Becoming more like Christ

Story

 

 A Church becoming more like Christ
Eph 4:12-16  Feb 12, 2017   

 

I.     Introduction:

 

A.       What makes a church a healthy church?  Some would say:

 

1.       Numbers - # People, # Baptisms, how many in Sunday school, how many come to prayer meetings, how many ministries, how many miracles, how many missionaries do you support, etc.

 

2.       Quality Sunday service, preaching, worship, and programs of the church at a professional level and excellence, is the preaching –biblical, relevant, and creative!

 

3.       Other – contemporary or traditional or a mix of both,  a believer’s focused church or seeker focused church,  or believer focused and seeker sensitive, etc.

 

B.      What in God’s eyes would MVC look like if it was a healthy church?  Another way to say it is what does God want MVC to become?  

 

1.       The answer to these questions we find in Eph 4

 

2.       This section is talking about the gifts that Jesus has given to each one in the church when He ascended, and in the midst of this section he tells us what are the 4 indicators of a grown-up, healthy church!   

 

·       Let’s start by looking at

 

II.   What a healthy church looks like

 

A.       We will look in a few minutes at God’s ordained means for a church to get here but first sandwiched between the means we see where God wants to take MVC in our journey to be a grown-up, healthy church which is pleasing to Him.   

 

1.       As we look at these 4 indicators of a healthy grown-up church, consider with me how many of these match the indicators that many North American people evaluate a church’s health by.

 

2.       Read 12c-13.  Did you catch them?

 

B.      At the end of v12 he talks about building up the church until it reaches a specific destination, and there are 4 things that God is growing the church toward:

 

1.       Unity of the faith – common understanding of the truth – God’s word, the Bible.

 

2.       Unity … of the knowledge of the Son of God – common experience of Jesus Christ, the main character this book is all about!

 

a)       It is an experiential knowledge of Jesus that just does not know in their head the Bible passage that Jesus is the Good Shepherd but is experiencing Him in your daily life, 24/7 as your personal shepherd. He  is good to you by meeting all your needs and guiding you and giving you the rest your soul needs and even walking with you in the toughest times of life!

 

3.       A mature man – grown up, fully developed.  

 

4.       The measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ – Christ likeness.

 

a)       That is a very complex use of Greek words and grammar by Paul which simply means – to be like Christ.

 

b)      The New Living Translation says it simply – “measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”  The Message says it like this – “fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ”.

 

C.      Take just a moment on this 4th sign of a healthy church.

 

1.       We learned last week in Rom 8:28-29 that God’s predetermined end for every individual believer is Christ likeness, and that He uses every circumstance in our life to accomplish that end.

 

2.       Here we see corporately that God’s desire is to make us a community of people who look like Jesus Christ as a whole together and not just as an individual.l

 

3.       Read Eph 1:22-23 – The church is Jesus’ body, it is the fulness of Jesus right here on earth, right now. 

 

4.       Note carefully no individual can express the fullness of Christ right here on earth; it takes the entire church! 

 

a)       While it is true that each one of us has different gifts to different degrees, it is equally true that there are gifts that each of us does not have.

 

b)      So that means that some of us have bents towards a certain aspect of Jesus that the Spirit expresses through us. 

 

(1)       For instance I have the gift of teaching/preaching and the gift of encouragement, and when you are around me you will probably be touched a bit by the mind of Christ and what His will is for you and encouragement that Christ gives.

 

(2)       But on the other hand, I do not have gifts of mercy, so if your need is just to feel the arms of Jesus wrapped around your heart, then you need someone with the gift of mercy! 

 

(3)       I will give you all the mercy Pat Peglow has, but someone with the gift of mercy it will feel more like Jesus just hugged your heart!

 

5.       The end result is when people walk into the church or as we as a church go into the community, they should see more and more of and different aspects of Jesus with each believer they meet!

 

6.       Thus, MVC recognizes that part of our mission is being “a community committed to become like Jesus!”

 

D.      Then he moves from 4 bullet points of what a grown up healthy church looks like to give us a picture of what this looks like in operation. 

