Explore The Bible Study: Reconciled

9:22 PM

Imagine you are in a church and a certain individual, who is of a different race than the majority of the individuals in the church, accepts Christ. What would you think if that church felt that the person shouldn't be baptized in their church because of his/her racial background? How would you feel if you were the new believer? What a sad scenario this would be; yet this could happen and has happened around the world in countless churches. Sadly, we struggle with overcoming bias, prejudices, and conflicts, just to name a few. Even the early church struggled with this. The Explore The Bible Study: Reconciled in Christ, will focus on discussing how this should not be who we are in Christ and as His church. 

In the second half of the chapter, Paul speaks directly to the Gentiles in the church about reconciliation. As you look at this passage, consider the barriers to reconciliation you and your group need to remove, how they can be removed, and the purpose for removing them.

Imagine you are living in Ephesus
Ephesus was a multi-cultural city. It was a melting pot for many different cultures and religions. You might assume that there was an atmosphere of openness and diversity in this setting, but openness and diversity is an impossibility to attain, just as is the case in our culture today. It sounds good on paper but doesn’t exists.

From a Jewish perspective there were only two groups of people – Jews and Gentiles. The Jews in Ephesus worked hard to maintain the purity of their race and religion. Acts 19 records Paul’s visit to Ephesus. As was his custom, Paul began preaching in the synagogue when he arrived in the city (Acts 19:8). The opposition to Paul’s preaching of Jesus was so great that he had to withdraw from the synagogue to preach in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (19:9). Though some became followers of Christ, many Jews remained hardened in their opposition to the Christian faith.

Equally, the Gentiles also opposed Christianity. As we mentioned in earlier sessions, the Gentiles' conversions to Christianity was cutting into the profit of those making idols for the worship of Artemis (Acts 19:21-27). This led to riots.

While Ephesus appeared to be a “progressive” city, it would not tolerate Christianity.

It Gets Real in the Church
The church at Ephesus included both Jews and Gentiles who came out of this cultural climate. It was difficult for them to check their attitudes, preconceived ideas, and prejudices at the door. Paul wanted to help them understand the true nature of reconciliation and how it should impact the way they lived as believers in Christ. All of this was part of who they were when they were dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). But now they are alive with Christ! (2:5)

As we lead your group to study what Paul said to the Gentile believers regarding how they should live, lead your group to answer these two questions about reconciliation:
  1. Because all believers have been reconciled to Christ, how can we be more unified as a church?
  2. Since non-believers are not reconciled to Christ, how do we demonstrate to them the truth of reconciliation without compromising the truth about sin? Not everyone is reconciled, and reconciliation doesn’t mean inclusion.
The downloadable teaching helps provide quite a bit of information, some illustrations, and some challenging questions that could help you as you prepare to teach this to your group.


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