ALIVE Church | Ephesians 4:1-16
Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 4:1–4:16
Christopher Rich – November 10, 2019
ALIVE | The Way Unearned | PART VIII
ALIVE CHURCH | Ephesians 4:1-16
Introduction | CHURCH
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.
In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned.
Life with God includes life with His people – To this point in Ephesians You have all these big concepts to unpack what it means to be the people of God all these promises about life with God in eternally. Orphaned Son’s and Daughters adopted into a new family. Rebel aliens who become full citizens. Dead sinners made alive. We hear these and we say YES we want that! When? Now. Where? The church. Then we come into the church and say “really?” It doesn’t always seem to match these grand ideals. Church (the church) is full of imperfect people and we know we’re not perfect either (but were not as imperfect as everyone else). There seems to be a disconnect that if we’re not careful can lead us to be disillusioned.
Can we be honest that we struggle with this because what we know is true theologically isn’t always experienced temporally? We want life with God, we trust Jesus, and we’re not to be isolated but when it comes time to engage with the people of God there can be great expectations and sometime great pain. So we search and shop for just the right one thinking if we can find the perfect church where everything is dialed in and think that must be where life is where we’ll have joy and growth with limited or no effort or contribution on our part and if we don’t like something we keep searching. But what is the difference between a church that is truly alive and one that just seems like it? It cannot be external measurements because it’s easy to have activities that gather people and systems and structures that achieve certain results and still not be alive. Churches have to have systems and structures but that is not what unifies and brings life to the people of God, they only exist to serve as opportunities to flourish and grow together.
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations does not constitute a church anymore than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” - AW Tozer
So the first requisite is life always, but then (when life is assumed/present) there are attitudes and actions we possess and display which cultivate the life we have been given. Who we are impacts what we do. What we know informs and impacts how we go about life in the way unearned. The second half of Ephesians shifts focus from the indicatives (what is true?) of the Gospel to the imperatives (what do we do in light of what is true?) of the Gospel. We have been made Alive by God to live a new way. How the Gospel impacts us as a person begins with how it shapes us as a people, specifically the Church.
PART I | The Way We Are Unified | Ephesians 4:1-6
Eph 4:1-6 |1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Being made ALIVE means we walk in a manner worth of The Way Unearned. Paul has been imprisoned by walking out the call of Christ on His life, specifically to preach the Gospel to unbelievers to plant and strengthen churches, not he’s saying I am locked up for the Gospel you have liberty, use it to live out (walk out) a life that is worthy of the fact you’ve been called to follow God. What does it mean to “walk in a manner worthy”? How is this different that “walking to become worthy”? We don’t walk hoping we’re become worth of God’s calling in our lives. We in a manner worthy of the fact that we’re already called. One is walking to earn a possession or achievement, the other is living with a possession we’ve received. There are so many implications of this for every aspect of our lives (and many of these are covered later in the rest of Ephesians) most of which revolve around relationships with others. The first relationship he addresses is that of the church. There is an assumption it is THE necessary relationship that impacts all others.
Unity with other believers Unity does not happen without intentionality. We naturally drift towards greater disunity. Sin separates, it creates dividing walls of hostility that keep us from communion with God and one another. Because sin separates our default is disunity. However, the Gospel unifies diverse people who have been called into one body, the family of God. We have people of different backgrounds, races, genders, languages, socio-economic status, and personalities each with their own unique flavor of sin and brokenness who are brought into this new people of God who are being changed and growing at different ways and rates and we’re going to put them together in one community with one shared identity and purpose. What could go wrong? How could they not be unified? Better question how could they every be unified? The truth is we already have unity. Unity has to be eagerly maintained. To maintain something is to take care of something you already possess, is present, or have been given to steward. There are dispositions of our character an attitudes that need to present as ingredient to promote flourishing this include:
Humility- How we see others. Lowliness of mind(lit), not a typical virtue and not a self-deprecation which becomes self-centered. You are cognitively aware of the value of others which allows you to see yourself and others accurately as those made alive and adopted by God. Pride lurks behind all discord (Stott)
Gentleness – How we engage with others. We have self-control in how we act towards others. Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. It knows we all have strengths and giftings but they’re not aggressively asserted for our personal benefit, but they are directed delicately for the benefit of others.
Patience – How we respond to others. We are not quick to anger or highly reactionary to the challenging input of others, but we are slow to respond even and especially in the times of grating difficulty. It means we don’t always react to everything that bothers us every time.
Bearing with one another (in love) – How we endure others. There mutuality that comes from humility, gentleness, and patience. Where we are able to tolerate one another because we know we’re all valuables to God AND we know we’re all hurt and broken by sin. This cannot exist without humility because in pride we’ll assume if others are bothering us or difficult it’s on them. We are bound together by peace.
