Summary: 3rd in 5-part series on casting vision and clarity for the purpose of our church.
“OUR PURPOSE: URGING EACH MEMBER TO SERVE THE LORD WITHIN THE CHURCH”
The story is told of a very large woman who attended a banquet and absolutely gorged herself on the buffet and afterwards felt very, very guilty. She said to her husband, "I shouldn’t of done that, I always eat too much, I look like a big elephant!" The husband tried to be kind and replied, "Oh, no honey, you’re not like an elephant, you’re like a mouse." "Really," she asked, knowing it wasn’t true but pushing the compliment, "You mean I’m like a little bitty house mouse right?" "Well, no," said the husband not being able to tell a bold face lie, "not like a little house mouse." "Well, then like a field mouse, that’s what you meant wasn’t it darling?" Now red faced the husband said, "Well, no, not exactly." "Then what a kind of mouse are you talking about then?" “Well, kind of like a hippopota-"mouse."
Unfortunately, many churches have a lot of "hippopota `mouse’" Christians. People are being fed continually.. coming Sunday after Sunday, going to classes, taking advantage of what the Church offers in terms of spiritual feeding, physical care and fellowship but they never exercise their gift in service. John MacArthur said it this way, “Why do we have so many “Couch-Potato Christians? Why do we have so many with the “consumer attitude,” “What’s in it for me? Because they have never grasped that the church was not established for them, but IS them!” You see, the Church of Jesus Christ was never meant to be a corporation, a service club or an organization. It was founded by Jesus Christ to be a living organism.. In fact, the main metaphor in the N.T. that describes the Church is “Body.” And just like in a human body, each member must be an active and effective part of the organism so it may be at the peak of its health. The same is true of the Church.. We are all to do works of service so as our text from Ephesians says, “..so the Body of Christ may be built up... and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of Christ.” But how do we help each other do that?
You know, more and more now as we approach the Christmas holidays, you’re going to hear one “Four-letter word” a lot. That’s the word "g-i-f-t". Gift giving, gift receiving, gift wrapping, gift lists, gift certificates. I want to talk to you this morning about another kind of gift.. Spiritual gifts. God is the giver and every believer has at least one gift to be used for the Church. That’s why our third practice statement says, “M.C.C. seeks to accomplish it’s purpose by: Urging each member to serve the Lord within the Church..by consistently affording opportunities for ministry and by guiding each member in the use of those abilities (gifts) for the building up of others.” We are to help you discover, develop and deploy your gift to the glory of God and the benefit of the church. This text from Ephesians gives us a design of how that is supposed to happen.
I. UNVEILING MY LEADER’S PURPOSE: vss: 11-15
The apostle Paul actually begins his discussion of this topic in the first of chapter four. He discusses the unity of the church, that we have seven “Ones”: “One body, One Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father over and through all an in all.” We are to be a unified people and to assist us in this unity Christ, in vss 7 & 8 gave to His church certain “gifts,”the NIV calls it grace. But the Greek word that Paul uses here actually means “a special endowment for service.” What are the gifts He has given to the Church? Leaders as seen in verse 11.. “It was He (Christ)..” Notice the leaders are given their place by Christ.. “..who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers..” The term “apostle” literally means “one-sent” but the Apostles referred to here, in the context of the church are the “founding fathers” of the church. The men chosen specifically by Christ who laid the foundation of the Church. In order to be an Apostle you had to comply with the qualifications given in Acts 1:21-22.. “be with the Lord Jesus from the time of His baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from the earth and a witness to His resurrection.” Eph. 2:20 tells us that the church was- “..built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone..” So the “prophets” mentioned here are also thought to be part of the original foundation. Inspired men and women who were used in the process of revelation.. Special “forth-tellers” of the message of God like Agabus in Acts 11 and Phillips daughters in Acts 21. Most scholars believe these first two leader positions were not replaces once the original apostles and prophets had died. Then Christ gave “evangelists” the announces of the good news of Christ like Timothy who was told by Paul to “do the work of an evangelist,” building on the foundation already laid and leading people to Christ. And “shepherds.” Here this word means to “care by protecting” the flock, especially lending itself to protecting the church from false doctrine and “teachers” instructors who expound and explain the Word of God. I believe that Paul is referring to those who have the specific responsibility of training the people of God. Now, I don’t believe this is meant to be an exhaustive list of functions or leaders in the Lord’s church. For example there is no specific mention of Elders or Deacons here. But the list is adequate to illustrate what Paul is saying, that Christ has given gifts to His church to help train us. And that’s seen in vs:12a.