Ecclesiology 018Ephesians 3:21 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 1, 2018 • Ecclesiology
4-1-18 Lesson 18 Ephesians 3:21
Let’s open with a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for this particular day; kind of a capstone if you will of Christianity and we’re very grateful Father, that You’ve given us a risen Savior. And with the resurrection from the dead comes something that we have called hope that we too will participate in future resurrection. And there are very real things that are going to happen subsequent our resurrection. So help us, Father, to approach these things with humility today and gratitude and appreciation and greater understanding and awareness as we look into Your Word and see what the future has for us. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!
Good to see everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Ephesians, chapter 3 and verse 21. If you need a handout just put your hand up and Ron will help you with that. We’re continuing to move through our teaching on ecclesiology, which is the study and the doctrine of the church. And we’ve completed Roman numeral VI last time, the subject of the church as the intercalation. And just real quick, to review, you might recall that intercalation is a term coined by Lewis Sperry Chafer, maybe he didn’t coin the term but he was the first that I know of that used the word intercalation to describe the church. And basically what he’s saying there is the church is so unusual in the outworking of God’s purposes, its calendar and its purpose are so different than anything that’s preceded it related to God’s work concerning Israel, and God’s future concerning Israel, that the only way He knew to describe it was an intercalation, which is basically an interruption in Israel’s calendar.
And of course, when you talk this way people will say you’re teaching Plan B theology and all these things and we tried to answer that. We carefully worked our way through what’s called the intercalation model and we spent I think all last week on Galatians 6:16, didn’t we do that, where it seems to at first glance call the church the Israel of God. And I gave you ten reasons why that’s not what the verse is saying at all.
So we move away from intercalation, the subject of intercalation and we get to really what I think today is become probably the greatest battle ground related to church and the life of the church and what a church should be. And I know this is a big issue because I get e-mails from all over the country saying we would love to attend a church like yours in our area but we can’t find one, and they name some location expecting me to say oh yeah, I know exactly where a good church is over there. And the fact of the matter is there’s a famine for hearing the Word of God today in church. Did you all know that? And people are all over the country struggling to find a church and one of the reasons they’re struggling is because churches, when they’re set up, aren’t really set up according to God’s original purpose for the church.
So a lot of people think the function of a church is to attract unbelievers in and so they kind of dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator under the guise that we’re doing the Lord’s work. And people are frustrated because they used to go to a church that was a Bible teaching church and then some new person or group got ascendency in that church and they’re not teaching the Word any more and what’s going on? And there’s just massive confusion all over the country, really all over the world on this subject of the church. And it really relates to Roman numeral VII there, The Purposes of the Church. I mean, when God established the church what were the divine purposes that He gave to it? Not purposes that man comes up with, not purposes that the Wall Street Journal comes up with, not purposes that Peter Drucker, the business guru, comes up with. But what does God say about the church?
And I can’t think of a more fundamental question to ask because… I’ve used this analogy before, if your business is failing and you hire a consultant to help you with your business failings, if the consultant is worth his or her salt the first question they’re going to ask is why do you exist as a business. And it’s interesting, you go into businesses and you ask employees that question and a lot of them really can’t articulate why they exist. They might know their job well but what’s the big vision of the business? Why does it exist? And today your average pastor and your average church leader and your average church attender, if you ask them why does the church exist you’re going to get probably a plethora of answers. And if we would just get back to the fundamentals I think a lot of this confusion would stop and we would get back to God’s design for the church.
So what, therefore, are the purposes of the church? There are, for the local church, three basic purposes which we’re going to start walking through this morning. Number one, to glorify God, that’s why I had you open to Ephesians 3:21. Number two, to edify the saints, Ephesians 4:11-16. And number three, world evangelization, or to fulfill the great commission. So everything we do as a church here at Sugar Land Bible Church, if this is biblical, and I think it is, we have to ask do all of our activities relate to these three purposes. And this is a list, I didn’t invent on my own, I got it from the gentleman on the picture there, Dr. Robert Lightner, who I was fortunate to have for systematic theology at Dallas Seminary.
So here we go, number one. The first major purpose of the church is to glorify God. Now why would I say that? Because God’s purpose in history is doxological. Doxological is a fancy word, it just means glory. God’s purpose in history is to glorify Himself. Everything that He does is to glorify Himself. In fact, my salvation is not even God’s purpose in history. When I’m saved who gets glorified? God! So even the preaching of the gospel itself, or evangelization and winning the lost to Christ, as critical as that is, as important as that is, that is really not God’s primary purpose in history. That purpose is subsumed under His larger purpose of bringing glory to Himself.
