Sermon Title: Unity and Diversity in the Body of Christ
Date: Sunday, April 15 , 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
Introduction: This morning, I would like to direct our attention to four major issues in Ephesians 4:7-16 as they pertain to the importance of unity and diversity in the church of God. We will elaborate on each one of these important factors in this practical passage on Christian ethics, relations, and Christian living. The four issues I want us to look at this morning are: (1) We need to celebrate the rich spiritual diversity and unity in the body of Christ (4:8-11), (2) Christ’s gifts are given to strengthen the church and make it a full functional entity (4:13-15), (3) How do these gifts and ministerial functions contribute to a healthy and Christ-centered church? and (4) The active practice and use of one’s gift in the church is a call to Christian obedience (vv. 14-15). Let us now turn our attention to the first issue on unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
- The church needs to celebrate the rich spiritual diversity and unity in the body of Christ (4:8-11)
God has called all people from every country, every nation, every culture, every race, and every language to enjoy and worship Him and pay exclusive allegiance to Jesus as Lord & Savior (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). He has gifted them differently to build up and equip the church.
“In writing to the Romans and the Corinthians, Paul used a cognate term that is often translated “spiritual gift” (“charima” Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:4), but essentially means a “manifestation of grace….Christ is the one who actually gives the gift. Christ does not apportion gifts in a random way, but according to his plan. He is the one who chooses who will receive what gift and determines the amount of the gift that each person will receive. “ (Arnold, Ephesians, p. 246)
“The emphasis here is on Christ’s sovereign distribution and apportionment. There is no room left for good works and merit to earn a better gift or a greater portion of a gift.”
(Arnold, Ephesians, p. 246)
On unity and diversity
We believe diversity, unity, and harmony enrich the body of Christ and fosters a better spiritual life, and contributes to better human relations and interactions between Christians and others that are Christ-honoring and Christ-exalting. As a Church, we do life together and pride ourselves in the rich cultural, ethnic, racial, and generational diversity and differences God has gifted the Church and his creation. We declare unreservedly God’s inclusive and universal love for all cultures, all languages, all races, all ethnic groups, and all peoples in the world.
God loves diversity and so planned his creation to reflect his heart and passion for all peoples and all nations. We are intentional about being a diverse congregation because of the imperative of The Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and God’s ultimate desire and plan to spread his name among all cultures and peoples through Jesus Christ.
The fourfold list of gifted people in the church (verse 11)
- The APOSTLES
- THE PROPHETS
- THE EVANGELISTS
- THE SHEPHERDS AND TEACHERS
- An apostle was a commissioned messenger or agent. The apostles served a foundational function in the early church (2:20). The apostles he mentions here extend beyond the original twelve disciples/apostles of Christ.
- The primary role of a prophet was to share the message of God to the people of God which he or she receives through the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:27-28). There were many prophets in the early Christian churches (1 Cor. 14:1, 29, 31, 39).
- The primary function of an evangelist was “herald the good news of salvation (Isaiah 52:7) and about the reign of God.
- According to the Greek text, this is a dual responsibility of the same person such as teaching-pastors, teaching- shepherds. The term shepherd is an ancient image of leadership (Jeremiah 23:4); the goal of a pastor is/was to expound Scripture contributing to the building and equipping the church for ministry (4:12-13).
These gifted people whom Paul lists here does not represent all the leadership roles and gifting functions within the early church and the church. The churches of Ephesus also had elders/overseers and deacons (Acts 20:17, 18).
“Paul highlights the five listed here because they were foundational to the establishment for local churches (2:20) and because they are the principal ministers responsible for the proclamation and application of the Word to people’s lives.” –Arnold, Ephesians, p.256
- Christ’s gifts are given to strengthen the church and make it a full functional entity (4:13-15)
- To complete the church and to transform the Christian conduct and spiritual practices (12 )
- To maintain unity in the body (v. 13)
- To advance the people of God into intimate and transforming knowledge of God (v.13)
- To become mature followers of Christ (v.13)
The gifts are given to the church for the purpose of service and to serve one another. The apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the teaching-pastors or teaching-shepherds are servants. They ought to practice servant leadership by imitating Christ who is both “The Gift Giver” and the greatest “Gift” to church.
Similarly, the people of God are called to serve. Servitude is not just a leadership role or virtue given to a selected few; it is certainly not based on one’s merit, credentials, and association in the church of God. Both the leaders and the laity are called to serve in the body of Christ.
“To equip the saints for the work of ministry” (verse 12)
We will maintain the corporate unity of the church when we become servants of one another. Without a servant attitude, the unity of the church is not attainable. In the same manner, Christian maturity and the spiritual growth of believers in the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of Christ will not be fulfilled without unity (v.13).
