The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 21 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #245)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 4:14-16:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Paul E. Billheimer said, “The Western church has lost the prayer stamina of the mission churches in Asia, Africa, South America, Indonesia, and those of the underground church in many parts of the world. Yes, we are great organizers, but poor pray-ers.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “If you’re going to a mission field — wherever that is — if you don’t have love, you’ll break down within six months. You’ll be a casualty there; you’ll be a liability instead of an asset. The mission field isn’t dying in want of missionaries; it needs ones with anointing, ones with a love that surpasses all things — a selfless, undying, unbreakable love.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “As many as 300 soon crowded into the forty-by-sixty-foot frame building. On occasion that crowd doubled, forcing worshipers to gather in the doorway and around the building outside. Many who came to investigate the revival were themselves touched and received the Azusa Street blessing. They became the pioneers of the Pentecostal movement of the twentieth century.”
One of the lessons that we learn from this passage is that the spiritual growth of the church is primarily an effect of the actions and attitude of those who are already in the church. When we try to figure out why our churches are stagnating and/or on the decline both spiritually and numerically, it is easy to point the finger at outside forces such as cultural change, lack of interest in religion, increased secularism, or what have you. But, Paul says growth occurs “according to the effectual working in the measure of every part [of the body of Christ].”
‘Effectual working’ implies work that yields results, not just activity. Joseph Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that when these words are used in the New Testament, it indicates work done only through “superhuman power.” The effectual work that we accomplish through the use of our spiritual gifts only comes as a result of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit working through us.
The phrase, ‘in the measure of every part’, indicates that each believer (“every part”) has a different “measure” of his or her spiritual gift. This “measure” is the amount of ability God has given each person in their specific role. Everybody is not given the same measure. The question we must ask ourselves is, Am I contributing to the body of Christ the full measure that God has given me? For consistent spiritual growth in the church, every believer must give the full measure of his gift without worrying about not having the measure that somebody else has.
If there’s a fire, and somebody gives you a 5-gallon bucket to fill with water to dump on the fire, you shouldn’t be complaining because somebody else was given a 10-gallon bucket. They might be stronger than you; they might work out more often, and so, have developed bigger muscles than you. You need to focus on filling your 5-gallon bucket and helping everybody put the fire out.
John Calvin said, “If we want to be considered members of Christ, let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.”
Dan Damon wrote:
Together we serve,
united by love,
inviting God’s world to the glorious feast.
We work and we pray
through sorrow and joy,
extending God’s love to the last and the least.
We seek to become
a beacon of hope,
a lamp for the heart and a light for the feet.
We learn, year by year,
to let love shine through
until we see Christ in each person we meet.
Together, by grace,
we witness and work,
remembering Jesus, in whom we grow strong.
Together we serve
in Spirit and truth,
remembering love is the strength of our song.