Ephesians 4:11-16,  “The Intended Plan Of God To Use Offices And Gifts In The Church”

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:

 

1.1.                     In our last study, we looked at verses 1-10 of chapter 4.

 

1.1.1.  We saw that we had now entered into the second half of the epistle to the Ephesians.  Paul spent the first half of his letter telling the church about the things that the Lord had done for them and the second half detailing what their response to what the Lord has done for them ought to be.

 

1.1.2.  Paul in that section was teaching them to act in a Christ-like way and also to strive to walk in unity in the Holy Spirit.

 

1.2.                     In our study today, we are going to look at verses 11-16 of the fourth chapter of the book of Ephesians.

 

1.2.1.  We discussed in the introduction to this study that the book of Ephesians is a book that is about the church.  Then in our last study, we saw that Paul had mentioned that when Christ raised from the dead that at that time He also distributed spiritual gifts to each of His disciples.  Next, we looked at 1 Peter 4:10 where Peter wrote telling us that each and every believer in Christ had been given at least one spiritual gift, “10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God

 

1.2.2.  After the Protestant Reformation, church leaders began examining the scriptures to see how they instructed us that the church was to be organized and function.  Over time it became evident that the Roman church had strayed from the scriptures in different ways including making a separation between the clergy and the laity and in not recognizing that spiritual gifts were given to all believers and meant to be utilized by every single believer in Christ.  This understanding of spiritual gifts for every believer revolutionized the church by bringing in a powerful new dynamic.  Now, ministry was not just to be performed by the paid professional but by every member of the churches. 

 

1.2.3.  In the New Testament, we see that there are three places where spiritual gifts are listed by Paul.  In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Romans chapter 12, and Ephesians chapter 4.  We should not get too dogmatic about defining precisely what every spiritual gift a believer might have is since each of those three lists are different.

 

1.2.4.  All of the spiritual gifts that are mentioned in the New Testament as operational in the church are gifts that are to be used for the spiritual building up of the church (those who are saved), that is, with the exception of the gift of evangelism which is to be used on the non-believer.

 

1.2.5.  All believers receive a spiritual gift from the Lord, however it is not the case that a person will necessarily only receive one spiritual gift, nor that the Lord will not later give him a different gift or modify the usage and expression of his gift.   `

 

1.2.6.  Paul will discuss in our study today how that for the building up of the foundation of the church that the Lord called men to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and He gave spiritual giftings that continue today.

 

1.2.7.  We will look at the purpose for the various offices in the church as well as the various gifts that exist in the body of Christ.

 

2.     VS 4:11-12  - “11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” -  Paul enumerates various offices in the church and explains the purpose for their existence

 

2.1.                     One of the questions that always comes up when we consider these verses is whether or not these offices and gifts in the church have ceased to exist or whether they are perpetually to be found in the church throughout the ages.  We in the Calvary Chapels believe that the first two offices listed, apostle and prophet, may exist in the church today, however they will not function in the same manner as they did in the first generation of the church because in that generation these gifts were foundational offices.  The rest of the gifts of the Spirit exist in the church today much as they did in the early church. 

 

2.1.1.  ‘Apostles

 

2.1.1.1.      The word itself means “one sent out

 

2.1.1.2.      There were the capital “A” apostles of the first generation of the church who laid the foundation doctrinally for the church.  Since that generation we have lower case “a” apostles because the foundation for the church is already laid, and, we must reject any other foundation.  The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ as He IS God’s revelation to mankind and there is no other revelation needed or coming in this life.  Every page of our Bible reveals Jesus Christ to us.

 

2.1.1.3.      Today, there are lower case ‘a’ apostles who are doing ground breaking ministry planting churches in various parts of the world.  They are not determining anything new doctrinally since there is no need for this as that foundation was laid 2,000 years ago. 

 

2.1.2.  ‘Prophets’.

 

2.1.2.1.      The word means primarily to “bring forth the word of God  However, the emphasis when this gift is employed can be either to foretell the future or to forthtell the word of God.  This is primarily how the gift of prophesy manifests itself. 

 

2.1.2.2.      From the book of Acts we can see that in the first generation of the church the prophets functioned much more like they did in the Old Testament.  Receiving direct leading from the Lord they were used in determining the direction and to some extent beliefs of the church.  Without having the various letters and books of the New Testament the prophets in the early church were essential to the church for this role.  However, since the first generation of the church the emphasis for this office has primarily been that of bringing out the word of God that is already revealed in the scriptures rather than the foretelling of the future.

