7 Foundational Experiences for All Believers (Part 2)

Greetings Everyone!

As we continue our study of the Seven Foundational Experiences for All Believers, I believe it wise to also see what the writer is saying as he presses into these elementary doctrines. Listed below is the initial verse in various translations.

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, (NASB: Lockman)

Wuest: Therefore, having put away once for all the beginning word of the Messiah [the first testament in animal blood, i.e., the Mosaic economy], let us be carried along to that which is complete [the new testament in Jesus’ blood], not again laying down a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God (Eerdmans)

Amplified: THEREFORE LET us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

Using the word “therefore“, the writer points us back to his prior statements concerning Melchizedek and dullness of hearing as well as spiritual immaturity of the believers. He reprimands them for not being teachers by now but those who are in need of being taught again these elementary principles. Heb. 5:12 refers to these as “the first principles of the oracles of God“. The “oracles of God” is a synonym for the Scriptures and refers to divine utterances as found in (Rom 3:2; 1 Pet 4:11; Acts 7:38). Heb. 1:1-2 tells us that Christ is now the ORACLE of the Father to men. Kevin Conner teaches, “The Son is the final word and revelation of the Father. When therefore these First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ were spoken then it was God speaking His Oracle, His Only Begotten Son, from the Glory veiled in human flesh (John 1:1-3, 14-18).” It is not that they did not know these things which he calls elementary. It was that for some reason they were choosing not to function based on their had been taught or the knowledge they had been given. He further states that by now they should have been spiritually ingesting solid food but because of their condition they were still in need of or drinking the milk of the Word. It is from here that he exhorts them to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ“. But what is he actually saying?

To “leave” is “aphiemi Gk (863) (aphiemi from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send) and conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one’s self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. It means to send forth or away from one’s self. It refers to the act of putting something away or of laying it aside. Says Vincent, “Leaving or dismissing does not imply ceasing to believe in elementary truths or to regard them as unimportant, but leaving them “as a builder leaves his foundation in erecting his building”. In other words, these believers were being exhorted to “leave shadows, types, pictures, and sacrifices of the old economy and come to the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. To paraphrase it the writer is saying ‘Leave the pictures of the Messiah and go on to the Messiah Himself,’”

They are exhorted specifically to leave “the elementary teaching about the Christ.” “Elementary” (746) (arche) means the first, the beginning (the things that occurred prior in time). It can mean supreme in rank but clearly that is not the meaning in this verse. In relation to time, arche refers to the beginning of anything, the first. The writer is telling his readers to leave the elementary teaching concerning the doctrines upon which their prior religious life had been based. Leave the milk! These elementary doctrines were those teaching that Christianity had in common with Judaism, the teaching they had received from the Old Testament. They had to move past those teachings that Judaism had in common with Christianity, or otherwise they would never move on to maturity. (Precept Austin) This points back to Heb. 5:12, the principles of the doctrine of Christ or the “steps” or “elementals”. As we will discover these are steps leading to “perfection”

The word “teaching” referred to here is “logos” (3056) (logos from lego = to speak intelligently source of English “logic, logical”) means something said and describes a communication whereby the mind finds expression in words. Although Lógos is most often translated “word” which Webster defines as “something that is said, a statement, an utterance”, the Greek understanding of lógos is somewhat more complex. In the Greek mind and as used by the secular and philosophical Greek writers, lógos did not mean merely the name of an object but was an expression of the thought behind that object’s name. Logos refers to total expression.

