Are you doing your part as a member of the body of Christ? Listen to this message to hear that just as our head controls what our body does, so Christ is the Head of the Church. As members we are to use the spiritual gift we have been given to minister to the other members of our local church as we grow to spiritual maturity. Learn how to counteract the many hours we spend daily hearing human viewpoint so our thinking can be transformed and hear fourteen characteristics of love that are to be applied to those around us.
During this lesson Dr. Dean recommended several books: The Genesis of Science by James Hannam Mathematics: Is God Silent? by James Nickel Science and the Knowledge of God by John D. Gibbon – We have several of these books available for free at Dean Bible Ministries. Available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please use the Contact Form to request a copy. Why You Think the Way You do by Glenn S. Sunshine
Each Individual Believer Must Do His Part
Ephesians Lesson #152
June 5, 2022
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father again, we come together to focus upon Your Word, the Word that You have breathed out, the Word that has been in Your thinking from eternity past, eons and eons before now, always in Your thinking. It is called the mind of Christ, the thinking of Christ.
“Father, we are thankful that over the centuries You breathed this out through the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, giving us Your very thinking about reality. Your Word is truth, as our Lord prayed, absolute truth conforming to reality in a world that rejects the concept of truth, that’s confused, that thinks the truth is just whatever anybody thinks it is and whatever they want it to be, and it’s something that’s manipulatable and malleable. And yet we know that it is unchanging. It is eternal. It is absolute. And it is only as we conform our thinking to Your Word that we will grow spiritually, that we will be transformed, and that You will use that to transform us into the image, the character of Your Son.
“We pray that we might be responsive to Your Word this morning. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles again to Ephesians 4:15–16. In these two verses, there is an emphasis on each individual in the body of Christ.
I pointed out last time that the aspect of this teaching is not one that has—I don’t think—been as thoroughly exploited from this passage as it could have been and should have been, especially in some congregations and in some teaching. I have not heard too much that has really delved into especially Ephesians 4:16.
If you look at Ephesians 4:16, you’ll notice that it is much longer than Ephesians 4:15, and it is quite significant. There are a lot of issues here. I’ve listened to people give five or 10 minutes of a message that covers Ephesians 4:11–16 in one shot. You can’t build an understanding of what God is doing in this Church Age through the body of Christ without a thorough understanding of not only these two passages, but this whole section that started back in Ephesians 4:7.
It was interesting, I’ll talk more about this next week as we go back and just do an overview of Ephesians 4:1–16, but apparently, and I’ve seen something cross my email about this, there is a new book on the ascension of Christ that has come out through Logos Bible Software.
As you know, I am in a group of pastors; there are four of us. We met in 2016 going through the Christian Leadership Training at Yad Vadshem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, and we were single-minded. We all held to a free-grace understanding of salvation. We all were dispensationalists. We all understood the significance of the distinction between Israel and the church, and we were all pre-mill, pre-trib in all of our beliefs, and we have a constant four-way text chat going. I quoted one of those guys last Sunday morning, Ed Muska. Because his last name is Muska, we call ourselves the four “muskateers”—(Sigh) I know that’s really bad.
Anyway, one of the guys, who can get a little bit excited about some things, had read a review of this book that came out on the ascension of Christ. Pastors don’t get ripping mad, but I can’t think of another term right now. He got a little bit excited about it in a negative way because a lot that was written in it. He pasted this into our text, and I was amazed at the level of ignorance from a touted theologian of the significance of the ascension of Christ.
I would hope after spending 27 hours just from Ephesians 4:7–16 that we all might understand what is so important about this passage. Everything that really flows in this passage comes out of the fact that as we’ve studied back in Ephesians 4:7, that Christ ascended and He gave gifts to men. It’s the development of that statement in terms of the gifted men of Ephesians 4:11. Their purpose in equipping the saints, what that entails, and what its purpose is in that God’s plan for each of us is to be a mature believer.
