Following God’s Path and Plan – Grow
Ephesians 4:7-16

Over the last few weeks we’ve been considering God’s word and how it shines light on his path and plan for us as his people.  As we heard this morning, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Having reflected last week that God’s word is like seed thrown out by the sower and that it never returns empty, our focus for today is to think about how God’s word can grow us up into the body of Christ that is joined and held together by every supporting ligament, as each part does its work.

Our church council is currently working its way through a series of Bible studies called Leadership Essentials.  Two months ago we looked at being habitual as leaders in spending time with God’s word.  The concept given was that we should train rather than try in our spiritual lives.  Just as an athlete must train regularly with event specific drills to build muscle memory and increase stamina, when we ‘train’ ourselves with God’s word by regularly spending time with it and learning and applying it we become more attuned to God’s will through his word.  We gain strength through the Word and knowing it, when trying times or a challenge from an unbeliever the Word comes forth from within us because we know it and can draw on it, almost like a reflex.

Then last month in our studies the concept of having a spiritual coach or director or friend to encourage us or join us in our training with God’s word was suggested.  Now this is a very new concept to me and not something that I have really ever tried, but as you know Christie is currently training to become a Spiritual Director.   The idea being that you have someone who you can check in with, have them pray for you and with you in your journey and that together you are built up and strengthened through the Word.

Our second reading today is Paul’s explanation to the new young church in Ephesus how to build each other up so that they wouldn’t be tossed around and blown back and forth by teachings that were contrary to the full Gospel of Christ.  Paul explained that Christ himself gifted some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the people for works of service. For the purpose of building up the church until all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the son of God.

These specific roles listed were to be the helpers, the teachers and the ones spreading the true Gospel, helping others to hear and believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God, who came to take away the sin of the world and give us all forgiveness of sins and life eternal.

These individuals are no better than each other, no more important than each other, but all are essential in the building up of the body of Christ which is the church.  Not building up individuals one by one, but the whole body, joined and held together by every ligament as it GROWS and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

None of us likes the idea that we should measure whether one or another is growing in faith; in fact it isn’t a measurable or quantifiable thing.  But growth is something that comes through loving each other and building each other up in accordance with the word of God.  As we love each other and remind each other of the love that God has for us we do indeed build each other up and by default we build up the church of God.

As we heard in the Gospel reading, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Now remain in my love.” This isn’t our doing, it is his doing, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”  Last week we were sewing seed, this week we are growing and bearing fruit, all through and with God’s word.

I mentioned earlier about athletes and muscle memory.  On Friday night at Head to the Heart we were discussing and learning about forgiveness of sins.  One of the analogies that we used was that by practicing forgiving the sins of others we become better at it and find it easier and easier to do.  This event was teaching through God’s word and building up our young ones.  Our KYB groups meet weekly and flex their brains and stimulate them through their study books and the word that they are focussing on that week, and there are other study groups going on around the place.  If you would like to start a new group let me know and we will help you get started.  As each of these individuals spends time in the Word they grow and as a whole the body of Christ grows.

As a result we become better at loving one another and caring for one another and so we are bearing fruit.  We mightn’t even notice it going on but it surely is happening.  Because we are all joined together as the body of Christ, the whole body is growing.

As you know the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  These are the only real signs that the body has been growing through the Word and the Spirit.

Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature.  But we must not become conceited in that knowledge, but continue to build each other up and pray for one another, serve one another and care for one another as the parts of the body of Christ.  Not in order to earn salvation because that has already been given to us, but in response to the wonderful gift of grace that God has given us.  So that we aren’t tossed to and fro by the waves and the wind as false teachings come and go, but that we can speak the truth in love, and continue to grow up into mature Christians who know and serve the Lord and his people.

Amen.