If the people of God do not have the opportunity to serve, there isn’t much enthusiasm for the work of the church. The body of Christ is not built up and all those gifts that God gave to his church are largely untapped. God is giving us this time now to get it right. Stop letting some people have all the fun. Stop sitting on the sidelines.
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
No one likes to be told to “Grow up!” Usually those words mean that our behavior has been a disappointment to people who love us. “Grow up” is a plea for us to strive for maturity. If we could only “grow up,” we would make wise decisions in life. Everyone would like to grow up before they grow old. But somehow it seems that we never really get there. It seems that way in our spiritual life too. We want to grow up in our faith, but we aren’t always sure that’s happening. Spiritual growth happens so quietly that we don’t notice how the Holy Spirit is working in our hearts.
God gives us the opportunity to keep growing up in our faith through our personal devotional life, our worship services, Bible classes, and Sunday school classes. God exercises our faith through the means of grace and causes faith to grow. We do know this much: If we aren’t reading and studying the Word of God, we are not growing in our faith. If we aren’t growing stronger in the faith, we are getting weaker. Neglecting your spiritual training leads to the loss of faith altogether. To avoid such a tragedy, God teaches us in his Word to:
Grow Up In the Faith
for unity in the faith
for stability in the faith
The ascended Christ who reigns at the right hand of God has chosen to rule and guide his church on earth by giving gifts to his church. Those gifts are more intriguing than anything that might be hiding within a beautiful package on your birthday. The gifts Christ gave to his church are people, “apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.”
God used the apostles and prophets as his pen men to record his Holy Word. We read the Word of God and receive the gifts God has passed on to us through the message these men shared with us from the hand of God. All of us enjoy those gifts whenever we listen to the Word of God. God gives evangelists to his church. These are people who are especially gifted at sharing the gospel message with others. These are people who invite their friends to come and hear the message of Jesus with them. God gives pastors and teachers to his church to prepare us to serve the Lord with our lives. Most of you can probably remember Christian pastors and teachers who both shared and modeled the Christian faith. We regard them as precious gifts from God. God has blessed us to give us so many capable and devoted pastors and teachers! Treasure them and learn from them to know your Savior better than ever before.
God gives these people to his church so that we might “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ministry works best when people are using their spiritual gifts to God’s glory. Are you prepared to serve our Lord? If the members of Prince of Peace take ownership of the ministry here, the “body of Christ is being built up.” When all the members are involved in some form of meaningful ministry in the congregation, everyone benefits! People are encouraged. People are involved. People start talking about this place as being “our” church. As our members get involved in the work of the church, all of us are being mutually built up. We can be amazing encouragers to one another in living our lives to the glory of God.
The opposite can also happen. If the people of God do not have the opportunity to serve, there isn’t much enthusiasm for the work of the church. The body of Christ is not built up and all those gifts that God gave to his church are largely untapped. God is giving us this time now to get it right. Stop letting some people have all the fun. Stop sitting on the sidelines. And if you are being a “ball hog” unwilling to allow others to use their gifts. Then either get off the bench and get involved or move over and make room for others! By so doing we all have opportunities to grow up in the faith.
The goal of Christian service is that “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” We do ministry together around the Word of God. With the Word of God instructing us in all that we do, we can be confident that our Christian faith will grow too. The heart of the Christian faith is knowing the Son of God. The better we know Jesus Christ, the faster we grow up. While we will never attain a perfect and complete knowledge of Christ this side of the grave, we can grow daily to know Jesus better. That is the goal of Christian education! That is why we conduct Sunday school and Bible classes! We want you to know Jesus Christ.
We want you to know the life he lived. He lived a sinless life in every way. We want you to know the death he died. He died our death – the innocent one for us guilty sinners! We want you to know the power of his resurrection. He lives eternally. He has promised eternal life with him to everyone who embraces him in faith. As we grow in our faith we enjoy this new life more and more.
Although we live in a world that wants us to think that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are really serious about it, God reminds us here that our goal must remain a “unity in the faith. Earlier in this chapter St. Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” There is only one way to heaven. That way is through Jesus Christ. There is one faith that is taught in the Bible. Our goal is to share this one faith with the world so that everyone “grows up in the faith.”
Such spiritual grow produces stability. St. Paul wrote, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” You’ve seen many young people attend years of Sunday school and confirmation instruction and then go off to college and lose the faith they once promised to keep. You know people who once confessed the faith you confess and now believe strange and weird things. They just never grew up in the faith.
Growing in the faith only happens with regular contact with the Word of God. It is easy to get busy with life and forget what’s important. Too many people remain spiritual infants and do not have a solid foundation to keep them steady when the storms roll into their lives. Spiritual infants have a hard time differentiating truth from error. Spiritual infants will follow popular opinion if they don’t have their feet planted solidly on the Word of God. Spiritual infants are no match to all the lies that people want you to believe. Spiritual infants never really are sure what to believe. Keep on growing in the faith so that you will have stability in your life.
When growth stops, deterioration sets in. It happens to our bodies. If we don’t exercise, our bodies grow weaker. But the effects of spiritual deterioration are far more serious than adding a few inches to the waste line. Spiritual deterioration can destroy saving faith and the void in your heart is quickly filled with lies and empty promises which in the end lead to eternal death in hell.
St. Paul wrote, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Perhaps the hardest phrase in all of scripture to put into practice is St. Paul’s encouragement to “speak the truth in love.” Can you share the Word of God with people in the framework of love? Can you speak the truth with such a tone of sincerity that others know you’re not coming at them with a “holier than thou” attitude, but as a Christian friend who wants only what is best for you? Learn to allow the love of God in Christ to dominate your conversations. Such stability in your life is a result of growing up in Christ.
Jesus is the head and leader of the church. You and I are the body of Christ. We take our marching orders from Christ. Each member of the congregation is an important member of the body of Christ. We all have a specific function to carry out. Each member of our body functions in harmony with the rest of the body. If not, there is pain and illness. We function best as a congregation when we work together motivated by God’s love for us in Christ. The Christian church grows more and more stable as each Christian does the work entrusted to him. Then we are growing up in the faith.
You may have been a little angry the last time someone told you to “grow up.” Maybe you needed that. The truth is we have a lot of growing up to do. It can be a lot of fun! We can find ourselves enjoying working together with our Christian friends for the kingdom of God. Listening to the Word of God causes us to discover new things about our great God and Savior Jesus Christ that we didn’t know before. Let’s make it our goal to grow up in the faith before we grow another day older.