Maturing in Faith | EPHESIANS 4:11-16

December 17, 2012

Book: Ephesians

Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-16


  • When I took up the leadership of our church in 2006, our church was still in the pioneering stage.
  • I used to do most of the work as I didn’t train believers or delegate work to them in the initial years.
  • In the early years of church ministry, I used to take prints of OHP slides for English Service.
  • Then, I would keep OHP sheets ready in a folder.
  • I would lead the Worship every Sunday and teach new songs to believers.
  • I would lead worship in English Service (which I did until 2013 or so) and Telugu Service and also preach in both services.
  • I used to come all the way to Neredmet on Saturday evenings and lead the Intercessory Prayers.
  • I used to do most of the purchasing.
  • Earlier, I used to maintain all the accounts, including writing Account Books and Vouchers (I’m still maintaining Accounts in part).
  • I would take the VBS students to Neredmet and get the snacks for the kids every day.
  • I was also the Photographer (I used a digital camera in those days).
  • As a result, many times I didn’t get time to prepare for sermons as I wanted.
  • I used to find myself preparing sermons late at the night.}
  • But praise God, 16 years later, we have 23 ministry teams that are led by different leaders.
  • I’m able to focus on prayer, word, and pastoral care because many believers in our church are doing their work faithfully.
  • Also, several believers get tremendous opportunities to serve in various capacities.
  • They are able to exercise their God-given gifts and serve the Lord and his people.
  • Saints, if a Pastor does all the work or most of the work, it’s not healthy.
  • Then, what is the job of a Pastor or the ministry leader?
  • Let’s look at God’s word.
  • Would you take God’s word and turn your Bibles with me to EPHESIANS 4:11-16?
  • I have entitled today’s sermon: “MATURING IN FAITH”


  • Based on what God had done for the Ephesians (1:3-3:21), apostle Paul exhorts them to live out their calling in 4:1-6:20.
  • In 4:1-16, Paul emphasizes the importance of maintaining unity (Vv. 1-6) and using God-given gifts to grow into maturity (Vv. 7-16).
  • In Greek, verses 11-16 are one long sentence.
  • In today’s passage, we see that
  • CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE TEXT: Christ gave leaders as gifts to the church with specific purposes and goals.


  • Ephesians 4:11: And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
  • Paul uses the emphatic pronoun (Greek: autos) which is translated as “himself” in NIV to emphasize that these gifts are given by Christ who fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 68:18.
  • After Jesus ascended to heaven, he graciously gave gifts to the church for its well-being and growth.
  • Jesus gave these leaders as gifts to the church.

1. Apostles

  • Apostles are the commissioned messengers who establish the church.
  • We must distinguish between the original twelve apostles (2:20; 3:5) and the rest of the apostles.
  • Today, God is still raising people with apostolic ministries.
  • But they don’t have the same authority as the original twelve apostles.
  • Today, those who have an apostolic ministry plant churches as they travel to different places.

2. Prophets

  • The prophets share the Lord’s messages through the Spirit for a particular situation or need.
  • We must make a distinction between the canonical prophets and the modern-day prophets.
  • We believe that certain people have a prophetic gift, but their prophecies are not absolute like the canonical prophets.
  • We have to carefully evaluate the prophecies that others give as these prophecies are not invincible (1 Cor. 14:29).

3. Evangelists

  • Evangelists proclaim the gospel of salvation (cf. Isa. 52:7).
  • Philip and Timothy were evangelists (Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5). The same Greek word (euaggelistēs) is used in both these verses and Ephesians 4:11.
  • The evangelists may preach the gospel in a particular place or travel to different places and minister.

4. Shepherds

  • Since the Greek construction indicates that the gifts of the shepherds and teachers are related, some say that Paul refers to an individual with both gifts.
  • Pastors must be able to teach God’s word (1 Tim. 3:2).
  • All pastors must be teachers, but not all teachers are pastors.
  • So, I believe that these two are separate functions.
  • NIV translates this word as “pastors.” In Greek, it’s literally “shepherds.”
  • The Old Testament often uses the image of a shepherd to refer to leaders (Jer. 23:4).
  • The shepherds have been given the responsibility to oversee and nurture God’s people (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2).

