"GROWING UP INTO CHRIST"
(A Series on Ephesians)
C.R.3/29/87a.m. Ephesians 4:1-16
PROPOSITION:The purpose of God for His church, that
Jesus died to redeem, is that she walk in the call of God, keep the unity of the Spirit, and be equipped under the administration of His grace gifts, for the purpose that she grow up, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.
- OUR home has some basic ground-rules that we follow and we expect our two girls to follow;
* The first has to do with spiritual values. We believe that loving and obeying Christ is THE most important ingredient in life......above social activities......above......above possesions.....above education......above everything. And we try to live that out in front of the girls, and we structure their lives accordingly.
* When it is bedtime.......we are leading them in time in the Bible and in prayer. How else will they learn that it is a priority that is life and death?
* When there are age-appropriate activities here for them to learn from and enjoy fellowship with other Christian children.......they'll be here.
* When they start getting allowances....they'll learn about tithing.
* When Rita and I are here to worship and study God's Word on Sunday night, as a family, they will be here.
* The next ground-rule has to do with attitudes. We discipline as much for attitudes as anything else.
* Temper tantrums are not tolerated nor are they ignored.......hopefully in a calm, consistant and loving way we spank for tantrums.
* Speaking harshly or negatively to each other is not allowed.
* Sulking is not allowed.
* Smiles and laughter are mandatory.....we do laugh a lot together.
- I COULD go on and on with the basic that we are shooting for in our home.
- AND believe me, our home is far from perfect.
- BUT what I am driving at this morning is that obedience is not really an alternative....nor is it ever going to be.....and we are fortunate to be starting early with our two. (By the time they are teens it is too late to crack down then and expect much success.)
- RITA and I expect obedience for two main reasons.
* One, contrary to what Planned Parenthood believes, we as Vanessa and Kathryn's parents know what is best for them and their development. (That's why I am 38 and they are 7 and 5)
* Secondly, we expect them to obey because of the investment that we are making in their lives. Now that may sound pretty old-fashioned but I don't care.
* Vanessa cost me my Jensen Healey....we didn't have a maternity rider on our medical insurance at the time Rita got pregnant. (The urologist had told us that we couldn't have children.)
* They cost me money to feed, to clothe, to educate, to entertain, to house....and in return for the privilege, while they are taking advantage of those benefits, I expect them to obey the rules of the Rowlands house.
- I AM not saying that my love for those girls is conditional....I love them when they obey and when they disobey......we try to teach them that.
- BUT I am saying that I expect obedience because of the investment I am making in their lives and future......it is the responsibility that goes with the privilege.
- WE are the family of God.
- CHRIST died on the cross, paying the price for our sin, so that we could, by faith, become members of the family of God.
* He was cut off from the Father by our sins that HE bore.......never before in eternity had that happened. They were inseparably one until He became sin on our behalf.
*He was spit upon for us.
* He endured the scourging of a whip braided with wire and bits of iron and glass......to purchase your healing.
* Your sins and mine nailed Him to the cross.
- WE carry His Name....adopted as sons and daughters according to His pleasure......Ephesians 1:5 tells us.
- WE live in His benefits;
* Our sins are forgiven.....removed as far away from us as the east is from the west.
* We have been given the Holy Spirit as a guaranteeing our inheritance. (1:14)
* We have been given wisdom and the revelation of God so that we may know Him. (1:17)
* We have been given hope. (1:18)
* We have been made alive with Christ. (2:5)
* We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. (2:6)
* We have been given access to the Father through Jesus, by the Spirit. (2:18)
* We have been given power in the inner man. (3:16)
* He is able to do in us and through us, "immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." (3:20)
- ALL this and more, because we are the family of God by faith in the blood of Christ.
- ALL this is family privilege......only for those who carry the name of the Father by faith in Christ.
- THAT is great! We praise the Lord for it all! We will probably never realize the full benefit of being in the family untill we get to heaven.
- OUR worship centers on the glory and benefits of God our Father.
- OUR new prayer outline starts with honoring the covenant names of God...whose we are....Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jehovah M'Kaddesh, Jehovah Shammah, Jehovah Rophi, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Nissi.
