Please open your bibles to Ephesians 2. Our text includes v 11-22 but I am going to read only verses 19-22:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
Well we are continuing our church vision series highlighting the four core values that we believe describe who we are as a church. Those 4core values are Doctrine, Spirit Filled, Relationships, and Spiritual Growth. Here’s a summary statement of them together:
We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.
In Acts 2 Luke takes a snapshot of the early church, John mentioned this passage last week:
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
In a similar way if you took a snapshot of Cornerstone Fellowship Church we believe these core values are the things we are devoted to. Not perfectly but that is our aim and goal.
As you can see from that first statement these values are not independent of one another. They are connected. So here is a statement describing in more detail how those four values work together when it comes to spiritual growth:
Now if you are a Christian you want to grow in your relationship with God. Yes, our struggles with sin can weaken that desire but even when we are battling with sin there’s something in us that wants to break free and grow in God’s grace.
At our house we have a swing set in the backyard.
And one of our grandkids loves to swing high but he also likes to drag or bump his feet on the ground. And I tell him you can’t touch the branches (soar) if you drag your feet on the ground. And that’s sort of how we are as Christians. We want to soar spiritually like eagles. Think of the well known passage in Isaiah 40 that describes having your strength renewed and mounting up with wings like eagles. We all want that experience, long to live that way.
But there are many ways we bump the ground and drag our feet that keep us from soaring the way we want to. James tells us that we all stumble in many ways. So we want this morning to look at this passage and to let it inform us of ways to grow-so that we soar rather than drag our feet and stumble.
And I believe that what our text and what all of scripture tells us is that of all the different means of grace, the different ways God has ordained for us to grow in - they are all to be built upon, rooted in (connected to) Christ Jesus who is our c-stone. We grow as our lives are built on the person and work of Christ. (Who he is, what he has done and what he is continuing to do)
Let’s pray and ask God to illuminate his word to us concerning that truth.
This passage in Ephesians 2 really helped solidify in the elder’s minds the new name of our church, Cornerstone Fellowship Church. That and the fact that a vast majority of the church preferred this of the five names we put forward. When we were discussing the name Cornerstone and we read this passage, things seemed to fall into place.
We fell in love with this passage because it is holy scripture and because we are devoted to doctrine. We do love God’s word. And this passage is so rich and seems to so well describe these core values that we had identified especially Christ who is our cornerstone. I hope that when we think of our name... our lives are built and being built on our Savior-who he is...
Our text tells us:
Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
The cornerstone at least in ancient times was the foundation of the foundation. It was what the whole structure rested on. Verse 20 also tells us that the foundation of the church is the apostles and prophets. However in I Corinthians 3 Paul tells us this:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 3:10-11
So how do we explain that? Is Christ the foundation or are the apostles and prophets? Well I believe that what Paul is talking about in these verses, is that when he states the foundation is the apostles and prophets he means it’s their teachings. And specifically in the New Testament it’s their teaching on the person and work of Christ. He truly is the cornerstone and the foundation. He is what every Christian’s life is to be built upon. That’s how we grow-by having our life built upon Christ alone.
Foundation, in this passage, unquestionably means doctrine; for no mention is made of patriarchs or pious kings, but only of those who held the office of teachers, and whom God had appointed to superintend the edification of his church. It is laid down by Paul, that the faith of the church ought to be founded on this doctrine… But the manner in which it is founded deserves inquiry; for, in the strict sense of the term, Christ is the only foundation. He alone supports the whole church. He alone is the rule and standard of faith. But Christ is actually the foundation on which the church is built by the preaching of doctrine; and, on this account, the prophets and apostles are called builders. (I Corinthians 3:10) Nothing else, Paul tells us, was ever intended by the prophets and apostles, than to found a church on Christ.
- John Calvin
Christ is our cornerstone and our foundation and what we want to look at this morning is how do we grow in this life in Christ? How do we build our lives upon him?
My first point is that we grow by building upon Christ by what he has done for us at the cross. And specifically in this second chapter of Ephesians Paul is exhorting us to remember what he has done for us at Calvary. We build our lives on Christ by remembering and living in the good of what his finished work has accomplished for us.
Much of chapter 2 is Paul reminding the Gentile believers in Ephesus of two things: 1) Who they were before they came to Christ and 2) Who they are and what they have now that they are in Christ.
The word remember is a big part of the Christian life. We are called to remind ourselves of the truths of the Bible and there are no bigger truths than who we were before we came to Christ and who we are now in him-and what our Savior went through to obtain our salvation.
Always remember to never forget. Paul uses this word remember in verse 11 and 12:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12
It’s good for us to recall the “bad news” of the gospel message. Paul isn’t calling them to call these things to mind in order for them to feel bad or condemned or guilty but to be reminded of what they had been saved from. There are other descriptions in C2 of who they were before Christ but v12 is a pretty good summary…
Gospel promises are delicious morsels… The grace shown by Christ in his ordinances is refreshing, strengthening and full of comfort to the souls of the saints. Woe to such souls who loathe these honeycombs! But in this way Christ makes all his assemblies banqueting houses. There he gives his saints rich entertainment.
- John Owen
We should cherish these benefits/blessings that we have in Christ. We should think on them, sing of them, rejoice in them and live in the good of them. They are our true inheritance, our riches, our wealth, our eternal happiness.
And when we call to mind what we have in Christ we end up growing. Remembering helps us to grow in the following areas. First, humility.
Both I Peter 5 and James 4 tell us that God gives grace to the humble. One def of grace (sanctifying) is his power to change. When we remember who we were before Christ and who we are now in Christ, that we were saved freely by his mercy it positions us to be humble people and God loves to bless humble people.
