What does it mean to “spiritually mature?” We are all called to grow up, but grow up into what?
A. I was challenged by the following question in a lecture I attended. The question was, “How can you sit for so many years in the pew and not look more like Jesus?” The question was negative. It assumed that we did not look more like Jesus either as a church or individuals. But the question challenged me. Do I look more like Jesus now than I did a year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago? What about us as a church? Do we, as a collective body of believers, look more like Jesus than we did 50 years ago when the church started worshipping in this building?
B. It is very difficult to determine slow growth over stagnate spiritual activity. There are areas in my life that I know I have grown closer to the image of Jesus than I was a year ago.
C. Over the years, as individuals and churches do, we have points in time when we are our faith is strong and point time where we just coast along. I wonder if Ephesus was not at a point in time where they need that extra push by Paul to step up their game, to have more of the zeal and love they had at the beginning.
I. Jesus, The King
A. Last week we looked at Paul’s message about unity, oneness and the calling to be one even as the Father and Son are one. I want now see Paul take that idea and apply it to me and you. Look with me at verses 7-10.
B. The first few times I read these verses I felt lost. But as I spent time in the context of this chapter, I began to see that the unity that Paul wanted for the church in Ephesus could only happen when the members of the church were divinely enabled.
C. Start with the words in verse 7. Jesus has enabled you, gifted you, given you a special grace for a purpose in this body. Your grace, your gift is not for your own purpose.
D. Paul then takes a passage from Ps 68:18 and comes to the total opposite of that OT verse. In the OT, the captives of this victorious king paid tribute, gifts, to the king who captured them. Paul takes the idea of a king who is leading captives on high and this time Paul says the king gave gifts to men. The men are probably not the captives. But the point Paul is making is that the king gives gifts to the people, probably his people, so that they can become what he, the king, wants from his kingdom.
E. So the king first descended and then went back home after enabling his people. Does that sound like anyone you know? Jesus Christ left the equality of God in Heaven and came down to this earth to pay the price of my sin. His death, burial and resurrection enabled me to have an eternal home with him, but until that time that I go home with him he has enabled me to be here, on this earth, all that he wants from his kingdom.
F. So what does this earthly kingdom need? What gifts, what grace has Jesus given to us? Keep reading. (Verses 11-13). The first thing Jesus did was to gift a spiritual leadership for his spiritual kingdom. Some of those leaders have been called apostles, prophets, evangelists and teaching shepherds.
II. Every Member Is A Minister
A. Let’s explore this teaching for a moment. God’s people are us, Christians. Leaders of God’s people have an obligation to prepare God’s people for ministry or service.
B. So I ask you, what is your ministry, your work of service within this body of believers? If you don’t have one, you are missing out on the gift of grace that Jesus has already given. Let your heart and passion meet, what do you love to do that is not self-centered?
C. There are people who love to sow, quilt, or make things with their hands and share them with people who either have a need or need encouragement.
D. There are people who are gifted with encouraging words and write notes, visit people, send birthday cards.
III. Grow Up
A. But I want you to walk away today not just feeling empowered to be a servant of Christ and find your place in the body, but I want you to see the benefit that comes when you and I are servants. I serve at the pleasure of my king. But my king knows me and knows this congregation.
B. Keep reading (verses 14-15). Here is the goal, “D0n’t remain a spiritual baby – grow up.” Kids are impressionable. They are easily swayed. They are still so trusting that at times they are gullible. What starts out as a great quality of sincerely faith ends up hurting them because they don’t know how to distinguish between that which is helpful to them and that which is harmful.
C. Paul writes to this church and says; don’t stay an infant in your spiritual thinking. It is too easy for some preacher or teacher to come along and share with you a twisted “gospel” and you will fall for it. Then in verse 15 is says, “Rather/Instead” speak the truth in love for the goal of growing up in Christ who is our head.
D. There are many twisted teachings even about Christianity. How do you that I am teaching correctly? What about Christian movements like the Jehovah Witnesses or the Mormon Church that teach things so differently? What about all the denominations around us? Can you see the danger of being spiritually tossed “to and fro by every wind of doctrine?” You need to be grounded in truth and good spiritual leaders can help you do that.
A. So where does this teaching that Jesus gifted us, gave us spiritual leaders, and calls us to truth end up?
B. Read verse 16. When you grow up, when I grow up with Jesus as our head, then we as his body fit together perfectly. Each part does his part. Don’t just attend, be. Don’t be a “hear of the word” only, be a “doer of the word.”
C. Together, with your gift of service combined with my gift of service we can show the world what the Kingdom of God is like. Will you join me in working for the King?