Living the Kingdom Life

Ephesians 4:11-16

Each Wednesday at 6:30 PM we gather to open the Word and discuss its message.
His Mission, His Ministry
Ephesians 4:11-16
February 21, 2024
When we think about the Church, we sometimes miss the role we each are to play. If we go back to Acts, when the roles were not clear, people felt left out. The greatest gift we can give is to allow people to understand their role and provide all they need to accomplish what God is calling them to do. For some, it is teaching. For others, it is working behind the scenes. For some, it is hospitality and for others, it may be clean-up. We all have something to contribute and upon finding your role, you will feel more fulfilled. The Church needs to be like a sports program. Many young people go into sports with the dream of going pro. How does it happen? Besides talent, there has to be the desire. There also has to be those who are willing to help them learn the basics, develop their skills, which could include the position that best suits their make-up, and encouragers. Then, there have to be opportunities for them to use their skill. Put them in the wrong position and they will fail. Leave them on the bench and they get discouraged. Show them the right spot and they will flourish.
All of that goes into making a great team. In the Church, while we may use the phrase "team" to talk about leadership, we use "family" to talk about our relationship to each other. And in the family, we need to do everything we can to help each person succeed in their walk with Christ. And that means we help each other know where we are going and how to get there.
At Claremore Nazarene, we adopted a mission statement several years ago, but we just haven't been very vocal about it. It is simply, Love, Serve, Grow. And I would like the Apostle Paul to help us understand how that fits into the mission of God.
Read Ephesians 4:11-16
The background of this letter is that Ephesus is a major town in Asia. It had a large temple to the goddess Diana (one of the seven wonders of the world). Because of the temple and the many people who came to worship there, and because of the commerce generated by those who came, Ephesus became a major player in the financial world. One of the draws for people was that Diana (or Artemis) was a fertility deity. "As a fertility deity she was invoked by women to aid conception and delivery." She was also goddess of the wild animals and the hunt. (Encyclopedia Britannica).
The church at Ephesus, along with many had to deal constantly with those who worshiped other gods. Their worship, though often in a group, was an individual act. And so, Paul wanted the Church to be so unified that when they encountered those who served other gods or goddesses, they saw something they desired. Besides having their needs met, they could walk through tough situations with someone who cared about them. The church needed to be ready for them. So, Paul lines out specific roles for the leaders with the idea that they would teach others what they knew to help them grow into the roles the Lord had for them.
Here is what Paul said:
Vs. 11 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
The "he" in this passage goes back to the previous ten verses and they help us know that the "he" being referred to is the Lord who gives gifts and graces to each and every person and to some, He gives them more. These are all roles given by God and empowered by the Spirit, under the direction of Jesus.
What are apostles?
What are prophets?
What are evangelists?
What are shepherds?
What are teachers?
Even though the text adds an "and" there are some who are both pastors and teachers. And there are some who are great pastors, but terrible teachers. And some who are great teachers and terrible pastors. So, it is good to leave the and there as intended in the Greek and Aramaic. We can make an argument for both.
Vs. 12 – to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 
What are Paul's intentions in listing these roles?
What does it mean to equip someone?
Who are the saints (clue: hagios)?
What is mean by the work of ministry?
Knowing now what you know, how does equipping the saints for the work of ministry help build up the body of Christ?
Vs. 13 – 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,
The work of those ministering for the sake of Christ does not stop. It will never stop. When one is gone another should be right behind them. The work of the saints continues until we are all at a certain point.
What does it mean to attain?
What is the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and how do we know if we have gotten there, to the mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?
Vs. 14 – 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. 
This verse helps us understand the "why" of the previous verses. What does it say?
I thought Jesus said, "Let the children come unto me"? Why then do we need to be moved from being children?
The next part is we need grounded, so we are not tossed to and fro by the doctrines out in the world. How do we get grounded?
We need to build our defenses against human cunning. What does that mean?
And lastly, we must guard against craftiness in deceitful schemes. When we are in the Word and are in conversation with the Lord, He will help us recognize that which is trying to lead us astray. Many have been in a place where someone is talking, and this uneasiness comes over you. Pay attention, that is most likely the Spirit causing you to take a step back. Or there are times when something just doesn't sit right or feel right. The Spirit is giving you a warning. Trust Him. If it is a decision that needs to be made right now, take a night to pray about it. Making split decisions are not always the best decisions.
Vss. 15-16 – Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 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.
What does it mean to speak the truth in love? What truth? How do we do that?
The result of speaking the truth in love is that we all grow up to be as one, with Christ as the head. What is the benefit of being unified under Christ?
Every body works the exact same way. It does not matter what continent you may live on, what nationality you may be, or what your lineage is, every body operates the same way. Therefore, when we are in Christ, when our goal is to share Christ or to disciple, we must use the Word to do that. The Bible is the only book that meets each and every need. And when the Church uses the Word as its training tool, then aligns itself under the leadership of Christ alone, we can become one body with millions of different parts working together to accomplish one goal; reaching others for Christ and seeing His kingdom grow.
Our mission statement: LOVE Christ and one another into a relationship with each other to help GROW us into the people God designed us to be and into a body that glorifies God, which pushes us to SERVE Christ in various forms so that the body of Christ, the Church is built up.

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