The Glory of Christ and His Church—Fully Mature

God is the God of revival, and He promises to send times of refreshing to His people (Acts 3:19). Despite evil and turbulent times, we can remain peaceful and hopeful as we prayerfully wait, in faith, upon the Lord. God is inviting us once again to seek Him because “He acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4).

A compromising world needs an uncompromising Church with an uncompromising message. It begins with our personal walk with the Lord. We must be fully surrendered to Christ, to God’s Word, and obey Him. Half-hearted Christianity is the devil’s delight. A powerless, immature Church cannot thwart off the evil of the hour. But a surrendered, Holy Spirit filled and praying Church, can expect God to rend the heavens and send revival and awakening across the globe once again.

Our kids and grandkids need us to be mature, full of faith, and resolute in this hour. Like Jesus, we must set our face like a rock toward our Jerusalem. Souls hang in the balance. Our mission is the same mission of Christ: to liberate the lost from the grip of Satan. Our mission is to help humanity come into saving faith of Christ, experience transformation by the Holy Spirit, and become the people God intended. Let’s discuss how we grow into this today!

Growing into maturity; becoming fully grown (Eph. 4:11-16)

The five ministry office gifts mentioned in verse 11 are important for the establishment of the church.

The task of building has been committed to the ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. These recognizable ministries are all involved in the local pastorate. We call them “ministers” and “pastors”. Their calling is to train and equip God’s own people to work and serve in the building up and caring for His Church.

Paul states that the foundation of the church is laid upon the “Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone.” (Eph. 2:20 NKJV) The teachings of the first Apostles and the writings of the Prophets of old are the primary source of understanding the correct way in which to build the New Testament (NT) local church.

The purpose of the ministry office gifts is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12 NKJV) In ‘order to make God’s people fully qualified for work in (his) service’ or ‘… for (this) work of service.’ [1]

The concept Paul is conveying is to make someone completely qualified for service. The English word equipping comes from the Greek root word katartismós, which is better translated from its root: to order, to establish, to adjust or bring into alignment. It’s a word used to describe the alignment of broken bones—like chiropractic alignment. Alignment brings order out of that which needs adjusted or mended.

In Eph. 4:13, Paul says that the ministry office gifts need to be in operation. “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” (NLT)

Notice unity and maturity are mentioned in this verse. To grow into the maturity Jesus intends, each of us must be humble, teachable, and accountable to others.

Many have wrongly believed that only the pastor, evangelist, and teacher ministry office gifts are in operation today. For proper alignment, we need 1st apostles, 2nd prophets, 3rd teachers (1 Cor. 12:28) to be in operation to help bring us to the unity and maturity in the body of Christ that Paul is describing.

The ministry office gifts are callings, or offices, for the equipping of the body of Christ and oversight of the Church. All Christians may have the manifestation of tongues, healing, words of knowledge, prophecy etc. as outlined in 1 Cor. 12; however, they are for the profit of all and for service in the Body of Christ.

We should be careful not to confuse these ministry office gifts with the on-going ministries that every born-again Christian should be involved with. The anointing or empowering by Spirit is the qualifier for these ministry office gifts that Jesus gives.

Every believer should be involved in evangelism, but only a few are called to be evangelists. All believers should exhort, teach, and care for one another, but not all are called as pastor or teacher. In 1 Cor. 14:1, Christians should desire to prophesy, but not all are called as prophets.

The ministry office gifts of Eph. 4:11 are God’s provision to mature the body of Christ.

Once we realize this passage is primarily about the whole body of Christ and every believer coming into maturity, we are in a better position to understand the list of ministries in Eph. 4:11.

Paul’s intent is not about elevating people who are called to these office gifts; rather, that the Church may be equipped for their works of service (vs. 12).

This verse clearly indicates the reason God calls people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers: so that every Christian can be trained and equipped such that they can serve in the way they were called, thus building up the whole body.

Therefore, those who have been given these gifts by Jesus must remain humble and be servants to others. Consider what Jesus told the disciples in Matthew’s gospel:

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:25-28 NIV)

To be a person of influence, to lead others well according to Jesus, is to foremost love others and serve them. This certainly applied to the original apostles, and still today, it applies to all who walk in these ministry office gifts.

While we shouldn’t exalt these office gifts, we should honor the office. We are encouraged by Paul in 1 Tim 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”(NKJV) Honor releases life!

Importance of Maturity

To understand Eph 4:11-16 better, we must first understand the overarching theme that Paul is after here. One word—maturity. This passage is all about the church, the body of Christ, growing up into maturity which is the fullness of Christ.

Jesus, who is the head of the body, is complete and mature. God’s desire is that the Church, empowered by the Spirit, would grow into the fullness and maturity of Christ.

Maturity matters. Without maturity, we are vulnerable to schemes of the enemy.

In vs. 14, Paul brings these ideas together: 1) infants, 2) a boat being tossed about on a stormy sea, and 3) deceitful scheming and trickery of others

Perhaps it’s a bit hard to connect all the metaphors, but what Paul is driving at is this: new Christians tend to be more vulnerable, just like an infant, to negative, external forces until they are fully mature. Others are needed to protect them and guide them. For example, parents are needed to nurture, protect, and teach children in all areas of life for their growth and well-being.

