Ephesians 4 (Part 6)


I ask you to go to Ephesians, chapter 4 and we’re advancing. It may seem that we’re not but I think we are making progress, and we are touching on things. It is such a dense passage though, that it leads us into new areas and there’s a progression here that is very beautiful and there is so much substance.

I feel bad just leaving it like that and leaving it hanging, just in the interest of continuing. So, there in Ephesians, chapter 4, for those who are visiting, we are going through the book of Ephesians and stopping at those really thick places where there’s so much teaching and just trying to comb through it and get the word of the Lord for us.

Last Saturday, we stopped at that last section of verse 13, but the beginning of verse 13 it talks about… the body of Christ is being built up, there’s a progressive work of the spirit of God and the nutrients of the spirit that come through the different offices of Apostle, evangelists and so on, that are preparing God’s people for service and so on. And it says that all of that is being done until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. we stopped there a couple of Saturdays ago and so that balance between doctrinal commitment, let’s say, and doctrinal purity and clarity, and definition balance by the knowledge of the Son of God which in that idea of knowing Christ, and knowing his personality and being, how should I say, joining him in his grace and his love and his attitude to the weak and to the broken and so on. There’s a balance between faith and doctrinal strength and that gracious attitude of Jesus Christ that lubricates and gives life and makes faith organic.

And so in the knowledge of the Son of God, and then last Saturday we dwelled on becoming mature and we saw that the Greek expression that is translated ‘mature’ here in the NIB is ‘andra teleion’, which means becoming a complete man or a complete woman. And that is the goal of the believer, to sort of close the circle. We’re talking about the progressive nature of the Christian walk. It is not something that is static, you don’t simply one day you receive the Lord and you say, ok, I got my visa stamps and I got my passport ready, and I’m going to heaven so now…. let’s kind of vegetate and marinade and enjoy the Christian life and that’s it. I mean, that’s simply getting the dial tone going for an ongoing conversation with God, a call to progressive holiness, and growth and maturity.

And, you know, there was one passage that I didn’t share with you, because of the time constraints, but I do want to point it out, because I had a wonderful conversation with a believer this week which, it’s Colossians, chapter 3, which reminded me again of the importance that we have clarity as to the nature of that progression, that we’re supposed to follow in the Christian walk.

If we know these things, then we will know how to measure our growth. We will know what to strive for. We will have a vision statement, so to speak, of the kind of maturity that we are to pursue and what are the stages, what are the signs, what are the moments that we can say, Yes, ok, you know, I’m going in that direction. It’s good to identify those things because then we know what to aim for.

And there in chapter 3 of Colossians, it is a passage beginning with verse 5 which has always marked me, when I meditate on Christian perfection and Christian progressiveness and walk toward holiness, toward maturity. I think I have sort of discerned four stages, there may be more, but certainly there are four stages of clarity in terms of the Christian walk. And the Apostle Paul speaking to the Colossians in connection to rules for holy living, he says:

“…Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry, because of these the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways in the life you once lived….”

Remember we were talking about maturity, becoming a complete believer, a complete Christian man or woman. And you know, the first stop, so to speak, in the journey toward maturity is confronting the baser instincts, the baser pull of the flesh and we all deal with that in one way or another.

Unfortunately, I think many believers, when we’re thinking of holiness, we stop there, and so, so many Christians are so focused on just that area, you know, sexual purity and things dealing with those baser aspects of human nature. You know, just the more blunt, obvious aspects of sinfulness, greed, for example, or hatred, or racism, or those sorts of things, and we say, ‘well, you know, I thank God I stopped doing those things’, and then we stop there, because we think we’ve made it.

Or sometimes we just focus on that. Sometimes the Christian church and our teaching and preaching often just kind of focuses on that and the Christian walk is so much deeper than that. And so see what the Apostle Paul says then:

“…. But now….”, you see in verse 8, but, in other words, ok, guys, you’ve done a good job, you’ve escape those more obvious aspect of sins that he also mentions, for example, in the book of Romans in the first chapters about the pagans, the unbelievers, the gentiles who have run amok with those sexual sins and so on. He says:

“….But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with these practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator…”

What is he talking about here? It’s another level of maturity, which is again, you know, taking away those attitudes that often are footholds for the enemy. And how many homes are broken and contaminated with anger and words that are wounding, and how many relationships are manipulative and are contaminated with lying and dissimulation and lack of transparency, and so on and so forth.

