Michael Leitz is our guest speaker for this message. He is the Care Pastor at Northeast Christian Church here in Rockford.
Pastor Michael shares a message from Ephesians: Christ gave gifts to the church for three purposes. We learn why Christ gave the gifts and what we are to do as a result.
Time to Grow Up?! – Eph 4:11-16
Special Guest – Michael Leitz, Northeast Christian Church
Mosaic Rockford – December 31, 2017
Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We all just opened and probably returned many gifts this past week. If you’re like me…sometimes I get gifts I don’t want and think, “Well now, what am I supposed to do with this?”
This most often happens when we play the silly present swap game. In the end, I usually feel like Charlie Brown taking home some gift I have no idea what I would do with.
I want to share with you a little clip from a classic Christmas movie. As you watch this I want you to notice a few things:
- How the people receiving the various gifts respond as they open them
- How the person who receives a ‘special gift, made just for him’ responds
- How when the person uses the ‘special gift,’ the people respond
- Also, notice the fears of the person using the ‘special gift’
Q—>How many of you have received a gift you had no idea what to do with?
Q—>So, what do you do with those gifts?
1. Re-gift the item to someone you know who might actually enjoy such a gift?
2. Try to return the gift to the store?
3. Deny you own such an item…putting the gift in storage and not using it?
4. Toss it out?
Today we are going to look at gifts. But not the type we’ve been discussing. Rather, gifts given to us by Christ. Gifts we’re not able to re-gift, or as some try to do, deny using. We are going to talk about gifts given to us by Christ for three purposes to: TRAIN, PROTECT, and GROW the body of Christ.
Our passage today will be Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
Overview of the three points…Christ gave the gifts to Train, Protect and Grow.
#1 – Christ gave the gifts to TRAIN (11-13)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Disclaimer – different movements have different interpretations of these terms. Some believe the first two gifts (Apostle and Prophet) were given by Christ only to specific people, for the beginning of the church. Others believe, Christ still gives all of the the gifts and offices found here and in other passages today. The purpose of today is not to spend much time here, but rather to allow you to understand how each of these roles function within the church, but most importantly…what is their purpose.
Gifts and roles
- Apostle – a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. TWO USES HERE: Specific and General:
- Specific – Those specifically commissioned by the resurrected Lord to establish the church and the original message of the gospel. Examples: The 12 Apostles and Paul. See Acts 4:33-37
- General – any messenger commissioned as a missionary or for other special responsibilities. Examples: Barnabas, Titus, James the brother of Jesus and others.
- Prophet – those who spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, bringing a message from God to the church, and whose main motivation and concern were with the spiritual life and purity of the church. Examples: Peter, Paul, and John
- Evangelist – those gifted by God to proclaim the gospel to the unsaved, those who pioneer outreach in areas where the faith has not as yet been proclaimed. Examples: Philip and Paul / Doug Olson – Wycliffe
- Shepherd/Pastor (Elder or Overseer) – Those chosen and gifted to oversee the church and care for its spiritual needs. Examples: Titus, John, and Gaius
- Teacher – those gifted to clarify and explain God’s word in order to build up the church. Examples: Paul, Apollos, and Timothy
- Other gifts of the Holy Spirit, also mentioned in the Scriptures: Deacon, Helper, Administrator, Giver and Comforter.
- You will notice many people in scripture have more than one of the gifts, and I believe Christ still gives multi-gifting today. You have probably heard someone referred to as being a ‘ten-talent’ person….that’s confirmation of people within the body acknowledging the gifts (plural) within someone.
Purpose of the gifts
 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
To equip or train the saints – Greek = katartismos [kat-ar-tis-mos’] – complete furnishing – perfecting. Total (re)construction…Extreme Makeover Home Edition…”move that bus” to reveal what? How are we to be perfected?
Mark 12:30 – perfect in every aspect: heart, soul, mind and strength – fully surrendered and complete, whole in Christ. Why…for our benefit? NO!! So that we can in turn grow others into completely furnished…’Altogether’ Christians, lacking nothing, whole and complete. “Spiritual gifts are ultimately for the edification of the church, not for self-aggrandizement…profit, gain or name.” John Wesley – the Almost Christian versus the Altogether Christian. “We are saved in community for the sake of community.” This is the heart of Eph. 4:12-13.
What are the gifts setting out to accomplish? To prepare us to do six (6) things:
1) Work of Ministry – we train people within the church, so they can train others within the church.
