Revealed Life: God's Plan Applied

God's Plan Series
  • We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.
5. Revealed Life: God's Plan Applied (Ephesians 3:1-13)
  • God is making Himself known to the world through the Church.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • The secret of God's plan of creating the Church to include all who come to Him in Christ has been revealed. (Ephesians 3:3-6)
  • The revealing of His plan is a working of God's grace in Christ. (Ephesians 3:7 & 8)
  • Through the Church, the wisdom and wonder of God is made known to all creation. (Ephesians 3:9-11) 
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • Why is the make-up of the Church important?
  • What is it about the Church that shows God's grace?
  • How does the Church make God known is all His splendor?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Describe what is unique and wonderful about God including the Gentiles with the Jews in the Church.
  • Why do you think the mystery of God's plan was not more fully revealed before Jesus came to earth?
  • How was the apostle Paul a steward of God's grace? What were Paul's responsibilities as a steward of God's grace?
  • To whom is the Church to make known the wisdom and glory of God?
  • What are the “unsearchable riches of Christ?” (Ephesians 3:8b) Why are Christ's riches unsearchable?
  • What was God's eternal purpose? (Ephesians 3:11)
  • What privilege does the child of God have with regard to God the Father? (Ephesians 3:12)
  • Why did Paul ask his readers not to lose heart over his sufferings?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What does it make you feel like to know that you are included in the Church in Christ?
  • What is it about the revealing of God's plan that excites you?
  • What does it mean to you to be a “fellow heir,” a “member of the same body,” and a “partaker of the promise” in Christ? (Ephesians 3:6)
  • What is it about the Church that shows God's glory and His purposes?
  • Paul was a minister of the gospel of God's grace appointed such by Jesus Himself. In what ways are you a minister of the gospel of God's grace and how were you appointed as such?
  • What does it mean to you to have boldness and access with confidence to God? How is it that you have such access?
  • Do you ever get discouraged over the resistance to the gospel and the bad circumstances that may result from the mere preaching or sharing of the gospel? Why shouldn't you be discouraged?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
We’ve seen that God’s plan was implemented through His grace and accomplished in Christ by whom He brought the Church together into one united whole to manifest His kingdom and reflect His glory. Now, in Christ the previous dividing wall between Jew and Gentile has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14), and both groups are fully welcome into God’s presence; and more than that, they have been made into “one new man in place of the two” (Ephesians 2:15). Jesus Himself is the means by which God accomplished this uniting and in fact, is Himself the peace (Ephesians 2:14) that makes two into one, a totally new creation, which is the Church, a living picture of the reconciling work of God in Christ. This new Temple, the Church, has thus been founded and built, but it is continually being built and growing into a “dwelling place” for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21 & 22), including all who come to Christ no matter their background, race, gender, or whatever their circumstances. Christ came to save all by grace who come through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

Having built this picture of God's plan revealed, understood, implemented and accomplished, and in light of the reality of such truths in the lives of those to whom he is writing, chapter 3 Paul begins what will be a prayer for these believers. So Paul starts his prayer in verse 1, but interrupts it as he thinks about his imprisonment “on behalf of [the] Gentiles.” (Ephesians 3:1), and what God has done for them through his ministry. This interruption covers verses 2 through 13, following which the prayer picks up in verse 14; and it serves to further expound on what God's plan is and how it has been applied, in this case, through Paul himself. He reminds his readers that they have certainly heard of and know about his ministry that was for them, among others (Ephesians 3:2). And he calls his ministry the “stewardship of God's grace” that was “given” to him. The word “stewardship” means a trusted responsibility given to someone to implement another's will and strategy. In the Old Testament, Potiphar, who was captain of Pharaoh's guard, made Joseph “overseer of his house and put him in charge of all he had.” (Genesis 39:4). Joseph was trusted with the responsibility of handling everything that related to Potiphar's household for the benefit of Potiphar. Using Paul's word, Joseph was given “stewardship” of Potiphar's household. In the same way, God entrusted Paul with the responsibility of giving out the message of grace in the creation of His household, and in particular, to give that message to the Gentiles which included the Ephesians and people in the surrounding region (Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:15-20). To that end, Paul adds that God revealed His “mystery” which had not been fully revealed to those in prior generations as it now was to Paul and the other apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:3-5. See also Ephesians 1:9). And the mystery is that God is in Christ reconciling people to Himself, bringing them into His kingdom (meaning under His rule and reign), making a people for Himself, namely the Church, and that the Church includes Gentiles as well as Jews, all brought together in Christ. In verse 6, Paul puts full texture to the now unfolded mystery by indicating that Gentiles are “fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.” The key word is “fellow” which means “together” and implies equal. The New International Version (NIV) translation puts the verse this way: “the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis added). Gentiles thus with Jews have the same inheritance of the Kingdom, are part of the same Kingdom, and receive the same promises of the Kingdom.

