For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Ephesians 4:12 KJV
This verse sums up what is needed across the Body of Christ today.
Recently I led a retreat in northern England based on the theme “Fulness of God”. It was the most intense time of those 5 days, 8 sessions, some are recorded. We journeyed through the aspect of the fulness of God and discriminated what we mean.
In my search through the Bible I look for the answers to our general terms. We can yearn for the fulness of God without understanding what we are asking for.
We need more and more the Lord to open our minds and hearts to the Scriptures. This does not come like magic, where a pair of hands on your head transferring what comes through commitment and discipline.
The perfecting of the saints comes through COMING INTO THE UNITY OF FAITH.
The Bible always answers it’s own statements, as we take into account context from the verses surrounding it.
The unity Jesus prayed for in John 17 today appears impossible because it means a coming together reconciling not only doctrine, but ecclesiastical structure, marrying up the various terminologies.
In Mark 11 we see Jesus’ bring us to the mountain of impossibility when it comes to spirituality. Several years ago when I studied the passage it became very apparent that it was a connected narrative which culminated with Jesus teaching about faith and the mountain.
The narrative starts with Jesus entering Jerusalem.
The fact that He entered the way He did in a climate of impending revolution coming on 2 donkeys and confusing them all. He was coming to bring in a Kingdom of Love, a Servant King entering to offer Himself the sacrificial lamb, yet what they waited for was what we are going to receive!
Jesus is coming to Jerusalem again, however this time He is coming as Reigning King and Judge of all the Earth.
What we see after Jesus enters, is the observation at the Temple, Jesus looks around and departs. Then the following day He observes the fig tree and curses it. It is not even the season for figs. Yet the abundance of leaves represented the prediction that the more leaves there are the less fruit there will be!
This fig tree represented the “Church” of His day. Full of the leaves of sacrificial offerings, reading of the law, but the fruit of faith, love and hope were missing. The fig tree dried and withered from the root upward. The day has come where the “roots” of motivations will be laid bare and dried out.
Jesus then returns to the Temple and expels the money changers and merchants. He declares the purpose, that His House is a House for prayer to the nations.
One thing verified in many retreat centres across the UK is the waiting lists to be there, because all over the land the desire to separate to be with God has increased! He is building His House of prayer.
We see Jesus teach His Disciples that the mountain of spiritual decline can be removed as they return to the purpose of God’s House, using faith to remove the obstacles to unity. You and I are the obstacles to the unity of the saints whilst we accept that 40 thousand denominations exist each doing the thing we think God called us to do.
Paul says that after everything fails 3 will remain; faith hope and love. If these remain when all else fails means that these can be the building blocks of that unity. They can be the very foundation to us understanding that faith is not a credit card to do what we want, but remove the mountains in our hearts!
We come to the second statement, the work of the ministry. We know from the statements Paul says to the Ephesians is that the work of the ministry is that we come to the full knowledge of the Son of God.
This is a very powerful statement because this knowledge is more than knowing about Him, than knowing Him intimately. The Hebrew word for “know” is yadah, which denotes the highest intimacy known to man, which is that enjoyed within the marriage covenant. Yet it captures the picture that the many known saints pursued through their lives. We take St. TERESA of Avila, the one pursuit was the state of coming into Union with God. I sense that the Knowledge of the Son of God implies that as we understand the Son, we will come as a result into the awareness that we as sons in the Son, we too can enter a similar communion with God.
I have suggested in the series about Jesus being the Pattern, implies that the life of Jesus is the pattern we also need to walk into with its signs, message, and self denial which symbolizes our identification with His Sacrifice. The ministry corporately must have one aim and objective is to bring “sons ” into a degree of intimacy brought into possibility by the Person of Jesus Christ!
Our third statement in Ephesians 4:12 is the edifying of the Body of Christ.
The following verse qualified that we come into the full stature of the perfect man unto the stature of the fulness of Christ.
The very fact we are split that our view of what is the Body of Christ is flawed. Very often we can base our Theology on subjective experience and teaching handed down via people of a particular persuasion. The Body of Christ is seen as the perfect man. This perfect man can only be Jesus Himself. His stature can only be reached via the fulness of Christ. If the Body is part of Jesus Himself, or in the love relationship symbol as a Bride, in partaking the same nature, it means that the current panorama must change.
We must turn away from ecclesiastical structure, expression of worship, of meeting together must go into a second plane of consideration when we think about the Church being perfect without spot and wrinkle.
The “edifying” is building up. It means we must centre on seeing God more clearly as a collective and as a result understand His ways. We must repent that very often we “tear” down what we believed about other congregations, because it is Lucifer who desires to tear down. We can be part of his agenda unless we engage in the work of edifying the Body.
We focus particularly that it is the role of the leading ministries to produce this, but as we understand that we flow as individual believers in 3 streams of God, as prophet, priest and king. That way we can readily engage with the 5 gifts here mentioned of ministry.
I therefore pray that indeed we come into the perfecting maturing, completing work of God, bringing us into a knowledge of who is Christ, and His Mission today.