The Bouquet – Ephesians 3:1-13
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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Today marks the sixth message in our series in Ephesians. As we come into chapter 3, we will discover a bouquet of flowers. But before we do so, think about these questions:
Have you ever purchased a bouquet of flowers, if so for whom? Who most recently?
What is it about a bouquet of flowers that makes them such an appropriate gift?
Describe the beauty seen in a bouquet?
Text: Ephesians 3:1-13
In the first nine verses Paul is speaking of his call to preach the mystery. Note that v.6 defines this mystery. This is what Eric spoke on a few weeks ago as he unpacked 2:11-22.
Something we need to know about Gentiles is that they were always part of God’s divine plan and salvific work. The mystery is not that Gentiles would be saved, for the Old Testament gave evidence of that, but rather that believing Jews and Gentiles are joined together. That was a revolutionary concept for Jews and Gentiles alike!
Note how the mystery is defined in v,6 - heirs, the same body, sharers together in the promise.
It is as we approach v.10 that the bouquet appears. In the English language you may miss the bouquet but in the Greek the picture is present. The key phrase is “manifold wisdom of God.”
“Manifold” is an adjective only used here in the NT. It is a term that refers to the beauty of an embroidered pattern or the variety of colors in flowers. It is used in the Septuagint of Joseph’s coat (Gen. 37:3).
Starting in v.10:
- note the vase – “ now, through the church”- “Church” referring to the gathered believers, both Jew and Gentile. They are the means for the manifold wisdom of God to be displayed.
- note the extent of witness – “rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”. This is far beyond Ephesus.
- note the plan – v.11. God has had a plan from the very beginning and it always involved the church.
- note the new reality – v.12 – Both Jews and Gentiles coming together, living in community, with confidence and freedom as they approach God.
There is nothing that could bring Paul greater joy – v.13.
The big idea from Sunday was that the church is a community in bloom. How we “do” life together, and how we allow God to shape and transform our lives is to be a testimony to the greatness and wisdom of God! The church is to be beautiful, striking and stunning because it reflects back to the world the manifold wisdom of God!
“This modern emphasis only on personal salvation makes us lose sight of the grandeur and glory of God’s church. I am not minimizing our personal experience with Christ, but I am affirming that it is not the primary goal that God has in mind. He is building His church. He is building up the Body of Christ. The glory and greatness of our personal salvation is but a reflection of what God is doing corporately in and through His church.”—from Prayer: Basic Training (Wiersbe)If you are in a group, discuss how you have seen the church display the manifold wisdom of God. How has the church been a witness to the greatness of God? How has how we “do” life together demonstrated to the world that God is good? Where at Bethel do we see “Jews” and “Gentiles” coming together?
But here is the problem:
The very nature of the church means that without the power of the gospel constantly shaping our lives, we can become much less than what God intended. We all come to the church from different journeys, all broken. Paul said he was the worst of all. It is interesting how he expresses this, “ …I am less than the least of all God’s people.” (v.8). Without the power of the Gospel constantly challenging and transforming us we can become might I say… not a beautiful bouquet of flowers… but a bouquet of weeds. NOT BEAUTIFUL, STRIKING AND STUNNING BUT WEAK, MAN-CENTERED AND UNIMPRESSIVE.
This, for some inside and outside of the church, is their view of the church.
Questions of reflection:
What image (weeds or flowers) would come closer to describing how your friends see the church?
Based on your experience of being part of the church, do you see the church as a church in bloom or a bunch of blooming idiots? Yes I know this seems rather harsh but most of us know the pain that we can inflict on each other when God is not at the center. Sometimes our pain can be so strong that it changes our perception of the church.
Anyone recovering from a painful church experience?
Some of us are re-entering into healthy community after getting beat up.
For the church to be healthy, we need rigorous faith that refuses to normalize the unhealthy church and instead of accommodate it, reject it. What I mean by that is that we need Christ the gardener to pull the weeds in our personal lives and corporate life that can weaken the church. We need to understand that when we accommodate weeds in our lives the church can become very much about us. When we walk in humility, repentance and truth, God gets the glory and the church spreads the fragrance of Christ in the community that it is planted. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
As a group, take some time to reflect on your role in the life and health of Bethel. Are there any areas in your life that you need to deal with that could represent the weeds? Pray as a group for the health of Bethel. We want Bethel to put on display the manifold wisdom of God. We want this “house” to make His name famous!
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