This morning, I made a statement and I wanted to address the content of that statement more fully tonight.
This morning I tried to answer both these questions.
What does it mean to be an apostle of Jesus Christ?
Are there Apostles today?
This passage in Ephesians speaks more fully to this and is even used by those who would want to claim that apostles still do exist today.
wanted to deal with this one specifically.
We are going to begin in verse 10.
He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
We kind of pick this up in the middle of a thought but I want to start here because I want to spend some time here.
First, we see the grace of God in the fact that Christ descended.
He is speaking here of the incarnation. That fact that the Word became flesh.
Jesus descended from Heaven.
he came to bring salvation.
Just as important as his descending was ascension.
A lot of times, We focus on the things Christ did in his descending.
Living a perfect life. Dying on the cross. the resurrection.
but the ascension and where Christ sits now means that what Christ did in his descending was perfect and accomplished.
He sits victoriously in heaven.
This is what is called in theology as the Session of Christ.
“The session of Christ refers to Christ’s now sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty where he rules the church and the entire cosmos as Lord and King.”
From this position, he has sent the Holy Spirit to fill the church.
This is what he means here. He has ascended in order to accomplish the task of filling all things, and this comes through the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the church.
In other words, to put it more clearly: Christ has descended to ascend to rule and to reign in authority over the church and the universe.
One of the ways he does this is through the gifts he gives to the church.
He mentions some of these gifts in verse 11.
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
The gifts to the church are gifted people.
There are five types of people mentioned.
The first two Apostles and Prophets. Those two are foundational. Remember what I said this morning. These were given during and for a specific time in church history.
John Macarthur writes that apostles and prophets were given three basic responsibilities:
Laying foundation in the church.
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
They received and declared the revelation of God’s Word.
which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.
They were given the ability to give authentication and confirmation to the word through sign and wonders.
The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
Apostles and Prophets were specific to a specific time.
Now they remain gifts to the church. We still benefit from the prophets and the apostles. They were and are gifts to us.
But to allow for apostles and prophets today would be to allow for them all the rights and privileges of the apostles and prophets of that day.
This cannot be if we believe that the Bible is complete and should not added to.
An apostle has the ability to write Scripture. That doesn’t happen anymore.
This is why I would caution you or anyone when someone says “God told me...” “I have a word from God…”
If they aren’t telling you something Scripture says, God didn’t tell them that.
If he did, we open the Bible up for them to add what He told them because what he gives, he gives tot he whole church.
He has given evangelists- those who bring good news
He has given pastors- those who lead and shepherd through the Word
He has given teacher- those who teach the word.
And theres are purpose behind all of this.
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
The goal of God in gifting people is to build up the body of Christ.
For the equipping of saints for the work of service.
Here is where I struggle. My job as pastor is not to just do everything. My job as pastor is to equip the saints for the work of service.
There comes a point where the disciples goes and makes a disciple and that where we see discipleship has worked and thats the goal.
The goal of ministry is
Unity of the faith
Knowledge of Christ
Maturity to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.
Teaching then must be deep. it must deal with theological and practical difficulties. This is why we are studying this tonight. That doesn’t mean that the person teaching intentionally makes it difficult.
The mark of a good teacher isn’t that he can makes the easy seem difficult , but that he makes the difficult more easily comprehended.
Eating lunch with a group of pastors. (Put it on the bottom shelf and be passionate) People love it. They may but it doesn’t stretch.
Look what the goal is in verse 13.
We are to grow to the measure the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Why?
Because maturity in Christ means discernment of truth and lies.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
There is danger out there.
Preacher and pastors who are dangerous.
The majority of people on TV. They’re wolves in sheeps clothing.
The gaol is to be grounded in the truth of biblical doctrine.
This happens through the truth in love.
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
Speaking the truth in the hateful way in unbiblical.
I have to watch myself with this. At times its proper and right to be corrective in tone, but it should be spoken in love.
A love for the church and the people should permeate everything I say.
Its ok if Scripture offends. Its not okay if I offend.
Preachers can be Butchers and Surgeons- Both use a knife. One cuts to kill, the other to heal.
The goal in teaching and speaking truth isn’t to offend. its to grow.
And as individuals grow, the body grows in love as each part contributes to the whole.
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
You are needed.
Your service matters.
Where you are weak, the body is weak. The goal is strength as a whole. Building each other up in love.