The Fullness of Christ

A Message by Aaron Stevens

We are going to move on to our lesson today from Ephesians. Now if you were with us last week, we did kind of a brief recap of the first half of the Book of Ephesians.

We spent some time looking again at chapters one through three in the Book of Ephesians. Now, if you miss that, that’s okay. You’re not going to be lost. Paul was nice enough to kind of split this into two equal parts for us. And we’re going to kind of pick up a similar theme, but a different theme as we pick up the second half of the Book of Ephesians. Now if you did miss it, you can either go back and watch the first five sermons. They’re all on our YouTube channel, or you can just watch last week and get the Cliff Notes version. But either way, you can get kind of caught up on where we’re at in the Book of Ephesians. For those of you who were here last week, you know that we’re going to pick up chapter four here today. Now I have a question for you this morning. The question I have is what are you full of? Now, it’s a Sunday morning just after breakfast time. For some of you, the answer might be coffee. And for some of you, the answer might be cinnamon rolls. And for those of us like Jason and I, the answer might be bacon, which I actually didn’t have any bacon this morning.

Or you might be full of the yummy Donuts that we have this morning that Andrew Roberts provided for us. But I want you to think about what is it that you are filled with? What is it that you are full of? And as the teaser on the screen probably gives away, the correct answer would be Christ. Are we truly living into the fullness of Christ? And that’s important because, see, fullness is just what it sounds like. It means to truly be filled with Christ. So sometimes we say, yes, I’m a believer and yes, I’m a Christ-follower. And yes, I’m a Christian, but we’re not truly filling ourselves with Christ because, see, we check off our boxes, right? Okay. I prayed and I read the Bible and I went to Church on Sunday morning. Check. So I’m good. But we’re not truly allowing Christ to fill us up. And that’s what Paul is going to remind us of. So as we unpack our lesson here this morning, we’re going to talk about how when we use our gifts the way that Paul describes, when we use our gifts and we come together, we can do amazing things for the Kingdom when we allow Christ to fill us up and to use us.

And that’s what Paul’s going to remind us of here in Ephesians. Now if you’ve been paying attention to the Ephesians series, you might be going haven’t we kind of already talked about the importance of gathering together? And the answer is yes, we have. But what does that tell you? If Paul is revisiting this idea, it means that it’s important, right? If the teacher says something two or three times, there’s probably a pretty good chance it’s going to be on the test. And see, that’s exactly what Paul is doing. He’s well aware that he’s already talked a little bit about community and the importance of being together. But he’s going to revisit that idea from the standpoint of when we truly use our gifts and when we come together as a team, as a family and use those gifts together, we can accomplish even more for the Kingdom. And that’s kind of the premise of what we’re going to look at here this morning. What exactly does it mean to be gifted? What comes to mind when you think of gifted now? When I was younger, there used to be a thing in school, right.

Called the gifted program, and I don’t know if they call it that anymore. Maybe some of you young folks can help me out. I don’t know if they call it that anymore or if they changed the name, but basically, they would give you like an aptitude test to kind of figure out, were you gifted or were you non-gifted. I won’t get on my other soapbox about how maybe we shouldn’t label kids as gifted and non-gifted and then wonder why they didn’t succeed in life. But that’s a whole other story for a whole another day. But each and every one of us has been uniquely gifted by God. Now I want you to turn to the person next to you, and I want you to say you are gifted.

I want you to turn the person on the other side and say you are gifted. Now some of you are looking at each other and kind of going, I am. What exactly does that wait, how am I gifted? But as Christians, we are uniquely gifted. We’ve been given talents. We’ve been given abilities. We’ve been given things by God to achieve his purpose. And it’s our job, right, to figure out what that is and how that fits into the puzzle and how we can use that to build each other up and to build the Kingdom up. Before we jump into Ephesians, I want to give you a little background, a little context. I want you to turn with you to Romans chapter twelve. So Romans chapter twelve says we have different gifts according to the Grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith. Now, don’t get hung up on that word prophesy because, yes, sometimes when the Bible refers to prophecy, it’s referring to foretelling what might happen in the future. But oftentimes in the scriptures, it’s also used just to say sharing God’s word. So I don’t want you to see that and go, Well, I can’t prophesy.