So the system of theology that we follow at this church is called dispensationalism and you might be saying what is that about? Here is Charles Ryrie with a very concise definition. “Traditional or normative dispensational theology is a system that embodies three essential fundamental concepts called,” I don’t know if you’ve brushed up on your Latin lately, “called the sine qua non.” Sine qua non means without which there is not. And what he’s saying is to be a dispensationalist you have to believe in these three basic things and if you take away one of these three things then dispensationalism can’t be dispensationalism. So these are the bare essentials.
Number 1, you have to believe in a consistent use of a plain or normal, literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation. And you’ll notice that I have “consistent” there underlined because a lot of places they will apply this method of interpretation, literal interpretation, in areas like the resurrection of Christ but they won’t apply it in the area of prophecy or Genesis 1-11. So you have to be committed to that method of interpretation.
Number 2, this method of interpretation reveals that the church is distinct from Israel. In other words, all of these differences that we’ve gone through in this class, twenty-four differences between Israel and the church, it’s not like we sat down one day and said let’s push this into the Bible. We believe that the difference between Israel and the church is self-evident once you become committed to point number 1 which is a consistent method of interpretation.
And then Ryrie says, number 3, God’s overall purpose in history is to bring glory to Himself, and you’ll see that he quotes several verses from Ephesians chapter 1. He goes on and he says God’s ultimate purpose for the ages is to glorify Himself. Scripture is not human centered as though salvation were the principle point, but God-centered, because His glory is at the center. [Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Charles Ryrie, p. 94]
And the basic problem if you say God’s purpose in human history is salvation (I’ll give you the fancy name for that) God’s purpose in history is soteriological rather than to glorify Himself or doxological, is there are parts of the Bible that can’t be explained. For example, the plan of salvation is not open to the fallen angelic realm. The plan of salvation is not open to Satan. And yet the whole program with Satan, the whole program with the demons, the whole program with the fallen angels is something that God is using. So therefore I can’t say that God’s purpose in history is salvation because that doesn’t apply to Satan and the demons. So I’ve got to back up and come up with a different statement that captures the whole Bible. And of course, if you find yourself with a statement about what the Bible is all about and yet that statement doesn’t capture everything in the Bible, you’ve got to back up for a moment and reformulate your statement.
He goes on and he says, “The glory of God is the primary principle that unifies all dispensations, the program of salvation being just one of the means by which God glorifies Himself. Each successive revelation of God’s plan for the ages, as well as His dealing with the elect, non-elect, angels, and nations all manifest His glory.” [Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Charles Ryrie, p. 94] So when you get into the subject of the nations and angels and good angels and fallen angels and the fact that those are all parts of the blueprint of God, what you see is that the concept of salvation doesn’t cover those angels. And because the concept of salvation doesn’t cover those angels what you have to do is you have to back up and you have to formulate a new statement.
So being a dispensationalist basically means three things. Number 1, you’re committed to a literal interpretation of the entire Bible, Genesis through Revelation. Number 2, from that method of interpretation you start to see two things develop; God has a blueprint for Israel and God has a blueprint for the church. And then the purpose of God in human history is to glorify Himself.
So this triangle here I got from Dr. Michael Stallard, at Baptist Bible Seminary and what he’s showing is that everything God is doing, either in creation, which is the left hand side of that triangle, or everything He’s doing in redemption, which is the right side of the triangle, is all subsumed under the purpose of glorification of God. So whether it’s the creation of the nations, Genesis 11, the creation of the world, Genesis 1, the creation of Israel, Geneses 12, creation of the church, Acts 2, God is doing all of these things in history to glorify Himself. And it’s also true with the other side of the triangle, redemption, but whether it’s redemption, creation, judgment of the nations, restoration of the nation of Israel, rapture of the church, and in fact as you look at all of these passages that describe these things you’ll see all of them are intimately bound up with God’s glory.
So why do we exist as human beings? The basic purpose of our existence is to glorify God. Why do we say that? Because God’s purpose in history is doxological, to glorify Himself. So if all of that is true then it has to be true in the church also, right? If God is not being glorified in a church then the church has failed in its most basic assignment. And that’s why I had you open up to the Book of Ephesians, chapter 3, verse, 21, which says, ““to Him be the glory,” now that’s the word doxa and you see the next prepositional phrase there, “To Him be the glory” in city council meeting… NO! “To him be the glory” where, “in the church,” so the primary focus and purpose of the church, at its most basic level, is to glorify God. The church isn’t here to make people happy necessarily, although we’re not against happy people. The church is not here to raise money although that’s needed. You can go through all of these things that churches are involved in but that’s not really what their most basic foundational purpose is; it’s to glorify God.
