We Value Equipping

Steve Viars October 28, 2018 Ephesians 4:11-12
Outline

Stewardship - God-given responsibility with accountability

The Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything – you own nothing

2. God has entrusted you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given – he wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time and it may be today

3 reasons churches and Christians should emphasize training for all of God’s people

I. Because of the Nature of Our Spiritual Gifts

A. Your use of your gift(s) determines whether you are walking worthy of your calling

Ephesians 4:1 - Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

B. These abilities are gifts of God’s grace

Ephesians 4:7 - But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

1 Peter 4:10 - As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Romans 12:6-8 - Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

C. Each person’s gift set is unique

Ephesians 4:7 - But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

D. Our gifts, and ability to use them well, were purchased at a great price

E. We are freed captives enjoying the spoils of our victorious king

II. Because of the Beauty of Equipping

katartismos – equipping

Matthew 4:21 - Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.

Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

A. Sometimes (often times?) the process includes you being mended and returned to full use

Hebrews 10:5 - Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me…

Hebrews 11:3 - By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

B. Because God values preparing and perfecting His people

1 Peter 5:10 - After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

C. Many times an episode of suffering is part of God’s equipping process

A.W Tozer – “It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

Acts 9:26 - When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.

Acts 9:27 - But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.

Acts 18:26 - …and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

III. Because of the Purpose of Equipping

Ephesians 4:12 - …for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…

“…for the equipping of the saints for ministering work, with a view to the building up of the Body of Christ” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol 1, p. 101)

- I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but one of the jobs I had while working my way through college and graduate school was building in-ground swimming pools…

- I started the summer right after high school…and I knew I was going to Bible College that fall…and part of what I loved was that I could work as many hours as I wanted to, and at $5 an hour…that went a long way toward covering my first year’s tuition bill…

- the owner placed me on a crew with couple of guys who were much older, much more knowledgeable about construction, and let’s just say – probably didn’t possess quite as much energy as an 18 young guy…

- so it was a great relationship – I loved to work – that lightened their load – and so they started teaching me more aspects of the process…

- everything I learned to do – they didn’t have to do – and it was a good situation all the way around…

- what I didn’t know was what was happening behind the scenes…at some point the owner decided that the next summer he wanted me to have my own crew…and he made what was probably a mistake of telling the older guys that…but also not telling me…

- so all of a sudden, there were certain aspects of the process they didn’t want me to learn…

- which was fine – I didn’t know about the politics behind the scene…so I learned what they wanted me to learn…and ignored what they didn’t…which turned out to be anything about running the plumbing for the pool…

- so I finished that summer – went off to school…and then when I back visiting at Christmastime, I had a meeting with the boss…

- and that’s when he told me he wanted me to hire some of my friends from Bible college, bring them back to Gary that summer, and we would see how we could do…

- I wasn’t expecting that – I was only 18 – and I said something like – you know, there are some aspects of the job I’ve never done…

- his response was something like – ahh, you’ll figure it out…so that was the end of that…

- I also didn’t know that the owner was using this to motivate the two older guys who were year round employees and a pretty expensive part of the payroll…so he was telling them these young bucks were going to come back and show them up…

- so we came back – went to our very first job – and it could not have gone any better…

- we only had 12 weeks to earn enough money to get back to college…so the homeowners loved that we worked sunup to sundown…

- we also – although this wasn’t very smart – had the homeowner’s kids away, and the neighborhood kids running all over the jobsite…

- we were all studying for ministry and loved kids – so instead of shooing them away, we had them climbing on dirt piles, bringing us tools, bringing us water, whatever…so all the neighbors loved all the excitement this project was creating in the neighborhood…

- so after the first day or town, there would be a gallery of neighbors watching us after work – like a little party…

- so the first we dug the hole – boom, it went perfectly…

- then we set the walls and poured the footers…the next day we backfilled and poured the deck…it could not have gone any better or any faster…

