The Works of the Church: Edification, Part 2
The Marks and Works of the Church
Edification, Part 2
This morning we continue our series on the Marks and Works of the Church. The rationale for an extended study on the church relates to two ideas. First, the church is to the central importance that the church has in God’s purposes in the world. The church is not antithetical to God’s
purposes. Rather, the church is central to Christ and his cause. It is central to your discipleship. You cannot have Christianity without the church. Second, what we do here is guided by God’s principles. These principles are logical, coherent, and rationale. We are not just aimless in what we do as a church. Many times, with think of church as just “where two or three are gathered.” That we are just believers in Christ and that’s about it. This amorphous body that just kind of floats around. That is not the case. God has coherent principles that we follow. These Marks and
Works are those principles.
This morning we will dive into part 2 of our sermon on Edification. In that sermon and in this sermon, we are tackling the question, “What do I get out of church?” Stated a bit differently, “What does this corporate body of CBC offer me as an individual Christian?” While this ought
not be the primary question we ask here, it is an important secondary question Go ahead and turn with me to Ephesians 4:11. Last week I defined Edification as equipping. This idea of equipping comes from 4:12. Jesus gives gifts to the church, as seen in verse 11, to “equip the saints.” To be edified is to be equipped for ministry. We gather to be built up so that we pour out our lives for others. We gather to be equipped so that we might equip others. Jesus blesses us to be a blessing. We bless others with the blessings Jesus gives us through this body. That was the main idea of last.
This week we will compliment last week’s discussion. We will continue building upon this notion of edification be diving into the Eph 4:14–16. Follow along as I read this passage,
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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Three points for you this morning.
Ignorance: The Necessity of Edification
The first point is this “Ignorance: The Necessity of Edification.” We get this point from v. 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.” The first question we must ask of this passage is what is the “so that” related to? In Greek, vv. 11–16 is all one sentence. The longer the sentence, the more complex a sentence. There is some difficulty in understanding what the “so that” is related to. I want us this morning to interpret the “so that” as the result of the building up of the body from verse 12. Jesus gives gifts for “the building up of the body.” This “building up of the body” has a consequence. The intended consequence that Jesus wants to see is that he doesn’t want us to be childlike in our thinking, as see in verse 14, “so that we might no longer be children.”
One of the most enjoyable experiences God has blessed me in life with is my role as a father. I have children. I have three of them. If you ask my wife, she might tell you she has four children. I tend to fit in with my children because I enjoy being immature. Children are a blessing from
God. They are not a distraction. They are not a burden. They are a blessing from God.
Children, though, as you know, have many qualities that need development. They are immature. They need constant help, assistance, guidance, and direction. They are gullible, naïve, and lack critical thinking. These skills take time to develop. Children can be easily swayed in their thinking. They’re unstable and unable to stand on their own. They need parents who tell them what to think. This type of characteristic can lead to children to being easily deceived.
There are many people in this world that want to take advantage of children, who want to lead them astray, to manipulate them for their own good, to abuse them. These people are utterly evil, utterly depraved. They are predators. They scheme and plan in order to destroy one of the most precious gifts God has given.
This situation of the naivety of children and the existence of predators is what Paul is talking about in verse 14. The children here, though, are not literal children but are immature Christians who are not developed in their thinking. These Christians are not stable in their theology. Instead, they are like children, “tossed to and fro” by various kinds of false doctrine. There are many Christians like this. Well-meaning Christians who lack the critical thinking skills to be able to ward of false teaching. Ignorance is not a virtue. Gullibility is not a positive trait. Jesus wants us to be childlike in our trust of him, not in our thinking.
The predators in this passage are those false teachers who lead Christians away from the truth. These persons are not neutral or just ignorant. They’re evil. Look at the end of verse 14. These “waves” and “winds of doctrine” are generated by “human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” These persons mentioned in this passage who are responsible for leading Christians astray do so with evil intent and motive. They know they teach lies, but they don’t care. They
intentionally want to lead Christians astray for their own gain.
A perfect example of this type of theological predator is Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith, if you don’t know, is the founder of Mormonism. I’ve recently been reading a book on Joseph Smith. I don’t know if every detail is true, but I take it that the general picture is. The book paints Smith in a terrible light. It portrays Smith as someone who knowingly lead people into error. Smith, prior to becoming a “prophet,” was something of a New York hillbilly who was involved with magic, Free Masonry, and the occult. Smith would regularly engage in money-digging, a superstitious practice of trying to find ancient treasures by means of magical items like sear stones and divining rods. The book paints the picture of Smith developing from an aimless young
magician into a divinely appointed prophet of God. Smith’s religious development occurred after his interest in magic. And the book paints the picture that his motive for adding God to his stories was the for the purpose of personal gain.
What edification does is it protects us from these types of people. Edification protects us from our own childlike thinking, from our own ignorance. We are prone towards these things. We need others to come alongside of us and help us. As you come to church, you are built up. You are taught. You are instructed. Based upon Scripture, you are taught what to think and how to think. Edification protects us from our own ignorance and those persons who seek to lead us astray.
Truth and Love: The How-To of Edification
Along with presenting to us the need for edification, Paul discusses in this passage the “how-to” of edification. This is our second point: “Truth and love: The How-To of Edification.” We get this point from v. 15. This passage reads, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up
in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
The phrase that I want to focus on here is this phrase, “speaking the truth in love.” Grammatically, this phrase is modifying the verb “we are to grow up.” “We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” refers to edification. That’s all referring to the building up of believers. “Growing up” is edification. The way, the manner, the how-to this edification occurs is by “speaking the truth in love.”
