This blog post was originally preached at Cornerstone Bible Church on Sunday, August 14, 2022. This is part of the Move Up, Move Over, Move In initiative first launched Sunday, August 14, 2022. Below is the message from that day. You can learn more about the Move Up, Move Over, Move In initiative HERE.
In America, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is pretty well saturated. America is not considered an unreached peoples group. You might say “Well Doug, what about my unreached coworker or my unreached relative? They don’t know the Gospel of Jesus. How can we say America is a reached people group?” That’s an easy question. They’re YOUR coworker. You know the Gospel. They don’t. Therefore, they are reached because of your presence. They have access to the Bible and you to explain it to them!
In America, we’re also a fiercely independent people. I’m no stranger to this. I have an entire farm devoted to self-reliance and self-sufficiency. But is that the way we’re supposed to be as Christians? In America, we don’t know true persecution. We don’t know what it’s like for someone in a 99% Muslim filled nation in the 10/40 window to declare themselves as a Christian. For that believer, they are making a choice that has a strong possibility of misery, destruction, torture, and if they’re lucky, a quick death. Nobody claims the name of Christ in those truly persecuted nations and doesn’t mean it. Why? Because they are knowingly and willingly placing a bullseye on their back, their spouses back, and their entire families back.
For us that claim the name of Christ in America, we may receive what we think is persecution. But it’s not really. Consider these four points from an article in Open Doors USA:
- A woman in India watches as her sister is dragged off by Hindu nationalists. She doesn’t know if her sister is alive or dead.
- A man in a North Korean prison camp is shaken awake after being beaten unconscious; the beatings begin again.
- A woman in Nigeria runs for her life. She has escaped from Boko Haram, who kidnapped her. She is pregnant, and when she returns home, her community will reject her and her baby.
- A group of children are laughing and talking as they come down to their church’s sanctuary after eating together. Instantly, many of them are killed by a bomb blast. It’s Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.
These Christians understand James 1:2-4 quite well when James says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Extremely persecuted Christians also understand the urgency and the supremacy of their faith in action. They understand this so well! In fact, 5 of the 7 churches in Revelation chapter 2/3 received some sharp rebukes. However, 2 did not? What was so different about the two churches that Jesus had no rebukes for? Their level and the intensity of their persecution. The persecuted church is extremely healthy, because there is only major things to focus on, with complete dependency on Christ to build His church.
Extremely persecuted churches don’t rely on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. They press inward because because they have to brace outward. If not, they’ll disintegrate into nothing. They have such an extreme sense of unity because they don’t take for granted their protection or safety. Their faith is very real. When they read the Gospels and the Epistles, they almost read an entirely different story than us sitting here in America.
When we ponder this paradox in America, common sense and basic logic would tell us that the non-persecuted church should be healthier and grow faster. And conversely, the persecuted church should be sick and struggling, and certainly not growing. But that is simply not the case. A dear friend of mine, Thad Bergmeier whom most of you know, is currently working with a group of Afghanistan refugees who are Pastors. And what are they doing? Serving as missionaries to America. Missionaries to America? “No Doug, America sends missionaries. We don’t need missionaries.” Wrong! We escape much persecution in America currently, and yet the American church is dying in many places, and completely dead in others.
America is ripe with people who call themselves Christians who don’t know Christ, and at best, don’t serve Him. We’re comfortable in America. But we’re not as healthy as we should be with how free we get to practice Christianity and live out the Great Commission. We don’t have anti-conversion laws like India. The chances of getting killed sight on scene for claiming the name of Christ has really no consequences. Sure, we might get mocked or scorned. But killed? Tortured? Beheaded? Rarely, if ever. Will that time come? Maybe. I don’t know. But Lord willing, we continue to grow and mature as a church so that we “stand firm” as we’ve just got done going through in Philippians 4.
