Gentiles had joined the Church. They needed teaching as to what the Church is, its purpose, its function, its vision. Believers need to be reminded of these facts from time to time or else they will be deceived by doctrines of demons. God has a vast plan for all creation. It is the picture on the jigsaw box. It helps a man put the pieces in place. God’s purpose is to restore a fallen Universe. It needs to be read as a whole.
1. The origin of the Church. Ch 1 v 1 -14. In the mind and counsel of God, who knows the end from the beginning. v 4. The Trinity discussed and planned it. How would a believer explain to a non-believer what the Church really is? How important is the Old Testament? When Paul and Jesus referred to the Scriptures it was the Old Testament to which they were referring. The New Testament had not yet been written. “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.” John ch 8 v 56. God is creating a bride for Jesus. v 10. The Spirit is the guarantee.
2. The creation of the Church. A believer should regularly think how he once thought and behaved. He was saved through grace alone. God did this for a purpose and has broken down all barriers between believer and believer. Denominations are a disgrace.
3. The function of the Church. Ch 3 v 5, v 10 – 11, v 17 – 21. God’s purpose is to demonstrate His kindness to the principalities and powers in the Universe. v 10. Mankind is but a tiny part of God’s vast plan for the Universe. Enjoy playing the minor role. As believers all play their part, let God work it all out for good for those who love the Lord. 1 Pet ch 1 v 12. Man needs a bigger vision of God. Ch 1 v 21. v 18 – 19. The vastness of God’s love for mankind. Those outside have no knowledge of God’s plan. Sadly, many within the Church have little idea either. The Jews are to come back into the plan in the last days.
4. The Unity of the Church. Ch 4 v 1 – 16. What is the difference between unity and uniformity. Unity means unity of purpose with variety of expression of worship and love. There is unity in the person of the Holt Spirit. Preserve it. Why does God give gifts? v 12.
5. The distinctiveness of the Church. ch 4 v 17 – ch 5 v 20. There is nothing particularly special about behaving morally. Other religions and even atheists have a moral standard. Believers are no different or are they? What is the difference? The power of the Holy Spirit to carry through the desire – obedience is the key to releasing the power. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is the ability to say “No” to the old nature. The World does not have that power.
6. The submissiveness of the Church. Ch 5 v 21 – ch 6 v 9. It sounds ideal. What are the reasons why the Church is not functioning as it should? 1. Ignorance of the Word of God. 2. Refusal to obey the Word of God. 3. False ideas, like feminism. 4. Pressures by the World to follow the ways of the World. 5. Lack of discipline on the part of parents.
7. What is the principal purpose of the Church? Warfare. ch 6 v 10 – 20. A whole subject in itself but the conclusion of the purpose of the Church.
The origin of the Church. Planned before the creation of the Universe.
The Creation of the Church. Not just restored but adopted into the family of God – brothers.
The function of the Church. Ch 3 v 10. To show the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers.
The unity of the Church ch 4 v 1 – 16. It is a new thing in the order of things on Earth.
The nature of the Church. Holiness. A different approach to life. Separate from the World.
The submissiveness of the Church. It only works if there is good godly leadership and obedience to that leadership. When everyone does his own thing it all breaks down.
The warfare of the Church. This is what it is all about. Why did Jesus come to Earth? To destroy the works of the Devil and set people free from spiritual bondage. Did Jesus finish the work and destroy the Devil and his demons? Believers are born again for the express purpose of waging war on Satan. Paul knew what he was talking about. God wants His World back under His control. Luke ch 10 v 19. Jesus was saying the same thing. Heal the sick and cast out demons. They are here now in a big number and their influence is growing through alcohol, drugs and television.
Man comes in three parts. Only the spiritual man is interested in the spiritual dimension. Everything in the physical World is a manifestation of what is happening in the spiritual unseen World. Faith is believing the unseen things. There is a need to hold together the physical, moral and spiritual dimensions to life. It is easy to emphasise one or two at the expense of the others. Believers are adept at building up the moral life to the exclusion of the spiritual life, because it is easier and it avoids the necessity of being involved in the real World and the battle between good and evil. Healing has been handed over to humanist doctors in the main. Demons have been left to psychologists. They give out tablets and drugs and lock their patients up. Care of the abused and emotionally broken has been handed over to the social workers. That renders the Church redundant. The prince of the power of the air can do what he likes when the opposition has closed down. God promised that Jesus would crush his head. But Jesus is the head and believers are the body. How can Jesus crush the Devil without the feet to tread on Satan? John ch 3 v 12. If believers cannot run a Church on Biblical lines, how can they ever defeat Satan?
There is so much in the Old Testament about warfare to teach believers about spiritual warfare. The battle may be physical in the first instance but behind the physical soldiers there are principalities and powers. e.g. the battle for control of the Middle East.
A man needs to know the enemy and his wiles and tactics. Satan has certain tricks to deceive a believer. His objectives are to rob, kill and destroy and he brings poverty, suicide and disease. He will even invade the person of a believer. He deceives believers into thinking that they are untouchables. Then he can move in at will. What makes a believer so special that he thinks he is immune from enemy activity? Israel was not immune. That way Satan not only destroys the believer but he nullifies the witness of the Church. Who will join an army, which is on the run?
Why does God allow Satan and his demons to have a sphere of influence in the World? Is it not to make believers strong and like Jesus? God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus to make sure that He could cope with the task of bringing salvation to the Earth. Believers need to know the requirements for fighting. Paul uses a Roman soldier to teach them. A soldier who is ill-equipped and untrained, with no knowledge of his enemy will soon die on the battlefield.