The Anchor of Hope
An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. (14) As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (15) but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Why are spiritual gifts given? What are their purpose? The purpose for spiritual gifts may be found in Ephesians 4.11-12, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” From these verses, we see that the leadership of the church is to use their gifts to prepare the members for service and ministry to each other. But too often pastors and elders are expected to do all the work. I know that idea is hard to believe here, because in a small church everyone normally pitches in to help in some capacity. But in larger churches, there is really only a small cadre of members who actively work, and many times- are overworked, in the ministry of the church.
But the Bible teaches the priesthood of the believer (1Pt 2.9), therefore each and every church member has a responsibility to serve. Husbands have that responsibility to their wives and children; wives have it toward their husbands and children; children to their parents; and etc. And that responsibility expands from the familial to the spiritual family – the church (1Ti 5.8).
What are the results of using our gifts to serve the church? First, we understand from v13 above that the goal of using our gifts is unity – “until we all attain to the unity of the faith”. Those who are not in ministry at a church find it easier to be critical of others. Or as Wayne Mack writes, “When church members are serving each other through the power of the Spirit, a dependence upon one another and a gratefulness for one another develops and people are drawn closer together.” (Life in the Father’s House, p127)
Second, using our gifts will help the church and its members to become mature and wise. We see this result from vv13-16 – “until we all attain . . . . to a mature man . . . . As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; . . . we are to grow up in all aspects into [Christ]”. Thus, gifts and their being exercised properly in the church become a protection against error and sin.
Lastly, the church will become effective and successful (v15-16), for using our gifts “causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” And this growth is both in quantity and quality.
Most of us have heard of the Elephant man. He had a disease which caused parts of his body to grow abnormally large. Thus, compared to normal people, he was hideously deformed. A church can get like that where some parts function normally, and others are non-existent. The church in Ephesus was later rebuked for being strong on teaching but short on love (Rv 2.1-7).
Every member needs to do his or her part. God has led you to our congregation for a purpose. The verses above tell us that, at least, one of those purposes is to exercise your gifts in service here. A church can be like weight-lifters who only work their upper bodies but not their legs. They have large muscular chests and arms and skinny little legs. The church needs the “proper working of each individual part.” Because only in this is “the growth of the body building of itself up in love” promised by God.
And so I would ask, “Are you doing your part?” Are you exercising your gifts to the benefit of the body of Christ? We are not spectators. We are not pew potatoes.
Which bring us to a natural starting point of how you may serve.
The most obvious servants are those up front – Ken, Steve, and Janie. But there are many other servants in our church who help to facilitate our worship. Let me name a few of the servant positions that our members must necessarily fill.
-Working in the Nursery
-Teaching Sunday School
-Running the Sound System
-Singing or playing during the services
-Handing out bulletins and greeting guests
-Collecting the tithe
-Turning on A/C or heater on Saturday night
And then there is service that is needed or appreciated on a periodic basis.
-Cooking meals for someone who is ill
-Visiting those in the hospital
-Babysitting for young couples or a busy mom
-Participating in work days at the church or members’ homes
-Making Food and Preparation for monthly fellowship
In regard to using our gifts and abilities, I leave the last word to Wayne Mack, whose book Life in the Father’s House has been greatly beneficial to me on this topic, “If you have a home, you can show hospitality to your neighbors and other Christians. If you have a job, you can use the money you make to meet the needs of those who do not have as much. If you have a car, you can use it to bring people to church or other places they need to go. If you have a skill, you can make yourself available to tutor others who are weak in that area. [A church we previously attended had a cadre of men who had skills in areas like auto repair and plumbing etc, which they put to use for the widows and single moms at that church.] Even if you enjoy talking on the telephone, that can be used not for gossip but to encourage and stimulate others to love and good deeds. [Heb 10.25] Everyone in the body of Christ has spiritual gifts and various ways that we can use those gifts to contribute significantly to the work of the ministry.” (p126)