Paul is stating that there are those who will exploit the immaturity of new believers. There are some who would deceive and take advantage for their own personal gain—perhaps financial or perhaps to gather a following for their own selfish purposes.

I saw an ad a few years ago, “How to Improve your Life with New Age Solutions.” Believers need to be discerning of the subtle traps of false teaching, be it New Age, cults, or unorthodox Christian fundamentals.

Paul’s world was full of such people, just as our is. We should be concerned that Christians—in our care—would grow in maturity such that they could recognize trickery or deception for what it is.

In vs. 13, the object is that we would grow up, that we would mature. God wants His church to mature such that she could speak the truth in love (vs. 15). In other words, that she would be mature enough to call deception, deception (know the truth), but to share with others the gospel and the extraordinary love and grace given through Jesus.

For example, a mature believer should recognize the signs of false teaching and deception. If a group of people does not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, co-eternal, and equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, then that is a cult and should be avoided. Paul and the early church fathers were dealing with cult influences, chiefly the Gnostics who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh.

A mature believer should also be able to discern a distorted gospel (one that omits the sin nature of humanity, the need for salvation in Christ alone, the need for repentance and holiness, the reality of hell, and of a future judgment in Christ).

For example, look at what Paul told the Corinthians:

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11 NIV)

These verses, and others like Rom. 1:18-32 and Eph. 5:5-7, for example, are hard for many, even in the Church, to accept and believe today. Yet, it is the word of God. Culture does not define a Christian’s truth and reality; God’s word defines it. We must be biblically literate, mature, and discerning in this hour.

Growth is a lifelong process. As Christians, we should recognize that part of the process of maturity is having others help teach and train us in the faith and the life in the Spirit. Again, we need to be submissive to one another (1 Pet. 5), as well as humble, teachable, and accountable.

Discernment is needed for counterfeit forms of Christianity such as Christian Deconstruction and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Christian Deconstruction

You made not have heard the term, but society, including Christians, is questioning everything—traditional morality, core doctrines of the faith, leaders, and Church structures.

According to Lee Grady, former editor of Charisma,

“Deconstruction made headlines in 2021 when Kevin Marx, a member of Christian band DC Talk, announced he is ‘ex-evangelical,’ noting that he is also ‘pro-LGBTQIA.’ Max said he had been deconstructing his faith for ‘decades.’” [2]

Statistics reveal that many Millennials and Gen-Zers are abandoning beliefs of their parents. Similar studies show that up to 25% of churchgoers never returned to church after the pandemic. A shallow faith, not grounded in God’s word and connection in healthy church communities, leads to these realities. If one’s faith is weak, it can be easily tossed about, or worse, torn down. If your faith is built on Jesus, our solid rock, nothing would convince you to deconstruct it!

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD)

According to a Barna research survey in April 2021, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is the most popular worldview in U.S. culture today.[3] MTD is a counterfeit form of Christianity affecting society and a younger generation beginning in the early 2000’s.

Core beliefs of MTD include the belief that God is a god who remains distant from people’s lives, that He allows good people into heaven, and that God places limited demands on people. The research revealed by the April 27, 2021 report contends that those who practice MTD are not anti-religion or anti-Christian.

According to the American Worldview Inventory 2021 three out of four people or seventy-four percent of those who embrace MTD consider themselves to be Christians. The report also stated that ninety-one percent of its followers do not believe that people are sinful and need salvation through Christ. Eighty-eight percent trust sources other than the Bible for moral guidance, and seventy-one percent do not believe that the Bible is the true and reliable Word from God. And finally, seventy-six percent of those who embrace MTD believe that good people get to Heaven through good behavior.[4]

We don’t want to be like a small boat tossed at sea! Establishing a solid foundation in Christ that is built upon the truth of God’s Word, staying connected in a local church community, and being in accountable relationships help us grow and remain strong in Christ.

Teens are experiencing record levels of sadness and violence.  

According to the CDC’s recently released Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Among the findings:

  • 57% of teenage girls in 2021 report feeling persistently sad or hopeless, up from 36% in 2011.
  • Similarly, 29% of teen boys feel persistently sad or hopeless, up from 21% a decade ago.
  • 30% of teenage girls have ‘seriously’ considered suicide, up from 19% in 2011.
  • 58% of teens with same-sex partners have seriously considered ending their life.

The numbers are alarming and unprecedented. While tragic, they underscore the importance and necessity of the Church to bring the light and hope of Christ to them.

Depression, anxiety, pornography, fear of not being loved, fear of not being enough, and confusion of sexual identity is ravaging Gen Z. Only Jesus can break the chains!

Father, we pray your love would penetrate their hearts and destroy every lie and attack of the enemy. Revive them, oh God, and break the powers of darkness that are afflicting them!

For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Fully Mature”:

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains(New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 679.


[3] Counterfeit Christianity: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, Most Popular Worldview in U.S. Culture. Https:// CRC Staff. American Worldview Inventory, CRC.

[4] Counterfeit Christianity.

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