- WE lift our voices and our hands to Him in praise! We are His children.
- BUT, just like with Vanessa and Kathryn, there comes a time for obedience.
- THE high privilege of being family calls for a high obedience......the two go together. They are inseparable.
- TURN with me to Ephesians 4:1-16.
- AS we examine this passage together this morning you will see how Paul transitions from privilege to obedience.
- HERE'S where the rubber meets the road saints!
- THE first response to the privilege of being family of God....is to live in the call.
- PAUL says, in view of the high privileges of being family with God, here is one call that goes with the territory.
- IT is the call of God to the family Christ died to save....a family that He will have walk in obedience.
- PAUL says this family has one call.
- HE identifies five elements to living in this call in verses 1-3.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
- LET'S look at these five elements of the call.
1.BE COMPLETELY HUMBLE
* The Greek word that Paul used here for "humble" doesn't mean putting yourself down.
* It means the recognition of the worth and value of other people........the kind of attitude that led Christ to empty Himself and become a servant.
* This kind of humility is indepensible to unity in the Body of Christ. The greatest single source of discord is pride.
* Who are the people that we instinctively, immediately like and get along with? Those who give us the attention and respect that we feel we deserve.
* Who are the people in God's family that we immediately, instinctively hate? Those who treat us like dirt.
* So what is at the heart of most relationships? Our selfish pride.
* If, instead of manoeuvring for the respect of others, we give them our respect by recognizing their their God-given worth......we will be walking in the call.
* The second element of the call is gentleness.
* It is not some milk-toast attitude, but the word in the Greek was used to describe a domesticated animal.
* It is NOT a synonym for "weakness".
* It means "the gentleness of the strong", like a broken-in Clydesdale horse....whose massive strength is under control.
* It is the absence of asserting personal rights either in the presence of God or man.
* Patience is love in action and kindness towards aggravating people.
4.BEAR ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE
* This is the love that overlooks the inevitable irritants between the people of God who are working and living, together, in Christ.
* The final element of the call is love....agape love which is a living commitment to the highest good in each others lives......and for the very best in the community of Jesus, the church.
- THESE are the five basic elements of the call of God on His church.
- WHERE these are absent, no unity can stand in family, in relationships, in God's house.
- WHERE they are practiced, the visible church of Jesus will prosper.
- THE high call we live in demands this high walk of obedience.
- THE second response to the privilege of being family of God is a zealous pursuit and promotion of unity in the family of God......it is the very least that we can do.
- PAUL says in verses 3-6;
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
- THE word "one" is used seven times in these four verses......three of them refer to the three members of the Godhead......the other four refer to our Christian life flowing from the trinity.
- THERE is one body because there is one Holy Spirit.
* Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13;
"For we were all baptized by One Spirit into one body....."
* Black and white and rich and poor and weak and strong who come to Christ are glued together and held together by the Holy Spirit.
* He indwells and animates the body of Christ today.
* Our common possession is the Holy Spirit.
- THERE is one hope, one faith, one baptism......because there is only one Lord Jesus Christ.
* It is Jesus Christ in whom we have faith for salvation.
* It is Jesus Christ into whom we have been baptized.
* It is Jesus Christ's soon return that we are waiting for with hope.
- THERE is one family, taking in all the "whosoevers" that will come, because there is one God and Father...who is above all and through all and in all.
- THE unity of the church is as indestructible as the unity of God because it is founded and built upon God Himself.
- IT is just a matter whether we, His children, will line up with the unity or be a part of family dissension.
- THAT'S why Paul tells us that we must "make every effort to keep the unity".....to maintain it visibly.
- "SPARE no effort!" he says. "Involve your will, your sentiment, your reason and your physical strength."
- THIS is a high priority for God....we had best make it a high priority if we want to be in His will.
- WE must be eager for love, unity and peace in the body of Christ.....at whatever personal sacrifice.
- THE third response to the privilege of being family of God is to come under one administration.
- PAUL says in verses 7-12;
"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.'(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...."
- THE first and exciting principle that I want you to see in the administration of God's church is that everyone has a gift. (verse 7)
- CHRIST descended to this earth from the right hand of the Father.....and, after His work on the cross was done, He ascended to the right Hand of the Father once again to distribute grace gifts......to every member of the body of Christ.