 

1.       Note once again that being like Jesus in every aspect is the goal of this growth, and it comes as we speak the truth, both personal truth and Bible truth, in love. 

 

2.       Read v14-15

 

·       Now we know where God wants to take us as a church; now the question is “What is…?”

 

III. God’s ordained means to become a healthy church?

 

A.       We will see in this section that God’s means are twofold: The ministers of the Word equipping the saints, and secondly every single saint fully engaged in ministry.

 

B.      Let’s look at the ministers of the Word equipping the saints.  

 

1.       Read 11-12a

 

a)       V 11 – note that every one of these people that Jesus gave gifts to for the church are people whose primary ministry is the Word of God in one form or another!

 

b)      V12 – “For” explains why Jesus gave these gifts to the church – to equip the saints, that is the believers or in today’s religious language the laity for service.

 

2.       Equip in very simple basic language means to give them the tools they need to do the ministry: the truths, the skills, the methods, the vision, the encouragemen,t etc.!

 

3.       Why do the ministers of the Word do this? 

 

a)       Read 2 Tim 3:16-17 

 

b)      It is God’s word teaching us how to walk and minister, it is God’s word confronting us when we are off track, it is God’s word correcting and getting us back on track, and God’s word training us how to walk and minister so we can endure through the long haul.

 

c)       That is what will make a man or woman adequate to be a minister of Jesus Christ and equipped for every good work!

 

C.      So while the ministers of God’s word busy equipping the saints, all, all, all the saints are to be busy fully engaging in ministry.     

 

1.       v12 Notice in v12 that saints’ role is the do the ministry, and when equipped saints do the ministry then the body is built up! I understand that to mean at a 30,000 foot level - more people will come to Christ and more people will become more like Christ. 

 

2.       V16 As I read this verse note that every single part of the body is engaged and contributing, and everyone is engaged to their full extent as they are working properly, and everyone is engaged to the full extent doing what they were specifically designed/gifted to do!  

 

D.      One final observation about this passage:  note that Jesus is not only the goal of growth, but He also is the source of growth.  Read v15b -16a.

 

E.       So we learn from this passage that as the ministers of the word prayerfully depend upon Jesus as they equip the saints and as the saints prayerfully depend upon Jesus as they do their service, then Jesus gives to the church the supernatural blessing that makes it grow! 

 

·       So let me make a few applications out of this passage

 

IV. Application

 

A.       You are in the ministry, you are a full time minister! 

 

1.       We have a tendency in North America to think that the paid staff are the real ministers! 

 

2.       But here we see every single believer in Jesus Christ is a minister, who has been strategically gifted by Jesus and placed by Jesus right where you live and work or go to school to bring lost people to Jesus and help believers become more like Jesus!

 

B.      The ministers of the Word are the player/coaches bent on coaching more than playing the game of ministry.

 

o   Of course, ministers of the Word are also to be involved in bringing lost people to Jesus and helping believers become more like Jesus, but their primary duty is to bring God’s word to believers to be equipped so they can do the ministry.

 

C.      Let me remind you that real ministry takes place every time you

 

1.       Talk to a lost person about Jesus.

 

2.       Or you are relating in a way to believers that will help them become more like Jesus.

 

3.       Any time you do that, any place you do that, any one you do that with, you are doing ministry!  Ministry is not just the organized programs that take place at a building on 127th Street at times they have designated!

 

D.      It has been made clear from the Bible during this series that it is God’s will for you to be one with your church to bring people to Jesus and be committed become more like Jesus, even in His purposes. 

 

1.       Make your life count for eternity, have a life of purpose, live a life on mission! 

 

2.       If something is holding you back, open your heart to the Spirit of Christ to remove that obstacle within you!  Pray this prayer: “Holy Spirit, I invite You to make me an intentional owner of God’s mission and to make me a person who genuinely cares about others and puts the Lord’s interest above my own!