As a church we need to seek maturity. We need to seize the day to reach the lost. We need to be united in that cause to reach the lost. Normally when you preach or teach you don’t normally blurt out your main idea right at the beginning. But, I’m going to. Because it’s what we’re going to unpack today, in Ephesians 4:7-16. It summarizes what we need to grow in maturity as a church so that when (not if) persecution comes, we are ready to stand firm.
Here it is the main idea:
The Church can only ever become fully mature when every member of the body of Christ uses their ransomed captivity for the selfless service of their Savior through the joy filled giving of their whole life for one another for the sake of Him.
Or to state it more simply:
The Church will only be fully mature when every Christian in It uses their gifts to serve It.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today. First myself in Ephesians 4:7-16, and then Matthew in application, and Jeremy and Alan in prayer. So before we jump into Ephesians, let’s go to Him in prayer.
We’re going to be focusing on verses 7-16 in chapter 4, so turn there if you’re not already. I’m going to be using the NASB today, but if you have an ESV or an NIV that is more than fine too. If you don’t have a Bible I’d encourage you to grab one from under the chairs. But no matter what, you need a bible in your hands. You will miss out if you don’t have the text in front of you. So whether it’s your phone or your bible or a pew bible, turn to Ephesians 4 today.
Verse 7 reads “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Paul starts out the text here with a very important word. But. This is like back in Ephesians 2 when Paul spent vs 1-3 talking about our helpless estate being literally dead, using the same greek word for dead we would use to describe rotten or decaying flesh. And then in verse 4 Paul uses the word “but” again marking a sharp contrast between what happened in the last verses and what he was transitioning to in the next verses. Here in chapter 4 he’s doing the same thing in verse 7 with almost a play on words.
You see in vs 1-6, Paul is talking about unity and singularity of the body of Christ. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. Paul started the chapter drilling in on unity of the body but now, Paul is going to focus on the diversity in the body of Christ. This diversity is not about this body from that body. We know there is only “one lord, one faith, one baptism” and therefore, one body of Christ. The diversity that Paul is going to speak through in vs 7-16 are all about how the individual members of the body of Christ are highly diverse, highly specialized, and highly personalized by their creator. That’s why Paul says “But to each one of us”. Paul is speaking to believers here, and therefore all the individual members of the body of Christ.
Then Paul moves on to say “grace was given”, but he’s not talking about saving grace. Saving grace is of course the grace that was bestowed upon us when Jesus shouldered our sin and shame on the cross. When God the father let out the full measure of his holy and righteous anger on his only begotten son instead of you and me. That’s saving grace. But that’s not specifically what Paul is talking about here.
Paul is instead talking about the grace given by Christ in spiritual gifts. This very specific set of greek words used here for grace, given, and gift, and the way in which they’re recorded here is identical to some earlier portions of Ephesians back in chapter 3:2, 7, 8.
Ephesians 3:2 reads “if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;”
Ephesians 3:7-8 reads “of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,”
In these earlier verses Paul is talking about his special and specific cross to carry in his Christian walk which is his apostleship. He uses the same three greek words for grace gift and given as he does in 4:7. In 3:2 he calls it his imprisonment for Christ in vs 2. Then in 3:7 he talks about the purpose of that imprisonment to reach the gentiles, wrapping it up in 3:8 saying he was given the grace to reach the gentiles. Given the grace to reach the gentiles? Does Paul get an apostolic wand to wave out God’s saving grace? Not at all. Paul was a messenger. Paul even says in Romans that “Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God”. So Paul is simply a messenger. But he was given a grace he says in 3:8 to reach the gentiles and uses the same grace to describe what is given out to all believers “to each one of us”. So does that mean Paul is saying we should do exactly what he did in his ministry?
Not at all. Paul continues in 4:7 that this grace was given “according to the measure of Christ’s gift”. That means we’ve each been given a measure of spiritual gifting uniquely given to us in spiritual baptism to accomplish whatever our God given earthly ministry is. We’re not all like Paul. But the believer who faithfully teaches kids Sunday school faithfully in a way that impacts the lives of those kids is no lesser than the very apostle Paul. We’re all called to fulfill our individual ministries within the larger body of Christ.
