Summary: Introduction to the book of Ephesians.
1. It’s not often that we get to view the bookends of a church.
a. The BEGINNING… how it all started.
b. Toward the END… how it all ended up.
c. But with the church in Ephesus, we see it’s beauty and strength in the beginning… and it’s weakness at the end.
• Acts 18 - Paul spent some time in Ephesus and eventually returned for 3 years to plant and pastor a church…
• He taught fervently & performed great miracles.
• There was much spiritual growth…
• That is until those there decided to burn all their witchcraft and pagan books…
• A riot erupts as the idol makers could tell their business would be ruined… (20:1) Paul then leaves to Macedonia…
• In Acts 20:17ff, Paul calls the elders from the church to himself for one final moment of exhortation…
• He leaves the church strong and spiritually sound…
NOW… The END – Let’s turn to Revelation 3
• Just about 60 years later… Jesus writes the Ephesians a postcard.
• Things have changed… they were still working, still doing good things, still active… but one key area was missing…
2. Those that study such things tell us that there is a predictable pattern of God’s work upon the earth.
• It starts with a MAN, a calling on a person to minister to a specific people, in a specific time.
• From the man, there comes a MOVEMENT. Many catch the vision and begin to serve the Lord (together/likeminded)
• BUT something happens along the way… The movement becomes a MONUMENT to days gone by.
• No longer is it a MOVE of GOD, but a MONUMENT to MAN.
• It’s only a matter of time that that monument becomes a MAUSOLEUM
• AND the work of God passes on to another group willing to seek His face and serve Him wholeheartedly!
NOW, Calvary Chapel is in the MOVEMENT phase. God has assembled a group of people to serve Him throughout the world serving in and through the various Calvary Chapels.
• But if we’re not careful, if we’re not dependent, and walking in newness with the Lord, we too can become another movement God places on the shelf!
Mark 2.21-22 "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
NOW… This letter to the Ephesians is one of 4 prison Epistles.
• Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were all written by Paul while in a Roman prison around 61 AD.
• Although it was written to the Ephesians, it was also a general letter shared and read throughout the churches in Asia Minor.
THOUGHT: What a joy it must have been to receive a personal letter, inspired by the Holy Spirit from Paul the apostle.
• “We have news from dear Paul.” How encouraging & exciting!
• And so the pastor, would get up and share the letter and read it before all who there…
• Yet… it wasn’t just for them but for us too! We are receiving fresh news from the Spirit through our studies in the Word.
2 Tim. 3.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
FOR DOCTRINE: What is right! - FOR REPROOF: What is not right?
FOR CORRECTION: How to make things right.
INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: How to continue in what is right.
NOTE: And so although it had a specific context and audience, it is will change our lives as we learn and apply its truths!
By all accounts…
EPHESUS was a large pagan city…
• There were about 350,000 people there during Paul’s time.
• Centrally located on the west coast of Asia Minor, it was the place where the East met the West.
• It was a city corrupted by sin and controlled by evil.
• There was rampant immorality, sexual sin, and prostitution.
• It was rivaled only by the wicked city of Corinth in its day.
• ALL in the name of Diana (Artemis), the goddess of fertility.
• In the center of town was a large temple dedicated to her…
• Standing some 56 feet high, 342 feet long, and 164 feet broad it was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.
NOW it’s interesting that in the most wicked of cities, Christianity spread like wildfire. It was welcomed and embraced.
• WHY? Well, Light shines so brightly in the darkness.
APP: That’s why God has spread you guys out all over Aurora and the Denver area with the message of the gospel.