Faithlife Sermons

(Eph 4:11- 12) Laboring in the Gospel: A Model of a Healthy Church.

Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:17
0 ratings
· 63 views
Files
Notes
Transcript
INTRODUCTION:
ILLUSTRATION:
I have some friends that I meet - who love helping people.
They have a passion for it.
Especially the hurting.
They are doers and givers
It was just a little while back … I saw on facebook them working at food center where they put together boxes for the needy.
ILLUSTRATION:
I have another couple that I know … who now are spending their retirement in Haiti.
The living conditions of Haiti have left many children as orphans and deaf.
And so -they are teaching sign-language to these children
And I could go on.
And if I was to open the conversation up … you probably know people like this.
The question I want to consider, however, is - Has ministry happened?
Can we call those things ministry - in the Biblical sense?
Which brings up the question -
- What is the work of the ministry?
AND
- Who accomplishes the work of the ministry?
What we answer and the way we answer it - has a massive impact on our churches.
It is why one person will say,
- that is an awesome church,
- while another person would say they are nominal Gospel Church
It is why one person will say,
that church doesn’t care.
And another person will say that church is all about Christ.
It is all bound up in -
What is the work of the ministry?
and who does the work of the ministry?
The reason Ephesians 4:11-13 is so important -
is because it literally teaches what kind of church we ought to be.
And by implication - what kind of Christians we ought to be.
This is why this matters for us as a church,
But also us as individual Christians.
So our text is going to help us ask two questions -

What is the work of the ministry?

And Who does the work of the ministry?

****************PRAY****************************************
CAVEAT:
Now I must admit … this morning text is primarily for the Christian.
If you are not a believer here … I encourage you to talk to us
and we would be glad to do a Bible study with you about the Gospel
… and why it is the greatest news you could ever here.
But this morning - I primarily direct our attention to those who are already Christians.
Also may I say as well -
Nothing I say today or any other day is directed against an individual.
I preach the passage the Lord lays on my heart.
And I preach what the text says - because it is what really matters.
So anything I say today or any other day is not an attack
… but a burden of my heart as I prayed about God’s direction for my Sunday Message.
Ephesians 4:11–13 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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,
Again - we are working through this passage backwards.
So - from Ephesians 4:12,

1) What is the work of the ministry? (Ephesians 4:12)

Our questions about what is true ministry .... are centered around the question
- what is truly the work of the ministry?
And what is not the work of the ministry?
And yet that is precisely the center of our text as well.
Ephesians 4:12 ESV
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
What is the “work of the ministry”?
I believe Paul is teaching us -

a) It is material and Spiritual work.

The word “work” is generally the word for labor.
It is the labor of the ministry.
It is what churches should be working at.
It is the tasks we should be doing.
The word “Ministry” here is the idea of service.
- It is the same root word as that found for deacons. (Acts 6:1-7)
Which there primarily referred to material service.
- But the term is not simply a term for materiel service.
- It is a general term for serving.
that would include both material and spiritual service.
For example,
Acts 6:4 uses the same word.
Acts 6:4 ESV
4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
(ministry of the word) - Clearly not material service.
2 Cor 3:8 describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit this way.
2 Corinthians 3:7–8 ESV
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
(Ministry of the Spirit)
And of Timothy's work in 2 Ti 4:5.
2 Timothy 4:5 ESV
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(fulfill your ministry)
All the same word … so it is a general word for service … denoting both material and spiritual service.
Further - we must understand the work

b) It is centered on the example of Christ.

When Paul says - the work of the Ministry.
We must understand this work centers on the example of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12 ESV
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
“for the building up the body of Christ”
The Word “For” describes the result of the work.
What is the intended to be the result of the “work of the ministry”?
Ephesians 4:12–13 ESV
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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,
We looked extensively at Ephesians 4:13 a couple of weeks ago.
______________________________________________________________________________
So let me just summarize the main point -
The work of the ministry is to result in the building up of the church into Christ likeness.
_________________________________________________________________________________
The work of the ministry is material and Spiritual service - with the goal and result of Christ likeness.
And Logically - this work of the ministry-

c) This necessitates a lifestyle of the “one another’s” and “loving our neighbors”.

