Summary: The ministry of the specially gifted, the ministry of all God’s people, and the benefits of an "every member"ministry.
The Church; Its Ministry Ephesians 4:7-16
INTRO.: In Ephesians, Paul seems to be possessed of the idea of expressing the glory and majesty of the Church and her unique place in God’s plan of the ages. He begins the fourth chapter with a plea for unity in the Church. He says all Christians are united in one body with one Spirit and all share the same hope. It is God’s will that all share the same belief, submit to the same Lord, and observe the same baptism. We all serve the same God.
Yet, in this unity, there must be diversity. Unity is served and strengthened by diversity. A baseball team, for example, is effective because each member specializes in playing a particular position. It’s true in any sport. It’s also true in business. Some are managers, some salesmen, some book keepers, etc.
So it is in the Church. That’s why we have the Church’s ministry. We want to make a distinction between the Church’s ministry, those who serve the Church in various capacities, and the Church’s mission, which is her work in the world in behalf of God.
We also want to distinguish between the Church’s ministry and the Church’s Minister, a professional Christian worker who occupies an office created by men for expedience.
I want to confine myself to a discussion of the Church’s ministry in this message.
I. The ministry of the "gifted" Eph. 4:11
A. The temporary gifts; Apostles and Prophets.
1. These men had gifts that were very special and spectacular. Miracles were their credentials. Heb. 2:1-4 Mk. 16:20
2. They passed the written Word on to us and their ministry continues, but not their offices.
3. I Cor. 13:8, 9, 10 The perfect (God’s perfect Word) has come. These temporary offices are gone.
B. The perennial gifts; they are given anew to each generation. Like flowers that bloom anew every year.
1. Evangelists; preachers of good news.
2. Pastors; shepherds of the flock. Name applies to Elders in the New Testament, not just to preachers.
3. Teachers; a function of both pastors and evangelists, but also to others. A good Sunday School teacher is a gift from God.
C. This is an equipping ministry. Eph. 4:12
1. God does not expect these especially gifted folk to do all the work, neither should we.
2. Paul passed his message on to Timothy, who was to pass it along to others. II Tim. 2:2
3. The Apostles were not lazy when they appointed others to wait on tables. They simply recognized the diversity of gifts.
II. The ministry of all God’s people:
A. All have received gifts ro be used in God’s service. Eph. 4:7
1. Bible knows no clergy-laity distinction.
2. We all have a job to do in the Church. It is discouraging when no one seems willing to do their part
3. We are all part of the Body of Christ and each has a function in the body.
B. All God’s people have the opportunity to share in Christian service. Romans 12 is a treatise on the subject of Christian ministry.
1. Verses 1-2 tells us our lives should be committed to Christ.
2. 3-8; how that commitment should work itself out in the corporate life of the Body of Christ.
3. The remainder of the chapter enumerates practical ways in which the transformed life should be demonstrated.
4. Too many Christians think the Sunday morning worship service is the end of our Christian service.
5. This is all more than just personal Christian living. It is ministry in behalf of Christ and His church.
III. The benefits of such a mutual ministry: Eph. 4:13, 14
A. Unity in faith and knowledge: 13a
1. When we are united in our ministry, we will be united in other ways as well. A common cause unites people.
2. If we are busy doing God’s work, there will be no time left for pettiness, criticism, and squabbles.
3. The most valuable asset any congregation (or any other group) has is the ability to work together in harmony.
B. Maturity: 13b
1. A child may not look much like his father when he is young, but as he matures, he becomes more like him. The essence of Christian growth is becoming more like Christ
2. Spiritually, the Christian should aim to be just as tall as Jesus. We should seek to be "spiritual giants."
3. When everyone works together, ministering to others, everyone grows.
C. Stability: 14
1. The figure is of a child in a small boat tossed by the waves and at the mercy of the storm.
2. Waves of false teaching and controversy will toss the Church and sink it unless we work together to prevent it.
3. A congregation with only one minister, one person doing all the work is like a boat with only one oar or anchor. Very insecure.
CONCLUSION: The ministry is the task of the entire congregation. It is a function of the Body and every member has a part that is vitally important.