Now why would that be? Because that’s what God does all of human history; why would that be any different in the church? And that’s why the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, where he unfolds the doctrine of the church probably more than anywhere else in the entire Scripture, He says first and foremost “to Him be the glory in the church…” So the church’s first basic mission is to glorify God. That’s in Ephesians 3.
The second basic mission that God has given to the church is to edify the saints, and all you’ve got to do is turn one chapter to the right, from Ephesians 3 to Ephesians 4 and what you do there in verses 11-16 is you get a wonderful description as to what the life of the church is supposed to be like. So let’s work through, if we could, Ephesians 4:11-16.
Verse 11 says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets,” now I took the relevant, it’s all relevant of course but the things I was going to emphasize I put those in underlining. You’ll notice the word “some” and then he mentions spiritual gifts, “apostles, prophets, evangelists,, pastors and teachers,” not everybody has every single gift. There are a plethora of spiritual gifts in the church and just because someone else is an evangelist of someone else is a pastor-teacher doesn’t mean that you are one as well. It’s like I’ve got a right hand here and I really don’t need another one but God gave me a left hand and when these two hands are connected to my brain and functioning the way they’re supposed to function you have body life.
So what we’re starting to discover here is there are a plethora of what we would call spiritual gifts which we’re going to be defining as the study goes, that God has given to the church and just like your human body, 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains the life of the church as a human body, just like your human body with its different parts they all function in harmony with each other. That’s how the church is supposed to work.
So, “He gave some,” now notice the word “gave” there, the fact that some are apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers, that’s a gift of God because a spiritual gift is a Spirit empowered ability to serve God in a very special way, within primarily the life of His church, and that gift wouldn’t be in existence, you wouldn’t have the gift had God not worked in history to give these gifts to us. So that word “gave” is very important.
And then you’ll notice this expression apostles and prophets, “He gave some as apostles and some as prophets” and if you back to Ephesians 2:20 what does he say here about apostles and prophets? “having been built” this is speaking of the church, “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,” so here He analogizes the church to a metaphor of a temple and he says the first thing in the temple that’s laid is the cornerstone. And when you study Greco-Roman architecture what you learn is they used the cornerstone to measure all the other stones in the temple. In other words, the cornerstone is the first stone in and you figured out where everything was supposed to go based on the cornerstone. So the cornerstone is Christ.
Then he talks about how the foundation is laid by “the apostles and prophets.” So God worked in history in such a way that the foundation of the church was laid through apostles and prophets. Now just a fast question, in architecture or in building anything how many times do you lay a foundation? You lay a foundation one time. So there are many, many people today that will call themselves apostles and prophets; the problem with that is that was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit that the Lord used strategically to lay the foundation of the church. God is not relaying the foundation today. What He’s basically doing is putting on the roof of the house, in my opinion, as the church age is winding down.
And when Judas betrayed Christ and the original apostles needed someone to fill Judas’ position so that they would have twelve, in Acts 1 you’ll see what an apostle is. An apostle, as the criteria were laid down for the twelfth person to fill Judas’ spot that had just committed suicide, the apostle that they picked, Matthias, had to be someone that had seen the risen Christ and was with us from the very beginning, with the ministry of Jesus Christ from the beginning. So you had to have been an eye-witness to the things of Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry to qualify as an apostle. And so in this sense that’s why I don’t believe that there are apostles and prophets today, yet it was a very real gift that God used to lay the foundation of the church.
And then he goes on and he mentions another gift here, evangelists, going back to Ephesians 4. Then he mentions another gift called pastors and teachers and I think it would be better read pastors hyphen teachers because there is a grammatical rule which governs that phrase called the Granville Sharp Rule, and the Granville Sharp Rule says that when there’s one definite article followed by two nouns separated by a conjunction, like the word “and,” then those two nouns are equal. So if you have a definite article, two nouns joined by a conjunction then those two nouns are equal.
So I believe that what he is talking about here is a unique office that God gave to the church, called the office of pastor-teacher, pastor hyphen teacher. And I’ll explain his function in just a minute but even before we get to that God has given to the church evangelists. Evangelists are those who work primarily amongst the unsaved and they have an ability to lead other people to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, not just share the gospel with people but actually see results or fruit in leading people to Christ. And if we didn’t have evangelists we would have a decaying, dying church.
