… speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ…
Verses 14-16 of Ephesians 4 reveal to us the three visible signs which are to increasingly characterize the church militant as we mature until the coming of Christ. These three outward signs of a maturing church are: 1) a church that is stabile in doctrine – v. 14; 2) a church that speaks the truth in love – v. 15; and 3) a church that is building itself up in love – v. 16. As we
come to the second mark this week, we will examine what it means to speak the truth in love.
Having seen last week how God uses His Word and the purity of sound doctrine to cause His people to grow up individually and corporately, this week we will examine the second means of grace that contributes to the maturity and sanctification of His church – namely His people. We are social beings by creation. And as the Lord’s called-out community of people, we are called to help each other grow up; we are called to know and be known by each other. We are called to be instruments of change for each other’s good – to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters. But for many of us, our experience of church life falls woefully short of the significant, life-changing, mutual ministry which is the central thought of Ephesians 4. Churches seem very adept at “churchy things,” like planning worship services, Sunday schools, VBS programs, an annual picnic, and pastoral visitation. Counseling ministry is generally farmed-out to hired professionals, and churches hire paid professionals to organize the so-called “work of the ministry.” But if you read your Bible and then step back and look at what is the regular and common practice of the church, one might make ask, what Bible has the church been reading all of these years?
Certainly the church needs reform; we must make every effort to ensure that our church experience be distinctively Biblical in every way – even if it is radical – even if it is uncomfortable. One reform that is desperately needed in the church of Jesus Christ today, requires that we as its members, become wise in the face-to-face curing of souls. It is exactly because the people of God have neglected this admittedly uncomfortable practice, that psychotherapists and psychologists become so attractive. David Powlison perceptively writes:
One big reason we don’t grasp the counseling call of the church is that we wear blinders when it comes to Word ministry. We rightly see that public ministry from the pulpit is crucial, but we often fail to see that interpersonal ministry in conversations is equally so. In fact the quality of conversations in the church is proof of whether public ministry is succeeding or failing to achieve Christ’s goals.
The Bible provides the perfectly balanced model for the work of the ministry and in particular the ministry of the Word in the church. It reveals a seamless joining of the specialized competency of pastors and teachers publicly proclaiming the Word, with the church community and peers speaking the truth in love to one another. As Paul writes to the Roman church, I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (Rom 15:14). Brothers and sisters, let us labor together to make this aspect of the ministry of the Word to one another a reality.
Listen to this message here: