In this post, I want to look at a really neat passage in the Bible: Ephesians 4:13-16. Just prior, in verse 12, Paul describes various ministries God uses men in. Then in 13 he states: “till we all come…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” You may notice, the “ministries” which Christianity recognizes are to cease once the body of Christ matures. That’s a point worth looking at, but here I’d rather focus on the emphasis of this passage, which is describing a matured body of Christ. Knowing what the desired outcome (maturity) looks like can help clarify one’s current path. The beginning of verse 13 gives a summary of how genuine maturity comes about:
“…till we all come in (“into”) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…”
The phrase “in the unity” is really “into the unity.” Notice also, it is called the unity and the knowledge, meaning one specific unity and knowledge are being referred to, which already exist and into which we must enter. This unity is: “…the unity of the faith (spiritual sight) and of the knowledge (recognition, discernment from experience) of the Son of God…” Maybe this is news to you, but Jesus didn’t please God by acting really good or refraining from bad. His awareness wasn’t even on those things at all. He was submissive to his Father’s revealed will, doing what he saw and heard from his Father. This is why he often did things which made little or no rational sense – he wasn’t going by what made sense. He didn’t care. At all.
The unity that leads to maturity in Christ’s body comes only as the members of Christ’s body see and receive the spirit of Christ as their source of life. Men simply cannot bring about this unity. Christ’s life produces his way (faith) and his knowledge (spiritual discernment) in all members of his body. This is the unity that we must enter into, and it’s a process. This unity is not based on agreement among all members, it’s based on discernment and reception of a new source of life among all members. It’s not a reformation of the old life, it’s recognizing the old as dead, shunning it, and receiving the new life which has already come. It’s a radical change.
Verse 14 gives another characteristic of a matured body: it’s members will: “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting… A similar idea is found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 and Hebrews 5:12-13 where some believers are likened to immature children, only able to digest milk. This passage is actually saying members of a mature body won’t let the latest trends or ideas influence them and will reject the schemes of men, who desire to form a system based on their doctrines.
Instead, (verses 15, 16): “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Here’s how the Amplified version translates these wordy verses:
15 Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 16 For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.
Building itself up in love. That’s the given conclusion, the endgame. In a sense, it’s simple: maturity is all members of the body doing their part, according to the intention of the head and the power of the spirit. The body then grows and matures, as love is the relationship each member has toward the others.
Having laid this foundation, in the next verses Paul goes on to state the things the things the church must not do and the things that will prevent this process of maturity taking place. You can read about some of them in my post “Alienated from Life” dated 12/27/2013. They might surprise you. More to come, and I hope to be writing more regularly now. God bless you.