Some of my readers may know that I attended the University of Georgia for my undergraduate studies. When I entered the University, I hadn’t declared a major. Eventually, I landed on Biology. Why I landed on Biology as my major I don’t know. I’ve never worked in my degree field and the classes I had to take were much more difficult than those in other majors. But that is where I landed.
Even though I was a Biology major, I had to take a number of classes in other disciplines. English Literature, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Spanish to name a few. While I wished I didn’t have to take those classes when I was in college, thinking back I now see that there was a method to the University’s madness. There was a sort of unity in the diversity. The subjects they selected were designed to work together to make me a well-rounded student. Teaching me skills I didn’t have and helping me hone the ones I did possess.
The church works in a similar way. While there’s not a diversified list of classes we have to take, there is a diversity of gifts that exist within the church. Within that diversity, there should be a unity. In our unity we should be working towards one goal. What is that goal?
What is the purpose and goal of ministry in the church?
At the end of verse 12, we learn that the purpose and goal of ministry is to build up the body of Christ.
Think of the body of Christ as a building, not the church building, because the church isn’t a building, it’s the people. But for the sake of illustration, think of the church as a building.
In order for a building to become a home for someone to live in, many different things have to take place. The foundation has to be poured. Walls need to be erected. A roof has to be put on. Plumbing and electricity has to be installed. Storage and furniture have to be placed within, among other things. All that has to take place in order for a building to become a home, at least in a first world country like the United States.
None of that stuff takes place on its own, nor does one person do it. A lot of work goes into building a home by a bunch of different people, who are all gifted in different ways.Concrete workers, framers, and roofers; electricians and plumbers; cabinet and furniture makers. As well as painters, people to lay the floor, and those who design the interior. All these people and more have to contribute their part in order for a building to become a home.
Something similar has to happen in the church. The saints, equipped by a pastor, must all, and I stress the idea of all, all must use their gifts to build up the body of Christ. So we must all be actively engaged in the area of ministry with which Jesus has called us.
Now, we all have a good idea of what a home looks like. But What should the church look like? In other words,
How do we know when the building has been built?
Look at the text starting in verse 13,
“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, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4:13–14)
Now, there is a lot here, so let’s break it down into it’s component parts just like you would a building project.
First, we see that we are working towards:
(1) A unified understanding of the faith and a deep intimate knowledge of the Son of God
What this means is that,
We should all have a likeminded understanding of the core convictions of the Christian faith.
The core convictions of the Christian faith would represent things like:
- What is the Gospel?
- Who is God?
- Who is man?
- What is Scripture?
- What does Baptism and the Lord’s Supper represent?
- How we are live as followers of Jesus?
- Among other things.
- These are the core convictions of the Christian faith.
- We should all be helping one another gain a competent knowledge and understanding of these things.
Along with that,
We are also to help others gain a deep intimate knowledge the Son of God.
The knowledge Paul has in mind is not just head knowledge. It is not just something we can gain from a book. Instead, it is knowledge we must gain from one another as we live in community together. This is why I believe Paul begins this chapter stressing unity. We must be unified with one another so we might enter into one another’s lives and see, hear, and experience the Son of God actively working. When that happens, our knowledge of the Son of God will be deepened. It will become more than book knowledge. It will become an intimate knowledge.
Chuck is a man in my congregation, and I asked Chuck before sharing. I have known Chuck for 6.5 years. The whole time I’ve been at Sycamore. We have gathered together in our Friday morning men’s group for the last 6 years.
When we first started getting together, Chuck wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. It was hard to have a discussion with him. He would get defensive and even angry at times. But over the years as our group has pressed into him, speaking the truth in love as Paul tells us to do in verse 15, and praying for him, using our gifts to minister to him, Jesus has changed Chuck. So much so that I now look forward to getting together with him. I find our discussions to be a time of encouragement, blessing, and learning.
But here is the thing, if I wasn’t actively using my gifts, if I wasn’t getting together with him week in and week out, if I wasn’t speaking the truth in love, then I wouldn’t have seen this brother change. My sanctifying knowledge of Jesus wouldn’t have been deepened. It would have remained theoretical instead of becoming concrete.
So what Paul wants us to see and what I want you to see is that we not only need to be unified with one another, but we must also enter into one another’s lives actively using the gifts we have been given by the conquering King. If we do that, we will not only be unified in our understanding of the faith, but we will have a deep intimate knowledge of the Son of God which will serve to sustain and drive our ministry to one another even deeper.
