What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-16

“Pastor As Trainer” The Pastor Trains Believers to Serve in the Church to Cause Spiritual Growth

Ephesians 4:11-16

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-16

Eph. 4. We’re in a series entitled “Stopping a Tsunami” The Role of the Pastor in Light of the Youth Exodus.

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This message is a response to last week’s message. Last week was on preaching the Word. Now, what is the point of all the preaching and teaching?

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But we’re in a series discussing how to stop the youth exodus from the church. Like we said last week, about 6 out of 10 young people in their twenties leave the church for some extended period of time.

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We gave some of the world’s suggestions last time. I have another one for us today.

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An article I read on ChristianPost.com was written by Deborah Fikes. She is the World Evangelical Alliance representative to the United Nations. So, she is no unimportant person within evangelicalism: A representative to the United Nations.

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She recognizes this youth Exodus. She says, “that three [out of] five young Christians leave the church after reaching the age of 15.”

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She says quote “most evangelical leaders point to the widening gap between traditional Christian views and those of the changing … culture.” Then she notes the cultural issues like that are the primary cause of the problem: “same-sex marriage, abortion, and [immorality].”

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She says, “The reality is that for many of today’s young Christians, who are more immersed in mainstream culture than ever before through digital and social media, holding on to the church’s teachings amid such overwhelming opposition is often too difficult a task.”

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Thankfully, she does not believe that we should compromise our values, but that we should teach the youth a mission. All sounds good so far, until you hear her solution. On what mission should we reengage our youth? “Climate change,” she says. Get the youth involved in climate change initiative.

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I’m trying to think of Bible passages on God’s people being all about climate change and I’m struggling. Now, we need to be good stewards of the earth, but our mission is to proclaim the gospel, not be all about climate change as a means to keep the youth from leaving the church. Based on today’s message, she should be calling pastor’s to do their jobs!

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So, I trust that a biblical solution of preaching God’s Word was sufficient for you last week. But to back up, let me ask this question, “What is preaching supposed to accomplish?” Or, we could ask, “What is the framework of pastoral leadership?” Yes, the pastor must preach the word, but to what end? What is the framework in which the pastor is preaching the word? What overall structure, like a building….what structure does preaching the word attempt to hold up? Establishing the framework will direct the purpose of the preaching and of the very ministry of the pastor.

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Many pastors are misguided and do things that they should not be doing in the church and fail to do things that they should be doing in the church. In the midst of all of the pastor’s duties and activities, he needs some framework to guide his role within the congregation. He needs to be able to evaluate what he is doing.

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All too often, a pastor is swayed by the feelings and feedback from others. He doesn’t sufficiently recognize his call from God.

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A pastor can sometimes feel like he has to please everyone. He should preach for exactly 27 min. and have an invitation in which everyone is convicted but no one is offended. He needs to address the sins of the man or woman down the pew.

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He must work from 7 AM to midnight and be 40 years old with 50 years of experience. He can’t be too heavy lest he bring reproach on the ministry and he can be too thin lest he appear to be sickly.

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He must have a burning desire to work with teenagers and spend all his time with the senior saints. He must be constantly smiling to show the joy of his life with God, but he should smile with a straight face, so that he doesn’t lose the dignity and seriousness of his office.

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He must prepare sermons for 30 hours a week and counsel for 20 hours and evangelize for 25 hours while spending 30 hours a week in prayer. And he should always be available in his office. He’s got to be talented, gifted, scholarly, practical, popular, compassionate, understanding, patient, level-headed, dependable, loving, caring, neat, organized, cheerful, and above all, humble, in light of all of that.

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He makes $400 a week and gives $300 of it back to the church. …arg….

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Unfortunately few pastors can fulfill such high expectations. For pastors, the result is often frustration and confusion as he attempts literally to be “all things to all men.” This kind of mindset can cause a pastor to leave the ministry altogether. A man could easily get lost in the maze of preparing bulletins, hiring janitors, motivating Sunday school teachers, and babysitting [slash] counseling. All this as he tries to find time to study for sermons and, when he finds time, to shuffle a few extra piles of paper, organize meetings, plan events, do visitation and spend time with his kids to keep them in line so he’s not disqualified …. Why … what is this?