This is “the elementary teaching about the Christ” which these Jewish believers are being exhorted to move beyond. “The Christ” is the Messiah. Webster reveals Messiah is a title given to “the promised Deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.” Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word mashiach which means “anointed one” and which corresponds to the NT title of “Christ” (Christos = anointed one). “The majority of Jews (and this Gentile writer) have come to salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) as the Spirit unveiled the OT messianic prophecies (2 Cor 4:6, John 3:8) to clearly show “Jesus (is) the Messiah appointed for” them and for us, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek (anyone not Jewish).” (Acts 3:20, Rom 1:16). In fact the main purpose of John’s Gospel is that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.” (John 20:31) Jesus is the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the three OT offices which God anointed (selected and set apart for special service): Prophet (Psalms 105:15, Deut 18:18, fulfilled = John 7:40), Priest (Ex 29:7, Lev 4:3, Ps 110:4 fulfilled = Heb 6:19-20) and King (1Sa 2:10, Ps 2:2,6 shadows of Messiah fulfilled = Mk 15:26, Rev 19:16). Norman Geisler adds that the concept of MESSIAH (Christ) ‘is the key to the interpretation of the Bible, not only in that He is the fulfillment of OT types and prophecies, but in that Christ (Messiah) is the tie between the Testaments, the content of the whole canon and the unifying theme in the Bible!’ In short the entire Bible is “Messiah-centric” or “Christo-centric!” Beloved brethren, God’s Anointed is appointed, and we shall not be disappointed! “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!, Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all.” (Perronet)

Kenneth Wuest provides this analysis, “Now what does the writer exhort these Hebrews to abandon, and to what does he urge them to allow themselves to be borne along? Well, what does a mariner do when he is at a loss as to exactly where he is? He checks his position by his instruments. The aviator in a similar situation checks his course by the radio beam. An exegete in a similar situation will consult the historical background and analysis of the book. And that is exactly what we will do. We found that the writer proves twice over that the New Testament in Jesus’ Blood is superior to and takes the place of the First Testament in animal blood. After proving this, he shows that faith is the only way of appropriating the salvation which the High Priest procured for sinners at the Cross. In the light of this demonstration, he warns them against falling away. He exhorts them to go on to faith in the New Testament Sacrifice. Having left the temple sacrifices, and having identified themselves with the visible Church, from what could they fall away but from their profession of Messiah as High Priest, and to what could they fall back to but First Testament sacrifices? Thus the words, “the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” must refer to the First Testament sacrifices, for these Jews are exhorted to abandon them. Likewise, the word “perfection” must speak of the New Testament Sacrifice to which they are exhorted to allow themselves to be borne along. Our analysis has guided us to the correct interpretation.” (Hebrews Commentary online)

It is from here that these Christians are urged to go on. The scripture says, “let us press on to maturity“.  See these references verses: (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 12:13; Proverbs 4:18; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 13:10; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12; Philippians 3:12-15; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 4:12; James 1:4; 1 Peter 5:10; 1 John 4:12).

What is this portion of the scripture saying? Twelve times this phrase “let us” appears in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer to the Hebrews is urging them all to press on to maturity. “Press on” (KJV = go on) (5342) (phero) is to be borne along like a ship by the wind. The use of the passive voice emphasizes the exertion of power on the individual from an outside source. passive voice also conveys the the thought of the need of the recipient to willingly surrender to this outside influence. In this case, the outside force is the Holy Ghost. The present tense emphasizes the continual need for this activity. Note the writer lumps himself in this group needing to be continually borne along. The idea is “Let us be carried along (by God’s Spirit).” Maturity (5047) (teleiotes related to teleios from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) describes one as being in a state of completion or perfection in the sense of maturity (and in contrast to the stage of elementary, ABC, knowledge). The related word teleios means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle. (Precept Austin)

To what location or aim are they to press on? To maturity is the destination to which they are to press. They are being urged just as are we to press on beyond the elementary teachings of the Christ and on to maturity in Christ. Our ultimate destiny is to be conformed to the image of the Christ. In other words, we are to become just like the only begotten Son of God! Kenneth Wuest comments, “Our Lord in His life of faith on earth, became the perfect or complete example of the life of faith. Thayer speaks of our Lord as ‘one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith.’” (Hebrews Commentary online)

Finally, these Hebrew Christians were being exhorted to hit the target established by the Lord – CHRISTLIKENESS! Until next time, hit His target!

7 Foundational Experiences for all Believers

Grace and peace!

