March 18, 2011
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
“until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”
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Unity in the body of Christ grows for the ministry of the saints as they do the work of spiritual service using their spiritual gifts.
The Unity of Faith. In Ephesians 4:13, we see that God has a program for every believer. The small word “we” in this verse indicates that God intends for every believer to attain the unity of the faith. “We” will all attain, according to God’s plan. God does not intend to leave anyone out of the unity. A believer may opt out of God’s plan for unity through sinful behavior, but God’s plan for unity remains firm. The unity God has in view here focuses upon faith. A common faith, promoted through the proper use of all spiritual gifts, builds greater, unified faith in Christ. We share a common faith in Christ Jesus, and He unifies believers through that common faith centered upon Him.
The Knowledge of the Son of God. Unity in Christ Jesus also results in the knowledge of the Son of God. Unity does not come from your own personal practices, or the parochial practices of a denomination or religion. Knowing Christ unifies believers and so the spiritual gifts in action promote greater knowledge of Christ. As we have seen, the gifts promote the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). Jesus emphasized that believers know Him and follow Him, not others (John 10:1-5). I frequently see believers who misconceive of the Biblical concept of faith. Faith lays hold of knowledge. You apply your knowledge to trust the truth revealed by God. For example, salvation comes by hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then by believing those facts about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Without those facts, you have no salvation and are still in your sin. Faith in that sense is never blind, but founded upon the facts of Christ. In the same way, our faith increases as we get to know the facts about Christ better and better and see and appreciate His activity in our lives. When we use our spiritual gifts, we see His activity and our faith grows, and our knowledge of Jesus Christ grows as well, in an interactive process. You show me your works, and I will show you your faith in action, using your spiritual gifts.
The Mature Man. Spiritual maturity increases by faith and knowledge in Christ. Those things increase as the body of Christ receives edification through the ministry of all the believers using their spiritual gifts for the work of service. Spiritual maturity, contrary to much thinking, depends heavily upon the other members of the spiritual body of Christ building you up. God links your spiritual maturity to the ministry and service of the saints around you.
The Measure of the Full Stature of Christ. Through His gifts delivered to believers, Jesus intended that they use those gifts to build one another up in Him. They would grow together in unity until each of them attained the full statures which belongs to the fullness of Christ. This divine process of service yielding growth builds all of us up into the wonderful stature of the fullness in Christ.
So we learn more about unity in the Church of Jesus Christ today.
● We learn that Christ intends for the gifts He gave to men to lift up the body of Christ, to unify it, and to bring them to the full stature of fullness in Christ.
● We learn that the unity essential to believers results from the proper use of spiritual gifts building us up in Christ, through His service and for His service.
● We hinder unity when we ignore our spiritual gifts or do not use them for the glory of God and the growth and development of other believers.
Application for Today
Today, I want to use my spiritual gifts to edify and help other believers grow up in Christ. Each of them will also help me grow up in Christ. Together we will grow in unity in Christ. Will you be using your spiritual gifts today to build up the believers around you in faith, knowledge, maturity, resulting in the stature that belongs to the full measure of Christ?