- How do these gifts and ministerial functions contribute to a healthy and Christ-centered church?
- The role of the lead pastor
- The role of elders
- The role of deacons
Offices and Gifts: Church Ministries as gifts from Christ to build up and equip his people.
The Pastoral Staff of Jesus Center is composed of the Lead Pastor and the Elders. This church recognizes and affirms two biblical offices in the church: The Elders and Deacons.
- Church Offices: Elders and Deacons
The Elders Team shall consist of the Lead Pastor, who serves as Chairperson of the Elder Team, and the selected individuals who are made up of the Elders Team, as determined by the lead pastor and current Elders. Under the leadership of the Spirit of God, the elders shall lead and serve this local church; they are primarily responsible to Christ and accountable to the congregation (1 Tim. 5:17). The lead pastor, the elders, and deacons are spiritual leaders in the Church. Their primary ministry focus will be the spiritual life of the partnership, especially doctrine, discipleship, discipline, and direction or vision.
- The Role of the Lead Pastor
The Lead pastor is a spiritual leader of Jesus Center Community Church, and he is entrusted primarily with the spiritual well-being of the members of this church. The primary duty of the lead pastor is to teach and preach the Word of God faithfully and consistently in order that, through the power of God’s Word and influence of the Holy Spirit, he will contribute to the spiritual maturity of the members of the body of Christ (He. 3:17). The pastor is commanded to shepherd God’s people and watch over the souls of those under his care (Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9).
The pastor is responsible for guiding and leading the church to operate as a biblically-sound and God-centered congregation, according to the divine pattern or model set in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the role of the main preacher (lead pastor) is fundamentally distinct from the rest of the elders in the church. The exclusive task of preaching is directed to the lead pastor (1 Cor. 9:14; 1 Tim. 4:13; 5:17); yet according to the New Testament Church leadership, the lead pastor or preacher is also one of the elders of his church.
The pastor will provide adequate pastoral care and biblical leadership to the church, the Elders and Deacons team, the church officers, and the church staff to fulfill the mission of the church. Under the leadership of the Great Shepherd Jesus Christ, the pastor leads the church’s various pastoral ministries and functions and provide constructive biblical vision and clear direction for the church. He nurtures the church through weekly teaching of the Word of God and minister to the members of the church in time of need or crisis. He oversees and coordinate the day-to-day ministry and administration of the church.
Furthermore, the pastor will collaborate with the pastoral staff, the deacons, and ministry directors to
- Lead the church to engage in fellowship of worship, discipleship, evangelization, mission, and education.
- Care for the church’s members and nurture the believers under his care to the greater knowledge and understanding of God and Jesus Christ.
- Proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the unchurched, believers, and unbelievers.
- Engage in social outreach and care for individuals and families in the community.
- Officiate weddings and funerals.
- Oversee the hiring and termination of other pastoral employees and non-pastoral employees and direct their day-to-day ministry and work activities.
The Role of Elders
The role of the lead pastor is not different than the role of the elders in the church since the pastor is one among the elders.
- Elders are called by God to serve as shepherd of the local church (Acts 20:28).
- Elders need to tend to the needs of the members of the church (James 5:14).
- Elders ought to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of preaching and teaching (Acts 6:4)
- As part of their duties and responsibilities, elders must teach biblical truth to the body of Christ (1 Tim. 5:17) by safeguarding the people of God from the error of false doctrine (Tit 1:9).
- Spiritual Qualifications for Pastors and Elders
In the book of Titus, God provides some comprehensive and precise guidelines about the character of a pastor and the individual whom he has called or chosen to shepherd his people. In Titus 1:6-9, the character of the pastor is assessed in terms of his attitude toward sexual morality, family leadership, public relations, and personal attitude or conduct. In this same passage, the qualifications of the pastor are articulated in terms of a list of comparison and contrast, and negative and positive traits.
“6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and to rebuke those who contradict it.”
- The Positive traits: the overseer or pastor must be
- “Above reproach;”
- “the husband of one wife;”
- “his children are believers;”
- “a lover of good;”
- The Negative traits: the overseer or pastor must not be
- “a drunkard;”
- “greedy for gain;”
- “his children must not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination”
Overall, the overseer or pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to given instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke who contradict it” (v.9). A similar list could be found in 1 Timothy 3:2-7.
- The Role of Deacons
The primary spiritual leaders of a congregation are the elders, who are also called overseers or pastors in the New Testament. Elders teach or preach the Word and shepherd the souls of those under their care (Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9; Heb. 13:17). Deacons, too, have a crucial role in the life and the health of the local church, but their role is different from that of the elders. The biblical role of deacons is to take care of the physical and logistical needs of the church so that the elders can concentrate on their primary calling.
