Sunday, March 31, 2013

LESSON 8 Growing into the likness of Christ

Ephesians 4:1-13 Picture of Unity March 21, 2013

A well-trained NASCAR pit crew is an excellent analogy of a group of people working in harmony for the common good. Not everyone gets to be the driver of the race car but a driver is only as good as his pit crew.  After watching the choreography of over 70 unique maneuvers performed in under 12 seconds, I was greatly impressed by the cooperative spirit and standard of excellence I observed.  Six or seven men compose the average pit crew. (February 2013 the first woman was hired to work in the NASCAR pit.) During a pit stop, each member has a specific job that must be completed quickly  and accurately.
The speed with which they slide around the front of the car to the other side requires finesse not to trip over each other or the hose of the air wrench. BTW the tire changer is able to remove 5 lug nuts in one second per tire. 

The Unity of the Body 4:1-6
The first three chapters of Ephesians deal with basic doctrine, our riches in Christ. Hope Parks told us last week we were to sit and be, resting in the knowledge of who we are in Christ. I will post a link of 3 pages of affirmations on our blog.
Knowing Who I am In Christ
Now we must walk. Warren Wiersbe states last three chapters admonish us to
         Walk in Unity 4:1-16
         Walk in Purity 4:17-32
         Walk in Love 5:1-20
         Walk in Harmony 5:21-6:9
         Walk in Victory 6:10-24
Our memory verse advises us the manner of our walk.
 4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Why is this important? Someone is watching; your family and friends; your neighbors and other unchurched people. Then there are the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” Ephesians 3:10
What is your calling?
God is building one body, one temple by reconciling Jews and Gentiles to himself. The oneness of believers in Christ is already a spiritual reality now we must guard and protect and preserve that unity.
Unity does not mean uniformity. We are not cloned robots, doing the same job in the same way. Indeed we are all parts of the body, but we are not all gifted the same. We work together to benefit and strengthen the Church.
Remember the pit crew. One man fuels the race car, another carries the tires, yet they need each other and are member of a team.
Verse 2 in KJV with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love,
Patience, (or forbearance in the KJV) is the ability to endure discomfort without fighting back, without taking offense at a slight oversight.   Bearing with one another in love, showing tolerance for one another in love. Mercy and grace should always trump finding fault. (Ephesians 4:2 NASB)
From your commentary :The Greek word for bear with means to endure or to put up with, which seems a very unglamorous virtue, but a virtue it is. Like a muscle that must be exercised to make it strong, “bear­ing with one another in love” thrives on a good workout. Not until we are challenged to love the unlovable, to bear with one who tries the patience, can Christian character be built and strengthened. It might be said that difficult relationships or situations are the essential ingredient—the very building material—that God uses to build the character of His children.
v.3 We must be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Never a spirit of division.
1 Corinthians 13 Paul instructs the church about their treatment of each other. Mostly we observe what Not to do!
·        love does not envy or boast;
·        it is not arrogant or rude.
·        It does not insist on its own way;
·        it is not irritable or resentful;
·        it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
Would this be something profitable to read before a business or budget meeting?
Love is patient and kind; 6-but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
4 There is
·        one body and
·        one Spirit—just as you were called to the
·        one hope that belongs to your call—
·        one Lord,
·        one faith,
·        one baptism, 6
·        one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
We are all God's children in the same family, loving and serving the same Father.
Becoming Christlike 4:7-16

V7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
Our lesson shared several scriptures listing different gifts. We will focus only in the four Paul lists here. The gifts from Christ come in the form of gifted people in the Church.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Our Theme for Leadership training and devotions each week has been shepherding; specifically the 23rd Psalm. The subject leads itself well to CBS since we are admonished to Shepherd all of our members.
We can tell them about the love of God in Christ, and we can show His kind of love to them. And God has gifted each one of us to do so!
Shepherding (pastoring) suggests the feeding, protection, and guidance of the flock; teaching suggests nurturing and training in knowledge within a congregation.
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
equipping, perfecting  katartismós (a masculine noun) – properly, exact adjustment which describes how (enables) the individual parts to work together in correct act of preparing things to fulfill their intended purposes, to function properly.
The Jack Man in the pit crew must position the 35 lb. jack precisely on a ¾”post and have an excellent sense of timing to know when to drop the car after the tire changer has finished his job.
What job has Christ called you to do?
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Paul does not refer to the doctrine of "sinless perfection" - but to the state of manhood as compared with that of childhood - a state of strength, vigor, wisdom, when the full growth should be attained. Barnes commentary
We are not learning how to do but how to be. When a person is “in Christ,” he is destined to become like Him.
Jesus is our best example of service. Remember the night when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.
A mature Christian is one who is willing to serve in a hard demanding place where she may not be appreciated and may even be ridiculed. Remembering that this life is but a vapor and eternity is forever, such a person is willing to spend time and effort in service to God.
“She is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.” Jerry Lemon
Every believer is given at least one spiritual gift. This gift is to be used for the unifying and edifying the body of Christ.  What is your gift to edify the body?

These are in addition to the natural abilities with which we are born. Paul calls Christ the gift giver. Spiritual gifts given by Christ to serve God and other Christians in such a way that God is glorified. Our gifts are tools to build they are not weapons to fight. Christians are not to live in isolation they are all members of the family of God-active and working members. What would happen if your kidneys stopped working or if your heart stopped beating? Every part of the body is necessary to its health and growth.
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

The sailing vessel lost all power and was at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean when the crew of a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules based out of Elizabeth City, N.C. responded to a distress alert from the small boat. Feb. 9, 2013.
As Christians we will face conflicting doctrines, even in our churches. The best way you can effectively guard against being led astray is doing what you are doing right now: Participating in an in depth bible study; digging into the Word, searching for answers through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Your Anchor is the WORD of God and Jesus is the Lighthouse.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
My pastor used to own his own garage, so if I lock my keys in the car or have a slow leak in a tire, or get up Sunday morning to a dead battery, I know who to call for help.
M R De Haan Just as all the parts of an engine are vital to keep it running, every member of the body of Christ, the church, is important. Failure to do your part may hinder the whole body from functioning properly. Your failure to pray may result in loss of power. Your failure to witness may be the reason that someone doesn't hear the gospel. Your failure to support your church financially may curtail the work of evangelism or missions. Your little part, if neglected, can result in big problems.

The work of every member of the body, however small, is needed. Are you doing your part? —
God's perspective of greatness and success is different from the world's way of looking at things. Recognition and honor should not be our goals; rather we should seek to honor our heavenly father by serving in the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the body.
·        Do you know your part in the body?
·        How are you helping the body grow?
·        Are you practicing love above all?
No matter how skillful you are carrying out your position make sure it is wrapped in love.
Measurements can be indicators of growth. And it’s a good idea to measure our spiritual growth. For instance:
·        Do I spend time reading God’s Word and talking with Him each day?
·        Do I look forward to fellowshipping with the Lord? What ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is apparent in my life?
·        Do I talk about Jesus with people who don't know Him?
·        How am I using my spiritual gift or gifts?
·        Do I have a generous and giving spirit?
·        How much better do I know God today than I did a year ago? These questions are good indicators of spiritual growth.
·        Have you measured yourself lately?” Cindy Hess Kasper, “Measure Me,”  

Will you choose to use your God-given gifts so that the body of Christ will “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ”?