- WHO gives the gifts? Jesus.
- WHAT were the grace gifts?
* Verse 11 says that some of them were given for the administration of the Body of Christ. (There are 29 different gifts listed between Romans 12, I Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.)
* What were these gifts given for the administration of the Body?
* Apostles.....while there are not apostles in the same sense that the 12 who had see Christ were sent out to plant churches and write scripture......there are some today who have an apostolic anointing.
* They are the ones who have the vision and anointing to plant churches and do missions in unchartered parts of the world.
* If there are some in the local church with this calling they need to be sent out.
* Prophets.....Men and women who understand the times we live in by the Spirit.....who speak out against sin in the church with special anointing....who encourage and build up the church. Men like Dave Wilkerson and Leonard Ravenhill and women like Corrie TenBoom have a prophetic anointing on their ministries.
* Some in the local body will have a measure of this calling. (Not speaking of personal prophesying....."what is the Lord saying to me?")
* Evangelists.....Men and women who have a special call and anointing in winning the lost with great success.
* We are all called to be witnesses, winning the lost to Christ.....but there are some who are God's gift to the church for the work of the evangelist.
* Pastors and teachers. These are the ones who lead and feed the flock....giving leadership and teaching the Word. The local church moves forward by the Word or it doesn't move at all.
- WHY were these grace gifts given to the church?
- THE answer is found in verse 12. It says that they were given to prepare God's people for works of service.
- APOSTLES, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are given by Jesus to the church to;
* Pray for the sick.
* Reach the lost in the city.
* Disciple the new believers and the weak.
* Care for the needy.
* Visit the hospitals and prisons.
* Counsel the oppressed.
* Encourage the depressed.
- THAT'S the work of the pastors, prophets, evangelists right?
- IT is the work of God's people.
- THE church of Jesus today has got it all backwards......we are thousands of people, desparately needing spiritual exercise, like an upside-down pyramid, sitting on the pastor at the shaky point of the pyramid.....wondering why the church is not what it was in the book of Acts.
- AND whenever this subject comes up in America, the preacher is suspected of trying to get out of work.....because unless he prays for the sick they havn't been prayed for.....if he doesn't visit the hospital they havn't been visited.....if he can't counsel they havn't been counseled.
- WHAT does the Bible say about who does the work of the ministry? God's people!
- WHAT does the Bible say that the pastors, teachers, evangelists and prophets are to be doing? Preparing God's people for the work of the ministry?
- HOW do we do that? By spending hours with God in the Word and in prayer and in training God's people for the ministry. (That's what the apostles did in Acts 6. They bowed out of the nitty gritty of ministry. So they could get out of work? Never! So they could devote themselves to the Word and prayer.)
- YOU desperately need me devoted to the Word and Prayer. I love you and would want to be with each of you whenever you needed me.....but that would be disobedient to the Word and my call...and the vision God has given this body.
- YOU are the ones that Jesus has gifted to do God's work.
* We have Sunday School to get you grounded in the Word.
* We have School of Ministry to equip you with tools for ministry.
* We have the pulpit to point you in the vision God has given the local Body.
* We have Care Groups where you can be cared for and start to minister in your gift.
* We have ministries of all descriptions where you can be used......SO THAT THE BODY OF CHRIST MAY BE BUILT UP.
- THERE is only one reason that I am excited about preaching this passage....so that you can catch the vision for God's way in the church.
- SO you can flow in that vision with joy.
- IF I do what the traditional model for the pastor says....I will be disobeying God for my life and you will be the worse off for it.....because you will be robbed of the richness that God has for His church in action.
- WHAT is the one purpose of the church that in responding to the privilege of being family of God.....in all that we have discussed this morning?
- TO GROW UP INTO THE WHOLE MEASURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST. (vs13-16)
- PAUL says;
" until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
- THAT is the most important purpose of the believer and the church.
- ONE call.
- ONE faith.
- ONE administration.
- ONE purpose.
- WILL you accept these truths this morning?
- WILL you adopt them as a life-style committment?
"WE'RE THE FAMILY OF GOD"