Sometimes we fight Him on that. Sometimes we fight Him on that more often than we want to admit. But that is God’s goal for us, it is to make us like Jesus Christ, and that’s built upon the fact that Christ ascended to Heaven. And as we’ve studied, that ascension, part of its purpose, was Jesus said, “Unless I go to the Father, I cannot send the Holy Spirit.” And the Holy Spirit descends on the Day of Pentecost in AD 33, which gives birth to the Church.
The problem that I saw, as I read through this critique, read through what this man said touting this book is that if you don’t understand the distinction between Israel and the Church, and you haven’t rightly divided the Scripture to understand that what happened with the ascension was that the God-Man, there’s now a human being at the right hand of the Father who is waiting to be given the Kingdom—it hasn’t been given yet—and that He’s created a new entity in the Church. And that this is the foundation of the Church, then you’re absolutely as lost as you can be when it comes to the ascension.
Just because it isn’t mentioned—I think he had some figure like 0.03% of the passages in Scripture relate to the ascension, so why is that all that important? The importance is if you didn’t have your head so far up the angle orifice of Covenant Theology, then you could see the truth. But you can’t see the truth because it’s dark in there, and they don’t understand this. And this is from an extremely well-known, highly touted seminary professor, theologian, and leader in the Replacement Theology arm of the evangelical church.
That’s what we spend so much time going through this—is because this stuff is so popular in the Christian community today, that if you don’t get into the Word at anything more than just a surface level, then you don’t have the discernment to understand what’s going on here and why this is so important.
I think this passage going back to Ephesians 2:12 where Paul establishes the fact that there’s a new entity now that is a unity of Jew and Gentile together to form one new body, one new man, one new building, one new temple. That goes back to that section from about Ephesians 2:12 to about Ephesians 2:17 or 18.
Then the development of that as the mystery, that doctrine that has been revealed now in this Church Age not just to Paul but to the apostles, of this new entity. And there is a unity, and when we talk about unity at the beginning of Ephesians 4, a major element of that must be understood contextually. That this is talking about this new unity that comes from Jew and Gentile together in one new entity, the body of Christ, and that this body of Christ is a new dynamic entity, and each member is important and significant and has a role to play in the maturation of the whole body.
That means it’s more than just getting saved and coming and sitting in a Bible study or sitting in church and learning. But there are other dimensions to this.
So just a reminder of the context here:
Ephesians 4:11–12, “He Himself—Christ—gave some to be apostles, some prophets—those were temporary gifts in the early church—, some evangelists, and some pastor teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,”
Now that’s what we’re getting to, a further explanation of in these last two verses. This “work of ministry,” that is the responsibility of the individual members of the congregation. You come together here, and my job is to equip, to train, to teach, to instruct, so that you can then perform this work of ministry in a lot of different areas.
If we look back to Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us—that’s not the four gifted leaders of Ephesians 4:11, that’s every single believer—grace—a grace gift—was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
So we have to all develop in the biblical use of our spiritual gifts. That is part of the purpose of the pulpit ministry. Then individuals, as they grow and mature, will manifest those gifts.
One of the things that I’ve noticed from the very beginning in this congregation is how many people at the beginning when we first came together were stepping forward to volunteer to do this, to do that, and functioning within the areas of their spiritual gifts, and that’s continued down through today, and it’s just been wonderful to see.
One of the other things that I have noticed as a pastor is that most of us are just a little bit older than we were when we started the church; and consequently, we are approaching a time in the next 10 or 15 years or so where we’re going to see some real transitions from those who are leaders today to those who are going to be the leaders in the next 10 to 15 years, and who are growing and maturing now.
There needs to be a conscientious transfer to the next generation, as those who are serving in certain areas and have been doing that for 15, 16, 17 years try to include some of the newer and younger folks, because there’s going to come a time when we need to have them prepared.
This is something we’ve seen, for example, as you know I’m on the Board for Chafer Seminary, and we’ve been intentionally for the last 10 or 12 years trying to find younger pastors to come on the board because we need to have that time in grade where we are transitioning and training and equipping them with what some call “institutional memory.”
I’m the only person now serving on the Board that was on the Board when we began the Board back in about 2002 or 2003. And I’m going to have to be on the Board, I believe it’s my responsibility, until I can’t anymore just to provide institutional memory for why we started Chafer Seminary.
