What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-12

“Every Member Ministry” Christ Gave Gifted Men to Train Members of His Body

Part 1: Ephesians 4:11-12

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-12

Ephesians 4. Our text this morning will be verses 11-16. I preached a sermon on this passage before when we began Northlight Baptist Church. That message was in a series of messages through which we tried to define the direction of our church.

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So we attempted in the series of messages to establish a biblical philosophy of ministry. How are we to do church? Part of the answer to that question is found in our text this morning.

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One of the takeaways from that earlier message was the need for every disciple to be discipled and discipling. A biblical church has every disciple of Jesus Christ fully discipled and also discipling other believers.

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And so I’d like to remind us of this in the passage this morning. But let’s read the passage, Ephesians 4:11-16 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

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You can see from verse 11 that he, that is Christ, gave these individuals to the church. Christ gave those individuals for a purpose. Pastors have a direct purpose in your life, believe it or not. Verse 12, their purpose is for the equipping of the saints. And it is the saints who do the work of service. And in the end, verse 12 says their service is for the building up of the body of Christ. So the saints do the work of service, or the work of the ministry. Every believer contributes to the building up of the body of Christ.

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And the goal of this training is so that our church grows as a body of believers. Verse 13, the goal is that we grow to be a “mature man” verse 13 says. For us as an assembly of God’s people, that means that we grow to be like Christ.

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And you can see this focus on growth in verses 13-16. And the illustration is that of a human body.

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Look at verse 13. The goal is that we attain to a “mature man.” You see the focus on growth.

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As a result, verse 14 we are no longer to be “children.” But instead of that verse 15 we are to “grow up” in all aspects into him, who is the “head.” See the focus on growth and the human body? Children and grow up and the head, who is Christ.

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And finally verse 16 at the end of the verse, the whole body “causes the growth of the body.” So, clearly the passage is talking about growth and Paul is using the human body as an illustration, a picture of that growth.

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And we are in a context of gifts. Last time, we discussed Christ giving gifts to individuals in verses 7-10. And now, in verses 11-16, Christ gives gifts to the church. Before was Christ giving spiritual gifts to individuals. Here, Christ gives gifted individuals to the church.

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So the illustration is of a human body. And we’re going to try to keep that illustration through the message.

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To organize the message, I have three systems found in each of our bodies. The nervous system, the muscular system, and the endocrine system.

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The nervous system we will say, provides the direction of the body. The muscular system is the actual work accomplished in the body. And the endocrine system is responsible for the growth of the body. The endocrine system is quite active during those teenage years to help cause the growth of the body.

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So I’d like to preach on what does a mature church look like? What does a mature church look like?

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What we will discover is that a mature church is one in which every member is ministering. In a mature church every member is ministering in some way, causing the growth of the body.

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And how does this come about? How does maturity or growth in a local church happen? Maturity in a local church happens through Christ giving gifted men who train members of his body.

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And that really is the point of verses 11-16. What is the point of these verses? It is this: Christ gave gifted men to train members of his body. Christ gave gifted men to train members of his body.

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And then the members of his body build up the body. We will be focusing this morning on verses 11 and 12. So we’ll get through the nervous system and part of the muscular system this morning.

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TRANS: How does an assembly grow? An assembly grows when trained members of his body build up the body of Christ. An assembly grows when trained members of his body build up the body of Christ.

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Since the illustration is the body, you can see we’re talking about the growth of the whole local church, not just individuals in it.

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You can see that an assembly grows when trained members of in the church build up the body of Christ. Look at verse 16. Ephesians 4:16 from whom [Christ] the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

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The whole body …… causes the growth of the body. Verse 16 at the end, “the body builds up itself in love.”

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But first, in order for trained members of his body to build up the body of Christ, there first must be the training.

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And training takes gifted individuals. Gifted individuals train the members. And members build up the body. But it takes gifted individuals first. And that’s verse 11.

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  1. Nervous system: Christ gives gifted individuals to the church (v.11)

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

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We’ll call this the nervous system. The brain in our body sends signals to the nerves. In the church, we have a head, Jesus Christ.

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Verse 15 calls Jesus the head of the body. Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

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So the head directs the body. And here Christ directs his church, partly through gifted individuals.

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The little word “as” is in italics, which tells us that it is not part of the original text. So if you just that out, it reads “He gave some apostles.” What that means is that Christ gave some apostles to the church. He gave some prophets to the church, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers to the church.

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So what I would like to do is discuss each of those gifts. In verse 11 there are five gifts. Apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. There are five.

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Apostle

Christ gave some apostles to the church. An apostle is someone who was directly commissioned by Jesus Christ as a witness of the resurrection. They planted churches and Christ gave His Word through them.