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The lay person says … “Well, if he’s called, just stick it out!” Stick what out? What is it that he is supposed to stick out? In other words, to what is he called? What is the main job, the main thing to be done, the goal of his labors?

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So you can see then, that a pastor must be given a framework that structures everything he does. He needs to say “no” to the things that are not his calling and “yes” to the things that are his calling. He needs a constructive framework for pastoring. Without it, he has no direction.

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So where do we begin? As we attempt to determine this framework, our mind naturally goes to the word pastor. This, of course, is the word shepherd as in a shepherd of sheep.

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This what we have in 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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It would be very easy to take that word pastor or shepherd and run with the illustration and take it too far. The illustration will break down. Teachings of Scripture concerning the pastor must guide our understanding.

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Naturally, as a shepherd of the sheep, we think of the tender care and the compassionate leading along of the sheep. A shepherd knows his sheep and what they are up to. He cares if they are participating in the flock or not. A pastor pursues sheep when they go astray and he carefully feeds them. When the wolves come in, a faithful shepherd will attack the wolf and protect the sheep.

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We can draw some natural truths from that picture. A pastor should be patient with his people, tenderly caring for them and compassionate toward them in their life situation and their trials and sins. When God’s people began to go astray, a pastor will pursue them and attempt to bring them back into the fold, like a shepherd would with his staff. And of course he carefully feeds them the word of God. A pastor would guard his flock from the wolves, or the false teachers by declaring them to be wolves and refuting their error and thereby protecting his sheep.

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But we can carry the illustration too far. Typically, when you think of sheep, you do not naturally think of them as the epitome of intelligence. They are not necessarily well known for being the smartest of God’s creation. And we don’t want to think of individuals in the local church as primarily failing intellectually.

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In other words, if I say about myself, “I’m your pastor.” You know not to say with a stern reply, “What? Are you calling me a stupid sheep? Aren’t you a sheep too, pastor?” So you see, you can take the illustration too far.

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So, my point is, we can’t get the framework of the pastor merely from the word pastor. So where do we get it from? Among other passages, we get it from Eph. 4:11-16.

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Here we will learn that the framework of a pastor … the concept that drives his outlook on ministry is, one word, a trainer. Or, he is one who equips. The pastor, through various means, equips or trains believers to serve in the church through which the church grows into Christ-likeness. That’s a key phrase for this morning’s message. I’ll say it a different way. The pastor trains believers to serve in the church to cause spiritual growth. The pastor trains believers to serve in the church to cause spiritual growth. This is the goal of his teaching and preaching.

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TRANS: It is through each believers’ service in the church that this church will grow into Christ-likeness. Each believer is responsible. But that whole process comes through the gift of a teaching pastor … a pastor who teaches. The church needs instruction … v. 11…

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  1. Christ Gave Pastors to the Church (Eph. 4:11)

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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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In verse 11, we see that Christ gave pastors to the church. Now, just a note here, we are not going to get into all of the explanations of every single feature of this passage. Our goal this morning is merely to bring out of this passage what is there concerning the framework in which the pastor executes his ministry.

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So verse 11 teaches that Christ gave pastors for a local body of Christ. That is the “He”, there, from back up in verse 7. Look back at verse 7… Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

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Christ gave to each one of us grace, or, a gift… The idea is a spiritual gift. To each one of us He has given a gift … now, Paul’s argument is emphasized in verses 8-10. Verses 8-10 prove that Christ has the ability to give the gifts. Christ is able to give these gifts, verse eight, because of his ascension to the father’s right hand.

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Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

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So Christ has the right to give these gifts … And now, verse 11, some of the giftings that He gave are found here in verse 11: some are gifted to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers.

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Thursday night we argued that pastors and teachers hold similar positions. The language here indicates that there is overlap. The idea is this, end of verse 11, that all pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors.

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The main point for us this morning is that all pastors are called to be teachers. In other words, my job is to teach you, as we said last week.

