In preparing to preach on Ephesians 1:3-14, I felt that there were a couple significant challenges to overcome. One challenge is that there are so many theological concepts that may be explored, one may miss Paul's sense of awe and wonder at God's grace. It is possible to delve into so many doctrinal topics (predestination, work of the Holy Spirit, etc.) that the mood and wonder of the passage is utterly missed. I met this challenge by isolating the subject matter to the three primary images of adoption, redemption, and sealing.
Another challenge is reading the text through first-century eyes. The initial driving question of the Bible student should not be, "What does this mean to me," but instead, "What did this mean to them?" This challenge was met by drawing in first-century culture and video of the region around Ephesus. Before my series on Ephesians began, I was able to travel to the region around Ephesus and bring back film footage for use in each of my sermons on the book. The use of the footage from the theater in Miletus in the section of the sermon on adoption was utilized to assist the congregation in seeing adoption through first-century eyes.
I felt the sermon was effective. One man, a lifetime church attendee, left the service commenting to one of our staff members, "I didn't know God felt this way about me. Why haven't we ever been told this?" I believe the imagery used in the sermon helped individuals experience their identity in Christ in a fresh way.
Do you ever wonder why you do what you do? Do you ever have one of these moments when you're out shopping for something—like sweaters—and all of a sudden you think, What am I doing here? I have, ...
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