To the Church of Ephesus - Part Six

Part 6 - The Book of Ephesians series
By: John Herbert | Mar 1, 2009
Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

Having drawn attention, in the opening verses of the Chapter, to the unity that is to be present among believers, the Holy Spirit, through the pen of Paul, now begins to move towards the individual diversity that exists within that unity. Beginning with the ministry given to the Church at His ascension.

Message Notes

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Sunday March 1st 2009
To the Church of Ephesus ? Part Six
1). Eph 4:1 ? I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of
the calling with which you were called, 2 ? with all lowliness and gentleness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were
called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
a). The 4th Chapter of the Book of Ephesians begins, as we saw last week,
with the admonition that we should walk worthy of the calling with which we were
called.
b). And that ?calling?, also as we saw last week, is a heavenly calling ?
Heb 3:1 ? Therefore, holy brethren, partakers [companions] of the heavenly
calling,
c). Our calling is to the heavenly realm of God?s Kingdom in order to attain,
through faithful obedience, a position of rulership with the King of kings and the
Lord of lords during the Millennial Kingdom.
d). In this we all have exactly the same calling, with exactly the same
opportunity to translate our calling into an appointment as a joint heir with Christ.
e). This is by far the highest calling any redeemed human being could
possibly have, and is of course inextricably linked to the ?so great a salvation?, the
most superlative salvation that the Godhead could devise for Their creation ?
beyond which there is nothing greater ? it is of course the salvation of the soul -
1Pe 1:10 ? Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully,
who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what
manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He
testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12
To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the
things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the
gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to
look into.
f). So far beyond the limits of the realm of human imagination is this calling,
that as a result we are admonished to walk worthy of it. Given what it is, this is a
command to be taken very seriously. This is no small thing.
g). Peter, talking of the same thing continues in 1 Peter Chapter 1 v 13 as
follows - 1Pe 1:13 ? Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest
your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of
Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former
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lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy
in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
h). Then here in the 2nd verse of Chapter 4 in Ephesians we are told to walk
?with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in
love?.
i). And by comparing scripture with scripture we saw what this would look
like - Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
j). 1Pe 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that
He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for
you.
k). And I am sure we will realize that we don?t have an opportunity to put
this into practice until we want to have our own way because of our perceived self
importance ? we don?t get to esteem others better than ourselves until we consider
that we are better than others, or that we have a right to be treated in a certain way
because of who we are ? only here do we get the chance to humble ourselves. And
this we will have to do if God is to exalt us in due time ? do please remember
though that this is always with a view to our fellow believers within the Body. This
is not about how we relate to Joe Public in general.
l). The remaining 3 verses then speak of unity within the body and the
reason why unity should exist ? 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one
hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of
all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
m). The thought here is that the unity that must exist between us will come
from our individual pursuit of the Kingdom.
n). As we have seen so many times before, just as we saw in the first
Chapter of Ephesians, God?s plans and purposes from the ages of eternity past
have been moving toward the enthronement of His Son, in the form of a Man, as
ruler over the earth accompanied by many other sons who will be brought to glory.
There is no other purpose to which God is heading, there is no other direction that
the Holy Spirit is leading and there is no other conclusion to which the Word of
God moves - Ps 2:6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."
o). Because of this we are all fellow travelers on the same journey,
companions of the heavenly calling, with the same obligation to faithful obedience
? a faithful obedience that does not exist in a vacuum, but rather exists within
relationship ? the relationship we have with each other where we do nothing
through selfish ambition or conceit.
p). Our unity comes then through our individual faithful obedience in
walking worthy of our calling. Encouraging one another, supporting one another,
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having compassion for one another, bearing with one another in love ? because we
recognize in each other our own weaknesses ? never condemning, never
criticizing, never second guessing, because it is the same God Who works in each
of us, but rather, choosing to love one another - 1Co 13:4 ? Love suffers long and is
kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not
behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not
rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things. 8 ? Love never fails.
q). What we see in this scripture is not a suggestion, nor is it unachievable ?
it is a matter of choice. We can choose to love one another after this fashion ? and
so we should given the enormity of what God has purposed for us.
r). If we don?t see that purpose, if we don?t grasp it, if we don?t ever have it
before us we won?t love like this, because we will deceive ourselves into thinking
that our particular circumstances make us the exception - 1Pe 1:17 And if you call
on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct
yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
s). It is then striving for the prize, being led by the Spirit having compassion
upon our bodies of death that holds us in unity.
