Sermon: Grow Up In Christ

 

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. (Ephesians 4:14–16)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

At what point does a child become an adult?

 

In a legal sense, it’s eighteen, at which point you can vote, be treated as an adult in legal matters, and so on.

 

In more primitive tribes, a boy is initiated into manhood by performing some task, often bizarre, like running across the backs of four bulls three times as you would have do if you were a boy in the Hamar tribe of Ethiopia.

 

But really, the line where a child becomes an adult is hard to nail down because it has to do with maturity. I’ve known boys who were husbands and fathers but not yet men. I’ve known girls who were wives and mothers but not yet women.

 

An even harder line to see is when a Christian moves from being immature to being mature. Some Christians never grow up. Others mature quickly. But all Christians are expected to become spiritual adults.

 

Becoming an adult brings with it certain expectations: being able to hold a job, to care for a family, to put others ahead of yourself.

 

What is expected of being a spiritual adult? One expectation of spiritual adulthood is that you…


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Sermon: God’s Foundation For Church Growth

 

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11–13)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

What is the first thing you think of when you think of “church growth”?

 

For many Christians, church growth discussions usually center on topics like youth outreach programs, evangelism techniques, musical styles in worship, and the like. 

 

Those aren’t necessarily bad or unneeded discussions. In fact, we called Jon Ellingson as Outreach and Youth pastor to help us with some of those very things. Programs and methods are important and cannot be ignored.

 

But at the same time, they cannot be correctly discussed without proper grounding in what the Word of God says about church growth. Ephesians 4:11-13 are pretty much some of the clearest verses in the Bible regarding church growth. 

 

No, there’s no discussion about programs, worship styles, church decor, or the like. It’s the foundational material that, if we don’t have right, nothing else matters. 

 

In verse eleven, we learned that some of the spiritual gifts that Christ gives to Christians is that he gifts some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor-teachers. 

 

Of these, apostles and prophets were used to establish the church in New Testament times and are no longer found (see Ephesians 2:20). 

 

Evangelists (who work to proclaim the gospel to the unsaved) and pastor-teachers (who work to encourage and grow the saved) are the gifts still being given today. These gifts are especially important for growing the church.

 

How does that happen? Let’s look at…


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Sermon: God Provides For What He Commands

 

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. (Exodus 3:16–22)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In Exodus 3:10, God said to Moses:

 

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:10)

 

Moses had already objected twice: His “who am I to do this?” was met by God’s “I will be with you.” Further, Moses’ “What name shall I give them?” was answered with “I AM THAT I AM,” a name of authority, of power, of faithfulness, of eternity.

 

Then it seems that the Lord God anticipated what might have been his next question, “How do I do this?” I know that would be one of my questions: how do you gather two million people and get them out from the grip of a tyrant king?

 

Moses never asked, at least not out loud, but in Exodus 3:16-22, God gives Moses clear instructions on how he was to go about getting the Israelites out of Egypt.

 

What I want us to see is that these instructions are more than the “go to point A and then point B; fold tab C and put in slot D” variety. These instructions show that for what God commands, he also provides.

 

When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he provided a substitute, a ram caught in the bush:

 

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh [means “the LORD will provide.”]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:13–14)

 

In the New Testament, we also read that God provides for everything that we need to live the way he wants and to do what he wants:

 

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3)

 

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

 

It’s wonderful that we can go back to the Old Testament and see examples of God’s truth in action. This truth is no exception. God does provide for what he commands us to do.


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Sermon: Christ Gives His Church Gifts

 

7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:7–11)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

I remember when I first discovered what my spiritual gift was—it dramatically changed my life. 

 

I was a tech school dropout who was back in his hometown washing dishes at the local restaurant and drinking beer with his buddies. 

 

Well, after I got saved to drinking beer with my buddies had stopped which left me with almost absolutely nothing to do. 

 

I wondered what would happen to my life. Girls didn’t like me—so there seemed no chance of starting a family. And who could support a family washing dishes anyway? 

 

My biggest goal in life was to move from dishwasher to grill cook—which I did, but it didn’t change my wages any.

 

A pastor in town, Lynn Holm, had been discipling me—we were working to the book of Romans together—when he asked me if I would like to go with him to a Bible college in Bozeman for a day.

 

I remember attending only one class, and it was a class on a little book in the New Testament called Philemon. 

 

It’s basically a letter written to a slaveowner to encourage him to accept back a slave who had ran away, but now had become a Christian. There isn’t much to Philemon at all, just twenty-five verses.

 

But something inside me clicked. I had fallen in love with studying the Bible and I knew that I wanted to teach and preach it someday. 

 

It didn’t happen right away. That was 1991. It wasn’t until 1999, that I finally entered the pulpit as a pastor-teacher in a church.

 

It doesn’t mean that I have a great speaking voice, or that I am perfectly comfortable speaking in front of people, or that I have great stories and outlines—it just means that Christ, by his grace, has gifted me to be a pastor-teacher.

 

The discovery of my spiritual gift gave me a purpose to my life. And I think for Christians who use their spiritual gifts the way that God has intended them to do, they also can find purpose in their life even if it’s not full-time ministry like it is for me.

 

In this passage today, we will learn who Christ has given a spiritual gift to, why he is able to give spiritual gifts, and a few examples of the kinds of gifts that he gives.


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Sermon: The All-Sufficient I AM

 

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:10–15)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Exodus tells us the true story of how God called Israel out of bondage in Egypt.

 

Thus far in Exodus we learned of the misery that Israel faced in Egypt. They were slaves who built some of the giant monuments and buildings ancient Egypt was known for. 

 

Yet Pharaoh wanted them eliminated, and so ordered their male babies to be killed.

 

One baby boy who miraculously escaped death was Moses. His escape was unusual in that he was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and grew up in Pharaoh’s house.

 

One day the injustice happening to his people finally hit home to Moses. He tried to help, but ended up murdering an Egyptian foreman. The murder infuriated the Pharaoh, and so Moses had to flee Egypt.

 

The forty-year old Moses found a new home among the Midianites. There he became a shepherd and found a wife. He was content for his next forty years.

 

Then one day, he encountered a burning bush that was unusual because it did not burn up…it just kept burning and burning. When he investigated, God spoke to him out of the bush.

 

After telling him to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground, God told him that he had seen the affliction of the Israelites in Egypt, and he had heard their cry for help, and he knew their sorrows.

 

Now came the shocking news to Moses: God was sending him to free them from one of the mightiest nations on the face of the Earth. Moses would be so shocked that all he could say was…

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