THE VISION OF THE CHURCH
The Church as the Masterpiece of God – Eph 1-5
Over the past couple weeks we have talked about God’s New Re-Building Project called the Church.
We have learned that the Old temple was torn down. Its walls of division that separated men from God and from each other have all been brought down
The prototype for the Church is Jesus Christ – we are together being remade in His likeness
God’s plans for this project were hinted at in the Old Testament but not revealed until after Jesus died, was resurrected from the dead and is seated at the Father’s side where He is the head of this project and provides all things necessary for its completion. He shared the plans with His Apostles and their writings teach us how to complete it.
We have been called to join God in this project. Last week we talked about offering ourselves to participate in the plan.
We also learned there are many moving parts that must be assembled in the right way, with the right attitude and with a sincere desire to see Our Fathers vision realized.
This baby has an engine called the Holy Spirit, it is fueled by a rich mixture of love , Joy, and Peace and when it is completed it will stand magnificent.
Do you know God’s plans?
Do you know what God is re-building? Have you committed to join Him in the work? (Kevin’s request)
Do you like to do “Body” work? Or maybe you prefer the engine work.
Have you developed your God given skills, talents and gifts?
Are you willing to follow His vision and His blue print?
There have been three temples built; one David asked to build and was told he could not but Solomon (the King of Peace – Shalom-man) his son would do the building. David funded the project and provided all the materials.
This is a picture of the interaction between God the Father and Jesus Christ.
We are told that God the Father has selected all the materials, all the workmen and By His Spirit He has called them together has provided each with all they need for life and Godliness.
Jesus oversees and orchestrates the assembly in order to present Her perfect to God; full of grace and beauty.
Today we will look at:
The foundational truths, the blue print so to speak, on which the whole church is built.
We will meet the project leaders and see how they have been hand chosen for the job.
We will catch a glimpse of what the end product is supposed to look like.
Uni-body Construction: Maintain Unity of the Body
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Community: Common Unity
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
1 If you are here today and have given yourself to Christ you have been called to participate in God’s building project. This calls for:
Commitment to the plan
Desire to be personally built up in Christ
Live a life worthy of the Call
Seek to understand where you fit in the Body
Humbly Exercise your gifts
Truly appreciate and love others who have also been called by God to this noble purpose.
Maintain the unity of the Spirit – Esprit de corps
Recognize and understand what things we share in common, these bind us together;
One Body – We are all members of Christ. We different functions but one body. We are a gift to each other and together we complete each other. Apart we parts sitting on a shelf waiting to be assembled and are rendered useless.
One Spirit -The engine is the Holy Spirit who uses the word of God and the teachings of Christ to enlighten us to understand our purpose and empowers us to fulfill it. (individually and corporately)
One Hope – To live out our God ordained purpose and spend eternity with Him as His dearly loved Children In Christ.
One Lord – In all things Christ has the supremacy, He was before all things and In Him all things Hold together (Colossians 1) Jesus is the Son of God, as such, He is the head of God’s Household into which we have been adopted. We willingly submit to His leadership.
One Faith – There is only one way to God and that is through faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior
One Baptism – According to John the Baptist only Jesus Christ baptizes us with His Holy Spirit. When this occurs we are sealed by God for His purposes. We bear his imprimatur to the world.
One God and Father – We are children of the King, members of God’s Household, partakers in His glory, sharers together in the inheritance of the saints and given a noble purpose to invite others to join in and celebrate Christ.
These are the foundational truths to build on. To establish your life upon and rest your hope.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ (Project Manager) apportioned it.
8 This is why it says:
The King Returns from Battle Victorious:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.” (Ps 68)
9 (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.)
The Project Leaders:
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
The Goal: The Magnificent Christ in the World
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.
7 Who decides how grace is distributed? To whom is it given?
8 The analogy Paul uses here to describe Jesus Christ distributing God’s gifts in their various forms is the analogy of a Victorious King returning from Battle, in what way is that true?
In the Old Testament Jerusalem was built on a mountain. The kings palace was on this mountain.
When it came time for the King to go to battle he would have to descend the mountain to meet His enemy.
When the king returned victorious He ascended the mountain riding a white horse leading enemy captives, usually stripped naked to humiliate them, walking behind the king. This demonstrated the kings preeminence.
When the victory procession was over the king distributed the spoils of war to the people in celebration.
We know from scripture that Jesus descended from Heaven to earth where he battled evil and triumphed over it at the cross making a mockery of them (Col 2:15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross). Now He has ascended to His rightful throne and distributes gifts to men. His splendor fills the universe.
11-12 Gifts of Leadership for the Church
Apostle – Envoy, delegate, Ambassador, messenger
Prophet – One who speaks forth truth by inspiration of God
Evangelist – One who bears good tidings from God, a missionary sent to preach the good news
Pastors – Shepherd entrusted with the care of God’s flock
Teachers – a master teacher in the word of God
13 What is the goal of this building project?
Unity in the faith
Knowledge of the Son of God by experience and close relationship
Maturity of believers and the church as a whole
The church together presents the magnificence of Christ to the world by its understanding of Gods plan and the demonstration of God’s grace in various forms.
Impacting the Culture not sucked in by its pull:
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.
The Body of Christ speaks the Truth to a dying World:
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 Vision of the Finished Masterpiece:
2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life
14 What happens when the church does not grow in maturity and the various leadership gifts are not exercised diligently? How do we avoid it?
The tidal pull of the culture will invade the church
Cunning schemes of men rather than the perfect plan of God will begin to be lived out in the church
Stay on mission, keep our eyes on the prize
Speaking the truth to a lost and deceived world.
Witnessing, sharing the truth helps us to mature and affirms our faith
16 Who is directing the growth of the Church? What is our role?
Jesus Christ oversees church growth and spiritual maturity.
He is the one walking among the lamp stands holding the seven stars in His hands
Our role, our great privilege, is to discover our part and participate in the plan.
Jesus is building a magnificent bride, His church, to present her radiant to God the Father
This plan will not be thwarted, though, at times it may seem that way.
Joyfully seek to fulfill your God given purpose in this plan
Join yourselves with other believers with confidence now that you have caught the vision.