Same thing with Pre-Trib. I’m on the Board for Pre-Trib, and we have also brought on some younger men to be on the Board for that same purpose, so that we can easily transition to the future and maintain that same vision, that same purpose, so that when you transition from one generation to another, that the same values have been embedded in those that are coming up.
So that’s all part of what it means to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and you train those, and then they in turn are going to have ministry with others in the body of Christ. That’s for the edification of the body of Christ.
Notice that the individuals are equipped for the edifying of the body of Christ. So you see the emphasis on individual teaching for the application to the whole body of Christ.
Now these spiritual gifts, there’s a lot we can say about them, but I’ve heard people say, “Well, because I don’t really live near a congregation and I’m just out in wherever, I’m just thankful we have the Internet.”
I am too, but your spiritual gift functions toward the body of Christ, not toward your family, although it may function toward your family if they’re believers, but that’s not why God gave it to you. Neither did He give it to you so you could use your spiritual gifts for those with whom you work, although there may be some dimension of that sort also applies. The role of your spiritual gift was to be involved in the ministry to edify the body of Christ in a local congregation.
As I said last week, that’s the normative. I know we have people who were in abnormal situations, and they’ve looked, they’ve searched, they can’t find even something marginally acceptable. There’s so much heresy out there, and thank God we have the Internet and we have opportunities for people to be equipped and trained. But we should never think of a virtual church as something that is the new normal.
It’s not to replace, but sometimes we have exigent circumstances. Jim Myers has a Bible class twice a week with members of his congregation from Kiev who are spread out over probably seven or eight countries by now. They get online and that’s wonderful for them. They enjoy fellowship and talking and spending time with each other when they see each other twice a week, catching up on things, and that’s wonderful. But that’s built on quite a few years of one-on-one contact where they were right there in the congregation together.
We understand that there are abnormal circumstances, so there’s not a judgment on those who are in those circumstances. But we also understand that the Bible is writing what is to be normative.
The purpose is for us to (Ephesians 4:13) “come to a unity of the faith—that is a set body of doctrine—and of the knowledge of the Son of God—understanding more fully who Jesus is and what He did on the Cross—, to a mature man—not perfect in the sense we think of as flawless, but to a mature man—to the measure of—the ultimate direction God’s taking us to—the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Then we get the negative in Ephesians 4:14, for the purpose “that we should no longer be childish …”
As I spoke on this last week, this is a term that was often used as a pejorative. Much as we would call it somebody acting a certain way when they’re 25 years old, and we’d call them a baby. “Baby” has a literal term referring to an infant that’s in diapers, but it also has a metaphorical term as an insult for somebody who is an adult and acts like a child. That’s how this is used here—that we should no longer be a NEPIOS.
This is like the carnal Corinthians. Paul called them NEPIOS because they were acting like carnal believers, and they were not walking with the Lord, developing or maturing spiritually. They were acting like children. And he said, “By this time, you should be mature.” That was after three years.
So he says “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
That’s what characterizes the immature believer. He doesn’t know enough about the Bible to know when it’s being misquoted, misapplied, when churches are not functioning as churches should function, pastors are not functioning as pastors should function, and that all it’s turned into is an entertainment game.
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Now we come to Ephesians 4:15, which starts off with a strong contrast—but, and the contrast is with being the immature, childish believer who is being tossed around. So what Paul is saying here is in contrast to the immature, childish believer who’s unstable, confused, twisted by every new false doctrine, and titillating, beguiling doctrine that comes along.
We see that so much today, especially in the area of eschatology with all the chaos in the world. It’s always interesting that when there’s a lot of instability and chaos in the world, you always see these prophecy pornographers rising to the surface, talking about the fact that this is the end times and this is going to happen and that’s going to happen. And they get people interested, and so all they want to do is listen to these prurient appeals to their sin nature to learn all about what is going on and how this is going to be the fulfillment of that. We need to avoid that. That is childishness, that is not a mature believer.
So, this verse is a contrast. What are we supposed to be like? What’s the positive?