As Christians, we are called to be committed to the truth. That what we believe we have in Christianity. One way this commitment to truth comes through our lives is through our speech. We are committed to the truth. We, thus, speak the truth. Our lives should be characterized by first a commitment to the truth and a commitment to talk of the truth.
I want you to see the context of which Paul encourages us to speak the truth in. All of verses 11 through 16 is talking about the church. In these verses, we’re dealing with “in house” issues. While God does want us to tell the truth, to evangelize those outside the church (which we will
touch upon next week), in this verse he’s talking about sharing with truth with our brothers and sisters in Christ within the local church. This compliments my previous sermons on church membership.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have the responsibility and privilege of overseeing each other’s spiritual growth and having our growth overseeing by others. To make this work, we all must be committed to the truth. The truth should reign in this place. One hurdle to overcome for this place to be a place where the truth is spoken is the hurdle of personal privacy. We all tend to not want to let people in our lives, to be guarded, to reject transparency. Especially if you’ve
been hurt by others, there’s a tendency to withdraw. I want you to see, though, that this can be a hindrance towards the truth reigning in this place. If your constantly guarded and reserved, your actions make it hard for others to approach you. Have you ever talked to someone who is super guarded? Talk about a hard, awkward conversation. To speak the truth in love is to not just speak it but to also have a posture that receives the truth. Extreme guardedness prevents this. We must open ourselves up to what our brothers and sisters think and feel. They can often see our faults better than we can. More than our desire for personal privacy or personal feelings, the truth should reign.
Now Eph 4:15 is not immediate justification for the idea that anytime someone does wrong you need to let them know about it. That we be a false interpretation. We must interpret Eph 4:15 considering all of Scripture. There are several references in Scripture where we are encouraged not to speak. Turn to Prov 17:26. This passage reads,
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
This passage, along with several other passages, recommends not talking. So, we must balance Eph 4:15 with passages like this. Different situations require different approaches. You need to have the wisdom and the proper godly counsel around you to know when you should speak the truth.
When we speak the truth to one another, it should always be done in a spirit of love. Our main concern in speaking the truth is to build others up, not to just let people know how we think. Imagine the loving but sometimes brutally honest friend that we all have who tells us to “just get
over it” when we are going through a difficult time. Is it true that we might sometimes tend towards self-pity? Yes. We do. But telling someone to “get over it” is not the best way forward. That comes off as unsensitive and harsh. Tone matters. Timing matters. God doesn’t just what us
to say the right things, he also wants us to say them in the right manner.
Growth: The Consequence of Edification
For our last point, we will look at verse 16. The point for this verse is this: “Growth: The Consequence of Edification.” The passage reads, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” There are two points from this verse I would like to bring out.
First, the grace of God is the source of the church’s growth. You see Christ’s preeminence with the statement “from whom” at the beginning of v. 16. It is from Christ that edification comes. It is from Christ that growth comes. You see Christ’s preeminence when Paul mentions “when
each part is working properly.” Paul states in 4:7 that each part, “each one of us” was given a gift according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Jesus gives these gifts so that each of us might work together. You also the grace of God in the statement “joined and held together.”
theologically, it is God the Father who is joining and holding together each gift that Christ has given to the church. All that we have, all good that we do, all blessing that we bestow upon others are solely due to the power and grace of Jesus Christ.
The grace of God does not nullify human activity. God is the one who is to be praised in this church. Him and him alone. That does not mean, though, that we do nothing here. Rather, it is the grace of God that is the basis for our energy and work of the ministry. Second, I want us to
see the importance involvement of every specific Christian in the church’s growth. Look at the phrase, “when each part is working properly.” What Paul is saying here is that growth in the body occurs when “each part,” every gift that Christ has given as seen in 4:7, is working together. Paul emphasizes here the personal responsibility that all of us as individuals have in building the body. And he states that when we all as individuals buy into to the purposes of God in this church, the consequence is growth. This suggest we all have the responsibility here in this church to build this church up. No one does all the work. All of us do some of the work. It’s a shared responsibility because Jesus has given all Christians gifts.
This coming together in Christ, see here in this final phrase of v. 16, “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up.” God is building this building, but God’s enlists us to also build up this building. Here we have a paradoxical interplay between God’s sovereignty and human
responsibility. Humans play a role in the church. We are not to be passive. Rather, we are to build up this body. Mysteriously, though, it is God who is the real one building this body up. The body builds itself up. Yes. But it is God who is accomplishing these things. God is the unseen
reality. We are the seen reality.
This morning we’ve continued our study on exaltation. We discussed the necessity of edification, the how-to of edification, and the consequence of edification. False teaching exists so we need to be edified. Speaking the truth in love is how we edify others. And growth is the consequence of edification.
I want to conclude this morning by examining this little prepositional phrase at the end of verse 16. It’s short but important. Look at the very end of verse 16. Paul mentions this “in love” phrase. This prepositional phrase is modifying the verb “build itself up.” This is how the building
up is to occur. This is ultimately our message as Christians.
First and foremost, we love God. We love God because he first loved us. In the person of Jesus Christ, God’s love for us was displayed preeminently. Jesus has died for our sins. That love from Christ compels us to love him. That love transforms us. Changes us. Makes us love God. We love God. We treasure him above all else. That is what we do here. We love God. Do you love God above all else? Is he your treasure? Is he all that you have and all that you would want to have? This morning God beckons your love. Give him your love.
Second, we also love our fellow man. We give our lives for others. We reject selfishness and pride. Instead, we seek to build others up. We seek to edify others. We love people. Do you love your fellow man? Do you sacrifice for them and seek to build them up? God beckons you to love your fellow brother and sister. Give them your love this morning.