Sermons

Summary: Christ is building His church through the ministry of His people.

Being the Church In Christ

Text: Eph. 4:11-16

Introduction

1. Illustration: A man called a pastor’s office at a church one day to inquire into membership in the church. He stated that he would not be able to get involved or anything, but he felt it was important to have some religious affiliation. The pastor advised this man that the church he pastored might not be the best fit for him, but he knew of a place where he would fit in quite nicely. The man asked about a phone number, but the pastor only gave him an address. On Sunday morning, the gentlemen followed the directions and pulled up into the yard of a dilapidated building. The roof was falling in, the doors were locked, and vines were growing into the windows. This gentlemen called the pastor and told him that he had given him the wrong directions. "Oh no," the pastor replied. "Not at all. That is the place. That church has a membership roll filled with people who did not want to get involved or committed. That is what will always happen to a church whose members do not care about its success."

2. That forces us to ask the question, "what is the church?"

a. Is the church a building?

b. Is the church an organization?

c. No, the church is comprised of the people in the church, and the success of a church is as good as the involvement of those people.

3. Jesus said, of Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ, "upon this rock I will build my church and the powers of hell will not conquer it" (Matt. 16:18).

4. Paul tells us that Jesus has made provision for His church.

a. He gave gifts to the church.

b. Those gifts have a purpose.

c. Those gifts bring results.

5. Read Eph. 4:11-16

Proposition: Christ is building His church through the ministry of His people.

Transition: Christ gave...

I. Gifts of the Church (11)

A. Gifts Christ Gave

1. Paul begins verse 11 by saying, "Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church..."

a. It is incredibly interesting what, or in this case whom, Paul identifies as gifts Christ gave His church.

b. In this context, these gifts are actually people who have been called to special functions.

c. The word gave means "to give an object, usually implying value" (Louw and Nidda, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).

d. According to the Greek, all the people listed are direct objects of “gave,” indicating that God gave these people to the church as gifts (Life Application New Testament Commentary)

2. Another interesting fact about this verse is that in other places in the New Testament, it is the Holy Spirit that bestows gifts on individual believers, but here it is Jesus that gives these gifts to the church as a whole.

a. 1 Corinthians 12:4 (NLT)

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

b. However, here it is Jesus who is the source of the special gifts to His church.

3. The first on this list is that of the apostles.

a. The term refers to "one who is sent."

b. An apostle was one who was called, commissioned, and given authority by Christ Himself (Adams, Full-Life Bible Commentary of the New Testament, 1062).

c. In fact, in the strictest sense of the word an apostle had to be an eyewitness of the risen Christ. Otherwise Paul’s own rigorous defense of his own apostolic office makes no sense.

4. The next office that Paul lists is that of prophet.

a. These people, also laborers on the church’s “foundation”, had special gifts in ministering God’s messages to his people.

b. At times they would foretell the future, but more often their job was to exhort, encourage, and strengthen God’s people (Life Application New Testament Commentary).

c. Acts 15:32 (NLT)

Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith.

5. The next office on this list is that of evangelist.

a. "Evangelists" form a group about which little is known (the word occurs elsewhere only of Philip at Acts 21:8 and of Timothy at 2 Tim. 4:5).

b. That evangelists were itinerants proclaiming the gospel is probably not correct. Paul urged evangelist Timothy to stay in Ephesus to build up the church there (1 Tim. 1:3), and the evangelist Philip had a house in Caesarea (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 204).

c. However, what is known about them is that they were people with a special anointing to preach the Good News to awaken their faith (Adams, 1062).

6. The final two offices on the list, based on the Greek sentence structure, seemed to be linked together - pastor/teacher.

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