Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Church: The Sign of Christ in the World

Ephesians 3:1-12 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- (2) if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; (3) that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. (4) By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, (5) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (6) to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, (7) of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (8) To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, (9) and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; (10) so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (11) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Is the church an extra option that is available for believers to participate in? Paul describes the church as something that is "in accordance with the eternal purpose" of God. Does this fact cause you to rethink your view of the church?

How would you describe the church? Robert Webber described the church this way: “The Church is the sign of Christ in the world—the continuing manifestation of Jesus in the world. The church is not primary a building, diocese, or denomination but a people. I am the church; you are the church.” Do you agree with Webber? If we are the church and a sign of Christ in the world, how shall we live? Does this challenge you to live any differently than the rest of the world.

When Paul wrote this he was confirming that Gentiles had equal standing in the church as Jews. This was an astonishing revelation to most. This is not as astonishing to most today. However, are there people within the church today that are not seen as equal before God? Who are the Gentiles within our community that need to hear the hope of the gospel? Are there those within the church that need to hear this message?

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