You see, there’s another level that we should ask the Lord to work in our lives. It’s that emotional cleansing that needs to take place. We need to have that cleanliness of feelings, of emotions and we must ask the Lord, because I think all of us, in one word or another have some healing and some sanctifying to be done in that area. We must ask the Lord to…. that fruit of the spirit must be there.

And we’ve got to take away these things, you know, if we have a mouth that is not the most pure in the world, or if we are not transparent with people, we’re always manipulating and sort of dancing around people, and getting our way and trying to take advantage of others and so on and so forth, that whole area of mental, emotional attitudes that are also very destructive and that mar the Christian personality. We also need to ask the Holy Spirit to find those areas.

This is why David says in the psalm 1:39 and I know in Spanish but, essentially the verse says, “.. examine me, oh Lord, look into my inner being and find if there’s anything there that is twisted, anything that is contrary to your will, anything that is displeasing to you and guide me in the way that I should walk according to your will…”

And we should always be asking the Holy Spirit, ‘Father, there may be attitudes, there may be practices in my life, there may be things in my relationships that are not completely wholesome and that do not reflect the character of Christ, the way I talk, the way I think, the way I relate to others. Father, teach me those things’.

And if we ask the Holy Spirit and we are open to it, he will act and he will lead us into that second stage of blessing and sanctification. But then, there’s a third area. You know, in the first two I would call them defensive. They are simply taking off things, cutting away, excising things that are not pleasing onto God. But how many know that the Christian walk is not simply negative. It is not simply cutting things away and doing away with things. It’s also assuming attitudes, assuming certain kind of behaviors, putting on certain things and replacing what we have given up for qualities that are the symmetrical opposite, if you will, of those that we are taking off.

If we simply take off, take off, take off, we will left without a personality. We need to put something on. So he says, “….therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another…”

So there’s a third level, the level of those virtues of the Christian character that we are supposed to ask the Lord, ‘Father, help to reflect the character of Christ, help my walk and my relationships, and my attitudes, and my way of reacting in life to burdens, difficulties, challenges, offenses, that they may reflect the character of Jesus Christ.”

That is the most difficult, I admit. I’m the first one to raise my hand and say, ‘Father, I am guilty. I need more of your provision in that area’. And we all need to be acknowledging that, you know, but at least as we acknowledge it, as we ask the Lord to bring into being those qualities in our life, he will start doing it as well. We must hunger for the character of Christ. If you don’t hunger for it, and if you do not grieve at those attitudes that oppose that character of Christ in your life, then it will not happen.

So, don’t be afraid to admit that you have that need. I mean, joyfully accept it and confess it and embrace the call of Christ to become Christ-like, because God will not look down upon you simply because you say, ‘Father, yes, I know I acknowledge that.’ And you know people as well will not look down upon you, they will not denigrate you, they will not underestimate you because you admit certain things, because you confess them. It’s a wonderful way of being healed.

So, and there’s that crowning virtue that is sort of the culminating point. It says, “…. And above all, over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Isn’t that beautiful? So, there is that element then: love is as First Corinthians 13 says, it’s the final, the crowning. If you are possessed and infused and saturated with love then you’re really up there. That love will ground you, that love will help you to stay healthy emotionally. That love will protect you. That love will defend your interests as you sacrifice your interest for the interest of the Kingdom of God or for other higher interests of harmony with others, and blessing others, and you say ‘Lord, I commit myself, out of love I’m not going to answer back. Out of love I’m not going to seek what is mine, what is right and I’m just going to trust in you’. Love will carry you through. Love will bless you.

So, there you have four stages of that maturity, that walk toward maturity. So, “… and become mature –we go back to Ephesians, chapter 4- …. Until we become mature…”

That is the desire of the Holy Spirit, to bring us hole, perfect, complete, having put on one thing after another and I submit you again to that passage of Second Peter, chapter 1 where it talks about that whole area of putting on different kinds of virtues until we come to the full, full measure of Jesus Christ.

So, we attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Christ is the norm. Christ is the point of reference. Christ is the standard by which we measure ourselves. We do not measure ourselves by other men, by the deacon so and so, or by the pastor. They were all broken, they were all imperfect, they were all lacking, but Jesus Christ… when you examine his character, when you examine his walk, when you see his profile as it is presented in scripture, you have a perfect aim, you have a perfect mark to aim for the fullness of Jesus Christ.

