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INTRODUCTION:

 

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the word "Church"? Maybe a Building? A Club? A Denomination? A group of people?

 

Maybe a better question is, "What feelings stir in you when you hear the word "Church"? - Anticipation? Hope? Frustration? Disillusionment? Delight?

 

Maybe the even more important question is, "What does God think and feel about His Church?

 

As already noted in the introductory notes for this series, the book of Ephesians is like God's photo album of His Church. Over these six sessions we will look at six different "photos" of the Church and what each tells us about God's view of the Church. So as not to require too much time spent on reading the study notes, the material presented will be more in point form interspersed with questions for you to explore.

 

[1] THE IMAGE

 

a. The Church, His Body. Read all of Ephesians 1 but note vs. 22,23. This is a very special "snapshot" or image. It is used 10 times in the 6 chapters of Ephesians as well as in other places in Scripture, especially 1 Corinthians 12.

b. This picture of the Church speaks of God's "physical presence" in the world - God made visible through His people.

d. "Our physical body is means whereby we are present and can relate & communicate. So it is with the Body of Christ".

e. Can you rephrase that statement to make it clearer? Do you agree or disagree with the statement?

 

[2]   THE IMPLICATIONS

 

If we are the Body of Christ in the world, there are a number of consequences that flow from that truth.

 

A.  HEADSHIP & SUBMISSION.

 

a. "God has....made Him head over all things for the benefit of the Church...and the Church is His body..." (vs.22,23)

 

b.  A body needs a head! But just one head!! From the head flows directions to the rest of the body. Pain in any part of the body registers with the head. The body becomes disabled to a greater or lesser degree if the signals to the body from the head get confused. What an inspired picture (photo) this is.

 

c.  Now Words like "authority", "head", "submission" come into sharp focus as we consider this imagery of the body.

 

d. "The current cultural attitudes to "authority" and "submission" are quite negative and misunderstood".

 

Do you agree or disagree with that statement? If you agree, why do you think this is so? What are the implications (if any) for the Church?

 

e. There is, therefore, only one head, one authority, one master, one director, one will - that is Jesus Christ (1/22)

 

f.  The rest of the body in all its parts finds its security, meaning & fulfilment in submission to the one Head.

 

g. Hence the emphasis is always on the Church belonging to Christ & functioning under His sole authority.

 

h.  It follows then that where division sets in, another authority may well be seeking to establish itself above the rule of Christ

 

i.  What are the benefits of the sole authority of Jesus for the Church? How does Jesus communicate or excercise His authority in the local Church?

 

B.  UNITY & DIVERSITY.

 

a. We slip across to 1 Corinthians 12 for a moment where the same photo of the Church as a body is taken from a slightly different angle. (v.4)

 

b. The Body (any human body) is noted for its diversity held together in unity - many parts, one Body

 

Read  1 Cor. 12-14, 24-27

 

c. The key to this imagery is the many parts of the body (diversity) functioning under the "headship" of Jesus (unity)

 

d. "Diversity and differences are OK in the body of Christ but division is not OK". What is the difference  between diversity and division?

 

e. "Such diversity is a great strength & asset - but it's also potentially our greatest weakness" Why is that so?

f.  The focus here is interdependence and mutual support - we need each other - independence is a great threat to the health and well-being of the body.

 

g. What kind of attitudes, activities and motives would work against healthy church life by creating division?

 

C.  GROWTH & MINISTRY (4/11-16)

 

a. We will note other aspects from this chapter in future sessions but for now we note the body as the context for spiritual health, physical growth and effective ministry.

 

b. Growth comes because of our shared life together connected to the Head - the process of maturing and ministering

 

c. Living things grow - the Church is a living body - it's an organism before it is  an organization.

 

d. If there is no growth (or limited growth) we must identify the blockage and clear it away so that life can flow & grow

 

APPLICATION:

 

Hopefully, this session has emphasised that there is no place for self-centred individualism but that it is important for every believer to belong to and be part of the Body of Christ. This image stresses the importance of spiritual health & wholeness - growing into maturity & Christlikeness. There is no substitute or alternative for Church for Christian growth, maturity & wholeness.

 

NEXT WEEK:The Church: His Temple (Chp.2)

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