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Unto Maturity In Christ

Notes Outline
INTRODUCTION
THE HEART
THE COMMON GROUND
THE VALUING
THE STAKES
APPLICATION

INTRODUCTION

  1. Personal introduction and prayer
  2. Brother Lowell tells me you have been talking about “APEST”
  3. Basketball: How many players? What do the players have in common, how are they distinct? What is the difference between a bad team, a good team, and a championship team? What is a “ball hog,” why does one hog the ball, and how does that affect the team? Etc.
  4. What is the purpose of the various roles and functions in the Body? What is Jesus aiming to accomplish through them? What needs to happen for these aims to be accomplished?
  5. Today’s text: Ephesians 4:1-16 (NIV)

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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. 14 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. 15 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. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 

THE HEART

  1. Heart issues are primary. If we are not letting the Lord take us deeper in these heart level issues, no model of leadership will work, APEST or otherwise

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

  1. Some theologians (e.g., Augustine, C.S. Lewis) argue that pride is the worst/root sin. However, others have argued that “envy is the problem at the heart of most sin, including murder.” The prohibition against covetousness is the only one of the Ten Commandments that focuses on an inward reality.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable (Heb. ḥāmǎḏ, same word usually translated as “covet” in Ex. 20:17) for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:6, NIV)

  1. Both are bad! Both pride/arrogance and envy undermine the different parts of the body complementing one another and functioning together.

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? (1 Cor 12:17, CSB)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Rom 12:3, NIV)

  1. Dealing with the heart requires great diligence (“make every effort” [v. 3]; “being diligent” [NASB]); this is hard work (conversations, emails/texts, follow-ups, clarifications, repentance and forgiveness where needed, etc.)
  2. Personally, feeling this particularly acutely in recent days and months

THE COMMON GROUND

  1. The basis of our unity

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; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:1-5)

  1. God gives teachers to the Body because we need clarity and understanding in these crucial truths

20 You know that I did not hesitate to proclaim anything to you that was profitable and to teach you publicly and from house to house. (Ac. 20:20, CSB)

THE VALUING

  1. Christ’s servants as gifts

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave (as gifts!) the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

  1. Gifts: value; relationship; investment; time; expression of care, love, and commitment; etc. Quilt my wife received in 2016. 
  2. Jesus’ appointment of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors/teachers, indicates the high value he places on both leaders and the flock
    • Value of leaders

12Brothers, we ask you to show your appreciation (“give recognition to” [CSB]; “acknowledge” [NET]; “pay proper respect” [TEV]) for those who work among you, set an example for you in the Lord, and instruct you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. (1 Th. 5:12-13, ISV)

    • Value of flock

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Ac 20:28, NIV)

  1. Are we treating one another according to the value God assigns to both flock and leaders?

THE STAKES

  1. What are the consequences if there is a breakdown in the above?
    • People remain unequipped (v. 12)
    • The Body of Christ is not built up (v. 12)
    • No unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (v. 13)
    • Lack of maturity and Christlikeness (v. 13)
    • Remain infants who are “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” (v. 14)
  2. If these things are happening, it is a sign that somewhere there are problems in one or more of the above areas. If we are honest, I think that many of us would admit that COVID and other challenges in recent years have exposed how infant-like we as the Body of Christ still are in many respects. But God is patient with and gracious towards us, and he is committed to bringing us to a place of maturity and proper order.

APPLICATION

  1. Heart issues are primary. Is there anything that needs to be made right? Make it a priority to reach out this week, despite any awkwardness or fear.
  2. Take some time this week to meditate on the hope of the gospel, meaning of baptism, who our common Lord is, etc. Remember how much mercy we ourselves have received, and our calling to extend it to others.
  3. Praying for and appreciating our leaders; give words of encouragement along with critical feedback; going out of our way to say “thank you”; leadership is hard and often grinding work, especially when working through the hard issues; this week, send a note of encouragement to leaders
  4. Leaders: trying to maintain the Lord’s heart and the flock through Jesus’ eyes; easier said than done (Moses and the rock); remembering the great value Jesus places on the redeemed, unto renewed motivation (speaking primarily to myself here!)