Lesson 9: "Be no more children...speaking the truth in lov...grow up"

Ephesians 4:4-16

Paul's Prison Epistles. This is lesson # 9. Don't lose sight of the background to this book, the book of Ephesians. Try to visualize and keep a few brain cells centered on and anchored with Paul in or near the imperial prison in Rome, a prisoner, having been connected to a chain for approximately two years. Paul received a visit from Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord (Eph. 6:21). Tychicus was from Asia, the province where Ephesus was located (Acts 20:4). We do not know exactly what Tychicus told Paul concerning the Ephesian church; but, it is obvious from Paul's letter that an air of laxity must have existed there. Thus, in this letter, Paul sought to encourage his brethren at Ephesus and challenge them on to greater spiritual heights. Thus, Paul reminded them that all spiritual blessings are in Christ and through Christ's church (Eph. 1:3). This is/was part of God's plan from before the foundation of the world (v.4). Redemption and forgiveness of sins are through the blood of Christ (v.7) in whom we have an inheritance (v.11) if we trust in Him and obey Him. That's pretty much Paul's point in what we call the first chapter of this book. Paul emphasized this and then expressed in prayer form (you will remember, in the end of chapter one) his desire that God give to them the sprit of wisdom and that knowledge be revealed to them and that their eyes of understanding would be enlightened. Christ is above all principality and power. God hath put all things under Christ and made Him (i.e. Jesus) to be the head over all things to the church, which is also called the "body." Then in chapter 2, Paul reminded them they were once dead in trespasses and sins; nevertheless, they by the grace of God had been quickened, i.e. made alive spiritually. That is another way of saying they had been baptized into Christ and their alien sins had been forgiven. "God...hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," present tense (2:6). In doing this, God broke down the middle wall of partition that once existed between Jews and Gentiles (that's v.14-15). Through Christ we both (i.e. Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit (capital "S") unto the Father (v.18). We are all fellow citizens and of the household of God, i.e. the church (v.19). As a church (or body of believers) we are built upon a great foundation, Jesus Christ, himself, the chief corner stone and the apostles and prophets have a part in that foundation also. We, as Christ's church, form a sort of holy temple in which God dwells (2:20-21-22). Then in ch. 3, Paul said this was not made known (nor was it understood) in other ages as it is now revealed by God's holy apostles and prophets (3:5). This is why God gave grace to Paul and made him an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul and the other apostles were commissioned and became part of this making-known process (or revelation of the mystery, as it is called in 3:3). This is part of God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (3:11). The whole family in heaven and in earth, thus, have a family name derived from our Lord Jesus Christ (according to v.14- 15). Paul prayed that God would grant the Ephesian church strength (i.e. in the inner man) by his Spirit and that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith and that they be rooted and grounded in love that passeth understanding (3:16-19). Then ch. 3 closed with Paul's prayer that God be glorified by the church in Christ Jesus. Then in our last lesson (lesson # 8), we began Eph. ch. four. In chapters 4-5-6 (the rest of the book, really), Paul began to exhort the Ephesians to "walk worthy" (4:1), i.e. do it right. "Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called..." In other words, don't be a lax Christian! Don't be complacent. Don't be slothful. Put something into it! Work