This seems hard, it is. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bind us together in peace as we walk the way of gentle patience with one another. Only when theses ingredients are present can you have opportunities for unity to be experienced and hope to maintain it. Where these are not present, and the opposites reign so will division. We are unified by the Trinity - There is one body because of Holy Spirit’s work of calling us from Death to life. There is one Lord/King (Jesus Christ the Son) who we have our shared faith in and who we’ve pledged allegiance as citizens of His kingdom to through baptism. There is one Father of our family.
God is over us all He is the authority. God is working through us to produce fruitfulness. God is in us all so we are unified. We are unified in our identity and disposition towards one another, but we are not uniform.
PART II | The Way We Are Equipped | Ephesians 4:7-14
Eph 4:7-14 | 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 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, 14 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.
Unity in the Gospel is not Uniformity- We are all equal in the family of God but that doesn’t mean we are all the same in how we have been gifted by God or deployed in the church for God. We need to know what sport we’re playing. Most of the time we think Christianity being a disciple of Jesus means we’re on a golf, bowling, or X-Country team. We’re all doing the exact same activity some just score more/less or run faster than others. So we look around and see some people we think are mature or are gifted a certain way and we think we’re only good Christians if we look like, or act like they do. The comparisons are crippling and not honoring to the way others have been made or what God’s plan and purpose for us is. Unity quickly gives way to diversity. This is how we are to function. We’re not on the cross country trying to run faster only to see others sprinting out in front of us. We’re playing football. You have a team unified with a common identity and purpose. They’re all wearing the same clothes but they’re all doing dramatically different functions. You have different squads, different skill sets needed, even different ways of playing the same position. You have dramatically different body types, training practices, even diets. On the outside you look at a kicker and DT and say “are they even playing the same sport?” Yet both are necessary for the team to win. If they’re not deployed properly opportunities for victory dwindle. While we are unified in our disposition, we are not necessarily in deployed in the same position. Who makes the team?
Jesus Gifts us with and by His grace- Jesus is in charge…. Jesus is the own who give giftings Jesus is the one who calls us to be the us HE has made us to be for His purposes. He drafts and determines what positions we are going to play on His team. But with Jesus’ draft He’s not looking at our measurables and potential because He is also the one who graciously gifts us with abilities, He has determined we need to accomplish His purposes. Vs 8 is Jesus victory and resurrection where He has given us spoils of war to then get to work.
We are gifted to equip - Starting in verse 11 He’s not listing types of giftings, but types of people. Specific roles, giftings, functions. So where all believers are given the same identity and status on the team, given the fruit of the Spirit, all of us are called to the great commission to go and make disciples, called to the great commandment to love God and people, we’re all playing the same sport. There are specific people given and gifted with specific rolls for a purpose. Christ Gives to His Church => apostles, prophets, evangelist, shepherds/pastors, and teachers for a purpose (So they can do ministry, build the church? No!) => To equip (who?) The saints (who is that? Everyone!) What are they being equipped for? To live their best life now? NO! To active engage in the work of “ministry/mission”, which is the building up of the “Body of Christ”
What is the work of the ministry and building up of the Body? This is any act of service that brings glory to God. Good food! Good Art! Good work! Not limited to “church work” but to be the church at work in the world for God’s purposes. More on that later in Ephesians. You are an individual that is part of a body where all parts are needed to function properly. Our boiler had a water circulation pump it didn’t work and we had no heat. How is Jesus making his rule and reign manifest in the world? It is His church in the world working for His glory etc. Not only in the church gathering, not only in the ministries of the church but to follow, serve, and be the body of Jesus in the everyday stuff of life. It scatters but also gathers as the church. God has gifted this place spirit filled born again alive disciples of Jesus to show His love and reign in the world. The growth of the body happens by the growth of disciples living alive the way unearned. Each of us have a unique God-given gifting and role as members of the body for a common purpose, to see Christ’s mission flourish in maturity. Unity is needed in this. Unity needs to be maintained because it already exists (v3) but it also needs to be attained (v13) visibly unity needs to be seen and practiced so that unity can be experienced more fully. The grow and maturity of the church leads to greater and deeper unity. Maturity is a process of progress and there are different degrees of maturity so it is with unity.
