Summary: Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4. As I was preparing for what I would teach on this Lord’s Day, I really felt this passage was essential and formative, and little did I know that Pastor Dale has already taught through some of the truths in this
Eph. 4:11-16 Sermon– Get into the game
(Preached by pastoral candidate Phil Layton on Sept. 3, 2006)
Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4. As I was preparing for what I would teach on this Lord’s Day, I really felt this passage was essential and formative, and little did I know that Pastor Dale has already taught through some of the truths in this passage not too long ago. As a firm believer in God’s sovereignty and providence, I don’t assume this overlap is by mere accident or coincidence, but is a passage that God really wants us to get and I hope this will supplement or at least complement what your pastor has taught. Rather than being redundant, I trust this will be a reinforcement and reminder and refreshed look at this foundational passage on what the church is to be and do.
Next month marks the 50th Anniversary of my home church, which has endeavored to make this passage its life verse and mission statement. In fact the words of Eph. 4:12 are printed on the wall of our main church office.
John MacArthur has said: “If there is one passage in all the Bible that has had more of an impact on the formation of Grace Church than any other, it is this text. This passage really defined what we are as a church.”
This passage has also meant a lot to me personally – I chose to devote myself to studying it one semester, and my wife and I really shaped a lot of our thinking and mindset for ministry and our place in the body based on this passage.
KEY QUESTION: What is the purpose of the church?
What is YOUR purpose in the church?
I’m really convinced that this is a revolutionary passage with ministry-shaping, life-transforming truths, and for many people a whole new paradigm. The simple principles in this passage are absolutely essential for any church, and I believe every one of us needs to hear again and live more in light of this message from the living God.
Proposition: Every person in this room has an important role in serving, ministering, and building up the body of Christ to maturity, Christlikeness and the right balance of truth and love.
I came to the Master’s College because I had a chance to play college basketball at a smaller Christian college. I was a “walk-on,” bench-warmer, third-string practice player, but it didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t a star or on the court – I worked hard in practice to make others better, was the chief towel waver on end of bench during games, it was such a blast just to be there regardless of my role
- Got cut from team next year, devastated, had to work as “assistant manager” (a.k.a. waterboy and laundry guy, cleaning the guys sweaty uniforms after practice, cleaning up their lockers, etc.)
- Different responsibilities during game: setup locker room beforehand, video (hard to sit in booth quietly or in stands), etc. To be away from action was brutal
Some things I learned were:
2. That every part is important
3. That I can help team even if I’m doing what they need rather than what I would choose (video, water, towels, uniforms ready, etc.)
POINT: If I can apply this analogy / illustration to Paul’s message in these verses, it would be this: Every person is on the field level or court level – NOBODY in the church is to be a spectator, sitting back in the stands or bleachers. There are certainly some with more visible or upfront or center stage roles, while most are behind-the-scenes, many are helping from the sidelines, some go onto the court during timeouts to clean it up, some are running the scoreboard, some are in the support band, many are not the star, but every person is crucial. The point of our passage is that every single person is a vital part.
Verse 11 discusses the gifted people God gave to found and build the church
The Apostles and Prophets are the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20), a unique and limited number of people with supernatural and miraculous abilities and gifts that God used to reveal and confirm the message of Christ and to write scripture.
The ongoing building of the church:
§ Not limited to traveling, itinerant ministry, as indicated Paul’s charge to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5) in the context of an established local ministry.
§ Illustration: Thousands at crusades who walk an aisle but are never accounted for in any church in the area. Goal of many is to “make decisions” whereas Christ’s Commission is to make disciples
2. Pastors / Teachers
§ Comes from Latin “pasture” – refers to someone who tends sheep on a pasture.