Summary: Expository sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14, illustrating and applying the spiritual blessings we have "in Christ" that make us contagious with the Good News.
Remember when we were kids how our mom used to tell us that we could catch a cold if we went outside without our coats and hats and got too cold or especially if we got our heads wet?
Truth is, germs, not cold weather, cause colds. The reason we catch more colds in the cold winter weather is because we’re indoors more and in closer quarters with other people and their germs.
You don’t get sick from cold weather. You get sick from germs from other people who sneeze or cough in your face or transmit germs with their hands to objects that you touch.
Research shows that the most common way to get a cold is from someone who has a cold, sneezes on his hands, and then shakes yours. [Perhaps after we greet one another in our worship gatherings we should pass out moist towelettes?]
Germs are contagious. Germs are the agents that transmit colds and viruses.
Now why do I bring this up?
We’re beginning a new series today called "Be Contagious!" In this series we’ll be talking about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ; about sharing the joy we have in Christ by intentionally coming in contact with those who are yet to make the great choice of following Him.
One of our major purposes as Christ followers is to infect others with the love of God that we have in our hearts and lives. We want to influence them in positive ways that will make them want to know Christ. We want to transmit God’s love to their lives so that they too can enjoy knowing God.
At the outset of this series I want to share a statistic with you from Sermon Central’s Church Leaders Intelligence Report (1/24/07) that I hope will help you see why being contagious is so vitally important.
"A church is considered evangelistically effective if just 1 person in 20 in that church leads a person to Christ in a year. This would mean that a church of 100 people would see five people come to Christ in their ministry in one year if they were evangelistically effective. Based on this theory, only 3.5% of U.S. churches are evangelistically effective."
What makes a church contagious? What makes them evangelistically effective? What makes a church one of the "3 and a half out of one hundred?"
We’re going to be looking at the early chapters of the New Testament letter to the church at Ephesus to answer this question. We’re using this letter because God communicated some things to the Ephesian church that they needed to hear that would make them more contagious.
Basically they needed to be reminded how rich they were in Christ. That’s the theme to the Ephesian church letter - how rich Christ followers are, having made the decision to commit their lives to Jesus. When you want to be reminded of how rich you are in Christ this is one of the places in the Bible that you can turn to.
What does knowing how rich we are in Christ have to do with being contagious? A lot of times, when you think you’re poor; you become convinced that you don’t have anything to offer anyone else. You become pessimistic instead of optimistic. And when you’re pessimistic you’re not contagious. No one in his or her right mind wants to "catch" pessimism. But if you’ve got something that makes you optimistic - others will want what you have. You’ll be contagious!
If you’re a Christ follower you have great things to be optimistic about! From time to time you need to reflect on how very rich you are in Christ, not only for your own benefit but also so you can bless others with enthusiasm for life. God wants you to know how much you have to give, especially spiritually speaking.
No one is richer than the person who has experienced God’s grace is! No one has more to offer!
How can I become more contagious, more effective at sharing the Good News of Jesus to others? It begins with seeing how very much I have to offer because of my position in Christ! So today we’re going to start learning how to be more contagious by considering "Germs That Make Us Contagious."
As we read this passage from the letter to the Ephesian Church, circle the two words "in Christ" every time they appear. (You might even want to circle the words "through Christ" as well.)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. IN CHRIST, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4 That is, IN CHRIST, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be his holy people -- people without blame before him. 5 Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6 and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, IN CHRIST, the One he loves. 7 IN CHRIST we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, 8 which he has given to us so fully and freely. God, with full wisdom and understanding, 9 let us know his secret purpose. This was what God wanted, and he planned to do it THROUGH CHRIST. 10 His goal was to carry out his plan, when the right time came, that all things in heaven and on earth would be joined together IN CHRIST as the head. 11 IN CHRIST we were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who makes everything agree with what he decides and wants. 12 We are the first people who hoped IN CHRIST, and we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God’s glory. 13 So it is with you. When you heard the true teaching -- the Good News about your salvation -- you believed IN CHRIST. And IN CHRIST, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14 That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for his people until God gives full freedom to those who are his -- to bring praise to God’s glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 (New Century Version)