Sermon Notes: Church – KDSC

The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples who hear and obey. These disciples work and function everywhere all the time in all domains of society. From here, Jesus is building his church, and this church is made up of these disciples everywhere all the time. 

The church does not have a domain. The church is designed, as the people of God, to be on mission in every domain of society everywhere all the time. 

The church is who Jesus says he is building In Matthew 16, “I will build my church…”

NOTE: The church is the context of the entire New Testament. There is no single book, chapter, or verse that defines and fully describes the church. The church is simply the context of the entire New Testament, so we have to learn the church from every page of Scripture. 

Since this is the case, we need a good working definition of the church that works for the universal church (all Christians everywhere all the time) and the manifestation of the universal church in cities and towns, which we call the local church. 

Let’s see if we can put together a good definition that summarizes what the whole New Testament says about the church. 

A Definition of the Church:

“A church is a group of Christians who assemble as an earthly embassy of Christ’s heavenly kingdom to proclaim the good news and commands of Christ the King; to affirm one another as his citizens through the ordinances (Lord’s Supper and Baptism); and to display God’s own holiness and love through a unified and diverse people in all the world, following the teaching and example of elders.” – Jonathan Leeman and Collin Hansen, Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential, p. 124.

If this, the church, is what Jesus is building, how might the church manifest itself in daily life? 

Is there a place we can look for a glimpse of the multi-faceted wisdom of God displayed in the church Jesus is building? 

There is! Ephesians 4:11-16. 

Let’s Read it: Ephesians 4:11-16

Chapter 4 marks a shift in Paul’s writing, and this is typically what he does. He spends the first part of his correspondence laying theological foundations that are essential, then he spends the rest of his instruction putting that theology into practice. Paul shifts from the indicative to the imperative!

Paul states in Ephesians 3:10 that he is putting his multi-faceted wisdom on display to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the church. 

That is some heavy-duty theology in one verse, and Paul is now going to shift from that to what we do with it through a highly gifted local church. 

This shift can be expressed in many ways: from doctrine to duty; from creed to conduct; from the Christian’s wealth to his walk; from exposition to exhortation; from the indicative to the imperative;… Because of the amazing theological realities of chapters 1 through 3, Paul urges the Ephesians (and us) “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” – R. Kent Hughes, Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 120–121.

How does God put his wisdom on display through the church as he is building the church? 

  1. Christians have been given grace according to Jesus’ created and missional intent he gave to each one. 4:7
    1. Grace is often used to speak about “second chances” or “mediated consequences”, and this is simply not how the Bible uses the word “grace”. 
    2. Grace is the gift of the power of God toward his people and for his people. 
  2. Jesus has taken his church to himself and has given them grace/power manifested as gifts. 4:8
    1. The grace given here is the power of Jesus manifested in gifts. 
    2. Psalm 68:18
      1. This Psalm depicts God coming as the conquering and good and holy king he is while receiving praise and gifts from the people. 
    3. Paul interprets this Psalm through the lens of the gospel as depicting Jesus receiving the inheritance of his creation and his people as the King.
      1. Rather than receiving gifts, Jesus gives gifts to the people he takes to himself. 
  3. Jesus has atoned for sin and has now ascended into heaven and filled the heavenly places with his authority and reign. 4:9-10
    1. The Ephesians were a people slightly fearful of spiritual powers in the heavenly realms. 
    2. Paul emphasizes this for the Ephesians so they will know and believe that the evil powers that dwell in the heavenly and unseen places no longer have dominion over them even though they are constantly harassing them.
      1. Rather, Jesus himself fills the heavenly places and rules for his people, and there is nothing to fear, and there is available HIS power to overcome the forces of evil.
  4. Now that Jesus fills the heavenly places, he has distributed the gift of himself to his church. 4:11
    1. There are two things going on here.
      1. Since Jesus fills the heavenly places, they/we no longer fear the supernatural and spiritual forces at work.
        1. In fact, Jesus will cause this to work for us and our good.
      2. Since Jesus fills the heavenly places, from there he dispenses supernatural power for us in the gift of himself he distributes to his church. 
    2. The gift of Jesus to his church is manifested in multiple gifts that reflect who Jesus is. These are not Spirit gifts like the other gifts listed in the New Testament. These are gifts of the Lord Jesus of himself to all humanity as the image of God.
      1. At his ascension, these gifts are specifically and redemptively animated and applied in salvation by the Holy Spirit’s presence in Christians, through the church, for the church, and redemption for the world.
        1. Jesus is the apostle – He is the Sent One. 
        2. Jesus is the prophet – He speaks God’s word rightly.
        3. Jesus is the evangelist – He preaches the gospel of the kingdom inviting people to faith in himself.
        4. Jesus is the Shepherd – He is the Chief Shepherd.
        5. Jesus is the Teacher – He is the master teacher, and he does so with authority.
          1. These gifts are not “leadership” gifts. These are gifts given to the whole church, and Paul makes that clear in the following verses.
  5. These gifts are given to display Jesus’ glory and for us to apply on mission. What are these applications?
    1. To equip the saints for the work of ministry, which is to build up the body of Christ. 4:12
      1. Every saint, uses these gifts, as their personal ministry to build up the church.
        1. When we put one saint doing everyone’s job, we rob the whole church of exercising their gifting for the rest of the church.
          1. This, among a host of practical reasons, is why RK is a co-op and not a mere service to parents where we just employ a bunch of childcare workers.
      2. Equipping saints is the whole gifted church’s job. 
      3. This ensures the church is equipping each other 24/7 not just on Sundays when an elder preaches or when some ministry leader does what everyone should be doing. 
      4. Sunday equips, and the whole gifted church is to continue equipping the rest of the week. 
      5. What is the goal of our equipping? 4:13
        1. Reach unity in the faith.
          1. The unity Paul has in mind is unity among different ethnicities so that we are not segregated fellowships (Ephesians 2:11-22).
        2. TRC, grow into the maturity of being like Jesus.
          1. We become who or what we admire. 
          2. When we gain the knowledge of God in Jesus and worship him, we will begin to grow into being like him. 
          3. Jesus is the perfecter of all of these gifts.  He practiced them perfectly.  Glean on the scriptures and learn from the master.  We don’t have to figure them out on our own.  We don’t need another podcast or book or tweet…..We have the manual that He wrote and we have the ultimate teacher…the Holy Spirit to give us understanding.      
  6. What is the result of the equipping that is done by the whole gifted church? 4:14-16
    1. We are no longer tossed around by cleverly devised human-centered and spiritual-sounding teachings. 
    2. We learn to speak God’s truth with a commitment to the good of who we are speaking, and in this way, we grow up into Christ who is the head of the body of Christ, the church. 
    3. As we grow up into Christ, we learn that we only grow as we are fitted together from him resulting in the proper working of every individual part.
      1. If we are truly followers of Jesus, we will grow up into Christ and from our union with Jesus, we will be fitted together and build up the church together. 


