Oct 17 2021- How to Grow into a Mature Christian
17th October 2021
Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.
Last week we talked about using our gifts. This is not about “HOURS SERVED” – but using our gifts as we can.
The purpose is PEOPLE – equipping the saints for the building up of the body of Christ.
There will always be a need for the meeting of needs of people.
A five-star restaurant still needs dishwashers! The church is very similar. There will be areas of giftedness and passion, but we should always be prepared to wash dishes – or even better, to wash feet. Foot washing is not a gift, it is a meeting of a need.
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.
What Paul does now – He gives us the outcome or goal of that full participation – and the outcome is spiritual maturity – Christ-likeness – the fulness of Christ – He is our measure for maturity.
In verse 13 – He tells us the way to Christlikeness. He is emphasizing – and I would not have chosen the first one – the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Jesus are what CAUSE us to be like Christ. I would choose better quiet times and sharing our faith.
What is he talking about here? Unity of faith? I know what it doesn’t mean – it doesn’t mean we have to come to an agreement over a doctrinal statement, a shared vision or values. Yes, those can be important in running things, but in context, what Paul is talking about is what he has talked about in chapter 1-3.
As we have been going through this letter – and the Bible Project – on their webpage – this is their mission – they believe the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.
Some people call this a meta-narrative – the grand story of scripture – what Paul is doing in Ephesians 1-3 – He is telling that unified story in his own way. There are numerous ways this story can be told. Over the past couple of years – I have told this story numerous times, have I not?! Maybe you are sick of it, but that story leads to Christlikeness.
The first part of the story – Creation – Genesis 1 and 2 – Paul is not concerned about how and when, but who and what for! He talks about predestination, being chosen, adoption – and before the beginning of Creation – we were predestined, chosen, and adopted to share in His image and to share as partners with God to rule over Creation and to participate in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The first FALL in the Bible is not Adam and Eve – we are introduced to the serpent before Adam and Eve have done anything.
Then there is the fall of Adam and Eve – and later, these two rebellions come together to partner together – rather than partnering with God, humans partner with the forces of darkness – and that leads to slavery – slavery to sin and one another.
Then comes redemption – Exodus – God redeems and frees – Exodus is about defeating the powers of evil. The story concludes with new creation. The ultimate new creation is the coming of the true and ultimate image-bearer – the true Adam. And it is in the true Adam, Jesus that this story comes to its completion. The more we grasp this story, the more we become like Jesus. This story is the story of God’s love for humanity. When a Christian is not maturing – we can be sure that he or she is not comprehending that story and God’s love for them.
Yes, there are all kinds of things that need to be addressed in our lives – but number one is that understanding of this story – and God’s love shown through this story.
Eph 4:14 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;
Paul is saying that some are still like children who do not understand the story and how they are a part of that story. It is time for you to grow up.
tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
We live in a time where there are many waves and winds of doctrine blowing – more than ever I’ve seen in my 45 years of being a Christian – I think it is because everyone can have a platform to make waves and blow up a storm. It is happening everywhere, but also within the church. There are so many voices that we hear! Some are really good, some are unhelpful – and some are really dangerous! Paul didn’t have Facebook and Tiktok to worry about! He was lucky – but he did have people following him! Some going in behind him saying you have to be circumcised – you probably don’t have that today – well, maybe you do – some channel out there…
End times predictions – you may not like this one, or you may. I am not talking about the teaching on Eschatology – last things – the second coming – etc. But I’m talking about predictions being made about the end of the world as we know it. And I am not talking about the silliness of people saying that Jesus is coming back on March 22… - there have been so many and they have all been wrong.
Acts 1:6 – right before the ascension –
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus pretty much says – as far as end times – It is none of your business.
Others say – things are worse now than ever – therefore – JUDGMENT! I have heard that for 45 years!
Are things bad now? From one perspective – could say – it is as bad as it has ever been. Others might say – it was worse 40 years ago!
