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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on May 24, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; May 24, 2017 from Ephesians 4:13-16

Theme: Paul describes what the ongoing work of edification in the body of Christ is to look like.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

What is the church supposed to be doing in this world? That’s a question that many ask—and even those who do not consider themselves a part of the church. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion. But what ought it to be doing from God’s standpoint—and in terms of God’s intended design?

In Ephesians 4:11-12, we saw the provision the Lord Jesus Christ made for the church; so that every member is engaged in the work of the ministry of building up (edifying) the body of Christ. And now Paul goes on to tell us what that work of edification is to look like—letting us know what the church is to be doing in this world.

He explains this by showing us …


This whole passage serves very much like the picture on the box on a jigsaw puzzle—showing us what the end product is supposed to look like. But this is especially so of verse 13. In it, Paul tells us that we’re to do the work of the ministry of edification, “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 …” We find it expressed in three outcomes.

First, we will all come to the unity of the faith. When Paul uses the phrase “the faith”, he means the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith that were once given to the saints through the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:20; Jude 3). It doesn’t necessarily mean we will all be in agreement on secondary and unessential matters. Rather, it means that we will all be unified in the fundamental doctrines that truly distinguish the Christian faith as a whole, and which a whole-hearted belief in is essential for salvation. Second, we will be unified in our knowledge of the Son of God. We will all have a personal relationship of love with Jesus Christ; and He will be first in the affections of each one of us; with each of us truly “knowing” Him—not just with the head, but with the heart. And thirdly, we will be growing up to a perfect man; that is, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. We will be growing—in our personal and practical lives—to be more and more like Jesus in the way we think, and the way we talk, and the way we live, and in the way we serve—and always progressing more toward reflecting His image completely in the totality of our lives.

Paul doesn’t mean for us to understand, of course, that we will reach such perfection in this life. But he does mean that the ongoing pursuit of such progress in these three areas is to continually characterize our ministry to one another in the church. (See Philippians 3:12-16).


Not only is our work of edification to result in our being something; but it is also to result in our ceasing to be something else. Paul wrote that it was “that we should 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 …” (v. 14).

The word that Paul uses for “children” basically means “babies” or “infants”. Babies are adorable; but as a child grows, if he or she still behaves like a baby, it’s no longer adorable. This is also true spiritually. We’re to cease being helpless little spiritual babies that are constantly tossed around by the latest theological fads and philosophical novelties. “Every wind of doctrine” is how Paul describes such things. It’s very immature to be helplessly and passively influenced by such things. But it is far more dangerous than just being a matter of immaturity; because such spiritual passivity makes an immature believer the victim of evil people. These false philosophies and faddish theologies are often the products of ‘the trickery of men’ who deceive unsuspecting people ‘in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting’. (Take a look at 2 Peter 2 sometime, or the Book of Jude, and you’ll see how serious a threat such deceivers are!)

One of the great values of ceasing to be a spiritual “infant” is that it makes a believer strong and stable in the doctrines of the faith in the face of those who seek to take advantage of them. That’s why we need each other—and the whole ministry of the body of Christ together—to help one another ‘grow up’ into maturity, and to be nourished by the “solid food” of the word and not just dependent upon the infant’s “milk” (see Hebrews 5:12-14).


In contrast to our remaining spiritual infants, Paul goes on to say, “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ …” Instead of being subject to the deceit and scheming of false teachers, we’re to be in the habit of speaking truth to one another. Literally, we’re to be “truthing”—making truth a matter of more than just our words, but of our whole life. But we’re also to be doing truth in love. We temper our truth-telling with love; and in love, tell the truth to one another. As someone has once said very well: love without truth is hypocrisy, but truth without love is brutality. We make progress when we do both toward one another.

And notice where this progress is leading to. It’s toward growing up “in all things” into Jesus—the divine head of His body. We’ll never make any kind of progress as members of a body if we are disconnected to the head. But the more we grow in our connection to our divine Head in all that we do, the more we will be making progress as a body. This constituted Paul’s own vision of ministry; “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). That should be our vision of ministry as a church too—that we seek for each one of us to grow together, in all ways, into Christ our head; working and laboring together in such a way as to help each member of the body grow up into completeness in our relationship and service to Christ.


Paul went on to say of Him who is the head—Christ—that it is He “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

We understand what a ‘joint’ in a body is. It is a point of contact at which two separate parts of a body are vitally joined and well-knit together—by design—in such a way that the two parts serve one another by means of the point of contact. The joint is the connection by which the needs of each part is supplied by the other. And spiritually speaking, that’s what you and I—by design—are to be to one another in the body of Christ. Jesus our Head has so joined us together that—at the point of contact—my gifts supplies what is necessary for your needs, and your gifts supplies what is necessary for my needs. And when that happens consistently, with complete and mutual dependency upon Christ and through the faithful equipping of the foundational and maintenance gifts of the church (v. 11), the body of Christ grows—edifying itself in love.

As Paul puts it in his wonderful explanation of the mutual care of the body in 1 Corinthians 12, this is so “that that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:24).

* * * * * * * * * *

What a marvelous design the body of Christ is! What a privilege to be a part of the work of building it up according to God’s design! But by God’s grace, may we each do our part for the accomplishment of that great work of edification!

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