Growing into Christ: Andrew T. Lincoln on Ephesians 4 and the spiritual growth of the Church

This from Andrew T. Lincoln in his commentary on Ephesians, which is part of the Word Biblical Commentary series:

So Christ’s giving of gifts to the Church is to enable the Church to move toward its goals, and that movement is seen in terms of believers’ growth toward Christ. In Paul’s letters, believers’ faith can be said to grow (cf. 2 Cor 10:15; 2 Thess 1:3), and growth is used of the development of the local Corinthian church and credited to God in 1 Cor 3:6, 7. The concept occurs more often in Colossians, where it is employed of the work of the gospel itself in 1:6, of believers’ knowledge of God in 1:10, and of the whole body of the Church, which is said in 2:19, the verse on which Eph 4:15, 16 is modeled, to “grow with a growth that is from God.” Here in Ephesians, then, the notion of the Church’s growth is elaborated, and 4:15 has affinities with 2:20, 21 where, as we have seen, Christ is presented as the keystone of a building in the process of growth. The earlier statements of the Church’s goals in 4:13 were primarily descriptions of the Church itself in its state of completion, but now it is specifically Christ who is the standard of maturity, indicating again that for this writer ecclesiology remains determined and measured by Christology. The Church is in Christ and has to grow up toward him. This underlines that the Church’s growth is not being thought of in terms of quantity, a numerical expansion of its membership, but in terms of quality, an increasing approximation of believers to Christ. In the face of the scheming of error, believers are not only to stand firm, as will be emphasized in 6:13, 14, but also to make progress. That proper growth and progress is to take place in every way, that is, in every aspect of the Church’s life and particularly in those aspects singled out earlier, in unity, in knowledge, and in speaking the truth in love.

I Am Filled with God’s Power

In our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?“, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings. This past weekend I concluded the series by looking at how the Holy Spirit anchors our identity in God, connects us to a broader family, and sends us out with a new sense of mission.

You can view the message video and an expanded sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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The Gifts of the Holy Spirit? (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend entitled “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit” from our “Holy Spirit” series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When was a time when you sensed that God particularly strengthened or gifted you to serve someone else or the church in general?
  2. This week, we continue exploring life in the Holy Spirit by looking at the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Begin your study by asking God to speak to you. There are three main passages that talk about spiritual gifts in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, and Ephesians 4:1-16. Whether on your own or with a group, read these passages out loud.
  3. The Greek word for these spiritual gifts is charismata. This is a derivative of the Greek word charis, which is usually translated as grace. This is perhaps most clear in Romans 12:3-8. What do you think the significance of this is for our understanding of spiritual gifts?Read More »

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

holy spirit rotatorThis weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series on the Holy Spirit with a message on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

I drew from 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4:1-16 for this message in order to address many questions that we have about the Holy Spirit and the gifts that He gives.

You can listen to my message at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook. A slightly revised message outline is included below:

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Holy Spirit

holy spirit rotator

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church, we are beginning a series entitled “Holy Spirit.” We hear a lot about God in general, but the Christian understanding of God is that there is one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? Is the Spirit an ethereal force or a relational personality? How do Christians live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit?

Here is the outline of the sermon series:

May 18/19 – Who is the Holy Spirit?
Texts: John 14-16; Acts 1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Ephesians 1:13-14

May 25/26 – The Character of the Holy Spirit
Texts: Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 5:15-20

June 1/2 – The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Texts: Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:1-16 

June 8/9 – The Mission of the Holy Spirit
Texts: John 15:26-27, 20:21-23; Acts 1:8