5. Teachers

  • God gives teachers as gifts to the church to equip God’s people.

John Stott writes,

… we observe that all five gifts relate in some way to the ministry of teaching… It is teaching which builds up the church. It is teachers who are needed most.

  • That’s why we have been offering solid Christian education to all age groups in our church.
  • Right now, we are offering a Certificate in Theology (CTh) program so that all our church members can be taught and equipped.
  • So, God gives leaders as gifts to the church.


  • Ephesians 4:12-13: 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

A. To equip the saints for ministry so that the body of Christ may be built up (v. 12).

  • The church leaders are not supposed to do all the work in the church.
  • Rather, the fivefold leaders must multiply ministry.
  • They are to equip or train the believers for the work of ministry.
  • The word “equip” (Greek: katartismon) means mending [బాగుచేయడం] or restoring to its proper use (Mt. 4:21; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 6:1; Heb. 13:21).
  • Ministry is not the privilege of a few elites.
  • It’s a solemn responsibility and privilege of every believer.
  • Every member is a minister.


  • {The ministry in many local churches looks like a cricket match.
  • Few people work in the church and the rest of them just watch the proceedings.}
  • In a local church, a pastor’s role is more like a coach of a team.
  • A coach trains the players and the players play on the field.
  • In many churches, a pastor is expected to be a batsman, bowler, wicketkeeper, fielder, and umpire!


{The Dead Sea/Salt Sea has no fish or plant life.

  • Do you know why?
  • Because of the salt levels in the Dead Sea.
  • It has a lot of inlets, but no outlets.
  • Water pours into this sea, but it doesn’t flow out.
  • That’s why it’s dead!}
  • If you are a mere consumer, you will be like the Dead Sea.
  • Learn to give your time, talents, and treasure to the Lord.
  • God gives spiritual gifts to each believer so that we can use them to minister to one another (1 Cor. 12:7, 11; 1 Pet. 4:10).
  • These gifts are not given to elevate ourselves, become famous, or make money.
  • They are given to serve others and to build the church.
  • If I’m the only person ministering to the needs of the congregation and the community, then I can only minister to a maximum of maybe a hundred people.
  • But if the congregation is involved, we can minister to countless people.
  • At EAGC, we preach and teach God’s word systematically so that all believers can be equipped.
  • We offer Bible courses and cell groups to equip believers and make them disciples of Christ.
  • We have Sunday School, Youth Alive, Women’s fellowship, and men’s fellowship meetings to equip God’s people for works of service.
  • I can say confidently, yet humbly, that our church gives a lot of opportunities for believers to use their God-given gifts.
  • Every year, we give an invitation to believers to be a part of the ministry team.
  • When we serve God and one another, the body of Christ will be built up.

B. To help the saints attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Christ (v. 13a).

  • The word “until” also expresses the purpose of the gifts.
  • Apostle Paul already spoke about the importance of unity in 1-6.
  • We are already united in Christ (v. 3).
  • Still, we have to maintain the unity of the Spirit (v. 3) and attain the unity of the faith (v. 13a).
  • Here, “faith” probably speaks of our convictions about Christ and the teachings regarding him. We must attain “the unity of the faith.”
  • Also, we must attain the unity of the knowledge of Christ.
  • This knowledge is not merely intellectual, but it includes experiential knowledge.
  • The church leaders must work until we attain unity of the faith and the knowledge of Christ.

C. To help the saints become mature and Christ-like (v. 13b).

  • Here, maturity is contrasted with the immaturity of infancy (v. 14).
  • Jesus is the ultimate standard of spiritual maturity.
  • Paul envisions corporate spiritual maturity.
  • This happens when each individual becomes mature.
  • At EAGC, we are intentional in helping believers become mature and to develop disciples.
  • We don’t want people to come, warm the chairs, and go back home.
  • If we want our work to be easy, we can just assign some work to a select few and ask them to do those tasks every week.
  • But every Tuesday, we prepare rosters and we try our best to involve all those who want to serve God in some ministry or the other.
  • God gave the leaders so that believers can become mature and Christ-like in their character.
  • As you are equipped by the leaders and submit to them, you can become mature and become like Christ.
  • What you are is far more important than what you do for the Lord.
  • If our life is not right before the Lord, our service will not be acceptable to him.
  • We must understand the purpose of leadership gifts and submit to God-given leaders.