Well, the next phrase is an interesting phrase. I’ve heard this sloughed off and over many times, “speaking the truth in love.”
It’s a verb—ALETHEUO, which is only used one other time in the Scripture. I’ve heard this taught as truthing. Not sure what that ever meant. “Truthing in love.” I don’t know what that means, but I’ve even read that in commentaries. I read that as a possible paraphrase in two different scholarly commentaries this week. That’s not what it means. I spent a lot of time looking at this and trying to figure out how to flesh this out.
The one other time that it’s used doesn’t really help that much. It’s in Galatians 4:16 where Paul is in the way in which he’s really castigating the Galatian believers because they have fallen prey to legalism. He says, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
Truth is the basic idea that we have in this word ALETHEUO. It is clearly a term that refers to ethics. It is often used, along with other words, in the Greek Septuagint in contrast to deceit and falsehood in a number of places in the Old Testament, as well as in the Gospels. Here it has the idea of speaking the truth. But you get that from the context. You don’t have the same context in Ephesians 4:15.
So as I wrestled with this, I thought through some other passages that talk about truth.
For example, in John 14:6, “Jesus said to Peter, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ”
So Jesus said “I am the truth.” What does that mean? What He is saying is He is the physical, bodily embodiment of truth. He is the definition of integrity. It’s not just that He’s making truthful statements, but that He is in His very being the essence of what truth is. He is the ultimate archetype of integrity.
A result of that basis of integrity, you have those who live it out; they come to the light. John 3:21. They are open, they come to the light, and their deeds are clearly seen. But in contrast those who are in darkness want to stay in darkness in order to cloak their evil deeds.
Romans 1:18 says that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Those who reject the nonverbal revelation of God in the creation that gives testimony to His might and His majesty and His power, they reject that. And so then that puts them on the path of suppressing truth in unrighteousness. That is the way of the world.
So in contrast to the deceit and the cunning behavior that the childish believer falls prey to, we have the mature believer who is living a life that is characterized by integrity, and he gets that integrity from what the Holy Spirit is doing in his life. As we walk by the Spirit, He produces the fruit of the Spirit.
If we have a transformation, that’s Romans 12:2, that we are not to be conformed to the world, to their way of doing things, to their way of thinking, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our thinking. So it changes our character into the character of Christ, which is a character of integrity. Then the verse goes on to say that this is in love. We will see this phrase several times in this passage.
For example, we are told in Ephesians 5:2 that we are to walk in love. The idea is not necessarily means. It’s called “locative of sphere” grammatically. But it’s within the framework of love.
Now love is one of the most misunderstood things that we have in our culture, probably every culture, because we think of love as this sort of emotion, where we are stimulated, our glands are stirred, we get all excited and we think about romantic love. We also know that we have a more enduring love over time with people that we care deeply for, but we have to be reminded what Scripture says in the closest passage that comes to defining it.
The great illustration of love is “God loved the world in this way that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Probably the best definition I have heard is desiring the absolute best for the object of love.
Now the trouble with that is people who are immature are untaught and they think that the absolute best is what they think is best for other people. But you have to have an eternal, immutable frame of reference to understand what is best for somebody. That’s what’s defined in the Word of God. And that’s a love that has integrity, only because it’s based upon who God is and what He has done, what He has revealed to us, and not that love is something that is related to how we feel.
Often love is thought of as having this romantic feeling, and then when that’s gone, people have trouble staying together, and they end up getting divorced.
Ultimately, love is manifest through the maintenance of a legal contract that goes back to Genesis 2–3; there is a contract there. The same is true with God. He makes a contract with us in terms of His plan of salvation. It’s a covenant. Love is then consistently the result of the application of that covenant to life. And so it is understanding what the best for people is in terms of what God says is best for people. And then you live and operate towards them in a way that is consistent with God’s standards. And that is the idea here.
1 Corinthians 13:4 gives us 14 characteristics of love.
It’s interesting, very few people can define love. A lot of people don’t understand that a definition is one thing, a description is something else. This is a description; it’s not a definition.