2). Having laid the foundation for the unity that is to exist between us in the
opening verses of Chapter 4, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, then adds to our unity
by drawing attention to the individual diversity that exists in the midst of our unity
of purpose. In other words we are all heading in the same direction with the same
end in view, but we don?t all have the same function - Eph 4:7 But to each one of
us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
a). This grace being given according to the measure of Christ?s gift is never
an issue of being better than, because we know that God is without partiality, but is
rather about the grace we receive in order to fulfill that which God requires of us ?
Lu 12:48?.For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required;
b). The best way I can describe this is to use myself as an example ? God
has given me the grace to be able to do the things I do ? and particularly over the
past few weeks ministering at funeral services. I am well aware that it is only by
the grace of God that I am able to do this. God most probably has not given each of
you the grace to minister in this way.
c). Now this does not make me better or special ? it is not about what I do,
but am I faithfully obedient in the doing of it?
d). Ben Zeigler has been given the grace to be a husband and a father and
God may require no more of him than that. As Ben and I would stand before the
Lord in that Day we are not judged according to weight of our job description but
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according to how faithful we have been with what we have been given. And if we
have both been faithful to the same degree we will receive the same reward.
e). Do you see how this works?
f). This means then that no one in the Body is insignificant and no one is less
valuable than the next. And within God?s economy we all have an important part to
play. It is a lie to believe that what we do doesn?t matter.
g). We should also realize that our function in the Body is not about doing
jobs in the ?church?, although this may be a part of what we do ? our function in
the Body of Christ has to do with a life of faithful obedience in every aspect of our
day.
h). This is how we find the Body described in - 1Co 12:14 For in fact the
body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a
hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear
should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of
the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the
whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the
members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all
one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many
members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of
you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 No, much rather,
those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those
members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow
greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our
presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater
honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but
that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one
member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the
members rejoice with it. 27 ? Now you are the body of Christ, and members
individually.
i). We may believe that what we do apart from a corporate setting has no
impact on anyone else, but we shall see later that this is not so. What we do
individually with regards to dying to self and walking in the Spirit has a direct
bearing on everyone else. We may not get to this today but we shall get back it.
3). So as Paul begins to draw attention to our diversity he begins with the different
but complimentary ministries set in the Church, given as gifts by Him, for the
purpose of bringing the individual members of the Body to maturity - Eph 4:7 But
to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8
Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And
gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended" --what does it mean but that He
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also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also
the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and
some pastors and teachers,
a). Without taking away our individual responsibility for our own spiritual
growth, we will realize that the resurrection of Christ made possible the sending of
the Holy Spirit - Joh 15:26 ? "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to
you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will
testify of Me.
b). To guide us into all truth.
c). And made possible the giving of ministry gifts towards the achievement
of that same end.
d). What we see then is that God has provided everything that we need to
enable us to be successful in our race of faith.
e). Before we deal with this in any detail let?s spend some time making sure
we are clear about apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers.
4). Firstly we need to see these offices within their historical setting and then
within our own setting.
a). Historically, these offices were placed in the Church at the inception of
the Church, when, through the Church, the re-offer of the Kingdom was being
made to Israel.
b). The Apostles are those who Christ had appointed to go out with the
gospel of the glories of Christ. Those who had been eye witnesses of His
resurrection, and those to whom He opened the scriptures on the day following His
resurrection, beginning on the Emmaus road - Mr 16:14 ? Later He appeared to the
eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of
heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every
creature.
c). And into this group we would also have to add Paul, who although not an
eye witness of the Lord?s resurrection, as were the others, did have a personal
encounter with the risen Christ in His glory on the road to Damascus and did
receive from Him the revelation of the ?mystery? ?kept secret since the world
began? ? 1Co 15:7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8
Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 9 For I am
the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I
persecuted the church of God.10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His
grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet
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not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or
they, so we preach and so you believed.