  1. Believe that Jesus is building his church everywhere all the time.
    1. Believing this is an act of faith to fill our minds and souls with the hope that Jesus is really the Lead Shepherd and he is supernaturally building his church.
      1. Mark 4:26-29: 26 “The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. 28 The soil produces a crop by itself ​— ​first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. 29 As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
      2. If we are following Jesus, we bear fruit. There is no such thing as a fruitless Christian….which Jesus confirms in Matthew 7. The fruit has seeds. Every Christian has the seed of the gospel and our job is to cast it freely. 
      3. Even though the grocery store has seedless fruit, it’s fake…genetically altered by man for ease of consumption. In Matthew 7, Jesus says to beware of false prophets.  In the protection of the Church, we are to be aware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Bad fruit posing as good fruit.  Jesus said we will know them by their fruit.   
  2. Believe that everyone in this room who is a Christian is gifted to minister and help everyone in the fellowship grow up into Jesus and reach our city and world. 
  3. Discover how Jesus has gifted you with his ascension gifts.
    1. How? Life together.
      1. Living out that Spirit is truly thicker than blood. 
      2. No better place to show this than in a Radical Life Group….the Church on a micro level.   
      3. Outsiders notice. When we live out the gospel, it’s beautiful!  People notice and desire it.  
    2. Gifts are not truly discovered or activated on standardized tests.
      1. In the Bible, gifts are manifested as the covenant fellowship is on mission together.
        1. It’s been amazing to see the discovery of gifts happening in our groups and in TRC people in general.  
        2. The gifts are discovered and activated over time spent together.  Time is a precious thing. Spending time with one another requires prioritization, but it’s worth it! Once you see it, you can’t unsee it and you want it for every believer. Be patient with one another and bear with one another.     
      2. These gifts are not titles to be worn. 
      3. These gifts are grace from Jesus for us to be an outpost of the Kingdom of God on mission.
    3. What exactly are these gifts?
    4. Apostles, sent ones, are burdened by forward movement and the creation of means to move forward to work and frontiers undone. 
    5. Prophets have a fire in their bones for speaking God’s word. 
    6. Evangelists are the includers of the outsiders who are constantly inviting outsiders to come in. Evangelists also discern who looks like an insider but is not. (exactly what I meant by the bad fruit posing as good fruit.)
      1. Plug for the membership directory.
      2. All members have access to all members. Each of us has the resources it takes to invite. Take the initiative. You don’t need the Elder’s approval.  Use the contacts to invite others to join you in whatever it is that you are doing…..and invite the outsiders!    
    7. Shepherds are always concerned about how people are doing in every way and taking care of their needs. 
    8. Teachers like to hang out in the theological weeds of explaining the nuances of why and how and who and when. 
  4. Do whichever of these or whichever combination of these Jesus has graced you with inside the fellowship and in the world.
    1. Don’t fight against Jesus’ empowering gift.
      1. Work with Jesus for the holy refinement of the use of his grace to you. 
    2. Don’t envy what grace Jesus has given others.
      1. Do with joy what Jesus has graced you with. 
      2. Don’t wish to become a teacher when you are a shepherd. 
      3. Don’t wait on anyone else to do what you are gifted to do by Jesus supernaturally. AND, to operate in these gifts is supernatural.
        1. I think sometimes we are looking for Harry Potter magic and missing the blatant supernatural gifting of the ascended King of the universe, Jesus. 
    3. Listen to the counseling word of the Holy Spirit to help you apply what Jesus is making natural in you. 
    4. Listen to and with those you walk beside in covenant fellowship for affirmation and help in growth in Jesus’ grace gifts to you.
  5. Let’s worship the Lord Jesus together. This is proper.

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