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Sunday, December 20, 2015 pm                                    Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (24)
Equipped For the Work of Ministry
Ephesians 4:12-16

As we continue our study in the book Ephesians, last month we began addressing leaders appointed by God for the building up of the body.  In that lesson we addressed the various works given for brethren.    We talked about the apostles, prophets, evangelists, preachers & teachers.  We noted that each of these functions is related to delivering God’s word.  Tonight we want to notice what they are appointed to do.

 I.                    For the equipping of the saints

a.        For the equipping of the saints
The word “for” is a preposition that in this case means unto or toward – in the direction of accomplishing its goal. 
Equipping – (καταρτισμός, katartismos) is a word that means to bring something to its completion.  Other terms would include perfecting or preparing one toward something.  That something is identified in our text and has to do with going on to perfection – our theme this year.
The root of this word is found in texts like 1 Corinthians 1:10 – perfectly joined…; Hebrews 13:21- complete in every good work and 1 Peter 5:10 – may God …perfect you.  Also of interest is its use in Matthew 4:21 where the term describes the disciples “mending” their nets.  Fixing them so that they are usable. 
NOTE: The various functions provided in the previous verse lead to the SAINTS being equipped.    This text is yet another reminder of what we all need to be doing.  It’s not just about the leaders doing their part, but as this entire text emphasizes, we all have a part.  We all need to be equipped to do our function. 

b.       For the work of ministry (service) -
This is not a separate function from the equipping of the saints, but a result of it.  The word “ministry” (διακονία, diakonia) is a derivative of the same word for deacon and it simply means a servant, or in this case the “work of service”.    
The word is found in texts such as Luke 10:40 where Martha was distracted with much “serving”; relief that is sent to brethren in Judea (Acts 11:29); Romans 12:7 – gifts of ministry used for ministering; and Revelation 2:19 where the church at Ephesus is commended for their love and service….  The word is also used of the work of Paul and other preachers – Col. 4:17, 2 Tim. 4:5,  Acts 12:25.  What the “ministry” is, is determined by the text.
In our text it speaks of one serving others for the sake of building up the body of Christ. 
It is not about the leaders fulfilling THEIR ministry (they are the teachers who are equipping the saints), but rather it is the members doing their work. 
We are here reminded that we all have works to do – whether it be reaching the lost, caring for the needy, or building each other up within the church. 
It is NOT about providing social activities, conducting business, being engaged in community service, etc.   These are ALL VERY GOOD works that need to be done, and done by Christians, but the approach of this passage is dealing with God’s word which these leaders instruct us in. 

c.        For the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ -
This too is not a separate work, but the result of our work of ministry.
The word edifying (ο
κοδομή, oikodomē) is a term that means building up.  It Is a building term that can either mean, the process of building (as in construction) or a building that is the result of construction (cf. BDAG). 
IT is a term that often describes the responsibility we as Christians have to strengthen each other in the faith – as in this verse.  In 1 Corinthians 3:9 Paul said, “We are God’s fellow workers, you are God field, you are God’s building.”
In Romans 14:19 we pursue things that make for peace and edifying one another;
1 Corinthians 14:3, 5, 12, 26 – dealing with our worship, let all things be done for edification.
Also Ephesians 4:16 (edification) and vs. 29, let what proceeds out of your mouth be necessary for edification.
In our text, it is the RESULT of working with that which we have been equipped with.  The body that is edified is the church, which we have addressed throughout this letter (and will also note further in vs. 16)   Often we fail to grow as the Lord’s church because 1) we are not (perfected) adequately equipped AND we are not genuinely serving others as we ought to.  

 II.                  Until…

a.        For how long is this work needed?  Vs. 13 describes that.  Summarized it is until complete maturity is reached.  This includes:

b.       We come to the unity of the faith – Unity means “oneness”.  We have emphasized this unity throughout Ephesians 4.   Remember the 7 “ones” of 4:1-6 (the elements of unity). 
Philippians 2:1-2 describes the degree of our unity. 