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TRANS: But what’s the goal of a pastor’s teaching? From week to week, what is he doing? Here it is: His goal is to equip the saints. The goal of a pastor’s teaching is to equip the saints. He should not just speak to fill up words in a sermon. But his words are there to train God’s people. As we argued Thursday from Titus 2-3, there is no training toward godly living without doctrine.

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A pastor’s teaching is meant to train people. This is what Paul says … verse 12 …

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  1. A Pastor Equip Saints to Do the Work of the Ministry (Eph. 4:12)

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Ephesians 4:12 [Christ gave some to be pastors for a purpose in Christ’s body…it is …] for the equipping of the saints for the work of service [or ministry], to the building up of the body of Christ;

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You could translate it this way from verse 11 … He gave these men …v12 …to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry, which builds up the body of Christ. He gave those men in verse 11 for the purpose…v12 …of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry, which builds up the body of Christ.

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Christ gave pastors to train or equip the saints. He gave pastors to equip believers in order that the believers might do the work of the ministry. When the saints do the work of the ministry, end of verse 12, that ministry builds up the body of Christ.

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So a pastor’s job is to train people. He trains people to do the work of the ministry. The work that these believers do builds up Christ’ body, here, the local church.

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But it all starts with the pastor who teaches. His teaching trains people for ministry. So, if you want to build up the body of Christ here, spiritually and numerically, God’s design is that the saints must do the work of the ministry. It’s not a one man show. Pay that guy, he’ll do it. No, “pay that guy, he’ll train me to do it!” Through teaching and example, of course. But if the believers are going to do the work of the ministry, they need to be equipped for that purpose. And that comes through the teaching of the pastor.

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So, my primary job in this assembly is one of teaching the word of God. And if I teach the Word of God, the teaching will, by the design of God’s Word, be an equipping kind of teaching. It will be teaching that equips if I merely expose the words of Scripture in your hearing.

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In other words, there will not have to be any nagging about doing the work of the ministry, there will merely be instructing and teaching concerning the work of the ministry. God’s Word and exposing what’s there is sufficient, as long as we do what’s in this book. You say, “I haven’t heard how to do the work of the ministry.” Ok, well, either you haven’t been listening to God’s Word here or we haven’t gotten to that part in the Bible yet! It takes time to preach all God’s Word and it takes you receiving my ministry to hear it!

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But man-made applications, my cleverness of speech will not equip anyone no matter how many stories I tell or no matter how short or long my sermons are. It’s the teaching of God’s Word that will equip you. God’s Word is sufficient. Preaching that neglects a healthy, balanced diet of God’s Word will starve the sheep, no matter how entertaining or pleasant his sermons seem to be.

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Because of this, then, the sheep should glory in the teaching of the Word of God. Somebody says, “Well, I like illustrations and stories, the best.” Okay, why do you like the illustrations? You see, everything in a sermon supports the truth, the actual teaching of the word of God. You should like stories or illustrations because they prove the point found in this book.

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Now, in verses 13 through 16, what is the goal of a pastor’s training of the believers? The believers are to be doing the work of the ministry, so they should be serving. Believers are saints. So we should each be serving saints. But, what is the goal of the pastor as he trains his people through his teaching?

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The goal of a pastor’s training of serving saints is this: mature unity. The goal of a pastor’s teaching and training of serving saints is this: mature unity. Now, let’s recapture what Paul is saying here.

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End of verse 11 again, the pastor teaches. That teaching, verse 12, trains or equips the saints, the believers. The pastor’s teaching trains believers to do what? To do the work of the ministry. …Keep going verse 12 … as the believers do the work of the ministry, last phrase verse 12, the believers’ ministry builds up the body of Christ.

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TRANS: What is the goal of that whole process? Answer? Paul says that the goal of this process, verse 13, is a mature unity. And his illustration is sufficient, it’s the illustration of a mature human body. You’ll see it, look at verse 13 …

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  1. The Goal of a Pastor’s Training of Serving Saints is Unity (Eph. 4:13-16)

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Ephesians 4:13 [the process I just described continues] until we all attain to [#1] the unity of the faith, and [#2 the unity] of the knowledge of the Son of God […those are meant to go together … and #3…], to a mature man [ …a human body is the illustration of that unity …], to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

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The process is this: a pastor teaches and his teaching equips believers to do the work of the ministry. That ministry builds up Christ’s local church. That process has a goal of mature unity.