As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:15, God has created “one new man in place of the two” in Christ, and Paul had been given the privilege of participating in the telling and actualizing of that truth. Thus, Paul had become a “minister” of that gospel (Ephesians 3:7. Other translations use the word “servant”), and that such responsibility was a “gift” of God's grace to him through God's power at work (Ephesians 3:7b), even though he was the least of anyone (Ephesians 3:8) He describes his responsibility as being “to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God.” (Ephesians 3:8 & 9). And he adds that all this was part of God's plan and eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10 & 11) to make known, to put on display, His wisdom, His goodness, His mercy and His love, to the world and to all in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10) – in short, to put on display all that He is to all creation, “in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:10) In describing this reality, Paul uses the phrase “manifold” which means many splendored and ever expanding in beauty and depth. God's plan, in other words, is unbelievably beautiful itself and it shows how unbelievable beautiful, deep, wise, good, loving and glorious God is. He is literally beyond great, and it is this unfathomable greatness that is on display in the working out and application of His eternal plan that includes the Church as not only prime channel through which this greatness is manifested, but as the featured example and reflection of this greatness. Wow! Talk about the great big, beautiful picture of God's plan; this is it!

But as he reaches this high point in laying out God's plan that includes the Gentiles, Paul provides a key implication, specifically that in Christ and through faith in Christ, we have access to God Himself! And this is not mere basic access, it is “boldness and access with confidence!” (Ephesians 3:12) The NIV puts it this way, “we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” The Greek word translated “boldness” has the sense of freedom to speak and persuade. Thus, in Christ, we can come into God's very throne room (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16) and speak to Him directly and freely of whatever is on our heart and mind, because we are part of His family as His children. And all this is the result of God working out His plan to make a people of His own possession, a “holy temple in the Lord” which is a “dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21 & 22) Because of all that, and because God used Paul in the bringing of that message of grace, Paul tells his readers not to be discouraged because of his situation; his sufferings and imprisonment were part of the accomplishing and application of God's plan to their benefit. It seems that Paul is saying to them, “Don't worry; God's got it! And it's all part of bringing you into His Kingdom and to Himself. Praise the Lord!”
God's plan is indeed many splendored and beautiful. He has brought the far off near, the outcast in, the separate together. He has created the Church to reflect His greatness and glory. In Christ, He has accomplished and applied His wisdom to work out His eternal purpose. And it is all to His glory and issues in our having full access to the King. So don't be discouraged, and don't lose heart in the difficulties anyone might have as a result of sharing this great gospel. It is all part of accomplishing God's purposes as a display of His glory. Be blessed to be a part of His great plan!
United Life: God's Plan Accomplished

God's Plan Series
  • We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.
4. United Life: God's Plan Accomplished (Ephesians 2:11-22)
  • God is bringing the Church together as one in Christ.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • God is the great reconciler and unifier, bringing people to Himself who were previously far off from Him, and united them in Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)
  • In uniting disparate and separated people to Himself, God has created a new thing, the Church. (Ephesians 2:15, 20)
  • God continues to build the new Temple of the Church, a dwelling place where He lives. (Ephesians 2:21 & 22)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • Why has God acted as reconciler and unifier?
  • How does the Church reflect God as reconciler and unifier?
  • What does it mean to say that the Church is a dwelling place where God lives?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Describe the state and status of the Gentiles vis-a-vis God before the impact and effect of the gospel?
  • What did it mean to the Gentile to be excluded from the kingdom of God?
  • What did Christ do to bring the Gentiles into the kingdom of God? Why did He do that?
  • What were the hostilities between man and God, between Gentile and Jew?
  • How did Jesus break down the hostilities between Gentile and Jew? Between Gentile/Jew and God?
  • What does it mean to say that Jesus is our peace?
  • What is the work of the Holy Spirit in the making and holding together of the Church?
  • On what is the Church built?
  • What is the foundation of the apostles and prophets?
  • What does it mean to say that the whole structure, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What does it mean that before Jesus you were excluded from the kingdom of God? Do you remember being excluded?
  • How have you been brought near to God?
  • What did Jesus do to bring you near to God and into His kingdom?
  • What was the burden of the law of commandments (Ephesians 2:15) to you?
  • What does it mean to you to have access to God? How do you have access?
  • What does it mean to you to be a “fellow citizen” with others who have followed Jesus?
  • Why is it crucial that not only is Jesus the cornerstone, but that you believe Him to be the cornerstone of the Church? What does that mean to you?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
Verses 1-10 of chapter 2 show God implementing His great plan regarding the Church by applying His grace out of His mercy which, in turns, derives from His love, to us as sinners, making us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5), then raising us up with Him and seating us with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). God’s eternal rescue plan, the redemption out of sin of a people for Himself, was thus put into action … implemented to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). This is grace in full display.

