YA First Sermon (Vision and Goals)
Ephesians 4:1-24
Begin with honesty and end with Truth.
Published October 14th, 2021; Updated October 14th, 2021
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Message Script Introduction Alright, we have a lot to get through tonight, so I'm just going to get right into it. I've been thinking so much about what I really want to focus on during this time, and what I've mostly been thinking about are goals . Where do we want to go as a community? I want us to be a family on mission-- not just a family, and not just on mission . We aren't meant to be a close knit community with no mission, and we aren't meant to be disconnected agents of God either. Both. But right now, focus on the family. So, in thinking about how I want us to get there, I want us to look at what the Scripture says first about us becoming connected. So, open up with me to the book of Ephesians, chapter 4. Chapter 4 *Preview chapters 1-3* And once we hit chapter 4, we see how Paul expects this to play out. Paul wants us to know God intimately, walking with Him daily, worshipping Him, which means that it is Christ Who is in charge of our emotional, physical, and spiritual well being-- not our bosses, our families, our friends, our phones, our money, or anything else. We are meant to be mature. How are we supposed to get there? Well, it becomes clear pretty quickly that we were never meant to get there alone . God designed us to need one another. Let's read 4:1-10 So, we are meant to be united , together, just as Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are united together. Verse 7 And, the path to get there involves one another . Look again at verse 7, "grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." So, no one person has received all of God's gifts . Nor are they meant to. God's gifts been spread out and given to each child of God differently, so that we would rely on one another, as parts of a body do. And what gifts are we to receive ? Verses 11-12 Paul answers this in verse 11 &12 "And he gave the apostles , the prophets , the evangelists , the shepherds and teachers , to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..." So God has given us each unique gifts for the purpose of building up each other, that sound kind of like positions. And, remember, no single person has received all gifts of God; they are spread out evenly among God's children. God hasn't called equipped a couple people to do ministry, he has called a couple people to equip the many to do ministry. Verses 13-14 It is through each other that we are to "attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the fullness of Christ, 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." So, how do we become mature Christians? By building each other up with our gifts . And notice that all of the gifts are relational . There isn't a single gift that Christ gives us to build each other up that doesn't involve a relationship with another person. All of these gifts involve speaking things to one another or doing things for one another. And we're about to see what kind of things we're supposed to be speaking in the next verse. Verses 15-16 - "Speaking the truth in love" "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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." So what is the source of growth and life for the body of Christ , the "glue" that holds us together? Paul says that we grow up together by " speaking the truth in love ." And, I think that this phrase, at least in our culture means kind of like, saying hard things that another person might not want to hear. For example, like someone might say, "hey mean, you know you really talk too much when we meet up, just wanted to speak the truth in love to you." Or, "hey, just so you know, when you don't speak enough when we meet up, just wanted to speak the truth in love." And, neither of those are what Paul is talking about here. Let's read on to see what Paul means when he writes, speaking "truth." Verses 17-24 - "the truth is in Christ" Let's read verses 17-24, and be on the lookout for "the truth." Did you catch that? Where is the truth? Verse 21 tells us that "the truth is in Jesus." That means that the "truth in love" that we are supposed to be speaking to one another is not things we don't want to hear about ourselves, but good things we need to hear about Jesus . They are the truths about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that we need to hear if we are to "grow up" into Christ. It is the truths of the gospel that work to build each other up, that each of us are uniquely gifted to speak. Illustration The best illustration I have for the way this works is in learning a language , and I didn't come up with this illustration myself, I got it from a guy named Jeff Vanderstelt. When you learn a language it takes a lot of time. Who in here has ever taken a language class in like high school or college or something? How much did you learn? Yeah, probably not much. And when I was teaching English in India I told my students the same thing, that they would have to practice outside of class if they were going to become fluent in English. It didn't matter if I put on the best 2 hour classes of their lives every week, if they weren't using English with their friends and practicing what they learned, it would end up being of very little use. This is what those of us who learned a language through a class are left with-- very little. However, when you go to another country, and are immersed in its language and culture, its crazy how much you pick up. I learned way more Bengali during my time in India than my students learned English. And I never once attended a Bengali class. That's because, while my students came weekly to my classes, or sometimes twice a week, as soon as I left the room, I entered back into a world that spoke Bengali, not English. I was immersed in it. And the same thing is true about us speaking the truth in love. The Jeff Vanderstelt guy I was talking about earlier calls it growing in "Gospel Fluency." And that's my goal for us. I want us to grow in "gospel fluency." And keep in mind, this isn't just what I look at y'all and think, "man, they really can't speak the gospel into people's lives, maybe we should learn how to do that," no I need this too. Remember how little you and I learned in our Spanish