1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy—so there’s not a self-absorption with love, and that’s important because the childish believer is self-absorbed—; love does not parade itself—it doesn’t put itself out there to be praised and looked upon—, it’s not puffed up—these are images of arrogance and self-absorption.”
1 Corinthians 13:5, “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.”
So when we care about people, even though we know they have sin natures, and even though we know that they have flaws, we don’t dwell on those things, if we’re thinking of love. It doesn’t mean we ignore them or we try to make them into something that they’re not. But we don’t dwell on that, we don’t focus on that.
1 Corinthians 13:6, “does not rejoice in iniquity—so if you know someone and something bad happens to them, you don’t rejoice over the fact that something has happened to them—, but rejoices in the truth.”
There we are back to that truth word again. Truth is a word that describes reality as God defines it and as God created it. Truth is not something that is a culturally developed thing. It is an absolute that is beyond culture.
1 Corinthians 13:7, “bears all things—that means it puts up with unacceptable things at times. Just like a mother with her children, she will put up with them even though she may and should discipline them, she is still going to put up with them—, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
So, Ephesians 4:15, we are to “be characterized by integrity operating within the sphere of love,—and this has its purpose, the purpose is—that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
The word for “growing up” is one that is used also in Colossians 2 a couple of times. We will see that some of those passages in a minute. But it is this idea of the potential, it’s in the subjunctive mood, which indicates the potential of growth. We don’t automatically grow.
Now we’re about to come to the passage in Philippians 1 where Paul says, “Being confident in this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
That’s talking about God’s responsibility towards working in us toward spiritual maturity. The other side of the coin is that we have volition, and we can say, “No, I’m just going to be a rebellious child like the prodigal, and I’m going to live with the pigs in the pigsty.”
That happens. That’s why it’s a potential. It’s up to us whether or not we are going to grow. As God brings things into our life, are we going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we going to grow by taking time to study the Word, read the Word, memorize the Word, go to church consistently? And if you think you’re going to get enough of the Word of God in an hour on Sunday morning when the world has you for all of the other hours of the week, then you’re not going to get anywhere.
The only way we can really deal with the way the world is brainwashing a willing sin nature is to conscientiously and intentionally spend a lot of time reading the Word, memorizing the Word, going to Bible class, learning it. And that’s how we grow.
Colossians 1:6 says, “which has come to you, as it has also in all the world—talking about the Gospel—and is bringing forth fruit …”
Now it takes time to bring forth fruit. The other night I used several examples of fruit. Tomato plants take about 90 days or more to produce fruit. Other plants take more time.
Bob Freck came up after class and said that the plumeria for the first year is just a stick, nothing more. You plant, you water it, and it’s just an ugly stick. Then it puts out a leaf. It takes years for it to develop into a mature and beautiful plant.
That’s the way it is with a lot of believers, but don’t confuse fruit with growth. Growth takes a lot of time, fruit is what comes later. And so it takes time. The Christian life isn’t something you can go read a book about say, “Okay, I know I can pray, I can do these five things and I’m okay,” and then go on and act as if you’ve got control of it. To grow as a believer is a lifetime commitment. It’s not going to make you more savable, you’re already saved, but if you’re going to grow you have to get to that point.
I heard one person say, “One day I was listening to Bible class, and I realized what positive volition meant was commitment, that I’m going to organize my life around being in Bible class and learning the Word.” So that’s what brings forth fruit.
Ephesians 14:15b, “that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head.”
Now this is something that is really challenging for a lot of people because we live in a world that’s been affected in a very negative way by a secular philosophy, and it’s drawn a distinction between everyday things and spiritual things. These are separated from one another, and there’s a dichotomy that’s drawn between the things that are spiritual and the things that are physical, natural, and you don’t really have a overlap between the two.
But that’s only been as a result of Kantian philosophy since the end of the 1700s. A lot of people live with this dichotomy. When they’re in church on Sunday or their Bible class they think one way, but then when they go to their job or they go in recreation, they’re totally divorced from whatever has occurred, whatever they’ve learned in Bible class. They have so compartmentalized things, that spiritual is one thing, and the rest of life is something else.