God’s plan was not only implemented through His grace, His plan was accomplished in Christ by whom He has brought the Church together into one united whole (cf. Ephesians 1:23). Verses 11-22 of chapter 2 provide us with a picture of this uniting accomplishment of God, and the picture involves the Gentiles and the Jews. Paul has already referenced this picture in chapter 1 where he noted that the Jews were chosen and adopted by God (Ephesians 1:4 & 5), but that the Gentiles were also brought into the family of God and sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14) to be a part of God’s possession (Ephesians 1:14). Paul now calls attention to the “before and after” with respect to the Gentiles, and how God accomplished this part of His plan of creating the Church to manifest His kingdom and reflect His glory.

The “before” is seen particularly in verses 11 and 12. The Gentiles by birth were “the uncircumcision,” as distinguished from the Jews who were “the circumcision,” and as such, the Gentiles were separated from God, excluded from God’s kingdom, not party to God’s covenants, and without hope and any relationship with God. In short, they were in a bad way and seemingly outside of God’s plan. However, as we are seeing in this letter, God’s plan has included them all along, and thus the “after” came through Christ who brought them near by His blood, that is, by His death on the cross (Ephesians 2:13). Paul then proceeds to describe what happened as a result of the “bringing near” of the Gentiles. Note that in the following verses, Paul alludes to the Jewish Temple which in his day by design effectively limited access to God by a series of courts and then the holy place and holy of holies. There was the court of the Gentiles where anyone, including Gentiles, was allowed, but from which Gentiles could go no further into the Temple (under penalty of death!). There was the court of the women, where women were allowed but could go no further into the Temple. Next there was the court of the men into which only Jewish males could enter but could go no further into the Temple. Then came the court of the priests where only the priests could entered to make offerings and sacrifices, after which came the Temple proper into which only the priest on duty was allowed, and which was separated from everyone else by a curtain. Finally, there was the holy of holies which none but the high priest was allowed to enter, and at that, only once a year on the Day of Atonement. But now in Christ, the dividing wall has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14), and both groups, Gentile and Jew, are fully welcome into God’s presence. More than that, however, the two disparate groups have been made into “one new man in place of the two” (Ephesians 2:15), and Jesus is the means by which God accomplished this uniting and in fact, is Himself the peace (Ephesians 2:14) that makes two into one, breaking down the barrier of the law and commandments (Ephesians 2:15), putting to death the hostility between the two, and reconciling them into one body, the Church (Ephesians 2:16), with full access in the Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). Thus, the uniting of Gentile and Jew is totally in and through Jesus, and is held together by the Spirit. These two groups are fully included in God’s kingdom for His glory, and as a totally new creation, the Church, is a living picture of the reconciling work of God in Christ.

Verses 19-22 bring a conclusion to the prior verses, which is that God is building a new Temple in the Church, one in which any and all may enter in Christ. Specifically, the Gentiles may enter; they are no longer “strangers” (transient foreigners) and “aliens” (foreign settlers with no rights) in the kingdom of God but instead are “fellow citizens” with all who call on the name of Jesus for salvation, and with them are part of God’s own household (Ephesians 2:19). This new Temple is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (meaning those after Jesus’ ascension not the prophets of the old covenant) through their witness to and preaching of the gospel message, with Jesus being the “cornerstone” (literally the capstone, or binding stone, which holds the structure together at the tip of the walls where they meet at right angles) (Ephesians 2:20). This new Temple is not only founded and built, it is continually being built and growing into a “dwelling place” for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21 & 22).