classes? Imagine if the teacher only spoke Spanglish. Well, I kind of feel like I'm at a "gospelish" stage in my life. I have to think hard to translate man. I have to figure out what is wrong about my worship, what I'm failing to believe God, where I went wrong, and then slowly think about how the gospel intersects. But fluent people, they think, dream, and feel in their language. That's how I want us to become with the gospel. And I want this community here to be so gospel fluent that when outsiders come in, they are so immersed in a fluent culture that they start to pick up the language. That's what I want for us. How? So how in the world do we get there? Well, we just have to start. And I think we have to start with ourselves and with each other . We have to intentionally think and pray towards speaking the truth in love right into each other's situations. So, I'm going to give some examples of what that looks like, and then I'm going to give us one final thing to remember. Looking for Jesus So, if we're going to speak the truth in love, and the truth is in Jesus, then what we need to be speaking to one another needs to be centered on Jesus . And what we get from the Scriptures to give to others needs to be centered around Jesus. So let's go back through Ephesians 1, and I'm going to give you really quickly, 5 observations about Christ from just the first 10 verses. Ephesians 1:1-10 - Jesus is... 1. God's gift (Eph. 1:3) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places..." Jesus is what God has given us! God has given us Himself in Jesus. And what is contained in Jesus? Every spiritual blessing . I don't know if you've ever thought about this, but every desire you've ever had, from intimacy to hunger, was designed to be fulfilled by Christ . I think that's part of the reason that God gave us food, which is to give us an illustration of how much we need Him, regardless of how much we realize it. In Jesus is everything we ever need. Do we go to Him for everything we ever need? Or do we go elsewhere? -- When we're left wanting where do we go ? Let's keep reading. 2. God's purpose and plan ( Eph. 1:4, 9-10 ) "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him... [verse 9] making known to use the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time." It's the same thing we saw back in John 1, that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... The Word, or Jesus, was and is God's Plan. Jesus was never plan B . That means that there is never a time that God has ever been out of control. Even at the one point where it definitely seemed like it-- when God Himself is on a cross and looks like He needs saved, He is in control. He cries out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" and He's still in control. Has God removed Himself? ***God's not dead illustration*** . If He put Himself in the worst situation for my good, then my present situation can't be worse, and God is still on my side . 3. Our Sonship (Eph. 1:5) This is one I need to come back to again and again. This is some truth in love that I need. "In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ." Chapter 2 tells us that we were not born as children of God. We are "by nature children of wrath" as it says in chapter 2 verse 3. " BUT GOD... " I once heard a preacher say, "praise God for the buts in the Bible. Amen. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us..." makes us sons of God in Jesus. Jesus is our adoption. Before we were adopted, we didn't worship God perfectly at all! We were children of wrath, opposed to God. We worshipped everything but him, our friends, our money, our social media, our parents-- you say "our parents? I never worshipped my parents." What's it mean to worship something? It means to put it in a place to where everything in your life, all your emotions, hang on it. Ever been in a place where you blamed your parents for how how crappy your life was? "Man, I'm grounded. My dumb parents keeping me from having fun." You're worshipping your parents! You've turned your parents into Pharaoh! That's what we do! But we have a better boss in Jesus. We have the perfect Son who never once stopped worshipping God. He never once stopped making God the One on Whom all His life hung. And we get HIS life. We get His worship, and on the cross, He got the payment for our crappy worship . We get to be close to God, we get to be loved Sons of God because of Jesus. 4. Our Forgiveness and Redemption (Eph. 1:7) "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses..." Jesus frees us from scrambling to justify ourselves . Jesus frees us from trying to hard to impress other people because we already have impressed the God of the Universe in Jesus . That's good news! Why? Because if someone thinks low of me, which happens often, Jesus has already taken that accusation to the cross. If someone condemns me, Jesus has already taken that condemnation to the cross. 5. Our Unity (Eph 1:10) We are already united in Jesus! That's good news! Why? Because we don't have to work to overcome any disunity. We actually are united right now in Jesus . We who were far off have been brought near. We are actually together in Jesus. We are actually fully know one another and are fully known by one another in Jesus. That is true. That is what we are. Now we just have to be what we already are . Where are you? So really, the question I have for you tonight, as we wrap up, is not different than the first question God asks anyone in the Bible, "Where are you?" And when God asks that to Adam in Genesis 3, it's in the middle of Adam's failure. God wasn't looking for Adam's physical location, he wanted to know where he had placed his trust . He wanted Adam to come clean. He wanted to know who had had believed that had led him to shame. He wanted honesty before He would introduce Truth. So, where are you tonight? What truths of Jesus need to be continuously spoken into your situation? Pushes Begin with honesty and end with Truth. What does that look like? For me.. For you... Society wants to define you by what you do. I'm a teacher. What do you do? That's not the question. Who are you? That's the question. And where are you now? Do you feel close to the realities that are yours in Jesus? That's where I want us to go in the coming weeks and months together.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.