First Thoughts: Matthew 16:13-18
· Who do men say that I am?
· I will build My church.
Church Growth: not attendance growth or financial growth, but the spiritual growth of the body of Christ.
Truth Point: Spiritual growth of the church is what Christ is exclusively concerned with.
Paul would have us understand that since spiritual growth to maturity is what Christ is after, there is a specified methodology which He has ordained for church growth to occur.
Last Sunday we discovered that it began with Jesus earning the right to build His church. This included both a humiliation and an exultation.
3 levels of humiliation:
1. Heaven to Humanity
2. Humanity to Heinous Death
3. Heinous Death to Hades
3 levels of exultation:
1. Death to Life
2. Hades to Heaven’s Throne
3. Human Limitation to Omnipresence
Having earned the right to build His church, Paul tells us about how He set about building the church… through “Gifts” of Ministry.
SCRIPTURE READING:Ephesians 4:7-14, ESV:
Gifts to the church – VS11
3 New Testament passages inform us about spiritual gifts:
· 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
· Romans 12:3-8
· Ephesians 4:11
1 Corinthians 12 & Romans 12 focus on ministry gifts given to individual believers. Ephesians 4 is more focused on 4 specific gifts given to the Church as a whole for its establishment and overall growth
1. Apostle 2. Prophet
3. Evangelist 4. Pastor-Teacher
Apostle – Prophet - 1 Corinthians 12:28
The apostles and prophets were given three basic responsibilities:
1. …lay the foundation of the church. Eph. 2:20
2. …receive and proclaim the revelation of God’s Word. Eph. 3:5
3. …confirm the authenticity of said revelation through “sign’s, wonders and miracles. 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4.
Apostle = sent one – appointed for a mission.
1. Chosen personally by Christ. Mark 3:13-14
2. Witnessed the resurrected Christ. Acts 1:22-24
· Paul, was the last one to meet the qualifications. Rom. 1:1
Prophet = channels through which God’s New Covenant revelation flowed, and from which revelation was expounded. They were chosen spokesmen for God.
What Apostles and Prophet’s share in common.
· Both were chosen and empowered by God for their unique ministry.
· Their ministries were foundational to the establishment of the church, which Christ prophesied He would build.
· They were authenticated as sent by God, through the working of sign’s, wonders and miracles.
· Their presence in the church ceased with the establishment of the church and the completion of the cannon of Scripture.
Evangelists: referred to by Dr. Kent Hughes as the obstetricians of the church, their role is focused on the gospel in its new-birth power.
Pastor – Teacher: the original language suggests that the gift = Pastor and Teaching = the primary way of pastoring.
The word “pastor” = shepherd.
God has given shepherds to the church who focus on the life transforming power The Gospel to assist the church in its growth.
If the evangelists are considered obstetricians, then pastor-teachers would be the pediatricians. One gets them born, the other helps them mature healthily.
Outcomes – VS12-14
I find 4 specific outcomes identified here:
1. Equip saints for work of ministry.
2. Attain unity of the faith, in knowledge of Christ.
3. Maturity of the body, transformed to Christ’s image.
4. Stability of spiritual life.
When it comes to “church growth” this is what Jesus is looking for. We see “church growth” when Sunday attendance increases and budgets grow. Unfortunately, church growth seems to mean one thing to the church down here and something altogether different to it’s Head up there.
I ask what is it we are wanting to build? The Church of Jesus Christ is a very unique thing, like nothing the world as ever seen.
· It is open to everyone, though not everyone is open to it.
· It has no human head, but is under the authority and direction of Jesus, God’s Son.
· It does not exist for its own glory, but for the glory of its Head.
· It is not the creation of religious minded men, but of the Holy and Righteous Redeemer.
· It has a specific, well defined mission… make disciples.
· It grows and flourishes according to a specific, Divine Plan, evangelization and discipleship.
o Liberally casting gospel seed as we go about everyday life, watering and nurturing until life springs forth
o Faithfully shepherding that life in the ways of Christ by teaching-modeling His truths as we grow together as TBC.
Jesus earned the right to build His church.
· He gave His life as the sacrifice for sin.
· He rose from the dead with new life.
· His new life has the power to change our relationship with God, making us sons and daughters and citizens of His kingdom
Truth Point: No matter what our individual gifting is, Christ’s way of building His church is through The Gospel:
· Proclaiming it,
· Shepherding others to live it out.