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In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he chose 12 disciples. He would later call them apostles. The word apostle has the idea of being sent. To be an apostle of Jesus Christ requires that Christ Himself send you, that he commission you.

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The apostles planted churches and received revelation from God. They were chosen to write God’s word. They were borne along by the Holy Spirit to pen down Scripture as we have in the New Testament. And so because of the Holy Spirit’s special work in their life, their teaching became the norm for doctrine and fellowship.

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So who qualifies to be an apostle? Let me get you to turn over to Acts chapter 1.

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In Acts chapter 1 beginning in verse 12, the 11 apostles are gathered together in the upper room after the ascension of Jesus Christ.

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And they were praying. And Peter stands up beginning in verse 15 and speaks to them concerning the apostolic office. For whatever reason, Peter feels the need to replace Judas. And Peter has qualifications for the one they choose to replace Judas as an apostle.

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Acts 1:21-22 21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

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So in Peter’s mind, whoever it is that was to be an apostle had to have been with the original apostles from John’s baptism until the ascension of Jesus.

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What happens next is that they pray and draw lots [or throw dice as it were] verse 26 Acts 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

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Matthias was chosen because he fulfilled the qualification of having been with the disciples from the beginning and also an eye witness to the resurrection and ascension.

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But there comes a problem with these qualifications. Are these the qualifications? Having been with Jesus from the beginning of John’s baptism, is that necessary Peter?

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The problem is when Paul becomes an apostle in Acts chapter 9. You could turn there quickly. In Acts 9, Jesus appears to Paul as Paul was about to persecute the church once again. And Jesus commissions him in Acts 9:15-16 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

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And Ananias goes to Paul. We’ll, Paul had been 3 days without food or drink and was praying. By a miracle, he had something like scales on his eyes during this time. You remember he had seen a vision of a man named Ananias coming to him. And the Lord spoke to Ananias to go and lay his hands on Paul.

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Acts 9:17-19 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,

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So Paul is here directly commissioned by Jesus Christ. He saw the risen Jesus on the road when that light appeared and through miracles, the Lord commissions him directly.

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And that’s why he can say in 1 Corinthians 9:1 … Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?

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So Paul is an apostle. Why? He did not fit Peter’s requirement that he be with the disciples from the beginning of John’s baptism until the ascension.

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So we have a problem. Paul is clearly an apostle because he was commissioned by Jesus and is a witness to the resurrection. But he was not with the disciples from the beginning.

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The solution to the problem is that, Peter was likely being typically Peter and was a little hasty in replacing Judas. So I would contend that Peter was hasty in his leadership of the church to replace Judas with Matthias.

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Remember that the book of Acts is a record of what happened. It’s not necessarily the infallible Acts of the Apostles. The book is not called the Infallible Acts of the Apostles, it is called the Acts of the Apostles. It’s a history book.

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And the debate comes to a head in Revelation 21:14 where John records that the wall of the New Jerusalem has 12 foundation stones, each of which has on it a name of the 12 apostles.

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So which apostle gets his name on there? 11 apostles are clear, but who is the 12th? Is it Judas, Matthias, or Paul? It’s only the 12 apostles. It’s best to conclude Paul and explain in Acts chapter 1 as Peter being a little hasty in his desire to replace Judas.

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With this then we can conclude that the qualification for being an apostle requires that you be directly commissioned by Jesus Christ and also that you be an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus. Paul and the 11 other disciples fit this description. However, Matthias was not directly commissioned by Christ.

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At any rate, the ministry of the apostles continues today in written form. The early church fellowshipped on the apostle’s teaching. Acts 2:42 The early church was “continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

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So there was the constant devotion to apostolic teaching. And today, that must continue.

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APP: The preaching of God’s word today must reflect apostolic teaching. In other words, the apostles still have the authority as it is reflected in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit bore them along and they wrote down exactly what the head, Jesus Christ, desired to have handed down to us. And the preaching of God’s word today must reflect not only that teaching, but also the authority of that teaching. I’ll comment on that more a little later.

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TRANS: But what about the prophet? We can turn back now to the book of Ephesians. Ephesians chapter 4.

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Prophet

Ephesians 4:11 …. Christ gave some apostles and some prophets to the church.

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Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5 group together the apostles and prophets. So this reference to prophet is clearly New Testament prophets.

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A New Testament prophet was someone who is especially enabled by the Holy Spirit with the gift of prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14 lists the gift of prophecy as a spiritual gift.

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And when you put the passages together the New Testament prophet serves two functions. He is gifted to understand and communicate the revelation of God and he was able to predict.

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There is a foretelling of the future and a forthtelling of God’s truth.

