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Sunday, January 17, 2016 pm                                    Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (25)
Joined and Knit Together
Ephesians 4:16

 

Tonight, we continue our study of Ephesians.  The past few lessons we have addressed how God has given us leaders in the word to equip us for the edifying of the body of Christ.  In our last lesson we noted that when we are taught the word, we are equipped for unity of the faith, to strive toward perfection and so that we are no longer tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine.  Today we see the impact this has on us as the body of Christ.

 I.                    The whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies

a.        We are reminded of how we are the body of Christ – notice vs. 15 speaks of Christ as the head.  
This has been emphasized throughout this book – Ephesians 1:22-23.  Later, while comparing the church to the relationship between a husband and wife he notes that Christ is the head of the church and Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23)

Body is one of the more frequently used descriptions of a congregation. Paul addresses it in detail in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 where he emphasizes how every part has a function and is in need of the other parts.  That is what our text also deals with in a more concise way.
Romans 12:4-5 also teaches this.
Colossians 1:19 warns of those who exploit the believers “not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”  By its very definition, a body is made up of many different parts

b.       Joined and knit together by what every joint supplies
Joined is a word that shows we are fitted together.  The word is used here and Eph. 2:21 where is speaks of a building being fitted together.  Like a body, a building is never a single part – but many parts and layers constructed into a single, functioning structure. 
Knit together (compacted – KJV) – implies that we are held together in the same way that a cloth is made up of threads that are joined together. 
it is amazing how the parts of a body are brought together and become intact.  It is not just a collection of parts, but the parts are joined together AND when functioning properly they move in conjunction with each other.   Virtually every action we take in our bodies involves a number of different parts doing its job – we have heard that it takes many muscles to smile – (at least 10)  - all working together.   To take a single step requires some 200 muscles.  These are just illustrations of a body at work.

c.        Similarly, the body of Christ within a given location needs to have this type of seamless unity to fully function – this is the unity that we have been emphasizing throughout the book of Ephesians.
NOTE: The idea of being built and/or knitted together implies work that is done to create the structure in question. 
FOR a church to mature takes a great deal of effort.  I see that implied all throughout this text and scripture.

 II.                  According to the effective working by which every part does its share

a.        Effective working – the KJV says, “effectual working”, the NASB says, “proper working”, the ESV says, “each part working properly”.  Our English word, energy is a derivative of the Greek word used here.  It is a word that means to be active or operating.   Found 8 times in the NT and translated “working” in 7 of them.

b.       Every part does its share - As members of the body of Christ we need to be active!  And we need to be functioning properly.  We need to be working to our full potential.
When a part of the physical body breaks down, it affects the rest of the body.  In fact, the rest of the body has to compensate which stresses or tires out the rest of the body quicker. 

I think of the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 and how the actions of some affected the rest, or in some cases INFECTED the rest.
1 Corinthians 5:6 – a little leaven leavens the whole lump
Galatians 2:11-13 shows how one’s behavior can affect others.  Peter was a hypocrite and it caused others to be carried away. 

c.        NOTE: This is where true growth comes – you can “hire” personal workers and preachers, but genuine growth will only come when everyone does their part. 

 III.                Causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love

a.        Growth of the body – when everyone is doing their part to their full potential, this is the result. 
And it is something that is expected.   IF you sow enough seed, you are going to grow a crop (2 Cor. 9:6).   Usually, where there is an area deficient of growth, everyone is not doing their share of the work to its full potential.
How is the body to grow? A good question.  Our first thought is growing numerically.  While that is what we desire, that is something that will come MORE naturally, WHEN we are growing in other areas including:

                                                   i.      Closer to God – James 4:8 – draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

                                                  ii.      Spiritually – certainly related to growing closer to God, it implies that as a body we are growing stronger in the faith I think of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7 – described as a church that has an open door that no one can shut.

                                                iii.      Closer to one another as brethren -  2 Thess. 1:3, Paul thanks God for a faith that is growing and their love for one another is abounding.  1 Thess. 4:9 – Paul had commended them because of their love for one another.  Yet he encourages them that it increase more and more.

                                                iv.      Also, reviewing our text – to grow we have to be grounded in truth and love, united in faith, mature in Him (measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ), you might add to this leaders in the word (functionaries).    

b.       Edifying of itself – as we have noted on many occasions, edification is a word that means to build up.  This text, and scripture, is calling for building us up spiritually. 
Romans 14:19 calls for us to pursue those things that edify us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – comfort and edify one another, just as you are doing.
One thought here is we don’t depend on others to build us up.  Our spiritual growth doesn’t depend on our being accepted by brethren in other places.  The only approval we ought to be concerned about – is with God.  That doesn’t mean we can’t seek brethren in other places who are standing fast along with us.  The point is we build ourselves up!
THOUGHT: What about churches that grow by “swelling” – because of problems with other congregations in the area.  While some may identify with us (because of soundness) and that can be encouraging and good, let that not be our main focus of growth.  Let us seek to grow in a way God is pleased with us. 

c.        In love – the ultimate RESULT.  This is the Christian love we have continually emphasized.
 When we are of one mind and one heart and growing, we will genuinely love one another as we ought to.  And that love will continue to grow.
Our strength will cause our love for God to increase – i.e. we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)
We will love the church and desire her best.  She will be the priority she ought to be.

 

Our study of Ephesians has emphasized unity.  This passage shows the result of godly efforts.  What are you doing to cause growth in the body of Christ?  Think about it.