What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.13-16

“Every Member Ministry” Members Do the Work of the Ministry to Build Christ’s Body

Part 2: Ephesians 4:11-16

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.13-16

Ephesians chapter 4. Our text morning will be verses 11-16. This will be our second and final message from these verses. We have entitled this passage “Every member ministry.”

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I want to draw our attention to the teaching of every member ministry in the passage. Verse 12, the equipping of the saints is for something. It’s not for a marathon, but the equipping is for the work of service. The saints are trained to do the work of the ministry. And this builds up the body of Christ. And then in verse 16, from whom, that is Christ …from whom the whole body … Skip to the end of the verse … The whole body 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. This requires that the saints receive training to do the work of the ministry. So can see the focus then on every member ministry.

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Let’s read these verses

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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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Last time we looked at verses 11 and 12. In these verses we learned that Christ gave gifted men to train the members of his body. You can see those gifted individuals in verse 11. They are there, verse 12, to train to, equip the members of his body.

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That was the focus last time.

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And this training is a training for spiritual growth; for spiritual maturity. God demands maturity in Christ likeness. God demands nothing less than strengthening his people to be like his Son. And he is using everything in our lives to bring this about.

Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  1 Peter 1:15-16 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

James 1:4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That’s the goal.

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Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

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You can see that God’s high standard is that we present every man complete in Christ. That means that each one is to be mature in Jesus Christ.

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And so the process of sanctification is not something we’re getting out of. The process of spiritual growth is something that every believer is a part of.

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But not only should we grow individually, the focus of our passage this morning is the growth of the assembly. Christ is not content with you being spiritual in the confines of your own home or monastery. No, His ultimate goal is that you contribute to the growth of His church.

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Nervous System

And we learned last time about the nervous system. The passage calls Christ Himself the head and He gave gifted believers to the church to train believers. We called this the nervous system. Verse 12 teaches that gifted individuals are here to train us to become like Christ.

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So why did Christ give pastors, teachers, and evangelists to the church today? Verse 12, Ephesians 4:12 to equip/train the saints to do the work of the ministry.

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Christ is the head and if we could say that the pastor and other teachers are the nerves and the believers are the muscles.

  • The head gives the nerves and the nerves trigger the muscles to work.
  • Christ gives the evangelists, pastors and teachers and they train the believers to work.

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So as Christ has sent pastors and teachers and evangelists today they will train the people and the people will do the work of the ministry. Every believer is to do the work of the ministry. If a believer does the work of the ministry, he will build up the body of Christ.

So if there is a believer and he is not participating in the work of the ministry, that believer needs further training to get involved and begin to minister.

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Muscles are the strength of the body, not the nerves! Just like that, the strength of any assembly is not ultimately found in the pastor. Yes, the pastor must be so strengthened himself that he trains his people. But the real strength of any assembly will be found in the people. As the pastor trains the people the pastor multiplies himself in a sense. And then we have multiple ministers in the assembly.

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What good is a nerve without a muscle? What good is a pastor without his people?

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And if the saints receive the ministry of the pastor and the saints are trained, the saints will build up the body of Christ.

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But how are the saints trained?

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God’s people are trained through the Word of God. The pastor trains a believer through the Word of God, through wise applications of the Word of God, and by example.

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Through Word of God

The pastor is required to teach his people sound doctrine.

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2 Timothy 4:1-2 1 Paul writes to Timothy saying “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: [if that’s not motivation I don’t know what is…what is he to do?…] 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and doctrine.

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1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

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1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

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There is a constant focus of sound doctrine in the first and second Timothy and Titus, the pastoral epistles. If I reveal things to you from the Scripture and the Scripture is clear that it is a good example to follow or you are commanded to do it, do it! Be careful to do it.

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TRANS: But a pastor is not only to teach exactly what the Word says, but he is also to apply the Scripture.

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Wise Applications

For example,…

Titus 2:15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. “Exhortation is applying the Scripture.”

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You remember in 2 Timothy 4:2 …that he is to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and doctrine

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The pastor is to rebuke, but not without doctrine. This is a bringing the text home into the people’s lives.

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TRANS: Doctrine, application. The pastor also trains by his own example.

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Example

1 Timothy 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

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Any believer ought to say to any other believer, like Paul “follow me, as I follow Christ.” In whatever area I follow Christ, follow me in that area as well.