In the next several installations of On Target Equipping, we will explore and examine Hebrews 6:1-3 and the seven foundational or elementary experiences (doctrines) for all believers. They can also be known as the Doctrines of the Christ (2 John 9, 10). These doctrines are several of the foundational and fundamental truths of our faith. They extend from justification to ultimate perfection. Doctrine defined is “teaching, instruction, or to teach the substance.” It is vital to us because what we believe and what we are, as well as what we practice and where we ultimately end up are determined by doctrine. Doctrine is not merely to be known. It is also meant to be experienced. For it is through the experience that true transformation takes place. In other words, cognitive knowledge alone will not change us. Experiential knowledge of the Word of God is what transforms the believer. Our subjective experiences with His objective truth and the work of the Holy Spirit is what will ultimately conform us into the image of His Son.

Many today frown upon or devalue the imperative nature of doctrine to the Church and the churches. Christ was a Man of doctrine! His doctrine was consider astonishing (Matt. 7:28). It was classified as “new” doctrine (Matt. 22:33; Mark 12:38; Mark 1:27). Jesus utilized parables to deliver His doctrine (Mark 4:2). Christ, as the Pattern Son, taught His Father’s doctrine (John 7:16, 17). But sound doctrine and continuing in it is one of the many pillars of an apostolic community. Act 2:42 states that the early church were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ doctrine, this which they had heard and seen in Christ and now were passing on to the saints. We too are to continue in sound doctrine. Thus the encouragement of this series of posts. To quote Paul writing to Timothy: “But you have followed my teaching. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you,.” (2 Tim. 3:10a & b, 14a) Sound doctrine is a MUST! We know that as we are living in the Last Days, men will not endure SOUND doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1, 2; 2 Tim. 4:3). We are admonished in Scripture to strongly advocate, insist upon and defend sound doctrine (Titus 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). The ultimate destiny of every born again believer is to be conformed into the image of the Christ. Paul would also say in Colossians 1:28, 29 “We proclaim him (Christ), warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.” We can see through these two verses alone the Father’s heart and desire for us as His sons is for us to mature and become just like His Son Jesus Christ! Our sonship is acquired and advanced through the full, accurate and thorough knowledge of Christ as Son and as God as Father. It is an accurate revelation of the Person of the Son and that of the Father that establishes not only our true identity but the measure for who we are to be and to become.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the subject of maturity is raised as the writer to the Hebrews confronts the Christians there concerning their immaturity. In Hebrews 5, the writer is addressing the High Priesthood. He contrasts this priesthood with the Priesthood of Christ and establishes the origin of this Priesthood being “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:5, 10). In Heb. 5:11, the writer expresses his desire to say many things about this Priesthood, some of which is hard to explain, especially in light of the Hebrews spiritual inability to hear well what he has to say. Kenneth Wuest translates this portion of this verse in this manner: “because you have become those who are in a settled state of sluggishness, es, of stupidity, in your apprehension of the same.” Wow! Thank God, he did not stop there!

This brings us to verse 12 where it says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Again, I like the Wuest translation here: In fact, when at this time you are under moral obligation to be teachers by reason of the extent of time [you have been under instruction], again you are in need of someone to teach you what are the rudimentary things of the very beginning of the oracles of God, and have become and still are such as have need of milk, not of solid food.” Verses 13 and 14 push the point even further: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” This further presses the call to maturity which is being exhorted here. What we can see is how these first principles, these elementary doctrines or better yet, experiences are necessary for a proper foundation required for growth and maturity.

As we move to Hebrews 6:1-3, the encouragement here is that the saints leave “…the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” Listed here are seven foundational experiences for all believers which we will take a closer and broad look into in the next several posts. Allow me to list these for us and we will return and discuss them further in our next installment.

  1. Repentance from dead works
  2. Faith toward God
  3. Doctrine of baptisms
  4. Laying on of hands
  5. Resurrection of the dead
  6. Eternal judgment
  7. Perfection

Keep in mind, that all of these take their rise out of an accurate revelation of the Person of the Father and His Fatherhood and the Son and His Sonship. Our aim as always is to help the saints hit His target! Knowing and experiencing these seven foundational experiences are vital as it pertains to that aim.

