One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church

Ephesians 3:6-21, 4:1-6

June 3, 2018 Order of Worship

One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church

Steve Froehlich
June 03, 2018
Ephesians 3:6-21, 4:1-6
Church, catholic
New City Catechism

6The mystery of Christ is this: that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members
of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of
this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given
me by the working of his power. 8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this
grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to
bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who
created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now
be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was
according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in
whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13So I
ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant
you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length
and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that
you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

4:1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that
belongs to your call — 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 3:6-21, 4:1-6

Q 48 What is the church?
God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith,
who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to
proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their
love for one another.

2 Thessalonians 2:13
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord,
because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit
and belief in the truth.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that because you are here this morning,
snuggled into your seat here in Theater 5, that church is something important to you.
Important enough to get up in time to make it here at 9:30, a Herculean effort for
some of you. Well done.

We often say, “I’m going to church” but what does that mean?
What is this thing we call the Church?
If you know the Greek, you could say, “The church is the ecclesia.” Well, yes, that’s
true, but the Greek really doesn’t help. An ecclesia is just a group of people getting
together. It could be a group of people hanging out at The Commons. An ecclesia
could be your knitting circle.

So, what is THIS group that we call the Church?
We are people who hang out together each Sunday… and other times.
Is the Church a local congregation? Denomination?

Church is a word with a lot of baggage or history. Everybody has associations… things
that come to mind when you hear the word.
When you think of the Church, do you associate certain kinds of Christian
activity, like fellowship, preaching, Bible teaching, the sacraments, rummage sales, pot
luck dinners, music, prayer, service, missions

Or, you may associate the Church with a particular mission or virtues:
care for the poor, self-denial, liturgy (formal or informal), silence, joy, praise

When I ask “What is the Church?” you may think about your experience in the Church
Has your experience with the Church been times of encouragement, growth,
love, fellowship, belonging hope… or routine, shame, expectations, rules, ritual..
intellectualism, elitism, prejudice, hypocrisy, indifference…
Has your experience with the Church focused your life on God or on yourself?

As the Christian Church in America wrestles very publicly… again… with the failure of
leadership and (among other issues) the abuse of, or the failure to respect women,
many people are rethinking what they think about Church.

Most of us here today have faced the challenge of moving into a new community, and
have had to go through the process of finding a new church of which to be a part
Some of you just look for the local denominational franchise and plug in there
Some of you have certain priorities that govern your selection – those priorities
can be any thing from programs, to architecture, to style of music, to degrees of
formality or informality, to friendships, to doctrinal emphasis
Some of you are determined to avoid the negative experiences you’ve had in the
past that really stick in your craw while others of you are hoping to recreate the positive
experiences that live warmly and eternally in your memories
But each time we go through that process, we need to come back to the question,
What is the Church?

The Apostles Creed makes this affirmation: I believe in the holy catholic church, the
communion of saints. The Apostles Creed implies what the Nicene Creed states a bit
more explicitly: I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church
A communion of saints distinguished by unity, holiness, catholicity, apostolicity

But the Creed, echoing the message of God’s Word, directs us to believe in the Church
No, not “believe in” in the same way we believe in the person of God
But believe that its existence and mission is of critical importance to all who claim
to know God – belief in God means that belief in the church is not optional or incidental
Belief in the church also means we should have a degree of confidence that the
church, as part of God’s design, is central to God’s grace being experienced by men
and women boys and girls around the world.

Note in our text some of the words Paul associates with the church: mystery, promise,
confidence, glory, power, oneness.

Let’s look briefly at these 4 characteristics of the communion of saints, the church
One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic

I. One – Unity the work of God

In John 17 Jesus prays that we may be one in a way that reveals the relationship of the
Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit
Who we are (one people) determines how we live

The church is One – we do not create a unity that previously did not exist.
We are called to express that unity that is part of the essential and irrevocable identity of
the Church

4:1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that
belongs to your call — 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

This is a unity that exists because of the relationship that God has established with us
as his children – in Creation, as image bearers….. in Christ, as brothers and sisters.

“eager to maintain” – spare no effort, zealous strive for, determine
Our total dedication to the unity of God himself

Unity is hard work
Carson – the church made up of natural enemies
The mystery – Gentile are co-heirs with Jews. In Abraham, the covenant has
been for all the nations of the world, not just one.

Are we agreed on the Gospel?
Are we committed to living with other differences?
Baptism, politics, style

Unity cannot be just the acknowledgement of a spiritual reality
It has to have a visible expression
Prayer for other churches
Cooperation with local churches
Community Faith Partnership, Ithaca Pregnancy Center, Chsterton House
Are denominations a bad thing? They certainly can be and may exist for many
wrong reasons, but they can be a useful effort by which we can express the unity of
Christ’s body

Sacarments

While we certainly should do all in our power to live peaceably with all people,
Christians and non-Christians, our ambition is not to create peace on earth… even
though we pray for that. Here, in this place, in this community we are committed to
living with one another, committed unshakably to the gospel, but committed to living
with one another in ways that anticipate the shalom of the world made new, the whole
world living as one and at peace under the rule of king Jesus. But for now, we will not
allow race or education or economics or politics or marriage or singleness or struggle
with sin to fragment us and thus deny the unity of the One body that God has created in
Christ…. A communion of which we as his people are stewards.

