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The Church with 100 Ministers

By Matthew Black, Pastor

Text: Ephesians 4:7-13

Date: Sunday, May 3, 2009

Serve the Lord Sunday


Tabernacle Baptist Church

7020 Barrington Road

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133

Website: www.GodCentered.info


Today is “SERVE THE LORD” Sunday.  Our emphasis this year is to “Serve the Lord with Gladness”. We are going to see how we can do that from Ephesians 4:7-13 today.  Our message this morning is entitled “The Church with 100 Ministers”. What we are going to find out today is that every Christian is gifted and called to ministry. We are a church that has not one minister, but we are all ministers here today!  We are going to see this simple truth in Ephesians 4 today.  Let’s stand as we read Ephesians 4:7-12.

Ephesians 4:7-12, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13  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”. 

[Prayer for Guidance]

Introduction: We call ourselves a God-centered church, but what does that mean?  I think these verses turn many of our ideas about church upside down.

First, when we go to a church, we are often looking for how the church can serve us and our family. These verses tell us that our minds should focus on the exact opposite.  We should see how we can all serve God’s people.

For instance, we might come to a church, and the music or the organization is not what it ought to be.  Some would say, well, this is not the church for me.  I am an orderly person or a musical person, etc., so I guess I’ll find a church that suits me. Do you see the man-centered mentality?  Instead when we see the church lacking in an area that we are gifted in, we should step in and minister!  If there is a hole, and you can fill the gap, then you should step in!

Church is not about getting what you want out of it, but in giving what you can. It is about encouraging others in their walk.  It is about showing people how to apply the Word of God to their situation.  Maybe you’ve gone through the valley in an area of your life, and you can show someone how God’s Word can be trusted.  That’s ministry! Do you come to church simply to be ministered to, or do you come to minister?

I.          Consider God’s Power in the Local Church.  Every Christian is gifted and called to ministry. We are a church of 100 ministers because God has given every disciple of Christ spiritual gifting and ability to serve Him. 

A.   Whatever God calls you to do, He’s give you the power to do it. In verse 7, the Bible says that the God has given every one of us the power to help us accomplish the work of the ministry. Let’s read verse 7, “But unto every one of us is given…” what?  Here it is: “grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” In other words, you CAN do what ever God WANTS you to do!  You have everything you need to do Christ’s ministry. God has given you the supernatural power to do His will.  That’s what grace is in this context. 

B.   Whatever God calls you to do, He’s give you the responsibility to do it. You ought to use your gifts and abilities to edify the saints. We have this supernatural gifting to use for the benefit of others.  It says we were given grace “according to the measure of the gift of Christ”.  So everyone of us were given a certain measure of grace to dole out to people.  You are to administrate it. 

You are a steward of the grace God has given you!  Dole out that grace!  Paul says this in several other places, but let’s look at just one place—1 Peter 4:10, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  You are a steward of God’s grace!  You are to use it to serve Him and reach others in the work of the ministry.

The spiritual gifts we are given are not for our own sake, but for the benefit of the whole body. As Romans 12:6 says, "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them]” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

I. So we saw the Power God gives to every one of His children as part of the Body of Christ. We are all gifted so that we can build up each other.

II.       Second, I want you to see God’s Pattern for the Local Church. There is an organized structure to the Body of Christ, and Jesus Christ is at the top.  He is the Head.

A.   Jesus Christ DIRECTS the Church. He is the Head.  He is the King. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. In verse 8, we have this beautiful picture of Christ as the conquering king, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”  Paul is using a familiar picture here.  In the ancient world, when conquering generals returned home they would bring a procession of prisoners of war as a sign of their victory.  They would “lead captivity captive” in this parade and in celebration, give the gifts and spoils of war to the all the people. In the same way, Jesus Christ as our King has taken away our captivity—he has taken of the devil’s spoils.[1]

Two kinds of gifts. Jesus Christ has freed us and given gifts to all His people—both with spiritual gifts and with something else in verse 11—we see he gives strengthening gifts to His church! These gifts are people—leaders in the church.  Paul says in verse 11 that Jesus Christ as the Head of His church gifts spiritual leaders in order to EQUIP, train, and strengthen His church.

1.      Christ has called us out of the world to as a CONGREGATION.  He gifts us to build each other up. We need to come together.  Christ not only calls us to Himself, but He calls us to GATHER TOGETHER.

a. Definition. The word “church” in the New Testament is ekklhsia (ekklesia), which literally translated is “congregation”.[2]  The church is the “called out assembly of believers”.  The church is CALLED OUT and CALLED TOGETHER by Christ.

b. In other words the church is Christ’s idea. He elects us, calls us, regenerates us, justifies us, sanctifies us, and one day He will glorify us (Romans 8:28-20).  Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  Jesus Christ gifts his congregations with evangelists and pastors who are teachers.  This is how he strengthens and builds His church. 

