Serving in One Body based on Ephesians 4 by Stephen
Ephesians 4:1-8, 11-16
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
14 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. 15 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. 16 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.
Ephesians can be divided into 2 parts: doctrine & duty
Ephesians Chapters 1-3 is on doctrine – our riches in Christ
Ephesians Chapters 4-6 is on duty – our responsibilities to Christ
Ephesians 4 on our duty to serve as a member of Christ’s body.
“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” ~Numbers 12:3
Jesus says this: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:29
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” ~1 Corinthians 3:4
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” ~Colossians 3:15
Principle: Believers are to live worthy lives, humbly & patiently, to be united in Spirit & peace.
Illustration: An old man had many sons, who were always falling out with one another. He had often, but to no purpose, exhorted them to live together in harmony. One day he called them round him, and producing a bundle of sticks, bade them try each in turn to break it across. Each put forth all his strength, but the bundle resisted all their efforts. Then, cutting the cord which bound the sticks together, he told his sons to break them separately. This was done with the greatest ease. “See, my sons,” exclaimed the father, “the power of unity! Bound together by brotherly love, you may defy almost every mortal ill; divided, you will fall a prey to your enemies.”
Application: What are your life priorities? Work? Wealth? Bf/gf/spouse? God? Need to know your priorities & not have priorities change every time the wind blows!
What are you busy with daily? Endless list of things to do? Making money? Enjoying life? Or is your priority on things of God?
How much time do you spend with God? Do you have personal quiet time daily with God? Read the Bible daily? Bible study? Pray more than 5 times a day? A matter of heart & honestly answering on how important is God truly your priority daily.
Ephesians 4-6 is about the unity of Christians as one. The only foundation that is strong is Christ & the Word of God.
Indeed God has dominion over all creation, especially His church & through all were God works using His people & even non-believers to accomplish His will.
Principle: We are one – in body, spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God & father
Illustration: Mahatma Gandhi’s life philosophy was based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Gandhi even was in England, South Africa & elsewhere to know more about Christianity but never became a Christian. The Christian missionary Stanley Jones asked him: “Mr Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is it that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower (Christian)”? The latter’s reply was clear: “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It is just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ”. Our actions & words as Christ’s body affects how others especially non-believers view Christianity.
Application: Examine how we are one body in so many ways. In what ways are you one with Christ in?
In what ways do you need to change your heart, mind & actions?
Eph 4:7-8, 11-3 (T9)
Christ is He who is the giver of all this gifts. Christ who resurrected, conquering death & ascended into heaven. Christ is pictured like a triumphant & great riding in on His chariot & leading His captives & sharing the spoils with his followers. Captives here does not refer to non-Christians but our conquered spiritual enemies, our sinful nature & even death!
Apostles refers to the 12 chosen divinely by Christ to witness His death & resurrection. While today there are no more apostles, we are all called to apostolic ministry. Apostolic ministry includes prayer, building the kingdom of God on earth, equipping & strengthening churches. It is not the job of elders & deacons but every member.
When we think of prophets, we often think of prophecies & foretelling of future events. However, a prophet’s primary role is to proclaim the Word of God for the purpose of edification & encouragement. Christians today however receive spiritual knowledge not directly from the Spirit nor through prophets BUT through the Spirit from studying & reading His Word.
Evangelists are bearers of good news. While not everyone is an evangelist, we are all called to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5). All of us are to witness for Christ & bring people to know Him.
Pastors & teachers are shepherds like how an assembly is a flock of sheep. The pastor leads his flock following the example of Christ who is our Good Shepherd. In our assemblies, pastors are known as elders.
“1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)
The primary role of a pastor or elder is to feed & lead the flock. Feeding refers to spiritual food which is the Word of God. Other responsibilities depending on the assembly’s needs would be on pastoral life, pastoral counselling & pastoral leadership.
Principle: Each of us is apportioned Christ’s grace & given gifts equipping us to works of service building up the body of Christ until all reach unity, knowledge & maturity like Christ
Illustration: Story of this woman named Poppy Smith in Australia. When she was teaching a Bible study class, one of the other leaders told her that “Maybe God will use you in speaking at women’s retreats & conferences.” Poppy responded with “Why would I want to do that?” Later the HS convicted her & Poppy repented of her “I’ll do what I want attitude”. She changed her heart & attitude so God can use her to bless others. Poppy still fills inadequate & out of depth sometimes but she holds on to 3 truths from God’s Word:
- We are equipped to serve by our gifting of the HS (1 Cor 12:4-7)
- We are empowered to serve by the indwelling power of the HS (Eph 3:16-21)
- We are expected to serve & bear fruit that glorifies our Father (John 15:1-8)
Application: In what times in your life can you recall receiving God’s grace?
How are you using God’s gifts to you to serve & build up the body of Christ?
How are we as a church growing in unity, knowledge & maturity like Christ?
Truth without love is brutality
Love without truth is hypocrisy
The more we love, honour, depend & grow in our relationship with Christ, the more we flourish in grace & see God’s impact in our lives. He is our head thus we honour Him.
As members of one body, we are not only together as one but we belong to one another. We affect each other & we need one another. Every believer whether young or old in age or faith has a role to play in ministering & encouraging one another in different ways. If you are isolated, you cannot minister to others nor can others minister to you.
This spiritual unity of the body of Christ is not something we create but it is from Christ as it is His body. Our role is to love & protect His body. Not attacking any part of the body. But we can & should rebuke & teach in both truth & love.
Truth unites, but lies divides.
Love unites, but selfishness divides.
Principle: We are to no longer be infants tossed around by evil but speak the truth, grow, build & work in love, growing to be like Christ our head who holds & joins us the body together.
Illustration: The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” – Martin Luther King Jr
Application: Are you growing & serving in love Christ & his people?
With whom will you share the truth of His Word this week ahead?
Christ is our head & us, one serving growing body. We as His people are not to seek excesses but to grow & serve with truth, love & maturity as one body following Christ who has equipped us. All the members of our church can reach a greater measure of love to Christ & one another. Loving & serving among Christians leads to spiritual growth as it is in love & it’s fruits that the body edifies itself; whereas a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.