together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (v.3). What is Paul saying? Don't be blown about by every wind of doctrine, ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth (as Paul said in Timothy). Don't be half baked, as Hosea said about Ephraim (back there in Hos. 7:8). And from this point forward (i.e. ch. 4-5-6), Paul admonished his Ephesian brethren to do it right. Some of the most practical material in the whole N.T., by that, I mean: Paul got down to the everyday problems and everyday sins that so often and so easily beset us, upset us and hold down accomplishment in that local camp of the saints, called the church. These things are as relevant in our lives today as this mornings newspaper. Every verse deserves a 20 minute lesson; 20 minutes that we don't have in this study. Three more lessons! With this tape; we hope to finish this book.
     So, get your eyes on 4:4-5-6. Paul mentioned seven ones. One body and one Holy Spirit. That means: one church and one person of the Godhead called the Holy Spirit. As I talk with some people, they say: there are many churches and they say: go to the church (or denomination) of your choice, it makes no difference, they say. Hundreds of churches (they say) and then they follow that conjecture by saying: we're all going to the same place. We all have the same goals, just different roads leading to the same place. Have you heard that? Brethren, that is NOT what Paul said! There is one judgment day where all those roads are going to terminate {YES!}; but, what comes after the judgment? That's the "hope" Paul was talking about. Many hopes are going to be dashed on the day of judgment; if I understand Paul correctly. How do you understand him? Paul said there is one church (v.4), just as there is one hope of our calling and that hope is heaven, eternal life with Jesus, our King and our Master. Just as sure as there is one Jesus and one Holy Spirit and one heaven; just that sure, there is just one church. That's what Paul said! Which church is that? How many choices do you really have? "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (v.3). Take a good close look at that word "unity" (v.3). Do you know what "unity" means? Oneness! One God, one Lord, one Holy Spirit, and one church. Almost every time you pick up the newspaper there is an article about one denomination and some other denomination considering uniting. As I said: considering. There's a lot of considering; but, not much uniting. What usually happens is. the final result usually turns out to be three where two used to be. But, actually, it wouldn't matter if a hundred denominations united into one denomination. They would still be just one great big denomination and that still would not make them the church of the Bible. ! don't care how many agreements and how many compromises they make; and I don't care how well they abide by those agreements and compromises; they still have to obey God and obey Jesus and obey the Bible to be added to the church of the Bible. Some one has said: you can tie a dog's tail and a cat's tail together and throw them across a clothesline and they are united; but, there's not much unity there; if you can imagine the scene. That denominational uniting business doesn't have one thing to do with what Paul said here in Eph. 4:4-5-6. Denominations are man made organizations. A denomination is a bogus church. And, it is a denomination; if it has a creed, i.e. some agreed upon doctrine other than the Bible and the Bible alone. I don't care how they describe them selves...non-denominational , inter-denominational, or how independent they declare themselves to be. You have to follow the Bible and obey God to get into Christ's church. It's just that simple. Go back and read Matt. 7:21-23. Try as hard as you like! Jesus' words there and Paul's words here can mean nothing else. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But, read it first.