- so on the fourth day – we were pouring the concrete inside the pool and getting ready to fill it when the homeowner brought me their cordless phone…this was long before cell phones but we were just getting cordless phones – they were huge…

- but I’m down in the pool and it’s the owner of the company…

- and he said – hey, I just spoke with the homeowner…”are you guys really coming down the slope”? --- that’s pool lingo for – you’re finishing the concrete in the inside of the pool?...I said yep – it couldn’t go any better…

- what I didn’t know was – he had the two older guys back in the office with him – and they swore there was no way we had made that much progress…so completely unbeknownst to me – he was giving them a hard time…

- we only had one step left – hook up the plumbing…

- so you have four underground lines…one for the skimmer at the top of the wall, and one for the drain at the bottom…both of those suck water – they come into pump on the filter pad…

- and the other two for the drain lines…they take the treated water from the filter pad back to the pool…

- all of that works perfectly…if you carefully mark the underground lines…remember the owner had said – ahhh, you’ll figure it out…that’s the part I hadn’t figured out yet…

- so on the last day – the other guys were cleaning up the jobsite…getting the pool filled with water…assembling and installing ladders and slide…

- while Mr. Big Britches…me…was running the plumbing…

- but now most people are home from work…the gallery is growing in size…

- so it’s time to flip the switch and start the filter…

- so I say to one of the little neighborhood kids…go over to deck where the skimmer is…take the plastic top off…and look down inside…because you’re going to see that start to suck water…

- tell me when that happens…

- so he gets in place…puts his little face right over the top of the skimmer…

- the only problem is – the process only works the way I just described…if you hook the pipes up correctly…

- but if you get them switched…instead of it sucking water…it’s going to shoot a large stream of water straight in the air – after hitting the poor neighborhood kid right in the face and knocking him completely over…

- that’s called – in a split second – going from being the neighborhood hero to being the neighborhood villain…

- from being the pool expert – to being a guy who obviously didn’t know what he was doing…

- the point of that story is – thorough training…being completely equipped to do a job…is really, really important…

- and thankfully, the little neighborhood fella wasn’t injured…some people actually thought I did it on purpose…

- but if there is a lack of proper training…equipping…in the church of Jesus Christ…that problem can be much more serious…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible this am to Ephesians chapter 4…page ____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this morning we’re beginning Stewardship Month which -- many folks who have been part of our church family for a significant length of time would say – is one of our favorite times of the year…

- we always do this in the Sundays leading up to Thanksgiving…and it is a time for us to consider all that God has entrusted to us…and whether we are being faithful to the trust…

- so we could talk about our minds – that is something God has entrusted to us…

- our tongues – our time, our friends, our families, our jobs, our classes, our gifts, our opportunities, our finances, our neighbors…

- that’s what Stewardship is – God-given responsibility with accountability.

- the concept was well known in Bible times because since modes of travel were so different – when a land owner was going to go somewhere – he could be gone for an extended period of time…

- so he selected one or more of his servants to be an oikonomenos – from the Greek word oikos (house) – the idea was – this servant was going to be in charge of a portion of the house…

- and his responsibility was to take what he was given and increase it just as if the master was there…

- and since you never knew when the master would return – you always had to be ready to give an account…

- well, Jesus used that same word picture to describe people like you and me…we’re stewards…which is apposition of honor and trust…

- and we think that’s so important that once a year, we stop and evaluate individually and as a church – how are we doing in this matter of stewardship…

- we also like to think about…The Four Factors of Stewardship.

1. God owns everything – you own nothing.

2. God has entrusted you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given – he wants you to increase it.

4. God can call you into account at any time and it may be today.

- this year, as part of our annual theme of Being Careful How We Build…we would like to do a verse by verse study of Ephesians 4:11-16…because this is one of the most important passages in the entire Bible on what a church is supposed to be doing…and over the next four weeks, we’d like to emphasize these primary points from the text:

1. We value equipping. (we don’t want any kids getting water splashed in their faces)

2. We Value Unity

3. We value doctrine.

4. We value service

- and the question before the house is – is there evidence that you value those qualities as well?...