c. Every time we come together as a congregation, Christ is present with us.  It has the idea of congregating together in Jesus’ name. When the church Body meets, you ought to be there. Why? Because Christ calls us to come together.  Christ is present in every assembly.  Every service we have Christ is doing a special work that is explained in Ephesians 4:11-12.  His officers, the pastor-teachers are “equipping the saints for the work of ministry”.  Now it is not ultimately the leaders of the church that can prepare you for ministry. It is Christ in them and through them. 


d. Application: Remember that when you decide that Sunday evening service is unimportant, or that prayer meeting on Wednesday is not important. We do not come here to simply to listen to a message. We come here to meet with Christ, and His Word cleanses us and equips us! We do not come to hear the voice of any human teacher. We come to hear Christ speaking to our hearts. Every Word Christ speaks is divine.  What a voice He had when He walked the earth.  When He spoke the dead came out of their graves! When He speaks to the heart of a sinner in this church, His voice awakens the spiritually dead!

Transition: Why do we come together? Yes, we come together to be equipped for ministry. In other words, you are going to build the Body of Christ.  But that is not the purpose of the church.  Paul has already told us the purpose of the church in Ephesians 3:21, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  That brings us to our next point.

1. So, Christ not only calls us out of the world as a CONGREGATION, calling us to COME TOGETHER and build each other up…

2.      But secondly, Christ calls us out of the world for EXALTATION calling us to COME TOGETHER to lift Him up.  Paul says in verse 16 that we are to “grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”. The Tabernacle Baptist Church exists to exalt and glorify Jesus Christ. Pastors and teachers are just mailmen delivering a message from the king. All the leaders of this church are dispensable. The church does not revolve around any man.  The heartbeat of a healthy Gospel church is to glorify and exalt Jesus Christ.

We strive to be Christ-centered not man-centered. Holy Spirit driven, not personality driven!

Certainly the idea of having pastors and evangelists comes from Christ.  As the supreme authority over every believer, He appoints shepherds over His sheep.  But when people come to this church, we do not want them to speak so highly of the pastor or the people or any program, but of Jesus Christ! We don’t come to church to hear a sermon, but to meet with Jesus Christ. We exalt no one but Christ. Let every knee bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord!!

3.      Thirdly, Christ calls us out of the world for EQUIPPING. God brings us together and ordains leaders to train His people to expand His kingdom. That brings us to our next point.

A. Christ DIRECTS His Church.  Aren’t you glad for that?  He brings us together as a congregation, He brings us together for the purpose of exaltation and for equipping. Christ does all this as our Head.  But…

B.   Secondly, Christ calls Leaders to EQUIP His Church.  Here Jesus Christ has delegated His authority to two groups of leaders: foundational and functional leaders. Pastors and teachers train the ministers of the church.  Yes the pastor is a minister, but every single one of you is a minister of Christ if you are saved.

1.      Let’s look at these two groups of leaders who equip the saints to be ministers.

a. First, notice that the Apostles and  Prophets are foundational leaders. They were there for a short time at the beginning of the church to help lay the foundation.  We are told in Ephesians 2:20 that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Before the Apostles gave us the Word of God, prophets spoke by divine revelation to the churches. The Apostles were foundational to the church and have entrusted us with the divine revelation of the New Testament.  These offices are foundational and no longer exist today.

b. The other group of leaders is functional. Evangelists (Missionary Church Planters) and Teaching Shepherds are the officers of the church today.  They organize and teach the congregation on a weekly basis.  Christ has ordained them. 

i.      The Pastor-teacher is a teaching shepherd.  The word connecting “pastor” and “teacher” is translated other places as “even”.  In other words Paul’s idea is that the pastor of the church is “even” or also a teacher. So that is why Paul said it that way.

ii.     The Evangelist is not simply an exhorter of the churches, but one who primarily works with the world, bringing them to Christ and planting churches. We refer to these people today as “church planters” or if they are overseas as “missionaries”.

Now these pastors and church planters and missionaries are commissioned to do something for Christ.  They are to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (verse 12).The pastors are to TRAIN the ministers.  We are a church of a hundred ministers.  You are here for training if you are a believer.  You are here to be equipped.

2.      Let’s look at the meaning of “equip”.  What does it mean to “equip the saints”? The word “equip” is a word used to describe fisherman getting their nets ready, cleansed, and repaired.[3] God’s Word restores you; it cleanses you; it revitalizes you. The word “equip” was used of armies, of education, and of child rearing.[4]  It is to prepare them, to get them ready for service. My goal each time the Word is opened is to prepare you for service to God—in your home, in your work place, and to your brothers and sisters in Christ.

3.      Let’s look at the practice of equipping.  What does that equpping entail? How do pastors equip the saints? In two ways: by teaching and by living out the Word.

a. Pastors equip the church by Teaching how to Apply the Word.

i.      The places of teaching. Teaching through counseling, preaching, teaching, etc. This is both one on one and through expository preaching of the Word.

ii.     The purposes of teaching.

