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Welcome to Refinery Life Australia.

Today we continue our series titled The Nature and Ministry of the Church.

These messages focus on the home, the school, the church, and the state, the four great institutions that give meaning and stability to western civilisation.

Today we are talking about The Church and It’s Undershepherds.

Prayer

Father, we come thanking you for opening the windows of heaven and pouring out blessings upon is in such abundance that we cannot contain them.

We offer you these gifts of ours, meagre within themselves, but capable, with your blessings, of meeting the needs of your kingdom’s work.

Father, may our giving always be spontaneous and with love. 

In Jesus name we pray.

Amen.

Text

Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP

11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], 

12 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church];

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 4:11-16 AMP

11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], 

12 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; 

13 until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. 

14 So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit]. 

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. 

16 From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up [a]in [unselfish] love.

Introduction

Words often change meaning over the years.

Take, for example, the noun “ministry” and the verb “to minister.”

In the New Testament and within the early church, these were precious and meaningful words applicable to all believers.

In our generation, however, that have become “professional” words.

A minister is generally conceived of as a person who fills a role apart from the body of believers in the church.

Ministers are usually trained for there place of leadership.

Also, the verb form, “to minister”, is usually thought of as an activity of the minister or other staff members of the church to whom we also refer to as ministers.

In no way was this the meaning and use of the word in the New Testament and in the early church.

Thus, as a challenge to the undershepherds of the church and to all the people of God, lets us today examine what Paul was saying to us in this passage.

  1. The Holy Spirit gives the assignment.

Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP

11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], 

12 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church];

  1. Paul began by naming the primary office bearers of the church.

Some people believe the offices of apostle and prophet have passed away, others believe that everyone can be an apostle or prophet, which is absolutely unbiblical.

I sit in the middle and believe that there are still apostles and prophets but no where near as many as some would have us believe.

But today lets assume there are none, that with the completed revelation of God’s Word, there is no longer any need for these two offices.

That leaves, then, two offices mentioned here, the evangelist and the pastor- teacher.

These offices function, on the basis of the Scripture passages that follow, as “undershepherds” of the flock, not imperial overlords or dictators.

B. What are these ungdershepherds to do?

Their major task is to be aimed at “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

The word translated “perfecting” is rich in meaning.

It means to fit the saints, as a tailor or seamstress would fit clothing on a person.

It means to complete the equipment or dress of the saints, here we could refer to the pieces of armour Pauls spoke of in Ephesians 6:10-17,

The Armor of God

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 

11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 

13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 

14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 

15 and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 

16 Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The word perfecting also means to repair, and there it is used in a disciplinary sense.

Some children of God had become careless in their spiritual lives, and their equipment or spiritual dress had become ineffective.

Perhaps they had become undisciplined.

Their values and priorities were all mixed up.

The ungdershepherds were to help these people repair their priorities.

And what was all this for?

“For the work of the ministry.”

C. Interestingly, the Greek word from which we get our word, deacon is diakonia, which means, ministry.

It is not a word that is reserved for the professional staff members of the church, but a word describing the function of every member of the body of Christ.

In Matthew 20:26 Jesus said,  “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,” and the word is diakonia, the word we translate to deacon!

If only we could destroy this concept that ministry is a word reserved for the professionals, or even for the deacons.

Ministry is for all of God’s children.

D. When each of us functions as a spiritual minister, the body of Christ will be edified.

The work of the evangelist, the pastor, the teacher, the deacon, and the ungdershepherds of the flock is always to build up and never to tear down.

According to Scripture, God has called His undershepherds to the business of construction.

2. Paul outlined the aim. 

  1. Ephesians 4:13 says “until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God”.

We are to create unity.

It would be wonderful if every member of the body of Christ made themselves to be a creator of unity within the fellowship and never a source of discord.

There is no greater blessing to a church fellowship than the presence of those men and women who love unity and harmony and who seek to create it among the believers.

They know what to say and how to say it, they know what to do and when to do it!

And conversely, they know when not to speak and when not to act.

How does this come about?

It comes as every member of the body of Christ agrees to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

B. And what else? “So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine.”

The church has always ad within its family those who have remained babies in the faith, those who have refused to grow spiritually.

They are like children, they are most often dominated by a desire for that which is novel or spectacular.

They are ever at the mercy of the latest fad or gimmick that some other church is using.

They are always under the influence of the last person with whom they have talked or the last preacher they heard preach.

Paul said, “Start growing up! Stop being infants, weak and at the mercy of everything and everybody that comes along!”

A part of the task of every true minister in the body of Christ is to help the spiritual babies start to grow.

It may be to the discredit of the ungdershepherds if the flock over which God has given them charge is filled with spiritual infants.

C. How do we help them grow?

By “Speaking the truth in love.”

Every word in that sentence is vital and buzzing with life.

Speaking, communicating by word and example and conduct.

The truth, the gospel, the Word of God, which will not return to the Lord void, but will accomplish its purpose.

In love, the secret of motivation.

Even the Word of God can be spoken without the constraint of love.

When this happens, God’s Word will repel rather than soften and inspire.

Conclusion.

Ephesians 4:16 says, From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

This is the mission of the people of God, His ministers.

This is both the aim and the assignment of every member of the family of God.

When the undershepherds lead the people to become dependant on God and not on them, the members of the body, sometimes fragmented, sometimes spiritually infirm and out of fellowship, will start fitting together, firmly adhering to one another, complementing one another.

Then the love of God, like the ligaments of the body, will bind us together, supplying power to each of us as we have need.

When this happens, we will be built up in a spirit of love, our Lord will be glorified, and because of the radiating love of the body, sinners will be converted and His name glorified.

Until next time

Stay in the Blessings

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I really want to encourage you to be diligent with your Bible study time, because God has so much more for us than we can get from just going to church once or twice a week and hearing someone else talk about the Word.

When you spend time with God, your life will change in amazing ways, because God is a Redeemer.

Theres nothing thats too hard for Him, and He can make you whole, spirit, soul and body!

You’re important to God, and you’re important to us at www.refinerylife.org

When it comes to prayer, we believe that God wants to meet your needs and reveal His promises to you.

So whatever you’re concerned about and need prayer for we want to be here for you! Or even if you just want to say Hi, you can contact us

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© www.refinerylife.org  2021 All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968, no part of this Article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, communicated or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission. 

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