 

2.1.2.3.      Since that first generation of the church the gift of prophesy functions more in line with what Paul wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation

 

2.2.                     ‘Evangelists’ exist in the church today, as they did in the first generation of the church, and as was mentioned previously, their function was and is to preach the gospel to the lost and win people to saving faith in Christ.  This is always a very important function in the church.  It appears in the early church that ‘evangelists’ not only preached the gospel but also followed up on new converts and were used in the early stages to plant new churches.

 

2.3.                     ‘Pastors’ is a term that refers to the work of “shepherding the flock of God  The use of this gift involves the teaching of God’s word, yet it also involves discipleship, giving counsel, intercessory prayer, visiting the sick, etc.  ‘Pastors’ in the early church were also leaders over a flock (as we infer from Paul’s letters to pastors Timothy and Titus) and they typically entered the church after it had initially been planted.

 

2.4.                     ‘Teachers’ have always been an important part of the church and are used to bring out exegesis, interpretation and application of the scriptures to the lives of believers.  Teaching ministries are extensive in the church and entail Sunday School, men’s ministries, women’s ministries, youth ministries, home fellowship Bible studies, discipleship Bible studies, and Sunday morning teaching by pastors from the pulpit.

 

2.5.                     It is very important to note that the purpose for which these various offices and ministries in the church were given is ‘for the equipping of the saints for the work of service  In the wisdom of God, the officers of the church are not called to do all of the work of service, rather their function is ‘equipping’ others in the church so that they can do the work of ministry.  Simple mathematics should reveal that if we equip others to do ministry that we have multiplied our efforts and effectiveness.

 

2.6.                     There are different philosophies of church ministry in the world today, and one that has come about in this past generation is that of “church being for the lost rather than for the saved  The Seeker Friendly churches and now the Emergent Church groups have adopted this notion.  However, Paul reveals to us here in chapter four of Ephesians that the church is for the believer and that the ministries of the church are primarily for the purpose of ‘equipping the saints’ so that they can do the work of the ministry.  Christians are to be equipped to be sent out, the lost are not to be diverted into the church so that we can save them.  We want to have outreach ministries in the church however our primary emphasis has to be to edify and equip the saints so that we can send them out to win the lost.  If non-believers come to the church we certainly do want to be sensitive to them and if possible lead them to Christ.

 

2.7.                     To further emphasize the purpose of the various offices and spiritual gifts in the church, Paul writes that these are here for ‘the building up of the body of Christ

 

3.     VS 4:13  - “13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” -  Paul tells us how long the duration of the offices in the church will be:  ‘until we all attain to the unity of the faith’

 

3.1.                     One might ask the question of to what extent or for how long the offices and spiritual gifts are to be in operation in the church?  Paul gives the answer here in this verse:  ‘until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man’ and to that which belongs to Christ Himself.  In other words, until all of us who are Christians are perfected in our character and understanding of the things of God we have need of being ministered to by the offices and spiritual gifts operating in the church.  Since perfection will only occur when Jesus returns for the church then these ministries will continue to be needed in the church.

 

3.2.                     We Christians must realize that it is always the case that we have a lot to learn about the Lord and a lot of character that is still needing to be worked into our lives.  We must never become content or satisfied with where we are at in our spiritual walk and understanding.  It is always God’s will that we continue to grow spiritually and learn.

 

3.3.                     Teaching must be carried out also until all who are in the church come to have unanimity in the Lord, and thus ‘unity of the faith’ with each other.

 

3.4.                     Teachers of God’s word need to always consider how best to encourage, stimulate, and challenge those under their ministry in the things of the Lord.

 

4.     VS 4:14  - “14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” -  Paul tells the Ephesians that we (Christians) are not to be tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine

 

4.1.                     Paul here brings up the need for Christians to truly grow in spiritual understanding and maturity so that we are not deceived by those who are teaching things that are contrary to God’s word.  We Christians are accountable by the Lord to have real discernment of what is right and wrong, and in this way we will not be acting like ‘children’ in our understanding and behavior but rather “adults

 

4.2.                     We Christians need to take Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15 to heart for ourselves and, “15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth

 

4.3.                     Nothing has changed in this world.  Today, there are numerous false teachers of various types, and they are all operating in the same manner as they were in Paul’s day.  This verse also brings out the hidden motives that false teachers have in their teaching for Paul speaks here of the ‘trickery of men’ and ‘craftines in deceitful scheming

 

4.4.                     I have personally known many Christians that are constantly being blown by winds of doctrine in any and every direction.  Some believers never seem to get grounded in their faith and they never seem to gain discernment concerning what the scriptures teach.  Many of these type of people just bounce from church to church and thus hear different doctrinal concepts everywhere they go and because of this they don’t know what they believe nor why.  A tree or a plant needs to stay planted if it is to truly grow and be healthy, so also with Christians and the church.

