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October 30, 2020 7:05 am
We easily forget that the church is a body today on Insight for living with Chuck Swindoll.
We have tried to operate the church as an institution Corporation business. But the reality Paul wants us to grasp it. Ephesians is that the church is a body made up of so and the cells are individual believers. You and me and other brothers and sisters in Christ. Each cell has a unique role to play in keeping the entire body health. Sometimes large contempt churches become all too comfortable parishioners to slip in and slip out Sunday morning without getting noticed the mega church. Some call it offers a measure of anonymity. It's a safe place to sit and listen without participating or contributing to the cause today on Insight for living Chuck Swindoll reminds us that the church is a place where Christian believers gather to worship and to express their unique God-given gifts.
Chuck titled his neck study in Ephesians 4 body life at its best is been a while since we have looked into the pages of Ephesians together so I like you crack open your Bible again to the fourth chapter and let me read for you. What I would consider the greatest message for the church to hear in any generation. This place is full of all kinds of people all different levels of education are ages of maturity in single and married and divorced twice divorced, and widowed and and some celebrating 50th anniversary we got all kinds of folks here now. Ephesians 411 through 16 and he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God matured to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.
But true thing it in love the word speaking is under the original but true thing in love we are to grow up in all aspects into him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love from that grant. Lord, it's so great to come together and laugh with each other into have the load lifted that we been carrying too long, strapped around our shoulders were not made to carry it that we do. We worried about things that were not able to change and we fretted over things that we haven't caused an and went in and we can alter but nevertheless humans that we are we. We bring ourselves to this place and all of a sudden it's remarkable how perspective begins to return was thinking all the way through that great song of the words of Isaiah can. Oh mother forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb. Yes, even they may forget, yet I will not forget you, says the Lord. I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. Your ways are continually before me.
Thank you father thank you for not being so preoccupied sustaining gravity and spinning the planets in the universe and maintaining the chronology of the stars through all of the all of this time that you've existed and that they have. Thank you for caring about little people like us. Thank you for knowing our thoughts before they ever flip through our minds. Thank you for being time less in your mercy and for reminding us just with the rising of the sun that those mercies are brand-new. You there is deep as we need to go in the pit in which we find ourselves, and they will take us to whatever ecstasy of a mountaintop anticipation that maybe hours to walk into thank you father that with you. There is there is never a let down their with you. There's never payback with you there. There is never shame with you. There is always hope. Always hope. Thank you that we open your timeless word in. In this moment as we continue our worship and we pray that the truth will leap from the page before we have left this place, it might make a difference in how we view life how we see where we fit in it and and how your plan is coming together in the name of Jesus as most of you are aware about the middle of my seminary years I had the opportunity to be, if not the first one of the first pastoral interns serving under Ray Stedman. Unfortunately, Ray is no longer with us. The Lord took him home seem to me to be awfully young in life, but not before Cynthia and I had the privilege of living in his shadow and watching him do his work and studying alongside him and serving in learning from him. It was a life-changing experience.
I've been marked forever as a result of it. Shortly after we return to school for our last couple of years there Lord lead at Peninsula Bible church were Ray pastor for over 40 years. Lord led those people to do something most unusual. If you recall, the 60s, some of you smiled in understanding others of you only study it in your history books and you've only been told about it.
It was a time of out-of-control atmosphere here in America. Churches were making a decision at that time many of them chose to build their walls higher and thicker and to increase the size of the moat and add alligators so that those hippies couldn't possibly find their way in other churches on the other hand decided to open their doors drain the moat and make it possible for whoever to come in and find hope to go on because behind the folksongs and the free lifestyle was a world that is law that had lost its way.
Longing for a bridge over their troubled waters. They found such a bridge at Peninsula Bible church and what came to be known in that ministry as body life again you date yourself if you if you know firsthand of that it is a very unusual albeit biblical approach to handling a church to shaping its philosophy to dealing with it in caring for its people.
It is an openhearted vulnerable unguarded style where the leadership doesn't remind people of who's in charge or image is never at stake and where the body really does function as such.
