Summary: Through God’s message of Ephesians 4:13-15, the people of God can have "Hope that Stands in the Storm" though a: 1) Unity of the Faith (Ephesians 4:13a), 2) Knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13b), 3) Spiritual Maturity (Ephesians 4:13c) and 5) Authentic Lo
I was encouraged this week to join a protest against Pepsi co. about a new Pepsi soda can which omits the words "under God" from the American Pledge of Allegiance. This intrigued me for my kids have recently been on a strange Pepsi kick and with the timing of 9/11 events it seemed strange. I went to Snopes.com, which describes itself as "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation". It seems back in November 2001 Dr. Pepper introduced a can design featuring the Statue of Liberty with the words "One Nation.. Indivisible" from the Pledge of Allegiance displayed above it. With over 90% of the pledge missing due to space limitations, it did not seem to be a deliberate "God removal campaign". Although Time magazine ran an edition with the exact title in 2001, it seems that some people will take a little truth and develop a whole plot from it. (http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/undergod.asp)
In a time of social media, Photoshop, conspiracy theories and internet scams, people are being deceived wasting time and money by people either paranoid themselves or trying to defraud others. But deception is nothing new.
The Ephesian church had a history of being plagued with heresy. Around A.D. 58, Paul first warned the Ephesian elders of subtle heresies creeping into their congregation (see Acts 20:26–31). According to the book of Ephesians (written in A.D. 61), he warned them again about false teaching, and then he made stronger censures in his epistles to Timothy (written in A.D. 64 and 66), who was working in Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 1:3–6; 4:1–2; 6:20–21; 2 Timothy 1:13–14; 2:14–26). If 1 John was also addressed to the Ephesian church (and many scholars think it was), the church was still fighting with heretics in the 80s (see 1 John 2:18–19; 4:1–3). And even in the 90s, when Revelation was written, the Ephesian church was still testing false apostles (see Revelation 2:1–7) (Barton, B. B., & Comfort, P. W. (1996). Ephesians. Life application Bible commentary (85). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.).
God desires His people to be on a collective people of faith, knowing and living His truth. It is a continual process of maturing together producing a loving testimony. It is a beacon of hope in a dark time. Without truth, we are adrift in a stormy sea of speculation, opinion, vacillating feelings or crashing on the rocks of despair.
Through God’s message of Ephesians 4:13-15, the people of God can have "Hope that Stands in the Storm" though a: 1) Unity of the Faith (Ephesians 4:13a), 2) Knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13b), 3) Spiritual Maturity (Ephesians 4:13c) and 5) Authentic Loving Testimony (Ephesians 4:15)
1) Unity of the Faith (Ephesians 4:13a)
Ephesians 4:13a until we all attain to the unity of the faith (and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ)
As in verse 5, faith does not here refer to the act of belief or of obedience but to the body of Christian truth, to Christian doctrine. The faith is the content of the gospel in its most complete form. It is the body of truth to be defended against false teachers:
Jude 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (ESV)
As the church at Corinth so clearly illustrates, disunity in the church comes from doctrinal ignorance and spiritual immaturity. When believers are properly taught, when they faithfully do the work of service, and when the body is thereby built up in spiritual maturity, unity of the faith is an inevitable result. This unity is not dumbed down complacency, but as has been described earlier in verse three that we must be Ephesians 4:3... eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV) Unity of the faith is created by God, because faith itself is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). We cannot create unity. God creates unity through His truth. Our job is to not disrupt what God has created.
Oneness in fellowship is impossible unless it is built on the foundation of commonly believed truth. The Apostle Paul saw the problem in Corinth and the needed solution:
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (ESV)
God’s truth is not fragmented and divided against itself, and when His people are fragmented and divided it simply means they are to that degree apart from His truth, apart from the faith of right knowledge and understanding. Only a biblically equipped, faithfully serving, and spiritually maturing church can attain to the unity the faith. Any other "unity" will be on a purely human level and not only will be apart from but in constant conflict with the unity of the faith. There can never be unity in the church apart from doctrinal integrity.