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Prayer

1 Thessalonians 3:9-10 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

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I will seek to pray that I by the grace of God may complete what is lacking in your faith.

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Catch Paul’s passion! What is it we’re to focus on? Filling this building and gaining masses of people? Is that our dream? Are we to focus on programs? Are we to focus on making our music program better? Are we to focus on evangelism, evangelism, and more and more evangelism?

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None of these things are bad, but what are we to focus on? We are to focus on training the saints to become like Christ! And everything flows from that! We need church-wide maturity through the reading, teaching and preaching of God’s word. And if we do that we will be trained to do the work of the ministry. And ministries will happen by God’s grace.

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APP: You say, “What are some ways of ministering any assembly?”

Evangelism, discipleship and counseling. Music. Rebuking, exhorting, comforting. Rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. Praying. Teaching. Bible studies.

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Visiting the sick, discipling of new Christians. Helping with family and marriage problems, spiritual counseling, prayer, giving materially.  All of these things would all be in today’s modern “how to be a pastor” book.

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But no! Every believer could read a book on how to be a pastor and do it b/c that’s exactly what a Christian should be doing.  Evangelism, discipleship and counseling is not just the pastor’s job. Comforting exhorting and rebuking is not just the pastor’s job, that’s your job! Preaching the gospel every Sunday morning is … your job if the need arises! Discipling and teaching new Christians … We’re all called by Jesus Himself to do this!

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You may not have a teaching gift. But all are called upon to teach. Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

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The Hebrews were saved long enough to have become teachers themselves. On a Thursday night coming up we will be teaching how to lead someone to Christ and how to teach and disciple them.

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So really, there is not much difference between me and you. I exercise the gifts that I do and you exercise the gifts that you do. If you call me Pastor Greg, I might just call you Servant Susie or Giving Gary.

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In fact the making a strong difference between the pastor and his people is harmful. There is little else that could stunt the growth of the church more than thinking there is a big difference between the pastor and his people.

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ILL: This is clericalism. Clericalism is the idea that the minister says, “you leave the work of the ministry to me, that’s what you pay me for.” And the congregation says “yes, we will do that!”

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The congregation says to their pastor, “We pay you to do spiritual ministry. Get to work!” And that the pastor says what he should never say, “you are right, I will do that!” We must reject this thinking, this clericalism.

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APP: I remember having this in my own heart. I remember explaining to someone all the work that I was doing in the ministry and thinking to myself, “he must be excited about all the work that I’m doing.” This person should say back to me, “yes, but what work are the saints in your ministry doing?”

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In most churches doing church is a spectator sport. In most churches, you can be comfortable just coming to church. In most churches, if you sit the pew every service that’s the height of spirituality. And the pastor then praises so-and-so for coming to every service. Folks, that’s just following God’s commands! Hebrews 10:25 “don’t forsake our own assembling together.”

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ILL: I remember hearing a church promotional video from what we would call a good church and the way that it began is this, “every week hundreds of people come to listen to this man preach.”

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My friends, church is not a spectator sport. I look forward to the day when each person in this room views the highlight of this ministry, not merely listening to preaching, but actively ministering themselves. We all need to get to the point where we each view the highlight of our Christian life as ministering to one another.

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And right now, we are in a strengthening stage. We need intense training to grow as an assembly. We must reject the thoughts that if we need work done in this region, that we call a good Bible college and get someone else to do the work. No, you receive the training and do it! That’s why I’m here! To train you! God’s design in the local church is sufficient.

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If you think to yourself, “why doesn’t pastor Greg do such and such?” That’s perhaps because Jesus Christ has put that on your heart to do. Or perhaps you say, “why does this church not do “blank?” Praise the Lord, he has put that on your heart for you to do.

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And you need to be trained to do the work of the ministry as someone who is a part of this assembly. But you will never effectively administer without proper training. What ministry is it that you want to see done? Ok, great, you head that up!

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Typical church administration has made ministry nearly impossible for the pastor. We expect too much of him and we expect the wrong kinds of things from pastors. Much of what we expect from the pastors, the members themselves should be doing.

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And because typical churches present church as merely a spectator sport, the church has lost its influence. The church has lost its influence because typical churches present church as merely a spectator sport. Evangelical churches and mainline Protestant churches are experiencing a giant sucking sound from people leaving the churches.