What a beautiful picture of God and His plan. He has accomplished His plan by taking those men and women He has saved from spiritual death, those heretofore at odds and enemies not only with God but with each other, and uniting them together in Christ into a new thing called the Church. Moreover, God continues to fashion and build this new Temple, the Church, into His very own dwelling place, with Christ at the center. No longer is access to God limited to only a certain select few; instead, the gates of this new Temple are thrown wide open to include even those previously excluded. God is indeed rich in mercy to thus shower His grace to bring about peace, reconciliation, and a family joined together in and around Jesus Christ with freedom to come to the Father God by the Spirit. So, as Paul wrote to his readers in this letter, remember who you were formerly, and remember what God in Christ has done for you to bring you to Himself together with all those who name the name of Jesus as Savior and Lord. Remember, and let such remembrance bring praise to your lips as you live in Him and for Him.

Saturday May 14 is the date of the next exciting meeting!
Bring a picture of your mother! That’s the first requirement.
Most important second:  We will have a wonderful concert
By Nancy DeLeys and Jim Barlow!    
As usual we will have Chef Walters dinner at 5:00
and our musical event at 6:30  See you there!!
God's Plan Series
  • We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.
3. Free Life: God's Plan Implemented (Ephesians 2:1-10)
  • God is still building the Church in Christ.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • All mankind is fallen, in a state of spiritual death, separated from God. (Ephesians 2:1)
  • God in His love extended His mercy to make us alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)
  • God's saving us in Christ is all His doing, making us His work of art by His grace for His glory. (Ephesians 2:7-10)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • What does it mean to be “dead in trespasses and sins?”
  • Why did God make us alive in Christ?
  • What is the effect of God's having made us alive in Christ?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Describe what it means to be separated from God because of our sins? Why is that a problem for us and our existence?
  • What does it mean to say that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air?”
  • Who are the “sons of disobedience?”
  • What does it mean to say that we are “by nature children of wrath?”
  • Describe God's love and His mercy. How did God extend His love and His mercy to us?
  • What does this passage mean when it says we have been saved?
  • What is grace? What is God's grace?
  • How does God's saving men and women accomplish and implement His purposes?
  • How is one saved by grace?
  • What does it mean to be “God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus?”
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • Do you believe that outside of Christ you were dead in your trespasses and sins? What is the problem you face by your being spiritually dead?
  • What is at the base or root of one's sin and sin nature?
  • What How does God's love and mercy extend to you? What is your response to God's love and mercy?
  • What does it mean that you are “alive together with Christ?”
  • What is the impact on your life that you have been made alive in Christ, raised up with Christ, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places? How does it make you feel to be in that position, and what is your response?
  • What does God's grace mean to you personally?
  • What are the “good works” that you are to walk in as one made alive in Christ?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
Having revealed His plan, and giving us an understanding of that plan, in verses 1-10 of chapter 2 we see God implementing His great plan. How is God to create this Church by which He will manifest Himself to the world? Mankind is fallen as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve; mankind is separated from God and thus unable even to know Him much less implement His great plan. That’s where verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2 begin – “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” The word “you” refers to Gentile believers. They were dead in their sins, meaning they were disconnected from God in whom is life. And they were part of the rebellion against God and His rule which is led by the “prince of the power of the air” who is Satan, and who is the ultimate counterfeit God who is always at work in the world leading those who are part of the rebellion (the “sons of disobedience”). But the Jewish people were no better off, as Paul notes in verse 3, indicating that they too lived among the sons of disobedience, all of whom in this former life (meaning before being in Christ) were dominated by the passions and desires of the flesh, with evil thoughts and actions the result. Thus, sinful man is at the “mercy of the tyrant self” (so writes A. Skevington Wood in Expositor’s Commentary, Vol 11, Ephesians at page 34), being “by nature children of wrath” (wrath being God’s rightful judgment against sin). Thus, all mankind (Jew and Gentile alike) is lost under the sway of sin and is unable to be part of God’s great plan unless God does something about the situation.

