Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – What is the church? Part 2

1 Timothy 4:16 “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

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, what should we know and what should church life look like daily?

Let’s Read Ephesians 4:1-16

  1. The church must walk worthy. V. 1-3
    1. Because of the great work of Salvation God has accomplished for us in Jesus and building us into his church (Ephesians 1-3), we are to live a certain way. V. 1-3
      1. We are to walk worthy.
        1. Worthy is “axios” and its root means “weight”.
          1. Thus, an axiom is something of equal weight. 
        2. What Paul is saying is that our lives should carry an equal weight to the blessings we’ve received from Jesus’ saving us which he has articulated in chapters 1-3.
          1. What does walking worthy look like? Verse 2-3
            1. It looks like bearing with one another in humility, gentleness, and patience.
            2. We are to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
              1. This peace is not peace from ignoring actions that are contrary to walking worthy.
                1. This is peace from the whole church walking in the truth of God’s kingdom.
              2. Why do we need peaceful unity?
  2. The church is to maintain peaceful unity because we are one body. V. 4-6
    1. There is nothing gained in the human body when its parts are attacking its other parts.
      1. The church being “one body” clearly implies that it’s members care for, are patient with, and are gentle toward the other parts. 
    2. There is “one” body. V. 4
      1. Paul calls the church the “body” because of what he’s about to tell us about the church’s identity. 
    3. There is “one” Spirit. V. 4
    4. There is “one” hope. V. 4
    5. There is “one” Lord. V. 5
    6. There is “one” faith. V. 5
    7. There is “one” baptism. V. 6
    8. There is “one” God and Father of those who follow Jesus. V. 6
      1. The use of “one” teaches us that the church is one ekklesia – called out people who belong to Jesus. 
      2. We have a kinship with every truly transformed follower of Jesus because we all have the same Holy Spirit.
        1. Our unity in one body is evidenced by the standard of walking worthy.
          1. Unity is not at all costs. 
        2. Peaceful unity is built on walking worthy, and anything short of the weight of the glories of salvation kills peaceful unity. 
  3. The universal church is visible only through individual followers of Jesus who are members of a local church. V. 7
    1. Paul is writing this to the church at Ephesus, and therefore, Ephesus is part of the whole along with Philippi as well as every legitimate gathering of God’s people. 
    2. The “but” that begins verse 7 is an “adversative” and it serves to introduce the contrasting and cooperative truth. 
    3. We might say it’s a way to “look at the other side of the same coin”.
      1. It presents the reality that two different ideas can be true at the same time if they are true. 
    4. These two truths are that (1) the universal church is one and (2) the universal church is manifest by individuals being part of and invested in the local church which makes the universal church visible.
      1. The church is universal AND it is also locally made up of the individual parts in relationship to each other in a unified local church.
      2. The church is NOT just universal.
        1. You can’t be “saved” and a member of the universal church without also being a member of the local church in a manner that resembles an actual body for the purposes that Jesus gifted members to make up a local body. 
        2. This is just one of the places in the Bible that make it explicit that a Christian must be an integral part of a local church because of the nature of who we are.  (See 1 Corinthians 5 and Hebrews 13:17)
  4. The individual members of a local church have been given grace according to the measure Jesus chose to give to each member. V. 7 
    1. Grace is the gift of the power of God to his people and for his people. 
    2. Here, grace is given in the form of gifts to the members of the church. See verse 11.
      1. Jesus is the giver here, not the Holy Spirit.
        1. This fact makes these gifts distinct from Spirit gifts in other places in the New Testament.
          1. No doubt the Spirit-given gifts serve the local church, but the ascension gifts of Jesus to his church is distinct and far too easily overlooked. 
      2. It’s these distinct gifts and who those gifts epitomize that make the local church the “Body of Christ”.
        1. Paul makes this explicit at the end of the chapter. 
  5. Jesus has won his church for himself and as king of kings, has graced each local church with gifts. V. 8
    1. Verse 7 shifts our focus from the universal church to its visible presence in the world through the local church.
      1. Jesus’ gifting is not to the “universal church” divorced from any local manifestation because the gifting would have no application for the whole local church.
        1. There is no animating of Jesus’ gifts to us if we are not integrally connected in membership to a local church.
          1. The gifts are to make us his physical presence in the world NOT for us to walk around telling people we are “prophets” because we might be loud and a jerk and believer our opinions are the definition of truth.  
        2. Gifting is to the local manifested church so the gifts can be put to use in the world as we are unified peacefully on Jesus’ mission. 
    2. The “therefore” indicates that Paul is interpreting Psalm 68:18 in application to the members of the local church as biblical evidence of what he just said about Jesus gifting his church. 
    3. Psalm 68:18 depicts God coming as the conquering and good king he is while receiving praise and gifts from the people he has won in his victory.
      1. Paul interprets this Psalm through the lens of Jesus being the God of Psalm 68, ascending as the rightful King.
        1. Rather than Jesus taking gifts for himself, he is giving gifts to the church he has won for himself through his conquering work on the cross. 
  6. In Jesus’ coming, living, dying, rising, and ascending, he now fills all things and has all authority in heaven and on earth and he intends to fill his creation with his manifest presence on earth through the local church. 4:9-10
  7. Now that Jesus fills all things, he has distributed grace, the gift of himself to his church. 4:11
  1. Since Jesus fills all things and has all authority, Jesus disperses the gift of himself in 5 gifts.
    1. We know these gifts are himself because, in verses 15 and 16, Jesus is the head of this body he’s created in the ekklesia and gifted, and him being the head gives the body its identity.
      1. Thus the church is called “the body of Christ”. 
  2. These gifts are what it is to be made in Jesus’ image, and particularly what it is to be a local church when they are animated by the Holy Spirit and are gathered as a fellowship on mission together. 
  3. How is this?
    1. Jesus is the apostle – He is the Sent One from the Father.
      1. So, Jesus gifts the church with the apostolic gift of pushing the frontier of the mission of the Great Commission. 
    2. Jesus is the prophet – He speaks God’s word rightly.
      1. So, Jesus gifts his church with the prophetic gift of proclaiming God’s word. 
    3. Jesus is the evangelist – He preaches the gospel of the kingdom inviting people to faith in himself.
      1. So, Jesus gifts his church with the gift of insiders who are constantly looking to be among those outside and bring outsiders into the faith and fellowship. 
    4. Jesus is the Shepherd – He is the Chief Shepherd.
      1. So, Jesus gifts his church with those Psalm 23 tender and gentle and rod and staff-wielding people who want to care for and see that people stay on the path.
        1. The word “shepherd” is the word “pastor”. 
        2. Pastor is a gifting for the whole church, not an office. 
    5. Jesus is the Teacher – He is the master teacher, and he teaches with authority.
      1. So, Jesus gifts his church with people who can explain the hard things in the Bible and the world so the rest of us can understand them.
        1. These gifts are not “leadership” gifts. 
        2. These gifts are given to the whole church, and Paul clarifies that in the following verses that make application of the gifts.