- Spiritual Qualifications for Deacons
As the elders, in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, God provides specific guidelines about the character of those who are called to serve as deacons in the Church. In this same passage, the qualifications of the deacons are evaluated in terms of negative and positive traits.
The Negative traits: the deacon of the church must not be
- “addicted to much wine;”
- “greedy for dishonest gain”
- The Positive traits: the deacon of the church must be
- “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience;”
- “husband of one wife;”
- “gain a good standing and great confidence in the faith”
In the same manner, words of warnings are given to the wives of deacons: “Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanders, but sober-minded, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11).
- The active practice and use of one’s gift in the church is a call to Christian obedience (vv. 14-15)
- What will happen when each member of the church uses his or her gifts in the church?
- What are the consequences when the leaders of the church lead under the direction of the Holy Spirit and with humility, love, and understanding?
- The church will become strong and effective
- The people will be more unified church and grow more into Christ
- People will feel welcome and appreciated.
- Church guests and visitors will not feel isolated in the church. They will feel loved, cherished, and embraced.
- The church will be a light in the community where it is placed.
- The church will be a symbol of Christ’s transforming power and grace in the lives of individuals and families.
- The lost and the unchurched will feel that they have a friend at Jesus
- They will live as a community
WE SHOW ACTS OF KINDNESS AND COMPASSION TO PEOPLE
Jesus Center Community Church is a congregation that intentionally seeks to exercise acts of kindness and compassion toward people, to lift up those who are spiritually broken, and to care for the hungry, the orphan, the widow, and the disheartened.
As a church, our goal is to give hope to the hopeless, empower those who are weak, and to make every individual who comes worship with us and those whom we meet outside of our sanctuary realize that they were created for a purpose, for intimacy with God, and that they are loved by God.
At Jesus Center, our overarching objective in this life is to be like Jesus and to love and honor the Triune God in all our heart, soul, and our intellect, as well as to prioritize Him in our choices and actions.
Summary: the objectives of Jesus center community church
- To worship, exalt, and honor the Triune God in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24).
- To equip and make faithful disciples of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).
- To foster Christian fellowship and Christ-centered relationships among believers (Galatians 6:2).
- To reach the unchurched and the non-Christian through biblical persuasion and through acts of compassion and kindness (Matt 5:16; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)
- To serve, love, and connect believers and the people in our community and city (Luke 7:22; 1 Cor 12:25).
- To care for the hungry, the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the afflicted (Isaiah 58:10-11; Matthew 25:35-36; James 2:14-17).
Let’s read together: OUR CHURCH COVENANT
Having been brought by divine grace and love to repent of our sins and believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to commit our lives to following Him, and having been baptized as Christians in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we members of the Jesus Center Community Church covenant together to fulfill the following expectations to the glory and praise of the Triune God:
Together, we will submit to the authority of the Word of God as the final arbiter on all issues and as the all‐sufficient authority in our lives and the life of this Church.
Together, we will exalt the Triune God in corporate worship and broadcast his glorious fame in the world. We will depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us into holiness, sanctification, and good works, and rely on Him to help us grow in the knowledge and understanding of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Together, we will make King Jesus highly exalted, admired, and greatly honored in our city and among all people and ethnic group.
Together, we will pray for and walk in brotherly love, Christian solidarity and unity, and bond of peace through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Together, we will consistently pray for the salvation of non-followers of Jesus and use our gifts and resources to reach the lost and the unchurched in our city and the world.
Together, we will engage in community outreach and discipleship and commit ourselves to caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the disfranchised in our city and the world.
Together, we will follow the leadership of the Lead Pastor and the Elders of the Church whom God has entrusted to lead, serve, and care for the Church through the faithful teaching of the Word of God and the consistent imitation and modeling of the Character of Christ.
Together, we will not forsake the fellowship of the believers and the assembling of ourselves together nor shall we neglect to pray for one another, support one another, and bear one another burden.
Together, we will celebrate each other’s success and express empathy and compassion in moments of sorrows, suffering, and pain.
Together, we will grow in grace and spiritual maturity through the consistent reading and application of and obedience to the Word of God and through the unending experience of his Presence through the Holy Spirit.
Together, we will contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of our local church, to the flourishing of our members, and to the spread of the gospel locally and globally.
Together, we will hold fast to the Gospel of grace and to the hope we have in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Together, we will regularly participate in baptism and communion as we solemnly and joyfully remember the sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf and for our salvation; as his bride, we anticipate his glorious return and our final justification.
May the grace of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.