Blessings!

A Particular Set of Characteristics (Pt. 3)

What’s up Brethren?

We have been progressing our way through Ephesians 4:13 – “till we all come to (attain to) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. Our aim continues to be the establishment of this verse as the TARGET for us all as it pertains to the work of 5-fold ministry and the Church. God our Father continues to desire a FAMILY OF SONS just like His Son, Jesus Christ. This verse speaks clearly to that aim! He also intends to provide His Son Jesus, with a BODY & a BRIDE. And He will bless the Holy Spirit with a TEMPLE & a HABITATION. Ephesians 4:13 then defines the direction His Church is headed, “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

As we have seen in the last several posts pertaining to this subject, there is a definite time frame – “til” or until, a specified people – “we all“, and last we saw an appointed destination – “come to or attain“. Last time, we began to look into “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” which is the focus of the remainder of the verse – “the unity of the faith and the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

We are utilizing the phrase “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” to describe this three dimensional destination for all in the Body of Christ. God’s people are not an aimless people, engaging in a endless series of spiritual exercises with no ultimate target or aim! No, we have been given a common eternal destiny which is captured by these three specific aspects. We are called to:

  1. the unity of the faith
  2. the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God
  3. to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

The final aspect of this verse consists of “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” and corresponds with the portion of Eph. 4:13 which reads, “…to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ“.  Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest translates this portion of this verse in this manner, “to a spiritually mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ.” The Amplified Bible reads concerning this verse, “that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.” As one can see the emphasis here is maturity with the Christ in all His fullness being the standard of measure for us all.

To a perfect man” is better translated as “to a mature man“. “Mature” is the Greek word teleios (5046); (teleios from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole. Interestingly the Gnostics used teleios of the one fully initiated into their mysteries and that may have been why Paul used teleios in this epistle. (Precept Austin)

My mentor, Christopher Johnson, stated, “The ‘spiritually mature man’ is the ‘many-member man.’ That ‘spiritually mature many-member man,’ whose Head is the Christ Himself, must come to ‘the required measure of the full stature belonging to the fullness of the Christ.’ Only then will that ‘man’ be suitable to perfectly fit to the Head.” In essence, this is a picture of the corporate Church in its completed state and not us as individuals. This reflects to an earlier post, “We All,” as the entire Church is to progress toward this mature man – this adult male, full grown man.

Eph. 1:23 states that the Church is the fullness of Christ. But here in our text, the Church is directed to endeavor more and more to receive the qualities and powers of the Christ. Christ-likeness is our destination! And the entire Church must come to His measure, stature and fullness.

I want us to look at three key words in this portion of the verse. The first is Measure (3358) (metron) is a measure of capacity. Then there is Stature (2244) (helikia from helix = adult, full–aged) conveys the idea of maturity in years or size. It speaks of the “ripeness” of full age. And lastly is Fullness (4138) (pleroma from pleroo = make full, fill, fill up) speaks of a full measure with emphasis upon completeness. Putting these together, we come to see that God wants every believer and all of us together to increase in our capacity until we manifest the qualities of His Son, Who is Himself the standard for our spiritual maturity and perfection. But keep in mind, this is the Church as a whole.

And it is the five-fold ministry gifts who are to who are enabled by Christ to help the Church attain to complete realization of what the Lord has ordained. I would love to go on, but I believe you get the picture. We, the Church is to become a full-grown man and not children or infants (See Eph. 4:14). Take the time to read and meditate and study the verses below. Through them you will gain an even clearer picture of God’s Target for His Church!

Reading: Rom. 8:19,29: 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 3:26-27; 4:6,19; Eph. 1:5, 18-19; 3:18-19; 4:13; Phil. 3:12-14; Col. 1:28; Heb. 5:12-14; 6:1.