God has designed the church to grow so He’s given to the body of Christ this gift of evangelist. Evangelists, I kind of like to analogize to obstetricians that help with the birthing process. The pastor-teacher, on the other hand, and I’m reading it that way because of the Granville Sharpe rule, has the unique goal or roll I should say, of not being an obstetrician, that’s what the evangelist does, but being the what? The pediatrician. What does a pediatrician do? He helps a child that has already been birthed to be nourished properly, to grow properly, and all that kind of thing.
So these are two different gifts and in my experience rarely does someone have both although I have seen examples of evangelists and pastors and teachers rolled up into a single individual. So as my friend, Dr. Randy Price, likes to say, you know, it’s not catching the fish that’s the hard part it’s what? It’s cleaning the fish, that’s where it gets difficult, because you get these newborn people and they’re coming out of paganism and their minds haven’t been renewed and the function of a pastor-teacher is to help those people to grow. So the primary ministry that we’re doing at this church is that ministry there, of the pastor-teacher and that’s because… that’s my primary gift mix and the elders hired me, they didn’t hire an evangelist. And so I wish I were an evangelist but I just don’t have that spiritual gift. And by the way, just because I’m not an evangelist doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to share my faith with people. All of us are called to do that; it’s just some people are good at it. It’s like a softball team, everybody gets a turn at bat but some people can hit the ball a lot farther than others. But my primary gift mix is pastor-teacher so basically what I’m trying to do in my ministry time here is to help people that are Christians already, help them to grow in the faith.
And then it goes on in verse 12 and it says, “for the equipping of the” who? the goats… it doesn’t say that does it, “for the equipping of the saints,” so what you see there is the pastor-teacher is working amongst the saved. Not so the evangelist who is primarily working among the unsaved. And the function of a pastor-teacher is to equip the saints for what purpose, we’ll explain that in just a second, but right here, the way this is set up you can see who church is for. Is church for unbelievers or believers? It’s very clear that if God gave the gift of pastor-teacher to the church and he is to use that gift faithfully to equip the saints then church is not set up for unsaved people. Now can an unsaved person come to church? Of course they can and that’s why we give the gospel every single week at this church, because we acknowledge that some people can come… you know, sitting in a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting at McDonalds makes you a hamburger. You get unsaved people that come to a church so we give the gospel. What I’m trying to say though is that’s not the primary purpose of the church.
The primary purpose of the church is to equip you so you can go out and share the gospel because think of the impact a pastor can have. I mean, I could try to go around and get every single unbeliever in here or I can do what God has called me to do to equip you. Now if I went and tried to get every single unbeliever into this building, our capacity is only… I don’t know, 250-300 people at best, but think if I was to faithfully use the gift that God has given me and that gift equipped you, you are going to have access to people this week, in your family and in your work place that I don’t even know. And if you just do the math on it, if every person in this room shares the gospel with two people this week you’re going to have a far greater impact in terms of multiplying your ministry than simply trying to get a bunch of unbelievers in the door.
And the problem with trying to get unbelievers in the door is unbelievers don’t like to hear about sin, they don’t like to hear about hell, they don’t like to hear about the Second Coming of Christ, they don’t like to hear about Satan, so if I’m trying to get all these unbelievers in the door I’ve got to water down all those other subjects that are taught in the Bible and who gets neglected in the process? The what? The saints, I’m not equipping you. And what I’m articulating here is probably the most basic issue that’s going on in all of these churches; they’ve never really sat down and thought who are we here for? Are we here for saved people or are we hear for unsaved people?
And I’ve been old enough now to see this whole thing come and go; I mean, it started with Robert Schuller, Garden Grove California, I grew up I would say twenty minutes from his giant Crystal Cathedral and he was one of the first persons that began to articulate this idea that unsaved people don’t want to hear expository preaching. Well dah! I could have told him that. So what he did is he canned expository preaching and he came up with sort of sermon topics that appeal to what the church marketers call unchurched Mary and Harry.