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The only other time the word “unity” occurs in the New Testament is in this chapter in verse 3, where we are called upon to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit.

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And here, in verse 13, we are told upon what to center unity. What are we to be unified on? Now, unity is simply a “oneness.” In other words, unity is where we act as one. The illustration that Paul will use is of a body. The human body operates as a single entity though there be many parts.

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ILL: Mature unity in Christ’s local body here will be similar to a mature human body. Paul’s illustration is sufficient. When children are young, their body does not act in concert with their brains. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this. Kids are more likely to bite their tongues, fall down stairs, and be generally floppy in their mannerisms.

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But an adult, a mature man, his body is working in concert with his mind. Like the diligent track athlete who trains so that his whole body might move perfectly in concert to achieve greater success.

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Like that, the goal of every member ministering is mature unity. We are all to be one. So, if you don’t feel like you are on board here, we need to address that. We can’t have floppy, grumbling, or absent parts of this local body of Christ!

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We need mature unity. That unity, however, is not some nebulous unity. It is a unity, verse 13, that is centered on (#1) the faith, it is (#2) centered on the knowledge of the Son of God, and (#3) unity is centered on the progression toward church-wide Christ likeness.

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Unity centered on the Faith

The unity of the faith concerns being one in regards to first, the faith or doctrine. The unity is to be centered on “the faith” that is, the faith once delivered to the saints. Back up in chapter 4 verse 3, we are called upon to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and that unity is described in verse four. Go back to verse 4, Ephesians 4:4-6 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

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In this church, we endeavor to be unified on the content of the faith as its reflected in the teachings of the New Testament. So unity does not mean merely that we get along and we like each other. Our fellowship, our unity, our like-mindedness, our “oneness” is all centered on the faith and we all know it. It is very clear. We are of like mind because we are like faith. Our beliefs are the same. The content of the truth from God is agreed upon here and we know that we are having true Christian fellowship on those things. Just like they did in the early church …

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Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

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There is to be in a local church the devotion to teaching. There is unity centered on that teaching. To fail to be acutely aware of unity that is centered on the faith, the doctrinal truth from God, is to fail to understand the process of the growth of Christ’s body and the point of standing behind a piece of wood every week.

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In other words, all of this busyness of the local church has a goal. Every get together has a goal. To lose sight of the goal is to be busy in vain.

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Again, the pastor teaches. In his teaching, he equips the saints. The believers are trained to do the work of the ministry. Their ministry builds up the body of Christ. That ministry can seem like a lot of busyness sometimes. Of course we limit the busyness is much as possible to busyness that actually does build up the body of Christ.

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And all of this work has as a goal our oneness, our unity concerning the faith. That tells you the kind of busyness that we need to be about. If we are not unified concerning the faith, we first need to work on that! Believers, therefore, need to be equipped to know the doctrinal content of the faith! That was the argument last Thursday. No doctrine equals no godliness. Much doctrine equals much godliness.

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Unity centered on the Knowledge of the Son of God

Secondly, not just oneness concerning the faith, but our unity is also centered on the knowledge of the Son of God. We need to have real intimate knowledge of the Son of God as we relate to Him. Each of us must have the goal of increasing in real and true knowledge of the Son of God.

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Unity centered on the Progression toward Church-wide Christlikeness

Thirdly, our unity is centered on progression toward church wide Christ likeness.

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That’s the last phrase, “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” That long phrase is saying this “to measure up to Christ’s full stature.” In other words, to become more like Christ. Our unity is centered on progression as a church toward Christ-likeness.

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So we are unified regarding doctrinal content, the faith. We are all unified as we seek true and real intimate knowledge of God. And we are all unified in our pursuit and progression toward church-wide Christ-likeness.

