Church Defined Chosen to Serve
NET QUESTIONS

1. The church could never afford to hire enough staff to do all of the ministry God has called the church to do and as a part of the Body of Christ, every believer is called of God to serve in some capacity. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain.

2. Paul told the Ephesian Church that he had been called to serve the gospel and to take the message of Christ to the world. Paul’s decision to serve the gospel landed him in prison on more than one occasion and he was okay with that. We do not face imprisonment for serving the Lord and yet so many refuse to get involved in helping the church complete its mission. Why is this?
Phil 1:12  Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
Phil 1:13  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Phil 1:14  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

3. Some people may feel they are not good enough to serve or their past disqualifies them from serving. Paul could have used his past to excuse himself from service but he didn’t. Read the following Scripture and discuss how we can encourage others to understand that God has indeed called them to serve.
1 Tim 1:15  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
1 Tim 1:16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1 Tim 1:17  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

4. Some people may feel they don’t have the abilities, talents or the power to serve the Lord. What does God’s Word say about this? Read the Scripture below, but feel free to mention others you may recall.
Ephesians 3:7 (NIV)
7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:8 (NIV)
8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

5. Bonus Question! What are you doing to serve the Lord? We have tremendous needs in the church for volunteers. If you’re not presently serving, and would like to know what you could do, please contact one our staff members and we’ll be glad to help you get involved!! We have some urgent needs for this coming Sunday. Please contact Bro. Larry for more information on this opportunity to serve the Lord and make a difference in someones life!! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 
Church Defined
Chosen to Serve

Ephesians 3:1-13

In the past weeks we've talked about the definition of the church. We've discovered that the church is not a building, but is the people of God. We've discovered the church is made up of people who were chosen to choose, chosen to know, chosen to live, and chosen to unite.

Today, we will discuss the fact we've been chosen to Serve! Paul talks about his calling to minister God's love and truth to the Gentiles. He talks about his call to serve God by serving the message of the Gospel.

This may not be the most popular sermon in this series because God's definition of the Church includes a people who are willing to serve the God and the message they proclaim to believe in. I guess at the end of the day, we must all ask the question: Who or what am I serving?

Years ago, Bob Dylan wrote a song which became the title cut on his first Christian album, "Gotta Serve Sombody".

Here's two of the verses...

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

I pray we will all find ourselves serving The Lord!! Amen?
Let's pray and we'll see what God's Word has to say about being chosen to serve!

Pray!

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

2Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
Ephesians 3:2 (NIV)

3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
Ephesians 3:3 (NIV)

4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
Ephesians 3:4 (NIV)

5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
Ephesians 3:5 (NIV)

6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:7 (NIV)

8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8 (NIV)

9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
Ephesians 3:9 (NIV)

10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Ephesians 3:10 (NIV)

11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 3:11 (NIV)

12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)

13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Ephesians 3:13 (NIV)

Double-click to edit

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

Paul starts out this passage with a  transition. He says "For this reason". What is the reason he is referring to?
He is referring to the fact that God had called the Jews and the Gentiles to unite as the Church or the Body of Christ! We find this in the four preceding verses...

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
Ephesians 2:19 (NIV)

20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:20 (NIV)

21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Ephesians 2:21 (NIV)

22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:22 (NIV)

Let's continue reading our text...

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

We know that Paul had been put in prison numerous times during his ministry, but he knew he was fulfilling his call to take the good news to the lost people of the world, so he didn't loose heart or give up. He found great joy and purpose in his calling.  

In fact, if you notice the dash at the end of this verse, Paul doesn't complete this sentence until verse 13. Let me put these two verses together for you and then we'll look at what is sandwiched in-between.  

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Ephesians 3:13 (NIV)

Paul knew that the people he had won to Christ were worried that he had suffered and had been put in prison because of taking the gospel to them. He did not want them to be discouraged because he was not. He knew that his suffering would turn out for their glory in Christ.

I spoke at my daughter's graduation ceremony yesterday. I told them that being in God's will doesn't necessarily mean that we will suffer, but if we do, the joy of the Lord will overpower the suffering. Paul was saying, "Man you guys have accepted Jesus as your Savior and are now living for Him, that's way worth any suffering I may have to endure on your behalf!

Paul had such a servant's heart. Servants usually do.

By the way, did you know we have some people here today who know a thing or to about serving others.

And like Paul it bothers them when people worry about them. What they do, they do because they love others more than themselves. What they do is for the benefit of those they serve.

I would like all of our Mothers to please stand!
Let's give them a heartfelt round of applause!!!

We appreciate you so much. Thanks for being an example of a servant heart for each of us!!

Now, let's read what's sandwiched in-between verses 1 and 13...
In verses 2-6 Paul makes it clear that God had chosen him to serve!

2Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
Ephesians 3:2 (NIV)

3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
Ephesians 3:3 (NIV)

4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
Ephesians 3:4 (NIV)

5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
Ephesians 3:5 (NIV)

6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)

Paul was chosen by God, called by God and he wanted his readers to understand this.

