Summary: In Ephesians 4:15-16 we learn one more way Christ grows his church.
We are currently in a series of sermons in Ephesians 4:1-16 that I am calling, “Unity in the Body of Christ.”
In this section of Scripture, the Apostle Paul has been teaching the church to maintain unity, to use their spiritual gifts, and to grow in spiritual maturity. In other words, he has been teaching them how Christ grows his church. Today we shall conclude the section on how Christ grows his church.
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 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, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 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. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Someone once said, “The church is not a gallery where we exhibit the finest of Christians. No, it is a school where we educate and encourage imperfect Christians.” Christians in the church of Jesus Christ are at all levels of spiritual maturity. Some have just been born again, and they are babes in Christ. Others have been Christians for a relatively short time, and they are growing fast. Others have been Christians for decades, and some of them are still babes in Christ. The goal for every Christian, however, is to grow in spiritual maturity, or, as Paul put it in Ephesians 4:15, “to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
Today, I want to conclude our teaching in Ephesians 4:7-16 about how Christ grows his church. But, before we get into today’s lesson, let’s briefly review what we covered last time.
Ephesians 4:7-16 teaches us how Christ grows his church.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Foundation for Church Growth Is Gifted Membership (4:7-10)
2. The Essential for Church Growth Is Gifted Leadership (4:11)
3. The Means of Church Growth Is Ministry (4:12a)
4. The Goal of Church Growth Is Maturity (4:12b-14)
I. The Foundation for Church Growth Is Gifted Membership (4:7-10)
First, the foundation for church growth is gifted membership.
Paul said in verse 7, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” The word “grace” in this verse does not refer to “saving grace” but rather to “service grace.” That is, every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been given a spiritual gift by the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of being used in the church.
I read a story that during Vacation Bible School one year, a pastor’s wife had an experience with her primary class that can teach us all a great lesson. About an hour before dismissal one day, a new student was brought into the room. The little boy had one arm missing, and since the class was almost over, the teacher had no opportunity to learn the details of his situation, but she was nervous that one of the other children would say something insensitive to him, so she preceded cautiously with the lesson.
As the class time came to a close, she asked the children to join her in their usual closing ceremony. “Let’s make our churches,” she said, putting her hands together to form the “church.”
“Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and…” Suddenly the awful truth struck her. The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done.
As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Josh, let’s make the church together.”