And praise be to God, He has done something. Hence verse 4 with the wonderful words, “But God …” In light of the condition of man, God has done something, and it derives from His love, no, from His great love of all those He has created. That means the Ephesians and all those in Asia who will receive this letter, it means all the Jews wherever they are, it means everyone else including you and me! God loves us (John 3:16) and has acted towards us out of that love, His action being mercy which means the giving of unmerited favor. God’s love is “great” and His mercy is “rich.” God has extended His unlimited compassion to helpless, rebellious and unworthy humans, even while we were “dead in our trespasses” (Ephesians 2:5. See also Romans 5:6-8) and thus unable to save ourselves. And what did God do? He did three things. First, He “made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5); second, He “raised us up with” Christ (Ephesians 2:6), and third, He “seated us” with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). In short, God took spiritually dead people, made them alive, raised them up and out of the grave and placed them in the heavenly kingdom to rule with Jesus. This is what God did for those who would read Paul’ letter; this is what God has done for all believers, past, present and future; this is what God has done for us! This is not a temporary thing, but is everlasting an in that sense we are like Christ who came out of the grave, walked on the earth, and went up to heaven from which He now rules. God did this to implement His great plan to make Himself known through the Church to His glory (Ephesians 1:4-6, 12 & 13). So here we have in full view God’s eternal rescue plan, the redemption out of sin of a people for Himself, the action of a God whose power is unlimited and whose love and mercy knows no bounds. And this rescue plan is intimately connected with Jesus Christ and what He did by offering Himself on the cross and rising from the grave. The Church is totally “in Christ” in every way one can imagine and think of that phrase.

Why did God do this? Why did He implement this rescue plan? The answer is found in verse 7: He did it “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” He did this to show His grace, reflect His character, and underscore His kindness to and for the world, all to His glory. Believers are thus the picture and proof of God’s great grace, both while they are living and for all eternity. God wants all creation to see who He is in all His glory, and that is both made possible by and exemplified in the working out of His great plan in creating the Church made up of redeemed men and women who have been made spiritually alive out of spiritual deadness.

This is grace (Ephesians 2:5, 7, 8), and it is all from God. In verses 8 and 9, Paul goes out of his way to emphasize that God’s grace indeed is all from God; nothing about being saved and rescued by God comes from man’s side of the equation, if salvation can even be called an equation. Our being made alive, raised up and seated with Christ did not happen because we deserved such treatment, or because we did anything that earned such treatment. We have been saved by grace “through faith,” and even that faith is not our own doing but rather is a gift from God so that no one will have any right to boast in their salvation (Ephesians 2:9). Thus faith is the act by which we receive the gift of salvation extended us by God’s grace, it is that which assures us of the effectiveness of God’s grace, and it is what confirms in our heart and mind the work God has done in our redemption. God loves us and that extends His mercy to us which releases his grace by which we receive and accept salvation. Without mercy, grace would not be poured out; without grace, mercy would not have effect. Praise be to God that both mercy and grace are at work showing forth God’s kindness.

To what end all of the above? To create His Church which is His “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), meaning that the Church (as well as individual believers) have been lovingly conceived and fashioned by God as His “work of art” for display to a watching world of who God is. And that display is a present and a future thing. It is present in that the Church “walks” in good works which God set out for us to do on earth to show Him and His kingdom. Those good works are the living out of His will and purposes, reflecting His character, and extending His love to the world; in short, walking the walk of the believer and being the Church. That display is future in that the Church will reflect for eternity the wonder and glory of God as a testimony of His goodness, His power and the fulfillment of His purposes.

