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Thistletown Baptist Church
Jesus Christ – Body Builder: He Gave for the Equipping of the Church
Eph. 4:1-16 (ESV)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
 ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
1. Today we return to our considerations of the church.
a. So far – the marks of a disciple. The church is made up of disciples of Christ. Disciples are those who follow Jesus Christ. They are those who believe in Jesus and have turned away from their sin. They have taken up their cross and followed Him. They love Him more than they love anyone else, even father and mother, sister and brother, husband or wife. They are those who love one another. They are those who are opposed, persecuted, ostracised, misunderstood … in various ways because of their loyalty to Jesus Christ. They are those who are obedient to the call of Christ upon them, the first command being to be baptized. The last time we were together in this matter we looked at the truth that those who are disciples of Jesus Christ, who have the true marks of a follower of Jesus Christ and have been baptized as believers in Jesus Christ, join themselves to a local assembly of Jesus Christ. Disciples of Christ belong to churches.
b. The point of the message was that there are no lone star Christians in the world. A believer not affiliated with a local church is an oxymoron. We spent most of the time last time looking at the incredible things that the New Testament says about the church, especially the “one anothering” texts. The church is a fellowship of saved people who love one another and serve one another … . It is one of the chief things that God gives us so that we will not have sinful unbelieving hearts that turn away from the living God. If you do not meet with, pray with, worship with, other believers you are asking for trouble. The church is the place where your gifts are to be used. The church is the only vehicle for the proclamation of the gospel in the New Testament. There is no Christian faith without the church. It just does not exist.
2. Today we start looking at leadership in the church. We are in Ephesians 4:1-16. If you have your Bible with you I want you to open it to Ephesians 4. If you did not bring a Bible with you grab a pew Bible and turn to page 788. Follow along.
a. Overview of Ephesians
i. The two chief divisions in Ephesians
b. The Christian Walk – 4:1 – 6:9
i. walk in unity – 4:2 -16
ii. walk in holiness – 4:17-32
iii. walk in love – 5:1-6
iv. walk in light – 5:7- 14
v. walk in wisdom – 5:15 – 6:9
II Walk in Unity – Ephesians 4:1-16
a. 1-6 – Keep the Unity of the Spirit
i. Note verses 3, 4, 5, 6. The point could not be driven home any plainer.
b. 7-16 – Unity in Diversity
i. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism and we are to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace. But that does not mean that there is not something for each of us to do. Grace is given to each one.
(1) Don’t lose sight of this dear ones. If you are a believer God has graced you with gifts for the sake of this church. The purpose of that gift is – I Cor. 12:7, Romans 12:5, I Peter 4:9. Your gift is not for show. It is not for demonstrating how talented you are. It is not for starting up some big ministry that will capture the attention of the world, Christian or secular. It is for the glory of god and the benefit of the people you worship with
(2) Note how the use of gifts here is part of the Letter to the Ephesians that has to do with unity. See again I Cor. 12:12-13, 22-23, 24-25; Romans 12:4-6a
(a) Dear believer in Jesus Christ: what are you doing with the talents and gifts that God has given you that contribute to the unity of this assembly of believers? We are about to look at the leaders mentioned in this text – but note what the ministry of the leadership is to accomplish – verses 12 – “for the building up of the body of Christ”. Then see 13 “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God…”. And then note this about verse 13 – it says that we “attain to mature manhood”. Literally it states “to a full grown /mature man”. The word for “man” in verse 13 is gender specific. But it does not mean that only men can become mature, it means that we all together become one mature man. The church is not a conglomeration of individuals who grow up. It is a man who grows up. Then see verse 15 “we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head…”. Then see verse 16 “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” That is what the proper use of your gift is to accomplish. That is the goal. Have you ever given that thought?
ii. The emphasis of verses 7-10 is not on our gifts. Before Paul mentions any gift he emphasizes how we get them.
(1) The reason we have the gifts we have is grace. Verse 7. Can you sing? That is God’s grace. Can you teach? Are you naturally given to hospitality? It is not natural. It is the uncalled for, undeserved grace of God at work in you for the good of the church.
(2) These gifts are given by virtue of the fact that Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection. The Jesus of verses 9&10 gave to the church. [BTW – this text does not say that Jesus went to hell and released people form hell. It says that Jesus came to earth – the lower regions of the earth, and then ascended to heaven. When He ascended He led captivity – death – captive. He saved people and gave them gifts.]The main point here is that these people have the abilities and responsibilities that they have by virtue of the sovereign will of the ruling Christ. Dear ones – do you know why you have th gifts you have? Because Jesus died and rose from the dead. It took the death of Christ for you to have the ability you have to serve in this church.
(3) And why did He grace the church with gifted people? Verses 12-16!!
III Leadership in the Church – Eph 4:11-16
1. But this text is not about all the gifts that are at work in the church is it? No. There is no mention here of singing, or administration, or hospitality … . The only gifts he refers to are not gifts at all. They are people. The point that must be made here is that the person himself is a gift to the church. The text does not say “He gave apostleship, prophecies, evangelism …. “ It says He gave Apostles, evangelists, …” This means that the men themselves are the gifts. Read verse 8 and then skip to verse 11. He gave gifts. What gifts? What did Christ give the church when He ascended as the ruling King over all creation? What did He give? He gave – to the church – Apostles … .
a. These men are the gifts. What is the purpose of a gift? To benefit the church!! To bring the church to complete maturity in Christ as one man (verse 13)!!
