Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ephesians 4:13-16

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

It is important to realize that, according to this passage in Ephesians, the supreme purpose of the church is not the evangelization of the world. The Great Commission is often held up to us as the supreme aim and purpose of the church, and it is certainly a crucial and essential task. Jesus has clearly sent us out to preach the Gospel to every creature. But the Great Commission is not God's supreme and ultimate goal.

Romans 8:29 tells us that God's ultimate plan for us is that we be "conformed to the image of his Son." Evangelization is a means of bringing people into a relationship with God, so that God's ultimate goal for them--Christlikeness--can be achieved in their lives.

Nor does Paul say anything here about accomplishing world peace and universal justice. He does not say the church will ultimately introduce the millennium. We may well believe in the great vision of the prophets that there is a day coming when peace shall reign on the earth and men shall beat their swords into plowshares and make war no more. One day righteousness shall prevail over all the earth and all of today's headlines of injustice, tragedy, war, mass murder, terrorism, crime, racism, and hate will be forgotten. But that is not the great and final purpose for the existence of the church.

God's overarching goal is to produce men and women who demonstrate the character qualities of Jesus Christ. God does not want a church filled with whiterobed saints. He does not want a church filled with theological authorities or cultured clergyman. He wants a church filled with ordinary men and women who exemplify the extraordinary integrity, temperament, wholeness, compassion, individuality, boldness, righteousness, earnestness, love, forgiveness, selflessness, and faithfulness of Jesus Christ!

New Christians should also understand that growth does not come by trying. As Jesus pointed out, you cannot by taking thought add a cubit to your stature. You cannot say, "Now I am going to try to grow." Children would grow much faster than they do if that would work! But it doesn't.

How, then, do you grow? You must make sure that the factors that enhance and encourage spiritual growth are present. If they are, growth will occur of itself, naturally and unforced. We have already examined many of these factors, but they are summarized by the apostle Paul in this twofold way: increasing in (1) "the unity of the faith" and (2) "the knowledge of the Son of God." These, he says, will lead to mature manhood, "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).

Though the Scriptures are unchanging, new light is continually issuing forth from them through individual teachers who are given these new insights by the Holy Spirit. But then they must be shared widely in the body or no new truth is given. New Christians grow when they exert themselves to understand the Scriptures with the help of the teachers and leaders who make themselves available to them within the body of Christ.

This occurs when the knowledge of the faith (Hearing) is put into practice (Doing).
Hearing and doing go hand in hand. You cannot know Jesus Christ until you follow Him. The disciples had an acquaintance with Jesus Christ before they became His disciples. That is obvious from the Gospel records. But they never knew Him until they left everything and followed him. It is here that we are particularly helped by the prayers and concern of the other members of the body. In our relationships with one another, our experience of the Lord who lives within us is deepened and enlarged. As Jesus said, when he revealed the standard of judgment for the last day,

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40)

Teaching and preaching is the over flowing of The Holy Spirit in our life. By learning of Jesus we grow into the Image of Him. This means that we become like Him and doing what He does. Is these works or being coming like Him?


At 7:29 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

This is by far your GREATEST POST EVER!!!!!!! This is so right-on! This so good!

"Romans 8:29 tells us that God's ultimate plan for us is that we be "conformed to the image of his Son." Evangelization is a means of bringing people into a relationship with God, so that God's ultimate goal for them--Christlikeness--can be achieved in their lives."

Yes, yes, yes! Perfect! We are saved to know Him-John 17:3.

Great post,Doug

At 7:38 AM, Blogger forgiven said...

Thanks Mark for your very kind words

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Godzheart said...

"God's overarching goal is to produce men and women who demonstrate the character qualities of Jesus Christ". Amen to that, I wish many more of us realise this is what we need. This post is so on the mark.

Thank you Doug and God Bless.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

Wow fantastic post brother Doug. So encouraging yet challenging too!
God Bless.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

Amen! Let's commit to knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8), and the Great Commission, so that the supreme plan of God, our conforming to the image of God's Son, can be acheived!

At 6:33 AM, Blogger Live, Love, Laugh said...

I agree and was thinking the same thing as everyone else who commented. This is it, we are so concerned about the big picture.

I can't even imagine if everyone was about the Father's business and more and more Christlike believers were reaching more and more, then imagine how all the problems in the world would be solved, we would have people demonstrating love, and serving.

This post reminds me of a comment by Mother Teresa, I am not Catholic but I love the things she said, Anyway...she said we are all God's children, (not in the sense of Born Again), but in the sense of the human race. God is our creator and she said, "if we show them Jesus then God brings them to a place they have to choose. In other words they will see the difference.

i don't know if I am making sense, but that was so profound to me, to think of those who hate us, such as some Muslims, etc, God is their creator and He loves all of mankind, but not all will choose Him.

Well, thanks for the Great post, I am inspired and you are a blessing to me.

At 12:46 AM, Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

Just wanted to say hi. Haven't seen your post for a while Brother Doug. How have you been?

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Nunzia said...

Wow, I really never thought about it that way. Thank you so much for sharing!

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Joe said...

As the Body of Christ, you would think that being Christlike would come automatically. But it takes, as you point out, work!

That's why faith without works is no faith at all, for it has no evidence of its being.

Great post!

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

I agree with bluecollar. Great stuff.


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