Equipping - The Key to a Multiplying Body - Part Two
In our last study, we considered how our resurrected Messiah was the:
I. The Sovereign Dispenser of Grace –
We saw how Jesus the Christ-
(1) Came Down in Grace - Eph. 4:9-10;
(2) Went Up in Glory - Eph. 4:8-10;
(3) Gives Out Gifts - Eph. 4:10b
Today we will consider:
II. The Specific Design of the Manpower Gifts
1. To Equip the Saints to do the Work of the Ministry – 4:12
Ephesians 4:11-12 in the King James Version says: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"
Three commas are inserted into the text. Why? What prompted the King James translators to insert these three commas in this sentence? It wasn’t because the Greek text mandated commas here. The original Greek text did not use any punctuation marks. They did so based upon the method that the Church, as a whole, had been functioning with for 1700 years. These 3 commas supported their understanding of who was responsible for doing the work of the ministry.
The three commas created two classes of persons in the church, the clergy and the laity, the minister, and the members. It divided life into the sacred and the secular. Institutional church work on Sunday was considered sacred and laymen's work during the week was labeled secular. It created two callings a higher verses a lower calling, or a sacred verses a secular calling.
What Paul says in 4:12 is a watershed text for the doctrine of the Church. It effectively eliminates the traditional model of the local church that has been in place for almost 1700 years. That model is to view the ministry of the Church as being like a "pyramid”, with the pastor perched precariously on its pinnacle, like a little pope in his own church, while the laity are arrayed beneath him in various ranks of inferiority. It also shoots down the model of a "bus, in which the pastor does all the driving while the congregation are the passengers slumbering in peaceful security behind him."
Because of the unsanctioned division of labor, the church has developed two major “employment" problems and the two problems constantly support each other, thus making the situation steadily worse.
The first employment problem is that of the UNEMPLOYMENT of the Majority of the PEOPLE of the local church body.
The second employment problem is that of the UNDEREMPLOYMENT of the PASTORS. The typical pastor in today's church is overworked, but underemployed! You would think I mean over-employed, but they are over-worked, yet giftedly under-employed. Why? Because they have misread the text using the commas. As a result, they are not doing what they were given to the Body of Christ to do – equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
A recent Southern Baptist Lifeway study revealed that nearly 90% of active, church-going evangelicals have never once shared their faith with someone outside of their family. Only 20% of churches in the US are growing, and only 1% are growing by reaching lost people.
The New Testament teaches that every believer is a minister, servant, and priest of God. Every believer is called to ministry and all God's people must be equipped to minister. Every believer receives grace for ministry. Therefore spiritual gifts must be identified and developed to God's glory. Leadership must grow out of discipleship.
Getting back to the first subpoint “equipping the Saints to do the Work of the Ministry”, focus your attention on the word "equipped" and the Greek word is "katartismos”, we get our English word, "artisan". An artisan is a "skilled craftsman."
Thus, the business of the five-fold gifted persons is to turn every available believer into an absolute skilled craftsman in handling, understanding, living by, being dominated by, ministering with, etc., the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God for the making of disciples of God that will extend the glory of God, until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God. approximately three years.
2. To Edify the Body of Christ for Maturity – Eph. 4:12b - "...for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
The “building up” of the body (a term that Paul probably borrowed from the architectural figure of Eph_2:21-22) involves its growth to full maturity, to the dimensions of a “perfect man” says the KJV, but the ESV gets closer to what is meant by referring to “mature manhood.”
3. To Express and Extend the Life of Christ by Multiplication – Eph. 4:13, "...till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;"
The unity of the faith is effectively the same as the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3) which the readers have earlier been exhorted to preserve; it is the unity which binds together those who share the common faith in Christ. It is by faith that the people of Christ are united to him, and in being united to him they realize their own unity one with another. The “knowledge of the Son of God” is that personal knowledge of him which comes through experience.
III. The Scriptural Disciplines for Meaningful Growth
- Avoiding Growing Old in the Faith without Growing Up in the Faith – Eph. 4:14
"that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting," Just as in natural life, one can grow old without ever really growing up in life, so in the spiritual, one can grow old in the faith and never really grow up to become reproducers of the faith. (Reproduction is a result of maturity)
2. Immaturity must be Confronted – "be no more children" - Children are gullible and easily deceived. False teachers can creep in and toss them around. They prey on the gullible, saying things like:
Children must be taught as they grow up. We enter the Christian life as babies, but we are to grow through the Word and the Spirit, coming to us through other disciples who are at least a half a step ahead of us. We are to be discipled until we ourselves become disciple-makers.
3. Instability must be Corrected – "tossed to and fro" - Those who do not mature in the faith are targets of deceivers, who are effective precisely because they operate with trickery and cunning craftiness - and they lie in wait to deceive. They are out there like land minds that the mature can avoid.
a. Gullibility must be Changed - "by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."
b. Speaking the Truth to One Another in Love by Passionately Pursuing Christ – the Head, the Lord, and Lover of our souls! – Eph. 4:15 – "but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—" Paul's point in verse 15 is to keep the saints from being carried and tossed about by false doctrine. This requires speaking the truth. The word literally means "truthing." Instead of listening to false teaching, the Ephesians were to speak the truth to one another. The way this was to be done was in love.
c. Functioning Consistently in Interdependent Relationship in the Fellowship of the Church for Meaningful Growth – Eph. 4:16 – "...from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."
- The Body of Christ is to Function Harmoniously - "from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly,"
- The Body of Christ is to Function Helpfully - "makes the body grow"
- The Body of Christ is to Function Humbly - “so that it builds itself up in love."
Power for producing mature, equipped believers comes not from the effort of those believers alone but from their head, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Col_2:19).
Godly, biblical church growth results from every member of the body fully using his spiritual gift, in submission to the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with other believers (cf. Col_2:19).
It is wise and good to be health conscious - taking care of our physical bodies. But let us be more concerned about the health of the body of Christ. May our local church bodies be marked by spiritual unity, spiritual diversity, and ever-increasing maturity.
other sermons in this series