Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Ephesians 4
- As we’ve discussed and prayed over what to preach we realize there are a variety of ways we are able to communicate with you regarding the impact of the Corona virus on us all. We are looking at each sermon passage over the weeks ahead to prayerfully consider the way forward.
- With the amount of information and its constantly changing nature, we realize we cannot react to every update, but we are seeking wisdom on how to respond in a balanced and thoughtful way.
- To that end, we turn to Ephesians 4 this morning, a passage we studied together two years ago during our Ephesians series.
- Even in a time of social distancing and all the other realities this virus has brought to us all, we know God is still at work building his church.
- And as we will see in a parallel way from the passage before us this morning, we can give thanks and rejoice in this season regarding the diversity of people, in local, state and federal government who are using their diverse gifts and talents to unite us all together in seeing this virus come to an end. Each part is doing their part to serve the good of us all. That blueprint of diverse people with differing talents coming together in a united way is the same picture we see here in Ephesians 4.
- Beginning in Ephesians 4:1until 6:23 we enter a flowing river of specific expressions of what unity, what being one in the Spirit, ought to look like. It touches every relationship in our life.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
Walk in a Manner Worthy of the Calling to which You have been Called
- One commentator calls this section of Ephesians our “owner’s manual for the church.”
- Why Does Paul Need to “Urge”/ “Implore”/ “Beg”/ “Beseech”?
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge (beg-RSV, implore-NAS, beseech-KJV) you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… - Ephesians 4:1
- An Explicit Reason
- Recall from Acts 20 that Paul and the Ephesians had a great relationship. Do you remember why the elders were on the shoreline crying uncontrollably, unwilling to let Paul go? They loved him, and he them! They spent three years together. He wasn’t an itinerant pastor; he was a brother and a friend. He was family. They were heartbroken at the knowledge they would not see his face again until glory.
- Paul knows that gathered in the church at Ephesus are people with different ethnic, social, economic, cultural and even religious backgrounds. Those differences create different personalities and priorities in people.
- How do you get such different people to work together in a church, so that the church’s calling to display to the world the unifying and transforming power of the Gospel, where people can be incredibly diverse and, simultaneously united? Paul knows that lip service alone won’t show the world what it desperately needs to see!
“A central element in such a lifestyle is the harmony of our relationships with one another in the church.”
- An Implicit Reason
- Paul is calling for an eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit because he anticipates our unity with one another will get tested. Any of us with more than one child with a voice understands that you can barely pick a restaurant for lunch after church without the possibility of starting a caravan civil war, let alone unity on the scale of an entire church!
- Now we are in unprecedented times. We physically cannot meet together in one building. However, the unity and togetherness Paul is so desirous for the Ephesians to experience is not limited to being able to meet in a building!
- We are not a persecuted church right now, but there are parallels. The persecuted church has had to meet “underground” in very small groups, in all kinds of less than ideal ways, and yet has experienced the kind of unity and togetherness Paul is describing.
- This virus is testing all of us, the world over. That includes a testing of our unity, of our togetherness. So, what can we do? Today? Display your unity by:
- Make a phone call – give your voice and your ear to others
- Start a video community group where possible
- Share something with someone in need
- Make prayer calls
- Check in on a neighbor
- Send a card or letter in the mail
- As we receive updates and as we need flexibility to change as we need too, let’s not miss the very simple yet meaningful ways to show our unity, demonstrate our love and walk through this trial together!
- Now after this trial is over I do pray we see a renewed passion, fervor and devotion to gathering together! Wouldn’t that be something good that comes from all of this; if this season of testing led us to re-examine our priorities, use of time, what we treasure? Wouldn’t it be glorious if after this trial every Sunday service felt like Easter? But we don’t have to wait for the other side of this time of testing to display that we are united, we are together, we love one another.
- May God use this season to reawaken a fervor in us all to place the community of God at the center of our lives!
- Walking worthily of our calling, walking in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love, wrapped up in an eagerness for unity is a walk done together. “Together” looks different right now, but not impossible!
“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, on baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”
- It would be just like God to take a trial that is touching the entire Earth and use it for good for his people, for His Church. Let’s pray in these days for a revival of devotion to local churches, where organized sports and anything else takes a backseat to the priority and desire of gathering together…would a Psalm 42:4 kind of revival happen in hearts that have grown stagnant toward gathering together, where David recounted,
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul; how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts of praise, a multitude keeping festival. – Psalm 42:4
- Can you imagine? A throng coming across Winter Park Drive, from our overflow parking, coming into this place with glad shouts of praise, a multitude keeping festival!
We share in one body, but we each function in different ways, to build up the Church.
- Ephesians 4:7-16
- Jesus Has Triumphed (Ephesians 4:7-10)!
- Verse 8 is a direct quote from Psalm 68:18, which says,
You ascended on high,
leading a host of captives in your train
and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.
- After a conquest in the ancient world there was a receiving of tribute and a distributing of the conquered bounty. What conquerors took from their captives, they gave away to their own people.
- Jesus descended to the depths of humiliation in his incarnation and crucifixion, and by conquering sin and death, Jesus is exalted in universal authority and power. The result of that is that Jesus has bestowed, or, given to the church that he rules both the Spirit himself to indwell his people, but also the gifts of the Spirit to edify or bring the church to maturity.
