God’s Mission

God’s Mission

Eph 4.1-16

Introduction: Difficulty of Family Unity.

Most of us in this room have spent a significant amount of time around our families. Therefore, we all know maintaining unity is difficult. Whether you come from a large family or a small family being unified is difficult. The church is a family, so it is also difficult to maintain unity. What we are talking about today is how we are can maintain unity despite the external and internal conflict we will face.

Theme: Attaining mature unity in Christ requires work and building up.

1. Unity Requires Working on: Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Love, and Unity —Eph 4.1-7.

Paul opens this section encouraging us, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” READ Ephesians 4.1-7. It would seem in Paul’s mind walking in a manner worthy of our calling is evaluated in community. intimate relationships

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.

As we consider his exhortation we must begin to ask ourselves, are we gentle, patient, and bearing with each other in love? What does this language sound like? It sounds like covenantal language. While we could spend a great deal of time scowling at each other on whether or not we are walking in this lifestyle, but that would prevent us from living in light of Paul’s exhortation. In a covenantal community it is better to make sure we are fulfilling our covenantal commitments, while we gently, patiently, and loving bear with other persons.

HUMILITY - We boast in God not ourselves. Instead of look what I am doing we say look what God has done.

GENTLE - We seek to bring people in to fellowship with Christ not push them away. For we all have sinned.

PATIENCE - Change takes time, we too can be difficult people.

These three help us to

Bear with one another in love

Leaves us eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace.

There is ONE: Body, Hope, Faith, Baptism, Spirit, Lord, God, and Father of all

So how are you or we working to build up that unity?

Theme: Attaining mature unity in Christ requires work and building up.

2. Leaders Equip Us To Build Up the Body of Christ—Eph 4.11-16.

Paul reminds us that leaders play an important role in equipping us in these efforts. We can quickly discern the leaders role in this by READING Ephesians 4.11-16. The role of leaders in the church is to equip the saints. Why? So that they obtain unity, have a fuller maturity in Christ, and they are not so easily deceived.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up 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 mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 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.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.

All the leaders listed here do not have the same function. We also know that the list is not exhaustive because deacons are not in the list. God raises up leaders to help equip saints. Notice how they equip them to do the work, not do it for them. The hardest part for a leader is getting others involved. It is helpful to know the leaders role is to equip and the role of the saints to be equipped. When we look at what Paul describes as being equipped it is essentially discipleship. Paul sees the equipping as aspiring to attain unity, grow in the likeness of Christ, and learn basic doctrine so we are not easily deceived.

Apostles - missionary, push the church to go, helps equip people to be sent out

Prophet - What is God saying? Let’s take that to the depth of our soul.

Evangelist - recruiter, pull people into Christ, attracts people in

Shepherds - pay attention to the internal workings of the heart. How are your affections for Jesus?

Teachers - Know the word and how to odey it.

These leaders equip the saints so that they may not be tossed to and fro, by doctrine, human cunning, craftiness, deceitful schemes


Theme: Attaining mature unity in Christ requires work and building up.

3. Jesus Equipped His Disciples.

With that in mind I want to spend the rest of our time fleshing out why and how we are going to do discipleship here at Refuge. We call this a “philosophy of ministry.” Now let we say this disclaimer, there are certain viewpoints we have on these issues that are not shared by other churches and that is ok. How the leaders of other churches decide to discipleship is up to them. I have already told you great deal about some of our philosophies of ministry. Up to this point the majority of them we believe we have strong biblical ground, which means we believe all churches should be practicing them. But there is a great deal of freedom on the 3 philosophies of ministry I am going over today. So the first thing I want to do is examine what Jesus did in His earthly ministry, then I hope that will help explain why we do what we do.

The FIRST ministry we should notice from Jesus is his large crowd ministry. We know from text like Matt 5.25, 14.14, and Mark 8.1 that Jesus would preach and teach in front of large crowds. Another way of saying this is Jesus had a large “Gathering” ministry.

The SECOND ministry we see from Jesus is His small group ministry. Jesus would preach and teach to large gatherings of people, but he spent the majority of His time doing intentional, life on life, discipleship with at least 12 men. Matt 10.1-4, Mark 3.13-19, and Luke 6.12-16 all tell us how Jesus gathered 12 men to invest His life in. He ate meals with these men, traveled with them, what Jesus did they did.

But FINALLY as take a closer look at that group of men we see Jesus spend even more significant time with 3 men from that group of 12—Peter, James, and John. For instance, these 3 men saw Jesus in all of His glory at the transfiguration in Matt 17 and Luke 9. Paul tells us in Galatians 2 that these 3 men were the pillars of the early church.

Hopefully you are already beginning to see some overlap in what Jesus did and what we do. Friends the thought behind our philosophy of ministry is, “Jesus had ministries to large Gatherings of people, a group of 12 he did life with, and then out of that group he found 3 men who he wanted to intentionally invest more time in. This seemed to work for him. If it is good enough for our Savior then it should be good enough for us.”

Theme: Attaining mature unity in Christ requires work and building up.

4. How We Equip Our Disciples.

Simply put the leadership here at Refuge believes doing ministry the way Jesus did it seems wise. Our leaders believe our Gathering, Refuge Communities, and Doxa groups are a great way to help the saints fulfill Paul’s exhortations in Ephesians 4. As many of you know it requires to sacrificial effort to attend a weekly Gathering, Refuge Community, and Doxa group. All 3 of these philosophies of ministry are opportunities for the leadership of our church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. All 3 of them are a place where we can put forth effort to humbly walk in a manner worthy of our calling. In all 3 we can eagerly listen to one another and help each other fight for secure true joy in Jesus Christ.

One area our leadership is attempting to improve on is how we measure how we are all growing in “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4.13). For all you Refuge Community leaders who have been puzzled by these monthly assessment forms, please understand that is our effort to measure how people are growing into the fullness of Christ. We are working on assessment forms for other areas of ministry as well.

Also, we have developed an annual spiritual assessment form for every member, which we started last year and plan to continue this year. The email will be coming out soon to members, and elders will follow up in the new year.

I believe part of the role of the lay people in every church is holding the leaders accountable to equipping them. So, FIRST, please pray for us as we try to figure these things out. SECOND, ask us about them. THIRD, according to Ephesians 4.7 God has given you gifts that could possibly help your leaders in these efforts. Some of you might have seen an assessment form at work that you really like that could be adapted to a church context for our members. Please share these things with your leaders. Attaining mature unity in Christ requires effort and equipping. I pray we all are holding each accountable to those efforts—this is heartbeat of our covenant.