IMG_0811Ephesians 3:8-21 Study Guide

Note: The song I’m sharing this month articulates Paul’s own understanding of the calling he received from God (although he doesn’t call it a calling–he calls it a “grace”). But Paul’s calling flows right out of the stream of the rest of Scripture, and is right in line with the one thing God is–and always has been–doing:

God is building a universe around Jesus Christ

This study will trace the calling of several key OT figures about whom we have apostolic  (New Testament) teaching to tell us what their lives and callings were all about–and it’s always the same purpose: to build a universe around Jesus Christ.

Their calling

Abraham: Read Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6; 17:1-8

  • What was Abraham’s calling? (That is, what did God specifically call Abraham to do?)
  • What did God explicitly tell Abraham he (God) was going to do through him?
  • Read Galatians 3:7-14. What did God have in mind when he made the promises to Abraham?
  • Read Galatians 3:16; 4:4-7. Whom did God have in mind when he made the promises to Abraham? What “offspring” would be the final recipient of God’s promises to Abraham?
  • Read Romans 4:13-25. How does Abraham’s relationship with God set a pattern for the way God relates to those who trust in Jesus Christ?

Moses: Read Exodus 3:7-10 (If you want the whole story of Moses’ calling, read Exodus 3-4).

  • What did God call Moses to do?
  • What did God explicitly tell Moses he (God) was going to do through him?
  • Read Hebrews 11:23-28. What was ultimately the motivation for Moses’ obedience to God’s call? What larger purpose of God was Moses’ life a part of?
  • Read Exodus 19:1-20:21.
  • What did God call Moses to do?
  • What did God explicitly tell Moses he (God) was going to do through him?
  • Read Hebrews 10:1-7; John 5:41-47. Moses was the mediator of the law (the first covenant). What purpose did this part of Moses’ life serve in the larger plan of God for Christ?

David: Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 2; Psalm 132.

  • What did God call David to do?
  • What did God explicitly tell David he (God) was going to do through him?
  • Read Acts 13:16-39; Romans 1:1-4. How did God fulfill his promises to David through Christ? In what way did God establish David’s son to be an eternal king?

Solomon: Read 2 Samuel 7:12-15; 1 Kings 8:15-21

  • It’s not clear whether or not God explicitly “called” Solomon to build him a temple. The call is implied in God’s promise that one of David’s sons would build a house for him (God), and we know for certain he had Jesus Christ in mind. We assume–clearly Solomon assumed–he also had Solomon in mind, but this is not in the text, except in that Solomon went ahead and assumed he was that son. Still, it’s safe to assume God had a human son of David prior to Christ in mind because of the mention of that son’s iniquity (2 Sam. 7:14). With that said, what did God (apparently) “call” Solomon to do?
  • What did God promise David he (God) was going to do for Solomon (2 Sam. 7:15)? How did this promise secure the ultimate purpose God had for Jesus Christ, the true son of David?
  • Read Acts 7:44-50; 17:24-25. God used Solomon’s life to progress his purposes, however, it was never Solomon’s temple which would be God’s final resting place.
  • Read John 2:13-22;  Colossians 1:19. What was the real temple God intended to build as his dwelling place?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 3:11-17. What temple is God building on the foundation of Christ?

Your calling

Wouldn’t you love to know how God is using your life to build his universe around Christ? The men you’ve studied above didn’t necessarily always understand God’s work in their lives as clearly as you and I can understand it. They didn’t have the New Testament to explain it, and they didn’t have the person of Christ to confirm it. Yet they did what God gave them to do, and we can look back, with the help of Scripture, to see what God accomplished through their faith.

The big picture always looks clearer from a distance.

What does the big picture of your life look like? You don’t need God to tell you what he’s doing through you, you just need to know what he’s doing: building a universe around Jesus Christ. He’ll equip you in the ways he especially wants to use you, so just get to work and do what there is to do! Knowing now how God worked similarly in the lives of four men to accomplish his one purpose in Christ, think through your own “calling” in terms of…

  1. People: Moses’ calling had much to do with the people God had surrounded him with: the Israelite slaves who cried out for deliverance from Pharaoh. Want to know what God is calling you to do? Look around. What people has God surrounded you with? What are their needs? How has God equipped and positioned you to meet those needs? Build Christ’s universe by serving the people in your life for the glory of his name.
  2. Place: Abraham’s calling had to do with place: God called him to go to the country he would show him. The place God led him to was perfectly and strategically positioned for the plans God had for Christ. Geographically and historically, it was the perfect place for God to teach his people the lessons of faith; it was the perfect place for God to test his people’s loyalty to him; and it was the perfect place for the good news of Jesus Christ to go forth into the world. What special opportunities do you recognize in the place (home, neighborhood, town, state, country) where God has you? How might God be building his universe around Christ in that place? Because he is!
  3. Gifts: God gave Solomon special gifts and abilities which equipped him with the wisdom, resources, and connections to build the temple. What special gifts and abilities has God given you? What are you able to do better than most people? What do you love to do–and why do you love to do it? How might you use those gifts to contribute to the universe God is building around Christ? How might your gifts increase the fruits of the Spirit in the hearts of his people (to make them more like Christ)? How might your gifts increase the unity, fellowship, or growth of his body?
  4. Desires: David desired God, he treasured God, and he wanted to be with God. It was this kind of heart–a heart that loved God–for which God chose David to be his anointed king. David wanted to express his desire for God by building him a temple, and though God did not ultimately fulfill this desire, he did more. It was David’s desire for God which secured his royal line and ultimately led to the coming of the Messiah (1 Kings 11:9-13). How is your desire for God? Sometimes we get so fixated on desiring to be useful to God (or finding our “calling”) that we forget our real purpose as human beings: to simply desire and cherish God. What are you doing to cultivate that desire? How are you actively, persistently building the universe of your soul around Jesus Christ?

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

All Study and Sharing Guides © 2015 Hannah Ploegstra