So if unchurched Mary and Harry come to church what do they want in a church? They don’t want what we’re doing here, Bible teaching, they want maybe a little bit of a laser light show, they want maybe somebody like Disneyland on a tightrope going across the congregation. And they want messages that appeal to their lives, how to be successful in business and those kind of things. And so Schuller began to promote this ministry philosophy and guess what? It was very successful. In fact, I, at one time in my life was a limousine driver for a law firm, which was a joke in and of itself because I had no sense of direction, and I remember the partner’s mother was in the backseat and she was very Jewish. And you know, we would get in conversations about different things and she all of a sudden starts going on and on about the Crystal Cathedral and Robert Schuller and how great it is and finally I asked her, I said well do they ever talk about Jesus in that church? And this is her honest answer, she says well, not per se, I don’t recall per se ever hearing the word Jesus but let me tell you, and she started going on and on about what a place it is and how it makes her feel so good.
And this model was then taken by Rick Warren and he created Saddleback Community Church (I think it’s called), also not too far from where I lived, Orange County, California. And then you take Bill Hybels who replicated the whole model in Illinois if I remember right. And then you have younger people like myself, like Andy Stanley for example, taking the whole thing and doing it in Atlanta, Georgia. And it’s sort hard to argue with them because they have results and they have these massive churches. But here’s what I would say, as all these other churches are trying to imitate what they’re doing they’ve failed at the most fundamental level. The purpose of the church is not to be a mass audience and pack people in. The purpose of the church is to equip the saints. That’s why God gave these particular spiritual gifts, evangelist, and pastors and teachers to the church. And this is why I’m getting these e-mails from people all over the country if not the world saying we can’t find a church that teaches the Word of God.
Why is that? Because they’ve all gone after the Schuller, Hybels, Warren methodology and what is being neglected, almost everywhere you go, is the equipping of the saints. Now how does the pastor… the sheep are starving to death, that’s what’s going on. What did Spurgeon say, we’re not here to entertain the goats, we’re here to feed the sheep.
The primary model today that’s in vogue is goat entertainment, and then the thinking is well, maybe we can get them to come back on a Wednesday night study, we’ll kind of sneak in the gospel and hope it doesn’t run them off. The problem is the gospel is an offense, Galatians 5:11. [Galatians 5:11, But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.”] So you can’t even in that environment preach the gospel clearly because the gospel is an offense. God designed the gospel to be an offense and so the gospel, as God delivered it is really not being faithfully proclaimed in these churches, but they’ve got these massive audiences.
So how does the pastor-teacher equip the saints? Well, this letter was written to the church at Ephesus. Did you know that there are some other letters written to the church at Ephesus? Two of them are the Timothy letters, where Timothy was pastoring where? In Ephesus. So Ephesians is designed, I believe, by God to be read in companion with the two Timothy letters. The two Timothy letters, both written by Paul, to a young man struggling to be a pastor-teacher in the church at Ephesus, all of this data needs to be taken into account. And so in the companion piece Paul explains to the leader of the church at Ephesus exactly how the saints are to be equipped, because we saw earlier, didn’t we, that God has given the gift of pastor-teacher for the equipping of the saints.
Well, how does the pastor-teacher do that? Does he give a motivational talk? Does he become sort of an electrifying speaker that knows how to give people the liver quiver of the day? Does he give three points and a poem. I mean, how exactly does he do this? How is this equipping ministry that God gave to the church supposed to work? Well, the companion piece, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells you exactly how it’s supposed to work. It says this: “All Scripture” that would be the 66 Books of the Bible that we have, right? Notice it doesn’t say “some” of the Scripture, it says “All Scripture” which means the obligation of the pastor-teacher is to teach the whole thing, not just parts of it.
Because under the Hybels, Warrens, Andy Stanley, Schuller model… and they got all of this stuff from a business man who, to my knowledge, isn’t even regenerate. His name… I think he’s passed on, was Peter Drucker. And Peter Drucker came up with the three-legged stool, and basically what he is doing is he is bringing a business consultant’s mind to the life of the church, is what he’s doing. And in marketing there’s something, I should have brought my triangle in called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, have you seen that? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need is basic marketing technique. I actually used to teach marketing at a community college in a former life, and so I understand a little… and marketing was one of my majors in college so I know a little bit about marketing.
Marketing is basically designed to put together a marketing mix, a product mix that appeals to people’s areas of need. And the areas of need are discovered in the writings of Abraham Maslow, also an unregenerate person. And basically the idea is people have physical needs so you come up with this new security system that they need for their security needs or physical needs. Or you come up with some kind of retirement program, or insurance program and you’re appealing to their physical needs and once that is met then you make an appeal to their social needs, the need to feel important. And that’s where you get a lot of these commercials related to automobiles and things, you get yourself set up in the brand new automobile and man, you’re the man once you’re in this automobile. So that’s an appeal in marketing to your social needs, esteem needs, we also have community needs. And so all of these commercials that you see are trying to appeal to these different areas of need given to us through Abraham Maslow.
