Imitators of God – part 2

Joop continues in the book of Ephesians and explains the relationship God wants to have with us. 

Introduction:

Last week Emmanuel spoke about Eph. 5:1-21. Today I will continue with that. We do this from the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. This epistle is very helpful to understand our salvation and Christian life. So for a good understanding, I’ll take you through the headlines of this epistle.

Ephesians

1.     Everything we have and what we are is in Christ! (1:1-14). Phrase: ‘in Him…’.

2.     Acknowledgment that all we’ve achieved is God’s work in us through Jesus (1:15-23);
‘He is head over all and the Church, which is His body’ (1:23).

3.     We’re saved by grace (2:1-10); ‘when we were dead God made us alive’ (2:5).

4.     We’re now one new people in Christ, because of the New Covenant (2:11-22).
‘Built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets’ (2:20).

5.     The church holds the proclamation of the mystery of the Gospel (3:1-13); ‘through the Church the manifold wisdom of God now be made known….’ (3:10).

6.     The Church together comprehends the glory of God and displays it (3:14-21); ‘to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus’ (3:21).

7.     We should pursue the unity in the Body of Christ (4:1-16), by:
– serving one another
– exercising the gifts and ministries Jesus gave to the Church: ‘and He gave…’ (4:11).

8.     We’ve received a new life and walk according to it (4:17-32); ‘put off your old self and be renewed in the spirit of your minds and put on the new self created after the likeness of God’ (4:22-24).

9.     Living as imitators of God, in love for God and one another (5:1-21); ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise…’ (5:15).

10.                       Marriage life as an image of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church (5:22-33); ‘This mystery is profound… it refers to Christ and the Church’ (5:32).

11.                       Consequences of being a new people in daily life (6:1-9); ‘as to the Lord and not to man’ (6:7).

12.                       We need the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil (6:10-20); ‘Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day’ (6:13).

13.                       Final greetings (6:21-23). ‘Peace and grace with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ’ (6:23,24).

 

Relationship with God and as a Church

Emmanuel talked about our relationship with the Father, which leads to imitate the Father. Like young children do imitate their parents. Not because they have to, but because of their relationship with them.

The result of imitating God is that you ‘walk’ with Him. Which means you live the way that God wants you to. Your thoughts and actions are inspired by God’s thinking.

This ‘walk with God’ means that you ‘walk’ carefully: you consider the way you live, because of your loving relationship with God.

The way that makes it possible, is by being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit.

That’s where Emmanuel’s preach ended.

 

Church, Community and Commitment

The context of our ‘walk with God’ is:

– Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ

– Our being part of the community of believers, the Church, which the Bible also calls the body of Christ and the bride of Christ.

Both words refer to the unity and the intimacy of the Church with Christ.

Body means: being held together; being one body of which Christ is the Head;

Bride means: living together in a intimate relationship .

A very important ingredient of relationship is ‘commitment’. Just as is required for a good marriage. So today a sermon about marriage as an image of Jesus and the Church.

 

Ephesians 5:22-33.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

Life according to a good marriage

Two main issues:

1.     The wife’s part to play in marriage: submitted to her husband, being guided by her husband;

2.     The husband’s part to play in marriage: loving his wife, taking care for her, leading her and giving himself up for her.

These are key ingredients for a good marriage, since they reflect the key ingredients of our relationship with Jesus.

Paul the gives the explanation of the image:

The Husband

The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, and not just that. He’s also the Savior of the Church.

He saved us by doing as Paul exhorts the husbands here: Christ gave Himself up for the Church by His sacrificial Death at the Cross.

Rom. 8:34: He is at the right hand of God, and indeed is interceding for us.

So Jesus is our Husband in:

– saving us

– interceding for us

– loving us

– leading us

– cleansing us

– sanctifying us

– nourishing us

– cherishing us

– presenting us to the Father as a pure Bride.

Jesus is the perfect Husband!

He is so because He is committed to us. He was committed to us when He took upon Him our sins, and He is still committed to us in being a good Husband for His Bride.

The wife

The wife is submitted to her husband, as the Church is submitted to her Head, Christ.

Submission means ‘dedicated’ to, ‘listening’ to, ‘following’ etc. So, the husband leads the way and the wife follows, because she trusts him.

Paul refers here to the daily walk of the saints: submitted to und committed to their Husband, Jesus.

Rom. 6:17,18: But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

Marriage a bond of commitment

The most significant thing about a marriage is the mutual commitment of both partners.

They pledge loyalty to one another, not dependant on the situation or the feeling, but on the firm decision to stay together as a unity.

When we call Jesus Lord, then it means that we want to submit to Him in everything.

That means:

– give yourselves to Him

– becoming part of His body, the Church. Not as spectators, but as participants. This means you walk together with the other saints, you love one another, you submit to your leaders and you work together at the Great Commandment of Jesus.

– you ‘walk in Him’, meaning you let your thoughts, actions and decisions be guided by the Holy Spirit and be submitted to God’s will.

Coloss. 2:6,7: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

When you live this way, then you can be looking for the wedding feast of the Lamb, when Jesus returns:

Revelation 19: 6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”