And when churches attract attenders, there is utter failure in getting the world out of the church members and getting God’s word in to replace it. The training isn’t happening.

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APP: Christians today are more loyal to their own way of life. Christians live close to the world in its designs without participating in the heinous sin. But the design of life is the same. The Christian will live for fun. He may not go to the bar, but he’ll spend the whole weekend with his friends watching rated G movies and then watching a Sunday service. And everyone’s glad they came to watch the service!

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This is not the design for Christ’s church! There is more to Christian living than watching the church and not watching the wrong kind of movies! Minister, serve, and labor toward the other believers in this assembly. Mature and strengthen them. We need your ministry here! And to minister you need to receive my ministry. It’s Christ’s design.

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For you to receive training to do the work of the ministry it is not so that you become a pastor. You may become one, but the point is that you receive training to do the work of the ministry that God has called you to do. And to discover what the ministry is requires that you receive training … training in God’s word! It’s by God’s Word that you will spiritually grow. If you grow spiritually, you’ll be equip to do the work of the ministry. Receive the training in God’s word and as God puts a work on your heart, minister in that way.

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APP: And so each Christian should be engaged in ministry. You have a spiritual gift, use it! How are you serving in the body of Christ? Have you been trained enough to serve in the body of Christ? If not, you need to get with someone who can train you further in the word of God.

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ILL: If you are not serving in the body of Christ, the pastor may end up doing your job. And that’s kind of like the nerves trying to do the muscles’ job. If you had no muscles and only nerves, your body is going nowhere and your body’s growth would be stunted. You would be utterly deformed.

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But if we focus on growing in Christ and seeking the Lord and receiving strength from his Holy Spirit in our hearts, God will do a work in our hearts. And we will grow. If we receive more and more exposure to the Bible and to ministry from gifted people, we will grow. And as you grow, you will begin to see your place in this body of believers and your heart’s desire for ministry will increase.

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APP: If God were to save 3 men right now, could you disciple one? Could you find the time to disciple one of them weekly? We’re not ready for that yet, and that’s fine, so long as we’re growing.

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APP: And so by God’s grace, we are not going to create a bunch of programs in order to influence growth. We will seek to reach out to the community, of course. But were not going to gimmick our way into church growth.

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We’re not going to pay church members to invite other church members. We’re not going to hold a contest to see who brings the most people to church and whoever does we give them candy bar. And if we hold a special service and a record number of people come, I’m not going to shave my head.

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No, biblical church growth will be an outgrowth of the strengthening of the members. I’ll say it again … biblical church growth will be an outgrowth of the strengthening of the members As we are trained and as we minister to one another biblical church growth will happen as an outgrowth of the strengthening of our church. As we build up the body of Christ and as we serve and love one another, the numbers will come in God’s timing.

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CROSS REFERENCE: This is the teaching of Scripture. Let me get you to turn over Acts chapter 2. Acts chapter 2. At the end of the chapter, we have what happened after the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, 3000 people were saved and baptized.

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The very last verse of chapter 2, we read Acts 2:47 [the disciples were] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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So how was the Lord adding to their number? Let’s read from verse 42 and find out how the Lord was adding to their number those who were saved. How does church growth happen?

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Acts 2:42-47 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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They were sharing and ministering to one another in verses 44-45. They were unified in verse 46 continuing with one mind they were having fellowship with one another as they have the Lord’s supper together and eating together.

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And not one mention of an intense visitation program of constantly going out into the community to reach the lost. They were focused on loving one another and devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship the breaking of bread and to prayer.

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So, if we are not committed and devoted to one another and to what the Bible says … And if we fail to have fellowship with one another in this body of believers we are not focused on prayer and celebrating the Lord’s supper together, the Lord will not add to our assembly. We must receive apostolic teaching from the Word of God.

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So we need you here with us. We need to be getting together with one another during the week and ministering to one another.

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Who do you minister to in this assembly on a weekly basis? Continue in your service to one another and if you are not serving, come and receive further training on how to do so.

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And so I by God’s grace am here to train you to do the work of the ministry. And verse 12 tells us that if we do the work of the ministry, the body of Christ will be build up. Be willing to receive training and then actively receive the training, and do it. Be willing to change your heart’s burdens if they are not scriptural. Be willing to have the burdens of your heart form up and nurtured by the word of God through the preaching and teaching of his word.