Now what Warren, Hybels, Andy Stanley, not to be confused with his father, Charles Stanley, because to my mind Charles Stanley is not into this stuff at all but his son is, and Schuller and all of these guys, what they’re saying is you don’t teach the whole Bible, I mean, what are you doing teaching on the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, and the resurrection of Christ? You don’t do that! That’s going to drive off unchurched Harry and Mary. So what you do is you isolate passages that appeal to people’s area of need as given by Maslow’s triangle. See that? So people have a need to feel financially that they’re going to be taken care of so you go to those passages where God says he’ll provide your needs. And people have an esteem need so you go to those passages that say you’re made in God’s image. And see, what is happening is those areas of the Bible are taught over and over again but anything outside of Maslow’s needs hierarchy is omitted from the church’s diet.
That’s why all of these sermons that you hear start sounding an awful alike like the sermon you heard last week from these people, because there’s only so many places in the Bible you can go. And this is a deliberate marketing methodology designed to NOT do what verse 16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.” The goal of the pastor-teacher is to teach the Bible in a way that’s understandable, in a way that people can apply it and as you faithfully execute that ministry God makes a promise that something is happening, not necessarily amongst the unsaved but amongst the saved.
What is happening? Something profitable is happening. What are those things? Teaching! Reproof! Correction! And training in Righteousness! Those are things that are automatically happening in the life of the saints or the sheep when the pastor who has that gift of pastor-teacher fulfills his task of teaching the whole Bible and executing his ministry amongst the saved.
And then look at verse 17, “So that the man of God might be adequately” what? “equipped.” 17 [2 Timothy 3:17] Now didn’t he just say a little earlier that the function of the pastor-teacher is to equip the saints? When you put Ephesians together with 2 Timothy, and I’ve explained why I think those need to be studied in harmony with each other, what you discover is 2 Timothy is giving the tools by which the pastor-teacher is to equip the flock. He is to teach the Word of God and when the Word of God is taught God makes promises that will happen in the life of the sheep, not the least of which is the sheep will be adequately equipped for 90% of good works… is that what it says? “…for every good work.”
In other words, you will discover how you’re supposed to act and function on the job as a godly person if you’re under a pastor-teacher teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word using the spiritual gift that God gave him, You will also understand how you are supposed to be a parent. How even if you’re a child in a family how you’re supposed to act in that family. You will discover how to discipline and use your finances to God’s glory. You will discover information about how to manage your emotions, like anger and bitterness and anxiety and negative emotions like that when you are under a pastor-teacher who is executing the assignment that God gave to him.
So as the Scripture is being taught God’s saints are being “adequately equipped for every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:17, “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”] In fact, as the Scripture is taught you’re even being prepared for your ministry that God has for you, perhaps within the church. You say well how can you be so confident of this? I’m confident of it because this is not anything other than a divine promise. This is what God promises to do when the church functions according to the blueprint that God gave to the church.
So we have pastors and teachers equipping the saints and what are you being equipped for? For the work of what… “service,” isn’t that interesting? You mean ministry doesn’t just belong to the preacher and the piano player? No it doesn’t. The ministry belongs to the body of Christ. In fact, every child of God is called by God into the ministry. And you run into people quite frequently and they’ll say well, I’m thinking about going into the ministry. And my reaction is well are you a Christian? Well, yes I am. Well you’re already in the ministry, by divine design. I mean, what people say when they say I’m thinking about going into the ministry is they’re saying I’m thinking about doing this full time, which would require an assessment of where their gift mix is because not everybody is called to do this full time, those that have the appropriate gifting are called to do it full time. If you’re not in a church full time you already have a ministry, it’s called your family, it’s called your co-workers, it’s called your children, it’s called basically anybody you come in contact with. And so you are being built up for your ministry.
And guess what, now most churches function according to the 80/20 rule, you all know what that is, right? 20% of the people do 80% of the work. So people think this way—well, the task of ministry, I’m just going to assign that to the person that gets paid to do it. And I’m just going to kind of sit, soak and sour. Well, you can see how that’s a convoluted model, that is not at all what God designed the church to be. All of us have giftings; all of us have callings. My calling is not your calling; my gifting is not your gifting. The person you’re sitting next to you’re gifted different from that person as well because who needs to right hands? Right.