Christ’s gift here that Paul is talking about in vs 7 is that we are each given the grace necessary, and the power required, to complete whatever that unique assignment is from Christ himself. This is what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 2:10.
Ephesians 2:10 reads “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
He created works beforehand that every believer should walk in, Paul says. So if we are saved we are believers. If we’re believers we’ve been baptized by the spirit. If we’ve been baptized by the spirit every single one of us has a spiritual gift given to us individually to contribute to the unity of the entire body of Christ, the church. To summarize and simplify, it’s our first point today:
1: Every believer is uniquely gifted for service in the church
Ephesians 4:8 reads “Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.”
Now Paul as he often does, is building up an argument here, a defense if you will, for why he’s saying what he’s saying. We all know Paul has said a lot of things. But Paul doesn’t say things for no reason. The way Paul starts this quotation is very different then how he normally quotes parallel passages. But this time Paul introduces it with a “therefore”. As good bible scholars there are certain phrases that should guide us in our bible study. Phrases like “so that”, “because of”, and “therefore” that Paul has just used. If you struggle to remember the importance of the “therefore’s” that appear in the Bible, just remember: that’s what it’s there for.
Paul is loosely quoting Psalm 68:18, and at first glance you may think he misquoted Psalm 68:18. But that’s not the case. Let’s flip over to Psalm 68:18 together.
Psalm 68:18 reads “You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, Even among the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there.”
We know that Paul was a “pharisee of pharisees”, highly trained and highly skilled in the Old Testament scriptures. So Paul didn’t misquote anything. We also just talked about how Paul doesn’t say things for no reason. Paul is articulate, albeit verbose. He may not always be as concise as we may think he should be but he was God’s very writer of these inspired books. So why the difference in vs 8 and in Psalm 68:18? Why does he say giving gifts in vs 8 and then receiving gifts in Psalm 68:18?
Psalm 68 is one of what’s known as the victory Psalms. It talks of God’s victorious conquest over Israel’s enemies, reaching a climax here in vs 18 with a victorious drive from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. It then continues to talk about God’s continued triumphs over Israel’s enemies, and his people in the future. Paul may have changed the word, but he hasn’t changed the true and overall meaning of Psalm 68. Scholars and theologians debate this word choice profusely. I don’t even want to get into it. The main point doesn’t change no matter the reason and that’s where we’re going to move forward. If you’re interested in this more let me know, I’ll provide a few pieces of light reading.
In vs 8 Paul describes how God plundered His enemies, received the gifts of the plunder, and gave the plunder back to His people. When he ascended, it is talking of nothing more than the ascension of Jesus into heaven. He led captive (think of Paul’s imprisonment for Christ) a host of captives (that is believers who were under the powers of sin and death), and gave gifts to believers at Pentecost through the baptism of the spirit. That’s the Gift. Jesus even alluded to that when asked why he has to go. But he said we will later receive a helper. One greater, hard enough to imagine. But that’s what indeed happened.
I’d encourage you to look back in Acts chapter 2 later today or tonight and reread about Pentecost, when the baptism of the spirit was first received by believers. Look at the miraculous gifts that the spirit provided. Look at the powerful effects of Peter’s first sermon. Remember this is the same Peter who denied Jesus 3 times, and put his foot in his mouth quite frequently. In Acts chapter 2 he just preached on saving grace through Jesus Christ to the same group of people who killed Jesus. That is what Paul is talking about in vs 8 when he said “he gave gifts to men”. He gave Paul the grace needed to do what he needed to do to reach the gentiles, and he gave Peter the same grace necessary to stand firm in Acts chapter 2. He gives you and me the same gift too for whatever we are to accomplish for his name, should we obey him.
Ephesians 4:9-10 reads “(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)”
Now as we said, vs 8-10 are a bit challenging. We need to be willing to acknowledge that we don’t fully understand the interpretation and why Paul changed out receive with give. But what we also need to acknowledge is that it was abundantly clear to the original readers. This is proved evident by Paul’s use of a rhetorical question by inferring that because he ascended he also descended. Vs 8 here and Psalm 68:18 both do not mention a descension. But Paul’s readers clearly understood the connection.
