11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Here Paul lays out the ministries within the church: apostles – who are sent ones; prophets – who declare God’s word; evangelists – who preach the gospel; shepherds – who pastor the congregation and teachers – who instruct in the word of God. The skills of these people are used to ensure the church is built up in faith, hope and love, to teach good sound doctrine and to encourage believers to become mature in their faith.
What does it mean for us as individuals and as the church to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”? Sometimes Paul’s language is hard to understand. Unity of the faith sounds like unity among the members of the body of Christ, which is encouraged (Ephesians 4:3) and also mentioned in the OT (Psalm 133:1). Hosea 6:6 says For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. The knowledge of God is more than knowledge about God. You can read a biography about someone and know many facts about them but never met them. You do not know them. The knowledge of the Son of God implies an intimate relationship, a close relationship only experienced in a relationship, which is exactly what God wants us to be in with Him. That is what brings maturity, a close relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Paul encourages believers to grow up! Not to be children who find it hard to be steadfast, to use the nautical term. When the seas are rough you can be tossed about but you need to have a firm hold on the ship. A firm hold to the true doctrines of your faith.
Cunning Deceitful Schemes
Now I am not going to name and shame the many heresies taught in the world today. Many books are available on this subject. However, it is essential to have the awareness that Satan, the deceiver, the spirit of the antichrist will do anything to deceive believers and keep unbelievers blinded to the truth. In the garden of Eden Satan’s tactic was to get Eve to believe God was keeping something back from her. Satan tried to undermine her trust in the goodness and kindness of God. Satan convinced Eve to do something that she thought would improve her situation without God and the result was disastrous.
Most heresies want people to do something to gain their salvation. Any belief system that says “If you are good you will be ok” is a cunning deceitful scheme. There is nothing we can do to be good enough to meet the righteous demands of a Holy God. Our salvation totally depends on the grace of God. He reached down to us and offered the gift of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice that paid for our sins.
The most used scams on the internet and phone are geared to gain your trust, build a relationship quickly, pressure you into a swift fearful response and part you from your money. Sometimes they will spend time building a relationship possibly as a potential partner, then tell you they need money to escape a dangerous situation. Having become convinced this person cares for you the pressure to help and keep on helping grows. But the promise of the relationship never is fulfilled as you become poorer!
This is so often Satan’s ploy to keep someone from believing the truth as laid out in the Bible. You begin to trust something outside of God, that needs you to give your time and effort to gain a promise of reward that never materialises! If I read the Bible more, if I pray more, if I go on a pilgrimage, if I am kind and generous then God will accept me. Now in themselves, these are not wrong but the motivation of the heart is the vital component. If I love and trust God I will want to pray more, read more be generous and kind. But if I think God will love me if I do these things then I am deceived.
True faith in Christ produces a firm relationship and knowledge of Him that leads to maturity in your walk with Him.