2. What did He give?
i. Apostles – there are no longer any Apostles. We know this from the way that they are defined in the NT – Eph. 2:20, II Cor. 12:12, Acts 1:21-22
ii. Prophets – In the way that they existed in Paul’s day we no longer have these either. See 2:20. The NT prophets were instrumental in founding the church. They probably spoke by divine inspiration, before the canon of Scripture was complete as in Acts 21:9-10.
iii. Evangelists – See Acts 21:8-9 and II Tim. 4:5 (the only other places in the NT where the word appears.) Either those who took the Gospel to places where it had never been before, or those who had a special place in the church related to the work of evangelism.
iv. Pastors and Teachers – the Greek construction here is different from the previous. The word “the” appears before the first three but not before “teachers”, giving the reading exactly as it appears in the ESV, which may indicate that the two roles are performed by the same person. A pastor is a teacher is a pastor. Most commentators take it to mean one work of pastor/teacher.
(1) A note about who the pastor/teachers are
(a) Acts 20:28 – Paul, speaking to the elders of the Ephesian church says – Take care of (Pastor) the flock over which He has made you overseers (bishops). Elders are to pastor and oversee the church. See also I Peter 5:1-2.
3. What is the job of these gifts to the church? What was the job of the Apostles according to this verse? What was the job of the prophets? What was/is the job of evangelist? What is the job of pastor/teacher?
i. Equip the saints for the work of ministry
(1) When did pastors get the title “Minister” attached to themselves? Pastors aren’t the ministers. Pastors are teachers who prepare ministers. The work of the ministry is not done by the pastors. Pastors are those who prepare the ministers to do the ministry.
ii. How? How are the pastors to prepare the ministers?
(1) II Tim. 4:2 – Preaching, … – the Word of God. See II Tim. 2:15
(a) See I Tim. 4:11-16
(b) I Tim. 6:2
(c) I Tim. 6:20
(d) II Tim. 2:2
(e) II Tim. 2:14-15
(f) Titus 2:1-2
(g) Titus 2:3-5
(h) Titus 2:6
(i) Titus 2:9-10
(j) Titus 2:15
(2) commitment to prayer and Scripture – Acts 6:1-3 – prayer and the ministry of the Word
(3) holiness – I Timothy 4:16 – watch themselves and their doctrine
(4) example – I Peter 5:2-3 All these things and more are what the pastors are to do as they seek to bring the church to be an Ephesians 4:13 church.
4. Why? Why does God give these men to the church? What are they aiming at? What is it they are trying to produce?
a. Verse 14 – “so that” Those given to the church are given for the following reason.
i. So you won’t be fooled by all the spiritual nonsense that is out there. Or, to put it positively; so that the average Christian in the pew, who never went to seminary, who doesn’t know any Greek beyond the few words that the pastor drops on him in a message now and then, who didn’t go very far in school … , will know his stuff.
ii. Tossed to and fro – you turn on the TV preacher and he says this and it makes sense. You watch the next show and the preacher says the exact opposite of what th eprevious man said and it seems to make sense too. And then you come to church and what the pastor is preaching disagrees with both of them but it makes sense too. And your goal dear ones is to be able to handle all that so that you do not believe anything false.
iii. No longer children – maturity. The purpose of church leadership is to produce adults. Dear ones, where are you compared to last year? Two years ago … … … ? Are oyu growing in the faith? Do you know what this church needs? It needs sixteen ounces to the pound of solid Bible teaching so that you can grow up in the faith. The NT is supremely concerned that believers do not believe a lie.
b. Verse 15 – Now, look at the text. What is the point of you knowing your stuff?
i. Speak the truth in love
ii. Grow up into Christ
iii. So that every part of the body will do its part
iv. So that the body will build itself up in love.
You know what we would call that? We would call that a mature, loving, united church. Remember that the theme of this section of Ephesians is unity. Do you see what this text says? Unity, dear ones comes when people know their doctrine and live out the teachings of the Scriptures. How many of you here have come to believe that the thing that divides Christians is doctrine?
You know what a carnal church is? I Cor. 3:1-3. Lot of people who know their stuff but are as immature as can be, according to this text. So what is Church unity? It is a church that knows its stuff and demonstrates it through love for each other. The church, for too long has been content to be one or the other. Christians who don’t think that doctrine is important and churches that think that living out the doctrines in a loving manner is unimportant.
How do we apply this?
a. Pray for your elders. The evil one knows that if he can get at us he will get the rest of you.
b. Attend to the preaching and teaching of the word of God.
c. Insist that what the pastor/teachers do in this church contribute to the growth and doctrinal soundness of the church – of you.
d. Aim high. Look at Eph. 4:13 and know that this is your calling. Don’t be satisfied to know you are on the way to glory. If that is all you care about then I doubt if you really are on the way to glory. Aim high dear ones. Pray in Hebrews 5:11-14 for yourself. Pray in I Peter 2:1-2. Pray in II Peter 3:18. Arthur Dixon – “The average farmer of 200 years ago knew more theology than the average preacher today.”
e. Untrain yourself. We have come to believe that the “ministry” is about … … .
f. Refuse to believe the lie that doctrine divides. Nothing will divide a church more than believing that.
g. Do not separate doctrine and love.