  1. The whole church is to equip each saint for the work of ministry, which is to build up the body of Christ. 4:12
  2. “To” indicates Jesus’ purpose for giving these gifts.
    1. Every saint is to use the gift or gifts Jesus gave them as their service to build up the local church of which they are a member.
      1. It is not the elders’ job to equip everyone at the level and depth they need equipping.
        1. The elders should be equipping through teaching, and then every other member must be engaged in exercising Jesus’ gifts for each other’s building up.
          1. This is one reason we need to effort for our fellowship to be with members of the local church you are a member of. 
          2. Otherwise, we don’t fulfill the purpose of how Jesus gifted each church, and are squandering grace.
      2. When we put a few Christians in a church doing what the whole church is gifted to do, we rob the whole church of exercising Jesus’ gift of himself for the rest of the church and experiencing the living Jesus in and through his gifts to us.
        1. This, among a host of tactical/practical reasons, is why RK is a co-op and not “childcare” where we just employ or provide childcare workers.
        2. RK is an opportunity for discipleship growth in using Jesus’ grace in gifts for the growth of one another.
  1. Equipping saints is the whole gifted church’s joyous work. 
  2. A gifted and functioning church ensures the church is equipping each other 24/7 not just on Sundays when an elder preaches or a ministry director leads a ministry.  
  3. Sunday preaching and worship equips, and the whole gifted church is to continue equipping the rest of the week in RL groups and discipleship relationships, and their domains as they live life. 

2. The church is to do it’s equipping work until the whole church reaches maturity. 4:13

  1. Our equipping work with and for each other will be until the mission is accomplished, and the kingdom is fully come and God’s will is being fully done on earth as in heaven.
    1. We know this because he says “until” we reach mature manhood, and that implies we are not yet mature.
  2. Paul describes what maturity will look like:
    1. Unity in the faith. 
    2. Knowledge of the Son of God.
      1. These are the fullness of Jesus Christ. 
    3. This is going to be a lifetime labor.
      1. Philippians 1:6 reminds us the Lord will complete this work in the day of Christ. 
      2. So, Paul wants us to know that this is going to be a lifetime work of faith.

3. When the whole church equips one another, we are no longer tossed around by the world’s deceitful schemes. 4:14-16

  1. The “so that” indicates the purpose of us equipping one another and growing toward maturity.
    1. We want to equip one another so that:
      1. We are no longer children. 
      2. We are no longer tossed around by doctrine that is rooted in deceitful schemes. 
      3. “Rather” introduces “another side of the coin”.
        1. He has shared the negative, what we want to avoid:
          1. No longer children. 
          2. No longer tossed around by deceitful teachings. 
        2. Then he shares the positive.
          1. We are to speak the truth in love.
            1. “Speaking the truth” is how we get the result of the rest of the sentence: growing up into Jesus who is the head of the church.
              1. Our speaking is to be with “love”.
                1. Speaking in love looks like speaking accurately and for the growth and benefit of the one hearing us. 
  2. When we do this, verse 16 tells us some amazing things about the local church.
    1. We are joined and held together by every joint doing its part properly. 
    2. We are built up in love. 

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