Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The goal of what God is doing in the church, the goal at which we in the church are aiming, is to be just like Jesus Christ. Look at the second half of Ephesians 4:13, “…and become a mature man, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” The word “man” does not appear in the New International Version. But it is in the Greek. It is the goal of the church. It is God’s goal. Remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 where he was talking about how Jesus tore down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles? “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…” (2:15) God’s purpose? To create a new man. The church is this new man. The new man is the body of Christ. It begins in infancy and grows into mature adulthood. The new man of 2:15 is the mature man of 4:13!

This mature man is to look just like Jesus Christ! Paul says he is “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This should bring back to mind what Paul said in 1:22, 23, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The church does works of service and grows stronger and stronger and closer and closer together and as the church grows it comes to look more and more like Jesus Christ. The church does the same kinds of things. The church shows the same characteristics. Finally, the church gains the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus.

But at the time of Paul’s writing the church was still very young; maybe not still in infancy, but very young. He tells the believers that they must gain strength and be built up. I remember seeing toddlers playing in the waves in Lake Michigan. They could hardly stand up! Every time a wave came in it almost knocked them off their feet! Their lives were actually in danger because if a wave knocked them over they could be pulled out into the lake and drown! I also remember watching beginning sailboarders on the lake. They could hardly stand on the board let alone control the direction they were going! Wherever the wind blew, that’s the direction they went. They hadn’t learned to use the wind to go where they wanted to go. The church is not to be like the toddler or the beginning sailboarder. The church is to be built up and to grow powerfully mature in faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ!

What does the church look like today? It is splintered. It is scattered. It is disconnected. In many ways, it is bruised and wounded. In many places it has been attacked. Some of the parts are very weak. Some of the parts are very fat, obese. Some parts of the body seem to really hate each other. What about God’s plan and purpose for the church? What can be done? Catch Paul’s words in 4:15, 16, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Can you see the church drawing itself together? Can you see the parts reconnecting? Can you see the ligaments popping the bones back into place? Can you see new strength coming into the growing muscles? Can you see the beaten and battered body of Christ rising to his full stature and looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ? We can’t do it all! Paul knows that. That’s why he says the body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”


At 2:14 PM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

v. 13 "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God."

Dave, how do you interpret this event?

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...


First, thanks for checking in on this blog. You are fast becoming my true friend!

This is another one of Paul's seemingly unending sentences! The verbs that precede verse 13 give insight into what Paul is saying in v.13. "He gave," "to prepare," "may be built up." God gave the apostles, prophets, etc. to be responsible for teaching, training, preparing the saints to do "works of service." I think these works of service are related to the exercise of our spiritual gifts. As believers serve one another and minister in the world, the body of Christ is built up, in both strength and number. The ultimate goal of our ministering is unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God.

WHEN will we see this? When will we see unity of faith and knowledge? I believe it is something toward which we should be working right now but it is also something which we cannot fully attain to until we are freed from sin. It is something like sanctification for the entire body of Christ. I.e. something we are working at by God's grace now but something that will only be realized when we are delivered from this body of death.

The question for me is this: How are we to live with those who are genuine brothers and sisters in
Christ but disagree with us on various points of theology? I fear I have the tendency to cause division in the body of Christ if I engage in "fighting." I don't think this is pleasing to God and I would like to avoid it. At the same time, we all need to be open to learning and growing in our understanding of scripture. I think about how Jesus loved the disciples when they were so slow to understand the truth. Do I think, as a reformed theologian, that I have the right view of soteriology? Yes, I do. But I have come to the conclusion that fighting with Arminians and semi-Pelagians does not promote "unity of the faith." I admit, just between you and me and the blogworld, they are usually the ones to pick the fights, not us. I also remember that all the debates and arguments I had in seminary when I was an Arminian, did nothing to move me. My understanding of the doctrines of grace came by God's grace alone! I'll tell you the story sometime!

This may only begin to give you an idea of how I interpret Eph. 4:13. What do you think? (Sorry if this is too long)

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

I'll bet my Arminian story beats yours! I was what I like to call a frothing-at-the-mouth Arminian.

Question on Eph 4: if this battle does not end until death, or the Second Coming, does that not mean that all the aforementioned gifts will be functional "until" (mechri) then (v.13)?

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous shiloh guy said...


Aha! Did I miss what you were asking in the first question?

Do you refer to the "gifted people" given by God to the church? I.e. Are there still apostles, prophets, etc. My answer is, "Yes!"

Here's a bit of hermeneutical bait for you. I am not a cessationist when it comes to spiritual gifts or those gifted people given to the church. The real question, of course, is what Paul means when he uses "apostolous" and "prophetes." I think God continues to give those people to the body of Christ.

Where are you on this one? I owe you a much longer explanation. Maybe I'll try to put my thoughts together for you in a new posting.

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, since both sets of gifts are in that list, I think gifts are all or nothing. The only evidence for partial cessation that I can find is 1 Corinthians 13:8.

That said, I take an extreme minority view on the gifts. I wrote a little paper to make sure the view would float, but I am now comfortable taking a Total Cessation (TC) view of the gifts. In Eph 4 I would take the "unity of the faith and knowledge of the SOG" to be canonical. Hence, Scripture superceded gifts once they were completed and disseminated.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...


I'm always interested in hearing new things; kind of like the Athenians on Mars Hill! Do you have your paper on the computer? Can you put it into an email? Is it on the web somewhere? I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the canon replacing karismata. Actually, I've never heard this before (so once again I feel stupid) but I've also been wrong many, many times before.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paper on the way. Let me know if you don't get it.


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