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Summary: THE QUIENTESSENTIAL TEXT ON GOD’S DESIGN AND MANDATE CONCERNING: THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH; AND HIS ORDAINED STRUCTURE FOR FULFILLING HIS PURPOSE! IT IS ALSO GOD’S FORMULA FOR “CHURCH GROWTH.”

THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST

ACT II: The Mystery of The Body Unveiled

4. DIVERSITY IN UNITY (Eph. 4:7-16)

INTRODUCTION (important to use accompanying slideshow):

Have you, like me, ever wondered wondered how it is that a container made up of many, curved pieces of wood can be water-tight? And, who and how did anyone ever think to try this? I mean pottery and even hollowed-out logs had already been invented, why this?

Please allow me to briefly describe what is involved, as I believe that a water barrel is an excellent illustration for how and why God has designed and built the church! Pay attention and see if you can discover the connections.

First, each individual strip of wood, or stave, must be individually chosen and shaved according to the master craftsman’s precise specifications and plan. These stave are then assembled beside one another – even the top and bottom of the barrel are collections of individual staves. Next comes the most difficult and important part: binding the staves together so perfectly as to be literally water-tight. This can only be accomplished if all of the following occur:

1.Each stave is individually selected and shaved in order to perfectly fit together with the others on either side.

2.The staves are then carefully, but with the necessary pressure, fit together tightly and perfectly.

3.To ensure that the staves stay that way without even the most minute separation, they are bound and held firm by at least three strong, iron bands around the entire body of the barrel.

Only when all of this has been accomplished just so, can you have a truly water-tight and thus effective water barrel able to fulfill its created purpose - even against the tests of time!

With this understanding, let me ask another question: what determines how much water the barrel can hold? There are a few factors:

1.The number of staves used.

2.The tightness, or lack of separation, between staves.

3.The flexibility of the staves.

4.The length of the staves. Specifically, it is the SHORTEST stave which determines how much water the barrel can hold!

Did you figure it out? That’s right, the barrel is the church. The staves are its members, and the water is the fullness of the grace and power of Jesus Christ!

As we return to Ephesians this morning, we will look closely at what is THE QUIENTESSENTIAL TEXT ON GOD’S DESIGN AND MANDATE CONCERNING: THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH; AND HIS ORDAINED STRUCTURE FOR FULFILLING HIS PURPOSE!

IT IS ALSO GOD’S FORMULA FOR “CHURCH GROWTH.” (show slide of cartoon “Faith Boutique”) Oops, that’s not it! Perhaps we should just stick to GOD’S Word?!

THE WORD: READ EPHESIANS 4:7-16

A.)EMPOWERED BY GRACE FROM CHRIST (vv. 7-10)

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (v. 7)

ALL Christians have been endowed, by grace, with at least one spiritual gift. There are NO exceptions! EACH one of us has been empowered by Christ and called to play a special part in God’s plan!

These gifts and resultant roles are given by Christ and in perfect measure to what is expected of each one of us. Therefore, by His grace, each of us has all the ability/power/wisdom/etc. that we need to fulfill His purposes.

Therefore He says . . . He ascended . . . (vv. 8-10)

These special graces are given to us from the most awesome and all-powerful source!

The quotation in v. 8 is from Psalm 68:18.

Ps. 68 is what some may call a “Victory Ode.” It celebrates Almighty God as the conquering King and deliverer of His people. Within the psalm, it describes an incredible, victorious procession of 20,000 “chariots of God,” “thousands upon thousands” and the LORD God is there among them – leading at the Head (as represented by the sacred Ark of the Covenant)! Trailing behind are lines of captive prisoners. This great procession is making its way through Jerusalem and up to the temple mount to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and tribute to God for the great victory. This tribute is referred to as “gifts” and would be given as a portion (tithe) of the riches (literally in this case) God graced them their victory (and plundering). The verses that follow describe an anticipation of the final victory of God over all His enemies and the worship of God by the peoples of the earth that will follow.

Paul is directing us to Christ’s victory in His death and resurrection! The ascended Messiah and King has triumphantly returned to Heaven, having triumphed over Satan and the curse of Sin, delivering the captives! And in His ascension He is also distributing spiritual gifts to His people. What the people (we) do with these gifts (that is, our faithful stewardship) on earth is the choice we must each make and the responsibility we must bear!.

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