Look around. Things get crazy these days. Yes, I know, those darn liberals are out of control. The feminists and leftists and abortionists and ... you know, all "them" guys ... they're just not right. But even in Christendom it's wacky. There's a big-name, well-known, well-loved guy in Houston that assures Christians that they can live their best life now, that we're all supposed to be wealthy. There are "superstars" who tell us that God wants us all to be healthy and the only thing that is causing you not to be is your lack of faith. There are people who defend "gay Christian" in the sense of "practicing gay Christian" and Methodist "pro-life" ministers who assure us that John 10:10 is the reason why believers should be in favor of abortion. There are even folk who agree that the Bible is important ... then turn around and tell us the many ways that it's useless, undecipherable, and unreliable. It's insane, I tell you.
Did you know that the Bible talks about that? Writing to Christians, Paul warns that they could 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" (Ephesians 4:14). That's what I'm describing, isn't it? "Carried about by every wind of doctrine," twisted "by human cunning," misled by "craftiness in deceitful schemes." In the church.
Interestingly, the verse I just quoted begins with "so that we may no longer be children ..." Ah, so there is a solution, a remedy, preventive measures. What?
[God] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors/teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 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. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
This is meaty. God has a plan. He provides people gifted with certain gifts to equip the saints. That's their job. That's their purpose. To what end? To equip them "for the work of service." Okay, so the saints are being equipped to serve, to minister. Why? "To the building up of the body of Christ." Alright. That's pretty straightforward. God gives us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers whose primary purpose is to equip believers to serve with the aim to edify Christ's body -- believers as a group. How long are we supposed to operate this way? "Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Unity and knowledge. One faith and one Christ. When we arrive at that, we can ease up. When we become "a mature man" -- when we reach maturity. To what standard? "to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Got it. Perfection. Like Christ.
It's all pretty clear. I don't think there's any confusion about the meaning, any hidden thoughts or obscure concepts. I don't think I said anything here that wasn't obvious in the text. So what's my point? Given the utter insanity we find around us these days in Christendom -- and it's not getting better; it's getting worse -- we should be asking why? Based on this text, God's people are being tossed to and fro by waves and winds of doctrine brought about by cunning and crafty liars. Why? Because we're not doing our jobs. The messengers (apostles) and forth-tellers (prophets) aren't doing their job. The evangelists aren't doing their job. And the pastor/teachers, especially, aren't doing their job. The point of the church is to build the saints, and to a large extent they aren't doing their job. As a result we -- the saints -- aren't being equipped, aren't ministering as we should. We aren't building the body. We aren't maturing. The author of Hebrews wrote, "Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). That's us. Not trained by practice, but tossed by winds and waves. We don't, for a large part, seem to get past milk because, in the Hebrews account, we're not accustomed to the Word.
We need to work, brothers and sisters. We need to call on our leaders to lead. We don't need "social justice" messages, clever stories from the pulpit, or hip music. We need the Word preached to us -- "Thus saith the Lord." We need to have God's truth detailed to us. We need to become accustomed to the Word with constant practice. We need preachers and teachers who will speak the truth in love so we can "grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). We are a youth-driven culture. We are called to maturity. It's time to grow up.
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