As we consider -
What the work of the ministry is - we have to understand it as meeting
The materially needs of our church
Someone has to stock the supplies.
Someone has to print the brochures, pamphlets, and bulletins.
Someone has to vacuum the entry way of the church and take the trash out.
But especially in this context it includes -
The spiritual needs of our church.
Helping others come to Christ.
Helping each other grow in Christ.
Helping each other conquer sin in our life.
Helping each other through the difficulties and challenges.
And thus necessitates the importance of living out the “one another” commands and of “loving our neighbors”.
And I center on these because Paul points us to this.
What does it mean to do the “work of the ministry”?
Ephesians 4:1–3 ESV
1 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.
(bearing with one another in love)
Ephesians 4:15–16 ESV
15 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.
Notice how this passage begins and ends
- emphasizing the love for one another, and the growing into Christlikeness.
__________________________________________________________________________________
What is the “work of the ministry”? It is the material and spiritual service to one another, with the goal and result of growing into Christlikeness.
___________________________________________________________________________________
ILLUSTRATION:
We all have jobs … and so we understand labor.
Someone who is hired as a remodel contractor … does the work of remodeling.
They work day in and out remodeling bathrooms or kitchens.
They don’t really care about how your roof looks, or the framing of the house.
Because they labor in remodeling.
It is the same with us in our churches.
Our labor is working together, through material and spiritual service, with the goal of building up the body into Christlikeness.
We don’t necessarily care about meeting every need on the planet.
We don’t want to be a social club or community organizer.
It is not that we don’t care about people, pets, politics … you name it.
Its just is not our job.
Instead we labor in helping each other become more like Christ.
Whether that be through material or spiritual service.
We serve in both ways because that is the job of the ministry.
As we consider - what a Biblical view of the “work of the ministry” is,
may I challenge us to consider -
Are there parts that need to be cut out in our church, in our lives?
Or are there parts that need to be changed or refocused?
Because our job is not everything - but the work of the ministry.
We as a church … and especially as a small church >>>> must remain focused on the “work of the ministry”
We can’t be distracted by jobs and activities that are not contributing to the work of the ministry.
But now we come to another question -

2) Who does the work of the ministry? (Ephesians 4:11)

To me this is the most difficult question to ask.
- Not because the text is difficult.
- But because it so counter-intuitive to our culture.
We live in a day of extreme specification.
Before the 1800s - our Universities trained people to be generally educated.
- A basic understanding of the liberal arts was a given.
- And to be educated meant something … you were an educated person.
We now live in a society where an advanced education … doesn’t mean we have an educated person.
There are many people … who do incredible jobs.
But in the broad sense - are not really an educated person.
Oh they know there field really well … but they lack any understanding of the other academic fields.
ILLUSTRATION:
The revival of classical education is partly a response to this change.
I am not necessarily whole sale endorsing Classical education …
but the roots of classical education is a response to this micro-specification that has shaped modern education.
And Our churches have been impacted by this cultural shift.
Pastor’s have been looked at more and more as paid, professionals who do the work. Specialists you might say. The Expert.
And Pastor’s have often treated others like they are the paid, professionals who know what there doing … and church members are the ignorant people out there who are supposed to do what the doctor says.
Now if this was Biblical, we have nothing to discuss this morning.
But many Pastors and scholars have noted how the shift in our culture has shifted the model of church ministry.
(See notes, also Piper’s book, “We are not professionals, brothers”.
We can’t assume that are long-standing church ministries is automatically Biblical,
no more then the early Baptists could assume that the long-standing practice of infant Baptism was Biblical.
At some point - we have to ask the question -
is What I am doing Biblical?
how close does it conform to Scripture?
how does it not conform to Scripture?
Or the more Baptist way of saying this -
is what I am doing the same as the early New Testament church?
This passage helps us understand who does what - in the work of the ministry.
For some of us - we are not going to be surprised by what the text says.
But for others … this might be counter-intuitive to the way we often think about churches.
Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
REMINDER:
Now remember,
as we come into this question.
We have already said -
The goal of the work of ministry - is for us to mature each other in our faith, knowledge, and Christlikeness.
We must enter this discussion about who does the work of the ministry,
with the understanding of what the work of the ministry is.
Now,
Paul begins this section by telling us that God gave the church -
Apostles
Prophets
Evangelists
Shepherds
And teachers.
The Apostles were limited to those who actually saw the resurrected Christ. Particularly the Twelve apostles.
The prophets have ceased as the New Testament was established and the need for prophecy ceased.
The Evangelists is an interesting term.
It denotes someone who establishes churches, much like the Apostle. But without the Apostles authority.
The Biblical meaning of evangelist is closer to the idea of a missionary.
The Shepherds are people called to lead and guide Christians and the local church.
And teachers would refer to those who are apt to teach the Word of God.
Our Passage teaches us that God gave these kind of people to the Church.
And we might at first glance assume that these also are the people who do the work of the ministry.
But that is not actually what the text says?
Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
What role do these men have in the Building up of the body?

