Pastor Keith Hassell
Foundation Scripture: Ephesians 3:8-21
I. The Bigger Picture
A. Our life is like one piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle
1. In order to find meaning, we must look at the bigger picture
2. Most Christians are trying to find their place by looking at the picture on another box!
B. The Church is God’s Puzzle
1. Ephesians 3:10 (NKJV) “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2. The devil and the world are trying to find out what God is doing. It takes all of us in our place to make the picture come together
C. The Church is a Covenant Community
1. It takes a covenant community to reveal God’s marvelous picture
2. It takes every member in their place and interlocked with others
II. Covenant Community
A. The basic ingredient of community is RELATIONSHIP
1. God is our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 3:14-15)
2. We are God’s sons and daughters
3. We are brothers and sisters in Christ
4. We recognize spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith
B. The key to successful relationships is COVENANT LOVE
1. 1 John 4:20-21 (NKJV) “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
2. Ephesians 3:17 (NKJV) “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height---to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
C. The evidence of covenant love is COVENANT COMMUNITY
1. “Community” (Webster’s Dictionary): “a society of people having common rights and privileges, common interests, living under the same laws and regulations, having a community spirit.”
2. We have one Father
3. We live as sons and daughters of God
4. We live as brothers and sisters in Christ
5. We live as one big “Forever Family”
6. Dinner time: No father is settled at the table until everyone in his family is accounted for.
III. The Way of Cain
1. The way of Cain is the opposite of covenant community
a. Jude 11 (NKJV) “Woe unto them, for they have gone the way of Cain.”
b. Cain and Abel: The first broken human relationship
c. 1 John 3:11-12 (NKJV): “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”
2. Characteristics of the way of Cain
a. Cain was a superficial worshiper
b. Cain refused to judge his own heart
c. Cain shifted the blame to his brother
d. Cain felt no commitment toward his brother
i. “I don’t need this relationship”
ii. “I can do just fine without him”
e. Cain permanently severed the relationship with his brother
i. Cain murdered Abel
f. Cain felt no responsibility for his brother
i. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
g. Cain felt no remorse for what he had done
i. In his punishment he grieved over the consequences of his sin rather than the loss of his brother
h. Cain was cursed to become a wanderer, never able to build lasting relationships
3. The enemy uses the way of Cain to destroy covenant community
IV. Establishing Covenant Community
A. Frank Damazio in his book The Dynamics of Corporate Gathering gives the following seven characteristics of covenant community:
1. Covenant community exists when people are more concerned with the corporate local body than with themselves.
a. Corporate life becomes more important than the individual’s own pleasure or will.
2. Covenant community exists when individuals are being knitted, built, framed, and joined together.
a. This speaks of close, long-lasting, real friendships.
3. Covenant community exists when the spirit of sacrifice becomes the attitude in which the community meets the needs of all.
4. Covenant community exists when people want to spend more time together in both spiritual and natural activities.
a. This includes church services, picnics, camps, home meetings, sports, family activities, such as baby showers, and so forth.
5. Covenant community exists when the elderly retain proper godly authority throughout their lives and are cherished and respected by the community.
6. Covenant community exists when the family is in biblical order
a. This means
i. The husband or father taking his rightful place as head of the home
ii. The wife finding fulfillment in the same atmosphere
iii. The children being well disciplined, happy, and secure.
7. Covenant community exists when humanism, selfishness, independence, and isolation are treated as intruding viruses.
a. They are overcome and destroyed by applying the Word of God so that covenant community may become a reality.
V. Response to the Word
A. See the bigger picture
B. Repent of the way of Cain
C. Commit to covenant community