- there are other aspects of Stewardship Month as well…we’ll have testimonies from men and women from our church family just like we heard from Don and Peggy this am…

- there’s a stewardship commitment card to help focus our decision making process as we respond to what we’re hearing…

- and then there’s the highlight – the Stewardship Celebration, the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving – this year that’s November 18 – and it will be held at the Northend Community Center – it’s free of charge but we ask you to pick up a ticket…we hope every person attending our church, even if you’ve just started…will plan to be with us…

- now let’s read the passage that will form the foundation of everything we’re studying this month…read Ephesians 4:1 -16

- so this am we’re talking about how We Value Equipping…and with the time we have remaining…let’s think about 3 reasons churches and Christians should emphasize training for all of God’s people.

I. Because of the Nature of Our Spiritual Gifts

- for many Christians, the book of Ephesians is one of our favorite books…for many reasons…including the way it is organized…

- the first three chapters is about our identity in Christ…so if there has been a definite time in your life when you admitted your sin and repented (turned from that approach to living)…and placed your faith and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as your only hope of being reconciled to God…

- you can read statement after statement of what is now true of you…fully and completely because of the grace of God…

- then there is a clear transition in chapter 4 verse 1…

- because now we start talking about what God wants you to do, and to be – because of who you are….

- theologically we refer to the first three chapters as the indicatives – the last four as the imperatives…and you may have noticed – verse 1 sets the table for all of this…

- we could say it this way….

A. Your use of your gift(s) determines whether you are walking worthy of your calling – 4:1

- Ephesians 4:1 - Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

- see. If you know Christ – God has a plan and purpose for your life…you’re a steward too…you’re being trusted with a place/position in his harvest field…

- Jesus said it like this - John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- if that’s true – and it is – that explains why in verse 12 Paul makes it clear – churches in general and pastors in particular have to place tremendous emphasis on equipping men and women to bear fruit in the kingdom of God…that is the only way a person could walk worthy of their calling…

- and its wrong for churches to talk about “the what” without also giving plenty of help and instruction on the “how to’s”…(if you want me to run the plumbing correctly, you have to teach me how to do it…)

- now, please add what is stated in verse 7 to the mix…

B. These abilities are gifts of God’s grace – 4:7

- Ephesians 4:7 - But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

- now, I realize some of you are new to studying the Bible, and we’re delighted you are here…

- but the basic idea is that every person who chooses to become a Christian is given at least one spiritual gift…

- we also read about this in places like:

  • 1 Peter 4:10 - As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
  • Romans 12:6–8 - Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

- the emphasis in Ephesians 4:7 is on how much grace was required that you and I, regardless of the way we might have lived before we came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior…would be given gifts that could be useful in the accomplishment of his plan…

- and to our main point this am – we believe it would be an affront to the grace of God for our church and our pastors not to do everything possible to equip each of our members to use their gifts well…and it would be equally offensive to God’s grace if our members were not seeking to be equipped in their use…

- another important point here is that…

C. Each person’s gift set is unique – 4:7

- if you’re in the habit of circling in your Bible, you might want to circle the word “but” at the beginning of verse 7…

- Bible students would call that an adversative use – as opposed to a simple connecting word (or conjunction)…

- the point is – in the first 6 verses, the emphasis is on unity…what we all have in common…

- but – verse 7 – to each one of us, a particular gift or mixture of gifts is given…

- and did you notice the last part of verse 7…this is according to what?...