a) The Missionaries, Pastors, and Teachers are to equip the body for the work of the ministry.

The primary role of the leaders of the church … is to equip.
Equip here is like the idea of giving tools.
Missionaries, Pastors, and Teachers are tool givers.
And These tools primarily are not making sure the kitchen is stocked and the shed has snow shovels.
The flow of this passage makes it very clear,
The Missionaries, Pastors, and Teachers are to give the tools for the work of the ministry.
These tools might include a Biblical view of marriage, sanctification, and salvation.
These tools might include the modeling and teaching of good study methods, daily devotions, and prayer life.
These tools might include how to discern the will of God, practice the one another, and reach the lost.
And on a side note I would suggest this tool giving happens primarily through preaching and modeling.
Rather then missionaries, Pastors, and teachers being the one’s who accomplish the work of the ministry,
{{{{the paid professional. }}}}
They are gifts to the church,
which are meant to train and equip the church with the tools … for the work of the ministry.
They are primarily tool givers.
So then who does the work of the ministry?
And what might surprise us is -

b) The body is responsible for the work of the ministry.

Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Why are Pastor’s giving tools according to this text?
The word “for” denotes the purpose of giving tools.
The saints are given the tools … for the purpose of the work of the ministry.
In other words,
The bulk of the work of the ministry is to be done by the body.
While the bulk of the equipping is to be done by the Pastors, Teachers, and Missionaries.
Implication:
That means in a healthy church most of the work - the helping each other grow into Christlikeness … should be done by the body.
It is not say Pastors don’t help people grow … after all they are giving out tools.
It is not to say Pastor’s don’t ever help young Christians … because often they should be modeling to others how to do this.
What it is saying … is that the bulk of making disciples and discipling is done by the body.
And -
If most of the body is not preaching, then how does this happen?
If most of the body is not publically teaching, then how does this happen?
The implication is that a major component of the church growing into the full measure of Christ happens not on Sunday morning during the preaching,
but in one another relationships throughout the week.
CAVEAT:
Now Don’t read into this
I am not up here to condemn.
I am not here saying we have never done this, or we are not doing this at all.
I am up here, trying to add some categories
to help communicate an emphasis we need to have in our church.
A Basis for -
Why I believe that we need to find ways to better engage each other with the Gospel?
Why I think we need to not change what we are doing, but refine and refocus what we are doing?
As the equiper of the church,
I am trying to think of how I can help you better engage in the work of the ministry.
And I think - Ephesians 4:11-13 can help us better understand how to refocus this.
PERSONAL APPEAL:
It is because I love you, I love this church, and I love Jesus Christ
- that I challenge to really consider what this text teaches … and how Bethel might refocus it’s ministries to accomplish these goals.
This passage speaks boldly to the twentieth century church. Somehow, somewhere, an idea emerged and became very popular in the Christian community; so popular in fact, that it has now become almost an iron-clad tradition. It is that the ministry of the church is to be done by the paid, professional, theologically-trained clergy. According to this view, the whole purpose of the laity is to receive the benefits of ministry, in terms of preaching, counselling, comfort, and those other things that we seek to provide in the church. But the reason why certain gifts are given for leadership is to equip the believers for ministry. The church is to be a mobilized army … But in addition to ministering to the needs of people, leaders are called to train people, to give them the equipment, the tools, the knowledge and the skills necessary for works of service. The most effective churches that I know are churches where the ministerial staff devote many hours in training and mobilising their congregations to be mighty armies of saints, as they minister to a dying world. (R. C. Sproul)
I began this series by talking about
- the hymn - Onward Christian Soldiers,
- and how the local church ought to a mobilized army of many hands.
I challenge us to consider this text and together be that army.
Related Media
Related Sermons