Monday, November 10, 2014

Sermon Notes Ephesians 4

Sermon Notes
Ephesians 4:12-16
November 9, 2014

         Last week we discussed gifts to the church. Those gifts included Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.
         God has given these gifts to the church so that the church will grow up in Christ.
         There are three specific reasons the Lord has given these gifts.
1.    The perfecting of the saints. He wants us to be perfect, that is mature.
2.    For the work of ministry. Of the office mentioned, pastors and teachers or pastor teachers is the ordinary office. This is the work of the ministry, shepherding and teaching.

In our form of church government that work is done by shepherds. This is the pastor and ministers but it also includes ruling and teaching elders.

Ruling Elders- In our churches, ruling elders are those men chosen by the congregation to rule in the church through oversight on the session of elders. As the session of elders, the elders do the work of ministry exercising their authority in the churches.

Some ruling elders also excel in the gifts of teaching. In some of our CREC churches there is no distinction between an elder and a pastor. They are one and the same. In most of our churches, we recognize the difference in the office of pastor or minister as an ordained office requiring both more training and a higher expectation of service in the church. This often means the pastor or minister is set aside to full-time Christian service.

It is helpful if we view these men as gifts to the church. God has given these men to the church to bless the church.

3.    Edifying of the Body of Christ
If the saints are mature. If these men do the work of ministry, the result is that the body of Christ is built up, strengthened, edified.


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 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.
In this church we have people at all stages of maturity in Christ, from little babes to those who are seasoned with knowledge and experience. But the real measure of maturity is steadfast obedience. Paul is going to get to that in the succeeding chapters. But for now, he sees the connection to maturity in who Christ is, what He has done for us and our response to God’s work in Christ.
Are you in Christ? Then you are a new creature. The old creature was born in sin and controlled by sin. The new creature is born in the work of Christ and is renewed with might in the inner man to do the works of righteousness.
These are great distinctions.

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 
Keep in mind that list of questions I asked you about Jesus. Who is He? What has He done? What does it mean for us? I would add some more. What is the Bible about? What is the connection that runs through the entire Old Testament and the New? How does God work out His plans in real time? What does this mean for us at this stage of the church age?

If you cannot quickly and clearly answer the questions I just asked then you are immature in the faith. That is not all bad. We are called in one sense to have a childlike faith, right? We are to simply trust Jesus, the way a little child trusts his parents. But we don’t want to send an 18 year old out in the world with the simple trusting mind of an 8 year old. He is a mark for every shyster in the land. They know that there is a sucker born every day and they are looking for one to pull a fast one on them. Your children need to be brought up to wisdom so that they can stand on their own apart from your telling them every decision.
The same is true in our faith. We enter into Christ with a simple childlike faith. Good so far. But we don’t stay there. We do not trust every spirit. We test the spirits to see if they are from God. But how do we know? We learn the Scriptures. We learn what Christ has revealed in the world. We are not easily taken in because we are growing up into Christ. We learn Christ so that we tell the counterfit. We learn our shepherds voice and are not easily swayed. We grow up to solid food and don’t keep turning back to milk.

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

What is it to grow up into Christ?
Speak the truth in love- Folks, please pay attention. We are people of the truth. We should never be afraid of the truth, whether it comes directly from the Scriptures or from a wise and caring friend, spouse or child.
It has been said that the truth hurts. And it can. Truth has hard edges.

Truth says this is true and that is false.
Example- God is Trinitarian, Father, Son and Spirit- so Allah cannot be God.

Truth says that this is right and that is wrong- Example- A man and woman make a marriage and a man and man is a mirage. It is not simply somehow not the best or icky somehow, it is wrong in God’s eyes. It is sinful.

Truth speaks plainly and directly- Your behavior is sinful. You must stop getting drunk. You must not be angry with your wife and kids. You must stop gossiping or grumbling or complaining, about your husband, friends or family. You must stop complaining and start being thankful.
Truth is clear and not muddled- The truth of Christ is for all men everywhere. God’s ways and God’s truths are not relative. That is, true for some and not true for others in other places or other cultures. If fornication is a sin, then it is a sin in every culture in every country for every person on the Earth. If worshipping idols is a sin, then it is sin for the Hindu as well as the Christian. God’s truths are absolute.
God’s Truths are eternal- One way to say this is the timeless truths of God. God is not old fashioned. He is ever present and current, so is His Word. We live in an age that likes to think itself hip and modern. The President constantly refers to this as scientific. This is an attempt to downplay the ancient truths of God’s Word and replace them with an evolutionary relativity. It goes something like this. “That may have been true in the 15th Century, but science has shown us the light of truth for today.”
But God’s truths are not pushed around by the shifting sands of science. They are solid and steadfast. Science can help establish them but when science and God’s clear truths are in conflict, the mature Christian always stays with God’s truths. It is clear, not muddled, not bounded by time or science.

Truth has all of these aspects and we are not being mature if we hear these things and shrink from them. If we do so, we are afraid of the truth. We can be bold about the truth. We can stand fast on the truth. And we must stand on God’s truth and resist every form of a lie.
At times, this may look pig headed. It may look arrogant. It may look proud. But looks can be deceiving. If you are in submission to God’s Word and His truth, then you are not being pig headed, arrogant or prideful. You are willing to change your view if you can be shown that you have mistaken God’s view.
However, God’s puts a wonderful check on us in the way that we speak truth. To avoid a haughty use of truth, He commands that we speak in love.

But Truth does not just speak by itself.

It speaks in love.

Islam is a lie.
Homosexual behavior is sinful.
Complaining and grumbling is an offence to God.

But how do we say these things in love?
Islam is a lie, therefore we call on Muslims to turn from the darkness to the light of Jesus. Repent and receive the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The Homosexual lie is an ancient one. Some in the Scriptures were caught in it but turned to Jesus and were washed and healed. There is grace in Christ so come to him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle against continuing sins, drunkenness, anger, complaining, bitterness: there is grace in Jesus and a place of strength and maturity. You can be delivered from such sins and you can grow up into the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.

These are loving words and we should be pleased to speak them in the name of Jesus that me might be delivered from the lie and walk in the truth. If the body is able to speak the truth in love then they are growing up into Jesus Christ.
The truth in love is not defensive. It knows who it is. It is comfortable in its own skin. Because the body knows that its main goal is to love and please Jesus, then it is hard to offend and easy to forgive. That is the truth operating in love.

         So, let us heed these words and grow up in Christ.

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