     Paul said "one faith" (v.5), i.e. one doctrine, that "form of doctrine which was delivered..." (Rom. 6:17). That "faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude v.3). That "pattern" Paul discussed (in I Tim. 1:16). That's the ONE FAITH Paul is talking about (here in v.5). "One baptism," Paul said. We talked about this before. There are about seven baptisms mentioned in the N.T.; however, only "one baptism" is in force today. Paul said so! Right here! The only baptism in force to day is water baptism (sometimes called great commission baptism) that is for the remission of sins, just like Peter preached on pentecost and Paul discussed (in Rom. ch. 6).

     O.K., tune-in v.7! Let's read some more. We'll read down through v.16, are you ready? Beginning in Eph. 4:7, here we go! "But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
     Alright, back to v.7, the apostle said: "every one of us [i.e. Christians] is given grace." How Paul? "according to...the gift." Do you see that? Not all received the same MEASURE in reference to that gift of grace, however. All Christians receive salvation, i.e. if we are faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). That is the greatest gift of all...the greatest gift we can receive...salvation, purchased by the blood of Jesus. Do you remember 2:8? "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." Keep it straight, now! But, what is this "measure of the gift" business? or "his due portion of Christ's bounty"? (as the New English Bible says it)? Spiritual gifts! Do you remember I Cor. ch. 12-13-14? The brethren at Ephesus did not have the New Testament as you and I have it today. Some of those brethren received spiritual gifts, i.e. miraculous abilities to teach (etc.). In I Cor. ch. 12, Paul enumerated about nine spiritual gifts. Do you remember? Miraculous teaching is only one of many such miraculous gifts that existed in the early church before revelation was complete and as the situation existed in the Ephesian church when Paul wrote this book. Today, revelation is complete and the Holy Spirit has made it available to us in written form. We call it the N.T. and it will thoroughly furnish us unto all good works (II Tim. 3:16- 17). Accordingly, today, spiritual gifts have ceased (I Cor. 13:10). However, the greatest gift of all is still offered today to all them that obey Jesus. V.8 (Eph. ch. 4) is a quotation from Psalm 68:18, a messianic prophesy that told in advance the source of these gifts. The word "captivity" here in v.8 is a reference to death. Death itself was captured when Jesus arose from the dead. That's where death lost its sting (I Cor. 15:55). And although that thought dovetails into the thought here; the real reason for Paul mentioning this verse in Psalms was the gift idea that is mentioned there. This parenthesis making up v.9-10 is Paul's logical reminder that just as Jesus arose from the dead and ascended to heaven (Acts 1:11), this verifies also that Jesus first of all descended from heaven (as is taught in John 1:1).
     Now, getting back to the gifts idea (v.11); Christ, our King, gave some to be apostles and others to be prophets, others to be evangelists and some to be shepherds of the flock (i.e. pastors) and some to be teachers. Now, why did Jesus give these gifts? The answer is in v.12, (#1) "For the perfecting of the saints." (#2) "for the work of the ministry." (#3) "for the edifying of the body of Christ." Please read v.12 one more time. Why were these gifts give? For the prefecting of the saints, i.e. to give a. higher degree of excellence to God's children or to remove any faults they might have. Please notice! This takes work, work of ministry. That means: "work" as in service, i.e. service to another. Then finally, these gifts were for "edifying" the body of Christ, or in other words, we would say: for building up the church of Christ initially. The word: "edifying" comes from the idea of building a house, i.e. to construct. So, in an educational sense (or in an instructive way of thinking), apostles and prophets were a gift for building up or constructing the church. The word "prophets" here is a reference to those in the first century church who received miraculous gifts or in other words supernatural helps in teaching, i.e. spiritual gifts (so called in I Cor. ch. 12). The apostles received these gifts; however, in the first century others besides the apostle received these gifts before revelation was complete. And, I trust it is unnecessary for me to say (or repeat): the work of the apostles and prophets were in the foundation of the church (2:20). Thus, after the N.T. was given; i.e. to say, when God's revelation to man was complete; then that which was in part was done away (I Cor. 13:10). We sometimes say: miracles ceased. Thus, there are no modern-day apostles or prophets.

There are evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church today. The word "evangelist" simply means a messenger of good news. A pastor is an elder (or an overseer) of a local congregation. Elders (sometimes called bishops and presbyters in the N.T.) are appointed to that office. The word "pastor" is commonly misused in the denominational world, today. Qualifications for that office are given at the beginning of I Tim. ch 3 and in Titus ch. one. "Teachers" (v.11) serve under the elders. Evangelist, pastors and teachers do not receive supernatural helps today as some may; have in the first century. The N.T., thus, replaces that supernatural need, today. However, if you'll take a moment to think about the situation as it existed then (Paul speaking to the Ephesian brethren in the first century); it was not necessary for him to make these explanations. Nevertheless, the idea that God's revelation to man would eventually be completed .is woven into the wording that follows. That's the idea of "unto a perfect man" (middle of v.13) and "unto a measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (end of v.13). The word: "unto" U-N-T-0 carries the idea of "until" if you'll consult your dictionary, i.e. Paul tossed in the idea of UNTIL revelation is complete. I strongly suggest, you spend a few moments comparing the wording here (v.13-16) with Paul's wording (in the last six verses of I Cor. ch. 13). Paul looked forward to this great transition. That's part of the thought here in v.13-16; but, I'll have to leave it with you. Our time is up, have a good day.

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