Perfecting #4

Thursday, June 21, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

The Lord Jesus granted supernaturally-gifted men to the early Body of Christ so Christians would be internally repaired (remember the fisherman mending his beaten and broken nets). Using those gifted men, the Holy Spirit filled the “holes” Christians had in their spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Remember, these saints came from various pagan, idolatrous backgrounds (see 1 Corinthians 12:1,2; Galatians 4:8; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). They had much religious tradition to abandon—especially rank spiritual inexperience. Moreover, still living among unsaved (pagan) loved ones, they were daily exposed and enticed to return to their former ways.

As today’s Scripture says, the five types of gifted men in the ministry would generate spiritual health and growth among those early Christians. God would then use these mended Christians to do the work of the ministry. The work of the ministry was the edifying of the entire Church the Body of Christ. It was a miraculous process that God the Spirit superintended; otherwise, Satan’s policy of evil (ignorance) would have prevailed.

Now, someone is bound to ask, “Brother Shawn, you keep saying the early Body of Christ. What about us today? Do we not need gifted men right now, that God’s work continue unabated?” First Corinthians chapter 13 answers: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Spiritual gifts were temporary, but something permanent was coming….

Bible Q&A #505: “‘Made his arrows bright… consulted with images… looked in the liver?’

Perfecting #3

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

Sin has radically changed man’s spiritual—and even physical—makeup. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ alone as personal Saviour, the soul is restored. It is enlightened to the things of God because of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s influence. However, the new Christian is not an automatic expert in sound Bible doctrine. Spiritual maturity is often an extremely slow process. For many Christians, unfortunately, it never comes in this life. This is not at all what God intended.

Jesus Christ, after His resurrection and ascension, gave the early Body of Christ various gifted men to bring Christians to a fuller understanding of His doctrine (cf. today’s Scripture). Father God does not want immature infants or toddlers as His children; He wants adults, fully grown men and women who are skilled in His Word and will for this the Dispensation of Grace. Children are easily deceived, but not adults.

Today’s Scripture in context: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

In this succinct snapshot (a single sentence!), we see the functions of the local church….

Perfecting #2

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

The Lord Jesus has just begun His public ministry. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, He sees some familiar entrepreneurs. Out of His 12 disciples—later called “apostles” (Matthew 10:1-8)—four were fishermen. They were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Matthew 4:18-20), and James and John the sons of Zebedee (verses 21,22). Notice what James and John were doing when Jesus called them in Matthew 4:21, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them” (cf. Mark 1:19).

Fishing nets, obviously handmade in those days, were crude. They also endured a lot of abuse. Constantly wet or underwater, the heavy fish violently thrashing against and stressing the knots, and rocks cutting and fraying the ropes, the nets were deficient and thus needed “mending.” Fishermen could not perform their task without intact webbings. Something was lacking in those nets, so James and John were patching them. What could this have to do with today’s Scripture?

The Greek word rendered “perfecting” in today’s Scripture appears that sole time in the King James Bible’s underlying text. It is “katartismos,” derived from “katartidzo.” “Katartidzo” is the word our 1611 scholars translated “mending” in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19. This is what God intends the local church to accomplish.

At the time Paul the Apostle wrote Ephesians 4:11, the giving of spiritual gifts had passed (very few notice this most important detail but it will be brought to your attention here). Jesus Christ “gave”not “is giving,” “will give,” “may give,” “has been giving,” et cetera—those spiritual gifts. The action is past tense. Those spiritual gifts were to “perfect” the saints. Something was missing in these people, and God would supply the tools and materials needed to complete the task. In light of the verses we have just discussed, we see that Ephesians 4:12 is really describing a repairing process….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?

Perfecting #1

Monday, June 18, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

Recently, my niece’s softball team competed in yet another championship. They played seven 70-minute games over a two-day period—beating several teams to win second place overall!! After practicing and playing tournaments these past many, many months, their attitudes and skills have improved significantly. While they still make mistakes, they have matured enough to be unrecognizable compared to what they were last year. Now, they better understand the game’s rules. They have become physically stronger, faster, and more proficient. After all that training, they have learned how to win more games. They have also experienced firsthand that losing (more than once… twice… thrice!) is a part of life. Most importantly, they made new friends and had fun!