2) Build up the body of Christ
3) All attain Unity of the faith &
4) All obtain Knowledge of the Son of God
5) Mature Manhood – grow up
6) Into fully-formed Christlikeness
The Fears / The Reality
Q—>So what ‘fears’ do we have in fulfilling this gifting and calling?
1) Provision / Pride
4) Moving us out of our comfort zone
1) Christ is the one who gives the gift and directs us in how we are to use it when we, (as the opening of this chapter reminds us) “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. AND Rest in the grace given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” What Paul is reminding us here is that we are not able to use these gifts ourself (on our own), but within the body of Christ we can move with confidence. For it is only by His Grace, moving through the gifts that we are able to speak, shepherd, or teach. And in this there should be no fear, for Christ is the one who does the work within us and though us.
2) The other thing you may be thinking…I don’t think I have any of the gifts you named. Well here’s the deal, begin to examine each of these gifts, to test and see if maybe you do and God has not yet revealed it. Scripture also teaches us to pray for God to give you gifts. Jon Bloom on desiringgod.org writes, “The most fundamental reason we should desire these gifts is that the Bible commands us to: “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” Paul says this in the same sentence he says, “pursue love” (1 Corinthians 14:1). Both are Holy Spirit-inspired imperatives.”
Body Fit materials
If you have an interest in finding out more about your personality, spiritual gifts, passions and calling, please check out a free assessment tool at www.Northeastcc.com/bodyfit00
First we have learned, Christ gave the gifts to TRAIN his people for the sake of the kingdom. Beyond equipping the body for its various purposes, next we will discover he gave the gifts to protect.
#2 – Christ gave the gifts to PROTECT
Talk about how parents want to protect their children
Four years ago, I led my family down a path, that at the time seemed safe. It began by exposing them to some movements or ‘experiences’ with God that were happening in the city and in the region. At the time seemed innocent enough, but in retrospect were dangerous and cultic in nature. (New Apostolic Reformation – google it!) These were Prayer “experiences” and evangelistic type events which were not Biblically grounded, all great movements of the “Spirit.” I should have been wise enough to recall the Scripture that implores us to “test the spirits.” However, because these efforts were being led by people I knew and whom I had trusted, I was foolish enough to expose my son David and my wife to these dangerous and heretical movements. The effects of this have been damaging to our son and to our family. Thank God for a wife with greater wisdom than her husband who prayed for my heart and the opening of my eyes. Once the truth of God’s word was shared with me regarding these movements, I repented of my error and have lead my family back to safety in protecting them. You see I was being tossed and carried to and fro by these dangerous winds of “doctrines.” I have since Grown up and tend to be hyper-vigilant to any movement not grounded in the word of God.
so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
So what do we know? We know Christ gave the gifts for a purpose and here Paul reveals the ‘Why’…so that we would grow up.
There are three things that keep us from fulfilling our calling and utilizing our gifts today. They are 1) the world, 2) the flesh and 3) the Devil. Paul uses these three themes quite often in his writings, as he was very familiar with the truth of “this age.“
- World – waves (drowning) wind (blown all around) we are like a cork in the ocean if we are not instructed in the truth of the word of God. In our post-modern society mindset (there is no truth or your truth is your truth) – the question is…do we have a Biblical Worldview? Do we even know when we are being deceived? I dare say thanks to television programming (they call it programming for a reason), we are no longer able to tell the difference between right and wrong.
2. Flesh – ‘human cunning’ of unscrupulous men (this includes our own stinking thinking) our human nature.
3. Devil – craftiness and deceit, painting a false reality of something better, grass is greener. This harkens back to the Garden of Eden.
How does the Devil do this today? More churches in Rockford…look out Katies Cup and see two Lutheran churches in the same denomination. John MacArthur – Miami to Cuba – 1 degree off = 50 miles off!
The Fears / The Reality
1) the three things Paul describes in this passage are a reality every day of our lives. The fear for me as shepherd of our people, is simply this: Do they even know they are being deceived, by this world, their own fleshliness, or by the devil himself? Awareness is the first step toward freedom.
1) Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in this world. I have to trust Christ will protect them, as we teach right doctrine and make our people aware of the dangers. Pray the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened and speak the truth where needed.
Challenge for you this week…as you take in communication this week: on Facebook, email, or in the media, try to identify things that are contrary to scripture. In so doing, you will begin to see how prevalent it is in our culture and maybe places you need to step-up and teach truth to others about these (3) realities.
We see Christ gave the gifts to TRAIN and PROTECT. Finally, we find Christ gave the gifts to GROW.
