Monday, March 8, 2021

Growth in Truth and Love

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ." (Ephesians 4:15)

The ascended Christ has given gifts to the church, and the leaders of those gifts are the pastors and teachers. Every member of the church is a gift, and every member is to grow in the exercise of his or her gift. Every member has a part to play in the building up of the community of God in history and in eternity.

The duty of the leaders, according to Ephesians 4:12, is to teach the people and lead them, so that they are equipped to exercise their gifts in good works. As this happens, the church is built up in both unity and community, in faith and in knowledge. Sadly, too often the “laity” simply let the “clergy” do the work. The result is that the church languishes in infancy.

We are not to be infants, Paul says in verse 14. True, we should have a childlike faith in that we trust the Father implicitly, but in our knowledge, worship, and behavior we are to strive for maturity. Today our churches are full of pabulum teaching, our worship is often infantile, and our behavior is selfish and childish. As a result, Christians are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. They follow scheming men who seek to become rich and famous. Instead of working in their local churches, Christians follow television and radio preachers, many of whom are charlatans (though some, of course, are worthy men).

Paul rejects all this. Yes, the church looks like the weakest institution on the earth. There is more trouble in the church than anywhere else because that is where Satan attacks. Despite appearances, only the church has been gifted by Christ to do His great work. Only in the local church can we learn about patience and long-suffering. The church is the context in which true learning and teaching take place.

Thus, Christians are called to learn and grow in their knowledge of God and the Scriptures. Christians should know, for instance, the five major sacrifices of Leviticus, and what each reveals about Christ. Christians should know the message of Nahum and Zephaniah and Jude. And as Christians grow in knowledge through the church, Christ will become visible as the Head of the cosmos.

What gift do you have that may still be in the bud? Let today’s lesson light a fire of enthusiasm in you to learn more and more, so that your gift will blossom and flourish for the benefit of all and for the glory of Christ.