SanLo Community, an update for the week of August 18, 2019…
Come Together (The Doctrine of the Church), Ephesians 4:1-16 - Pastor Joshua Scott
Our church doesn’t “come together” for no reason. We have a purpose… and that purpose is to worship Jesus. And God has given us great direction, a foundation, for how we are to worship Jesus in our relationships as the church together. This is what our passage is speaking to this morning. Not on singing but how we’re to worship God together in everything and how this will transform for the better the very life of this church and everyone in it.
That leads us to our main idea… Walk together as one in Christ’s love. This is how the church is to worship God. Together in Christ. This is how we will be transformed. But what does that actually look like? What are we trying to aim for? Well, firstly…
Walk together as one according to God’s great calling. Ephesians 4:1-6. We walk together as one in Christ’s love by following the call that He has given to us. If God’s love to us really is so great and His salvation so powerful, then we should accordingly live in response to that love. We should value God’s love enough to be shaped by it. This is the calling.
In verse 1, the use of “therefore” builds off what Paul was saying in the previous 3 chapters – that believers are saved by the grace of the gospel through faith. Therefore, as Paul says here from his imprisonment for proclaiming his faith, they are to live in rightful response to that grace. Notice how Paul doesn’t give a list of rules to follow but a list of virtues we should strive for. It’s far more reaching than a list of rules.
Verses 2 to 3, just like the fruit of the spirit from Colossians 3, “Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love…” These are some guidelines meant to help steer towards living worthy lives, building up mutual relations between each other. The unity of the Spirit points to the Spirit being the One who unifies those who have been baptized in Him, anyone who is a genuine believer, into fellow-members of one body.
Verses 4 to 6, this list of “ones”, they're all further reflection of verse 3. The unity that we have together as brothers and sisters in Christ is not only of the Spirit, but of the hope that we have from salvation… of the Lord who is over us… the faith in Christ… the spiritual baptism we all received at first belief… the same God we worship and of the Father who calls us His children. Each of these “ones” further point to the joint identity, the togetherness, the unity that we have because of Christ.
This is our great calling as Christians. To walk together as one according to this great calling God has given us in the virtues cultivated by the Spirit. So now that we understand the call, how are we supposed to follow that call?
Walk together as one in building up Christ’s body, the church. Verses 7-14. We all have gifts. Unique abilities that we can use to enrich and build up the church. So when we all USE those gifts TOGETHER as ONE body, ONE family… We will see our church more greatly glorify and honor God than we ever have before.
Read with me verse 7. Often times when we hear “grace” we think of “saving grace” or “salvation”. But the grace Paul uses here has an unexpected meaning. It’s the grace to use the abilities God has given you in order to build up His church. We see similar use of “grace” in Ephesians 3:8. So these gifts, these abilities are in and of themselves considered a “grace” and ALL of us have them. It’s not a “oh, I wonder if I’m gifted” it’s a “I AM gifted, and now I’m called to use my gifts for God’s purposes.” Each of us have received different gifts in different measures.
Verses 8 to 10, Paul is referring to Psalm 68, a war victory psalm. Just as the Israelite army would return victoriously from war dedicate spoils or gifts to God, Jesus has overcome the battle of the grave, having triumphed over sin and death and then He shares the spoils of His victory with those who place their faith in Him, he gives gifts meant to build up His church.
Verses 9 to 10, Paul speaks of Jesus’ descent and ascent. The descent (Christ’s becoming human) and ascent is evidence that Jesus is our Savior and King! He came down to save us all and He rose from the dead above all, above the universe, filling all and giving gifts to all!
Jumping a little bit into what gifts are and can be, verse 11 speaks of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. This isn’t an exhaustive list of roles in the church and it’s not saying that gifts can only be people. But it broadens our definition of what gifts ARE. 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of varieties of gifts being different ministries in the church, but gifts can also be people who enable these gifts, nurturing and developing them as they should grow as verse 12 to 14 says.
The overall purpose of these roles is to build up and strengthen the church into full maturity. It’s not just a head knowledge, but a personal knowledge of Jesus that we’re being called toward. And Jesus is THE standard, He is the fullness to which we aim! Because He’s perfect and we are not, we understand that we’re always growing, always maturing into Him for the sake of not being swayed when the world will push and pull on us. WE’VE got to be trained up enough to be able to tell the difference between good and evil, what’s gospel truth and what’s not.
This is part of the beauty of the gospel. That though we’re all so different and called to serve Christ’s body in different ways, Jesus is the One who unites us and brings us all together. That, at one time you followed the course of this world, dead in your trespasses and sins. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us ALIVE together with CHRIST…” (v4) saving us by His grace… “… so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (v7) This is our hope. This is our salvation. This is our identity that joins us together as one church. That while we could not earn our own way to salvation, God gave it to us freely through Jesus.
This is how we walk together as one in building up Christ’s body. We use the different graces, fulfilling the call to the different roles that He’s called us to through the Gospel. So how else can we follow the call to live in a way that builds up the church?
Walk together as one in Christ our Lord. Verses 15 to 16. Walk in Him everyday. Walk in Him together. Live fulfilling the role that God has given to you to be in here at San Lo.
Whether through talking or through action, truth should ALWAYS go hand in hand with love. Without love, you have a false pharisaical faith. But without truth, you have no God. This is how we build up the body. This is our directive, how we walk together as one according to the different roles God has called us to. Speak the truth in love to one another. Always build each other up by presenting the truth to one another in love.
The point Paul is trying to make is that Jesus is the one who unites us all together and He’s our head, our Lord. Each of us work best when we’re working together in our different roles as hands, arms, legs, feet, etc in love. It’s the bond of Christ’s love that unites us and it’s only by Christ’s love that the body can build itself up into full maturity in Him. Living the truth in love isn’t abstract, it’s a very personal and practical thing. And this world needs a place where people can be accepted for who they are, speaking honestly about their fears, hurts, struggles, doubts and hopes. What better place than the church is there to fulfill that role.
Let’s live according to the great calling God has given us. Let’s live in light of the virtues that are born from the Spirit’s work in our hearts. Let’s take up the mandate to build up the church. And let’s live continually in light of the grace of the gospel together as one. From veteran disciple to young disciple, peer to peer and young disciple to veteran disciple. Amen.
Christ is Enough, Unchanging, Amazing Grace, Doxology
Thank you to the NAOMI House team for sharing God's work through them in Arizona to the underserved Native American children and youth. Please pray for God's care and personal faith for the children and youth of NAOMI House. Please pray for God's sustaining grace for the workers of NAOMI House.