Ephesians 4:14 The Goal of Ministry II: No Longer Children

… that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting ….

We have seen that the function of the ministry gifts given to the church (typified by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry – in order that all the members of the body of Christ might come to a mature man to the measure and stature and fullness of Christ. This end is approached as we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God. We have seen that, though we have not yet arrived at the place of final maturity, the body of Christ is progressing in that direction, and God gave the ministry gifts and the work of the ministry to us here on earth, until that goal is attained. While it will not be fully attained pending the return of Christ (‘not yet’), nevertheless it is something for which we diligently endeavor after in the ‘already.’ We have also seen that the primary means which God uses in the process of our sanctification and maturation include the Word of God, and the people of God.

Verse 14 then reveals to us the first of three visible signs which are to increasingly characterize the church militant (that is to say the church here on earth) as we mature until the coming of Christ. The three outward signs of a maturing church revealed in verses 14-16 of Ephesians 4 are: 1) a church that is stabile in doctrine; 2) a church that speaks the truth in love; and 3) a church that is building itself up in love. We will deal with each one in a separate sermon, this week emphasizing the importance of growth in doctrine through the ministry of the Word.

Children grow in stages. As infants and toddlers they are very unstable on their feet and easily knocked over; they are readily distracted; they lack the experience to know the difference between what is insignificant and what is truly valuable; they are easily taken in by that which looks pretty; and they have no conception of the idea of anything long term. The same is true spiritually. Immature believers are easily thrown and tossed about by the latest doctrinal wind that blows through. We have seen this in our own generation, how charismatic excesses have blown the church from one venue to the next – seeking experiences from falling down to holy laughter to barking; and when that wasn’t enough, they turned after gold dust and gold teeth; and from there, on to spiritual warfare techniques, kicking and cursing pastors, a new apostolic reformation, the third wave, the Prayer of Jabez, mega church, ministry-driven church, purpose-driven life, contemplative prayer methodologies, emergent church, mission-driven church, and onto whatever the next idea on the horizon. Sadly we have seen individuals and even entire churches following after these winds of doctrine, taking them from Toronto to Pensacola to Texas to Kansas City – moving from one deception to the next. If we honestly look at the modern evangelical church, the only consistent object which seems to drive the church is the latest fad; perhaps we would best call today’s church the fad-driven church.

Being blown around by every new wind of doctrine is an indication of the immaturity of the visible church. This began as the church began to degrade the importance of doctrine and theology. Under the guise of either unity or evangelism, teaching and exposition of the Word of God were replaced with new ideas which are supposed to embrace a larger group of people. Add to that, the pride of the human heart does not like to be thought of as old-fashioned, so as each new wind blows through, it carries away a church that is not rooted and grounded in the doctrinal truths most surely believed among us. Many are swept off their feet by the trickery of men, who come with an open, but misinterpreted Bible, and end up with deceived minds. But it is sustained, intensive, faithful exposition of God’s Word that delivers us from immaturity, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. The milk and meat of the Gospel seeps into our instincts so that we are no longer spiritual babies or even teenagers, driven by emotion, attracted by spiritual ‘spin,’ shaped by passing trends and peer pressure, rather as we hear and breath, and live God’s Word, we grow strong.

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5 thoughts on “Ephesians 4:14 The Goal of Ministry II: No Longer Children

  1. 1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

    We have replaced scripture like 1 Peter 2:2 with: “Just do you 15 minute morning devotional and you are ready for the day”. This is an example of watering down the Word of God, of bowing down to this world. I agree with a morning devotional but scriptually it must be followed up with more feedings during the day. Satan’s first command every day to the demons “You know what to do, keep them out of the Word”.

  2. Faith is a journey and life a marathon rather than a fifty yard dash. Each new born, in Christ begins his or her journey through the hearing, or reading, the work of Christ crucified on behalf or the believer is as powerful, and sure as His own resurrection. Blessed in the man or woman who will take heed in the presence of sound doctrine. It is far more important that what the modern church credits. Without the true teachings of the gospel applied to daily life, as explained meticulously in the book of Romans, and the believer’s spiritual position in Christ, defined through the book of Ephesians; the walk of the new convert will suffer many defeats. When babes unarmed with scriptural convictions, enter a local flock where contemporary, sensual, thunder, booming, music opens the door to topics based on health, wealth, and fame based teachings, there will be another “golden calf” produced. There is just no way around what the flesh will continue to do in the name of “religious practice” without GOD’S written, or spoken pure word. We must lay the foundational truths carefully, often repeatedly never assuming that “all have come to maturity.”

  3. Truth is distorted and harmed more by partially true, cleverly constructed arguments than by all the outright lies ever devised. All false prophets scratch itching ears by using this technique. They use the crucified and risen Savior as bait, and then when the foolish are caught, they cleverly perform the “bait and switch” and exchange our blessed Savior for the world. The lost then exchange their souls for Satan’s lie and because of their deceitful hearts, don’t even know it. False prophets desire to plant good seeds (the words they use) into bad soil, so that the lovers of this world will get even more of what they love and continue to worship the creation instead of the creator, just like they have always done.

    Here is a very interesting phenomenon that I find odd. It is not uncommon for Christians to make possible exceptions to biblical principles the rules and then make the rules the exceptions. This is how most cults had their beginning and unfortunately it is how the true church is being dummied down. Whole doctrines are often built around these exceptions. If our God and Father wants us to know something, He will make it clear. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” I wonder if that is because the exceptions are usually easier to live with than the rules, or because compromise and pragmatism are always easier than obedience!

  4. Pingback: World News Tweets » Blog Archive » Ephesians 4:14 The Goal of Ministry II: No Longer Children « Bread …

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