Summary: God has given the church certain people whose job it is to equip the members of the church so that the whole church functions properly.
The Whole Church Equipped to Minister
This week Marcela my wife had a splitting earache. Last weekend it was so painful that she spent most of it in bed with painkillers unable to sleep from pain. Also unable to hear properly. All sounds were just ringing in her ears. First thing on Monday she went to the doctor. He prescribed antibiotics and a stronger painkiller. Slowly slowly the pain is going away, but still cant hear properly, and sometimes has problems with balance. She has trouble sleeping. It has effected her whole life this week.
So what caused this problem? That threw Marcelas whole life out of whack this week? It was the Eustachian Tube. An infection in the Eustachian Tube. Its an organ in our inner ear. It is only 3.5 cms long, and 3 mm wide. Tiny. But this tiny organ, when not working properly, not functioning as it should - this 3.5 cm organ laid low a 162 cm tall adult for the week.
Think about the human body. It is an intricate thing, marvelously made. But to work properly, each part has to work properly. This week, every other part of Marcela was working properly. Her eyes, hands, feet, liver, were all working properly. But one tiny part wasnt. Wasnt doing what the head wanted it to do. Wasnt following the rules. Wasnt working with the other parts of the body. Was doing its own thing, going its own way, with negative consequence for her whole body. And Im sure weve all been sick at some stage. Some of you are sick now. Tiny parts of the body effect the whole body.
Todays passage is about the body. The body of Christ. Weve already been introduced to the church in Ephesians. And weve already been introduced to the word, body being used for the church. It appears a number of times in Ephesians. Most recently was last week, when we talked about unity, and there were all those ones. One of the ones is Eph 4:4 There is one body. And now in 4:7-16 Paul talks about the body, the body of Christ, and how it is built up. Eph 4:12 talks about preparing God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up and Eph 4:16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love. So this passage mentions a lot of things, which well see soon. It uses som of the Christian buzzwords we introduced last week such as giftings, unity, equipping.
But the goal of the stuff mentioned in this passage is for the building up of the body. This is important. Often we see this passage as teaching about giftings, which it is. But we often dont think of the goal of this passage, and we cant understand this passage and how the gifts work together if we dont understand the goal. The goal is for the building up of the church as each member does his or her part. And this goal is not mentioned until the last part of this passage, so we sometimes miss the goal because it comes last.
So lets read the passage now, noting all the different things mentioned, and seeing how they lead to the final goal of building up the body of Christ the church.
EPH 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."
EPH 4:9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
EPH 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.