AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH February 11, 2007

A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF
AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES 

FACT, FAITH, FORM AND F UNCTION

-  Ephesians 4:11-16 esp. v. 16

Christ has given Himself: and being resurrected, by His Holy Spirit services His Church, brings in new children by adoption, and testifies of the truth. One of the truths which today is our fare, is that of the body of Christ.  It has no more to do with 'church attendence' than does a cricket team to do with 'attending the cricket afternoon.' You need to play, and in this case, act in the most co-operative fashion.

 

1.  FUNCTIONAL and STRUCTURAL FACTS

Verses:

a) 11  The Gifts for the team. Here are the gifts for functionality, to perform specialised tasks, apostles, prophets, teaching, pastors, evangelists ... There are others such as giving, showing brotherliness and supervision, involved in this way and that (Romans 12:7ff.).

b) 12-13  The Purpose for the body of Christ. It is a matter of  laying down the initial structures of the church, in people and propositions, in power and growth of vitality. It has an objective of unity in a matured faith and a life well-understood in the presence of Christ, Son of God and prototype in perfection of the life of godliness while in the flesh.

c) 14  The Pitfall Avoided for His people. This is the fickleness of small comprehension, susceptibility to the plagues of deceivers, the toils of tricksters, crafty in cunning, lofty in discourse, agents of Satan (as in II Corinthians 11), like wolves lying in wait (Acts 20:29).

d) 15  The Process in Contrast to that of Corruption. TRUTH is paramount, and love is its mode of expression. We recall "whom I love I chasten" (Revelation 3:19), however, and realise - even as parents or teachers - that love is no synonym either for laxity or indulgence: yet it does keep in mind and heart the good for the loved one, the vision for life for that one, and the spiritual zest needed to obtain it. Thus does the body grow up into the Head, the metaphorical body into the Master who is Head.

 

2. A CONTEMPORARY WORD OF WITNESS TO THE WORKING 

in Christ's Body

The Bible School to which my wife went for three years, in New Brunswick, cited something of point, pith and value, It helps us to realise the force of Paul's words in a modern setting, I am going to present this before we examine the next verse.

It begins like this.

"EVERY ONE ... A BELIEVER;
EVERY BELIEVER ... A DISCIPLE;
EVERY DISCIPLE ... A SERVANT;
EVERY SERVANT ... A MINISTER" -

this last indicating one actively engaged in seeking to meet the needs of others. The Bible School note continues in this way.

"A statement like this also raises a number of personal questions for each of us.
First and foremost is the question, "Are you a believer ?" More than likely , if you are reading this bulletin it is because you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you have an interest in spiritual things. It is possible, whoever, that you are not yet a believer.
You have not yet received the free gift of Christ's death, burial and resurrection as payment for your sin. If you have not received the salvation won't you call out in prayer
to God today, believing on Him by faith thereby trusting in His redemptive work on your behalf ? There is only one Way to God. Notice what Jesus Christ had to say concerning salvation."

He then cites John 3:16, and John 14:6, the former detailing the motivation and purpose of God, and the provision of free salvation, the second indicating that the number of other options is ZERO.

"The second question," he resumes," implied in this statement is "Are you a disciple?" Our Lord Jesus Christ, in John 8:31 clearly stated, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." A disciple is one who remains under the influence of God's Word. Are you behaving according to the Word of God today ?

"The third question for us is "Are you a servant?" The biblical concept of servanthood for the believer is simply one who has willingly placed himself under the authority of God. The servant is solely occupied with his master's agenda, not his own. Are you occupied with the Will of God today ?

"The final question is "Are you a minister?" A minister is one who has believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, is under the influence of  God's Word, is occupied with God's will and is actively engaged in ministering to the needs of others. Are you engaged in the Word if God in your local church today?"

 

3. FORM AND FUNCTION IN THE BODY - verse 16

In Verse 15, we learned that we were to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, not some monster but Christ.

The next verse is remarkable. One good and careful translation might be this: following Christ:


"of whom the whole body being fitted (or compacted) together
and brought (or held) together
through every assisting joint,
according to the proportionate working together of each part,
produces the building up of itself in love."

In this account of the body, stressing synthesis of parts, proportionate supply for organic needs, structural felicity and organisational complexity and provision, there is a resultant stress on growth and love. It is as if the body's parts and schemes and procedures nestled, the one into the other, in an integral wholeness which leads to movement towards the strength of maturity. This is assured, certified and secured in the Head, which is Christ Jesus, into whose felicity and strength you grow up.

In spiritual terms - for it is an image for teaching purposes, an illustration: you can see how each one bears part of the total burden with another,  through a close-knit and intimate, a designed and delightful alliance, where love is the key and the integral meaning of the whole is governed by the Head. Notice the intense mutuality and corporate teamwork, not given grudgingly, but in unison with the very spirit of the  enterprise. It is not atoms, but organs, they are not thrown into the air, but compacted in a synthetic specialty; nor are they merely mechanical, but bound up into a tissue which moves the body, as the Head directs. Thus is the Church!

Innumerable parts in mutual regard and assistance are linked to the Head who has oversight in co-ordinating multiplicities. It rather reminds one of Revelation 7:16-18, the ultimate outcome, where the sheep are pastured and led to water with a gentle dexterity. So here do these vignettes exhibit just how far the people of the Lord talk together, act together and co-ordinated by grace, achieve growth at the Church level.

Here is a picture of a living church: not a spiritual garage for Sundays, but a living body.