Dr. Steven Lawson has said, “We live in a day, in which there are many spiritual light weights, who have light, fluffy, superficial thoughts about God, that just blow like a tumbleweed across the horizon of the church. We want to come back to deep thoughts about God, great and grand thoughts about who God is, as He is presented in His Word.”
With this in mind, consider these words from our text today, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...” (11-13)
In Ephesians 4:11-16 we find that…
The church is to be growing.
We are to have our minds fixed upon Christ.
We are to attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
We are to mature into manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
This is accomplished through the gifts of grace that Christ has given to the church. The gifts that Paul speaks of in our text this morning are:
the foundational teachings of the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:6)
the evangelist who proclaims Christ’s message to those who need to hear and respond to the good news of the gospel,
and through the shepherds and teachers who labor in the church for the building up of the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-16 states,
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Last year, John MacArthur gave a series of sermons in which he reflected back upon the last fifty years of his ministry at Grace Community Church. In those sermons Dr. MacArthur preached from a small number of biblical texts that have been the most important passages for him as a pastor and for the well-being of their church. Ephesians 4:11-16 was one of the passages that he preached from.
It was upon remembering this, that I returned to this text with a greater appreciation for the impact that it should have upon me as your pastor. And it made me consider the long term impact that it should have upon the ministry of Community Church for many years to come.
What we will consider today should not be quickly forgotten. It should not be set aside and neglected. Like Dr. MacArthur and his congregation, we should pattern our lives and ministry according to it. If we leave today and do not reflect upon and apply this passage we will be like the man that James speaks of when he says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:23-25)
When we come to the second half of Ephesians we can assume that Paul is giving us a glimpse into the life of this congregation. Paul begins to give them ways in which they are to apply the grace of God in their lives.
This grace that we have talked about in the first half of Ephesians results in a healthy, growing, stable and mature church.
This grace is to result in a church that is...
not driven by every wind of doctrine,
through human cunning,
and through deceitful schemes.
Rather, the church is to grow up in every way into Christ.