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So every believer in this church must be equipped to understand the doctrinal content of the faith and how to progress in real intimate knowledge of God and, as well, every believer must be pursuing and progressing and contributing toward church wide Christ likeness.

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Now we come, verses 14 to 16 to the picture of mature unity. In other words, somebody says, “Hey, what does a mature church look like?” It comes about when the people in that church are trained in the doctrinal content of faith. They are progressing in true knowledge of the Son of God and they are contributing to this church’s progression toward Christ likeness.

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But how would you know if we reached that point? You would know if we’ve reached that state as a church if the believers of Northlight Baptist Church, both individually and corporately, could be equipped with the following 3 things. The ability to …

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  • Remain Unshaken by False Teachers
  • Enable Others to Embody the Truth
  • Contribute to the Christ-Empowered, Self-Caused Growth of the Church.

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Let’s quickly nail these down and we’ll be done.

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Remain Unshaken by False Teachers

Verse 14, we would know if Northlight Baptist Church achieved mature unity if the believers, first, remain unshaken by false teachers….

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Ephesians 4:14 …we reach this ideal of a mature man from verse 13 … when…verse 14 … we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine [notice that instability…tossed here and there by what? …doctrine…that all happens…], by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

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Each needs first to be unshaken by false teachers. Christians, our children are leaving the churches because of this. False teachers inside and outside the church! So don’t be children with regards to doctrine, but, verse 15,…

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Enable Others to Embody the Truth

Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up [don’t be children, grow up] in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

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The phrase “speaking the truth” is actually one word in the Greek language. And literally it is “truthing.” The Greeks made truth into action.

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This is similar to what people have done with the word “Google” … Google is a search engine. But if you search on that search engine, you Google something. “Just go and google it,” we say.

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In other words, Google has so infiltrated our lives that we turned what you do on the website called “Google” into an action. In the same way, the truth ought to so infiltrate our lives that we turn doctrine into practice.” You must be “truthing.” You must here’s the idea …“living out the truth.” A mature church clearly lives out the truth that it confesses. We need to enable each other to do this.

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When we live out the truth, verse 15 and as we do that before one another, we will “grow up in all aspects into him who is the head, even Christ.”

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So, v. 14, a mature unified church remains unshaken by false teachers. Verse 15, a mature, unified church lives out the truth in a loving way. Each believer in the church lives out the truth and enables others to do the same so that when we do this, it causes all of us to grow as well.

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Contribute to the Christ-Empowered, Self-Caused Growth of the Church.

And finally, the members of a mature, unified church contributes to the Christ-empowered, self-caused growth of the church. The members of a mature, unified church contribute to the growth of the church.

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This growth of the church is empowered by Christ and the church causes the growth of the church. Paul uses the illustration of the body again in verse 16 …

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Ephesians 4:16 from whom […that’s Christ from v. 15…there is our power to do this …. From 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. The whole body causes its own growth through power from Christ. Growth happens when each individual part of the body is working properly. When that happens, the whole body causes the growth of the whole body. But that’s going to take each believer of this church contributing to each of us here remaining Unshaken by False Teachers…each believer is called upon to enable others to embody or live out the truth, each part of this body of Christ is to contribute to the Christ-empowered, self-caused growth of the church.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.11-16

You say, “but I don’t have enough time” or “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t even feel like doing this” or “I’m overwhelmed!”

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What is it going to take to get Northlight Baptist Church to the point where each member shuns false teaching, and is fully equipped to live out the truth … Not only to know the truth, but also to live out that very truth … And then to as well be empowered by Christ to contribute to the growth of this body?

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This is going to take a level of maturity unity, isn’t it? Where is that maturity going to come from? You need to be equipped in order to do this! Where is this equipping going to come from? It’s going to come from the pastor who, end of verse 11, teaches the word of God!

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It’s that pastor’s teaching up there from the Bible, as he merely exposes God’s sufficient Word, that will equip you to do the work of the ministry. So, don’t worry about it. Just pray that I minister effectively and pray for yourselves, that you receive my ministry. 696

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Go to Ephesians Main Page

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