d). The Apostles? purpose then would be the preaching of the gospel and
setting in place the foundations ? beginning with the crucified Christ ? on which
the Church is to be built. The very thing we have already seen in - Eph 2:19 Now,
therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the
saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief
cornerstone,
e). The very same thing we see in the Book of Acts - Ac 2:42 ? And they
continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of
bread, and in prayers.
f). We would realize then that the Apostles were given to the Church for the
specific function of setting in place the foundations upon which the Church is to be
built ? their message being authenticated by their eye witness experience of
Christ?s ministry, death and resurrection. The very thing we see recorded in ?
2Pe 1:16 ? For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to
you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His
majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a
voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased." 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we
were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 ? And so we have the prophetic word
confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until
the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
g). There are now no more eye witnesses, nor do there need to be. The
witness of those who were there is preserved for us in the scriptures and it is now
down to us to believe the veracity of their report. Anyone today who has a need to
call themselves an ?apostle? clearly is not ? Remember what the Lord said to the
church of Ephesus in - Re 2:2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and
that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they
are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
h). Now Prophets, historically, have a particular association with the nation
of Israel, most especially with regards to the nation?s coming restoration and the
establishment of the Kingdom of Christ - Lu 24:44 Then He said to them, "These
are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must
be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the
Psalms concerning Me."
i). And we have already seen reference made to the ministry of the Prophets
with regards to the Church in a scripture we looked at today from 1 Peter ? let?s
read it again - 1Pe 1:10 ? Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and
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searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11
searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was
indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories
that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they
were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those
who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things
which angels desire to look into.
j). So let?s understand something here. The Prophets spoke, and recorded the
word that God gave them. They spoke nothing but that which God had given them.
And through them came His complete revelation to Man. There is nothing in the
NT that cannot be found in the OT. When Jesus comes into the world the first time
He is described in - Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
k). If God still had something to say beyond that which He had said from
Moses to Malachi then His word was incomplete at the time of Christ?s first advent
and therefore Christ would have had to be born incomplete in the flesh. Either,
Christ is complete, the whole word being made flesh, or Christ is incomplete ?
such a thought is ridiculous.
l). The word prophet literally means a ?foreteller? ? one who tells
beforehand. And again, everything God requires us to know about ?things to come?
He has already said. Every time scripture is used to reveal the fulfillment of God?s
purpose, ?prophesy? takes place in a literal sense. But the one speaking the
scripture is not a prophet.
m). So how would we understand ?prophets? being given to the Church upon
the Lord?s ascension? Well in the very way we have just seen ? through the
opening to our understanding of the things they were ministering to us. Things that
could not have been revealed apart from the Lord?s resurrection and ascension. As
everything contained in their writings concerning the whole scope of the 7th Day
was contingent upon the Lord?s resurrection - 1Co 15:13 But if there is no
resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then
our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
n). Perhaps we could say it this way ? the prophets were given to the nation
of Israel and within that which they were given to record were things that went
beyond God?s exclusive dealings with that nation. Then, because of Christ?s
resurrection, that which had already been given to Israel was then opened to us and
the full scope of what God had said through them came into play.
o). Again, as with the apostle, there are no prophets today ? there is nothing
more that God has to say about His plans and purposes. And those who would have
a need to call themselves by that title clearly demonstrate that they have not heard
a word God has said.
