by Paula Miles, Guest Writer
It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ might be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows, and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:11-13, 16
Yesterday we talked about being built as living stones into a holy temple, a dwelling where God lives by His Spirit. In chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul describes this idea of interdependent living in another way, a body. The passage begins with an incomprehensive list of word ministry gifts. Paul states that these gifts are given for the purpose of equipping or preparing God’s people for works of service so that the body might be built up. The Word itself is living and is used by God through His Spirit to not only give us rebirth (I Peter 1:23) but also to nourish and equip us for our new life in Christ (I Thessalonians 2:16). Through the ministry of the Word, we are equipped to do every good work that God prepared in advance for us to do. The word, “equipped”, literally means restoring broken bones. God uses the Word by His Spirit in the church as a hospital or doctor’s office for the sick and as physical therapy or a gymnasium for the healthy. As the “living stones” are equipped, God says this will ultimately result in the building up of the body and a oneness in our faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. He says we will mature “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Basically, He says we will look more like Jesus. As we interlock, overlap, and fit together with these other living stones, placing ourselves under the ministry of the Word, keenly aware of God’s presence, facing Him, we are transformed with ever-increasing glory (II Corinthians 3:18). We are able to grow in our faith and knowledge of God. C. S. Lewis expounds on this communal aspect of our salvation as he reflects on the loss of his friend, Charles Williams. Lewis, Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien were part of a famous circle of friends called the Inklings. Listen to Lewis’ words, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Tolkien’s reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away. I have less of Ronald. . . For every soul, seeing Him in her own way doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.” Tim Keller in his book, The Prodigal God, sums it up this way, “Lewis is saying that it took a community to know an individual. How much more would this be true of Jesus Christ?” As we sit together, respond to truth, and wrestle with its application, we get to know Jesus better and can begin to look more like Him. Paul reminds us in this passage that this will prepare us for the waves and winds that will come. We will not be easily tossed and blown. You don’t have to live long in this broken world to know that the waves and winds will come. In this community context where truth and love dwell hand in hand, it will be our very instinct to speak the truth in love. With our words and actions, we will faithfully point each other to Christ. God uses us as His promise keepers to each other, reminders of His presence and His promises. We are encouraged to believe that God is sovereign and we can trust Him no matter what our circumstances.
Father, thank you for the gift of Your Word and the power it has in our lives. Thank you for the gift of being united to Your people and how You use them to encourage and sustain us as we walk with You. Teach us to love Your Word, to hold fast to Your promises, and to value our relationships with Your sons and daughters. Help us to instinctively speak the truth in love, faithfully pointing each other to Christ. Grant us the grace to not be easily tossed and blown when the waves and winds come.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to Sexual Addiction – There is Hope audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
“I sat by myself on my living room couch. Alone. Scared. I tried to piece together what 13 years of sexual addiction had just torn apart. My life was unraveling and I couldn’t harness my out of control behaviors. I remember thinking I might be better off dead than alive,” said Johnathan Daugherty. Listen as Jonathan describes that downward spiral and what turned his heart toward healing and a redeemed marriage.
Paula Miles is wife to Kevin, a ruling elder at Clemson Presbyterian, and mother of Wimberly Johnson (married to Charlie), Janie, Clary, and Judy. She grew up in Anderson, SC and graduated from Clemson University. Paula has experienced the joy of being both a full time homemaker and a public school teacher. Studying and teaching God’s Word is her passion, as well as coming alongside women to encourage them to understand their unique design and fulfill their individual callings. Paula is on staff at Clemson Presbyterian as women’s ministry coordinator since 2014, is a conference speaker, and serves on the national women’s ministry team for the PCA as a women’s ministry trainer. She enjoys regular exercise, watching sporting events, and investing in the lives of her family.
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