To Him Be Glory in the Church: First Five Series, Part 5

Brian Mahon - 1/29/2023


Call to worship: Isaiah 33:13-17

Text: Ephesians 3:14-21


Having just arrived at the centrality of the Church in the eternal purpose God has realized in Christ, Paul bows himself before God the Father. The prayer is involved yet simple. He asks the Father to make the Church, in all of Her localized assemblies, a visible and triumphant display of His glory. There is a 'gotcha' element to the Church, in that Her very existence cries an eternal victory over enemy principalities and powers---but becoming what God's adopted us to be is a real and essential labor. It's a work of God by the Holy Spirit in our inner being as we appropriate by faith the boundless love of Jesus. As we engage in that community project, marinating in His love, Christ Himself gains area in our collective heart. God Himself fills us, so that we display His glory. As He alone is able to do it, we're to look to Him for it always. His Church-centered plan has no replacement. Into the new creation, we're it---by His grace and for His glory.

Sermon Outline:

  1. The essential power for displaying Christ as a church. (3:14-17)
  2. The essential practice for displaying Christ as a church. (3:18-19)
  3. The essential praise for displaying Christ as a church. (3:20-21)


Discussion Questions:

  1. From Ephesians 3:10, where should we place the priority and importance of the Church in the eternal purpose of God? How is that supposed to correct any marginalization of the Church? (Be mindful that Paul was not writing to perfect churches that might otherwise make such centrality easier to swallow).
  2. From Paul's understanding of the priority of the Church in God's eternal purpose, why would it follow that he would pray? If you can boil down 3:14-17 into its various parts, what is the request that Paul makes? Why does he mention the nations? How does Paul describe the Father's wealth of resources? Who strengthens us with divine power? And where? And to what end? What role does faith play in the Christic takeover of our hearts? What is it to have Christ dwell in our hearts? What aspect of spiritual maturity or Christian formation does Paul single out?
  3. In 3:18-19, what more specifically does Paul emphasize as critical to our becoming what the Father has gathered us to be? Are we to always do this apart from other Christians? Why not? Have you considered the boundless love of Jesus lately? Where do we see it? How have we? Again, how can we? Can we ever know the love of Christ well enough? How can we, as a church, do more and better to comprehend it together? What is the final effect of it? What is it to be filled with all the fullness of God?
  4. In 3:20-21, Paul closes with praise. Why? He's asked for massive realities. Is God able to do it? Is His glory in our church? What does that even mean in the context of this prayer? Is God's plan for Christ's glory in the Church a temporal plan that's passed us by? Is there a replacement plan? But what if the Church, in several instances, is rather inglorious? Are we allowed to let it slide by the wayside of our lives? What place ought Christ and His Church have in our discipleship of the next generation, and the next, etc.? What adjustments can we make to dignify the Church today for tomorrow? Do we pray like Paul for our church?
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