Last week we looked at the unity of the Body of Christ we’ve been called to. As God’s blood-bought children we are called into union with Christ, identified with His righteousness, seated with Him in heavenly places and exhorted to live and walk in a manner that is worthy of the divine calling, with which we have all been called (Eph 4:1-7). Then we looked at the gifts that Christ brought to us in victory (Eph 4:8).
We then looked at how we were given spiritual gifts, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph 4:7-10) Jesus never intended for us to do His work on our own, He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit.
While we all receive gifts to use for the body, some are called to equip others for the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20): “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13).
The overall mission for every Christian leader is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. This involves the idea of training believers to serve God here on earth. Notice that this training is not focused purely on academics, but strongly emphasizes practice. Leaders are to train others in the church to serve others by serving alongside them. Jesus didn’t just tell His disciples what to do, He showed them!
The reason church leaders are to train every believer to serve others is “for building up the body of Christ”. Church leaders are called on to focus on training others to serve. In this way, every believer is growing in maturity and making disciples of others, spreading the reach of the church beyond the walls of the church into the community.
This lesson is given throughout the New Testament. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:23-25) This passage ties up the message:
- Hold fast to our hope in Jesus, who is faithful;
- Consider others first, and extol one another to stir up love and good works for others;
- Do not forsake the gathering of the brethren because the others need us there to support one another, and we need this more and more as the world becomes darker and darker.
We are to be equipped for the work of the ministry for three additional reasons, beginning with “till we all come to the unity of the faith”. We are to live in unity with other believers without compromising truth, which is the reason “for the edifying of the body of Christ”. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1:10)
Second, believers are to grow in “the knowledge of the Son of God”. The focus of church leaders is preparing Christians to serve others, in practical ways. And yet, knowledge is a critically important part of effective service. “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:9-10).
Third, Paul wants every believer to grow in maturity, which includes increases in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) and our love for both God and others (Matt 22:37-40). The end goal is “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).
Unity in the faith and the bond of peace will only truly happen once the completed Church has been taken to be with the Lord. Although we are instructed to grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we shall never be fully matured until we’re raptured into His physical presence, for then we shall see Him as He is, and know as we are known. It is only when we go to be with Him, that we shall be fully like Him… but this should never prevent us from living every moment of our lives for His honor and glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your perfect plan of redemption and for Jesus our precious Savior. Thank You for bringing me into Your heavenly family and making me a part of the Church of God. Help me to attain to the unity in the faith, with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and may I come to an ever-increasing knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Father, I long for that day, when together with the saints of God, we shall all be fully mature and reach a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Keep me looking to Jesus and broken before You. Use me I pray to help forward Your redemptive plans and purposes, for Your greater glory – and it is in the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.