11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 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; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Good morning! Anyone else love the description of the church as a body, with many different parts all performing different functions? I've always liked it because it confirms that with the vast variety of strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities and gifts of all the different individuals in the church, all the parts are important, necessary, beneficial to the body as a whole. God created each of us to be individual and unique for a reason. Our individuality and our unique gifts and talents need to be explored and utilized so that we can be a functional and productive part of the whole! I love this. I love it because while it celebrates our individuality, it also means each person is not having to do everything on their own. We're all part of the team! We all have different roles. We're all helping and serving each other, and serving God as part of the church, part of His body, but it's a team effort, not an individual sport.
Legge says the following in his sermon Body Building:
Listen: when the body of Christ, with the gifts of Christ, work together with Christ, the church grows. There is a process: gifts are given, why? To equip. Then, when the saints take the gifts that Christ has equipped them with, and begin to serve with those gifts - thirdly, what will happen is that the body will be built up and growth will happen. Now, there is a myth - and I don't care what evangelical circles you go to, this myth exists, and even in the Iron Hall I'm sure it exists - and it's that the church is some kind of a pyramid structure, and at the top is the pastor or the elder, or the elders. There they are at the top, and they are the one who is to do the work of the ministry that you find in verse 12. They are the little 'popes' at the top of the scale. There is this mentality of the bus driver - maybe the pastor's driving the bus, and everybody's in the seats behind, and he's taking them wherever he wants them to go. That is false! That is not in the New Testament, that's not found in the word of God - and I believe, honestly from the depths of my heart, that this is one of the greatest hindrances to the gospel of Jesus Christ that there is at this moment in this place! The church cannot operate as a body if you're relying on one group of men.
Vance Havner said these powerful words: 'Christianity began as a company of lay-witnesses. It has become a professional pulpitism, financed by lay-spectators'. Yes, and I add this: the labourer is worthy of his hire, but he goes on to say, 'nowadays we hire a church staff to do the full-time Christian work, and we sit in the church on Sunday to watch them do it'. Every Christian is meant to be a full-time servant! There is, indeed, a special ministry for pastors, teachers, and evangelists - but for what? Verse 12: 'for the perfecting of the saints, and for your ministry'! That's what it means! Not for my ministry, not for the oversight's ministry, but for the ministry of the body of Christ working together as one. What is the bottom line? The bottom line is this: Christ has given you a gift, and Christ has given you a gift to be used within His church. There are many ministries within our land that need to be utilised that have never been tapped. There are ministries to prostitutes, there are ministries to unmarried mothers, there are ministries to poor people, disabled people - ministries that you couldn't even imagine, that we have not even thought about, that need to be thought about!
Verse 16: 'From whom the whole body fitly joined together', you see that, 'fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth' - all of you are important! That's what I want you to see! Every single one of you has a gift! You've been ordained of it by God for a reason: that you use it within the assembly of Jesus Christ.
Let us bow our heads, and let's consider - each of us individually - are we utilising the gift that God has given us? He has promised that He has given us at least one. My friend, the word of God indicates that on that day when we stand at the Throne many of us, more than we could ever imagine, will suffer loss. If you're not using your gift, you can be sure that you'll lose your reward. Ask God to reveal to you how and where you can use it. May you use it from this night forth.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 4:17-24