A Place of Power – Ephesians 4:8 – 10
Living in the land of NASA (Huntsville, AL), you can’t travel very far without seeing a reminder of the powerful rockets built to send astronauts into space with the Saturn V towering 363 feet at the Space and Rocket Center. The horsepower alone required to launch the space shuttle with a combined total of 4.4 million pounds is staggering. For example, when the Atlantis space shuttle launched in 2011 it consumed 660,000 pounds of solid fuel, 17,000 gallons of liquid oxygen, and 45,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen per minute to generate over 37 million horsepower to push it through the atmosphere to reach orbit. Now that’s power!
As impressive as that may be, the apostle Paul draws attention to a far more exceeding display of power with the words he recorded in Ephesians 4:8, “…when He ascended up on high…” No external fuel supply needed here, no rocket boosters required, and no amount of mechanical horsepower could possible do what Christ accomplished as he passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14). By the sheer power of His own righteousness, death and resurrection, He fully vindicated and satisfied the Father’s holiness. As a result, he ascended or was taken up (Acts 1) into the presence of God who set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion…” Paul prayed that we would know this power in the church (Ephesians 1:20). Paul taught that God’s power to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think is according to the power working in the church. Paul recorded that this power effectual works or energizes the body to edify itself in love (Ephesians 4:16). But how is this power activated for in the church?
A Place for Perfecting – Ephesians 4:11 – 13
I well remember the day I rented my first furnished apartment following graduation from college. All the furniture I needed to function and live in each room was provided. The only thing I needed to do was move in and start living in the fullness of what had been provided. In a similar way, Ephesians 4:8 – 12 records that Jesus Christ ascended up on high and gave gifts to men…for the perfecting of the saints…” The word perfecting means being completely furnished or equipped. Like my first apartment, we have been given the Holy Spirit’s word about Christ (Ephesians 2:20), the Holy Spirit’s gifts from Christ (Acts 2:33) and the Holy Spirit’s presence as the Spirit of Christ to glorify God in the church. What is astounding is that the purpose of being so furnished is so that the church might be a dwelling place for God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). As we experience in more fullness what we already have been furnished in Christ, the church then is empowered to function and live for a dwelling place of God to display His glory in Christ.
The Holy Spirit’s power in the church to glory God is activated through the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17). The Spirit’s love is poured out when Christ dwells in your hearts by faith so that you know more of the love of Christ which cannot be fully known (Ephesians 3). The Spirit’s is furnishing the church to function in ministering and building, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Therefore, the gift of pastor/teachers must fulfill the mandate to preach the word of Christ alone and you must routinely receive the word in the body to be furnished for the work of serving and edifying or building of the body of Christ.
A Place of Stability – Ephesians 4:14 – 15
Stability in the church is required for grow in its purpose and function to speak the truth in love and minister to each other. The knowledge of the Son of God is the source of such stability as stated negatively by Paul in Ephesians 4:14 – 15, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
Children are easily deceived and therefore like the surge of a wave (tossed to and fro) that is transported hither and thither (carried about) by the wind). Water is easily moved about because it has nothing within itself to make it stable. Likewise, young children lack the ability to curb their passions and like water need the external control of parents to train and say…No! This lack of self control is from a lack of knowledge in two ways.
First, a lack of knowledge relating to value. How often will a young child opt for seven green pieces of paper with George Washington’s picture on it rather than one green piece with Andrew Jackson’s picture? Every time of course. This lack of knowing value makes them easy targets to deception. At least until they gain knowledge in another way. Suppose a young child is taught about the value of money and that one Andrew Jackson is greater in value than seven George Washington’s. The ability to deceive may be lessened to some degree but it is still hard to imagine that one is better than seven. Now suppose the child discovers the knowledge of money by experiencing that one Andrew Jackson purchased more candy than one George Washington? The ability to deceive has just been greatly diminished because of the experience of knowing by experience rather than knowing facts alone.
Transfer this illustration to Paul’s point in Ephesians 4:14 and it becomes clear that what keeps us from being spiritual children carried about by every deceptive wind of joy and pleasure is the experience of knowing Jesus Christ both in mind and heart. Rather than being like the chaff which the wind drives away (Psalm 1:3) we should growing into stable trees planted by the rivers of water (Psalm 1:3) or delight in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2). According to Peter, the lively stones are being built up (present passive indicative – are being built up by God) a spiritual house to offer sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ by coming to the Living Stone (I Peter 2:4 – 5). The power of coming to Christ is the power of tasting that the Lord is gracious by means of desiring the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby. As the word is loved and treasured it is spoken in truth and the body grows up in Him in all things. As the Spirit renews our minds through the knowledge of the Son of God in preaching, praying, worship, singing, reading, meditation, etc., the church is ready to speak the truth in love and grow up in Him in all things together. Are you being tossed with the winds of joy and pleasures in the world or are you seeking the satisfying presence of knowing the Son of God?
A Place of Joint-Participation – Ephesians 4:16
Paul uses the illustration of joints or ligaments in a body to give a vivid picture of the necessity of participation of every part in the church. A ligament in the human body is a short band of tough, flexible, fibrous connective tissue that connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint. The purpose of a ligament by definition is to connect to something else. As soon as a joint or ligament is torn or stretched, it is damaged and greatly impairs the function of the rest of the body. If it is disconnected from the other parts, it loses its function and purpose altogether.
The words fitly joined and compacted means to closely join or drive together. When the joints are detached from their purpose in the church, the body is no longer being driven together but often driven apart. Most of the time, the disjointedness of a body happens when a ligament(s) slowly becomes disconnected from the nourishment of Christ from whom the whole body is joined (Ephesians 4:16).
When each of the joints however is holding the Head (Colossians 2:19) and seeking to grow up in Him by means of faith and knowledge (Ephesians 4:13, 15), the joints and bands have nourishment ministered (Colossians 2:19) for the effectual working (Ephesians 4:16) in the measure of every part. The result is that the whole body is being fitly joined together and compacted (Ephesians 4:16) or knit together (Colossians 2:19) and increases with the increase of God (Colossians 2:19) or makes increase of the body unto the edifying itself in love (Ephesians 4:16). Like the soil that is compacted for preparation for a foundation so that loose particles are driven together to form a unit or whole, so the church is to be compacted or driven together by dwelling in the love of God in Christ (Jude 20) and love one to another.
What is the goal of love? According to Jesus, love makes known that you are his disciples (John 13:33). According to Jesus, you are functioning as his disciples when you bear fruit to the glory of God the Father (John 15:8). Therefore, according to Jesus, when His disciples are fitly joined and compacted by every joint’s supply, the increase of the fruit of love to Christ (knowledge of the Son of God) and love to one another in the church displays the glory of God in Christ which is the goal and function of the church (Ephesians 3:21).
Is the love of Christ actively driving you together or is the love of other things starting to drive you apart? Is your love being perfected by the love of God dwelling in you by faith or have the weeds of discontentment started driving you apart as a joint in the church?
What can I do, you may ask? Keep yourself in the love of God by building up yourselves on your most holy faith with the word of God (Jude 20). Grow and increase in the knowledge of God and His will (Colossians 1:9). Second, pray in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20). Pray like Paul prayed under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Pray that we would be given the spirit of revelation and knowledge of Him. Pray that we might know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the exceeding greatness of His Power to us-ward who believe (Ephesians 1:18 – 19). Pray that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16. That Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith, that we may know more of the love of Christ which passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:17 – 19). Third, look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 21). Hope in Christ! Finally, make a difference in your local church by serving in love (Jude 22 – 23).