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Ephesians 4:1-16

Reflect on the past year or so in the life of your connect group.

  • What have been some of the highlights?

  • What have you learned or grown in?

  • What keeps you coming back every week?

Read Ephesians 4:1-7

Consider each of these attributes Paul lists in verse 2:

- Humility

- Gentleness

- Patience

- Forbearance in love

  • What do they have in common?

  • How might they produce unity and 'the bond of peace'?

  • How does a unified and peace-filled community help us to "live up to the calling you have received"?

Read Ephesians 4:7-16 [1]

  • How do Spiritual gifts and gifted people build us up as Christians?

  • And how do these gifts build up the community of believers as a whole? (Look especially closely at verses 12-13)

  • How does God use these things to make us solid and assured, and turn us into 'a mature body'?

  • What does it mean to you that 'each part does its work' in the whole body? What part are you; what is your work?

  • Sometimes we are tempted to think that the most important expression of church is being at the Sunday service in the auditorium. How many of the attributes in Ephesians 4:1-16 can be achieved in that context? And how many can be achieved in something like a connect group?

Spend some time thanking God for your group, and for everyone in it.

Pray also for NVBC as a whole, that God would be raising up gifted people to grow us up to maturity - and that he might even use each one of us.

[1] Verses 8-10 are particularly hard to interpret. Try not to get too stuck here! Nevertheless, N.T. Wright might help to make a bit more sense of it:

A first-century Jew might have understood this verse from the psalm to be speaking of Moses. After the Exodus, when the Egyptians were defeated and the Israelites rescued from slavery, Moses went up Mount Sinai and came down with the stone tablets of the law, the Torah. In line with several early Christian writings, Paul sees the ascension of Jesus as being in a sense like that of Moses. After the ‘new Exodus’ which had been achieved in his death and resurrection, setting the human race free from bondage to sin and death, Jesus ‘went up’ into the heavenly realm where he now reigns as Lord. Instead of coming down again with the law, as Moses had done, Jesus ‘returned’ in the person of the spirit, through whom different gifts are now showered on the church. Why then does Paul say that the king ‘went up’ and ‘came down’ like this? Verse 9 is one of the most puzzling in the whole letter, but it is probably meant simply to stress that, in the gift of the spirit, it is Christ himself who is received (see 3.17; and, e.g., Romans 8.9–11). This is how King Jesus makes the church into his own ‘fullness’ (1.23), giving us his own presence by the spirit. This is no doubt a deep mystery... But at least the practical point is clear. What matters is that, even with all the different gifts that Jesus has lavished on the church, it is the same Jesus, the same Lord, who is personally present, by the spirit, in each of them. He lives within each member of his body. To keep that in mind is to go some way towards the other great goals of this passage. This is how to maintain unity. This is how, above all, we are to live up to the calling we received.

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