It's a magnificent thing to witness. People come from all over dressed however looking and I might add smelling like what ever and it came as they did at our church in Fullerton, California because I learned how to do that from Ray always troubled him that he wrote his book on it because suddenly it became marketable and people would read about it in think aloud to start doing that next Sunday he always left over them country church in Nebraska where the pastor visited Peninsula Bible church sought an accident then went back and tried to make body life work. Ray said farmers don't even do body life with their wives, much less have it happen in their church and I he's right. But if you were of such a secure nature and if you did find yourself comfortable relinquishing a lot of the leadership and you didn't worry about looking slick and professional than body life would work and it does if I may pause before we get into Ephesians and address this, I would say if there's a message the church of the 21st century needs to hear. It is this one we have come on hard times for the church is now more of a corporation or an institution, and anyone who studied under and was marked by Ray Stedman would tell you. Nothing could be further from the biblical truth. Pastors today seem to prefer to be known as the CEO of the church rather than the past. Many of the techniques being promoted have corporate leanings in their terms in their philosophy, and in fact congregations are now being seen not as God's flock. But there being processed as institutional entities. It's almost to the place where if you are a pastor you don't tell anybody lest they link you to the role of a shepherd when in fact that's exactly what you are and you should find great delight in it.
I've come to the place where I'm not sure the church was ever meant to be superefficient the church is meant to be healthy and productive under God's timing and by God's power and were not to be slick.
We are not a corporation. If you think that's too far to go. How many times have you ever heard the CEO of a corporation ask you to call me shepherd. They don't do that. The church is a family church is a body listen to Stedman himself. How was your body function in the body of flesh and bones. There are various kinds of cells, nerve cells, blood cells, skin cells, muscle cells, bone cells and more each with a distinct function in a healthy body. The cells do not get together and vote on which cell does what they simply function according to their God-given design and a healthy body. The cells do not revolt or go their own way. When the cells of the body revolt. The result is indigestion or cramps or even cancer. When the brain cells revolt. The result is dementia or insanity only when the cells perform their proper function. Does the body experience through hell.
The same is true whether we are talking about a human body or the body of Christ. The church we easily forget that the church is a body we have tried to operate the church as an institution, a corporation, a business, but the reality Paul wants us to grasp it. Ephesians is that the church is a body made up of cells and the cells are individual believers. You and me and other brothers and sisters in Christ. Each cell has a unique role to play in keeping the entire body healthy. No section of Scripture addresses this clearer than Ephesians 411 to 60. It is beyond me why churches all around the world aren't serious students of and models of Ephesians 411 to 60.
It is beyond me.
If and when that becomes a reality in our midst as a church we will be blown away at how healthy we stay how the close. They though they may come knocking will not get a foothold in our lives and how we will care for each other like the body's cells care for one another what you witness in church splits church arguments and church battles and church fights is nothing more themselves in revolt, and the body isn't function look again at Ephesians 4 and be reminded of Paul's words as he starts the chapter I'm a prisoner of the Lord. Remember he's in Rome he's under house arrest. He's literally bound to a Roman soldier for an undetermined period of time during that while he writes for letters that it come to be known as the prison letters Ephesians is one of the and so he really is a prisoner because of his commitment to the Lord, and he implores the reader in Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which he has been called. Please note the words in the first to follow with humility and gentleness patients tolerance and love. Those are not corporate terms.
Those are not institutional guidelines. Those are body functions. When the body of Christ. The church is at its healthiest stage you will witness before your eyes, and so will the world at large. To their amazement, the outworking of humility.
The absence of pride, gentleness, the absence of force patients.
The absence of impatience and rage and anger tolerance. The absence of legalism and restrictive thinking and love the absence of ignoring other than fighting with one another. How is that done verse three tells us by preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond P and with that he launches into a great treatise on unity. If you have a market already look at the frequent repetition of the word. One there is one body, one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.
There is one Lord, one thing, one baptism, there is one God, the father of all who is overall through all in all, he couldn't be much clearer. There is 1111. In fact, there is one God over all who is over, through, and in all and in it all is the sovereign hand of God, superseding overshadowing, guiding, under the direction of the head of the church Christ. The body of Christ, but verse seven begins always notice why there is a connected particle that contrasts the context but now till now it's been unity unity 11 all all to each one of you. In fact, in the Greek sentence the word one appears first. Out of order for emphasis on to each of you.
