The last couple of weeks, we've been going through a series in the Books of Acts and looking at this very important question: What is the church? We've been looking at each passage in which the word "church" actually occurs, and then deciphering what the word is referring to and what it means. Again and again, we've seen the same thing: the church in Acts is not referring to a building; it's not referring to an event or gathering on Sunday; it's not referring to a hierarchy or structure of leadership or committees or panels or pastors. It's always referring to a community, to a people.
We're going to continue to look at the Book of Acts today in chapter 12 to get a further glimpse into what the church really is. But rather than jumping right into Acts 12, I want to take you on an excursion to Ephesians for a minute. There's no doubt that of all the books of the Bible, Acts shows us what the church is better than any other. But the Book of Ephesians does the best job of actually telling us what the church is. I want to look specifically at one idea in Ephesians chapter 3, and then we'll go back to Acts chapter 12 and see how that idea plays out in this story about the church in Jerusalem.
In Ephesians chapters 1, 2 and 3, Paul keeps introducing this idea of the mystery of God. This mystery is that God has had a secret plan for all of history that he has kept hidden. No one has really understood or seen it, but now it has been revealed in Christ. In Ephesians, Paul begins to unpack this mystery to us. There are at least two parts to this mystery. The first part is that God has chosen in Christ, through his death and resurrection, to reconcile us to himself. Paul unpacks this in the ...
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