So these words ‘mature’, ‘whole measure’, ‘fullness’, ‘being built up’, this is what the purpose of being a believer is. This is why we have come into the Kingdom of God and what that does is it enables us to do those works of service that he speaks about in the beginning, it opens up.

As second Peter says, you know, if you have these things in you and they abound, they will not allow you to be useless or to be inactive in the things of Christ. So let us aim for that.

And then, Paul says, if all these things have happened, if you have become well fitted servants of Christ, if you have become a well constructed organism for service, if you have well established, well defined doctrine on ambiguously help, if you have a vital knowledge of Christ and his spirit which prevents that doctrine from becoming religious and sterile, if you have become a mature believer who has all the different nutrients of the spirit and those virtues, then, he says, and what he’s doing here in verse 14 on is presenting what the ultimate result, what behavioral qualities will be like.

And you know, it’s interesting that he chooses this particular aspects of it, “….then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

Again, remember what we are saying, that to the Apostle Paul it is so important to have good doctrine, good belief, to know the teachings of scripture because they are what ground us, they are what hold us together. So in the end he is saying, you know, a mature believer who has experienced Christ and who has grown, one of the things is that they’ll be solidly planted on the word of God. They won’t have to be looking around, left and right, and considering other things and uncertain of what they believe. They will be sure of what they believe, the mark of Christian maturity is that sufficiency in Christ, it’s that stability, that solidity of attitude and of character. You know in whom you have believed, as the Apostle Paul says. You’re grounded in that truth.

And so, you’re not an infant who somebody takes you here, and somebody takes you there. And you know, again, why is that so important? Because we live in an age where there is so many counterfeit of Christianity and as a matter of fact there is so much variety of Christianity that is good even, and you know, I think if we’re not careful in this time that we are living in, it is so easy whether by counterfeit religions or simply by different variants of Christianity to be tossed into anxiety about whether you’re in the right church or whether you’re under the right teaching, and to be looking behind your shoulder all the time, uncertain of what it is that you believe. And therefore, you do not build up continually on one teaching, one community, you know, these days people are over restless.

It’s like the same thing that happens in relationships. People go from relationship to relationship and you know, from marriage to marriage and there’s huge instability in the world and I think the tendency is ,I think, for many Christians to do the same thing, so we tend to… we’re not sure where we’re going to be. There’s always good some place else and you know, I think the media and all the access that we have to so many models out there of good, big, prosperous ministries and variance, you know, prosperity gospel, and then there’s the hard charismatic, and then there’s charismatic that are a little more evangelical and then there’s the classic Pentecostals and then there’s just the classic evangelical, and then the fundamentalists and you turn your radio and there are several Christian radio stations, and on Sunday night you have 8 or 10 different programs, and all this stuff I think it tends to raise in us a certain kind of disquiet and restlessness that I think can be very dangerous, unless we are grounded in what is really important about the Christian walk.

I just finished reading a book, a marvelous book, and I bought it because I heard the speaker in the Vision New England Congress and I was captivated by him. I think he is a man of God, I think he is a fascinating speaker and thinker and one of the most entertaining people I have heard in my life, you know, Christian speakers, Donald Miller. He wrote a book called ‘Blue like Jazz’, I don’t know if any of you have read it, but I was captivated by his way of expressing things and I just finished reading the book and it’s a wonderful book and I’m sure that it has its market and it’s kind of a post modern look at Christianity.

It is a very sort of confessional reflection on Christianity and the Christian walk. It’s almost like a college sophomore opening his brain and be able to speak very eloquently about his struggles and about his Christian walk. He’s very, as I say, he’s very skilled and the book is excellent and I was very edified by it. But one thing that I found myself time and time again being confronted is with his, I wouldn’t call them attacks, because it is more subtle than that, but his criticisms and his definite ambivalence toward, sort of traditional Christians, of which there are millions and millions in America. Those nice churches that are in every town and every village in America, of hard working people, pastors that are doing the best they can. And you know, sometimes blotting along and not being too elegant, and not being necessarily highly sophisticated in their doctrine or in their way of doing things, but they’re doing the best they can, they’re sensitive Christians, they love the Lord and you walk into their intimacy and yes, you’re going to see things that are a little naughty and perhaps a little, what would be the word, well, not too elegant, not too attractive. But that’s the nature of their church.

