This week John Barton brought us a message from Ephesians Chapter 4, he used it explain what the Gifts of God and Christ are for our lives and how we can apply them as church.
We have a number of downloads this week as well as the sermon notes.
click here to download the presentation.
You can listen to the sermon here:
Gifts of God, Gifts of Jesus Christ, Goal of the church
Gifts of God
Don’t always get what we want. Sometimes get pleasant surprize (3 jars from M&S). We always get GOOD gifts from God.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
To all who did receive [Jesus] God gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Luke 11:13).
Gifts of Christ
The gifts are people. These gifts are to THE church. 4 or 5 are mentioned. They are called ministry gifts: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers (or Pastors and Teachers). They appear to be itinerant ministries, moving from one place to another (though sometimes staying at one place for years).
Same word is used for a specific group and a larger group. The Twelve (including Judas Iscariot) were named as apostles by Jesus. Matthias replaced Judas after Easter. But others also called apostles. Paul calls himself an apostle and Luke refers to Barnabas and Paul as apostles (Acts 14). Paul refers to James the brother of Jesus as an apostle and the writer of Hebrews refers to Jesus as an apostle (Hebrews 3:1). Romans 16:7 speaks of Andronicas and Junia as being “outstanding among the apostles” or “revered by the apostles”.
What is an apostle? Dictionary: Important early Christian teacher or pioneering missionary. Some churches name their apostles, others don’t. Missionary is not a Bible term and certainly some act as apostles. It was 40 years ago yesterday that some Elim missionaries were killed in what became known as the Vumba Massacre. (Joyce Pickering’s parents were members here and she still has relatives in York).
What about founders such as John Wesley, William Booth and George Jeffreys? What about Elim’s regional superintendents?
Old Testament prophets (finishing with John the Baptist) had two aspects – forthtelling (tell it like it is) and foretelling (what is going to happen). Some New testament prophets are named. Agabus prophesied famine throughout the Roman Empire (Acts 11:28) and prophesied the arrest of Paul using a belt (Acts 21:10). In Acts 11 he is part of a group of prophets!
Just before Agabus arrives in Acts 21 we read of the four unmarried daughter of Philip who prophesied. There is a gift of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 called prophecy that we may experience in our church, but there is also the person who is a prophet.
Sharon Stone was mentioned by Andy Lancaster 2 weeks ago. She prophesied about the Leeds church and the prophecy has now been fulfilled. Many years ago she prophesied over individuals in this church and I am sure many of those have been fulfilled.
Philip, the father of the four prophesying daughters is known as Philip the Evangelist. We don’t know much about him. He was one of the 7 chosen to sort out the food in Acts 6. He went and preached in Samaria in Acts 8 and healed the sick and cast out demons. He was then told by an angel to go into the desert where he led the Ethiopian official to the Lord. He went from a big event to an individual.
In the first chapter of Surprise the World that we looked at last year he says “Some people will tell you that every Christian is an evangelist . . . I feel this is unhelpful.” In Colossians 4:2-6 Paul asks the believers to pray for evangelistic opportunities for him. But he goes on to say, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders, make the most of every opportunity, let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” You are probably not called to be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist or a pastor-teacher, but we are all responsible to live a life which gives people a reason to ask us about our faith. And we need to be prepared to answer everyone who asks.
I think we all understand this role, so I don’t intend to spend time on it.
Goal of the Church
We need to have a goal otherwise we just keep passing the ball between us for no purpose. This passage tells us what is the goal of these gifts of Christ:
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
That is a lot and we do not have time to look at it in detail but let’s look at the headlines:
- To equip us for works of service – we must serve as a result of what we hear.
- So that the body of Christ may be built up – interesting that it is about building up the church. It is not about our community or society. We need to encourage one another.
- Until we all reach unity – not just within our own church, but within THE church. It’s unity again. Paul did have disagreements. Peter, Barnabas (over John Mark), some of the churches he wrote to.
- Unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God – note that it is knowledge of Jesus, not knowledge about him. I know the Queen!
Our preaching is not primarily so that you feel good, but so that you will be equipped to serve and that you will know Christ better. Dog taught to whistle. I said I taught him. I didn’t say he learnt it.
There is a dual responsibility of the preacher and of the hearers. The preacher must equip and present Christ, but the hearers must put it into practice.
We have been given gift from God: eternal life, becoming children of God, the Holy Spirit.
We have been given gifts by Jesus: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers.
The ministry gifts are like a football manager: they are to help us, the players on the field, to achieve the goal of serving one another, to build up one another, to be united and growing in the knowledge of Christ.
What can you do today? Why not go and speak to someone you don’t usually speak to before you leave. During the week try to encourage someone. Contact someone who is not here and let them know that you missed them. Let’s build each other up.