Ephesians: The Mystery of the Church 5

800px-Durham_Castle_Ephesians 4a –The Authentic Church

1. 4:1-9 Fulfilling the CallWe must walk worthy of this calling. “Calling’” in context with this study, refers to building on our position in Christ, seated at His right hand in the heavenly places (2:6), fulfilling His call and administering His fullness to all things on heaven and in the earth.

This is a very important thing we do: preach the Gospel. It should be taken very seriously. It is the whole reason for our existence; the privilege of sharing with others out of our relationship with Jesus. After describing all these great mysteries and the purpose of the church, and the secrets of the Spiritual Realm, he urges us, out of the seriousness of the Gospel–of which he is imprisoned–to walk out this stuff that he has been describing, which is Our calling, to walk worthy of this great and privileged calling to which we’ve been called.

a. 4:1- Honor of Persecution - He is a prisoner of the Lord: this is a brash statement considering he is imprisoned by men. The Lord made Paul worthy to suffer imprisonment, which is a great honor in the kingdom (Heb. 11, Acts 5:4), because of all that Jesus suffered. Paul may be limited in the natural, but he still has access to God in the Spirit (Eph. 3:12) and still causes movement and change in the spiritual and natural realms. His person was imprisoned but his Spirit was free. (2 Tim. 3:12) Many in the church are afraid to even speak of this (in the West) but in many ways it’s a gift to make us more like Jesus. As stated here (2 Tim) it’s a mark of genuine authentic Christianity. We shouldn’t be weird and long for pain but when the trials come, we can have faith and press through in Jesus. In the latter part of this verse, Paul’s essentially saying ‘if I’m in prison for this Gospel, the least you can do is walk worthy’. He doesn’t just encourage us–he implores us with all urgency–that if we’re going to walk in the fullness, then we must in character and conduct, and in all function walk worthy of the call.

2. 4:2-6 Unity In The Body as there is unity in the Trinity, a mature church doesn’t fight against each other, they’re in unison. Not only must we individually learn how to walk in fullness, we must learn how to walk in fullness within the Body. There is only one body to be apart of and we must get along.

3. 2:7-9 We’re not all the same. God has ordained it that way, each of us are called specifically to our own unique and individual calling. All of these different gifts and callings come together as one Revelation of Jesus Christ in the Earth. You’ve got a spiritual body–working in unity in their spiritual gifts–that form a spiritual people in their spiritual gifts, and that form a spiritual people in the earth. In the context of the flow, he is taking us into the maturity of the fullness of Christ, and setting us up for the way the church is to function in its leadership which is to properly attain and reach this maturity to a greater degree. This is an authentic church. This is the way the Spirit set up the church so it would be full.

4. 4:10-16 The Ministry of Fullness

a. 4:10 He is far above and fills all things. This is significant, because the one who is above all in all (v.11) is about to give the gifts (of these ministries–or you could say some of himself) the church, which needs these functioning properly and in unity for the church to be the fullness of Him who fills all in all. That’s why this section is preceded with character development and working together, so we understand the significance of those gifts and their functioning harmoniously in the body to be an accurate and complete representation of Christ in the Earth. The gifts which he is about to describe are foundational and absolutely essential for a properly living and breathing community of believers

b. 2:20.4:11- The Ministry Gifts – The Fivefold Ministry[1]This is NT church structure. This is not for the sake of ruler-ship, but servitude. As we saw in the previous verses, these gifts are for serving the body in unity. Helping one another achieve maturity helps the whole body achieve maturity. And, as we will see in the later verses, these gifts must be present and functioning within the body (church), for it to be real and alive, and fulfilling the call of God. We are seeing these gifts restored to the church, and thank God for that. Hhowever, unless they are fully restored and begin to grow and mature into their rightful place in the Body, then the church will never walk in the fullness[2] of Christ as mature believers. The very reason God gave these gifts was so that the church would walk in fullness. He has called us to maturity and He has given us the gifts to us here.