And so what happens as you sit under the teaching ministry of a pastor-teacher is God makes a divine promise that as the saints are ministered to they are being equipped and as they are being equipped God is equipping them for their ministry and as we all fulfill our ministry what gets built up in the process, at the very end there? The body of Christ. Let me tell you folks, the Peter Drucker model is 180 degrees opposite of what I’m saying.
We go on and we go Ephesians 4:11-16, picking it up there at verse 13, so if the function of pastor-teacher is to equip the saints so that they might be adequately equipped, and gain maturity,” see that expression there, “to a mature man”? The function of a pastor-teacher is not the obstetrician, it’s the pediatrician. He’s bringing the newborn child to maturity; as that happens we need a definition of what maturity looks like. Right? I mean, what does a mature Christian actually look like? Well, we start getting an explanation of that beginning in verse 13, “until we all attain to the” what? “unity of the faith,” you mean if there is massive divisions taking place in a local assembly that’s a sign of immaturity? Yes it is because… I’m not talking about divisions over doctrinal issues; I’m talking about turf wars, personality conflicts. If I were a psychologist what I would do is give everybody a personality test and put the similarly situated personality types to have them work together with each other. And that’s modern day psychology’s answer to this, that’s not the biblical answer.
A lot of the people that came up with modern psychology, whether it’s Freud or Skinner or Young, if I were to describe the bios of these people you wouldn’t even invite these people over for dinner, let alone direct your church. Carl Young, I don’t know if you know this, had a basic spirit guide which was a demon that he talked to regularly. By the way, catch this, the spirit guide’s name was Philemon, a biblical name. And so a lot of people are trying to bring all of this psychological stuff into the church and they don’t even realize they’re bringing doctrines of demons into the church. So we’re not going to go around give people a personality test to figure out let’s get the similarly situated people working together to solve divisions over turf wars and personality conflicts. What we’re going to do is we’re going to teach the Word of God, we’re going to trust the promises of God and people are going to start to mature where they start to get along with each other. Look at that!
If you want an explanation of immaturity in the body of Christ you only have to look no further than 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 11, where Paul says, “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Cloe’s people that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I am of Apollos,’ and ‘I am of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’” Paul says has Christ been divided? All these people are divided over who their favorite speaker is and what does Paul say? He doesn’t say you all need a personality profile. What he says is this is immaturity; the reason there’s immaturity is because there’s a lack of unity on issues like this and there’s really a lack of teaching and preaching of the Word of God and people receiving it by faith.
So maturity, a person that’s mature in Christ is somebody that basically gets along with other people. I’m not saying you have to get along with everything everyone says all of the time but what you find in a lot of people is basic lack of interpersonal skills or abilities. I mean, we say things in church and we say things to pastors and we say things to fellow Christians that we would never say to anybody else, because we’re mad about this or mad about that. And the reality is this is just immaturity, it’s a lack of the pediatrician doing his job correctly.
And then as we become unified we gain what? Knowledge of the Son of God. There are an awful lot of Christians that have, I would call a John 3:16 understanding of the Bible; they know the verse that got them saved and they don’t know anything else beyond that, and they’re sitting in churches which are still telling them how to get saved every single Sunday. And there’s just a lack of understanding of the whole counsel of God’s Word but that is not what maturity looks like.
Over in 2 Peter 3 and verse 18, “but grow” that’s maturity, “in the grace and” what? “ knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” There has to be a point in your life where you’re starting to understand more about the Bible in 2018 than you understood in 2017. And it’s not just information that stays in the cranium or the brain; it’s information that turns into wisdom where you start to apply it to your life daily. So the Word of God is being taught, you come to a Scripture that convicts you, and you say I need to apply that this week. I learned it and I’m going to try to apply it under God’s resources. Now what have you just done? You’ve taken a step out of infancy into becoming that mature man.
And over in 1 Peter 2:2 it says this: “like newborn babies, long for the” what? not just the milk of the word but “the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may” what? “grow in respect to” what? “salvation,” which you already have. Now when my daughter was very young and we just brought her home from the hospital, I mean, it’s amazing how such a small kid can make so much noise. And she would wake up in the middle of the night just screaming her head off and I would say to my wife I think that calls for you… no, I tried to help. (Is she in this room? Okay, I can get away with that).
And she wasn’t interested in a theological lecture about the Trinity, I can tell you that much. She wanted to be fed, her body was demanding to be fed because if her body was not fed properly how in the world could she grow? And what if we, as parents, took milk, which she needed to grow, and poured into it some 7-up, or some root beer. I mean, the kid would be more hyper than she already was. And what with this mixture of things she could not reach her goal, the goal for her developmentally. Whether she was going to grow developmentally or not was contingent upon the parents giving her, not just milk but it’s very clear here in verse 2, “pure milk.”