God has implemented His plan by saving men and women, human beings otherwise dead spiritually, making them alive and putting them together in Christ to make up the Church by which He manifests Himself to the world. All this is an act of grace which flows from His character as a kind, merciful and loving God who seeks His own deserved glory. Of course God is powerful enough to do what He has done. But the more remarkable thing is that He did it, and that He did it to our blessing and benefit which further reflects His glory. Oh that we would grasp more fully the breadth and length of what God has done in Christ, that we would see the Church as God’s artwork on display, and that we would walk in the “good works” of living for Him that He has set out for us from before the world even existed. To God be the glory.  
God's Plan Series
  • We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.
2. Hopeful Life: God's Plan Understood (Ephesians 1:15-23)
  • God wants us to understand His plan and purpose.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • God gives us an understanding of Himself and His will. (Ephesians 1:17)
  • God wants us to understand that our calling is wrapped up in Him. (Ephesians 1:18)
  • God's power is effected toward His people and is best exemplified in Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation. (Ephesians 1:19 & 20)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • How do we and can we know God and His plan? (Ephesians 1:17 & 18)
  • What does it mean to be “in Christ” as the Church?
  • What does it mean for the Church that Jesus is head over everything to the Church?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Why does Paul pray for the believers to whom he is writing?
  • What is God’s prayer for the Church and believers in the Church?
  • What does it mean to have a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him? (Ephesians 1:17)
  • What is the hope of our calling? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance?
  • Describe God’s power. What is the best example of God’s power at work?
  • What is the exaltation of Jesus? What is the effect and impact of Jesus’ exaltation?
  • What does it mean to say that Jesus is above every name that is named?
  • What does it mean that all things are in subjection to Jesus and “under his feet?”
  • What is the implication of Jesus being head of the Church and Him being given as head to the Church?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • How can you have a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him?
  • Why is it important that the eyes of your heart be enlightened?
  • What is the hope to which He has called you?
  • What is of his glorious inheritance in the saints?
  • How do you understand and view God’s power? How would you describe God’s power?
  • What is the extent of Jesus’ power and His dominion?
  • What is the effect of God’s gift to the Church of Jesus’ headship and dominion?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In the last Notes, we saw that God has a “grand plan” to make a people for Himself in Christ from all people of any and every background and culture, all for His glory (Ephesians 1:10, 14). That people is the Church. God has revealed this plan – let us in on His secret – out of His grace and as part of His will (Ephesians 1:9-11). And His plan covers eternity; it began before time (Ephesians 1:4), and will continue into its fulfillment in the future (Ephesians 1:10, 14). Quite the big picture!

In verses 15-23, we see that God wants us to understand His plan, and in so doing, understand and know Him. In setting this forth, Paul, as he often does in his letters, prays for the believers to whom he is writing. In this prayer we see Paul as pastor (literally, as shepherd) as he is thankful for his flock, cares for his flock, desires to feed his flock, loves his flock and intercedes for his flock. It seems that he knows at least some of his audience personally (he has “heard of” their faith), “remembering“ them in his prayers, which suggests that he prays for them by name, and keeps on doing so (“I do not cease ...” Ephesians 1:16). The essence of his prayer is the point we are making, namely that God wants us to understand His plan and to know Him. Paul asks that the Father give them (and us) a “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” and have “the eyes of [their] hearts enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17) In other words, God wants us to have insight into Him in the core of our being, and to see what He has uncovered to us (His plan). God doesn't want us to be in the dark, and He therefore has revealed His plan as we have described it so that we can serve Him effectively in doing out part to carry out His purposes. Does God let us in on everything, on every detail? Of course not; but He has opened the door more than sufficiently that we can know His plan and Him.

And what of God does Paul pray that we come to know? Three things: one, “the hope to which he has called” us; two, “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints;” and three, “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18 & 19) What are these three things? The “hope” referred to is not a cross your fingers with a wish that you might have or get something. Rather, it is a reality of who God is (cf. Romans 15:13), the relationship we have with Him (Romans 15:4, 13; II Corinthians 1:10), and the expectation of what we will receive in the future (cf. Romans 8:20; Galatians 5:5). We have been “called” into this relationship with the King (II Timothy 1:9) and His future (Titus 2:13) to be His people and do His work (Ephesians 2:10; I Thessalonians 2:12). Thus, God wants us to understand, and be assured, that we have been placed by God “in Christ” (our hope) to do His work (our calling). God also wants us to understand that this inheritance we have in Christ (Ephesians 1:11, 14, 18) comes out of His abundance and in fact is His abundance; we need to appropriate the reality of the riches of our possession (i.e., our relationship with and position in Him) and the riches of simply Him and who He is, and then live accordingly. And finally, God wants us to understand, and live in the understanding of, His power. In describing God's power, Paul uses a series of words (what one commentator calls the “vocabulary of divine power”) in verse 19 to indicated that God's power is incomparable, miraculous, beyond measurement, limitless, effective and inexorable; it is something that God has, that He uses, that He controls, and that He exerts; it is unimaginable; it is effective; it is operational; it is real; and it is inexhaustible. And that power has been and is extended “toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19) which means that God exercised His power to make us into His people and continues to exercise His power to keep us as His people.