2. Holy The character of God

Set apart for God – tension of in world, but not of the world
The Church is Christ in the world. The “body of Christ” is no just a metaphor.
We are the city set on a hill God intends for us to be seen.
We are set apart for Christ as his bride

God has created the Church, this family to take us from this world to the next, from one
way of life, the old way of life apart from the rule of Christ, to a new way of life in which
Christ is king and the Spirit is at work making all things new. Listen to how Paul
describes it in our text:

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant
you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length
and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that
you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ
Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen

Confident in God’s declaration of righteousness – we are communion of saints, holy
ones Holiness is a team sport, not an individual event

Committed to growth in righteousness – there is only one kind of person gathered here
or in any congregation today… we’re all sinners

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is
hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The
load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load
so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a
serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the
dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if
you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a
corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in
some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of
these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them,
that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play,
all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to mere mortals.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations-these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of
a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit-
immortal horrors or everlasting splendours…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your
neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour
he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ…-the glorifier and the glorified,
Glory Himself, is truly hidden. (Lewis, Weight of Glory)

As followers of Christ we are engaged in all kinds of things – good things. But as the
church we focus our lives on the reason we are the Church – we focus our lives on
Christ. And we live into each others lives so that more and more together we can be
like the One who has, by his life death resurrection and ascension has gathered us as
his people, his family, his body.

3. Apostolic the Mission of God

To be apostolic as God’s people is to stand upon the word of God given to us by the
apostles. This book, the Scriptures.

In the verses immediately preceding our text today, Paul writes:

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members
of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus
himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows
into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place
for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

In our text Paul tells that he is aware of this distinct work God’s Spirit is accomplishing
through him – he is speaking the words of God, like the OT prophets, that are the
foundation of the church, with Christ as the cornerstone uniting old and new, and
making the whole structure sound and true.

This word, in calling us to have faith in Jesus, to repent of our sins… to believe that
Jesus lived the life that we can never life and die the death that we deserve… is calling
us to a way of life. Holiness of character and heart
But also apostoilic mission
To be set apart FOR God is to own his mission as our mission

6The mystery of Christ is this: that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same
body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of this gospel I
was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the
working of his power. 8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was
given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light
for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all
things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made
known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the
eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have
boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him

Committed to the Gospel as taught and explained by the Apostles

Committed to the Mission inaugurated by the Apostles
This history of God’s people in the world

18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all
that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20
A mission that is integral with the life of the church

4. Catholic the kingdom of God

6The mystery of Christ is this: that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same
body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel…
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in
heaven and on earth is named…
21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus…
4:6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

God’s work in the world has always been about the whole of creation.
Every part, every part and piece, every nook cranny, every tribe tongue nation
David asks the question to God in Psalm 139 – where can I go from your presence? Is
there anywhere in all creation that I can be where you are not there also? No.
Nowhere.
Universal
The church catholic renounces the kind of independence we have been taught to
value in the US and in the west.

The gospel, therefore, no only calls on Christians to renounce ongoing independence
from God but also call on them to renounce independence from one another.
Much so-called spirituality is really an attempt to escape from [God’s] method of
dealing with us into a mystical and private type of experience which, being purely
private, is wholly self-centered. The gospel does not come to each of us in isolation. It
comes to us through a particular book and through a particular fellowship… and that
fellowship, like all human fellowships, has maintained its existence in history as a visible
organization with visible tests of membership, with officers, rules, and ceremonies. It is
a false spirituality, divorced from the teaching of the Bible, which regards this visible and
continuing Church as of subordinate importance for the the life in Christ. “Those who
have God as Father must have the Church as Mother” (Cyprian). Lesslie Newbigin

The mystery of Christ is this:
Sense of wonder that the Spirit of God floods the earth with the Grace of God in Christ

Mt 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Jesus is not saying that tiny gatherings are a substitute for the church, but that
his presence gives to even the smallest of gatherings the fullness of the life of Christ in
the Church.
He is also reminding us that even when our gatherings are small, they must
never be devalued or ignored (as some were doing, as the writer of Hebrews says) – we
are to think of ourselves as a gathered people, as a body, a communion, not individual
believers. People joined to a body, not just parts.

Wherever you go, there the church is – not defined by cultural peculiarities even though
we rely on the norms of our immediate culture to give expression to our words, actions

Whereever you go, you go as one who is a citizen of heaven, whose loyalty is always to
the Lord of heaven and earth over any earthy authority.
And the submission we give in human relationships is an expression of a greater
submission to a greater authorty.

The church is One
Holy
Apostolic
Catholic

Do you love the Church
Do you pray for the Church
Do you value the Church – this is my life, my family, my life in Christ, and Christ in us
the hope of glory

Sunday Service 9:30am