#3 – Christ gave the gifts to GROW
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Speaking and receiving the truth in love…
Here is the main point of HOW all of the gifts of the Spirit given by Christ come together and work…it is in sharpening one another by speaking the truth in love.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Children’s behaviors VS. grown-up behaviors, those who speak hard truths in love for growth.
Paul contrasts the behaviors of child and adult and tell us what to look for and work toward. We are to speak the things that are on our minds directly to the people we need to, 1) for our growth, 2) which in turn leads to their growth, 3) which in turn leads to the growth of the Body of Christ.
Children do not often speak the truth out of fear of man. Speaking truth is an adult behavior. When people stuff there ‘truth speaking’ it results in destructive behaviors such as gossip or anxiety. Paul is saying don’t be a codependent-people-pleaser! Rather, speak the truth (God’s word) to each situation. Share biblical truth with others in correcting behaviors, but please do so in love.
How can we share biblical truth with others, if we don’t know the entire truth, the whole truth; so please help us God to know your entire word! You see friends, we must be students of the Bible. How could we know if something is false or even a half-truth? As mentioned earlier, what about media…including TV preachers, good or bad theology OR Today’s worship Songs? (Dave has 30 minutes to influence you…what or who influences you throughout the rest of the week?)
While preparing for this message I studied four different versions of this passage and one phrase that was translated exactly across all four was, “Speak the Truth in Love,” this shows us the importance of this mandated for grown-up mature believers.
The Final section of this passage uses the analogy of the body… Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “Christ is at once the one into whom all Christians grow and out of whom the church consolidates itself in love. This process depends on the fact that the various parts of the body are interrelated. The whole is continually being integrated and kept firm by each separate ligament. It is only “when each part is working properly” that the body receives the support it needs.”
We NEED YOU and You NEED US!!
Calvin…”If we want to be considered members of Christ, let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.“
Discipleship story – no one had discipled us!! No one had spoken truth into our walk or affirmed Christ’s gifts within us. How much further ahead might the kingdom be today, if someone had done so?
The Fears / The Reality
- Uncomfortable to speak the truth sometimes, even fearful? [Story of WH in staff meeting on Phone] He received the truth and even talked about it in a sermon the next week. What as the reality here? You see when I spoke the truth it was 1) for his betterment, 2) for the betterment of our staff and 3) for the betterment of the entire body of Christ at Northeast.
2. What happens if we don’t speak the truth to those that need to hear it? We could be tempted to Gossip. AND We don’t grow-up and the person we need to address doesn’t have an opportunity to grow-up!
1. Truth speakers are needed today in our postmodern, truth-less society. However, in order speak truth, we must know the truth of God’s word, the entire counsel of God, the whole Bible. Being careful not to take one verse out of context and use it as a sword to damage someone. How can you do this?
1) Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods
2) There is a great website you can check out that teaches this concept…www.walkwiththeword.org. On here you will find several Bible reading plans – Tomorrow is January 1st what a great day to commit to begin a Bible reading plan for 2018.
2. Caution…the most important part of this phrase is the idea of doing so IN LOVE. The reality is, there are too many people out there today who are willing to speak the truth, but harshly. When this happens it can actually do damage within the body and not bring growth. Some of you here, need to be willing to find your voice and speak truth, while others of you need to learn how to temper the truth you speak in love. If you’re not sure which one is you, ask your spouse or a close friend.
What does all of this mean as we think about these “gifts of grace” mentioned in verse (8) given to each of us by Christ?
- Jesus demonstrated all of these gifts in his life and ministry. He was the perfect teacher, the greatest shepherd-protector, and the greatest truth-speaker the world has ever known. After all, “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” That’s why in the same way, we are to use the gifts CHRIST GAVE US, in all of our relationships, in order to TRAIN, PROTECT, AND GROW the body of Christ.
- We also know that he administered each of the gifts with grace beyond measure. How many times have you read the gospel and thought, “What, really? How could the disciples be so blind?” Yet with grace, he continually equipped them for their future mission. And what was their mission?
- That would the same mission that we have been given…the great commission. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So, what will you do with your gifts of Grace?
- Will you toss ‘em?
- Will you store ‘em?
- Will you overcome your fears and use ‘em?
- OR even better → Will you ask Christ for more gifts?
Do you fear using your gifts in discipling someone?
→ You need not, because it isn’t about you!! Rather, Jesus does the work in all of this.
→ Remember those four little words, “I AM with you,” so…it’s not you!!
→ He gives the gifts, He does the training, He gives the protection, and He gives the growth.
→ Friends…It’s time to Grow Up and use your gifts!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of grace!