Thursday, July 5, 2012

Touching Base! Part 170

Rigorous Faith in Turbulent Times, Part 9
Don’t Bore Me With Your Gift– Ephesians 4:7-16

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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Churches that are not dynamic are not healthy. Agree? What I mean is that like all healthy organisms, growth and development are not only signs of health but necessary for health. While the truth is unchanging, the body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it’s work.” Ephesians 4:16b

Text: Ephesians 4:7-16
This week we looked at how the church is constantly changing, growing and maturing, Succinctly said, the Church is dynamic! At least, that is what is suppose to be happening. We looked at why that change is systemic to the church and what that change looks like.

Why change?
The very simple answer is because Jesus has hard wired the church to be changing.
Read v7-11 and note what Jesus gave the church.
  1. Gifts v7- grace is interpreted as gifts. The lists of charismata in the NT (Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11, 28–30; cf. Eph. 4:7–12) are clearly incomplete. 1 You will note that Paul parallels Christ giving gifts with a triumphant king by summarizing Ps 68. This chapter describes a conqueror who had received tribute and plunder from the defeated (as in Ps 68:18), in which he then distributes most of these spoils to his soldiers. Many commentators believe that v9 and v10 refer to Christ earthly ministry and triumph on the cross which ultimately lead to his ascension. However you may interpret these challenging verses (8,9,10) the clear point is that Jesus is distributing gifts. He is the triumphant king! But note that it is not just gifts he distributes.
  2. Leadership v11. Paul lists 5 examples of leadership in the early NT church. Below are definitions of each role that you may find helpful.

(i) *APOSTLE (Gk. apostolos, lit. ‘one sent forth’, envoy, missionary, 1 Cor. 12:28f.; cf. Eph. 4:11). The title of ‘apostle’ was originally given to the Twelve (Mt. 10:2; Lk. 6:13; Acts 1:25f.), but was later claimed by Paul (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 9:1f., etc.), and applied in a less restricted sense to Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), Andronicus and Junias (or Junia) (Rom. 16:7), and possibly to Apollos (1 Cor. 4:6, 9), Silvanus and Timothy (1 Thes. 1:1; 2:6), and James the Lord’s brother (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19). The special function of an apostle was, as its meaning suggests, to proclaim the gospel to the unbelieving world (Gal. 2:7–9).

(ii) *PROPHECY (Gk. prophēteia, Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28f.; cf. Eph. 4:11). The chief function of the NT prophet was to convey divine revelations of temporary significance which proclaimed to the church what it had to know and do in special circumstances. His message was one of edification, exhortation (Gk. paraklēsiš) and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3; cf. Rom. 12:8), and included occasional authoritative declarations of God’s will in particular cases (Acts 13:1f.), and rare predictions of future events (Acts 11:28; 21:10f.). His ministry was primarily directed to the church (1 Cor. 14:4, 22). Some prophets were itinerant (Acts 11:27f.; 21:10), but there were probably several attached to every church (Acts 13:1), as at Corinth, and a few of them are named (Acts 11:28; 13:1; 15:32; 21:9f.).2

iii) Evangelists - "Evangelists" are not primarily Gospel compilers but missionaries who pioneer outreach in areas where the faith has not as yet been proclaimed.

iv) Pastors/teachers - Paul turns from itinerant to local ministry. "Pastors and teachers" are grouped together in such a way as to suggest that the two roles are regarded as complementary and often coordinated in the same person. Pastors (literally, "shepherds") probably included presbyters and bishops; they were entrusted with the nurture, protection, and supervision of the flock. Teachers are linked with prophets in Acts 13:1 and follow them in the list contained in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

So Jesus gave gifts and gifted leadership to the church. Note how dynamic this church is. Leaders are preparing people who each have at least one gift for works of service. This is an active, moving, dynamic picture of the church. The church is dynamic! Nobody is standing around wondering what to do.

The picture of the church is not of 12 hockey players on the ice playing while 20,000 sit in the stands but of everyone on the ice using their gifts, fulfilling a role, embracing a key part.

What kind of church did you grow up in? Was it an “It’s all about the team kind of church” or “it’s all about the pastor” kind of church?
What are the downsides of a pastor only centered kind of church?
What dysfunctional attitudes develop in this kind of church?

What does the change look like? V12-16
Let me highlight some of the words and phrases Paul uses to illustrate how dynamic Paul’s vision of the church is.

Prepare - V12 "To prepare" (pros ton katartismon) is "to put right." In surgery katartismos is applied to the setting of a broken bone. In the NT the verb katartizo is used for the mending of nets (Matt 4:21) and the restoration of the lapsed (Gal 6:1). What I find interesting about this word is that it brings another dimension of thought and insight to the ministry of preparation. It is at times not enough to help people just discover their gifts but also to bring them to a greater place of personal health, so that their gifts can operate from a context of wholeness.

Ever seen damage done in a church because a gifted person is operating out of brokenness?

The picture of a dynamic church is a picture of restorative ministry so people can fully function with the gift God has given.

Reach v13 - What a great picture of the church. The church is extending, stretching to move from where they are to where they need to and want to be. Note what the church is reaching for.

“Attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” v13

The expression “the fullness of Christ,” refers to the sum of the qualities which make Christ what He is. These are to be imaged in the Church (1:23), and when these are in us we shall have reached our maturity and attained to the goal set before us.

We want all of the beauty of Christ to be seen in the church. Over the last 10 years one aspect of the beauty of Christ that the church has reached for is- social justice. Not a new idea but a major aspect of the character and ministry of Christ that the church at times has missed out on. Churches have really changed in this area. What other aspects of Christ’s character do you feel the church needs to reach out to attain?
The church is dynamic!

In your group or on your own you can finish what I don’t have space to continue. Check out other words and phrases that demonstrate that the church is dynamic in this text.

Some closing questions.
  1. Are you growing, changing, deepening, maturing, reaching? For what? What aspects of Christ’s character are you desiring to be more powerfully seen in your life?
  2. Are you aware of your gifts and are they contributing to the building up of the body? If so, how?
  3. Do your gifts operate from a place of health? In your journey, what personal brokenness has at times limited your gifts being used most affectively?

The Church is dynamic!


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1 Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (1130). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

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