                                                   i.      The faith – Till there is perfect agreement as to God’s word.  Agreement is crucial to true unity.  We need to seek agreement as to understanding.   We need understanding in what are matters of faith and what are not (matters of liberty),  We need united respect for His word.  We need to understand matters that are crucial to oneness – such as our worship, how we are saved, what is the church, fellowship, morality – all matters that affect both me and my brethren together.
Romans 12:2 – when we are transformed it is so, “you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

                                                  ii.      And of the knowledge of the Son of God – an understanding of who Jesus is and what He did to promote this oneness is crucial.
There is a reason we emphasize the need for understanding the very nature of Jesus.  If we are not united on who Jesus is, everything else could be skewed.
John’s epistles were addressing one who had a false view of the nature of Jesus – Gnosticism.  That view affected their moral behavior.
Understanding that Jesus lived AS a man is crucial to His being able to help us with our temptations (Heb. 2:17-18, 4:14-16)
In this letter alone, Paul has emphasized WHAT Jesus did to bring us together. Ephesians 2:5 – made alive together in Him, 2:13-16 – brought near and reconciled by His blood, 3:9 – “the fellowship of the mystery” – a reference to revelation that unites us – including prophecy, etc.

c.        To a perfect man – one who has reached maturity -
The word “perfect” here describes one who is mature or fully developed. 
When it comes to “faith” I think of Abraham when he offered his son Isaac – Hebrews 11:17, Gen. 22
This has been an emphasis this year in our studies as we speak of going on to perfection – Heb. 6:1.  Heb. 5:14 note that solid food belongs to those of full age…
Colossians 1:28 – preaching Christ can help us present every man perfect in Him.
2 Peter 1:5-11 – as we build upon our faith we reach the point of making our call and election SURE!
NOTE: The maturity and unity within a congregation depends upon the maturity of its members! 

d.       To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ – unity is achieved when we all imitate Jesus in our lives.  We fully understand Him and seek to live as He lived.  Consider WWJD – while the premise can be abused (used with self-serving motives to dismiss true obedience and unity) it is true that we must seek to imitate Him.  1 Corinthians 11:1 – imitate me as I also imitate Christ.
When Jesus called His disciples, He said, “Follow Me…” (Matt. 4:19).  He was asking them to physically follow Him, but in time their realized that to follow Him meant to much more than just following Him around.   Matthew 28:19-20 – they were to “make disciples” – a disciple is a follower – one who learns and imitates the Master’s teachings.
There is nothing that will promote true unity more than all of us being like Christ.  Those entrusted to teach us ought to keep this as our goal.
1 Peer 2:21 – Jesus suffered leaving us an example that we should walk in His steps.
Ephesians 5:1 – be imitators of God.

e.       Having said all this, there is always room for growth.  We will never reach the point where we cannot grow any more in these things, therefore we must continue on and we continue to need to built up in His word!   That is one reason we need to here every chance we can – Hebrews 10:24-25 – exhorting one another.

 III.                So that…

WHEN we reach that state of perfect unity in word some of the results include:

a.        We should no longer be children – we have reached maturity.  We have grown up. 
There comes a time when we need to put away childish things (cf. 1 Cor. 13:11)
There were problems in Corinth because they were acting children – 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Corinthians 14:20 in understanding be mature
Hebrews 5:12-14 again reminds us of this.
God’s word is described as food – 1 Peter 2:1-2, Hebrews 5:14, John 4:34, etc.

b.       No longer…tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. 
Children are precious, but they are also gullible.  Young children absolutely depend on others to protect them in many ways.  They are not capable to take care of themselves – that is, they are not MATURE yet!   
When we grow up in God’s word we reach that point to where we can fend off the predator.  One of the responsibilities of elders is to identify and expose the wolves  (Acts 20:28-32, Titus 1:9-11); Preachers are to expose error – 2 Tim. 4:2, etc.
But as part of the flock, do we want to be totally dependent on these leaders and not think for ourselves?  That is dangerous!  What is a leader is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15, cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3)  When leaders are doing their job, they are not only watching the flock, they are also bringing the flock to maturity so that they can protect themselves. 
Friends, that is why YOU need to grow in God’s word.  That was the rebuke of Hebrews 5:12-14!

c.        Speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – finally maturity applies not only to our actions, but also our attitudes and motives.  We have emphasized continually the importance of godly motives.  Christian love (agapē) is to be behind all that we do.   
1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  1 Corinthians 16:11 says, “Let all that you do be done with love.” 

 

When those who are leading us in developing God’s word teach us properly, these things are the results for each of us.  We will be grounded so that we can do our part to cause the Lord’s body to grow.  That is what vs. 16 is about.  In our next lesson we will address the results of our maturity within the body.  Until then, let us resolve to equip ourselves for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.  Think about it.