According to Ephesians 3:7-12, God's purpose is to make known 'to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places' his manifold wisdom 'through the church'. The very existence of an assembly of believers who have confident access to the Father through faith in Christ is a testimony to his extraordinary grace and power. Ephesians 2:11-22 highlights the miracle of Jews and Gentiles united in one body, demonstrating God's intention to bring believers from every nation into his new creation. God's wisdom is further displayed as those drawn together by the Lord Jesus love one another with the same love with which he has loved them (Ephesians 4:1-3; 5:1-2), and express that love in the way they minister to each other (1 Corinthians 13:1-7; 14:26-33; Ephesians 4:15). By loving one another and expressing our unity in Christ, we demonstrate that our gatherings are genuinely Spirit-led (Romans 15:30; Galatians 5:22), and we anticipate God's new creation together.

Reflection: Read Romans 15:7-13 and consider God's purpose in bringing people of every race and culture together into the church.

 

  • What is the significance of praising God in this context?
  • What may be hindering genuine praise in the congregation to which you belong?

 

Jews and Gentiles are called to submit to the only true God in worship (Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 96:7-9; Revelation 14:6-7), acknowledging that this is only possible because of the saving work of the Messiah (John 12:32; Revelation 5:9-10). Rejoicing together in his salvation, we testify to the fulfilment of God's purpose in the Lord Jesus. But the apostle Paul reminds us again that we need to 'live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 15:5-6). In other words, we express who we are as the redeemed people of God by praising God together and by loving one another.

Thanksgiving in Scripture is normally addressed directly to God (Colossians 1:3-4; Revelation 11:17-18), whereas praise may be either direct or indirect, as we sing and talk about the goodness and greatness of God to one another (Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:3-14; Revelation 4:11; 5:9-10). Like praise, thanksgiving is an important aspect of our corporate testimony to Christ and a means of mutual encouragement (1 Corinthians 14:16; Philippians 4:4-6; Colossians 1:11-12). God brings glory to himself, as he works through the ministry he commands us to have to each other, enabling us to acknowledge what he has done for us in the past and what he has in store for us in the future.

Next: Gathered for worship

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