If you’re going to a church where it’s a perpetual mixture of Darwin in Genesis, psychology, Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner and Paul, some kind of motivational speaker like Tony Robbins and the Book of Acts, and all this stuff is being mixed. You see what’s happening? The pastor-teacher is depriving you of the ability to grow into the full stature of Christ.
And that’s what it says here “to a mature man,” going back to Ephesians 4, a “ stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Verse 14, “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.” That is a wonderful description of what maturity looks like; a mature Christian does not believe everything they’re told because they have a preexisting grid by which they can screen good ideas from bad ideas. Now if you don’t have that grid anything you’re told by anybody that has the gift of gab, you know the three “g’s” in ministry, which are good looks, the gift of gab and a guitar. If you’ve got the three “g’s” you’re going to go far in ministry this day and age.
And that’s how people are, anybody with those three “g’s” will just believe it because it’s a spiritual idea, they think it’s coming from a spiritual source. But you see, the mature Christian hears things and they say well wait a minute, that contradicts something I read earlier this week in the Bible, let’s screen it and check it out. That’s what maturity looks like. A mature Christian is not a pugnacious fighting fundy. A mature Christian is someone that has a preexisting grid, a preexisting screen, a preexisting worldview coming from the Word of God where they can screen good ideas and bad ideas. Immature Christians have no ability to do that.
So my daughter, when she was very young would crawl on the floor and everything she saw on the floor she would put in her mouth… every single thing, if it was on the floor it was going in the mouth. Now what if she’s doing that now at age 12? You know daughter is going to be 12 this month on April 5th, she was born April 4, 2006, it’s amazing. What if she’s doing that at age 12, age 13? Then what you would say is there’s been a developmental problem. See that? Because a child as they grow they don’t just take everything they see and put it in their mouth; that’s what infants do. As you grow into further childhood, further adolescence, ultimately into maturity you don’t just put everything you see in your mouth. You can see things… well, that’s going to hurt me so I won’t eat that. But this over here may help me so I can put that in my mouth.
And you see, that’s what maturity looks like in Christianity. It’s interesting that the Book of Acts holds up the Bereans in Acts 17:11, as sort of a model of what maturity looks like. And I’ll close with these verses. It says there, verse 11, “Now these” now who are these? The Bereans that interacted with Paul on missionary journey two, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica,” in other words, the Bereans had a leg up on the Christians in Thessalonica, why was that? They seemed to be at a higher level of maturity. Why is that? “for they received the word with great eagerness,” so they weren’t fighting fundies, they didn’t just bark back and oppose every teaching they’d ever received, they loved the fact that they were being taught spiritual things, they received it “with great eagerness” but what does the rest of the verse say? “examining” what? “the Scriptures” how frequently? Once a month, once a week… it’s very clear here, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
They had quite a teacher in Paul and they would hear things and they would say hold the phone Paul, I need to find this in my Bible; I’m not going to absorb it just because you tell me it’s there, I need to see it for myself. That’s maturity. And when we become like that what are we no longer like? “We are no longer like children tossed here and there by wind and waves and carried about by every doctrine of the trickiness of men,” think of a wave in the ocean. [Ephesians 4:14, “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;”]
I grew up on the west coast, the left coast so the ocean was a big part of my life. You think of those waves tossing and turning and carrying things about and that is a tremendous description of the instability of an immature Christian. And I’ve been old enough now to see in my lifetime multiple trends blow through the body of Christ. One of the latest ones that I can remember is the prayer of Jabez and I can count down a number of trends I’ve seen that are very popular and they seem to enthrall the masses of the Christian community. I’m thinking of Promise Keepers, that would be another example.
And these things come through and they’re very popular and everybody jumps on board and then in a year or two the whole thing disappears and you don’t even remember what it was about. See, and then this is why the body of Christ just jumps on bandwagons constantly; it’s a lack of maturity because they’re kind of still like that infant crawling on the ground and they just put everything in their mouth that they see. See that? That’s not what a mature Christian looks like. A mature Christian has a preexisting grid and they screen everything by that preexisting grid from the Word of God. And this is the purpose of the church. This is why God created the church in part 2 here; not only does it exist to glorify God but it exists to help the saints become edified so that they will no longer be immature and that’s what the gift of pastor-teacher is supposed to do. And we’ll pick it up right there in the middle of the book of Ephesians 4 next time.