Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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, 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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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.”
For the Work of the Ministry
I will not attempt to go into detail here with regard to who all these people were and/or are who our Lord used then and uses today within his body to grow us to maturity in Christ so that we, God’s people, are prepared spiritually in the knowledge and the application of the Scriptures to our daily lives for the work of the ministry. For that can be a distraction from the overall message here which includes all of us ministering to one another.
For, according to the Scriptures, each one of us who professes faith in Jesus Christ is to have a part in helping one another to grow in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ and to not follow sin’s course, but to walk in obedience to our Lord in humility, in submission to Christ as Lord, in surrender of our lives to Christ to do his will, and in holiness and righteousness, by the grace of God, in his power and strength, and for the glory and praise of God.
So, we need to get out of that mindset that thinks of the pastor of a church congregation as “the minister” and that the rest of us can just be spectators and that ministry for us is optional, or that it is only for a select few who are called to specific areas of ministry. We are all called to ministry. For from Christ the whole body, joined and held together by EVERY supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as EACH PART does its work.
So, we all have an assignment from God within the body of Christ to minister to one another, to help one another to grow to maturity in Christ. For we are to encourage one another and exhort one another daily so that none of us will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. And we are to speak to one another and to instruct one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, for the building up of one another spiritually in our walks of faith.
[Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Jn 4:31-38; Jn 13:13-17; Jn 14:12; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:42-47; Acts 26:18; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Rom. 10:14-15; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 1:22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-30; Col 1:18; Col 2:19; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet. 2:4-9,21]
No Longer Infants
Now this word “infant” is used in the context of spiritual immaturity. For the purpose of our salvation from sin is not to “get saved” (a one-time experience) so that when we die we get to go to heaven and not hell. But that is what many people today are teaching as the gospel message in total. And many are teaching that Jesus does it all and we do nothing – no repentance, no obedience, no forsaking of our sins and no honoring of God.
For the majority, it seems, in America are teaching a flesh-driven gospel and not the gospel of Christ and of the Scriptures. Now it is loosely based in the true gospel, but it is a purposeful half-truth, which makes it a lie, which makes it deception and manipulation and the twisting of truth. For the Scriptures do NOT teach a one-time decision to believe in Jesus secures us heaven when we die regardless of how we live from now till then.
Yet the purpose of this “gospel” that the many are teaching is to appease human flesh and not to put it to death. So it appeals to the senses and to what makes humans feel good rather than teaching the hard truths that Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught. And by pacifying the flesh and by not putting it to death they make room for “believers” to continue to be evildoers, adulterers, liars, thieves, prideful, and spiteful, in practice.
So one of our roles in the body of Christ is to help one another to see these deceptions and to call them out and then to speak the truth in love to one another so that we are not led astray by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming, but so we will all grow into spiritual maturity in Christ and to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to his righteousness.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Study the Scriptures and Obey Them
So, be students of the Scriptures. Read them in context, Matthew to Revelation, and then again and again. Do so prayerfully, asking the Lord to lead you into all truth with an open mind and heart willing to receive from him whatever he wants to teach you. Then be those who are living what the Scriptures are teaching, in practice, and be those who are testing what you hear against the Scriptures in context so that you aren’t caught up in lies.
Don’t be stubborn and hard-headed like some who want to hold on to what they were always taught whether or not it is the truth of the Scriptures. Many people follow “The Baptist Faith and Message” or the “Westminster Confession of Faith,” et al, as though they are the Bible, but they are not. Bible scholars used the Scriptures when they wrote these documents, but they are not to be equal with the Scriptures, for they can be flawed.
So, let the Holy Spirit lead you to all truth. Let him be your guide. Let him open up the Scriptures for you perhaps in a way you never read them before and be open to unlearning things you learned wrong and to learning them in the right way. And don’t ignore the Scriptures that don’t fit with your theology. Learn what they are saying and why. Use bible study helps, but use them sparingly, and don’t use only ones of a particular theology.
Context is critical, for many false doctrines stem from Scriptures taught outside their context and twisted to say what the Scriptures do not teach. For example, read Ephesians 2:8-9 with verse 10, and read John 10:28-30 with verse 27 and read Romans 10:9-10 and all of these verses in the context of the whole books in which they are written. For Paul is clear that if professing Christians walk in sin they will not inherit eternal life with God.
All The Way My Savior Leads Me
Lyrics by Frances J Crosby, pub. 1875
Music by Robert Lowry, pub. 1875
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
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