Summary: God has a plan and purpose for everyone. The specific details are as individual as the individual himself. But there is a general will, a broad plan for every Christian that God has designed. That plan simply put is to grow. What are the crucial elements
Grow Up in All Things
God has a plan and purpose for everyone. The specific details are as individual as the individual himself. But there is a general will, a broad plan for every Christian that God has designed. That plan simply put is to grow. Here in Ephesians chapter 4, Paul utilizes the word, “measure” 3 separate times to highlight the overall purpose of growth. Let’s consider them with quickly:
Note verse 7: the measure of the gift of Christ – refers to growing to the determined extent, limit or portion measured off. It means to grow to your capacity and ability made available to you by grace. So we are to grow to capacity.
Note verse 13: the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ –this measure refers to being ripe or of full age and maturity. It means to grow completely –nothing is lacking, nothing is underdeveloped, you are complete in Him. This will not be fully realized until we stand before the Lord in glorified bodies, but we ought to strive towards this end in this life. We are to be pressing onward to grow completely.
Note verse 16: the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body –by this Paul is referring to your growth being balanced and in proportion to the rest of the body. You ought to grow congruently. Think about this for a moment. The largest part of a newborn child is the head. The rest of the body must grow to be proportionate to it. Concerning the body of Christ, the Lord Jesus is the Head (look again at verse 15) and the born again believer makes up His body. We must grow so that we are proportionate with our Head! We must grow congruently.
These are three uses of the word ‘measure’ that highlights different aspects of growth and underscores why it is of such great importance. Let’s grow to our capacity, let’s grow completely, and let’s grow congruently!
Where does this type of growth take place? What are the crucial elements that are required to have this type of growth? Here in chapter 4, Paul identifies 3 essentials that facilitate this type of growth.
We Grow Best:
1. In the Soil of the Local Church 7-12
Consider again verses 7-12. Note the gifts that the Lord Jesus gave. The Bible says He gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. To whom did He give these too? Where do we find them? Specifically speaking, the apostles were those who were directly called and sent out by Christ or those directly associated with them. (We do not have ‘apostles’ in that sense today). Prophets would be those who tell forth the Word of God as opposed to foretelling the Word of God. That is a subtle yet significant difference. God is not calling people to ‘foretell’ His Word, we have God’s Word, inspired and preserved. Then Paul mentions evangelists –in its truest sense this word refers to missionaries and church-planters. And finally we have pastors and teachers. (These words describe one person). But the question at hand is, “Where do we find these people?” We find them in the local church. Verse 12 tells us why the Lord Jesus gave the church these gifts. For the perfecting of the saints! To facilitate growth.
If you want to grow up in all things, you need the fertile soil of the local church. Not every church is fertile. Not every church is conducive to healthy growth. Some churches are not fertile –they are futile. We have come to such a strange place in church culture. Allow me to speak in broad terms. The modern church in most cases is foreign to the Bible. What we have come to recognize and even call the church today is not found in the New Testament. It would appear that the church is obsessed with being accepted by the world. Churches and Christians alike are willing to jettison anything if it increases their chances of being applauded, accepted or appreciated by the lost. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is of too great a value. Most churches will do anything to avoid being marginalized. Christendom, broadly speaking, is willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the reproach of Christ.
That brand of Christianity is not found in the Bible!
Consider 1 John 3:13 –Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.
In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus warned His disciples saying, “ye shall be hated of all men for my names sake.”
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.