In Christ, we are all one church, one body, one team, one family. And just like sports teams, every member of God’s team, every member of God’s family, is important. We all grow together and live life together better when we each live up to our God-given potential.
Ephesians 4:7-16 (HCSB)
7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.
11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, ⌊growing⌋ into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.
Jesus gives us gifts (vv7-8). He came down to earth – descended, as verses 9-10 say – and then ascended back to heaven, taking captive the demonic forces that would seek to rule and control our lives. As Christ-followers, we are not subject to such forces, but we choose rather to follow Jesus as our Lord.
- Take note: who gives you your gifts?
- Why does it matter that you acknowledge that Jesus is the originator of your gifts? How does this change your attitude and your responsibilities to use your gifts?
In verses 11-13, we read about four specific types of church leadership roles. All of these roles are vitally important to the work of God in the world.
- apostles – the “sent out ones,” today being evidenced by missionaries, church planters, and others who are sent out by the Lord
- prophets – those who see and speak the truth clearly and boldly. With prophets there are no gray areas. Issues and doctrine are either right or wrong.
- evangelists – those who have as their heart’s desire and their life practice to share the good news of Jesus with those who don’t know Him
- pastor-teachers – these are those who teach the Word of God to the church, care for the church, protect the church, and more
Do you notice what verses 12-13 say the main reason is that God has placed these leaders in the church? It is NOT to do all of the work of the ministry. God has called these leaders to EQUIP the saints (all the believers in the church) to do the work of the ministry. Of course the leaders to do their God-given jobs as well, putting their gifts to work. One of the ways they equip is by leading by example. But the bottom line is that God desires for all of His children to use their gifts to serve Him and to serve others. And His Holy Spirit strengthens us to serve Him.
When we all do our part, our team is stronger, we are united, and we all experience victory.
- How does realizing that your church leaders are not the only ones that God intends to do ministry change the way you see the church working together to advance God’s kingdom?
Verse 14 tells us that when we are growing in Christ that we will not give in to false teaching or wrong doctrine. This is important. We will be spiritually mature. We will recognize falsehood and avoid it. We will help each other as a church to pursue God’s plan.
Verse 15 reminds us of two things:
- Speak the truth in love. Always speak the truth. Always speak in love. Speak the truth in love.
- Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. That means He is the leader of all believers worldwide, and He is the leader of every local church. Jesus is the Head of the church.
Verse 16 summarizes everything that this blog post has been talking about. Take a moment to re-write verse 16 in your own words, even if you only do so in your mind.
- What ONE THING will you take from these Ephesians 4:7-16 and apply to your life this week? Do it!