By the way, instead of each of you. Your name could be placed there but the Frank but to Shirley to Bob but the chain but to Chuck, but to build. But Doris, but to make, but to Barbara, but Terrel put your name there to you. Grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Does that mean well initially, it means you were given the gift of salvation through faith in the Savior, through faith in Christ you receive forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.
You came to the cross by faith like those sitting around you and the family of God, and you submitted yourself to Christ, acknowledging that your lost you turned away from that lifestyle and turn toward Christ. Repentance, you accepted the gift of eternal life, and you received grace to live it. It not only means salvation at conversion. It means a spiritual humor given at least one spiritual gift. If you do not have a gift. You are not a Christian. If you are a Christian you have at least one probably more than one spiritual gift. Grace was given each one of you Steadman continues each one of us is gifted. It doesn't matter whether we are old John, rich, poor, talented, awkward articulate, quiet, handsome, plain, popular, unknown you have a spiritual gift. If you do not have a spiritual gift. You are not a Christian. If you know an exercise your gift you contribute to the vitality and ministry of the church if not listen to this you while the church of a measure of the impact and influence God intended his church to have in the world. That's a new way to look at it. If you have the gift of showing mercy. But you don't show mercy part of the body is hurting because you don't part of a need in the body is not it goes unmet. If you have a gift of organization and that is your joy that is your Spirit empowered gift and you don't exercise it.
The church hurts because of that. If you have a gift of teaching and you're not engaged in teaching in God's time as he opens the door for you to teach them. Part of the group of God's people that could be taught by you is going to remain untaught and the truth will remain unsaid because you were not exercising your and we are all different.
There are all kinds of gifts mentioned in the Scriptures when they give you for the listed or placed. Romans 12 first Corinthians 12 Ephesians 4 first beautiful those four chapters you will read of the gifts that are listed in the Bible.
Romans 12 first Corinthians 12 Ephesians 4 and first Peter four. You will read of many of the gifts unconvinced that's not an exhaustive list, but that's that's a good place to start. You have abilities that God has given you to use in the body of Christ, and it will be different from the other person. It will be different from people in your family but God designed the body so that we carry out his giftedness to the body. Look at verse 11, he gave some as apostles, he gave some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, and there's much more from this passage we need to discover in Ephesians chapter 4 you're listening to Chuck Swindoll and Insight for living. To learn more about this ministry. Visit us firstname.lastname@example.org to give you some context.
This program features just one slice from a much larger series. It's a verse by verse study through Paul's letter to the Ephesians.
The series is titled becoming a people of grace and to enhance your study of Paul's letter you want to order a copy of Chuck's popular commentary on Ephesians. This is in a booklet. It's a hardbound volume formatted so you can systematically read your Bible while referencing Chuck's practical insights at the same time. Plus, this volume comes with Chuck's commentary on Galatians as well. It's called Swindoll's living inside commentary on Galatians and Ephesians.
So to purchase this 300 page hardbound commentary right now. Go to Insight.org/store or call and talk with one of our friendly staff members if you're listening in the United States.
Call 1-800-772-8888 and adjust before we sign off and the weekend begins. All of us at Insight for living are praying this study and Ephesians inspires you to become an agent of God's grace world is craving to feel a touch of his kindness 2020 will go down in history as a year filled with uncertainty, fear, even hostility because Jesus has broken all barriers through his sacrificial death on the cross. It's all the more reason to become a people of grace. In that spirit, we are inviting you to join us in taking God's message of grace all across our country and even around the world vision 195. The majority of your gift is applied right here in North America here. Chuck's teaching small amount is all that's needed to carry Insight for living beyond our borders to give a donation today collects glistening in the US, 1-800-772-8888 or go to insight or and thank you for your generous support in 2020.
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Call 1-800-772-8888 or go online to insight or/and join us again Monday, when Chuck Swindoll study, becoming a people of grace continues here on Insight for living. The preceding message body life at its fence was copyrighted in 2000 2001 and 2009 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R.
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