  1. Apostles[3]The apostle serves all and helps all–even the other ministry gifts–attain, develop, walk in, and release them in their calling. They are the builders and foundation layers (along with prophets). They assure proper growth of the over all body. They walk in the power of God, and are commissioned by Jesus–sent ones–building the kingdom of Heaven in the earth. The term comes from a title given to a Roman general sent to change the culture of a conquered land to that of Rome in attempt to lessen the chance of a rebellion. In application we can see that apostles are sent by Jesus to change the culture of earth to the culture of heaven. Remember where we are seated in heavenly places, we are meant to bring that to this realm.
  2. Prophets – Prophets do not just prophesy. They are prophetic. They discern the time and seasons. And direct the body in the right direction. Their life is a revelation of the Word carried out.
  3. Evangelist – NT evangelist would go out, often to new places, and demonstrate[4] the power of God as witness to Jesus as Lord. They usually confront the local spiritual authorities and relinquish them of their power. They showed the locality Jesus.
  4. Pastors – They shepherd and teach [5]. They help individuals and fellowships in their walk and in the growing process, keeping watch over their souls.
  5. Teachers – Similar to pastors; they teach all aspects of the Christian life: the Word, the things of the Spirit, operation of spiritual gifts; and equipping for ministry.
  1. c. 4:12 The reason for these gifts is for the equipping of the saints. This is active; we are always being equipped for what lies ahead for us to do for the Gospel. Ministry is service. We serve others and God by ministering His life to their needs. We are the ones that administer His kingdom to the earth and we need these gifts to fulfill the calling. The saints must be equipped for the work of ministry for the Body to be built up. 2:21-The building is being fitted together and is growing only if theses gifts are present and ministering according to their vocation. In a practical sense, these gifts are the trades that are required if the church is going to grow into a building that fills the earth. An authentic church-that which is real- has these gifts in full and proper operation. Anybody that denies these gifts as a vital part of the church, will not reach maturity, the knowledge of the Son, or walk in fullness. This is unauthentic and unreal according to the biblical mold[6].
  1. d. 4:13 We will go phrase by phrase through this verse to dissect its meaning and application to the context of which we have been studying and that of the authentic church.
  1. i. Until is a strong word to start the sentence here. Many use this to say that these gifts haves passed away and are no longer needed today. First of all, has the church reached what is described in this verse? Not hardly. Secondly, if we read in context with verse 12, we see it used differently.Building up of the Body, until we all attain to the unity…knowledge of the Son of God… a mature man… fullness. We are built up to attain these things: this place of knowledge, maturity and, fullness in Christ. The ministry gifts are given to make us reach this goal. Until, is not used to indicate that the gifts will be taken when the building is finished (even though the church is not even close to completion–theoretically). Untilmeans that the goal of these gifts is the Fullness of God; the place we are reaching for.
  2. ii. Unity – In v 4:3, we read: being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is necessary in the function of the gifts, because part of the purpose of the gifts is for the church to attain to the unity of the faith. Imagine all the dividing walls in the church coming down and there is one massive Body with Jesus at the head, pushing back and destroying the gates of hell, and advancing the kingdom with signs, wonders and miracles.
  3. iii. The Knowledge of the Son of God – These gifts mentor us. Imagine someone representing all these gifts. They have lived a lifetime walking with God, knowing Him, knowing Jesus, knowing the Holy Spirit, knowing the Word, knowing the power of ministry in the Spirit, knowing His suffering, love, etc. And, while I am still a young man, the person comes to me and pours all they know into me. I may still lack the experience, but I will have gained a lifetime of the knowledge of God from them. In essence, I will start where they are leaving off. I will receive the baton from them instead of starting the race over for myself.

•2Kings 2:11-14 Elisha was with Elijah when he was taken to heaven. Elijah had poured all of his life into Elisha. Elisha saw what God had done for Elijah. When Elijah was gone Elisha had a deep knowledge of the Lord. Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? He knew, even without the personal command experience, that God would answer Him, just as He had done for Elijah, and the water parted.

– Where are the Elijahs of God? We need the fivefold gifts in total operation for true discipleship to flourish. Where are those who know God and pour that knowledge into the young ones?

Malachi 4:5-6 – This is the restoration of the hearts. Instead of the older revival generation cursing the younger one, as being not of God; they raise them up.

With this kind of generational transfer, the kingdom will ignite in the Earth. This is the hearts of the sons turning to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers turning to the sons; learning from and loving each other.

Remember 1 Cor 2: The church must have this spiritual knowledge of Jesus. We are next to Jesus at the highest place in the spiritual realm (Eph 2:6). We should be masters at spiritual matters. This is where we really live, not here; yet, that is how we can have so much impact here.

