When studying any portion of the Bible you first of all need to know who is writing and who is being written to. The portion of Scriptures I want to use today is Ephesians the 4th chapter verses 1-16 . To find out the first things we need to know we need to look at Ephesians 1:1
Ephesians 1:1 MSG I, Paul, am under God's plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful Christians in Ephesus. So the writer is Paul. Those written to are the faithful Christians in Ephesus.
Another thing you need to know is when was the portion of Scriptures written. We know that Paul wrote his letters after the death of Christ which means this letter was written in the Christian age.
So what we are going to study was written to people who were faithful Christians. These people have heard the gospel, believed it, are repentant of their sinful nature, confessed their belief in Christ the Son of God, have been clothed with Christ being baptized for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is writing them with instruction urging them to strive to do God's will. Lets jump into the 4th chapter of Ephesians and see what God says, through Paul, to Christians.
Ephesians 4:1 MSG In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk--better yet, run!--on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.
What is the road God called you to travel ? To find out, I believe we need to look back at what Paul writes earlier in Ephesians 1:3-14 .
Ephesians 1:3 MSG How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. 4 Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.
5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people--free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!
8 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9 letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ,
10 a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. 11 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living,
12 part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. 13 It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free--signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.
14 This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. To be Abundantly free! Free people--free of penalties and punishments .
We are to know the plans he took such delight in making. set it all out before us in Christ . And, we are called to be included in Christ when we heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation) and are marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a first installment on what's coming .
With just the first verse of the 4th chapter we have preached a sermon. Lets move on to the 2nd & 3rd verses.
Ephesians 4:2 MSG And mark that you do this with humility and discipline--not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, 3 alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
We need to mark, acknowledge, verify we do this with humility and discipline , pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love . Talk about hard to do, but we must strive to do it. Verse 4 & 5 .
Ephesians 4:4 MSG You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. 5 You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
Is the Bible perfect? YES! Does it have any errors? NO! Did you read what I just read? You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.
Most other translations just simply say here “There is one body.” The “body” here is the one and only church. Lets take a quick look at another place Paul is writing to Christians, 1 Corinthians 1:13 .
There is some division starting and Paul tries to put an end to it. Some say they are of Paul, others Apollos, others Cephas, and other Christ. What does Paul say in verse 13 of the 1st chapter in 1 Corinthians ?
1 Corinthians 1:13 MSG I ask you, "Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul's name?"
Later in 1 Corinthians Paul tells the Christians that they all have to work together as one body, and what body is that? 1 Corinthians 12:27 & 28 .
1 Corinthians 12:27 MSG You are Christ's body--that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything.
28 You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his "body": apostles prophets teachers miracle workers healers helpers organizers those who pray in tongues.
In verse 27 it is called Christ's body and in verse 28 it is called the church. The body/church of Christ is not and can not be divided. There is only one. You might ask, "how can you say that since there are so many churches?" I didn't say it, God did in Ephesians 4:4 . Moving on to verses 7 - 10 .
Ephesians 4:7 MSG But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.
8 The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
9 It’s true, is it not, that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? 10 And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts,
Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. We are shown that since He climbed up He also climbed down, down to the valley of earth . This shows me that Christ was in heaven before coming to earth and that He returned to Heaven from earth.
Ephesians 4:11 MSG filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher Lets examine what these positions are that He handed out gifts of .
APOSTLE: (Messenger, he that is sent) In this context I believe an apostle was one of the 14 chosen by Jesus to testify to mankind about him. Remember there were 14, not just 12. Judas was replaced by Matthias and Paul was called to be an apostle.
PROPHET: (An inspired speaker, Authoritative teacher of God's will) Here I believe it is one who shows Christians God's will.
EVANGELIST:(Herald, A preacher of the Gospel) One who proclaims the good tidings. Philip, we know from Acts 8:40 was a preacher and he is called an evangelist in Acts 21:8 .
In 2 Tim. 4:2 Timothy is told to preach the Word and 3 verses later in the 5th verse he is told to do the work of an evangelist, and discharge all the duties of your ministry. From this we gather that an evangelist is a preacher/minister.
PASTORS--TEACHER: (Shepherds) Who is it that is to shepherd or oversee the flock? In Acts the 20th chapter, verses 28-30 elders at Ephesus are told:
Acts 20:28 MSG "Now it's up to you. Be on your toes--both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people--God's people they are--to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for.
29 "I know that as soon as I'm gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men 30 from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus.
In 1 Peter 5:2 the elders are told: MSG Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously.
The word shepherd in this verse is from the same word as pastor. Notice how the word pastor is misused in the world today. When someone says pastor most people think of a preacher.
When someone asks about the pastor at your church you should know they’re talking about Emmett. Elders are the pastors/shepherds of our local congregation.
Some translations don’t have the PASTORS-TEACHER linked together like this. They simply say “Pastors and Teachers.”
Incidentally the word (Kayhee) interpreted as "and" that is in-between the word Pastors, and the word teachers is copulative in the Greek meaning the two are coupled as one. (Others are deh)
Why did he give some these positions? Ephesians 4:12 MSG to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, 13 until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. 15 God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love--like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.
16 He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
This is why, to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
So We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love--like Christ in everything.
We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
Are you a part of the body of Christ, the church? If you are a part are keeping in step with each other ? Is your part functioning in the body or is your part in a cast not moving?
Every part of the body must function to make the body perfect. The mouth cannot refuse to chew. The throat cannot refuse to swallow. The stomach cannot refuse to digest.
The mouth chews when asked, the throat swallows when asked, the stomach digest when asked. In fact none of these parts need to be asked. When the need arises the body part functions.
Does your part in the body of Christ see a need and function or does your part need to be asked and begged to function. Please let your part do its work so the body of Christ can be joined and held together, growing and building itself up.
Has your part been asked to function lately? Do you see a function that your part can take care of? Don't let a job that you should be doing fall on someone else who already is taking care of other jobs.
Don't be fooled into thinking that you can hire someone to do what your part should be doing. If your part in the body of Christ does not function it will be cut off. We know this by reading John 15:1-2 .
John 15:1 MSG “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. 2 He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.
If you see work that needs to be done get to it with out being asked. If you don't see it and are asked, willfully go to work. Do your best to do God's will and produce fruit, let your body part function.
If you’re not a part of the body of Christ how do you become one?
We have studied in the past that you must believe the gospel of Christ. You must be repentant and turn away from a sinful nature. You must confess what you believe.
You must be clothed with Christ by being baptized in Jesus name for the forgiveness of you sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. You must press on and strive to do the will of God letting your part in the body of Christ do its work until the Lord returns.
If there is any way we can help you with any of this please come forward and let us know as we stand and sing our hymn of invitation.