Equipped by the Spirit | Spirit-Filled Church Life Group Series 5/6
By Daniel Skead (one of our Life Group and Ministry Leaders)
To read the first three chapters of Ephesians is to see the grand spectacle of Paul’s gospel, a panorama of the glorious grace of God in Christ. Paul’s aim in writing them was to get his readers to ‘see’ and ‘comprehend’ these grand truths so they would wonder at God’s grace (see esp. 1:18; 3:4-5; 3:9; 3:18). But however much of a display of the gospel Paul makes, he isn’t merely playing the part of a sightseeing tour guide: pointing out the photogenic sights; interspersing interesting facts with the locations of the nearest rest points and concession stands; nor offering a highly stimulating but lethargic experience from the comfort of an air-conditioned coach seat.
Instead, he’s more like an experienced mountaineer, who, after showing the Ephesians a breath-taking view of the grand mountain range of the grace of God in Christ, now urges his readers to lace up their boots and come scale these peaks with Him. His focus at 4:1 shifts towards how the Ephesians should “walk” in the light of the gospel. Paul, mindful of the difference between ‘watching’ and ‘walking’, begins to equip his readers with instructions as to how they can successfully and safely scale these heights, in the mission of God.
Think of what little special equipment a coach tour requires: hats, camera, socks and sandals (sunscreen optional). Compare this with what a mountaineer needs: boots, rope, food, pick-axe, tents, and the list goes on. In an article in Time Magazine detailing the costs she spent to climb Mt. Everest, Katherine Tarbox estimated that 38lbs of climbing equipment alone cost her $10,000 USD (her estimates of the total cost ranged from $54,000 to $114,000 not including flights).
And, just as in mountain climbing, in order to get to the exhilarating heights of mission, the Ephesians will need ‘equipping’ and preparation in order to keep them from danger. In this study we will look at the ‘equipment’ Paul wants his readers to possess and the dangers and joys they will face in living out the gospel.
To bring the kingdom of God to the heart of the nation – the mission God has called us to – we need the equipping power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we’ll be heading out into battle naked, vulnerable and rather embarrassed, to say the least, like James Bond without all his training and cool technological gadgets to get him out of trouble.
Are you sightseeing or mountaineering when it comes to Christian living? Are you fully equipped by the Spirit?