It’s been like that always and if you come in with a critical eye, you’re going to see defects in every church, in every ministry, in every corner and sector of Christianity. It’s the way things are. You know, not every worship team is going to be perfectly polished and ready for prime time television. Not every church is going it together in terms of its handling grace and law and doctrine and so on and so forth, but you know, he can take stabs at traditional Christianity with such exquisite skill that it’s like a nice, very sharp knife made for cutting sushi, it slices through the sensibility of so many Christians. I started looking on myself and say, ‘hey, maybe some of it is applicable to me’. And you know, you can become very insecure. There’re so many wonderful minds looking at Christianity these days and there’s post modern, and there’s Gen X, and there’s seeker friendly and all these kinds of varieties of Christianities. They’re all good, they’re part of the body and God is using them for different kinds of things, but when we start poking fun and criticizing each other, you know, then all of a sudden we’re going to be changing styles every week and we’re going to be like an unsure woman changing her hair every two or three weeks because she doesn’t think she’s beautiful, so one day she has this color, then the other color and on and on and on.

And you know, it’s that… we need to be careful about that, we need to be grounded in what we believe. We need to be secure and yes, there may be other models, and that’s fine, praise the Lord for them. But, hey, this is what God has called me to be like, this is what my understanding of scripture calls me. I will not be apologetic. Yes, I will learn, that’s why I read all kinds of books and all kinds of sources I consult them. But I have to know what it is that I believe in. I have to read scripture myself and I have to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate me so that I can understand what it is, and then I have to stand my ground.

And yes, I may see other models in TV and I may go to conferences and so on and so forth, but this is my stand, I go from this place and then I return to this place, and I praise the Lord for other varieties, and I examine all things, and I retain that is what is good.

And you see, that is the attitude that we need to have. Let’s not fall into anxiety and this is what the Apostle Paul is saying here you know: “…. being an infant blown here and there by every wind of teaching…”

And of course, he is referring specifically here to that other dimension which is the abundance of heresy that there is today in Christianity, the excesses that we find in many Christian churches and in teaching. He is merciless about that. And we have to understand that we are in a very dangerous time in history where there is so much diversity out there that we have to be careful and we have to know, and I will tell you what it is in a moment, that he says that we need to be looking at.

But in chapter 4 of Second Timothy, Paul speaks to Timothy, who’s this aspiring young pastor, growing pastor, and he gives him some solid advise from an old wolf who’s been out there and who’s seen everything, and he’s planted churches and he’s seen the miracles, and he’s seen the revivals and God has used him greatly and so on and so forth, and he knows what is important.

So, he is counseling Timothy, ‘hey, Timothy, this is what you should teach to people, this is what your ministry should be about and be careful’. And he’s speaking also to us, I think in the XXI century in particular. It says: “….. in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus for one, who will judge the living and the dead….”

Look at the solemnity of what he’s charging him. “….. and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word…. –that’s what it’s all about. You know, preaching the word. You must stand in the word.

Don’t worry too much about the claims and the demands around you. As Christians we should ask ourselves, ‘Am I declaring the word of God?’ and if I am in all its balance and nuance, then fine.

“….Be prepared in season out of season. Correct, rebuke and encourage….”

You know, that there is a place for rebuking and correcting in the Christian church. Many people don’t want to hear of it, but we just want the affirmation, and the encouragement, but there’s a place for rebuke.

“…. with great patience and careful instruction, -that’s the other side- for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine…”

He uses that expression many times in his teachings: sound doctrine, sound means something that is just solid, it’s like bread. It’s just nice, it doesn’t have any spectacular taste, but you know, bread is fundamental, it’s good, it’s solid. It’s like your mother’s food, your mother’s cooking. It’s sound, it’s not a chef’s sophisticated stuff. And you know that’s often what we can aspire to. Is your church giving you sound doctrine? Are you receiving sound teaching from the word? You know, that’s what it’s all about. All the other stuff, the nuances, the sophisticated interpretations and all that, that’s good, but that’s not where the power is, that’s not where the solidity of the Christian walk is. It is in those solid teachings, those practical aspects of the teaching.

“…. Instead to suit their own desires they will gather around them, a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations and do a hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry….”

Guau! It’s wonderful, you know, it’s just so solid, so simple, so clear. I mean, you know, bam, bam, bam, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. We must remember that always, brothers and sisters, as Paul says in another passage, it’s not about talk, it’s not about fine sounding arguments. It’s not about sophisticated thinking and arguing. That’s not what the Christian walk is all about. It’s about love, it’s about holiness, it’s about obedience, it’s about God healing us. It’s about Christ dieing for us, it’s about putting on the character of Christ and the armor of God. It’s those big pieces that we should be concerned about.