Well, I can’t prophesy either. I can’t tell you who’s going to win the game today. I have a feeling I know who’s going to win the game today, but I can’t tell you with any certainty. Seven says if it is serving, then serve. We just had a two week series all about serving. And Paul’s reminding us here, if your gift is service, then serve and do it for the Kingdom. It says, if it is teaching, then teach. And some of you are going, that’s not me. I don’t want to get up there and teach. And that’s okay because we’re each uniquely gifted. It says if it is to encourage, then give encouragement. Now, as Christians and as a family, I hope that we’re all good at this one, right, because we’re told over and over again to build each other up, to encourage one another. And we have some amazing people in this Church that are fantastic encouragers, and that is just as important a gift as prophecy and as teaching and as serving because that is your way of using your giftedness. When I think of encouragers, I always think of Ms. Billyore, who I love to death.

She is the greatest encourager because she always has a kind and positive word. And maybe that’s not your strong suit. The cool thing about encouraging is it’s pretty easy to do. It doesn’t take much to say. Ray, you did a great job today with the Communion. Floyd, you did a great job today with the scripture reading. It doesn’t take much, but sometimes just those little words of encouragement, speaking life into others can make all the difference in the world. If it is to give, then give generously. We have some amazing folks here at our congregation that are just generous givers of their time, of their talent and of their resources. Because remember, when it says to give, we’re not just talking about money. There’s so much more that goes along with it. We’re just talking about VBS. That’s a chance for you to give your time and your resources. So if you’re telling us to give, then give. If it’s to lead, do it diligently. If it’s to show mercy, do it cheerfully. See what Paul’s getting at here in Romans is. He’s saying, hey, not only figure out what your gift is, but do it in the right way and for the right reasons.

Do it to glorify God. See, when we come together in Christ, we’re complete. See, each of us has a puzzle piece, right? Each of us has a different puzzle piece and they’re all different. But when they all come together, it’s a beautiful thing. So we need different people playing different parts, right, to come together to serve Jesus. I don’t sing. You will never see me up here on this stage singing I will never bust out in song during a sermon. That’s my promise to you. And you’ll never see me up here leading worship unless it is just an absolute desperate time. And then I’ll be Millie Vanilli. I’ll be up here lip-syncing. Some of your older folks get that. Some of the young kids are like, who the who’s Millie Vanilli? I don’t know who that is, but my point is we each have different giftedness. Brother Glenn can memorize scriptures like no other. I am amazed every time I see him do it. I can’t do it. I’m not gifted in that area. I just can’t. Thank you for the words of encouragement. But you get my point, right? We all play different role.

It’s just like any sports team if you think about a basketball team, right? You’ve got people who are scorers, you’ve got people who are defenders. We’re going to watch the Super Bowl today, right? These teams that make it to the Super Bowl, they make it there because they are good on offense, they are good on defense, and they are good on special teams. If they weren’t, they would not have made it to the Super Bowl. It’s the same thing for us. See, we each have our own talents. We each have our own giftedness, and we come together and use that. We can make amazing things happen. So why do we come together? These are the three things. These are three things I want you to remember today. And if you get nothing else out of today, if you don’t remember anything else from today, I want you to remember these three reasons that we come together. One is to be built up. The second is to be filled up, and the last is to grow up. Now, growing up is optional, right? Growing old is necessary. Growing up. On the other hand, there are people like me who are nearing 50 and still haven’t figured out how to grow up.

But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about growing in our faith. We’re talking about growing in our maturity. We’re talking about growing closer to Jesus Christ. But these are the three things that I want you to remember today. The reason it’s so important for us to come together and to use our gifts is to be built up, to be filled up and to grow up. And these things are so vitally important. And we’re going to revisit those today as we look at Ephesians. So before we jump into Ephesians chapter four, I want you to flip over to Ephesians chapter one. We’re going to look at verses nine and ten. It says, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to the good pleasure which he purposed in Christ. Now, if you were with us for the first half of your Fascinator, we talked an awful lot about being in Christ. That theme hasn’t changed. That theme never changes. It says to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment, to bring unity to all things in heaven and on Earth under Christ. Flip ahead in your Bible to Ephesians chapter two, not making you go too far here.

