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Summary: There is no organization more powerful than the Church—it is ordained in Christ and for His glory.

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Each week at the meeting of a local Rotary club, a different member gave a brief statement about his job. Eventually it was the minister’s turn; he stood up and said:

"I'm with a global enterprise. We have branches in every country in the world. We have our representatives in nearly every parliament and boardroom on earth. We're into motivation and behavior alteration.

We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth to death.

We are into life insurance and fire insurance. We perform spiritual heart transplants. Our original Organizer owns all the real estate on earth plus an assortment of galaxies and constellatons. He knows everything and lives everywhere. Our product is free for the asking; in fact, there is not enough money to buy it if you wanted to.

Our CEO was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, didn't own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a trial, and arose from the dead—and I talk with him everyday."

[There is no organization more powerful than the Church—it is ordained by Christ for his glory!]

I. INTRODUCTION

1. God blesses the life and mission of the church as we await Christ’s return. As we wait, God expects us to grow in our knowledge of him, and expand the mission and fellowship of the church.

2. The Holy Scriptures are the touchstone for reminding us of the church as Christ intends her to be. OYBT Ephesians 4.

3. Unlike several of his letters, Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus does not address any particular problem or heresy. Instead, he encourages the church body to expand their horizons and come to a better understanding and commitment to the goals God has for it.

4. Of particular interest in our text this morning is the unity and maturity of believers in the church. These two elements are defining characteristics of the church and serve as an appropriate challenge to its members: past, present and future.

II. UNITED IN THE BODY OF CHRIST (1-7)

1. Live a life worthy of your calling.

A. Be humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to preserve the unity you have in the Holy Spirit, through peaceful cooperation.

B. Remember that we are of one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father…

C. Those who submit themselves to Christ’s church do so in the interest of Christian unity and a common cause: our call and mission given by Jesus Christ.

2. I know that you will meet people who say, “I don’t have to belong to a church to be saved”, and that is true. Church membership is not the way to salvation, but rather, the way to fulfill the work to which Christ calls all believers.

A. Christ did not establish the church solely for the benefit of believers (though that was part of it), but for the benefit of the lost—those who don’t know Christ. The church body however, benefits believers, as is apparent from the passage that follows.

[There is no organization more powerful than the Church—it is ordained by Christ for his glory!]

III. MATURING IN THE FAITH (11)

1. Intent: To utilize the gift Christ gave the church

A. He appointed (lit. “gave”) some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors

B. Christ gives the church the officers she needs, not vice versa . God told Jeremiah that his purpose was determined before his birth. In the same way, God, through Christ, determined the role of the church before its inception.

C. In this text, God’s grace comes upon the church as a single, unified gift, equal in measure and validity to all, but manifested in diverse ministries. In other words, the gift afforded to me is the same as afforded you; the difference is in how that gift presents itself (becomes visible) in ministry.

D. Notice that all the ministries listed have something in common; each deals with instruction in the Word of God. This does not imply that they are greater than other ministries; simply that they precede the others…

2. Goal: To prepare God’s people for works of service

A. The spiritual growth of individuals strengthens the collective body, yielding a better environment for individual growth and perpetuating the cycle.

B. With maturity comes stability. As our knowledge of the truth increases, we stand firm in the Word of God: our doctrine is sound, our belief unwavering. We can resist the lies of the world, correcting false teachings in the love of Christ.

3. Outcome: A new relationship with Christ

A. We grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ – the head of the church. We learn his ways, his character, and demonstrate Christ-likeness in all that we do: internally (ministries within the church) and externally (missions in the world).

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