So, instead of being blown here and there, in this time as we are, by every wind of teaching, by the cunning and craftiness of men. You know, there’s a lot of heresy. I think the church is often too kind to heresy and in our desire not to sound judgmental, we tolerate a lot of stuff that should be denounced, in love but should be confronted, because otherwise there will not be any correction in the church of Jesus Christ. I cannot be more gracious than the word and Paul was absolutely clear.

There’s a lot of stuff being passed by today. People who just want to make money out of another book, they haven’t really meditated enough on what they’re teaching. You know, there’s a lot of dissertations being turned into books these days and a lot of people producing books because they make money using ghost writers and so on and so forth. I don’t have, in principle I’m not against that, but it can become excessive after a while and all kinds of stuff is just put out there on the market these days. We consume all this stuff because it’s from so and so, and so we buy all their books and you know, and we got to be careful because sometimes the spirit of commercialism and the spirit of just throwing things out there, very irresponsibly can take over many times, and we got to be careful about that. And some doctrine is absolutely just deceitful and so we must be careful about that.

Instead of that kind of being tossed, that kind of uncertainty, speaking the truth in love. You know, I looked up the expression that is translated ‘speaking the truth’ ‘alete uontes’, ‘aleteia’ is the word in Greek that means truth and the commentary that I read, one of them, said that it is the only time that this word, only the Apostle Paul used it. Not only the only time that is used in the New Testament, but apparently it is the only time. He made up a word ‘alete uontes’. I know a little bit of, just a tiny little Greek as I’ve been learning, to know that ‘uontes’ means sort of…. In Spanish there’s an equivalent word and that’s why I can understand, and I’ve been looking for days, trying to find an equivalent in English. There is none. Really, but it’s this idea that we sort of…. In Spanish there is the word ‘veraces’, from ‘verdad’ and it means, sort of when truth comes to personify you, truth inhabits you so deeply that you become truth, that you walk in the truth and that you are integrated with the truth. And so you wage the truth, you walk in the truth, you hold on to the truth, you practice the truth. So it is in that sense, that instead of being tossed about by all these lies and puff truth and so on, you instead choose to walk in the truth, be immersed in the truth. And as you are doing that, then you are fully covered, you are protected.

We need to ask the Lord, ‘Lord, help me to embrace that truth’. So, you know, I think it’s a little lame when you say speaking the truth, it is that, but it so much more than that. It is simply embracing the truth and holding on to it and living the truth of scripture and of sound doctrine.

Again, I’m captivated by this idea, speaking the truth or holding the truth or waging the truth in love. Remember that we talked about that other unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. Paul, always, when he puts these pairs it’s for a reason. When he tells Timothy for example, “… for God has not given us a spirit of cowardice or timidity, but a spirit of power and then what?, and love…”

He always somehow manages to put in that balancing element. And here again, he does that. Yes, we engage the truth, we live the truth, we embrace the truth against heresy and against falsehood, but we don’t become rigid and fundamentalist and idolatrous of the letter and of the law, because we have love to balance it out.

When you are loving, then, your doctrine will always be balanced out and the truth that you hold will always be humanized and divinized even, by love. It will nuance it, it will give it life.

There’s a passage, for example, the Apostle Paul is speaking to people who… referring to eating meat that was sacrificed to idols, and apparently they were people, they were grounded in the truth, they knew that idols are nothing and that demons are nothing, compared to Christ they’re just whims. And so, if a piece of meat was sacrificed to the idols, I don’t care, I’m going to eat it because I mean, I pray for it, I’ve given thanks for the Lord and any demonic thing in that meat is neutralized immediately.

So, these are superbly convicted believers, nothing scares them, they are in the truth of Christ, they’re strong and so on, so they’re going to enjoy that steak even though it was sacrificed to whatever demon out there. But then there’s other Christians that are a little more sensitive in their conscience… and you know, when they go to that Chinese restaurant there is that Buddha with his hands raised and his big tummy, they can’t go in there because that food is sacrificed to idols, and I’m not going to eat of that stuff because there’re demons probably in these places and so on and so forth.