Ephesians chapter two, verse 19, says, Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. See, we are no longer strangers. We are no longer foreigners. We are family and we love each other and we love Jesus. And see, that’s the bond that holds us together, just like any family. We’re going to have times where we’re going to drive each other crazy, right? We’re going to have times where we may not see eye to eye, but see, we don’t focus on the things that change. We don’t focus on the things that make us different. We focus on the one thing that never changes, and that’s Jesus Christ. And when we focus on that and we come together and we unify ourselves, we can do amazing things. We just went through a time period that’s been kind of unprecedented. And we couldn’t actually meet together. We couldn’t come to this building. We couldn’t be together. We couldn’t be in unity. I’m very thankful for the technology that we have, and I’m very thankful for Chris and Charlotte, who put out an amazing Livestream product. We have one of the top live streams and trust me, I’ve watched a lot of them.

We have an amazing Livestream. And that’s fantastic for the folks that can’t be here with us, right? My parents love to watch from Illinois. They obviously can’t fly here every week to watch me speak, but they love to be a part of our Church. And we’ve got some that are shut-ins or are sick and not able to be here. That’s fantastic. I love that we have the live stream for those purposes. But there’s something powerful about when we walk in that door and we’re together. It’s an energy. I hope that when you’re not with us that you’re longing to be with us. I hope that we are creating and building and growing a family that is just like your biological family. You can’t wait to be with these people and you can’t wait to be together. Because see, that’s what was missing when we were all in our own homes, right. When we’re all watching. I was up here speaking to a completely empty auditorium, right. We weren’t together. We weren’t using our gifts together. We weren’t building each other up. We weren’t encouraging each other because we couldn’t be together. We often talk about the early Church, the Acts, chapter two Church where they did everything together.

It’s this idea of unity. It’s this idea of better together. It’s this idea of there should be something powerful that happens when we come together. Let’s fast forward to Ephesians chapter four, and we’ll get into kind of the heart of what we’re looking at here today. Ephesians four, verse eleven says. Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and the teachers. Christ established these roles. He established these positions, so to speak. And then don’t miss verse twelve to equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be there’s. That word again, built up, built up. We come together to be built up. We come together to be fed. We come together to be filled up so that when we go out those doors, we’re ready to do battle. In just a few weeks, we’ll talk about the full armor of God. But as we’re thinking about this idea of being built up, I started thinking about exercising. And most of you know, by now, I like to work out well before I got sick. I like to work out a lot but think about what happens when you work out.

And this picture is a perfect example of what I’m getting at. When you’re in the gym and you’re lifting weights, right? You’re doing heavyweights. What do you need? You need a spotter, right? Because what happens if you go to lift heavy weights and all of a sudden you can’t lift them, they can crush you, they can hurt you. And see, I love this picture because, see, this is a good spotter. Only a couple of fingers on the bar, right. Still making you do the work, but there to help. And see, that’s exactly what we are. See, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we don’t do the work for each other, but we’re there to spot each other. We’re here to help each other. We’re there to encourage each other. We’re there to build each other up. And if we fall, there’s somebody there to help us. Verse 13 says, until we all reach unity, there’s that word again in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature. Remember, built up, filled up, grow into maturity, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. See, that’s how we become full in Christ.

He lays it out for us right here in verse 13. We need to be unified. We need to be together. We need to be in the knowledge of the Son of God. We need to become mature in order to attain the fullness of Christ. See, if we don’t use our gifts, if we don’t come together to be filled up, then instead of our tank being full, our tank is empty. And you can’t accomplish much if your tank is empty. And I don’t know about you, but these days when I see a full tank of gas, I think about money. In case you haven’t noticed, gas is about five, and some change a gallon. So little Valentine’s Day tip for you. If your significant other says, I want you to take me somewhere expensive for Valentine’s Day, take them to the gas station. It’s a win-win. That’s right. You get a full tank of gas and they got to go someplace expensive. But all joking aside, we need to be filled with Christ, because, see, that’s what allows us to do his work. That’s what allows us to go outside these doors and be a good Christian, because, see, it’s relatively easy to be a good Christian inside of this safe space, right these four walls, because there’s nobody peer pressuring you to do things you shouldn’t be doing.