- Jesus conquered, Jesus ascended, and from His exalted place, Jesus has distributed His presence and gifts to church!
- More so, Jesus has not homogenized us all into the same personality, talents and perspectives. Instead, Jesus takes our different personalities, abilities, gifts, and experiences and weaves them together in a local church.
- The beauty is that we have complementary strengths, weaknesses and personalities, so that what God intends can only be accomplished together!
- Jesus Gave a Variety of Gifts/Offices for Equipping and Maturing the Church!
- We believe all of the gifts that Jesus gave to the early church for its encouragement and edification are still available to the church through all ages, until Jesus returns. We see them as essential to the life and health of the church.
- There are a variety of gifts that display the diversity of God’s gift and that though we are one body, we are comprised of many parts.
- There are at least five passages in the New Testament that display the diversity of gifts. We are focused on only the gifts described here in Ephesians 4, but the gifts of Ephesians 4 are not all the gifts God has given to the church through Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:8–10
1 Corinthians 12:28
1 Peter 4:11
4. Gifts of healings
7. Distinguishing between spirits
9. Interpretation of tongues
1. Whoever speaks
2. Whoever serves
- As an eldership we have been diligently working on concise definitions of the gifts and offices, as well as how they function in our local church. For this morning I simply want to reiterate our conviction that all of the gifts, including the 5-fold ministry of Ephesians 4, are still operating today, and will until the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.
- There are varied perspectives on some of these gifts and offices. Some believe there is no longer any practical function for any kind of apostolic or prophetic ministry. We believe every gift, apostolic and prophetic gifts included, though functioning differently today, will all be used of God to equip the saints for works of ministry and encourage His church until He returns. We do not want the misuse or abuse to lead to no use, but rather to a redeemed and correct use. We also recognize some of have had bad experiences that have made it difficult to see God’s good purpose in the exercise of a particular gift. Our hope is you see the gifts as God intended here at MLC.
- Our conviction is that the more these gifts function, the closer we will be to God’s biblical model for church leadership and equipping, which in turn will make us a healthier church. We want to not only recognize or assent to these gifts; we want to cultivate and honor these roles as gracious gifts given to us from our exalted Lord Jesus to get us all ready for our forever with Him!
- Why has God given apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists to his church? God intends to build his church through the grace gifts he has given to the church by His Holy Spirit and through His Son!
- Jesus Gave the Gifts for Unity, Maturity and Growth in Love (Ephesians 4:12-16)!
- Equip the saints for works of ministry (12)
- Leadership’s primary purpose in the church is not to do all the works of ministry, but instead to equip the saints for works of service to build up the body!
- Build up the body of Christ (12)
- Nourish, cherish, encourage, make much of, celebrate others!
- Unity (13)
- God does not intend that we get blown about by every wind of doctrine or by deceptive teaching. God has graciously given us gifts to unite the church, making it possible for us to be of one mind in the truth we hold so dear.
- Maturity (14)
- This is God’s aim for us., that we grow up in every way. God’s purpose is that we all together would experience the full measure of the transforming influence of Jesus. We need one another for that.
- Stability/Integrity (14) “A new wind blows through each year, a hurricane every few years.”
- Tragically, many deceptive teachings are going out surrounding Corona Virus in different parts of the world, where deceptive teachers request money or promise how God will respond.
- The gifts Jesus gives to His church serve for such a time as this. Leadership is the need of the hour; stable, humble, service-oriented leadership that steadies the church.
- Love! (15)
- Speaking the truth in love is how we become corporately like Christ and take on the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Speaking the truth in love is HOW we build the body up.
- Have you ever thought that the phrase, "speak the truth in love," meant, "Tell it like it is, but softly." So, we just say the hard things but in love.
- Well, that may be part of the meaning here, but the context is first all about doctrinal truth—truth about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit.
- Paul's great concern is that as we grow into corporate Christlikeness, we are not to be babes who are blown around by every wind of doctrine. So, the issue is stability in true doctrine so that we will not be deceived by false doctrine. But none of that will matter without love! The aim of it all is love, first for Jesus, and then one another. Our aim is not to be right, but to build one another up!
“…when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:16
“Like a human body, the church is held together with joints. Only when every part is working properly does healthy growth take place. But where there is a wise and nourishing ministry of the Word it will happen. And it will do so almost like a youngster growing to maturity in his or her own body – which seems to ‘grow itself’: the body builds itself up in love…
where, under the ministry of the Word, truth and love go hand in hand, growth is assured and grace prevails.”
- What is your part? Do you know that you matter; you are vital?
- Is your local church an integral part of your life? How can you demonstrate that even today?
- Right now, we are providentially hindered from meeting together? As we take advantage of simple ways to demonstrate our love and devotion to one another in this time of trial, might this season also be a time to evaluate what or how we might do in a renewed way after this season of trial passes? How might we all reach the other side of this virus with a stronger vision for the difference it makes when we walk together?
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” – Romans 12:5-6
 Sinclair Ferguson, Let’s Study Ephesians, p. 99
 Eugene Peterson, The Message
 Sinclair Ferguson