And Paul, actually speaks, and says that they’re like weak Christians, interestingly. You know, some people might think, guau! Yes, right on, you’re not going to be contaminated with anything. Yes, I applaud your zeal for holiness and so on. Paul says, there are people who are more sensitive and they don’t have the freedom that you have and they’re wounded by those things, and they’re scared by them. They don’t have the clarity of understanding, the overwhelming trust in Christ’s power that you have, and there you are, eating your steak and putting A 1 sauce on it and just munching away and you have that believer being offended and he’s tossing and turning, ‘my God, maybe I should be eating that. Look how good it looks, but no, I can’t because it’s been sacrificed…. You’re putting him in a bad spot. You’re putting him in conflict. You’re scandalizing, how can this guy who’s a deacon in the church be eating that steak and so on and so forth and you’re making him do all kinds of turns in his mind and you’re being insensitive, you’re letting your truth make you oblivious to the suffering of that believer. You’re so convicted by your truth that you’re not being sensitive to the other guy.

And so Paul says, hey, if my freedom to eat meat is going to be scandalous to the other guy, then I won’t eat meat, I won’t touch meat. Period. Because I love that person and I don’t want to scandalize him.

You know, there’s a limit even to that as well, by the way, but there’s a coronel of very, very good teaching there, that our convictions should always be tempered by mercy, by compassion, by grace and by consideration of others. We should never be so grounded on our truth and what we know and what needs to be done.

You know, there are people who are so square, once they know what needs to be done, they don’t care, they just go right through. The Christian walk is mercy, it’s love, it’s compassion, it’s patience. So we need to be careful, we need to package the truth in that compassion, that mercy of God.

And I think that what he’s talking about, you know, being truthful. Yes, we are truth filled but we also walk in love, we speak the truth in love. We counterbalance and then in all things we will grow up into him, who is the head, this is Christ.

Now, that’s the culmination here. How do you know that you have good doctrine? How do you know that you are grounded in the truth? How do you know what it is that you need to believe and hold on to? It’s that person of Christ.

Paul was absolutely suspicious and merciless toward any kind of teaching that lowered the status of Christ in any way, or that diminished his sufficiency to justify us before God, or that took away anything of his divinity or of whatever. I mean, Paul was obsessed with Christ. He was Christ-oriented, Christ-centered, and to him that's what it's all about. You know, it is using Christ again, as the norm, using Christ growing up into him, becoming like him.

If I am becoming like Christ and the spirit of Christ is in me and I am living the Christian walk in the spirit of Christ, then I’m fine. Yes, I may have my things that still need to be worked out, but that’s ok. As Christians it is Jesus Christ, he is the cornerstone, he is the head, “….from him the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up again, in what ?, in love as each part does its work.”

It reminds me of the passage in Colossians, chapter 2, where it says a lot of different things but here for example, in chapter 2 verse 2 “… in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this, so that no one may deceive you by fine sounding arguments…..”

Here’s again the same thing: deception, Christianese talk that gets into all kinds of exoteric, subtle stuff, “… no one may deceive you by fine sounding arguments, in verse 6, though then, just as you receive Christ Jesus, our Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him…”

See, the same image that is in Ephesians, “…. Strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ, for in Christ all the fullness of the deed lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

So you know, it comes down to that. Anything that attempts to diminish the stature of Christ in your life, or that tries to substitute as the judaisers taught about circumcision and the agnostics taught about all this knowledge that supposed to get you closer to God. Paul says, don’t have any of that. It’s all about Christ. It’s about using him and him growing in you, when you’re growing in him and love be the distinctive aspect of your life.

If you have those things, you’re well grounded. That’s what we need to look for.

Father, we ask again for that sureness of conviction, for that experience of Christ, for that concentration on him, on his person, on his personality, on his gifts, on his virtues that we will not be looking around and being tossed about and attracted by all kind of alternatives. Held us to have a wholesome faith, Lord, a healthy faith, a faith that may be simple and child-like, others may scoff at it, Father, but we will hold on to that sound doctrine.

Lord, may we look at your word with child-like eyes, the simplicity, knowing Christ and him crucified, making it a mission statement not to look at other things, but simply Christ, and to use him as the norm, use him as the point of departure and the point of return, as the point of reference in everything that we do. We seek to be that kind of congregation, founded on the word, vigilant of truth and at the same time filled with mercy, compassion, grace, love, patience, all those wonderful attributes that characterize our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for your word tonight, Father. We embrace it, we receive it and we pray that it will be come a reality in our lives. We pray in that wonderful, mighty name of Jesus. Amen.