There are no temptations out there of things you shouldn’t be doing. And you’ve got a whole group of people that love you. It’s when you go out there that it gets really tough. And no, I don’t mean the courtyard. I’m talking out there in the world. That’s where it gets hard, because that’s where you do have temptations, and that’s where you do have people who don’t have your best interests at heart, and you have people that don’t want you to succeed. Got to be full. We got to be filled up. And that’s one of the reasons that we come together here in this place on Sunday mornings is to be filled up. We have a Communion thought. We have scripture reading, we have a lesson. And most importantly, we have a family of believers that are speaking life into us that love us and they care about us because you always have a loving family here at the Church. Verse 14 says, then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

And see, that’s exactly what Paul is talking about. When you get filled up, when you get built up, when you start to grow up and you start to mature, you don’t get tossed around by the world anymore. See, when you know what the scripture says, you know when you encounter false teaching. But the only way we do that is to be built up, to be filled up and to grow in our faith and to grow in our maturity. Because if you don’t know what the scripture says, then you’re just going to believe everything you’re told. And what happens when you do that, it usually doesn’t end well. We got to be built up. We got to be filled up. And when we do that, and that’s what I love about verse 14 when we do that, it says, I’m going to read the second part again and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people and their deceitful scheming, by being filled up, by using your gifts instead. Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect, the mature body of him who is the head that is Christ.

We go through a life cycle that’s just the way it is. That’s just natural. We go from crawling to running around like a maniac because I have toddlers. I know that’s what they do, right from adolescents to teenagers. And don’t even get me started on teenagers. Yeah, it’s a dangerous job. And then hopefully they graduate either high school and or College. They enter the working world and at some point, they become a senior Saint. So this is kind of a life cycle that we as people, as men and women go through. And unfortunately, there’s really not a whole lot we can do about that. Right. Because every day we get a day older. Every day we get a day older. But what we can determine is how we mature in Christ. You determine how you get from one end of the spectrum of the other. And it’s got nothing to do with age. Now, it’s no coincidence that some of our senior States are also some of our most knowledgeable. But if you put in the work and you spend the time, you too can be just as mature in your faith. But it’s up to you.

You have to want to do it. I love that this verse talks about speaking the truth. Do you have somebody that speaks truth into your life? Maybe it’s a spouse, maybe it’s a parent, maybe it’s a child, maybe it’s a coach, maybe it’s a teacher. Is someone speaking truth into your life? Now, what does that mean to speak truth into someone’s life? It means just what it says. You have to speak truth into their lives. Now, that may take one or two forms. There’s the one that maybe we don’t like so much, where somebody that loves you enough to say, look, you’re messing up and you need to stop. That’s one way of speaking the truth. And that’s important because having someone to hold us accountable is crucial. But notice the second part of that slide. What does it say at the bottom? Say it with me now in love. See, it’s not enough just to speak truth. You got to speak the truth in love. You got to say, Brother, sister, I love you enough that I got to talk to you about this. Because sometimes we have to have hard conversations with the people that we love.

For those of you who are parents, we have to have hard conversations with our kids. It’s not because we don’t love them, it’s because we do love them. Right. I used to get spanked when I was a kid, right? My parents would always say, It’s going to hurt me a whole lot more than it’s going to hurt you. I’d say, yeah, right. Sure it will. But when you do it out of love, it changes everything. See, when you love someone, when you build a relationship with someone, you can go to that person and say, Look, I love you enough that I have to tell you this. It’s the same thing when we parent our kids, right? No, I’m not going to let you stay out till two in the morning because I love you and I don’t want you getting in trouble. I love you enough. I’m not going to let you go to that party. And what do our kids do? They get mad at us. Oh, you’re the worst. You hate me. Slam the door. But why do we do those things to our kids? We do it. And my kids over here giggling.