  1. iv. Mature Man – We are being built up to attain maturity[7]. The church has been amateurs long enough. Our profession is to dictate the supernatural theory as fact, as a result of our faith in Christ. Do we possess supernatural theology or just head knowledge? We need to be individually mature and corporately mature, which is why he stresses unity here. We need to stand as one body, not a divided one. If we seek to bring out the best in others, then we will bring out the best in ourselves!
  2. v. Measure of the stature – Fullness of Christ – We measure up to Christ. The Body needs to be like Jesus. We put ourselves down and then use it as a reason/excuse not to grow up. Because of his blood, He allows us to measure up to Him. He seated us next to Himself and wants us to do greater things than He did. Now, when we understand our real position in Christ; we will understand measuring up to a stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. A church in fullness will be like millions of Jesuses changing the world[8].
    1. C. 4:14 This is grown up Christianity. Knowing our place in Christ and walking it out. The devil knows that once this machine[9]starts producing power, it cannot be stopped. He will try to keep the church from growing and reaching any level of maturity or fullness, with all of his might and forces. Paul prepares us for this attack and resistance from the wicked with the armor of God listed in chapter 6. The church in Acts changed not only their generation, but every generation since then. What would a generation that walked like that do today? What about a generation that has even greater power than they? How much could the world handle? How many generations of fathers raising up sons in the Gospel of power would it take to totally change things for good? I believe that with this kind of testimony it would not be long before all Israel was saved and Jesus return. This is a mature and authentic church.
  1. a. Maturity is grown up. We are now solid in our faith and doctrine, no longer bouncing form here to there[10]. This why the devil deceives us. Every group thinks that they are the right ones and many refuse to work together as a body[11].
    1. D. 4:15These verses describe an authentically living body working and growing together in Christ. All aspects of our walk should be in maturity.
    2. E. 4:16 - This culminates in this section: These are different gifts. Not everyone who does something in the kingdom will look and act the same. We must understand that the one who is different than us is doing their part. If we abuse them we are only hurting ourselves. I would not smash my finger in the door because I scratched myself too much[12]. Every part must be working for growth to occur. The mortar that holds the building (the church) together is love.

[1]This is not going to be an in-depth study on the ministry gifts. We will just briefly describe their role in the church and the necessity thereof; and a quick description of their function will be given. To study this and the importance of these gifts would be a separate study in itself.[2] The church today has a major absence of these gifts. Especially apostles and prophets: Recently though, there has been some, and even a great deal of restoration of the gifts. We are still light-years away from where we should be though. (The Spirit can change that in an instant, though.) Even the pastoral gift is away from its NT counterpart. Many are more CEO-like than shepherd-like. These gifts have not passed away as some claim; but in reality they are a vital part to NT church life.

[3] The descriptions are not exacting, but general. Nor are they an in-depth examination of all that the gifts pertain to. This is just a quick summary in context to the perspective from which we are studying Ephesians.

[4] NT evangelism is not like what we see mainstream churches doing. Back then, men filled with the power of God would go to a place in demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Cor 2:4-5). This led to people believing in God rather than a new faction of men. Evangelism is not just a great and convincing speaker, nor is it handing out tracks. I am not negating these things, but this does not characterize an evangelist as we see in Scripture. Acts 8 describes Philip’s first evangelistic journey. Since he is the only one in the Bible, specifically called an evangelist (Acts 21:8), what he did here probably characterizes what an evangelist does. 8:4-He proclaimed Christ to them; 8:6-The people heard and saw signs which he was performing; 8:7-Unclean spirits were cast out and the sick were healed; 8:8-There was much rejoicing; 8:11-12-He broke the power of the spiritual authority controlling the city and got their attention on Jesus; even the sorcerer got saved (13).; 8:14-15-He worked with the apostles in planting and building the church. Later, he was spoken to by angels and transported by the Spirit. Every aspect of his ministry was utterly supernatural, shoe=wing people the existence and power of God. It is necessary that the church has proper evangelism restored. In 2 Tim 4:5, Paul is raising up Timothy as an apostle, and part of his exhortation is for Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, then He says fulfill your ministry. Timothy was an apostle, but this required proper evangelism for that to be fulfilled (I am not being dogmatic here, just relating scripture to the point).

[5] See footnote 23.

[6] The mold is a flexible one and moves like the wind-John3:8. Mold was used to drive home the point. I am not saying that these people are not saved or that they are not real Christians. I am saying that they will lack all that God has for them and will need to embrace these things if they want the fullness of Christ.

[7] We will specifically discuss maturity in the Walking in Maturity sections: Just putting it in context here-which will set up the aforementioned section.

[8] I know there is only one Jesus. I am saying that a whole church full of people that are utterly Christ-like will have a great influence and impact, changing the world.

[9] In using machine, I am referring to the correct functioning system of preaching, building the church and sending out laborers to plant new works.

[10] There will always be times of growth, debate, and discussion; I am speaking of drastic doctrinal shifts when we hear the latest trend to hit the church. The TV, and even our “Christian” channels, often teaches what is popular, not what is solid Biblical truth.

[11] I am not saying compromise for tolerance. There is a truth doctrinally and we should aspire for that truth, but it should not keep us from working with and loving other members of the Body.

[12] See 1 Corinthians 12:14-26.

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David W. Edwards is an author, teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He is a Staff Pastor at Bethel Atlanta School of Supernatural Ministry. He has written three books, and he also travels, equipping and activating in the supernatural and prophetic lifestyle.

Posted in Apostolic, Church, Ephesians

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