This difficult passage has produced much scholarly debate and has contributed to numerous heresies such as the limbo state of purgatory. Shortly after the beginning of the Protestant reformation, which taught to teach against heresies such as purgatory, John Calvin, one of the great reformers said this: “Many have made glosses much too strong on this passage, saying that Jesus Christ went down not only into the grave, but also even into limbo, a place forged only out of their own minds.”
Calvin argues in his commentary on Ephesians the most simplest of all the explanations. And that is that these verse are speaking of the incarnation, where God descended, and the ascension, where Jesus went back up into heaven. This simple explanation fits in with the broader theme of what Paul is saying so it is very safe to assume it’s accuracy. That’s why Paul includes it in a broad set of passages of the discussion of the giving of spiritual gifts.
It’s also important to remind ourselves what went into those powerful things, the incarnation and the ascension. God came down, fully man and fully God. Lived a perfect life and died the death on the cross that you and me deserved so that he might bear the fathers wrath instead of us so that the father will look upon us as justified. All of that for Jesus to ascend to heaven and for the Holy Spirit, the great comforter sent down to all believers. The gift that is given to us in the spirit, which empowers and provides us our spiritual gifts, are important because of the cost that went into all of that. The indelible grace with which was measured out to give us our spiritual gifts. To summarize in our second point today:
2: Every believer should be motivated to use their gift because of the great cost with which it was obtained
Paul’s final point “that he might fill all things” is what Paul moves on to next that this victorious Christ is giving to the church the aid it needs in growing into unity with himself, which is, the “filling of all things”.
Ephesians 4:11-12 reads “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;”
Here Paul is listing out some subset of offices in the early church, and I believe in a very particular order. These are not the gifts that Paul was talking would be given to “each one of us”. These are some offices where Christ gives grace according to the measure of His gift as we read in vs 7. That’s the “and He gave”, the He is the risen and ascended Christ.
Now the first two, apostles and prophets were foundational to the early church. There was no scripture comprised as of yet, so it was left to the authority Christ gave to the apostles with that special authority, and the prophets, whom God spoke through directly, and they had less authority than the apostles. Both are foundational. Both received revelation in the early church in the time of Paul’s writing.
The evangelist is an itinerant individual, that is they are specially gifted and equipped to travel around sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Much like the apostles and the prophets, these first three offices were itinerant where they traveled around and were responsible for spreading, proclaiming, and managing the dissemination of the good news.
The last two, as even is evident in the text, “some as pastors AND teachers” is the one group here that is not really a traveling type of role. This is the one who takes care of a community of believers, cares for them like sheep with a good shepherd, and teaches them what they need to become mature as Christians into the fullness of Christ.
So vs 11 sums up some places of leadership in the church. But what do leaders do?
Vs 12 continues on with three prepositional phrases to explain why Christ gave these example offices to the Church, the body of Christ. Paul also lists them in a very important order. First, “the equipping of the saints”, which is the first because it’s foundational. Paul calls them saints, which means they are saved believers. But are believers meant to just be saved believers? Not at all.
Paul says that Christ gave these example offices to equip these saints. That is, teach them, shepherd them, and disciple them. And it’s not just something for the leadership offices. The saint should be someone who WANTS to be equipped. Parents, if your child doesn’t want to learn what you’re teaching them will they actually learn it? No. Same with church leaders. There’s two roles here, the mentor and the mentee. Both have to be fully on board in order for the equipping to occur.
The second preposition Paul uses is the necessary outcome and goal of the “equipping” we just talked about. “For the work of service” is the goal of the equipping!! Just like a saint is not supposed to remain unequipped, an equipped saint is not to remain out of service! They are to engage in Christian service, which is to say ministry, if we are to obey God’s book we are reading today.