                                                     (1.)       The pastor is to teach in order to Remind. The pastor’s duty is to teach and remind the saints of the truth.  It is never to entertain. In fact, the apostle Peter’s model was to teach the same truths over and over again because human beings are so forgetful!  Look over at 2 Peter 1:12.  Peter said, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth”.  You may already know the truth, but you need to be constantly reminded of it.

                                                     (2.)       The pastor is to be teaching Regularly—in season and out of season. 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, and out of season”.

                                                     (3.)       The pastor is to be teaching to Reprove, Rebuke, and Exhort. 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The saints need both correction and encouragement. We all stray and we need to be brought back to the path of God’s will.  We all need positive, helpful encouragement as to how to apply God’s Word to our lives.

a. So we see that Pastors equip the church by Teaching how to Apply the Word.

b. Secondly, I think it is implies that Pastors equip the church by Living out the Application of the Word. "Take heed unto thyself [WATCH YOUR LIFE CLOSELY], and unto the doctrine; continue [PERSEVERE] in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16). A pastor is to live out the Word of God in his life.

The Word of God is useless to any one of us unless we live it out in our lives. We are called to be DISCIPLES of Christ, not SPECTATORS.

Application: I know we all have busy lives, but we must make time to edify each other.

A. Christ DIRECTS His Church.  Aren’t you glad for that?  He brings us together as a congregation, He brings us together for the purpose of exaltation and for equipping. Christ does all this as our Head. 

B. Christ’s leaders EQUIP His Church for the Work of ministry.

C.   Thirdly, the Saints BUILD UP the Church.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. All Christians are the Ministers of the church.  Everyone is expected and encouraged to be involved in active ministry. If you want to be comfortable as a mere spectator, Tabernacle Baptist Church is not the church for you. We are a church where every member has a ministry of some kind.

1.      Consider who is called to minister.  Every one of us.  All the saints are to be equipped for works of ministry.  By the way, I shouldn’t take this for granted, but a saint is not some Roman Catholic bishop who has been canonized. A saint in the Bible is a simple believer.  Paul writes to the saints at Ephesus, and his goal is that the saints should be trained for ministry.  Every one of you who is a believer in Christ is a saint. 

We are a church not of spectators with one minister.  We are a church of a hundred ministers! None of us can be spectators.  We are all called to build each other up in the faith. We are all clergy here!  We believe in the priesthood of the believer.  That means that there is no separation between clergy and laity.  We are all to be priests one to another.

1 Peter 2:5,9, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ….” Verse 9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”.

Revelation 1:6, tells us that Christ “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father”.

2.      Where does the idea come from?  Why is Paul telling everyone to minister to everyone else in the Body?  He got his commands from the Lord before He ascended to heaven. The roots of everything we do are in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach [MAKE DISCIPLES OF] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”.

3.      What does it mean to minister?  The idea of ministering practically speaking is anything you can do to make a brother or a sister more like Jesus Christ. You are called to (1) make disciples (2) assimilate them into the church by seeing them baptized (3) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Now the pastor will help you do these things, but you are the minister. You are to be able explain the gospel to people, to see them saved and added to the church, and you are to show them through your teaching and your life how to grow in Christ. Teach them to observe all things that Christ commanded us!

4.      How do we build one another up? 

a. First, be PRESENT.  Be here, present in the congregation each serviced to get equipped.  God has ordained a way for you to “repair your nets” and to get cleansed by His Word in a corporate setting so that you can be used by Him. 

Application: One way that you undercut the ministry to the Body here at Tabernacle is by staying home Sunday School, Sunday evening, or Wednesday night.  You need to be here.  Is it hard work?  Yes!  You have to make difficult choices. We are called to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

b. Second, be PLIABLE. Be willing to teach one another. Jesus said we are to be “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

i.      You listen to the teaching each time we meet.  You are Bereans.  You compare it to the Scriptures. 

ii.     You apply it to your life.

iii.   Then you teach others. Show them how to apply it to their life and their situation. You encourage them from the Word of God.

Objection: Perhaps you say, but I can’t teach anyone! Paul says differently in Romans 15:14, “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” The phrase “able to admonish” has been translated “competent to counsel”.

c. Thirdly, be PROACTIVE. Serve one another. In other words, ministry does not only happen when we meet at this building. We are called to get involved in each other’s lives. We assemble on Sundays and Wednesdays to get trained to minister to one another.

Conclusion: We do not come to church to be wise people who do nothing with the truth.  We come to be equipped—to repair and cleanse and be revitalized to minister for Christ.  We come to build one another up and to be prepared to bring others to Christ. We are not a church of one minister, but of 100 ministers!  Let’s be always using our gifts to BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST!


[1] Jesus says in Mark 3:27, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” 

[2] James Strong. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, G1577.

[3] Sinclair B. Ferguson. Let’s Study Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 110.

[4] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Walter Bauer and Frederick William Danker, (Third Edition; based on a previous English edition by W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker; University of Chicago Press, 1957, 1979, 2000), 526.

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