  • Ephesians 4:14-16: 14 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. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 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.

A. The Saints will no longer be immature in God’s word (v. 14).

  • “Children” contrasts with “mature manhood” in verse 13.
  • ILLUSTRATION: {We will not be surprised if a child plays in the dirt.
  • But wouldn’t you be surprised if you see a 40-year-old man playing in the dirt in your street?
  • Or wouldn’t you be surprised if you saw a 50-year-old keep his thumb in his hand?}
  • Unfortunately, many Christians are still immature in their faith.
  • A lack of knowledge of God’s word leads to immaturity.
  • If we are immature in God’s word, we will be like children who are tossed to and fro by the waves and fall to deceitful schemes by the false teachers (1 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn 4:1-3; Jude 4; Rev. 2:2).
  • We will be like a ship that is tossed by waves.
  • We will be unstable and easily fall prey to false teachers.
  • The craftiness of false teachers easily deceives some Christians.
  • They fall into the trap of the prosperity gospel or hyper-grace teaching or Jehovah’s witnesses because they are still immature in their faith.
  • Many Christians don’t even know the basics of the faith.
  • But the mature can distinguish between truth and error.

B. The saints will speak the truth in love (v. 15).

  • The Greek phrase can be literally translated as “truthing in love.”
  • Some Christians fiercely defend the truth, but they lack love.
  • Truth must always be presented in love.
  • One of the marks of Christian maturity is speaking the truth in love.
  • Truth is like medicine and love is like sugar.
  • When the truth is spoken in love, that truth becomes palatable.
  • Then, the truth will lead to spiritual maturity. We will grow up.
  • Let me share with you one of the secrets of Christian ministry: longevity in ministry requires that we maintain healthy relationships with others.
  • Ministry is all about people, not just doing some tasks.
  • If we learn to handle relationships, we will be successful in the Lord’s work.
  • Apostle Paul restates the idea of maturity mentioned in verse 13 by using the imagery of Christ as the head of the body in verse 15b.

C. The saints will serve the Lord together (v. 16).

  • The imagery of the body to depict church growth is continued in verse 16.
  • Since Christ is the head of the body, he is the source of nourishment for the body, that is, the church.
  • Jesus is the goal of growth as well as the source of growth.
  • The church cannot grow without Jesus. He is the source of all growth!
  • The terms “together,” “every,” and “each” emphasizes that every member in the body of Christ has a crucial role in the growth of the church.
  • Just as the body is healthy when all the parts work properly, the church will grow and be healthy when all the members serve together.
  • God has promised us that we will do greater work when we work together (Jn 14:12).
  • The church has the great task of fulfilling the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20).
  • This cannot be done alone.
  • God doesn’t give all gifts to one individual.
  • He gives different gifts to different people so that we can work together.
  • When we serve God together, we do far more than what an individual can do.
  • Paul mentions love again in verse 16. (cf. vv. 2, 15).
  • The church must build itself up in love.
  • True Christian ministry is impossible without love because all ministry must flow out of love for God and people (cf. 1 Cor. 13).
  • We must understand the goal of leadership gifts and work towards that goal.


  • CENTRAL PROPOSITION OF THE SERMON: Mature in your faith and serve God passionately.
  • God has given leaders as gifts so that (purpose) they can equip us, attain the unity of faith, and become mature.
  • God has a clear goal: he doesn’t want us to remain immature; he wants us to speak the truth in love, and serve him together.
  • Saints of God, let’s grow up!
  • God wants us to become mature in our faith.
  • He wants us to serve him passionately.
  • Let’s keep growing and serving!