We do it because we love them. We love them enough that we don’t want to put them in positions to be hurt. We love them enough that when they start doing stupid things and going down the wrong path, we course correct with them. It’s the same thing for us as a Church family. Sometimes we have to have those hard conversations. But if we do it in love, it changes everything. Now, I said, there are two sides to that coin, right? One of them is, hey, you got to stop doing that. The other is, are we speaking truth into each other’s lives by building them up? Are we speaking the truth about the good news of Jesus? Are we speaking that truth to everyone that we encounter about this amazing gift that we’ve been given, and we can share with them? Is someone building you up? Is someone speaking the truth? And if they’re not, find somebody who will. Find somebody who will, because that is so important. Verse 16 says from him, the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work. I think a Mr. Potato Head, right. You’ve all seen a Mr. Potato Head, and he’s got arms and a half, and he’s got feet, right? Have you ever had a Mr. Potato Head and you lose your feet? What happens when you lose your feet to Mr. Potato Head? I meant to bring him in. Actually, I have one in my office. I meant to bring him in. I forgot him. But what happens when you take the feet off of Mr. Potato Head, right? He falls over and you pick him back up and then he falls over again. Mr. Potato Head doesn’t work very well without feet. And when we’re cut off from the body, then we die a spiritual death. Because see, this doesn’t work without you and me and you and you and you. It takes all of us working together. The whole body working together. And that’s how we can change the world. And that’s how we can reverse this course of Church attendance. And people who believe in Christianity on a downward trend is it takes all of us. It takes all of us working together, standing side by side, using our unique, giftedness, and we can change the world.

So those three things again, I told you I was going to hammer these over and over and over again. We come together to be built up. We come together to be filled up, and we come together to grow up. So what do we do? Build someone up. Take the time to be intentional and build someone up. Encourage someone. You can find something about everybody to encourage them about. And for some of you, this is easy, right? Some of you are just natural encouragers. And that’s fantastic. Keep doing it. And for some of you are like, yeah, that’s not really something I want to do. I want to encourage you. I want to challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone and be an encourager. And you’ll find it to lift you up as well. Speak Christ into others. Speak Christ into everyone that you meet. Are you talking to folks at work about Jesus? Are you talking to folks at work about your Church? Are you inviting them to events? We’re getting ready to start small groups. That’ll be an awesome time for you guys to invite a coworker because you’re not inviting them to Church.

You’re saying, hey, why don’t you come over on Thursday night around 07:00? But are you speaking Christ? Because everybody needs Jesus and some people haven’t met him yet. And you could be that person that gets to introduce someone to Jesus Christ for the very first time. And I’ll tell you right now, there’s no better feeling. I want to encourage you to look for those opportunities to speak Christ and to speak truth in love and prioritize your Church family. Prioritize your Church family. Build those relationships with one another to where this is where you want to be. This is where you need to be. And if you’re not here, you’re wishing you were here, prioritize your family. Maybe you’ve never had that opportunity to have Christ spoken into your life. Maybe you’ve never had that opportunity to be all in. Maybe you’ve never had that opportunity to experience the true fullness that comes from obeying the gospel. You have an opportunity to do that this morning. You have an opportunity to give your life, your whole life to Christ, to be baptized for the remission of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

You can do that this morning. You can walk out of here this morning in the fullness of Jesus Christ. Or maybe you’re just going through a phase and you’ve been a Christian for years, but you’re like, hey, I’m just struggling. I don’t feel like I’m living into the fullness of Christ. We would love to pray with you, to talk to you and to help you get back to feeling truly filled with the Holy Spirit. To truly being filled with Jesus Christ. If we can help you in any way, we want to invite you to come forward as we stand together and as we sing.

As we play unbelievable Holy Spirit, come invade us now. We are we need your power in us. We seek the Kingdom first we hunger and we thirst at the darkness we show your mighty hand? Kill our streets and let your Church on fire with miss change the atmosphere build your Kingdom here with prayer undecided kingdom’s power reaching the near and far? No force of hell can stop your beauty from changing hearts you made us for much more than this fill us with God.