For years, Greg & Rebecca Sparks have been inviting young adults into their home for Thursday night Bible study. We’re starting monthly summary series right here, so you can be a part of our community. If you are a Pittsburgh local, we would love to have you on Thursday nights: Dinner at 7:00 p.m., study at 8:00 p.m. E-mail us for location details at email@example.com.
Context: Counter-Culture of Christianity in Ephesus
The seaport city of Ephesus was a cultural hub and center of learning. According to Acts 19, men made money off of temple worship and craftsmen curated statues of Greek gods and goddesses. A call to follow a living God, the Jesus of flesh and bone, not stone, contradicted religious and economic systems. Christianity caused cultural conflict that manifested as a riot. New converts faced a dilemma: would they leave behind their economic prosperity for the gospel’s sake? In Revelation, the Ephesian church members are rebuked for forgetting their first love. How did the gospel of a resurrected savior impact and influence them? How did they worship in a world of contradictions? What does Paul have to say to encourage them in his epistle?
First Reading Assignment: Ephesians 1-3
To begin our study, our group read Ephesians 1-3 out loud together. We recently wrapped up a study of the entire book of Romans (Yes, I’m still patting myself on the back.) using Tim Keller’s Romans for You study guides. We found strong parallels between Romans and Ephesians in terms of a solid gospel foundation. The book of Romans emphasizes the gift of salvation we receive from Jesus, not by our merit but by his death and resurrection on our behalf. Likewise, Ephesians welcomes us with comforting language of adoption and redemption to remind us that the work is finished. We belong in God’s family.
Supplemental Text: Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee
We are framing our study of Ephesians with a short book published in 1957 from sermons by a Chinese pastor who faced oppression and later imprisonment. The title is an analogy for the Christian life:
Sit: Our Position in Christ
Walk: Our Life in the World
Stand: Our Attitude to the Enemy (Nee, 2)
As we begin this study together, we trust that God’s word transforms our lives in the world. We’re deeply troubled, and we look to him for answers in disillusioning times. We trust his plan to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10). In the face of deep division, we unite in love as we sit, walk, and stand with Jesus Christ.