So that is the first thing we are working towards in our building project, a unified understanding of the faith and a deep intimate knowledge of the Son of God.
Next, we see that we are working toward:
(2) A church that resembles Christ in its thoughts, actions, and knowledge
Paul says in the middle of verse 13,
“to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Eph 4:13b).
A mature man is someone who is full-grown. We know someone is full grown when they meet certain standards, a certain measurement.
As our kids grow, we have to periodically take them to do the doctor for what is called a “wellness checkup”. At that checkup, our kids get the shots they need. The doctor asks us a bunch a questions about how they are doing and what they are eating. As well as she measures their height and weight. Our doctor uses all those measurements to tell us if our kids are maturing properly, and to instruct us as to what we are to be doing as parents to help them reach that goal of maturity.
Paul is telling us something similar here. On the one hand, he is telling us that we should all be working towards maturity. We shouldn’t be stagnant Christians. We should all be maturing in our faith.
But on top of that, Paul is also telling us that we should all be employing our gifts to help one another grow in the faith, just like parents help their kids grow into mature adults.
Just like our doctor has a standard of measurement against which she compares our kids, the church has a standard of measurement. That standard is Christ. I know it’s a tall order, but our job as the church is to help one another become like Christ in our thoughts, actions, and knowledge. So that is the second thing we are to do.
Now, we are almost done in our building project, but we have one last item to tackle. While you might view the last two points as the walls to the building, you can think of this last one as the roof. I say that because the other two hold this one up. We know that because Paul uses the connector “so that”. In this case, “so that” tells us the result of the last two. So let’s look at the result. Paul says in verse 14,
“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4:14).
So the result is that:
(3) We should be a church that is able to discern and combat false doctrine.
The way we get there is by building each other up in an understanding of the basics of the faith and a deep intimate knowledge of the Son of God. As well as by being a church that is given to being like Christ in our thoughts, actions, and knowledge, and helping others do the same. Again, the only way to do that is if:
- We are unified.
- We are gathering together in community on a regular basis.
- We are using our God-given gifts.
- We are speaking the truth in love to one another.
If that is our focus, then we will build one another up in the faith to mature manhood. We won’t be a church that is tossed to and fro. A church that is easily deceived by false teachers.
But on the other hand, if we aren’t doing those things, then we aren’t going to reach mature manhood. Instead, we are going to remain children who are easily deceived and led astray.
So to get back to the question this series is seeking to answer:
What is the Pastor and Church’s goal and purpose in the work of ministry?
It is to use our God-Given gifts and connection to one another to build one another up in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, as well as it is to help one another think, live, and know as Christ does, so that we will not be deceived and led astray.
That can’t happen if you only attend your church every now and again. That can’t happen if you aren’t involved. That can’t happen if you just come and sit in the pew and walk out the door. Sure you might learn something about God. You might grow a little bit in your faith. But you aren’t going to grow in the way God wants you to grow, nor are those around you going to grow in the way God’s wants them to grow.
You aren’t going to be protected from false teaching, nor are those around you going to be protected from false teaching.
So if you haven’t been involved, if you aren’t using your God given gifts, if you aren’t connecting with others in the church on a regular basis, if you aren’t sharing with others the work God is doing in your life, if you aren’t doing those things, then it’s time you start.
There are a number of ways for you to get more involved in the church.
Most churches have a Sunday school program. That’s usually an easy way to get involved because it only requires you to arrive at church an hour earlier than you normally would.
My church gathers on Wednesday nights for Bible study, prayer and fellowship. Your church may do something similar. I encourage you to explore the options your church has for corporate Bible study.
Friday mornings a few men in my church meet for breakfast and Bible study at a local IHOP. The point is for men to connect over the word. Explore the options your church has and get involved.
Other than attending church sponsored studies, you can get involved in people’s lives and serve one another by simple:
- Inviting them to your house.
- Going to lunch with them.
- Grabbing coffee.
Ministering to one another involves more than just fulfilling a role or performing a duty at the church. It involves us actually getting involved in the lives of others and sharing with them what we are learning from God.
So if you aren’t involved, I challenge you to get involved. To use your gifts in such a way that others are built up in the faith.
Question for Reflection
- Are you involved in the life of your church?
Post developed from my sermon: What’s the Pastor and Church’s Goal and Purpose in the Work of Ministry?