"Equipping the Church."
November 8, 2021, 3:00 PM

 

“Equipping the Church.”

Our devotional today is on Ephesians 4:1-16. This is the beginning of the ethical section of the letter to the church in Ephesus. In the first three chapters of the letter, Paul explained the gospel. Starting in chapter four, Paul addresses how we live considering the truth of the gospel. In other words, Paul shows us in concrete terms how we are to live as Christians in the world. Over the last five weeks we have been focused on digging into the purpose of the church. Starting with the sermon and devotional from September 19, 2021, we have looked at several aspects of the church. If you missed any, the sermons and devotionals from this series are on our website.

The purpose of the church is to glorify God. To glorify God is why the church exists. All the ways we glorify God can be put under one of three categories: worship brings glory to God, evangelism brings glory to God, and equipping the church brings glory to God. Everything we do as Christians, both individually and together as the church, is under one of these three categories. For example, when we looked at Acts 2:42-47 we saw that the early church was devoted to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. They gathered in worship to hear the apostle’s teaching and to learn the Scriptures. They gathered in fellowship during the week to spend time together to encourage one another. They prayed together in worship and at times they met. The breaking of bread took place in the form of observing the Lord’s Supper as well as sharing meals together.

One of the many ways we glorify God as a church is through our unity. It is the unity of the church that Paul is talking about in this section from Ephesians. As a church we are to be united, first and foremost, by our confession that Jesus is the Christ, and that forgiveness of sins comes through faith in Jesus. By His death, Jesus secured salvation for those who believe in Him. Paul knew that if a local congregation was going to be healthy, they had to be unified. Paul says that for a church to be healthy, they must be marked by a spiritual unity (vv.1-6), marked by spiritual diversity (vv. 7-12), and marked by spiritual maturity (vv. 13-16).

I want to focus this devotional specifically on verses 11-16. When you read what Paul has written you see that Jesus has gifted each member of the church differently. This is spiritual diversity. Sometimes we think that unity comes from being the same. That isn’t true. Being the same is called uniformity. Uniformity is boring. Diversity isn’t something to be scared of, it is something to celebrate. Paul is specifically talking about spiritual diversity. We have different roles to play within the life of the congregation. Some are teachers and some are pastors. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the roles in a congregation. This is a leadership list in a way. The role of leaders in a congregation is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”

The role of pastors and teachers in congregations is to help the entire congregation be engaged in ministry. Making disciples is not a job that is only for pastors. All Christians are called to be active in the ministry life of the congregation. But each one of us will play different roles. That is important and necessary. It is also wonderful. Paul says that for the church to be healthy, each member must play their part. In verse 16, Paul uses the imagery of the human body to illustrate his point. Have you ever tried to exercise with a pulled muscle or another part of your body that isn’t healthy? It hurts. If you are trying to do sit-ups with a bruised rib, it is going to be very painful. An unhealthy body part effects the whole body. Paul says that for a congregation to be healthy, each member must be working together to promote healthy growth in the congregation.

Each one of us is called to use whatever gifts God has given us for the benefit of the church. This takes place most naturally in the life of a local congregation. As you read this, pray about what gifts you have been given and how you may use those in the life of the congregation you belong to. If you are reading this and are not part of a local congregation, pray that you will be guided to a local congregation that is faithful to God’s Word and is actively involved in ministry in your community. Find a congregation to belong to. It is not healthy for a Christian to be cut-off from the rest of the body.

If you are not sure what gifts you have, talk to a friend in the congregation or the pastor and ask for help in discerning your gifts. It is often easier for people to see our talents before we do. Pray about your gifts and seek ways to use them in the life of the congregation to which you belong. The fellowship of believers is there to help encourage you in your growth as a Christian. Remember, God has called you to be faithful to Him and He has given you the gift of the Holy Spirit to help you

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