Now the third and final preposition here in vs 12 is the goal of the last phrase “for the work of service”. What’s the goal and outcome of the “work of service”? It’s for “the building up of the body of Christ”. I hope you’re drawing the connection Paul is making here in vs 11-12.
- Christ gave various leaders (vs 11)
- The leaders are to equip the saints (vs 12a)
- The saints are to do service (12b)
- The service is to build up the body of Christ, the church (12c)
Sometimes we struggle with Paul because his speech is very different than we use today. But Paul is extremely logical once we get the hang of how he speaks. His letters are a collection of logical premises and outcomes that snowball into the bigger theme he is trying to make! Vs 11-12 are no different. They all build upon the previous point. To summarize here in vs 11-12, every saint has a job to do based on their current level of maturity, growth, and sanctification. If you’re mature, then you should lead. If there is growing to do yet, there is still work to be done in training, and other forms of service. If that cycle of mentors/mentees leading and doing the ministry stops, the commands here are not obeyed.
That final recap brings us to our third point today:
3: Every believer has a role to fill in the church
Ephesians 4:13-14 reads “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. 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;”
Now the ultimate goal of the last two verses is the idea of attainment as Paul says here in vs 13 “until we all attain”. That means we don’t have it yet. But what is “it”? What is the goal? Well, Paul gives us yet again three prepositions to understand the goal.
- 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
Now the in vs 12 Paul used three prepositions to build on each other. Here, these three prepositions don’t build on each other. These all say the exact same thing but from three separate angles.
The first angle is that the goal is to arrive at or attain “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God”. When Paul is saying the “unity of the faith” he is literally saying “unity in acknowledging doctrine”, or the “one faith” he said earlier in vs 5. The “knowledge of the Son of God” is not as clear. The greek word translated to knowledge here is only used in Ephesians one other time in vs 1:17. The best way I think to understand what Paul is saying is to simply talk about what doctrine does, since that was the “unity of the faith” explanation. So Paul is most likely talking about what doctrine does, if done correctly.
Doctrine if done correctly is like throwing fuel on a worship fire. It ignites something fierce in each of us. If it doesn’t, then we don’t understand or know doctrine. Doctrine isn’t divisive. It’s unifying if done correctly. And if done correctly it should be an experiential knowing of Jesus. I’m one of the last people to typically condone “experimentalism”, but that’s what doctrine does if we do it well and that’s what I believe Paul to be saying in “the knowledge of the Son of God”. I believe him to be speaking of the experiential knowing of Jesus from true and sound doctrine producing a deep heart of worship.
The next preposition “to a mature man” is not speaking about individuals, but of the church as a body. That’s because Paul here is referring back to vs 12 where he is talking about the building up of the body of Christ. He is describing the attainment here of the maturity of the church as a whole.
The third preposition here in vs 13 is talking about the same theme, but describing us as measuring up against the stature, or the height, of Christ. This Paul says belongs to the fullness of Christ. I take this to mean we are to continue striving to maturity perpetually. We should never stop. Why? Because we will never, and I mean NEVER measure up against the stature of Christ. But, one day we shall be glorified should we press on. And the bride of Christ, that is His church, be presented to Him as holy and without blemish. Mature and perfect, in new resurrection bodies at the wedding feast of the Lamb.
Remember Christ as we discussed a few moments ago conquered all things and everyone, and took their plunder and gave it to US!! We can attain these things should we press on to the goal of what we just described in vs 13, which to summarize is to say and it’s our fourth point today:
4. Every believer has the goal of the maturity of the church
Now in vs 14 here Paul is talking about the outcome of a mature church. Remember how we said earlier that in Revelation 2/3, which is the only time Jesus ever spoke directly to His church, 5 out of the 7 were rebuked sharply. 2 were told to keep on keeping on. The two churches we could argue were more mature because they were more persecuted. Because of their maturity they didn’t succumb to the teaching of the Nicolaitans, which was a common rebuke amongst the other 5 churches. The 2 churches who were not rebuked, Smyrna and Philadelphia, also didn’t tolerate that woman Jezebel like the rebuked church at Thyatira did.