- Ephesians 4:7 - But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

- think about the people sitting around you…they are different than you, right?...and I hope you’re glad about that…

- and for the person to your right – he or she is like a test tube – and Jesus measured out the exact gift mix He wanted that person to have…then put a stopped in the top of that test tube…and then made you, and then made the person sitting to your left…

- every one of those gift sets is valuable…everyone is unique…and everyone is needed…

- you may remember the discussion in 1 Cor 12 likening the church to a physical body…the eye can’t say to the hand – I have no need of you…

- or conversely – the foot can’t say, because I’m not a hand, I’m unimportant…

- and when you tie that back to the idea of equipping…

- it can’t be a one size fits all approach…

- we have to find ways to equip each and every person…that’s part of our stewardship…

- and each and every person has to want to be equipped – that’s part of your stewardship…

- now what’s going on in verses 8-9?...that’s an illusion to Psalm 68…

D. Our gifts and our ability to use them well were purchased at a great price – 4:8

- Psalm 68 is a beautiful picture of a king whose subjects have been captured in a previous battle…

- and now he goes with a new army and frees his subjects who were formerly captives…and then he leads them back home and through the city, giving gifts to everyone from the spoil that has been won…

- but in this case – our King – the Lord Jesus Christ…had to descend to the earth to live, and then die in our place – for our sin – and then be resurrected…

- which means…

E. We are freed captives enjoying the spoils of our victorious king – 4:9

- do you see the argument building?…this too is why it would be so offensive to our Lord if we did not emphasize equipping…

- you or me ever using our spiritual gifts productively required the greatest sacrifice to first be made…

- let’s just apply that one of many, many different areas of local church ministry…

- before this week is out – we will literally have hundreds and hundreds of our church members involved in caring for and teaching children in our community through our various church ministries…

- and in some cases – those conversations will be life transformational…

- why would those members be willing to be equipped and deployed in that fashion?...

- because of this entire list we’ve just made exegetically from this text…

- they understand that in so doing, they are walking worthy of their calling

- and they are well stewarding God’s grace in their lives…

- and they want to use their unique gift set because that may be exactly what that child needs right now – not anyone else’s

- and they know their gifts were purchased at a great price

- and they want to please their victorious king…

- and our church would want to be sure we are equipping such men and women well for the exact same reason…

- and because of the possibility of delightful spiritual fruit to be borne from all of this…we want to be very, very careful how we build,,,

- so, why should we emphasize training for all of God’s people?...because of the nature of our spiritual gifts…{the exegetical run up to this key text so to speak)…now, what’s the 2nd reason?

II. Because of the Beauty of Equipping

- Now let’s lock onto this key word in verse 12 – Paul just said in the previous verse that God gave apostles and prophets…we think for the foundation of the church…the completion of God’s Word…

- and then evangelists – sort of like our current day missionaries…and then pastor/teachers…to do something…

- katartismos – equipping

- this particular form is only used here in the NT, but looking at the verb to which it is related shows how rich and beautiful this concept is…

- I am so glad as a pastor that this is a significant aspect of my job…we’re serious when we say that we value equipping…

- let me show you some other places in the NT where this original word is used, but often it is translated with an English word other than equipping – but this helps us understand more about what Paul really meant…

  • Matthew 4:21 - Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.
  • Hebrews 10:5 - Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me;
  • Hebrews 11:3 – By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
  • 1 Peter 5:10 - After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

- which word in Matthew 4:21 do you think is our word equipping in Ephesians 4:12?...for another hint, here’s another example:

- Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

- so again, which word in Matthew 4:21, and now Galatians 6:1 – do you think is closely related to our word equip in Ephesians 4:12?

-

- here’s what this means:

A. Sometimes (often times?) the process includes you being mended and returned to full use.

- right now I’m talking to the person who would say – well, I’m damaged goods, I can’t be equipped for ministry…because of something in my past, or something in my life today…

- please don’t separate the concept of “being repaired/mended” from the concept of “being equipped”…often that is one and the same thing…

- that’s why we have our counseling ministry…our small groups…our mentoring programs…

- why?...because we value equipping…and please don’t hesitate to take advantage of those ministries…because you should value equipping too…

- here are a couple of other places that related words to katartismos are used…

- what word there do you think is translated “equip” in Eph 4:12?...here’s another one:

- same question…

- it’s the word prepared…here’s the point…

B. Because God values preparing and perfecting His people.

- do you think God is finished with you?...

