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Jan 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 11, 2015 – Ephesians 4:11-16

A Visit to God’s Worksite

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers . . . Ephesians 4:11

Intro: Let’s take a look at the roadmap to see where we are

Paul painted a wonderful picture of Christian spirituality in chapters 1-3
– then, in chapter 4, he says, in effect, “You must have a spiritual practice”
• this is sometimes referred to as “spiritual disciplines” or “spiritual exercises”
• it is behavior that promotes, reinforces, and externalizes our inner spiritual life
– this practice is surprisingly social (remember how Paul began with humility, gentleness, etc.)
• the one practice Paul has focused on is “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”
◦ the big challenge to unity is our differences — we are not all the same
• but as Paul sees it, the ways in which you differ from me is a gift (to all of us)

For who differentiates you from another? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7)
Now you are Christ’s body, ad individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12:27)

◦ we cannot brag of a greater status than others, because what we have is only what we’ve been given
◦ God’s Spirit passes out gifts to each person that are beneficial to everyone

It would helpful to study 1 Corinthians 12, where the body as a metaphor for spiritual community is more fully developed
– the point is the relationship of the parts to the whole
your gifts makes you a gift to others
• you are a gift Jesus has given to the community
◦ and he’s given you “gifts”that make your participation valuable to others
◦ although everyone’s participation is unique, we function as one and move toward one goal

Now we are caught up to verse 11

Paul provides examples, choosing those that would be most familiar to his readers

At least familiar to Christians in that place and time
– I will offer an opinion regarding this list that begins “some apostles”–i.e., that these are not strictly “offices”
• each one consists of a set of characteristic attitudes and corresponding behavior
◦ we might think of each gift as a personal, spiritual and social style
◦ a style that includes certain insights, skills, and proven effectiveness
• I make this suggestion because unqualified people can be placed in religious offices–to the detriment of the church
◦ the person who is qualified does not need a title or to hold a position
◦ a teacher will teach with or without the label
– this list goes on and on — and somewhere on it you will find the gift that you are to others
• your particular style and role is already in you
• likely you just need training, discipline, practice and to “stir it up” (2 Tim. 1:6)

Vv. 12-13, So what’s the value these gifts provide the church?

Think of the spiritual community as a construction project
– various sub-contractors are required to address specific needs
• first subs that do the grading, then those who prepare the foundation, framers, electrical and plumbing subs, etc.

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. (1 Cor. 3:10)

– according to the analogy, each one of us is a sub
• so it is important that we are “equipped”–i.e., given help with tools, training and experience
• then we turn and help others, which is our “work of service”
◦ we do this in simple ways that may not seem spiritual

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45). And how did he illustrate his service? So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined as the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” (Jn. 13:12-15)

◦ but I want to stress that this does not mean that it’s our job to “fix” people

All this construction goes on “to the building up of the body of Christ”
– working and serving each other and together the community fulfills a destiny (2:22, “dwelling”)
• all of us move forward together
• from unity in faith and knowing Jesus, to becoming a mature person
◦ this is defined as “the measure of the stature . . . to the fullness of Christ”

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk. 2:52)

– Jesus, in his fullness, physically visits the earth today in and through his church
• we could waste time mourning how we fall short of this ideal we can just keep plugging away at it

V. 14, There is a price to pay for not growing to maturity

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1)
. . . do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature (1 Cor. 14:20)

Characteristics of spiritual immaturity include:
– being “tossed around” – swayed by doctrinal fads and persuasive or charming teachers
• many immature believers live in state of dependency on authoritarian religious leaders

Romuald, “The reason people kill pastors who fail . . . is because they want them on a pedestal, they want them to give them the answers, they want to be controlled. It’s part of our brokenness.”

– being influenced by tricksters and hucksters
• the hard truth is that there are deceptive spiritual leaders
◦ some are intentionally deceptive – personal gain, to meet ego needs, etc.
◦ others are not intentional, but they are just as dangerous
• how are they tricky, crafty and deceptive?
◦ they are manipulative (everything is about control) — these people rarely show their hand
◦ they spin the truth
◦ they misuse scripture–for example, by quoting a string of verses to prove an idea that is all their own

I wonder if these people realize they are being deceptive or if it seems to them they are using “tactics”

Vv. 15-16, The corrective to manipulation

In contrast to being deceptive Paul instructs them to speak the truth
– the Greek word goes beyond speech
• truth isn’t just what comes out of your mouth, it is what’s in your heart
• this implies that there is a consistency between what you believe to be true and your actions
– “in love” and not use truth as a weapon

Scott Peck, “Remember that community is a state of being together in which people, instead of hiding behind their defenses, learn to lower them . . .”

• it makes a huge difference in human relations when we communicate openly and with a real concern for the other person

Verse 16 sums up this entire section
– the spiritual community is carefully assembled – each member is a perfect fit
• every part participating in cooperation nurtures health
◦ first, of those with whom they have immediate contact
◦ the, indirectly, the health of the entire body
– this particular growth is not necessarily numerical (remember, it’s about becoming mature)
• the focus is on quality rather than quantity — we are becoming better people
• for me to grow, I must help you grow

Conc: Spiritual community is divinely human

In our contact with each other we touch God and we are touched by God

We’re not perfect, but the closer we get to the ideal, the more we’ll become a haven of safety
• can you remember a high school classroom where you felt safe? What about a workplace?
• is there anywhere you feel free to be yourself? To open up and let your soul express itself?
◦ the church, at its best, is a safe place
◦ it is not only God’s home, it is the embodiment of Jesus

You are gifted already – God is using you in the lives of others
– so what is important is that you live the truth
• which means you live true to God, to yourself, to others, and to every moment


Leave a comment
  1. Mike Hensler / Jan 26 2015

    Hello my friend,

    I’ve been reading a pretty good book on this subject; “The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church,” by Alan Hirsch

    I love the sub-contractor illustration. I am seeing the Apostolic function more in the architectural way these days. Nothing spooky, just someone with equal artistic, engineer and business ability overseeing the subs.

    Very best wishes for you and yours this year,

    Mike Hensler

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Feb 2 2015

    Sorry for the delayed response, Mike, but we’ve been very busy with grandchildren since mid-December.

    I’ve been reading a book recently that applies “transformative learning” to ministry. The author suggests attaching a poet as tutor to the student for helping to mediate information into lived experience. In other words, using a spiritual education not just to inform (or conform students to the academic–or religious–system), but to produce real changes. So I get–I think–the connection of the engineer and the artist.

    Thank you, Mike,


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