The church at Smyrna and Philadelphia followed well what is laid out here in vs 14. Vs 14 is Paul essentially saying “Grow up, and quit acting like petulant children”. Paul is showing the fruit of maturity should we attain and strive for it. And we Cornerstone Bible Church have an advantage over the church of Ephesus the recipient of this letter. We get to read both Ephesians and Revelation at the same time. We have a practical example in the church of Smyrna and Philadelphia of what happens should we attain this unity of the faith and maturity. May Cornerstone Bible Church follow the same path of the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia.
Ephesians 4:15-16 reads “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 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.”
Coming to our last two verses today, Paul is going back to the collective individuals that make up the Church, or the Body of Christ. Paul says “speaking the truth in love” which is very similar to 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul goes on and on about spiritual gifts similar to Ephesians 4. But how does Paul end 1 Cor. 12? With “I will still show you a more excellent way”. Paul then goes on in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians to describe love as the even more ultimate goal! Love! Paul also says “we are” which is referring now back to a collective of individuals to grow up into Christ’s likeness.
Paul then moves on in vs 16 to describe quite beautifully how this works. In order for all of the verses we discussed today to happen, as Frank Thielman says, “each connection within the body must lovingly contribute to the body’s growth”. So what does this mean? That’s our fifth and final point today:
5. Every believer is needed to make a church mature
Paul in vs 16 says “from whom the whole body”, which is referring back to the previous verses. He’s making a concluding point! He uses some extreme medical language to draw the illustration here, again very similar to what he said in 1 Corinthians 12. To make this more clear, let’s flip over to 1 Corinthians 12:14-27.
1 Corinthians 12:14-27 reads “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”
Here, Paul talks about the importance of every member of the body. The ones who appear great, and the ones who don’t. It talks about humility and love and importance for all the members of the body. Paul even goes so far as to say the members that don’t look the strongest are in fact probably the strongest!
Back to Ephesians 4:16, Paul describes this more simply.
- Being fitted and held together
- 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
Church, every single believer is needed to make the bride of Christ mature! That means every single believer sitting here today is TOTALLY necessary for the maturity of Cornerstone Bible Church. Looks look at the five points from the text here and rewrite them specifically to us at CBC:
- Every believer at Cornerstone Bible Church has a gift to use for Cornerstone Bible Church
- Every believer at Cornerstone Bible Church should be motivated to use their gift because of the great cost with which it was obtained
- Every believer at Cornerstone Bible Church has a place to fill at Cornerstone Bible Church
- Every believer at Cornerstone Bible Church has the goal of the maturity of Cornerstone Bible Church
- Every believer at Cornerstone Bible Church is needed to make Cornerstone Bible Church Mature
This message today is for believers at Cornerstone Bible Church. If you’re visiting though, you’re not exempt. Your responsibility is to your local church. Either way, believers serve the local church and the greater big C Church. There’s no exemption to this calling. Because it’s needed to fulfill the great commission which was given to all believers. For us as believers, there are some outcomes we must make:
- If we don’t use our gifts we despise Christ, the giver of them
- If we don’t use our gifts we disobey Christ, who commands us to use them
- If we don’t use our gifts the Church, His very own body, will not be mature
- If a church isn’t mature, it won’t fulfill the great commission
You see the great commission is the ultimate “attainment” Paul describes in vs 13. All peoples everywhere worshipping the risen and conquering Christ. This is also the prayer Jesus made in John 17 that “we’d all be one”. We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. That starts in each of us serving and using our gifts. That allows us to go past these walls and reach the dead and dying in Middlefield and Burton and beyond. If we love Christ, that is our heart’s calling. That is our only purpose in life. That is the only way for us to receive the most ultimate joy. That is how when persecution comes, we stand firm in the faith. That’s how we follow in the footsteps of the church of Smyrna and Philadelphia with the affirming words of Jesus.