This is part '5/7' to a study entitled 'The Purpose of Training in the Church: Equipping the Saints' on Ephesians 4:11-16. This section of commentary on Ephesians 4:14 shows us why the church is so messed up and dying out in places. An index is provided at the bottom of the page.
B) Our Responsibility as the Church (Ephesians 4:14-16)
- A Living Commentary
We face another trio of verses here in Ephesians 4:14-16. They are different though closely related to the prior three verses. We have all that we need to establish a great and glorious church here on earth (See Ephesians 4:11-13). Nothing is lacking.
We might then ask, “Why is the church the very opposite to what is described in these verses?” A person might question whether the model is not appropriate or has some inherent flaws. As a matter of fact, God did His part correctly and desires to assist the church in her part. The church, however, is responsible to rightly respond to what God has provided for her. If she neglects His instruction, then the church will falter. Paul gives the church three special guidelines in Ephesians 4;14-16.
We will discuss Ephesians 4:14 below.
1. Don’t be deceived
The biggest problem of the church is that she does not think she is deceived! She is confident of her opinion. What is wrong with the church and why? If you don’t know the problem, then you are most likely infected with the ‘virus’ which results in your deception. Before going on, name some problems that the church faces. We have identified four serious flaws that have resulted in huge problems for the church.
Professionalism allows the notion that certain members should and can do the majority of church work. Because of this, the people are not mobilized and much work of the ministry is neglected. People do not expect to be trained because they do not see themselves as the workers. They tend to think they are better off when the worship service is short and entertaining rather than long and instructive. Their Christianity can be summarized by one church service that they attend each week.
Truth: The requirement for people entering into ministry to have some degree is wrong on two accounts. The church generally accepts a seminary degree as proof of a calling and readiness for ministry. A degree, however, does not guarantee that a person has been called into the ministry nor of a person’s godly character. Christ imparted this special gifting into individuals without respect to education, wealth and background. Although we value good training, we must not minimize those who have personally and seriously studied God’s Word. The local church should confirm a person’s gifts and calling.
Truth: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are largely anointed for enabling Christians to serve. The church needs to look for the training that they would receive from these men that God would give the church so that they can rightly serve the Lord. We should look for the Lord’s anointing on all of His people.
Individualism wrongly teaches that expression of his own thoughts and ideas is most important to our life and fulfillment. These individuals will focus on meeting their own felt needs rather than the needs of others. This happens when a pastor seeks the attention of the congregation rather than the training of others. This also results when His people do ‘works for the Lord’ in their own flesh. Just check out how little we pray today. Prayerlessness reveals self-confidence rather than faith in the Lord. We need to build up each other so that we can do God’s work together.
Truth: We as Christ’s body must value each person. Everybody is essential to the complete body. We do not merely need people to be present but actively growing and serving the Lord in the church.
Truth: Our fulfillment does not come from seeking our own felt needs but by serving others as shown by the Lord. Love requires an outward focus. When an unforgiving spirit is dominant in the church, love is absent.
Truth: We must take God’s Word and pass it on. We are not to feed people with our thoughts but the thoughts from God’s Word. Man’s thoughts are worldly thoughts.
Religiosity teaches that a person can be a good Christian by attending this or that function. Associated problems are the great number of people that see church attendance as the only thing expected from them. They are uncommitted.
Truth: The church is not a stagnant set of faithful attendees but equipped people for the work of the Lord’s service. This ‘work of service’ requires the participation of each member for which he or she was designed (Ephesians 2:10). All of God’s people are to live out Christ’s glorious love in their lives.
Spirituality teaches that ones spiritual life consists in inward other-worldly notions and feelings which breeds arrogance and despises rules, authority and interdependence.
Truth: True spirituality causes:
(1) A true desire to constantly grow to be more like Christ,
(2) Oneself to be very closely involved in the growth of other Christians, and
(3) The balance of truth and love worked out in relationships with others.
(4) A commitment to learn and observe God’s truths as taught in His Word.
The church has a lot of problems because Satan has duped her. She really doesn’t know what is right. Without this persistent training that God provides through the instructors that He has given His church, Christians will stumble and fall. God has given us the key to growing strong godly people. We need to be aggressive in training them. The church is infected with worldly philosophies that corrupt the church. We need to be constantly examining where we might have failed the Lord and why (i.e. what false notion has supported such behavior?).
We should expect God to raise up among our congregations those to pastor, evangelize, go out as missionaries and teach. We need to prepare our hearts for the truths that God would give to us.
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Biblical Foundations for Freedom
Paul J. Bucknell