To work in the body of Christ is God’s calling for our way of life and spiritual work. Our goal is to attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in Christ and work properly. In the first 3 chapters of Ephesians, Paul tells what God has planned, did and is doing for His saints in the body of Christ. In the rest of Ephesians, he explains how.
Paul concludes chapter 3 with this doxology, “Now to Him who by the power working in us can do far, far more than anything we ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all ages forever. Amen” (Eph 3:20-21). He begins chapter 4 by urging us to live worthy of the way of life with which we have been called.
Live as people whom God has called should live
Since God has called us into His kingdom and glory (1 Th 2:12), we are live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which we have been called.
So I, a prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live as people whom God has called should live. Be humble and gentle in every way, be patient and lovingly bear with one another. Do your best to keep the oneness of the Spirit by living together in peace: one body and one Spirit—–even as you have been called to share one hope—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over us all, works through us all, and lives in us all. Ephesians 4:1-6 AAT
God our Father makes it possible for us to be humble and gentle in every way, to be patient and lovingly bear with one another. Our heavenly Father created us in Messiah Jesus to thrive in the harmonious relationships of oneness. The Holy Spirit helps us do that as we serve Messiah Jesus as Lord. We walk worthy, doing our best to keep the oneness of the Spirit by living in peace. For, we share “one hope—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over us all, works through us all, and lives in us all.”
Grace to work
Paul shares how God’s power works through us all. To empower each of us to walk worthy of His calling, Christ has given each one of us grace/charis.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Therefore it says,
“WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH,
HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES,
AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” Ephesians 4:7-8 NASB
Grace has two sides to it. The first side is, our being is God’s doing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). “He has made us what we are, creating us in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which God long ago planned for us to live” (Eph 2:10). The second side is, our doing right is God being through us. “With this in mind we’re always praying for you that our God will make you worthy of His calling and by His power accomplish every good thing you decide to do and every work of faith, so as to glorify the name of our Lord Jesus among you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Th 1:11-12 AAT). See Php 2:13, Ro 12:6-8, 1 Cor 1:4-5, 1 Cor 15:10, 2 Cor 12:9, 2 Tim 2:1
To work growing up in love
Christ has gifted some to lead in His body. Their primary purposes is to equip us to do the work of ministry and to build up the body of the Messiah until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God’s Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in the Messiah. Until we grow up in all ways in Christ, their work is not completed.
And it is he (the Messiah) who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of the Messiah until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God’s Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in the Messiah. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed like waves and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, or by clever strategies that would lead us astray. Instead, by speaking the truth in love, we will grow up completely and become one with the head, that is, one with the Messiah, in whom the whole body is united and held together by every ligament with which it is supplied. As each individual part does its job, the body builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16 ISV
In their equipping mode, our leaders help us grow up in accord with God’s plan. Both they and we thrive in that mode. They give us solid food, equipping us for the work of service and urging us to do it. That way, our senses will be trained by practice and we become better doers. God has more work for us to do!
Differing opinions and practices can cause much discord in the Messiah’s body. When discord arises, our leaders are to perfect us in the truth. Paul recognized the human propensity to fall into error. That didn’t stop him from equipping the saints for ministry. In his farewell to the elders in Ephesus, he first pointed to his own lifestyle of loving service and proclamation of the kingdom, then warned the elders that they would have to deal with error.
It shouldn’t surprise us to find we are experiencing error in the body of Christ. Many are brought on by enlightened humanism and human political power and control structures within the church. Paul knew even some of the elders he was speaking to would fall into error. Yet, he didn’t set up hierarchy or rules for their mutual protection and he didn’t limit ministry to the pulpit or the church therapy office. Rather, knowing he had told them God’s whole plan, he entrusted them to God and the Word of His grace. (Acts 20:17-38). See Eph 2:11, 2 Cor 11:13, 2 Co 11:26, 2 Pe 2:1
John exhorted,, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1).
We shouldn’t be babies any longer, tossed and driven by every windy thing that is taught, by the trickery of men and their clever scheming in error. Ephesians 4:14 AAT
Messiah Jesus builds through His body as each part is working
Let us tell the truth with love and in every way grow up into Him who is the Head—Christ. He makes the whole body fit together, unites is by every contact with its support, and to the extent that each part is working He makes the body grow and builds it up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 AAT
As we grow up into Him who is the Head—Christ, He fits us together and to the extent each of us is working, He makes the body grow and builds it up in love. The amount of growing up we have to do is shown by how little we see of each other and of ourselves in this Word. We are just beginning to see that our Messiah has each of us working in the body of Christ. He provides sustenance to His body through every part working to fulfill its function. He ministers to His body and to the world through His body.
We are participating workers in the body of Christ. Whether we recognize it or not, we do serve the Lord in our one another relationships. We come to His perfection by doing what He wants us to do We work as light in society, as we hold converse in our fellowship, as sharers of Christ’s love in family life and as people serving the Lord at work. Just recognizing that helps us glow with the Spirit.
Right now, we do minister to God and one another in society, in fellowship, in family and at work. Anytime we do anything motivated by His love; we are doing the work of service He has called us to do. Let us put more of what God has given us to use for the common good as we are exhorted in the following Word.
If you can do it, do it
For by the grace given to me I ask every one of you not to think of yourself more highly than you should think, rather to think of yourself with sober judgment on the measure of faith that God has assigned each of you. For we have many parts in one body, but these parts do not all have the same function. In the same way, even though we are many people, we are one body in the Messiah and individual parts connected to each other. We have different gifts based on the grace that was given to us. So if your gift is prophecy, use your gift in proportion to your faith. If your gift is serving, devote yourself to serving others. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching others. If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others. If it is sharing, share generously. If it is leading, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping, help cheerfully. Romans 12:3-11 ISV