As if to put a topper on the concept of how great God's power is, Paul gives the paramount example of the working of God's power, namely the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and His exaltation to the place of authority over everything (Ephesians 1:20). In Jesus' resurrection, Satan, death and evil were defeated once for all; the greatest victory of all creation was achieved as part of God's purpose to show who He is and in the process bring a people to Him in Christ. And how high was Jesus exalted? His dominion and rule is above – no, far above - “all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:21) Jesus Christ is, in a word, superior (cf. Philippians 2:9 & 10; Hebrews 1:4; 3:3; 5:4, 10) to anything and everything, no matter where it is, no matter what it is, no matter who it is, no matter when it is. There is no designation of rank or honor, there is no title, that is above Jesus in the present time and age, and in that time which is to come, and in all eternity. The other side of Jesus' dominion, that is, the opposite of exaltation, is subjection; Jesus is over everything (Ephesians 1:22), having been put in that position by God in the exertion of his power. (Note that as the second Person of the Godhead, everything was already under Jesus' dominion. However, He laid aside the privilege of that position in becoming a human being, and took it up again upon His resurrection. In that latter sense, then, God has placed all things under Jesus' feet. See John 10:18) Thus, Jesus is “head over all things.” (Ephesians 1:22. See also Colossians 1:15-18)

But beyond being head of all things, including the Church, Ephesians 1:22 tells us that God “gave him as head over all things to the church.” In other words, Jesus’ headship over everything is a gift to the Church for the Church, for its benefit, its protection, and its empowering. Since Jesus is head over everything, then truly the gates of hell not only shall not but cannot overpower the Church (Matthew16:18 & 19). The power of the Church, and thus its ability to carry out its calling as witness to the world of the gospel and the Kingdom of God, is therefore not from its program or its people, but is from the person of Jesus as its head and the head over all. What a source of encouragement as the Church lives out its calling; it does so in the power of the risen Jesus! We need to know that, but more so, to understand that as it is the source of the effectiveness of the Church and the basis of its ministry and service. Moreover, the Church is in fact the body of Jesus Christ in the world; it is an organic, functioning thing in vital union with Him whereby He directs us, controls us and uses us for His purposes. The individual members of the Church are organically tied together as His body for effecting His purposes such that the actions of the individual members taken together are collectively the means of God’s carrying out His will on earth. In that way, the Church is “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23) which means that at the same time is His fullness and is being filled by Christ with His life, His attributes and power, for the outworking of His purposes under His direction and control as Head. One commentator puts it this way: “Christ is at once immanent within the church and transcendent over it, as he is both within and above the cosmos,” and as His body, the Church “manifests him to the world, but it can only do so as he fills it with himself and with all the grace-gifts he bestows.” (Ephesians, by Skevington Wood, in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 11 at p. 32).


That God has revealed His plan to us is remarkable; but even more remarkable is that we can understand His plan. While this understanding is not complete in the sense that we can understand fully, it is sufficient for us to be enabled to carry out His purposes, and can grow deeper as we grow deeper in knowing Him. Our prayer should thus be that we know Him better and more fully to the end that we can serve Him more faithfully. Our hope should thus be that the risen Lord Jesus is over all for the benefit of His Church. And our encouragement should thus be that who we are in Him and what we have in Him is for all eternity and for His praise. As we said in the prior Notes, what a way to live!  


We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.

1. Eternal Life: God's Plan Revealed Ephesians 1:1-14
God planned for the Church from the beginning, and has let us in on it!

2. Hopeful Life: God's Plan Understood Ephesians 1:15-23
God wants us to understand His plan and purpose.

3. Free Life: God's Plan Implemented Ephesians 2:1-10
God is still building the Church in Christ

4. United Life: God's Plan Accomplished Ephesians 2:11-22
God is bringing the Church together as one in Christ.

5. Revealed Life: God's Plan Applied Ephesians 3:1-13
God is making Himself known to the world through the Church.

6. Prayer Life: God's Plan Empowered Ephesians 3:14-22
God is the source of power in the Church.

http://www.randallchurch.org/search/label/Talk%20It%20Over
The gospel of Mark is a short, action-packed book that focuses on how Jesus Christ is the Messiah for every man, woman, and child. Christ--fully man, fully God. But Jesus wasn't the rescuer God's people had imagined, and many didn't recognize Jesus as their answer to prayer. We, too, can miss out on what God wants for us if we're only looking for answers that fit our expectations. Join us for this series as we explore Jesus' heart for people and we can change the world by serving one person at a time and helping them connect with God.

1. Preparing The Way For Christ to Shine (Mark 1:1-13)
Who is Mark, the writer of this gospel, and what is his approach to the gospel story? The messenger prepares the way for the Messiah. The Messiah is introduced, then tempted.

