Bishop Chen Chien Chung from Taiwan Methodist Church delivered his message titled “A Church after God’s Own Heart from Ephesian’s perspective” on the morning of September 1st. He reminded the congregation that “it is not difficult to build a church or a big church building but pastoring a church is not easy.” He used the example of the Ephesians’ Church (Eph. 1:17-23) to teach the congregation about prayer and pastoring.
The Ephesians’ Church was planted by Paul on his third missionary trip (Acts 19:1 – 20:38). Paul worked hard to preach the gospel there for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks living in the province of Asia heard the Word of the Lord. For three years Paul admonished these people in tears subsequently this church was the church that Paul spent the most time and effort with.
Bishop Chen pointed out that Paul built this church with tears in his prayers and also he paid a heavy price. Reflecting upon the effort of our pastors, most of them are far behind Paul. On top of that Paul said that the brothers and sisters of the Ephesians’ church were faithful people. Paul also mentioned that the church after God’s own heart must really know God’s will and minister God’s sheep with prayer.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians’ church was: so that they may know Him better (a full understanding of God), to understand the mystery of Christ’s love, and to share the richness of God.
The Bishop said that we need to know: the conditions of “know Him better” (verse 17), the contents of “know Him better” (verses 18-19) and the keys to “know Him better” (verses 20-23).
I. The conditions of “know Him better”
We ask God to give us the wisdom and the spirit of revelation so that we may truly know Him. Colossians 1:9b says: “Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.”
II. The contents of “know Him better”
God has good intention in His calling and His inheritance is always so rich. We are His inheritance in the kingdom of God and He also blesses us abundantly.
1. The hope in your calling
To believers the calling of God is a great hope (because the world cannot bring true, eternal hope to man). This hope is the result of our salvation and is God’s plan for His people. We must anticipate and have full confidence in the blessings to come.
2. The richness of the inheritance
Paul also wants us to know how abundant God prepares His inheritance for His people and how precious we are to Him. God sees us as His own eternal inheritance, a memory of His power and grace. Our treasure is in God and God’s treasure is in us. This is for the glory of God and is a manifestation of glory upon glory. This is also a life to glorify God and to benefit man which we strive to express in our faith.
3. The greatness of power
If calling refers to the past, inheritance is what is yet to come then power (the power of God) is what is happening right now. The power of God is an infinite resource for the people of God to draw upon. If we only recognize the richness of the glorious inheritance that God has prepared for us, we may not be encouraged and may not dare to go into this inheritance. So Paul reminds us that God’s power is working amongst the believers because He is the God of power upon power. His power and grace are sufficient for us.
III. The keys to “know Him better”
1. The relationship between Jesus and the Father
The Heavenly Father raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly realm. He made Jesus above all things.
2. The relationship between Jesus and the church
Jesus Christ is the head of the church and has supreme authority over the church. He leads, governs, and manages the church and the church is responsible to Him. The two are closely linked and cannot be separated just as the head and the body. Many churches are no longer after Gods’ own heart because they have not made Christ the head of the church and so the church has not become the body of Christ.
Bishop Chen claimed that Jesus and the church are linked by love; the church can be built up when the members love each other.
3. The relationship between the church and the world
The church has to be a place where people would feel that God is among us. It should be a place where the world sees God through the church and believers.
In closing Bishop Chen invited the congregation to meditate upon:
1. Understanding of God’s calling, inheritance and power.
2. Learning from Paul’s prayer (Eph. 1:17-19) and to pray for ourselves.
3. Establishing your personal prayer life? And to actively participate in
church prayer meetings so as to build a church after God’s own heart.
Reported by JacquelineUng
Translated by KT Chew