Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Sermon Notes Eph. 4:7-13

Ephesians 4:7-13
Body Builders
November 2, 2014
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We live in an age when perpetual youth is worshipped. We have delayed growing up now sometimes into the mid or late twenties. There is not a sense of standing on one’s own at say age 20 or so and so the adulthood keeps getting pushed back further and further.
It should not surprise us that such things are also prevalent in the church. The youth and immaturity of the faith is lauded and maturity stays at a distance. Many Christians have not learned the depths of Christ and so remain susceptible to all sorts of delusions of theology and practice.
But there is no excuse for this state of affairs. It is willful negligence on the part of Christians to not grow up in Christ. With the vast amount of biblical teaching available, we should all be growing up in Christ.
The primary place this should be happening is at church. You should be fed a steady diet of God’s Word and you should be growing in your knowledge of Jesus.
But you should also be studying the Word in your homes and on your own. You should be a faithful Bible reader and coming to understand the story of God, God’s purposes and your purpose in Christ.
Many people do not really understand this. This is one reason I am thankful for our emphasis on Word, Sacrament, Doctrine and Practice. Even our little children know what the Chief End of Man is. Our purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him. In order to do that, we have to know Him and know what He has called us to be and to do in Christ and in His Church. This is growing up in the faith so that we can be strong and stand fast.

         7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 
         Christ measures out His grace to us according to our need.

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 
Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father to rule Heaven and Earth from Heaven.
Captivity Captive- Jesus made a show of them like the ancient generals or emperors who paraded the enemy through the streets and gave gifts to the victorious soldiers.
Jesus disarmed the principalities and powers on the cross. Here he holds them captive.
Homo es- A Roman general would have a slave set beside him and say, “Homo es.” You are a man. This was because he might be tempted to think he was a god with all the adulation being shown him.
But Jesus was truly man and truly God. He receives the adulation fit only for God and appropriately so. There is no power greater than Jesus and so He does not need reminded to stay in His place. His place is far above all principalities and powers.
He is the same one that also descended to the Earth. Before exaltation is humiliation. Death and then life. Sorrow and then joy. Weeping and then rejoicing. This is God’s pattern.
He ascended far above all heavens so that He would fill all things. This is a way of saying that Jesus Christ is in control of everything that is.
He is the great gift giver. He fills up His people with benefits.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 
Jesus gave gifts to the church. We tend to think of gifts as our own personal spiritual gifts. In this instance, the Apostle clearly teaches that Jesus in the one who gives and establishes His ministers in the church for the building up of the body.
There are four distinct offices mentioned here.
1.    Apostles- Apostles are sent ones, particularly sent directly by Jesus. the Apostles were those initial twelve, then Judas who was replaced by Matthias, and then the Apostle Paul to make thirteen. The Apostles were all first hand eye witnesses of the Resurrection. Paul say the Resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus.
There are no apostles today. However, we might consider someone who is a gifted church planter to be operating in the Apostolic mode.
The twelve signified the true Israel of the last days. This is very interesting if you consider that Paul was the thirteenth apostle. The Israel of the last days included the Gentiles and Paul was Apostle to the Gentiles.

2.    Prophets- There were many prophets in the Old Testament who spoke by divine inspiration. Continuing into the New Testament era, there were both prophets and prophetesses. These spoke the Word of God on several occasions until the Canon was established. This office dramatically decreased in the early Apostolic age and ceased altogether as the Bible was completed.
3.    Evangelists- Philip was said to be an evangelist. He was the one who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. There are many gifted evangelists today, men who powerfully preach the gospel and are blessed with conversions.
4.    Pastors and Teachers or Pastor Teachers- This is the most common office. Pastors and teachers or pastor teachers are God’s primary means of ministry in His church.

12, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

The Purpose of Christ’s Gifts
         Why did God give these men?

Three Reasons
1.    Perfect Body-For the perfecting of the saints
2.    To Do the Work of Ministry-for the work of the ministry,
This includes several things, 1. planting churches (Apostolic) , 2. Preaching (prophetic) 3. Evangelism 4. Shepherding (Pastors). 5. Discipleship and Theology (Teachers).
3.    To build up the Body- for the edifying of the body of Christ:
         Perfecting is to perfectly equip. So, the idea here is that these offices are meant to fit the saints for effective ministry, to edify the body of Christ.
         This is spiritual body building. How do we make the body healthy and strong, able to carry on its work without giving up? Through the faithful ministry of the Word and Sacrament.
         Edifying- Building up. This does not just mean for the good of the body. It refers to the building up of the body. Edifying is that which builds, makes strong, grants endurance, preserves, exhorts, encourages, admonishes, assures.

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
How long will this work of ministry continue? Until we all come in the unity of the faith.
What does this unity look like? Like people who have a true knowledge of the Son of God. They not only know about Jesus, they know Jesus. They are not simply doing theology about Jesus. They are experiencing the grace and peace of Christ.
God calls us to be perfect. This word can mean mature. Of course, we will not be perfect in the sense of sinless in the body, until the Resurrection from the dead. But we can be mature and the Lord expects us to be mature. He expects us to grow up in the faith. This growing up will particularly look like the body being built up, speaking the truth in love, exhorting and encouraging one another. It will look like raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It will look like showing your faith to your children so that they imitate your good behavior in Jesus Christ. It will look like knowing what the Bible teaches and settling down on doctrines so that you are not tossed here and there by cunning men who can make nearly anything sound plausible to the weak.
What is the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ?
He already prayed this for us, remember? That we should no the 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

We need to know more about Jesus. Who is Jesus? What has He done for us? Why did He come to the Earth? Was He really human? Was He really God? Why did He have to die? What is the importance of the Resurrection? Where is Jesus now? What is He doing now? What is Jesus’s plan for the world? What is our place in Him during His current reign? These are all questions that you should know the answer to. If you do not, then you are not mature and measuring up to the knowledge of Jesus.

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