Do you remember Paul's testimony?
He gives a short version in the book of Acts. Listen. It is fascinating...

6“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.
Acts 22:6 (NIV)

7I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
Acts 22:7 (NIV)

8“ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. “ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.
Acts 22:8 (NIV)

9My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
Acts 22:9 (NIV)

10“ ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. “ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’
Acts 22:10 (NIV)

11My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
Acts 22:11 (NIV)

12“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.
Acts 22:12 (NIV)

13He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
Acts 22:13 (NIV)

14“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
Acts 22:14 (NIV)

15You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
Acts 22:15 (NIV)

What a testimony!!

God had chosen Paul to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear words from His mouth and then to be a witness of what he had seen and heard.

Wouldn't you love to have a testimony like that?

Well I've got good news for you. You can. You may not see a blinding light, but God has chosen each of us to know His will, to see the Righteous One, Jesus, and to hear words from His mouth.
We've got them right here in the Bible. And then God wants us to be a witness to others of what we've seen and heard!

 You might say, "Brother Larry, you just don't know how bad I've been. You don't know the sin in my life. I don't think God would chose me."

Do you know what Paul was going to do when God called him into ministry?
He was on his way to persecute Christians!!


God has chosen you! Will you accept His calling on your life?

Paul goes on to reveal in our text what God had called him to do and the way he puts it will take away any excuse you or I might have to refuse God's call on our lives...

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:7 (NIV)

Paul says he became a servant by God's Grace and through God's Power!

None of us would ever be worthy of serving God based on our own goodness. Whatever you've done, Paul considered himself to have been worse...

8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8 (NIV)

I think Paul was still troubled by Stephen's death by stoning, which he had participated in. He remembered the others he had thrown into prison. He felt like he was the least of all God's people.
And yet, he marveled that grace was given to him to preach to the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.


All I can say, is who better to reach the worst of sinners than one who has been the worst of sinners and has cried out for forgiveness and has been transformed by the amazing and fabulous grace of God in Christ?


This grace comes with batteries!

That's right.

The batteries of God's grace is God's power!!

Let's look at that verse one more time…

7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:7 (NIV)

God supplies all the power we need to apply God's grace to every aspect of our lives. I love the way Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 2 Cor 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2 Cor 12:10  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Powerful words. Paul goes on to say he became a servant of the Gospel by God's grace and power for a reason...

9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
Ephesians 3:9 (NIV)

Paul was given the ability to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery. What mystery? That Jews and Gentiles were both offered Salvation in Jesus Christ.

One of the cool things about Paul and one reason God chose him was that he was a Hebrew of Hebrews, but he was also a Roman citizen. Paul could relate to both Jews and Gentiles and he desperately wanted them both to come to know the same grace he had come to enjoy!

Paul then makes a powerful statement about God's intent...

10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
Ephesians 3:10 (NIV)

11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 3:11 (NIV)

 You might be inclined to think that the forces of evil are just to great in your life. Your addiction, your anger, your depression, your bitterness, your hurt, etc.
You may have decided you could never really be a servant of God because of all these things.

Well this is where one of the definitions of the church comes in. Since the church is the people and not a building we have to understand something about the people.

We are all sinners saved by grace. None of us have achieved perfection. But God takes sinners, forgives them, cleanses them by His Blood and shows the principalities and powers of the universe that He is God and God alone!!
He serves those powers notice, that their days are numbered!!

He does all this according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord!

I want to point out something really important here. Some people say they don't want to go to church because of hypocrites. Others say they can't serve in the church because they would feel like hypocrites because they don't have it all together.  

If you ever think you've got it all together and are worthy to serve, I don't want you on my team, because you've been deceived by the enemy. Paul the apostle knew he wasn't worthy to serve, but by God's grace and forgiveness he knew he had been chosen by God to serve.  

Now I'm not saying it doesn't matter how you live your life! It does, but please understand this. We are all sinners saved by His grace.
The church is the place sinners need to be most.  

Sinners in the church is not hypocritical, it's where sinners need to be.

The difference between sinners and hypocrites is this...

Sinners know they are sinners and desire forgiveness and want to do better!

They attend church because they know they have a need only God can meet!
 

Hypocrites deny they have a sin problem, claim a righteousness of their own, and blatantly live in the sin they claim they don't have.

They attend church to be seen by men.  

Paul knew he was a sinner saved by God's gift of mercy! By the way that's the Good News, that's the Gospel Paul had been chosen and called of God to serve!!
And our last verse for today sums up the Gospel of Jesus Christ that God had called Paul to serve...

12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)

In Jesus Christ and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
That's good news. That's the gospel! God chose Paul to serve that gospel. God has chosen you to serve that gospel.

God never intended for the church to be filled with chair warmers. Consumers who come for what they can get rather than what they can give.
God very much intends for the church to be made up of sinners who have experienced the amazing gift of life in Christ!

People who have a calling, a burden, and a passion to let others find the forgiveness, peace and purpose they've found!

We do this when we chose to accept God's call on our lives to serve Him by serving the Gospel.
You've been chosen to serve! Do you?

Let's pray!!