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TRANS: Well, how long should a pastor train his people and how long should the people received his ministry and how long should the saints do the work of the ministry and how long should we be doing the work of the ministry so that we build up the body of Christ? How long? How long is this going to take?

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Well, how long do the nerves and muscles work together? For the life of that body and the goal is until the maturity of that body.

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So, what is maturity? That’s verse 13.

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A mature church looks like verses 13-16. So this is our mature body. With the head and the nerves and the muscles … And the endocrine system that causes the body to grow … With all of this functioning together, the physical body can become mature.

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Verse 13 is the goal for doing the work of the ministry. What do we have our eyes set on as we minister to one another? What do we have our eyes set on as we see the building up of Christ’s body? What is your motive when you minister to one another? What is your goal as you minister to one another in this assembly? We are all reaching for the goal of verse 13.

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Maturity v. 13

As we minister and serve one another and build up the body of Christ we do this until … Ephesians 4:13 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.

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So this is a picture of maturity. We serve one another with the goal that we all attain to number one, the unity of the faith. Number two until we all attain to the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God.

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In our goal is that we become a mature man and we are seeking to measure up to Christ’s full stature.

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First, a mature assembly is unified on the faith.

We are seeking to be unified on the teachings of the New Testament, unified on the faith. We endeavor every week to gain more understanding of God’s word that we might become one on the doctrines of the faith once delivered to the saints. We have as yet not explained the entirety of God’s word. But as we work through together, we seek to understand it and we should seek to unify on that. Until we all attain to the unity of the faith. Minister to one another until we all attain to the unity of the faith.

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Secondly, a mature assembly seeks to attain the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God

The word for knowledge there is the word that refers not to mere head knowledge but true spiritual knowledge of the Son of God. This is knowledge that produces godliness. True knowledge of the Son of God, the depths of the knowledge of Son of God; life changing knowledge.

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So we seek to get the doctrines straight and we unify on doctrine. And we also unify on our constant endeavor to be like the Son of God and grow in our spiritual understanding of who he is. If our assembly fails to unify on these 2 things and our leadership does not repent, do not attend this assembly.

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And this is all so that… We attain to a mature man.

We must attain to mature manhood. As verse 13 says that we attain to a mature man “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” We must seek as an assembly to become a mature assembly so that we might measure up to Christ’s full stature. In other words, that we would truly represent him and that we be a body that is properly fitted to the head.

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We don’t want to be a body of believers that has a normal head, Jesus Christ, but the growth of the body itself has stunted. We don’t want to have an underdeveloped body. No, we want to measure up to Christ’s full stature. Measure up to the head! That takes building each up other up and that takes each of us doing the work of the ministry and that takes me training you to do that.

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APP: And as we do, the world will see that we are Christ’s. And we will be caring for one another and loving one another and building up the body of Christ here and as we do, the world will know that we are his disciples. And the Lord by his grace can add to our numbers. Let’s focus on receiving training and ministering to one another.

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TRANS: Verse 11 is the nervous system, the head sending the nerves. In verse 12 the nerves work and train and fire those muscles and the muscles begin to work … the saints begin to do the work of the ministry. And in verse 13 we are growing towards maturity we are at work doing these things. This is Christ’s long term vision for our church.

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And now verses 14-16 is the completed process of growth and we have a full picture of mature assembly. And it is in the pastor’s job description to train an assembly to this point. And it is the church’s job to receive the training to get to this point.

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So a properly trained and mature church is characterized here by three things. Number one verse 14 the assembly is self-protected against false doctrine. Number two, the assembly is self-enabled to live out the truth. Number 3 in verse 16, Christ-empowered self-caused growth.

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That’s the process. self-protected against false doctrine, self-enabled to live out the truth, Christ-empowered self-caused growth.

Properly trained believers in a mature church are …

  1. Ultimate Purpose of Pastors #1: A Church is Self-Protected against false doctrine (v.14)

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So first, a mature church is self-protected against false doctrine. Ephesians 4:14 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;

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And here we have to illustrations. The illustration of children and the illustration of boating. We are not remain children. We are not to be immature. What is an assembly who is immature? An immature assembly is one that is, verse 14, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.

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Just like a boat is carried about by winds and waves, so also in assembly can be tossed around by false teaching.