- do you think your best ministry days are behind you…or in front of you?...

- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if God wanted to use you for a ministry opportunity in the days ahead, but instead He had to use someone else because when the time came, you weren’t prepared….you weren’t equipped?...

- now I realize someone might say – well PV, I want to be equipped to use my gifts more effectively sometime in the future…but right now I have to put all of that on hold because I’m facing some kind of trial or difficulty…

- what do you think God’s Word would say to you today?...

C. Many times an episode of suffering is part of God’s equipping process

- A.W Tozer – “It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

- those are human words – but there is no question that churches have the responsibility to serve and shepherd men and women through times of adversity…and often that equips a person to use his or her gifts at an even deeper level of effectiveness if the period of suffering is stewarded well…

- now, there are so many aspects of this that time doesn’t allow us to discuss…

- it’s amazing how one word in the Bible – like the Word equip – is so important throughout the Scriptures…

- but we could talk about Jesus equipped His disciples…it wasn’t classes and manuals…it was life on life…

- or we could think about how after Saul of Tarsus became a Christian – and -- Acts 9:26 - When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.

- and someone needed to equip him…and who stepped up to do it?... Acts 9:27 - But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.

- and of course Saul of Tarsus became the apostle Paul…in part because of the equipping ministry of Barnabus…

- that happened later in the book of Acts with a man named Apollos – who had a lot of gifts but didn’t exactly have it all figured out yet – I love what happened next… Acts 18:26- and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

- that’s equipping…the book of Titus we just studied together was an example of Paul equipping Titus…just like he did for Timothy in 1-2 Timothy…

- we could also think about the tremendous number of men and women who were equipped and then had such incredibly fruitful ministries…

- one other emphasis from this word that will come out in subsequent weeks – when you study this word – it is often associated with both joy and unity in the local church…

- equipped people who have their hands on the plow of ministry can result in a joyful and a unified church…

- one last reason this is important…

III. Because of the Purpose of Equipping

- I’m purposely staying away from the subject of serving because we’re going to devote an entire message to that when we get to verse 16, the climax of the passage…

- but please look at verse 12 one last time…

- Ephesians 4:12 - for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

- a NT scholar named Kenneth Wuest translated this part of the verse like this – “for the equipping of the saints for ministering work, with a view to the building up of the Body of Christ” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol 1, p. 101)

- here’s the question our church has to face this am…are we being good stewards of all of the gifts that have been entrusted to the members of our church family by finding as many ways as possible to equip men and women to use those gifts well?...

- that’s why we have the counseling and discipleship and mentoring programs we do

- that’s why we provide so many service opportunities across each of our five campuses along with the training to serve on those platforms well…

- but I want to be sure I’ve said this today – if you have a suggestion about how our church can do a better job of equipping…please don’t hesitate to talk to us…because what Wuest is saying is true – we want to have a view of being equipped people who are building up the body of Christ in our town and around the world…

- but then please think about it from your perspective…in the past twelve months, have you been a good steward of all the equipping opportunities that have been made available to you?...

- it might start with getting in the game – becoming a follower of Jesus Christ…

- or, publicly declaring your allegiance to Christ in baptism…

- joining our church because you recognize that is how God is mediating His plan and program in this age…

- getting involved in counseling or mentoring to work on a particular sinful habit that is holding you back from serving more effectively…

- jumping into a serving opportunity into to begin determining your giftedness…

- coming alongside someone in leadership and asking for training

- talking to your deacon, service pastor, ABF or small group leader – crafting a personalize equipping plan…

- if we’re going to be careful how we build – we have to value that as a church, or you have to value that as an individual…


Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video