Growing Up (Ephesians 4)

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There once was an old fisherman who was an expert at catching fish. Many of the young fisherman could catch a few fish here and there, but no one could catch as many as the old fisherman. What was his secret? The casting methods of the old fisherman were similar to the younger crowd. Bait was bait, so there wasn’t any difference there. The old fisherman could catch just as many fish early before the sun rose as he could in the evening sunset. The young fellas copied all the methods and skills of the older fisherman, but they couldn’t repeat his success. What was the difference? The older fisherman understood simple math: the more lines in the water increased the prospect of catching more fish.

We hope today’s ministry fair will help us launch more lines. There is no question our Lord has commissioned us to fish (Mark 1:17; Matthew 28:18-20). And there is a vast ocean to explore and fish for souls for God’s kingdom. Yet, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37).

We have two aims for today’s message and post-message ministry fair. The first is to increase awareness of activity. We want our members to know the many ways we are serving our church and our community. Awareness can increase impact. Secondly, we hope to not only increase awareness but action. We believe as you see and hear of God’s work through our church that God’s Spirit will whisper His call upon your life. Every believer has experiences, desires, gifts, and passions that God has instilled inside of you. We must not let God-given dreams stay in asleep, but awaken them to the present. The time is now to see a great move of God at SPBC. We are praying you will join the movement.
Growing Up - Eph 4 - logo

EXAMINE           Ephesians 4:1-16

Ephesians 4:1 “prisoner for the Lord”

Paul wrote Ephesians from a jail cell, most likely when he was in Rome.

–        An ambassador, reflecting the one who sent them, was to receive immunity of hostility from an enemy kingdom. Yet Paul, an ambassador of the greatest king and kingdom, is instead imprisoned and chained.[1] Paul wants us to see that the Christian life can be unfair, but God still has a purpose. Further, Paul is modeling for Christians what it means to live in radical and sacrificial obedience to Jesus.

o   à We must not allow our circumstances to deter our calling..

o   à Another side note: Prison isn’t a death sentence, regardless if you’ve been jailed for wrongs or unjustly. Further, today there are 2.7 million children (1 in 28; 3.6%) who has a parent in jail; with 2/3 of those parents imprisoned for a non-violent offense.[2]  Like the Ephesian church, we must reach out in love to these impacted by prison.

–        If you become a member of a sports team or organizational club, you are accepting the privileges and responsibilities of that group. You will enjoy the perks, benefits, and blessings of becoming part of that community. Likewise, you embrace the work needed to promote and advance the cause of that community.

o   Boy Scouts sell popcorn. Girl Scouts sell cookies.

o   Athletic teams sell food for fundraising.

o   Clubs contribute to community service.

o   Citizens pledge to promote good and welfare of its nation.

–        Likewise, Paul writes Ephesians 1-3 to communicate the blessings and benefits of becoming part of God’s church. Ephesians 4-6 describes the character and responsibilities of those who are members.  Ephesians has been filled with indicative statements of the gospel with its implication of grace overflowing in your life. Yet, now come the imperatives (2:11; 4:1; 4:17; 4:25; 5:1, etc.).

Ephesians 4:1-3 “walk worthy…” Paul’s verb is περιπατέω (peripateo), which means to live. It is a dominant verb in the remaining of the Ephesian letter (4:1, 4:17; 5:2; 5:8; 5:15). Further, Paul’s command was to all believers (urge all of you / plural) and the churches as a whole (cf. also Col 3:12-14; Gal 5:22-23). There were at least four ways believers were to walk worthy of the gospel.

–        all humility (ταπεινοφροσύνη tapeinophrosyne)

o   implies “lowliness of mind” and humble thinking

o   Humility was not common or even cultural, as humility was unappreciated but rather ridiculed in Greek and Roman culture.[3] Yet, humility does reflect the heart of Jesus (cf. Php 2:5-8 with application of unselfishness).

o   Position and power are given to serve people not pride. Leaders especially are called to have eyes for those who are derided or disregard by the powers of the world.

–        gentleness (πραότης / praotes)

o   gentle = meek; power and strength under control (cf. Mat 11:29; 21:5; 2Tim 2:25; 1Cor 4:21).

o   Gentleness is a contrast to responding with inappropriate tone, insensitivity, harshness, threat, or violence. Christians must be different from how many react and respond in relationships. We should view people with a giant label wrapped on their body and life saying, “Fragile, Handle with Care!”

–        with patience (μακροθυμίας makrothumias = long suffering) bearing with one another in love

o   Long suffering reminds us the Christian life is not solely about an event but endurance, and especially so with relationships.

o   John Chrysostom said patience means “to have a wide and big soul”[4]

o   We apply patience when we show empathy… listening and reflecting from the other vantage point.

o   The length of our love will determine the level of our patience. Love isn’t just a feeling because emotions fade quickly. Love is a dogged decision to endure, despite any and all challenges.

–        eager to maintain unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

o   Paul writes to a church filled with ethnic diversity needing exhortation toward unity (Eph 1:10; 2:11-22; 3:1; 3:6; 4:2-4; 4:17; among other indirect unifying statements).

o   The gospel creates the unity, we maintain it. If we are not actively and aggressively maintaining unity then we are opposing the gospel. When we don’t have unity it is because we are promoting ourselves at the expense of God’s grace and glory. The church is to have “unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity.” In a time of a divided world, we need a united church.

o   But unity isn’t the goal by itself, but unity in Christ. In other words, unity is the aim unless it requires averting or abandoning truth. Sometimes, the best choice for unity is to differentiate.

