mystery of God’s Will

Oct 16, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

In Sunday’s message we talked about us, the church, as God’s inheritance. We traced this theme through both Old and New Testaments, and we saw that it finds its highest expression in the New Testament where the church is referred to as the bride of Christ. I really enjoyed studying for this message, and sharing it with you. What I enjoyed most was the nearness and intimacy I experienced this week in my time with God as I reflected on those passages of Scripture that refer to marriage and the “mystery” as Paul refers to it, between the marriage relationship here on earth, and the union of Christ and his people. I’d like to share with you some of the things that I reflected upon this past week.

First, I thought about how the marriage relationship is described in the Bible. The idea of two becoming one, and bone of bone, flesh of flesh speaks of inseparable union. Our individual, biological bodies are so connected that great pain, handicap, and sometimes even death results when we “disconnect” any part of ourselves. I couldn’t help but think of couples who have ended their marriages and the devastation I’ve seen resulting from these painful break ups. Some of you are struggling with your marriages, and I am laboring for you in prayer that your relationships will become the sacred, nurturing, joyful thing that God intends them to be.

Another thing I reflected on this past week was my own marriage. I cannot begin to describe for you the great joy and fullness I experience through my union with Sherri. A few of you were members when, in our first year at SIBC, Sherri and I were separated for six weeks. It was the longest separation we had endured in twenty eight years, and I was so “lost” without her during that time. To this day, that experience motivates and energizes my prayers for deployed service members, or others who are separated unwillingly for any reason.

Finally, I reflected this week on just how vulnerable God has made himself in order to enter into relationship with us. God the Father experienced the vulnerability of sending his son into a hostile world where he was despised and rejected, scourged and crucified. God the Son experienced the vulnerability of being rejected by his own brothers, betrayed by one of his own disciples, and viciously murdered by the spiritual leaders of his nation. God the Holy Spirit has, and continues to experience the pain of our sin and refusal to listen, or follow his promptings and leadership in our lives. He is grieved and quenched over and over again, but he never leaves us. He never ends the painful relationship that he has committed himself to as our comforter, guide and friend.

Let me encourage you to take some time to reflect on Scripture and its teaching. Mediation is a lost art in our fast paced world, but the benefits are beyond description. The strengthening of our hearts, lives, marriages, families, and relationships occurs when we take time to meditate on the truths of God’s Word. Do you hear him–Almighty, Omnipotent, Creator, God above all, in all, through all — tenderly calling to you? Slow down. Stop. Listen. Take time to reflect on his great love and experience his wonderful presence in your life.

In Christ,

Pastor Dan

Peace Through Christ

Oct 30, 2011   //   by Dan Armistead   //   Ephesians Study  //  No Comments

I hope you were blessed by Pastor’s Dave and Darrell and their messages on Ephesians 2:11-22. I look forward to listening to the sermon podcasts. This passage is one I’ve reflected on quite a bit, especially the words of verse fourteen, For He Himself is our peace.

Not to be overly academic, or analytical, but the grammatical construction of this phrase is the emphatic pronoun. What Paul is saying is this – Christ, and Christ alone, is our peace. There is no other source of peace.

The pagan philosopher, Epictetus wrote concerning the world peace that existed during the time of Christ. That peace was credited to the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, but according to Epictetus, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, greed, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns.”

Peace from without comes from peace within. Peace from within comes only from Jesus. He Himself is our peace.

The winds howled, the rains pelted, and the waves threatened to capsize the boat, but while the disciples cowered in fear Jesus stood unflinching and said, Peace, be still, and the storm ceased.

In the gospels after Jesus forgave sin, or healed disease he often said, Go in peace.

As he prepared his disciples for his imminent return to heaven, Jesus said to them, My peace I leave with you.

Paul tells us in Romans 16:20 that it is the peace of God that will crush Satan under our feet.

He gives us a prescription for peace in Philippians 4 when he tells us that lives saturated in prayer will result in hearts and minds guarded by God’s peace.

In fact, a simple word study of the New Testament reveals that the word “peace” appears over one hundred times.

Do you think that maybe peace is a major component of the gospel?

It is significant to me that in the Ephesians passage he does not say that peace is found in a particular doctrine, belief system, or denomination. Do you think that maybe our churches and denominations need to hear that?

Neither does he say that peace is found in a political party, or ideology. I wonder what that says about so called Christian politics?

Peace is found in a person. He Himself is our peace. Peace in ourselves and among others is found in Christ and Christ alone. Let’s join the heavenly host in their song of praise, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

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