Imagine with me…
…It’s shortly after Pentecost. The church is getting ready to meet in the Temple Court, . The pews are all set nicely in their rows with the scroll of the day neatly tucked in the scroll holders. The sound system is ready and a mike awaits the speaker behind the pulpit. The worship team is ready… and after an opening prayer and some announcments songs soon fill the open air. And then the Pastor steps up to the mike. “Take out your scrolls and roll them on down to the letter to the Ephesians… we will continue where we left off last week in chapter 4, at verse 11…
Sounds familiar, sorta…
Two different era’s mixed up together sounds sorta strange: Church as we know it today mixed into a gathering of early believers.
Putting pews in Jerusalem’ Temple Court? In a pew? Uh… What’s a pew!? The scroll of Ephesians? Scroll holders? It’s only A.D. 48, Ephesians hasn’t been written yet. And what’s a pulpit? Or a Senior Pastor who stands up behind one and delivers his [three point] sermon to the people sitting in the pews in the temple court? It’s all mixed up like scrambled eggs.
Yep it is. Can scrambled eggs be unscrambled? Take away the scroll; they didn’t have Ephesians on a scroll to read. They didn’t yet have Bibles. But even if they had, most of the early believers were illiterate. Take away the pews with the Bible holders… and the sound system, and the Pastor speaking behind the pulpit, and the worship team… The early church gathering didn’t have any of that. How in the world did they survive without them?
Actually the question should be, “How was it that they thrived and grew by leaps and bounds without any of that?”
Take that all away, roll the time back to the Day of Pentecost and put Peter in his place, speaking the truth with amazing boldness… What did he have? When the 120 in the upper room went out after Pentecost what did they all have?
…they had Jesus.
They had Jesus within. They had the Life living within them and they were living by that Life. They were the new dwelling place of God. They were the new temple, the living stones, being built upon the Cornerstone, filled with all His power by the Spirit’s anointing. They had within them the living Word, and they were living by the Life of that living Word.
But wait, we have the word too, right? Now we have the Word, The Holy Bible. We now have something the early New Testament church didn’t have, namely, we now have the New Testament, and hey, not only that, WE have the Whole Book. And unlike most of them back then, we can read! So we should be better off right? We now have the Book. We must be better equipped than the early church was right? And for sure more mature…
Well, lets see… Take your scrolls out of your scroll holders and roll them on down to the letter to the Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11…”
11 And [Jesus] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of 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 a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Jesus gifted the church with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor (and) teachers, given in verse 11 to function as the equippers of the saints; to equip the individual parts for their work together with Jesus, the head of the Body, in service and ministry. We have pastors… And… let’s see… we used to have traveling evangelists. (But have you met any lately?) We do have pastors, lots of pastors to equip us. Does it seem some of those listed are missing in today’s church in America…? If that is so, why is that? And without them are we better equipped than the early church was? Can we be? Are we better off? If some of the equippers who were gifted to the early church are missing how can we, the latter church, be properly equipped and better off without them?
And how then can we attain to the unity of the faith? And a true knowledge of the Son?
Well… we do have 33,000 (and growing) examples of the “unity of the faith”. 33,000 denominations denominating; giving a name for and founding their identities upon the winds of the different doctrines found in and out(!) of the Bible.
We do have a lot of knowledge. We been taught a lot of stuff, we know all about a lot of things in the Word, in the Book. Is that knowledge the equipping we’re talking about? If it’s not then what do we need to know? Who then do we need to know?
Jesus. (Yeah, I know, of course…)
But do we really fully know Him? Do we really know the Word, the living, breathing, nail scarred Son? Are we hungry enough to seek his Bread? Are we really thirsty for the Living water that satisfies? Are the equippers of today asking us this: Is He the one we are living by; are we living by a Life not our own? Isn’t that where we find the true knowledge of the Son? In picking up our cross and laying down our lives and partaking of His Life? Is our knowledge of him merely conceptual (“Biblical” even, doctrinally correct even.) or is it truly personal and relational? Do we just know all the stuff (we may think) there is to know about him or do we really know Him? If we know Him have we then been filled in full measure with “the fullness of Christ”? Have we grown up in all aspects unto Him? Are we letting Him be our head? Individually? And corporately?
So many questions… Hard questions… I gave no answers ‘cept one. (you noticed…?)
Do you ‘Got Jesus’? He’s got the answers… What is he saying to you…?
O.k., now roll up your scrolls and place them in the scroll holders…
Part Two (in part, I hope, from you…) is coming: Eph 4: 15,16:
Jesus is building his church; How do you think the church is doing?!