  • From spinelessness that stomachs new truth. From timidity that tolerates half-truth. From conceit that considers it knows all truth. O God of Truth, deliver us.

o   Types of unity: theological, methodical/practice, relational.

Ephesians 4:4-6 “one body and one Spirit… called to the one hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

–        Emphasis of one reflects the image of God and God’s intention for His church. Further, Paul lists a seven-fold list to heighten the full and foundational of unity that comes through the gospel.

Ephesians 4:7-11 “grace was given to each one…”

–        While unity is essential, individual relationship and response to faith is equally valid.

–        Jesus’ return ascension to Heaven necessitated the giving grace of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to the church.

o   Paul is quoting Psalm 68:18, which is a messianic hymn promising God’s future and final victory. The psalm references a king who conquers his enemy and brings back the spoils of war, which in turn are given to soldiers to be used for the further advance of his kingdom.[5] See the connection? Spiritual gifts are the spoils of war that Jesus gives to us to further do battle and win the war against our enemy.

–        While God’s grace gifts to the church are spiritual for ministry purposes, it must not be overlooked that these gifts are people – people are gifts.

–        Romans 12:6 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us.”

–        Spirit inside > Jesus beside (Greear). While many today wish Jesus could walk beside us to inspire and influence our actions, Jesus’ teachings & NT practice affirm the filling of the Holy Spirit inside each believer gives greater impact (John 14:12; 14:26; 16:7; Acts 2:4; 6:3; 10:44-45; Eph 1:13-14; 5:18; etc.).

–        God gave “offices and function”[6] to the church

o   apostles: commissioned messengers

o   prophets: spokespersons for God

o   evangelists: heralds of good news

o   shepherd teachers[7]: pastors are shepherds of God’s flock to care, coach, correct (cf. Jer 23:18-22; Ez 34; 1Pet 5:1-2; Acts 20:17, 28).

–        Ephesians 4:12

o   for the equipping of saints καταρτισμός / katartismos = word means to restore something to its original condition; used for resetting of a bone (MacArthur) or refitting of a ship (Vincents).

o   for the work of ministry διακονίας / diakonias = service.

o   for building up the body of Christ οἰκοδομὴν / oikodome = word used for architecture and building up of a house.

–        Ephesians 4:11-16 is one long sentence carrying the idea that maturity occurs through ministry in the body. A Christian uninvolved in church ministry would not only be foreign to Jesus & NT Christianity, but would reflect extreme immaturity. So when we ask: How much should I be committed and connected to the church? The answer is: as much as you should be committed and connected to Jesus Christ, the Head of the church.

–        Ephesians 4:13 “… 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…

o   This time hasn’t arrived, therefore the gifts have not ceased

–        Ephesians 4:14-16 “… 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… speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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 is builds itself up in love.”

o   Contrasts

  • Infancy vs Maturity
  • Tossed vs Joined & Held Together
  • Deceived vs Truth

o   Purpose

  • A Christian and church exercising spiritual gifts protects itself from aimlessness.
  • A Christian and church exercising spiritual gifts protects itself from error.
  • A Christian and church exercising spiritual gifts promotes intimacy with Christ.

 

APPLY/THINK

SPBC 3 Passions & Priorities:

1)   Love God.

–        Salvation

–        Spiritual Growth

*Challenge in the church today is that we have a priceless salvation but unfortunately have pennies worth response. We have failed to grasp the greatness of God’s glory and grace and therefore our lives suffer, and so does the expression of the church.

 

2)   Live Jesus.

–        Serving others

* Challenge in the church today is valuing selfishness over service. Our comforts, pleasures, and time commitments revolve around ourselves rather than helping others in need. Indeed, like the airplane oxygen instructions, we must prioritize our own health to enable helping others, but we mustn’t forget to take the next step to give breath and life to others.

–        Further, every Christian is to be connected to a church… if you’re a Christian and not connected as a member at SPBC, what hinders you? Take your time and prayerfully consider God’s leadership, but don’t delay obedience or allow transitional circumstances to determine your calling before the Lord. At SPBC, our ministries reflect the church, therefore we do require membership before ministry in most areas. That doesn’t mean non-members cannot be present or shadow our volunteers in ministry, but that we don’t officially factor them in our ministry responsibility.

  • Would employers allow non-employees to represent them to customers w/o some level of contract agreement?
  • Would NFL team allow fans to play on the field?
  • Would you want your children’s schools to allow non-staff or contracted persons to enter to teach your children?
  • Likewise, SPBC raises the bar for who reflects us in ministry and is teaching our children.

 

3)   Lead generations.

* Challenge in the church today is viewing the church sent to cater rather than us sent to contribute.

 

–        Spreading the gospel

o   Local:

  • SPBC Children/Youth/Adults
  • Brightview
  • FPU

 

o   Regional

  • SPAN
  • Pregnancy Clinic
  • The Well

 

o   Global

  • BCMD / NAMB / IMB
  • OCC
  • MPNICA

VITAL TOGETHER

[1] Bible Background Commentary, Craig Keener, Eph 6:20.

[2] https://www.prisonfellowship.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/FAQs-About-Children-of-Prisoners.pdf

[3] Pillar NT Commentary, Peter O’Brien, Eph 4:2.

[4] Quoted in NIV Application Commentary, Klyne Snodgrass, Eph 4:2, pp.197.

[5] Ibid. Eph 4:7-8.

[6] Peter O’Brien, Ephesians 4:11.

[7] Pastor-Teachers are linked by a single definite article which suggest close association, but not necessarily the same function. So, all pastors are teachers even if not all teachers are pastors. – Peter O’Brien, Ephesians 4:11.

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