Sexual immorality – is it as bad as it has ever been? If you do a study about Paul’s time in Corinth – the conclusion you would come to is ‘No – it is not worse today than ever!’
This distracts from our mission. Sure, we can look around and see things getting bad – that is how the world has always been – it ebbs and flows.
Here is another one – I probably remember hearing first within a month of being a Christian – that the Church is the Church of Laodicea – throughout history – there have always been churches that look like the Church of Laodicea – but at the same time, there have been churches that look like the Church of Philadelphia – who were small, and faithful, and persecuted.
Here is another one to think about – today – there are so many self-appointed gatekeepers of sound biblical doctrine. I believe in sound biblical doctrine to my core – and I work hard at it – but to be a self-appointed gatekeeper – one must only focus on the essentials that make for Christian orthodoxy. The problem, we go way beyond those things – and then we say – if you don’t believe the things that are outside of historic orthodoxy – then you don’t believe in historic orthodoxy – determining who is in and out based on stuff we add. There are all kinds of folks out there on all those platforms deciding who is in and out.
What do we do? You probably know of 30 better examples –
First – examine everything you hear with Scripture. Never simply accept what someone says because you trust in them and have listened to them for a long time. Any good pastor would want you to examine what they say with Scripture. If someone is offended by that, don’t listen to them ever again! I don’t care how popular, famous, or how many books they’ve written.
Compare what you have heard from one source with other sources! This is novel! Really?! You can do that in the Christian world?
There are many great speakers and writers who have different views on things outside of orthodoxy.
You don’t go to all the similar places – that is called an Echo Chamber – and we love those! They make us feel comfortable! Go to a Christian who loves Jesus who believes differently than you do! If you’re a Calvinist – go to an anabaptist to see what they say!
Hear the different voices that are legitimate – and then examine it for yourself.
Third – compare it with historic Christian Orthodoxy – the essential doctrines – the consistent practices of church
Gombis: It is not too unfair to say that much of American evangelical culture is driven by cultural fads (written in 2010) – this is before evangelical was more than just an exit poll category)
Because many evangelicals have severed their historic connection – the evangelical church is in danger of being drawn to whatever is popular.
…wrapped up in dead rituals
That is a fair warning to us. The Church has been around for 2000 years – and there have been things that have been consistent for 2000 years! Certain things have been laid out and we can be sure of those things – are we getting off of those things and onto other things? We are not to be tossed by the noise.
I get that you have jobs and can’t study church history – but here are some suggestions – first – be slow to jump to a conclusion and adopt a stance on an issue! Yeah – that’s what I agree with! I’m set for life!
We hear what sounds right to us and we latch onto it and never let it be examined.
What happens – you come to Christ – you are loved by those people and adopt their way of thinking theologically and biblically – but we get to a point that we believe it is the only way to think and that any challenge to that is from the enemy. No matter how much good you get from your background – some of it is not the best and needs to be reexamined and rethought. Get out of the echo chamber and remember the story that Paul tells of the fall, redemption. This story – we stick with that – it is the gospel story.
Vs. 15 – we think he is changing it up
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
We think this means if someone has a bad habit, it is loving to talk to them about it. That is not the context of this. Speak the truth – of what Paul has been saying from 1:1 to 4:14 – the truth of this narrative.
Truthing – confess and practice the truth.
Michael Gorman – performing the gospel – performing the truth.
Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking in the Theory of Everything – He STUDIED Hawking – his movement, mannerisms, expressions – and when you watch that movie, you forget that you aren’t watching Stephen Hawking.
We need to STUDY this gospel – and perform it
Am I a servant of all?
Am I washing feet? Humble and gentle of heart? Loving sinners? Loving enemies?
That performing Christ in our own lives is not a new Torah – it is not to be done from duty, guilt, compulsion, or fear – but as we understand the love of God – the Love God has for us in Jesus – that should be our motivation -and the more we dwell on that – the more we become like Christ.