But that’s not what the Scripture says. The Scripture here says that we are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head.” So don’t restrict the meaning of “all things.” “All things” means everything. Nothing left out.
2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us another aspect of equipping the saints, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”
Now this is not demonic strongholds. That is the mystical aberration of Pentecostal spiritual warfare heresy. That’s why Tommy Ice and I wrote that book on Spiritual Warfare, is to stick with what the Bible says and not “experiential” spiritual warfare. The strongholds here are strongholds of thinking.
What explains it is the next verse, 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing—most—thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
It didn’t say that, did it? The verse says “bringing EVERY thought.”
What’s interesting is that first phrase there “casting down arguments,” as we get into Ephesians 4:16, we have this phrase “joined together.” That word goes back to setting forth logical arguments for things. We will get there in just a minute, but that just ties it to the structuring of arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5) “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”
We are to bring every thought into captivity—every thought!
Now this doesn’t mean ethical issues, like “I’m not going to have naughty thoughts.” “I’m not going to think about doing things I shouldn’t do.” That’s not what this is talking about. That’s certainly included, but this is talking about every area of intellectual activity.
We live in a world that was created by God, so everything in this world is part of God’s creation. That means everything related to intellectual activities, such as mathematics, such as law, such as politics, government, architecture, music.
A lot of people think music is neutral. There’s nothing in God’s created world that wasn’t affected by sin; and therefore, corrupted by sin. Therefore, whatever area of intellectual activity you’ve studied in college, university, or your hobby, or whatever, that thinking has been corrupted by sin, and you have to learn to think about that topic from a biblical worldview.
So we’re looking at things in science, such as biology and chemistry, physics and mathematics. All of these things have to be looked at from a biblical worldview. Art, architecture, music, logic, ethics. When you talk about ethics, you are talking about politics, how people are to conduct their business when they are associated with each other. Government, also military strategy. All of these things must be understood and brought into captivity for the obedience of Christ.
For example, there have been numerous generals over the centuries who have studied the battles of Scripture in order to understand strategy. One of the most well-known in the 20th century was a British general by the name of Orde Wingate, who, by studying the battles in the Book of Judges, developed techniques for night fighting.
As a British military officer during the time of the Mandate, he was sent to Israel to teach and train those who were fighting what was then called the Haganah. They wouldn’t go out and fight the Arabs at night, but Orde Wingate taught them night fighting and guerrilla fighting, and he basically laid the philosophical framework for the modern IDF. He trained future generals like Moshe Dayan and many others. But where did he get his understanding, his military strategy? From the Word of God.
I brought some books today.
This is one that I have not read yet. I’ve heard and read great reports on this book. It is written by a professor, James Nickel, and it is called Mathematics: Is God Silent? (I’ve run this by Charlie Clough, who many of you know). He makes the point that math is the structure of the universe. Who structured the universe? (Answer) God. Math comes directly out of the thinking of God. So you have to think about it from a biblical worldview.
Here is another book by James Hannam (Barb will put links to these up on a blurb on the DBM website), The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution. I bet you didn’t get that when you were in high school.
Then here’s a book, I think we have a couple of copies out here that’s published by Wayne House’s publishing house, Lampion House Publishing, Science and the Knowledge of God.
Another book that I have started recommending by one of my buddies in our little text group, Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western World Views From Rome to Home by Glenn Sunshine.
Those are just a few. We have to learn how to think. If you’re not going to be conformed to the world, you better learn how the world thinks; otherwise, you won’t be able to extract all of the human viewpoint garbage out of your soul.
So this is what we’re getting it at the end of Ephesians 4:15, “… that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
Now Christ is the head of the body. This is a term that is misunderstood by many. The word “head” in English can refer to the source of something or it can refer to authority. In Greek it does not refer to the source of something, although we have to have a clarification here because what we see is that Christ is many things. He is our High Priest. He is our Intercessor. He is the One who is the director of the body of Christ. He is the ultimate Authority, and He also is the source of directing nourishment and growth in the body.
