Summary: Ephesians 4:7-14 shows us how 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.
Let’s read about how Christ grows his church in Ephesians 4:7-14:
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. (Ephesians 4:7-14)
My grandson recently celebrated his first birthday. He is the cutest, sweetest, cuddliest, happiest, smartest, brightest, and handsomest baby I have ever seen. And, as a pastor who knows the Scripture text that “God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11, NIV), I am of course not biased! As a grandparent, I love my grandson. I love him dearly.
But, cute as he is, I don’t want him to stay a baby. I want to see him grow to become a toddler, and then a little boy, and then a teenager (or, perhaps he could skip this stage altogether!), and then a young man, and finally a mature man. Frankly, I imagine what he might be like as a mature man. In fact, I pray daily that he would grow to know, love, worship, and serve the Lord all the days of his life.
In much the same way, the Apostle Paul wants these young Christians in Ephesus to do the same thing. He wants them to grow up to spiritual maturity. He wants to help the Ephesian church understand how Christ grows his church.
Ephesians 4:7-14 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.
I don’t want to spend much time on this point because we looked at it in depth last time. 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. Commentator Kent Hughes summarizes the message of this by saying that “all of us (no exceptions!) have a serving grace which has been given to us by Christ in perfect measure. We all have a special part to perform.” My questions to you are these: Do you know what your special part is? And, are you using the spiritual gift given to you by Christ in serving him in his church?
Not only do each one of us who are born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have a spiritual gift, but our spiritual gifts have a spectacular origin, as Paul said in verses 8-10, “Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” Not to restate extensively what I said last time, these verses simply refer to Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. As part of his exaltation, he gave spiritual gifts to believers who are to carry on his ministry on earth until he returns again at his Second Coming. As Kent Hughes said, “The gifts and enabling grace which we have, have been given to us as Christ apportioned them. They came from the conquering King. They are given with great expectation on his part, for he expects us to use them to bring power and victory in the church.”