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Oh how the winds false teaching below today! These false teachers trick, they are crafty, and they are deceitful in their scheming. And this doctrine like easy-believe-ism or emergent church teaching gets into an immature assembly and that assembly is tossed around as it follows all the winds and waves that comes their way.

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We are not to be children like this. Children do not know what they ought to eat. If you give a child an opportunity to eat what he wants, he will never be healthy. If the pastor always gives his people what they want to hear, that assembly will never grow. We need to learn to eat our vegetables and strong-tasting meat. If we are constantly sugarcoated with stories and we pile on the yummy bacon fat of fluffy applications and never get to the meat of God’s word, our assembly will never grow and we will be carried about by every wind of doctrine in the end.

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The second picture of a mature assembly is from verse 15. It is that a mature assembly is enabled to live out the truth.

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Instead of being children and carried about by every wind of doctrine by false teachers … We are not to do that but Ephesians 4:15 instead we are to be “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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ILL: The word for “speaking” here is an action word for truth. To do the truth. It’s kind of like what we have done with the word “Google.” If I tell you to go and search for something on the Internet, I might say to you, “just Google it.” And you know to go and type something into Google’s search engine.

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Just like that, the truth has become an action word. “Truthing” is what the word literally looks like. So the goal here of a mature assembly is not simply that we no longer tell lies nor is it that we season our speech with love as we tell the truth, but that we live out the truth in love… We must live out the truth that we know. A mature assembly lives out the truth in love and growing up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ.

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We are to be the very embodiment of the truth and to live it out in loving ways our assembly can see. And so that the world can see it. We are to live the truth and hold it up so that we are pillar and support of the truth in a very obvious way, out of love.

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Lastly this morning, what does a mature assembly look like? Third, a mature assembly experiences Christ-empowered self-caused growth (v.16)

As we get our doctrine right in verse 14 and as we live out that doctrine in verse 15, we will grow verse 16.

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Not to be children tossed here and there by every wind of doctrine, no we are to get our doctrine straight. But were also to live out that doctrine. We to live out the truth in a very loving way and by doing so we will grow up in all aspects into him who is the head. And it is from our head, Jesus Christ verse 16 Ephesians 4:16 from whom [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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So it is from Christ that the whole body at the end of verse 16 causes the growth of the body. Empowered by Christ our whole assembly will cause the growth of one another.

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A mature assembly is empowered by Christ to cause growth in the one another. We are to strengthen one another. How exactly does that work? That’s the middle of verse 16. The whole body will cause the growth of the body when we are fitted and held together by what every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part.

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In other words, as each member of this assembly participates, we will grow together. We need each individual, this verse says. Each individual part must be properly working. So when you are not functioning in our midst and you do not minister to us for whatever reason, you are hindering growth of the very body of Christ! Would you want to be found in that position?

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And if you are here and you are in sin or you are living a life that hinders you from doing the work of the ministry, you are not properly working, and you are hindering the growth of Christ’s body.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.13-16

You must do the work of the ministry in this assembly. Each individual must be devoted to the work of the ministry. And to get that point, you need training. Teaching, reproving, and rebuking.

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Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

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Love one another, do not judge one another, pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Be of the same mind towards one another. Accept one another just as Christ also accepted us. Admonish one another. Greet one another.

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Care for one another. Through love, serve one another. Show tolerance for one another in the love. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you.

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Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not lie to one another. Bear with one another, admonish and teach one another.

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Love one another, comfort one another, live in peace with one another, encourage one another, stimulate one another to love and good deeds, encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching. Praying for one another, fervently love one another, be hospitable to one another. Serve one another, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another. Have fellowship with one another and …. love one another…love one another…. Love one another!!! First John says.

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We must be devoted to building up the body of Christ. And we will never build up the body of Christ if we are not devoted to doing the work of the ministry. Are you committed to practicing and exercising your spiritual gift in this assembly toward us? You will never get to that point without training. Are you willing to receive the training that is offered here?

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I appeal to you, receive, open your heart to the training! And by God’s grace we will work together to build up this assembly so that in the end we measure up to Christ’s full stature. And then the lost in our community will know that we are his disciples and by his grace, he will “add to our number day by day those were being saved.” So let’s be committed to training to being equipped to do the work of the ministry. BOW FOR PRAYER….Silent prayer.

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HANDOUT Song!

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