But what we have here is that the word “head” is the Greek noun KEPHALE, which is a feminine noun, and when we get to Ephesians 4:16, it says, “From whom the whole body,” “whom” is a masculine pronoun, so it’s not referring back to the noun “head,” it’s referring to CHRISTOS—that as part of His role as the Head, He is also providing certain things, but it doesn’t change the significance of the meaning of “head” into source. He is the Authority.
We have passages like Ephesians 1:22 where He is “the head over all things to the church.”
1 Corinthians 11:3, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God,” emphasizing authority.
Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church.”
I want to give you an analogy here. We’re going to talk about the body. Everyone here, I think, is intimately familiar with the concept of having a body. Your body is controlled by your head through volitional and through non-volitional activities. Your head determines that you need to eat for nourishment. It determines what you should eat. Sometimes those choices aren’t so nourishing. Other times they are more nourishing. Your head makes those decisions because the head controls all of the functions of the body. The head is in charge.
Now when you eat and the head says, “Time to eat,” you are going to take in food, and you’re going to eat or try to eat all your kale and carrots and broccoli and all the other things, and every now and then a tub of Bluebell (ice cream), so you’re gonna eat your way through this.
Now what happens when that nourishment goes into your body? The brain is still functioning, because the brain is in charge of those non-volitional aspects that kick in and will break down and metabolize the food, and then distribute it to all of the parts of the body. So the head is still functioning as the authority in controlling the body.
So Christ is the Head, and He is the One who is controlling the body.
Now I thought I’d finish this this morning, but I’m certainly not because I’ve just gotten to Ephesians 4:16, and so we will leave it here. But I want to give you this. It’s a complex passage because of the grammar, and we’re not going to have a third-year Greek exegesis course to go through this. But I have translated this, a little bit of expanded translation, to get some of the sense of what is the final thought in this section:
“From Him—that is, from Christ—the whole body—that is, all the believers, and then it describes something about them. They are—precisely fitted together.”
It’s an interesting word. It’s a building term. They didn’t have mortar at that time, which you’d put between the rocks.
Those of you who have been to Israel with me, we’ve been down in the area of the tunnels under the Western Wall, and you’ve seen those massive, massive rocks that are there—600 tons, and they are planed down through various techniques, so that you can’t pass a piece of paper between them. They fit perfectly together, and they are designed to fit perfectly together. That’s the word that’s used here for how you and I are perfectly fitted together in the body of Christ.
“… precisely fitted and united or held together through every supporting contact or connection—we’re those supporting contacts and connections—, according to the working in measure from each individual part—that’s you and me, we’re each individual part—doing its share—what does that do?—causes growth of the body.—Now the pastor equips the saints through the teaching of the Word. The saints then are equipped to minister to the body of Christ. That’s what this is describing, how this has been designed, so that each individual part then does it share and causes growth of the body—to building itself up in love—again. There’s that framework.”
I had one person text me last week after class and said, “I’ve just always skipped over that verse, not quite sure what that meant. I’m so glad you’re getting into this.” Well, that’s what this is. This talks about emphasizing the role of every believer in the health of the whole organization.
Some, what you do is not observable by anybody; others, it is. But that shows the importance of every one of us to the function of this body of Christ. We will come back and get into that next time.
“Father, thank You so much for Your Word and for what You have revealed to us, emphasizing the importance of what Christ is doing as the Head of the body and what we should be doing as the individual members and parts of the body, and how this all works together in order to produce a healthy body, the body of Christ.
“Father, we have those who are here, maybe for the first time, others who are listening online, we pray that they would understand that a lot of what we’re covering this morning is related to the growth of a person once they become a believer. This isn’t how you become a believer. This isn’t how you become saved. But we are saved simply by trusting in Christ as Savior, and at that instant we are made a new creature in Christ. We’re born again. We’re given a new life in Christ. And now we have to grow like a newborn baby. We are to desire the unadulterated milk of the Word like a baby that we may grow by it. And so we have to grow, we have to mature, and then God uses us in unbelievable ways.
“So Father, we pray that we would be challenged by what we’ve studied today in terms of expanding our understanding of the role of the local church and each individual within it, that we may fully come to understand how we are part of that process, how You willingly use us and what a blessing that is. And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”