In today’s Scripture, the local church is under discussion. We will start reading the context: “[7] But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. [8] Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [9] (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? [10] He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

After His resurrection and ascension “far above all heavens” (verse 10), the Lord Jesus gifted various men. Five such spiritual gifts are listed in today’s Scripture—(1) apostles, (2) prophets, (3) evangelists, (4) pastors, and (5) teachers. These supernaturally imparted gifts, which the Holy Spirit used for God’s glory, were not given to entertain others or promote self. They were “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” When we think about it, a sports game is very similar (although not identical) to how the local church operates. In our upcoming studies, let us focus on this issue, especially what the “perfecting” process entails….

Father: A Godly Man

Sunday, June 17, 2018

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 KJV).

Since today is Father’s Day, we dedicate today’s devotional to the godly (Christian) fathers.

What is a godly father? Oftentimes, fathers are either too authoritative (very strict) or too carefree (little to no concern for their children). According to the Bible (today’s Scripture in particular), fathers must have a balance between setting boundaries and enforcing them, and refraining from being a heartless tyrant.

  • On one hand, the Christian father is to “bring [his children] up in the nurture of the Lord.” “Nurture” is simply defined as “caring for and encouraging their growth or development.” All too often, fathers (sadly) ignore this, usually being too rough, or even, apathetic (unconcerned).
  • On the other hand, the Christian father is to “bring [his children] up in the admonition of the Lord.” “Admonition” is simply defined as “authoritative counsel or warning.” He is to lovingly guide them in life, instructing them from God’s Word rightly divided.

A father is not simply one who procreates. God’s Word makes it very clear that they should serve a lifelong, active role in their children’s lives. A Christian man, especially a father, should be a godly man in beliefs as well as in deed. He needs to set an example for his children (especially his sons): it is his duty as an older Christian man to set an example for younger men.

He should be a hard worker, he should meditate on the things of God (the Bible), his speech should conform to sound Bible doctrine, he should be hospitable and caring, kind and loving, he should respect and love his wife, he should love his children, and he should be reserved and cautious in his actions.

Are you a Christian man or Christian father who desires to be the man God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest! Then, you will become the godly man described on the pages of Scripture.

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

The Greater Condemnation #5

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. None of us are perfect, but we had better get our doctrine straight before we become Bible teachers. Compared to all other things in nature, sinful man’s tongue is the most unmanageable (see verses 3-12). Only a “perfect” (spiritually mature) man can control his tongue. If he can govern the most intractable member, he can manage the rest of his body. Such a Christian (or teacher) is rare; therefore, we should not impetuously appoint the first “teacher” who desires the office!

Paul advised the Ephesian church elders in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Notice the “speaking” evil doctrine!!) First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Moreover, 1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;….” (The “spirits” here are the voices of false teachers!)

As a final addendum, Acts 13:14-15 says the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia allowed complete strangers to teach their congregation! (They heard from Paul sound doctrine, but just imagine if he were a false teacher!) Would you want visitors taking over your assembly, people whose doctrine you have not thoroughly examined?! “Be not many masters!”

The Greater Condemnation #4

Friday, June 15, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

God will hold church leaders—“masters” (today’s Scripture) or teachers (John 3:10)—to a much higher standard than He will church members. Do they believe the right doctrine? Are they practicing what they preach and teach? Christ said to Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Unsaved false teachers will have a hotter place in Hell than those whom they misled!

In time past, Israel had God’s Word and the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1,2). Compared to Gentiles, Jews were the teachers. Yet, the Israelites were hypocrites—they committed the same sins they had condemned the “wicked” Gentiles for doing! In Romans chapter 2, God holds the Jews as the more responsible party. Gentiles were without God’s revelation; Israel knew God’s Word and still committed those atrocious deeds (see verses 1-3,12,17-27). They would all endure God’s wrath!

While we members of the Church the Body of Christ never have to fear seeing God’s angry face or winding up in Hell, we should know that God Himself will review our Christian service. Jesus Christ will examine our soul, to determine the quality of doctrine we built into it (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Was it “gold, silver, precious stones”—valuable, spiritual information, His Word rightly divided? Or “wood, hay, stubble”—useless doctrine, human wisdom, religious tradition? Paul warned the Corinthian saints that they were allowing false religious leaders to contaminate them with doctrinal error, which would cause them loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3).

Dear friends, we had better be cautious of whom we allow to become our Bible teacher. Furthermore, we had better not rush into becoming Bible teachers ourselves. Bible teaching is a most serious job….