Beloved brethren, God’s Word gives a very specific definition of His church in this passage of His wonderful book, Ephesians. We looked at the first part of chapter four and recognized that God calls His church as those who are united in their faith in the One Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as He is revealed to us in His Holy Word, the Bible. God, through the apostle Paul, continues to give the metrics of His church, the body of Jesus Christ, His called out ones.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:7-13
The ministry of the body of Jesus Christ is developed by the work of men who have been gifted by Jesus Christ Himself. That makes incredible sense since saints are so very dear to Him. Jesus wouldn’t leave the equipping of His saints to just any one. He is the One Who gives the gifting of His Holy Spirit to His people so they can do His work His way. God’s work, done through His gifted servants, will result in His saints having true knowledge of Jesus Christ from the Holy Scriptures as taught to them by these supernaturally equipped men of God. As a result the saints of Jesus Christ will edify one another for unity in the faith of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, so they will be filled with the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ, perfect in their unified knowledge of Him. This knowledge from God’s Word is the pattern that keeps His people from falling into the deceit of false teaching which comes from wolves who attack the precious sheep of God’s flock.
14…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:14-16
God given apostles and prophets have recorded the truth of the New Testament by the power of the Holy Spirit. God given evangelists will preach the gospel from the text of the Word of God for the salvation of sinners. They won’t resort to man-made concoctions because they know that it is God’s Word that does God’s work in the heart of sinners for God wrought salvation and dare not trust their eruditions for this holy work of supernatural salvation of sinners.
13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
God given pastors and teachers serve the children of God by the Holy Spirit, feeding them the Word of God for their edification. The do so with fear and trembling lest they betray their God by teaching as His doctrine the word of man and lead His people into confusion, spiritual apathy and apostasy. On the contrary, God’s pastors and teachers who teach His Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, do not even dare mention the spurious works of fallen men before God’s sheep so they will not be led astray. As they teach God’s Holy Word God’s sheep are fed the living Word of the Living God so they are built up on their most holy faith and increase in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. This empowers them with godly discernment to avoid being deceived by false teachers, the purveyors of heresy, and instead they are able speak the truth from God’s Word in love for the edification of the body so it grows up in all things in Christ who is the Head of the church. God’s sheep are given God’s shepherds for feeding them God’s Word for their health and well-being.
4 “I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall be lacking,” says the Lord. 5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: The Lord our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:4-6
Sadly, what is evident throughout the visible church is the proliferation of men who are empowered by the flesh, rather than the Holy Spirit, and who teach the doctrines of men rather than the pure Word of the Living God. They have scattered the flock of God throughout the world and deprived them of the life-giving food from the Word of God, by confusing it with their doctrines of fallen man. God, though, will rescue His sheep and make them stand upon His truth and grant them the power to preach and teach the Word of God for the edification of His people.
140 Your word is very pure; Therefore your servant loves it. Psalm 119:140
10 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no long be food for them.” 11 ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. Ezekiel 34:10-15
Beloved brethren, since we are the body of Christ, the called out ones, we must turn from the deceits of the world and hold fast to the truth of the Word of God. If the pastors and teachers we listen to are not teaching the Word of God, the Bible, then we must consider they are not sent by God but are driven by the flesh. We must commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, trust Him to lead and guide us, love our brethren, and speak the truth of the Word of God for the edifying of believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18
Lord Jesus Christ may all of Your children be under the sound preaching and teaching of pastors and teachers called by You for the equipping of Your saints so they will know You and be kept safe from false teachers. Protect from false teachers Your children who are scattered and lead them into all truth, the truth of Your Holy Scriptures, by Your Holy Spirit for their edification and blessing. Amen!