Faithlife
Faithlife

Body Builder

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Notes & Transcripts
Dearly loved people of God,
Underlying word picture is The Church = Christ’s body. It’s a key metaphor throughout the letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul uses this imagery because the gospel doesn’t have 2 classes of believers.
All of us were dead in our transgressions and sins. All of us deserved God’s wrath.
BUT because of his great love, God made us alive with Christ. We were raised up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
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Ephesians 2:14–16 NIV
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Because we have all been rescued from death by the redeeming work of Christ, we are united in Christ. All believers - Jewish or Gentile - are alive in Christ. Paul describes this in imagery of Christ’s body:
Ephesians 2:14–16 NIV84
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Ephesians 2:15–16 NIV
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
eph 2
Paul continues on his theme of unity in . You’ll notice the repetition.
Ephesians 4:4–5 NIV
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Ephesians 4:4 NIV
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;
But having established the imagery of the church as the unified body of Christ, God’s word pushes further in chapter 4. There’s a drive to grow and mature - to achieve full strength and purpose. That’s the language the Paul uses
Ephesians 4:14–15 NIV
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
Growing up is the goal of every child. Okay, I don’t know if it’s the goal of every kid, but it was my goal. As a kid watching my older sisters and older cousins, I wanted to go on the bus and go to grade school. I wanted to ride a 2 wheeler and later a 10 speed bicycle. I wanted to become a lifeguard. Building muscles and getting strong was a major goal.
I think it’s the same in faith. When we first become believers - as little kids or as new Christians - we don’t dream of stay immature in our faith. We long to know the Bible like our teachers do. We long for a mature prayer life.
Wouldn’t it be great to explain this gospel to someone else? Wouldn’t it be neat to see God do miracles in answer to our prayers? What would it be like to be a missionary?
Tell me honestly, have any of you dreamt of becoming a hero of faith? Am I the only one? When you felt ambitious about your faith, haven’t you thought it would be cool to have your name mentioned alongside Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, and Billy Graham?
Yet somehow it seems our ambition for growing in faith, our hunger for maturity gets cooled off along the way. There’s been a whole whack of research among Christians that shows that many of our church models aren’t producing mature Christians.
Some of that research comes out of a megachurch known as Willow Creek. They surveyed their whole congregation, in an attempt to gauge where people were at in their maturity. The Reveal survey we attempted here in Tburg comes out of their work. Bill Hybels writes about those first surveys as being horribly disappointing. The surveys indicated that people in that congregation would become Christians, but seemed to stop maturing in their faith after they professed faith.
Being American, Hybels compared growing in faith to going round the bases in bases. People start at home plate and when they put their faith in Jesus, they arrive at first base. 2nd base is more mature, 3rd is more mature, homeplate is the goal - fully mature in your faith. The survey said, the vast majority of his congregation was on first base.
When we did the survey in Fredericton, we found the same.
I’ve seen compiled statistics from every CRC that has used the Reveal Survey and the results are staggering: by the metrics of this survey, the majority of Christian Reformed people have room - plenty of room - to grow in their faith. I suspect those results can be generalized to include Tillsonburg CRC, although I’d love to be proven wrong.
In the past 2-3 years, I’ve been on a quest to learn how to lead people to grow in their faith. The commission I have received as a minister of the word is found in Scripture. The way it’s worded in is helpful to me in thinking about God’s call on me.
Ephesians 4:11–13 NIV
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11 NIV
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
eph 4:11-
It sounds a little alarming to think of being a gift from Christ, but in the call you extended, I heard God call me to ministry in Tillsonburg. Why
It sounds a little alarming to think of being a gift from Christ, but in the call you extended, I heard God call me to ministry in Tillsonburg. Why?
Ephesians 4:12 NIV
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Ephesians 4:12–13 NIV
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What’s the goal?
Ephesians 4:13 NIV
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Here’s what I’ve experienced: believers are called to bear witness to Jesus’ resurrection.
1 Peter 3:15–16 NIV
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
But people told me that’s hard; they’ve never been taught how to do that.
When I got thinking and praying about this response, it hit me like a ton of bricks: that’s my job. I’m supposed to equip believers for works of service, including to be prepared to speak of the life you’ve received through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Not long ago someone told me they never learned how to pray. It feels awkward for them to talk to God, so much so that being asked to pray out loud is terrifying. Hmm, whose job is it to teach believers to pray? Parents, grandparent, Sunday school teachers, counsellors in girls’ clubs or boys clubs, and in youth group . . . the teachers and pastors.
Same thing with reading the Bible. Reading the Bible 3, 5, 7 days/week is the best thing you can do to grow in your faith. God’s Word and Spirit get to work directly on you mind and heart as you are molded and shaped by reading the Bible.
We talked about this at the elder’s meeting the past Tuesday. The challenge was made for elders to read the Bible regularly and to even set aside the time to read one of the letters or the whole Gospel of Mark in one sitting, the way you’d read a whole blog or magazine article in one sitting.
But who teaches the disciplines of reading Scripture? Who teaches how to read the Bible, how to recognize the different kinds of writing? B/c you know, you don’t read a Psalm the same way you read the gospel. You don’t read this letter to the church in Ephesus the same way you read the book of Revelation.
It’s the preacher’s job to teach believers how to read the Bible, how to recognize and deal with the different types of literature you find in the 39 OT books and 27 NT books that we call the Bible.
What about grief? In God’s word to the church in Thessalonica, we read this encouragement:
I thess 4:
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
So how do believers grieve then?
1 Thessalonians 4:14 NIV
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I thess 4:14
This doesn’t come easily. The emotions of experiencing the death of someone you love threaten to sweep you away. It’s easy to forget the hope we have in the searing pain of death. So pastors, elders, and mature Christians have a role to play when believers “walk through the valley of death.” As a body of believers, we keep the light on for each other. sometimes we even need to hold on to faith as people get swamped by doubt and grief.
I’ve been there. In the grief of my brother’s death as a teenager, it was a comfort to have other people believe with me and for me until the grief diminished and faith was stretched to encompass the grief of death as well.
But that’s the cool thing. I said last week that faith isn’t a solo sport. It’s a team sport. We believe together. We do life and faith together. The calling of ministers, pastors, teachers, and other leaders is
eph 4: 12
Ephesians 4:12–13 NIV
to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
If that sounds daunting, let me remind you of a couple things I find comforting:
never do this alone
God the HS
elders support and oversee work
community of believers
Using imagery from last week, ministers are not shepherds who own the sheep. Ministers are undershepherds, trained and shaped by the Good Shepherd to lead other sheep
I’ve left the ox yoke out in the foyer during this whole series of sermons. That was intentional. Pastors, teachers, ministers are leaders who have accepted the calling as followers after Jesus Christ. Unlike other religions, following after Jesus is not do, do, do. No, in Jesus’ death and resurrection everything necessary has been done. We’ve accepted the invitation Jesus extended in the gospel
Matthew 11:28–30 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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