2. Reaching a Region and Ready For Conflict (Mark 1:14-3:12)
Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee, calls Simon, Andrew, James, John and Levi to follow HIm. He performs miracles in the region, thus providing proof of who He is. However, the opposition of the Pharisees and the Jewish religious establishment begins; still the crowds flock to Him.

3. Following The Call Of Christ (Mark 3:13-6:6a)
Jesus chooses the 12 Disciples, calls the crowd to follow HIm, teaches the crowd about the Kingdom of God through parables. He continues to perform more miracles, all of which attest to His power and authority over the physical. the material and the spiritual. However, He is rebuffed in His home town where people took offense at Him and showed an amazing lack of faith.

4. More than a Story Teller (Mark 6:6b - 7)
Jesus and the 12 withdraw from Galilee, and He continues to teach and minister from town to town. John the Baptist is beheaded by King Herod. Jesus feeds 5000 men and those with them, and walks on water, again proving who He is by these and more miracles. In the face of this, the opposition of the Pharisees and the Jewish religious establishment mounts. Though Jesus confronts His opposition, He nevertheless by so doing seeks to show them the true Kingdom of God.

5. Dealing with Difficulties and Doubts (Mark 8:1-21)
Jesus feeds more than 4000, creating food for all from 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. Still the Pharisees ask for a sign, but Jesus says no sign will be given. He then warns the 12 about the false hope of the religious and the world system, and marvels at their lack of understanding.

6. The Turning Point (Mark 8:22-38)
Jesus heals a blind man, and asks the 12 who He is. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Son of God; but Jesus warns them not to tell anyone. He then predicts His death, which marks the turning point in His ministry. He is now to head to Jerusalem and the cross. He preaches that those who follow Him must lose their lives to save them.

7. Seeing Christ for Who He Is (Mark 9:1-10:12)
Jesus continues to speak of His coming death. He takes Peter, James and John up a mountain and is transfigured before them, but orders them not to tell anyone. Later, He heals a boy from demon possession, and continuing towards Jerusalem, teaches about humility, about dealing with sin, and about divorce.

8. A Kingdom Of Children (Mark 10:13-52)
As He travels, Jesus blesses children and teaches about child-like faith, shows how riches can block one's coming into the Kingdom of God. In teaching more about the Kingdom, He speaks to the 12 about His death, and of true servanthood. In a picture of the opening of one's spiritual eyes, He heals another blind man.

9. Real Faith and Real Forgiveness (Mark 11:12-25)
Jesus arrives at Jerusalem as King, and cleanses the Temple. The religious authorities begin to plot His death, and He teaches the 12 about faith.

10. Walking Away From Jesus (Mark 11:27-12:44)
The Jewish authorities question and then reject Jesus, whereupon Jesus teaches about the rejection of God's messengers, taxes, the resurrection, the greatest commandment, the Lordship of the Messiah, and the Godly attitude in giving.

11. Building A Legacy That Lasts (Mark 13:1-37)
As the time approaches for Jesus' crucifixion, He speaks to Peter, James, John and Andrew about the fall of Jerusalem, about the events in the future days, and about His return to the earth in glory.  He warns the disciples (and hence He warns us) to be alert and watchful to what will happen regarding the coming of HIs Kingdom.

12. Shallow Worship (Mark 11:1-11; 14:1-31)
When Jesus arrived at Jerusalem, He rode into the city on a young colt, the mark of a triumphant king.  Not understanding, the crowds shouted "Hosanna!"  They thought He was going to set up His Kingdom.  But Jesus came as the servant who was to give HIs life; and to that end, at dinner, a woman poured perfume over Him to prepare Him for burial.  Even as the religious authorities were conspiring to kill Him and He was being betrayed by Judas, He ate one last mean with His disciples, offering Himself as the Passover Lamb.

13. Truth on Trial and Getting The King's Treatment (Mark 14:32-15:47)
After the last meal with His disciples, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray to His Father about His coming death and cup of suffering.  He was arrested without cause by the authorities, His disciples all fled, He was illegally tried by the Sanhedrin, and condemned to death by Pilate for claiming to be God.

14. Why the Resurrection Matters (Mark 16:1-6)
Everything Jesus had preached and said seemed to be in vain; He was dead; His followers were scattered and without hope.  Yet, after 3 days, Jesus arose from the grave just as He had said He would, appeared in person to some of the women who followed Him whom He then instructed to tell His disciples about His resurrection.  True to His word, He was alive! Death and sin were defeated!