Second when we remember it helps us have a thankful heart. There is some real truth in the phrase count your blessings. When we focus on these spiritual blessings that we have in the Lord we grow in thankfulness.
Third it leads to a joyful worshipful life. Christians should be the most joyful thankful people in the earth.
We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross.
And I would add to that quote - we should only grow in our affection and love and thanksgiving to our Savior for his going to the cross for us.
- D. A. Carson
Did not Jesus say that the reason for communion was to remember him, his death, his suffering - in many ways.
We are called to remember and when we stop remembering we don’t grow, we stagnate. We must be on guard concerning this scheme of the devil to make us f.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
May we always remember to never forget. Recently
Midlife crisis is about what is really important in life. As we live every day things that aren’t supposed to be so important become important to us, and things that were meant to be very important hardly get our attention.
- Paul Tripp
May that not be said about us. May it be said about us that the most important thing to these people was not their love or devotion to sports, or politics or hunting or even babies but to God, a genuine devotion to Christ and to one another.
Christian growth involves increasing in knowledge but it’s actually much more. Knowledge should lead to change in the type of person we are becoming! Are you becoming a more thankful, joyful, worshipful and humble Christian through your knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done? Is your life rooted in Him?
So how do we remember? How does it become a regular occurrence for us to cherish these gospel truths and blessings and to grow in our affection & worship for Jesus?
We also remember through worship. It involves your personal devotional time (really important) but I want to highlight our Sunday meetings and our small groups because there is a corporate aspect of remembering. We remember together.
be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 5:18b-20
And we remember when we share the gospel with others. It’s the most important truth we could ever share with someone.
The second way that we build our lives upon Christ is to allow him to fit and build us together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
And we see the preeminence of Christ when it comes to the church in these last 2 verses of our text: in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
So drawing on other parts of Ephesians I want to finish our time with a couple of ways that we participate with the builder of the church our Lord Jesus:
Grow in your vision and love for the church. Feed your soul with passages such as:
To 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, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord - Ephesians 3:8-11
Let us slow down and look at that last verse. That the eternal purpose of God is to display the glory of Christ in and through us his people.
It’s quite mind boggling and though we don’t know exactly how it will happen we can embrace this great truth and allow it to motivate us to live for God’s glory and that includes a great love for and devotion to the local church. Because if we love Christ it should translate into a love for the church.
You might say that’s great Mike but we’re still somewhat in the theoretical stuff. I want practical stuff! Well you want practical stuff Paul gives us practical stuff starting in chapter 4.
First walk worthy of this great calling:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
These verses weren’t written specifically for COVID but they sure do apply to this pandemic that we are living in! And regardless of the time we live in we should allow those verses to hit us square in the eyes and to be affected by them. If you want practicals here then (specific): ask the Lord how you are doing in these areas. Ask your spouse. And humbly receive what they say. .
Paul continues in chapter 4:
give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4: 26b-32
This is how sausage is made. By putting off the old and putting on the new ways of Christ in the Spirit. This is an ongoing work of Christ and will be until the perfect church comes down from heaven above.
Secondly we are built into a dwelling place of the Spirit as we build up others through our service including the use our spiritual gifts:
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16
The sense is, "The whole human body is admirably arranged for growth and rigor. Every member and joint contribute to its healthful and harmonious action. One part lends vigor and beauty to another, so that the whole is finely proportioned and admirably sustained. All depend on the head with reference to the most important functions of life, and all derive their vigor from that.
- Albert Barnes
What we do is important to God. Yes we are saved by grace but what we do is important to God. We each have been given spheres of influence, ministries, gifts, avenues of service and each is important. Faithfulness.
I Chronicles 9 the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants = gatekeepers, charge of the utensils of service, also over the fine flour, the wine, the oil, the incense, and the spices. 30 Others, of the sons of the priests, prepared the mixing of the spices, 31 and Mattithiah, one of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, was entrusted with making the flat cakes. 32 Also some of their kinsmen of the Kohathites had charge of the showbread, singers
Our part in the church is very important regardless of what it is. We have many ministry teams in our church. These are what might be called formal ministry teams. Things like the greeting team, the ushers, the worship, children’s ministry, the prayer team, the set up/coffee team, the book store team. And many, many more. We ask every member to be part of at least one ministry team.
These are very specific ways that we build up the body of Christ and serve and encourage our local church. Besides these “formal” ministry teams there is the informal one anothers of the Christian life that we are called to participate in. Love one another, weep with one another, pray for one another, exhort one another, speak the truth to one another in love, counsel one another.
Part of being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit is practicing one anothers. We should be on the lookout for the day to day opportunities to minister to those inside and outside of the church thru these one anothers.
Upon a life I did not live, upon a death I did not die, I risk my whole eternity on the resurrection.
- Charles Spurgeon, wholly leaning
Be devoted to the local church to this structure he is building, this holy temple which is a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. And connected to this be devoted to prayer.
If you are not a Christian I appeal to you to hear the call of Christ to come follow him. Ephesians 2 tells us that if you are outside of Christ then you are dead in your sins you are actually following the prince of the power of the air who is Satan, you are living and dominated/enslaved to the passions of your flesh and that you are under God’s judgment and wrath.
Turn to Christ and be saved. Turn trustly in him alone to save you. Trust your eternity on him.
The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them.
- Charles H. Spurgeon
We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.
10am on Sundays
© 2021 Cornerstone Fellowship Church of Apex