THE CHURCH—GOD’S NEW SOCIETY
A Blueprint for the Church
Jerry A Collins
v What kind of gifts has Jesus given the Church?
v How are we to be ‘built up’ as a church?
v What is the essence of maturity for the church?
What is the point of being in the church anyway? The point is that we would grow up and mature in the body of Christ. Maturity is that process of full development reached through continual growth. A new believer can be spiritual but not mature. Actually, they are spiritual in the sense of being regenerated, indwelled, baptized and sealed, being filled with the Spirit. A spiritual believer is taking on their old nature from the standpoint of their new nature, in the power received from the filling of the HS. But maturity means doing that over the years. Doing that while married, when children come along, when sickness hits, finances fail, enemies attack, and responsibilities increase beyond our capacity to deal with them. Maturity happens by walking with God over time. The blueprint for the church is one of maturity. Our passage tells us how that is done.
CHRIST HAS GIFTED PEOPLE TO PREPARE GOD’S PEOPLE FOR SPIRITUAL SERVICE 11-12A
Let’s make some observations and comparisons between these gifts and those gifts of 1 Cor 12 and Rom 12: (1) Here the gifts come from Christ (v 7-8) rather than from the HS. (2) These are specific people not the spiritual abilities distributed to people and (3) These gifts are for equipping the saints not for general ministry per se.
11 The first two kinds of gifted leaders are apostles and prophets who were foundational to the establishment of the church on earth . (Picture of founders and leaders from past remembered for foundation of company) So the initial leaders of the NT church were the apostles. Together with the NT prophets they and their ministry formed the foundation of the church with Christ as the cornerstone. Several others come from this group who were assigned ministry alongside them and sent out as well like Barnabas and James. In addition to this foundational group are evangelists and pastor-teachers. These include those who take the gospel into new frontiers or regions where it has never been heard and teachers without administrative powers and pastors who were teachers as well—possibly the same persons. In every generation Christ raises up gifted men to build on this foundation. The materials are always the same—the word of truth. God sees to it that every generation of believers has opportunity to mature and grow up.
12 The purpose of this gifted leadership is to prepare you for works of service—your spiritual ministry. The word ‘preparing’ is the same as ‘the setting of a bone’. The idea is of mending or restoring for proper function. These leaders are given no to do the work of service but to prepare the saints so they may serve. It is not what you ‘get’ but what you are ‘given’ that is the function and focus of their ministry. When you say ‘I did not get anything out of that’ then you reveal your ignorance of the purpose of the ministry of these gifted people Christ has given to the church. Yet, the equipping of the body of believers is so that the service rendered by those equipped would mature the church—to the building up of the body of Christ. The ultimate aim of this building up is the maturity of the church. God wants his church in each generation to grow up—that it to develop maturity. So anyone God has gifted as an evangelist, pastor or teaching, must see their basic ministry as equipping the saints for ministry.
UNITY COMES THROUGH SPEAKING THE TRUTH NOT TOLERATING ERROR 13-15
The unity we must always be working toward—now in our ministry within the body—but always in every generation of believers, is not toward an ecumenical tolerance of different doctrines but teaching the knowledge of the Son of God until we all reach maturity where we no longer are influenced by false teaching.
13 The goal, then, is attaining
a unity of the faith. It is not to make you feel good about God or to have an
experience with Him. It is a unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God. So
it is a unity based on knowledge not tolerance. That
knowledge is specified about the Son of God—His person, His work, and His
commandments. If Christ and His word is
peripheral or nominal in ministry then there will be no maturity. This is what
he says brings us to a mature man. This
is an interesting word that refers to males not mankind in general. Actually it
means mature males. He says the goal of the ministry of the body of Christ is
unity, knowledge, Christlikeness and mature males. Of
course Paul had ministry with and among women—
14 Left immature lacking a unity based on knowledge of the Son of God, the body of Christ is susceptible to crafty deceit and false teaching that can influence immature believers. His only defense is maturity.
15 The fundamental concern for the truth is the secret of maturity in the church. The idea is the teaching of good doctrine and correcting bad doctrine—that is, increasing sensitivity to false teaching. So the one major result characterizing a believer’s maturity is truth. The climate in which this truth grows and we mature is love not by fierce competition of a throat-slicing campaign or witch-hunt. But a maturing in unity based on truth manifesting love. In this way we become Christlike replicating our head, Jesus Christ, who Himself manifested truth in love without compromising either. Following this path, we are able to grow in to Him and thus toward maturity. This is the blueprint for the church.
DIVERSITY NOT CONFORMITY IS THE KEY TO UNITY OF THE BODY
The unity we should be working toward comes by developing the unique contribution of each individual not by sacrificing individuality for the community.
16 2 schools of thot about the unity of the body (1) The body holds the members together. (2) The members hold the body together. Here the body is fitted and held together by joints and the holding power of the joints is supplied by each individual part. The ability of the body to hold together and function is by each individual member not some overarching impersonal force. Many in the church assume the body holds the members together, so the negative talk about individualism and promotion of community. The point being it’s the community not the individual that should be served. But here each individual that supplies the bonding work enhancing unity. So its as we develop individually thru power of the HS that we can hold the body together. This is how the church matures. There is no free ride from responsibility in community but each individual is responsible to mature based on unity in truth that supplies the cohesion for growth. Community focus will contest truth for the good of the community.
1. The Word of God is indispensible for maturity. It is the truth we pursue.
2. Unity is not accomplished at a distance but close up one person at a time.
3. How the church grows much more important than how quickly/vast she grows.