Immaturity is never a goal. We cannot produce growth by sheer will any more than a child can grow taller merely wishing it, at the same time there is a tension in that a child cannot help but grow into adulthood as they are designed to. However, we can engage in activities and practices that cultivate opportunities for growth or choose to disengage or pursue other activities that can hinder our growth or prolong immaturity. Without desires driving us to intentional discipline we will naturally drift towards immaturity. Just as unused muscles in our bodies can shrink and eventually atrophy, members of the body of Christ need to consistently be built up. Lack of maintenance or pursuit of growth will lead to deterioration. So we should desire to be rooted in practices and habits that promote our growth. We each have specific areas of gifting to be cultivated and areas we need greater maturity in as individuals and as a community. The health and maturity of each member is essential to the health of the whole body. There is no true growth in an individual believer that does not also support the building up of the church. Each way we are gifted or called is not for our own ends to have a self-centered life but these gifts and callings are always for the flourishing of others. This flourishing helps each of us enjoy greater fullness but also prepares us to endure and engage with external difficulty. Unity and gifts are not given to prevent suffering but to surviving it.
Maturity leads to greater endurance in the face of great opposition – Jesus says, we need to be child-like in our faith in terms of trusting God the Father. But we’re not called to be childish in our life and practice. Children are undisciplined and highly venerable. When you’re immature like a child you just soak in everything like a sponge often without wisdom or discernment and you’re at times unanchored in the face of storms. You don’t share everything with your kids all the time because you don’t want them to ride the waves of life’s storms. Preachers, leaders, teachers, are necessary to help effectively bringing God’s word, the truth of the Gospel to bear in the face of false doctrine, deception that seek to bring division.
How has God gifted you for building up the church? What is an area you recognize you need to grow in? Where have you seen growth in your life? Who can you equip or encourage?
PART III | The Way We Grow | Ephesians 4:15-16
Eph 4:15-16 | 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 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.
Instead of division and deception that seeks to tear us down and apart we remain held together by Christ. None of us are finished products and beyond the need to be lifelong learners. We each have specific areas of gifting to be cultivated and areas we need greater maturity in. This is true individually and communally. The health and maturity of each member is essential to the health of the whole body. There is no true growth in an individual believer that does not also support the building up of the church.
Truth without love is Hard – doctrinal purity, legalism, without any charity, mercy, or grace is painful.
Love without truth is Soft – Unity without out truth, lack of clarity, never confronting, is also painful.
We need both truth and love to help us grow. This should be our church where we are both clear and compassionate. Who can speak the truth in love to you? Where can you hear what is true in a community that is secure? If you care about someone care about them enough to help them see what they can’t and then release the results. You don’t cannot make yourself grow and you cannot make people grow. We don’t sanctify people. God is the one who does that work through the Holy Spirit, you might be a conduit at times but you’re not the one who convicts of sin or conforms hearts to the Spirit and will of God.
We need your process of maturity for our collective unity. If we are body being built up to maturity (fullness) of Christ than that means each part better be maturing in Christ as well otherwise we have this fully-grown torso with a baby’s legs, gray hair and wisdom but kid hands, we’re going to be a really ineffective body.
Are you part of the body? Maybe the part of the body that has been or is missing is you. You matter to the body. Something is missing when you’re not here. Maybe the part of this body that is We need each other, held together by and following the Spirit equipping His church with all it needs for us as individuals and as a community to build up the body of Christ. Become part of the Body of Christ by placing your faith and hope in Jesus who sacrificed His body on the cross for your sin and rose again so you could have life with God as a member of His body now and forever.
Join the people of God on the mission of God to see more people know and love Jesus. Let’s not be fully satisfied with our church or any church the way it is today, but be secure enough in Christ to be content but not complacent so we can walk the way unearned and actually strive and seek individually “work properly” for the purposes of His body being built up in Love when we Trust Jesus.
SPIRITUAL: Relationship with God
- What does your prayer life look like? Do you have one?
- Are you getting a steady diet of God’s word? Is it feast or famine?
- What is the biggest thing God has been teaching you recently?
- What is keeping you from growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus?
- What is one thing you can change this week/month to grow in this area?
PERSONAL: Relationship/Responsibilities with yourself and others.
- Asses your overall health: Physically, financially, work/school/home?
- How would you describe your family and/or relationship life?
- What a relationship or responsibility you need to give renewed focus?
- Are there other men in your life that can speak the truth in love to you?
- What is one thing you can change this week/month to grow in this area?
MISSIONAL: Relationship/Responsibilities with church and community.
- How are you giving of your time, talent, treasure to your church? Is it regular, sacrificial, and cheerful? If not what area do you need to grow in?
- Are you a part of the body holding it together and/or building it up?
- How you describe your “work of ministry”? If you can’t, why?
- What is the primary way you belong to and/or bless your community?
- What is one thing this week/month you can change to grow in this area?
- Why do we naturally drift towards disunity and immaturity? How does the Gospel motivate us towards greater unity and maturity?