Strategy 3 The Ekklesia Session 3 The Father’s Business
Last week we looked at the Father’s Purpose, creating a community, a worshipping, witnessing and working community. Emil Brunner: “With or without the churches, if necessary even in opposition to them, God will cause the Ekklesia to become a real community of brothers.” He goes on to say, “Not the hostility of the unbelieving world, but clerical parsonic ecclesiasticism has ever been the greatest enemy of the Christian message and of brotherhood rooted in Christ”.
But we do need to recognise that meeting together in community is a gracious gift from our Father, and is the means whereby the body of Christ is fed and built up. As David Andrew said last week, you can’t have the head without the body, as there is a special grace given when Christians meet together – for one thing, Christ Himself promised to be in their midst.
We started to distinguish the Ekklesia from the scaffolding that has surrounded it for 1800 years.
We looked at the New Testament model found in Acts 2:42-47, which we identified as a body, a group of people together, living and moving always all together as a living organism, and giving a dynamic, visible, witness to the Resurrection of Christ
Then from Eph. 2:19-21, we saw how the Father’s Purpose is to create a family and the Ekklesia is to be its home. This is where discipleship takes place, as the living stones are chipped and shaped to fit into the ‘spiritual house’, the ‘holy priesthood’ (1 Pet. 2:5), that God, through the Spirit, is shaping as His Ekklesia – Bride for His Son, who “loved the Ekklesia and gave Himself for it”. We were challenged as to whether we loved the Ekklesia in the same way and would give ourselves for it.
This week we will look at The Father’s Business as found in Ephesians 4:11-16
This picture of scaffolding from last week is probably the most illustrative of what we’re looking at this morning:
- The gifts within the Church are like scaffolding as in this building. They’re not actually holding the building up but they are preparing the way for the next storey to be added to it. The scaffolding is preparing the way, it’s providing support and it’s a promise of things to come.
Verse 11 The Ascended Head gives gifts to the Body on Earth, to the Ekklesia. Note He gives the gifted people to the church
- Are there apostles and prophets today? Yes otherwise the church has come to completion the church can’t be complete without them, but apostles with a small A rather than the big A
- They are people with a vision
- People who are speaking prophetically into the situations that the church encounters or maybe prophetically to the world around them
- The order of the gifts is interesting because you need the evangelists first to reach the people with the gospel and then they need discipling afterwards and careful nurturing because they’re babies
- Apostles and prophets will be multi-gifted people
- not a profession
- not creating followers of themselves, but followers of Jesus, not planting new branches of denominations
- flexible giftings according to the circumstances, not necessarily ‘specialists’
- the gifts given to a person are always meant to be given to somebody else
- you can’t store it up; it comes up as the spirit moves, like the manna in Exodus they were told to collect the manner daily you can’t store it overnight or else it’ll turn into worms so when people think that the gifting is there’s for the keeping it turns into worms
- the more you give it away the more you get
- the church is not to become an academy where we just have teachers but teachers are to pastor the Word and pastors are to teach the Word – the two go together because otherwise it just becomes a matter of information. There has to be relationship and we’ve talked about that a lot relationship which applies the Word in a pastoral context to the church so pastors and teachers must go together
Alan Hirsh, one of the foremost thinkers on how to re-shape the Church for the challenges of the 21st century, says:
Clearly the functions of pastor and teacher cannot generate the kind of energy needed to initiate, sustain and maintain movements, that can change the world. That has to be at least five-fold in form, no less.
Look at the framework of a 5-fold gifting.
- You’ve got the apostle, the sent one, the designer, networker, cultural architect …
- the prophet, the questioner, the one who challenges God’s people to on-going learning and change, and faithfulness.
- The evangelist, the infectious person, the one that gets the ideas out, who recruits people to the cause.
- Then there is the pastor who creates love, healing and community
- The teacher who is able to connect the dots and pass the ideas of faith down in a meaningful way.
Surely all five are needed to be a healthy church.
(Quoted by Derrick Burns PREPARING FOR THE ECONOMIC STORM 2013 p.105)
A question about the role of elders was raised:
There is a parallel there between elders and pastors but not in the formal sense that we describe a Pastor or someone’s in the pastoral ministry. There are two aspects here. He’s talking about building up the church and building up the body of Christ. When we talk about elders and deacons we’re talking about governance which is a different thing entirely. However, the church is really a family and what we’ve really got to think of when we think of elders, is like fathers in the family. Mums are like buttons – they hold everything together. Elders are like that.
Verse 12 All these things are necessary for:
- the perfecting of the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry, which is the edifying of the Body of Christ – the perfecting of the saints is a very interesting word it’s used of mending the nets – the idea of repair of making whole of bringing together
- the building up of the body. We’ve got another oikos word again, related to the ones we looked at last week. it’s the house, oikos. We’re building a body; we’re building not just a house but building – a home, where these things can take place and where God is at home
Verse 13 Introduces the goal – So that Body may become complete, perfect
We can really have only got a glimpse of what that might mean but Hebrews 12:22 gives us a bigger view
verse 13 from the ephesian passage in the new living translation it says:
this will continue until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of god’s son that we will be mature in the lord and measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ
illustrating Eph. 1:22-23
Verse 14 The consequences –To give stability to the Ekklesia and protection from deception
we may no longer be children tossed around like ships to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine the prey of the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead
Verse.15 to provide the right environment for spiritual growth
Jesus came full of grace and truth in balance and if he’s the Head we should be doing the same
Verse.16 with nutrients flowing down from the Head, through every member so that the body builds itself up in love, “as every part does its work”
This is how this is how Paul describes church but it doesn’t describe a lot of churches today!
How is it then brethren when you come together every one of you has a song every doctrine has a tongue has a revelation has an interpretation let all things be done for edifying the body (1 Cor. 14:26)
This is really only practical in small groups – maybe 12-15, like the cell church principle. Our first church is our home, then our small groups – it is these two environments that discipleship takes place. Larger groups may then come together for celebration and witness
The video of the full discsussion can be found here