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And the prophet would have entire control over his prophecies, just like any teacher would. He would not be given some ecstatic trance when his gift is used. No, he would be able to control it just like any other gift.

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I’d like to show you a prophet quickly. Turn to Acts 21. Just previous to Paul’s arrest, a prophet predicts Paul’s arrest. Luke writes… Acts 21:10-11 10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”

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True NT prophets predicted the future.

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TRANS: So, the apostle and prophet have not been continued today. Third, is the evangelist.

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Evangelist

Unfortunately, the New Testament concept of an evangelist is not necessarily someone who lives in a trailer and preaches all over North America.

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The evangelist, like the other gifts, are for the training of God’s people.

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Look at the connection of Ephesians 4:11-12 11 he gave the evangelist to the church …why? …. Verse 12 … 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

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The evangelist equips the saints. Now, an evangelist who equips the saints also may win the lost. If someone is particularly gifted and successful at winning lost people to Christ, he has the right to train other people how to do that and to do it himself, of course!

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The word evangelist here only occurs two times in the New Testament. Philip is described as an evangelist in Acts 21:8 and Paul exhorts Timothy to do the work of an evangelist in 2 Timothy 4:5. And in Acts 8, Philip the evangelist is going about preaching the gospel. He is doing missionary work in preaching the gospel to lost people both in crowds and individually. And he would be one who should also equip the saints to do similar work, as is described here.

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So instead of evangelistic services where an evangelist comes and we bring our lost friends and invite the community, we should invite an evangelist to come and train us how to win people to Christ ourselves!

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APP: But Paul also exhorts Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. And the application in this text is for a pastor to train his people how to win them to Christ.

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On Thursday nights right now we are studying eschatology, or what’s going to happen in the future, end time events. And after we finish this study, one of the things that I will do is to teach you how to when someone to Christ, how to witness. This is part of the pastor’s job description. So I will enjoy having the opportunity.

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But at the same time, I may suggest to our church that we invite evangelists to train us to evangelize.

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TRANS: And the fourth and the fifth gifted individuals in Ephesians 4:11 that Christ has given to his church are “pastors and teachers.”

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Pastors and Teachers

We are taking these together because of the way that is worded. There are many men today who consider this one and the same role: the pastor-teacher. They take it that way because of what they think they see in the original wording. Your study Bibles will likely portray this.

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However, if you pick up the standard Greek grammar today … The author of that grammar wrote his dissertation … he wrote an entire book on the grammatical construction reflected here “and some pastors and teachers.” And he concludes that although all pastors are teachers, not all teachers are pastors. All pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors. So a pastor is a kind of teacher. But there are other kinds of teachers.

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And this term “pastor” is the word for shepherd. It is used to refer to a shepherd sheep. But here it is used to refer to one who is a shepherd of people. He is a leader of the people. It is used to refer to one who cares for his flock of people.

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And we have studied previously how a pastor, an elder, and an overseer are all one and the same thing. An elder pastors and oversees the people in a local church. So a pastor is an elder and an overseer. So a pastor ministers spiritually to the saints exhorts and comforts all believers and teaches them the word of God and administrates the activities of the local church.

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Now, the teacher. A teacher here may not be a pastor. This is a very general term, simply for one who teaches. He teaches not only in doctrine, but also in living out that doctrine. The teacher teaches the word of God as it is already revealed.

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A pastor teaches and a teacher teaches. And each are to teach the very words of God. The pastor and the teacher are to teach the people what God says as it is stated in his word. He is to do so with the authority of God’s word.

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So a teacher could include any man who has a special grace from God to teach. We have those who teach our children in our assembly. You are a gift, let me tell you! You who teach our children play a vitally important role in this assembly. God works in each generation and He begins doing that very soon! You who teach in our assembly, do so knowing you are a gift to this assembly. Thank you!

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APP: A pastor or a teacher is to do so with the authority of God’s word. And this is why when I come to a Bible passage to teach it, I’m not asking “what can I say about this passage.” Instead, I am asking the question “what does this passage say?” Do see the difference?

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Not “what can I say about this passage” but “what does this passage say?”

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When we looked at the prophet, his words were directly moved by the Holy Spirit and could be considered directly the word of God.

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But the apostle and the prophet have both passed from the scene. Today, we have God’s word as it is revealed to us in the Old and New Testaments. The job of the pastor and the teacher is to teach what has already been revealed there. He is to teach with the authority of Scripture.

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And any sermon or lesson will be authoritative to the degree that it conforms itself to the passage it teaches. When presenting instruction, you teach and preach the passage. You don’t want to preach from the passage; no, preach the passage!

