03 Oct Serve
Read: Ephesians 4:1-16
Last Sunday we heard from Dr. Dew on Defending the Faith from 1 Peter 3:15. This Sunday, we begin our mini-series called One Mission, as Pastor Ken preaches from Ephesians 4:1-16 on serving. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering and ten year celebration, let these words from John Piper encourage you and spur you on to further serve the body of Christ.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
– Ephesians 4:15-16
The first and most important thing to say about how interpersonal church life happens as the church is built up is that it happens “from Christ.” That is, it is supernatural. Christ lived once, died for our sins, rose again, ascended into heaven. He reigns there today and, as he promised, he is building his church. He is not passive and distant. He is a living, dynamic, active head of the body. He is supplier and guide by his Spirit. But will we receive his supply? Will we expect it and channel it to each other? That’s the first thing to see: Christ is the living source of church life and growth.
The second thing to see in verse 16 is that, even though the growth and building up of the body happens “from Christ,” it is the body itself that is the immediate active cause of that growth. Verse 16: ” . . . from whom the whole body . . . ” That’s the subject of the sentence; now where is the verb? What does the whole body do? The verb is way down in the last line: “the whole body . . . causes the growth of the body.” Everything else in that verse is explains how. But the basic sentence is “the whole body . . . causes the growth of the body.”
So even though growth and upbuilding are from Christ, the head, it is the whole body that builds the body. And the word “whole” is important. The whole body builds the body. That point is emphasized in the words, “according to the working of each individual part.” The whole body—that is, each individual part in the body properly functioning—causes the growth of the body.
Look at verses 7-8: “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, he led captive a hose of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’” Notice: “To EACH one of us grace was given.” And then in verse 8 that grace is expressed in terms of gifts: “Therefore, it says . . . he gave gifts to men.” So what verse 16 means when it says that “the whole body causes the growth of the body” when “each individual part is working properly,” it means that all the members have gifts, and all of those gifts are to be used in building up the body “in love.” And this is how Christ, the all-supplying, supernatural Head of the body, builds and cares for his church.
So I close by asking . . . Is there not implied here an immense resource for healing and joy and power and strength and mission that most Christians miss because they only experience church as worship services and classes? Is there an organic flaw in this pattern that may account for untold weaknesses and discouragements in the body of Christ? I invite you to put this matter to a test. Are you living normal New Testament church life in personal spiritual ministry with others? Or are you part of a flawed and disfigured pattern of life that may account for more weakness and woe in the church than we can imagine?
Adapted from the sermon, “How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love,” by John Piper, September 17th, 1995
Song List for Sunday
- Shout Hosanna, by Kristian Stanfill
- This I Believe, by Shane and Shane
- O Church Arise, by The Gettys
- Reign in Us, by Shane and Shane