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p). Evangelists and pastor/teachers are somewhat different though ? the
word ?evangelist? literally means, one who preaches the gospel, the one who
declares the good news ? and we find two examples of this in the NT ? firstly with
regards to Philip - Ac 21:8 ? On the next day we who were Paul's companions
departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist,
who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
q). This is the same Philip we see in - Ac 8:5 Then Philip went down to the
city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
The same Philip who opened the scripture to the Ethiopian Eunuch ? and secondly
with regards to Timothy - 2Ti 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure
afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
r). In these examples we would see both the gospel of grace and the gospel
of the glories of Christ. We would see both Philip and Timothy ?sent? with the
complete message of the gospel. But being sent does not make them ?apostles?,
because they go to preach that which they have learned through the Apostles?
doctrine. As we would go to California, or Texas or Kenya we could be seen as
going as evangelists. And quite clearly because this involves preaching the gospel
in its entirety, the evangelist is a ministry for all generations within the Church.
s). The message of the Pastor/Teacher would be much the same as that of the
evangelist, with the exclusion of the gospel of grace ? but this ministry would be
with regards to a particular group of believers on a consistently regular basis within
a particular location, although there may be more than one location.
t). The word ?pastor? literally is shepherd and it would be the role of the
shepherd to tend to a specific flock. This is exactly what we would see at this
precise moment. And clearly in every generation within the church the flock needs
a shepherd ? and this must be seen within the context of the teaching of the word ?
providing the necessary pasture and the necessary water through which the
necessary direction is found to take us from the wilderness to the sheepfold.
u). It would be entirely wrong to see the pastor/teacher as the leader of the
church ? this is not the way this office is presented in scripture. Pastor/Teacher is
an office given to the Church with a view to progress towards spiritual maturity,
the oversight and governance of the Church, the leadership role if you will, is
entrusted to Elders who are appointed to that task - Tit 1:5 ? For this reason I left
you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint
elders in every city as I commanded you?
v). Within our setting here there are four elders and two elders over the
church in California, all with equal responsibility and equal accountability. A
plurality of eldership is the scriptural model for church governance ?
Ac 20:17 ? From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the
church.
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w). Now because all elders are intimately involved in the process towards
maturity and are a part of the ?church? they would of necessity fall within the remit
of the office of Pastor/Teacher ? but this denotes a diversity of function, such as
we were talking of earlier, not a delineation of importance. I hope that this is
something that is clear for us.
5). And as we continue with our scripture we will see that these ministry gifts were
given into the Church, following the Lord?s resurrection and ascension for
specifically stated reasons ? reasons to do with the outcome of His resurrection and
ascension ? Eph 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets,
some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints
for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come
to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to
the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be
children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the
truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from
whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies,
according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes
growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
a). The focus here then has to do with the process of proper preparation
through spiritual maturity firstly with regards to the saints and the work of
ministry.
b). Equipping = Greek ? ?katartismos? = from 2675; complete furnishing
(objectively):--perfecting.
c). Secondly for the building of the Body of Christ
d). Edifying = Greek ? ?oikodome? = feminine (abstract) of a compound of
3624 and the base of 1430; architecture, i.e. (concretely) a structure; figuratively,
confirmation:--building, edify(-ication, -ing). [Lit. ?house building?]
e). And this work of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher has a
specific timeframe ? [un]till. And of necessity as we will never reach that place of
completeness in this life, this must be with a view to both the whole 2000 year
dispensation of the Church and the time we have allotted to our individual race of
faith.
f). It would be as recorded in - Col 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man
and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in
Christ Jesus.
g). And this presentation of ?every man perfect? will be at the Judgment Seat
where the judgment of our works will show whether our faith has been brought to
its completion.
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h). At the resurrection/rapture of the Church there will no longer be a need
for ministry through apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers.
i). In the same way that there will no longer be a need for the ministry of
Christ as our High Priest. In that Day all opportunity to avail ourselves of all these
ministries will be over. Common sense would tell us to make full use of all that
God has given us while we still have an opportunity to do so. There may not be
much time left - Eph 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as
wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be
unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
j). We will continue with these verses next time.
Other messages from this series Audio Video PDF Study Notes
Part 1 - To the Church of Ephesus
Part 2 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Two
Part 3 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Three
Part 4 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Four
Part 5 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Five
Part 6 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Six
Part 7 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Seven
Part 8 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Eight
Part 9 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Nine
Part 10 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Ten
Part 11 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Eleven
Part 12 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Twelve
Part 13 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Thirteen
Part 14 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Fourteen
Part 15 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Fifteen
Part 16 - To the Church of Ephesus - Part Sixteen