Summary: After one gains entrance to the church through the Door of Opportunity, what is expected next? Every believer is gifted to serve within the church, for the edifying of the body and the glory of God. We must be united and work together to fulfill the work.
The Necessity of Unity
Ephesians 4: 11-16
Last week we began the series: Church – A New Testament Model. We looked at the means of entrance into the church through Christ the Door. This opportunity is available by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once entry into the church, the body of Christ is made, what comes next? Many either lack understanding or are content to remain where they are as babes in Christ. This was never the intent of Christ for the church. As we will discover, each member is individually gifted with abilities that aid in the growth and ministry of the church. Healthy churches are comprised of those who have identified their gifts, and committed to using their gifts to complement to varied gifts of others. Coming together in unity, and actively using our gifts is essential to the prosperity and growth of the church.
Let’s examine the aspects of Christian service essential to the church as we consider: The Necessity of Unity.
I. The Provision Granted (11-12) – Paul spoke of the gracious provision of our Lord in equipping the church and providing for her spiritual health and prosperity. Consider:
A. The Positions (11) – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. As the Lord sovereignly designed the church, He provided leaders with various gifts to meet the variety of needs she faced. There is much we could discuss in this verse. I am not afraid to deal with the truth it reveals, but lack the time in our study today to deal with it in a sufficient manner. For this study, suffice it to say that the Lord has provided those in positions of leadership to meet the needs of the church.
B. The Expectations (12) – For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Paul goes on to reveal the expectations for such unique and varied giftedness among the church. These individual gifts are provided for:
Perfecting of the Saints – This has the idea of preparation of the saints. God uses various spiritual gifts within the leadership to prepare and equip the believers to serve within the church. Many churches have the idea that ministry is reserved solely for paid staff. That is certainly not biblical, but it isn’t the church’s fault entirely. Men of God are called to prepare those within the church to be used of God. We are called to make disciples who make disciples.
Work of Ministry – Those in leadership are expected to prepare believers to carry out the work of ministry. The responsibility of laboring in the harvest is to be shared by all who make up the body of Christ. If you are saved by grace, part of the church, you are expected to be engaged in the ministry efforts of the church. As we will discover, there is a work for all to perform.
Edifying of the Body of Christ – The church is expected to encourage and support those within the body. She is responsible for her continued growth and prosperity. Granted, the Lord will provide the resources and abilities we need, but we are expected to engage in the work of building up the church and pursuing her continued growth!
II. The Purpose Revealed (13-15) – Here we find the purpose behind such collective efforts. As the church is equipped, fulfilling her ministry, it affects the body as a whole. Notice:
A. Our Sanctification (13) – Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. This should be the goal of every pastor and every New Testament church. Paul speaks in essence of our sanctification, our conformity to the image of Christ. The church cannot rest until we all stand united in the faith, possessing an intimate knowledge of Christ, being mature in Him, and abiding in the fullness of His grace.
We are currently making progress, but this is a never ending process. There is always room for continued spiritual growth, and the need to disciple others in the faith.
B. Our Stability (14) – That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Paul was well aware of the relentless attacks upon the church and the dangers they presented. The believer is responsible to be settled in the faith – knowing what they believe and why they believe it. Hearing a message once in a while would not suffice. Pastors and evangelists could not be content to simply proclaim the truth they had embraced, but ensure the body embraced and understood those truths as well. The church was responsible to equip and train its members in sound, biblical doctrine.