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APP: And this is why as I preach and teach God’s Word, I want to be very careful not to make myself the authority. There is a form of preaching today, even in good churches, that ever so subtly makes the pastor or the preacher the authority.

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And that church may be solid today, but if there is not the careful teaching, then there will likely be a slow drift away from the Scripture.

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[*Bible in front*] There is a style of preaching where the pastor always points you to the authority of Scripture and makes you look at those authoritative words.

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[*Bible behind*] And there is also a style of preaching where the pastor has studied whatever books he has studied and proceeds to just tell you what he thinks the Bible says.

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One leads to the growth of the body generation after generation and the other leads to the stunting of the growth of the body.

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It should be the lifelong goal of any assembly to discard and reject unbiblical beliefs and practices and, at the same time, to cling tenaciously and increasingly to the teaching of Scripture. And then to apply it with the heat for living a life that is truly pleasing to God.

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TRANS: From verse 11 then we have the nervous system of our body. Christ has given those gifted individuals to the church. The head of the church Jesus Christ has given gifted individuals to the church. That’s verse 11.

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Now, the muscular system. As the head sends signals and as the nerves transmit those signals, the muscles begin to work. So in verse 12 we have the transmitting of those signals. We have these gifted individuals training believers. Just like the brain sends signals and the nerves transmit those signals to the muscles, so also Christ our head has given gifted individuals to train the muscles, to train the believers for ministry.

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  1. Muscular system: Gifted individuals train believers

Real quickly now … Christ has given gifted individuals verse 12 …

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Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

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So what is the purpose for these gifted individuals? There are three gifts to the church today: evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

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And what are they here for? God has given them to train the saints to do the work of the ministry.

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The word equipped there is a word for training. It has the idea of making someone sufficient for something.

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And for what are the saints equipped? Or what is the training for? Verse 12, the evangelist pastor and teacher is here for the training of the saints. And what is the training for? They are training for the work of the ministry. For the work of service.

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ILL: Like a human body would train for a marathon, the members of the body of Christ is training for the work of the ministry.

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So this is not a training to merely listen to preaching. You can do that online or on the radio.

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And this is not training on just head knowledge. And this is not training just for how to have the right Christian standards. No, the training is for working. It is for the work of the ministry. That’s the purpose for my training you: so that you can do the work … So that you can do the work of the ministry.

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APP: Do you have room in your schedule for more work! That’s God’s calling on your life. Make some room!

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So the purpose that I have for speaking to you out of the Scripture and for sitting down with you and chatting with you about your marriage or your family or about you taking the next spiritual step in your life is so that in the end you are doing the work of the ministry.

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ARG: you say, “I can’t do that!” No, you have been gifted by Christ himself. Back up in Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

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You have been given a grace-gift, remember. You have received grace … you have received a gift to do his work. Every believer has a spiritual gift.

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And I’m here to equip you … to train you in your giftedness. I want to train you to properly exercise that gift in this assembly.

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Am I training you? Are you receiving the training? These are two vital components to making sure this process is going on. If you want further training, please talk to me. And if I see you need further training, I will come talk to you!

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And so there is no getting around this! You’re here and I am here and according to the authoritative Word of God, we are required to train and to be trained so that we do the work of the ministry.

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I am required to train you and you are required to receive the training. So we can pray for me that I train and pray for you that you receive it.

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Verse 12 states that this work of the ministry builds up the body of Christ.

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Ephesians 4:12 Christ gave gifted individuals to the church for the equipping/training of the saints to do the work of service, which builds up of the body of Christ;

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If I properly train you by the grace of God, you will do the work of the ministry. And as you do that, you will build up the body of Christ.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-12

When I stand before the Lord one day and give account for your souls I don’t want to be found lacking. I don’t want to stand before the Lord one day and have him say to me that certain works done in this assembly were useless.

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No, I want to stand before the Lord one day and give account of your souls that I have trained you in a way that enables you to fulfill the gift that Christ has given to you.

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Remember Christ! He descended to earth in the incarnation. He came as a conqueror. He conquered sin, death, hell, and Satan and his demons.

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And he came and purchased many by his precious blood. And when he was raised from the dead, he proved once and for all that he is indeed the Son of God!

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And when he ascended back to the Father, he sat down at his right hand having conquered your spiritual enemies for all time.

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And for those of us who have trusted in him and repented of our sins and called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, he has given to us a spiritual gift. Like a conqueror returning home with all of the spoils and handing them out… Just like that, Christ has distributed gifts to his people for use in his kingdom.

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And I am here to equip you in your gift … And by God’s grace that will happen. Receive the training and on that day when you stand before him, you will receive a well done good and faithful servant.

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