 

5.     VS 4:15  - “15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” -  Paul tells the Ephesians to speak the truth in love to one another

 

5.1.                     Paul tells us here that one of the key aspects necessary to ‘grow up in all aspects into Him’ is that of ‘speaking the truth in love’ to each other in the body of Christ.  There is given no explanation of this verse however it surely implies many things including that the unity that we as Christians are to have is never to be a unity gained at the expense of truth.  Rather, the fellowship in the church amongst believers must always center around seeking for and living the ‘truth’ found in God’s word.

 

5.2.                     We Christians sometimes error by avoiding uncomfortable subjects with brothers and sisters, subjects that really ought to be approached at an appropriate time and place.  We often mention in our teaching the applying of Matt. 18 when we believe that a brother or a sister is doing something that is sinful or when we believe they have done something against us (going in private to that brother or sister and rebuking them in love), but in reality most Christians are not brave enough to ‘speak the truth in love’ in those very important situations.  However, this type of loving confrontation is important to do in the church if we are to truly grow and mature into the body of Christ that God desires that we be.

 

5.3.                     Again emphasizing the continual need for spiritual growth and improvement and the teaching and ministries that promote those things, Paul writes that we as Christians are to grow up in ‘all aspects’ into Christ.  We Christians must realize that it is important for us to apply all of scripture to our life and to become like Christ in every single aspect of our life. 

 

5.4.                     The growth that is to occur in the church is always to occur as Christ is maintained and looked up to as ‘the head’ of the church.

 

6.     VS 4:16  - “16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love -  Paul tells the Ephesians about how the body of Christ function led by Christ

 

6.1.                     In this verse we see the Lord Jesus Christ working dynamically in the body of Christ in various manners:

 

6.1.1.  He is fitting each member into the body of Christ.

 

6.1.1.1.      The Lord calls each one that He desires to be a part of His body.  Each person has a unique function in the body and it is the Lord who shows how each member is to fit in with the rest of the body.

 

6.1.1.2.      When I have begun to attend the various fellowships that I have attended I have always held back being really involved for a period of time so that I could determine how I was supposed to use my gifts in that body.  It has always also been the case whenever I have begun to attend a fellowship that initially there was someone or several people who were already doing ministries where I have normally been used.  However, in time either people in those ministries moved on to other ministries opening up the door for me or the Lord opened up a new ministry for me to be involved in, and it has always been exciting for me to be used in these new types of ways. 

 

6.1.1.3.      For about seven years I played the bass guitar in the worship teams of the churches I attended.  I did this not because my strong musical gift is playing the bass guitar, it is actually more playing improvisationally on the guitar, however for those years there were always lots of guitarists in the church but no one but me who could play the bass guitar.  God blessed me and used me during those years because of my faithfulness to use my gifts in the ways that He opened up to me.  Even today I do not consider myself a worship leader however God has now opened up the door for me to be a worship leader for about 8 eight years and I’ve tried to be faithful to the Lord in that ministry He has given to me.  God always opens the doors He wants to open for our lives.

 

6.1.1.4.      I have always believed that Proverbs 18:16 is a promise that is for the body of Christ, “16 A man’s gift makes room for him And brings him before great men  If we are faithful to the Lord He will make room for the using of our spiritual gifts in His timing and in the way that He wants to work through us. 

 

6.1.2.  He is holding together the body and all of its various parts.

 

6.1.2.1.      The Lord in the working of His grace and love holds the body together in unity and love.  This is a very important task because there are so many temptations and snares in this world that the evil one places before us that are designed to cause the church to dissimulate.  The Lord Jesus holds us together.

 

6.2.                     Notice here in this verse how that Paul describes the building up of the body of Christ through the various offices and spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit that are employed, the building up of itself ‘in love  This is an indication by Paul that all of the activity of the church should really be activity guided and propelled by God’s love working through the body of Christ.

 

7.     CONCLUSIONS:

 

7.1.                     As we consider this study and how it might apply to our life, we first of all ought to recognize that those who have been placed in the church over our lives are there to equip us for the work of ministry.  Thus, we need to try to learn as much as we can from them so that we can be equipped as He desires to equip us. 

 

7.1.1.  If you were being trained for your job or a class you were taking in school you would want to take notes and if you missed any lecture you would want to get the notes for it or listen to the lecture on tape.  In the church, I encourage note taking and we always have tapes of our services available after the services for those who have missed the services.

 

7.2.                     We also need to recognize that each of us have a ministry within the body of Christ, at least God desires that for our life in His timing and after we have come to the place of spiritual maturity where we can be used of God. 

 

7.3.                     Lets commit ourselves to the Lord to be faithful in the use of our spiritual gifts in the body of Christ, and lets use them in the ways that He opens up to us.  Lets be faithful with our gifts where we are today and watch the Lord make room for our gift. 

 

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