A Particular Set of Characteristics (Pt. 2)

What’s up Good People?

We have been progressing our way through Ephesians 4:13 – “till we all come to (attain to) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;“. Our aim continues to be the establishment of this verse as the TARGET for us all as it pertains to the work of 5-fold ministry and the Church. God our Father continues to desire a FAMILY OF SONS just like His Son, Jesus Christ. This verse speaks clearly to that aim! He also intends to provide His Son Jesus, with a BODY & a BRIDE. And He will bless the Holy Spirit with a TEMPLE & a HABITATION. Ephesians 4:13 then defines the direction His Church is headed, “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

As we have seen in the last several posts pertaining to this subject, there is a definite time frame – “til” or until, a specified people – “we all“, and last we saw an appointed destination – “come to or attain“. Last time, we began to look into “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” which is the focus of the remainder of the verse – “the unity of the faith and the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

We are utilizing the phrase “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” to describe this three dimensional destination for all in the Body of Christ. God’s people are not an aimless people, engaging in a endless series of spiritual exercises with no ultimate target or aim! No, we have been given a common eternal destiny which is captured by these three specific aspects. We are called to:

  1. the unity of the faith
  2. the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God
  3. to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

We shared concerning “the unity of the faith“ that “unity” (1775) (henotes from heís = one + genitive of henós = of one) articulates a oneness or unanimity. This oneness and harmony among believers is possible only when it is built on the firm foundation of sound doctrine. The only other use of henotes is Ep 4:3 where the unity of the Spirit is stated as a present position and possession that we must work to maintain. Also in this context the phrase “the faith” (the definite article “the” indicating not just any belief system but a very specific belief) refers to the content of what is believed. Although this is the Greek word “pistis” (4101) which means one’s trust or belief and thus their conviction of the truth of anything. Here “the faith” is the entire body of revealed truth or doctrine that constitutes Christian teaching. See Jude 3. Occurring 38 times, the specific phrase “the faith” is used nearly fifty-percent of the time to refer not to the EXERCISE of believing but rather to the CONTENT of what is actually believed by the saints. WHAT or the content which actually believed is the appropriate usage that the present context provides. The first mention of “the faith” referring to the body of doctrine believed by the saints is found in Acts, “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) Additional references include: Acts 14:21, 22, 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 3:9,4:1 5:8 6:10). Finally, we spoke this first aspect of this particular set of characteristics looking at the entire phrase: “To the unity of the faith” – the oneness our text speaks of is attained when a singular body of doctrinal truth (“the faith”) is embraced, and is implemented in the Body of Christ. Earlier Paul specified the importance of “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) being given to us and makes an additional point here is that the Church must attain the goal of appropriating all that is contained in the “one faith”. The divine aim here becomes practical in the sense that the Church can never attain unity apart from doctrinal oneness.  Summarizing this aspect: it becomes apparent to the reader that where the Church becomes divide is along the line of the faith. We require unity as it pertains to the faith and it is from this oneness that the Body is to be and become all the Father has desired. This requires the much needed and required ministry of the 5-fold gifts as well as the applied knowledge of this oneness of the faith being a target we all must attain.

This brings us to the second aspect of this particular set of characteristics, “the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God“. We are not only called to the unity of the faith, but we are equally called to the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God. We are called to be united in a similar sense as to the faith now to unity relative to the knowledge of the Son of God. But what does this mean? What does this look like? Let’s begin by saying that this is now a part of the work of the post-ascension gift apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. Specifically, to bring the Church to this destination of knowing the Son of God.

Knowledge (1922) (epignosis: from epí = upon + ginosko = to know) is a strengthened form of gnosis (1108) and conveys the thought of a more full, larger and thorough knowledge. Epígnosis also conveys the idea of an intimate and personal relationship. Epígnosis refers to exact, complete, thorough, accurate, experiential knowledge, not just abstract, intellectual, head knowledge of God or even facts about Him. Epígnosis always describes moral and religious knowledge in the NT and especially refers to full and comprehensive knowledge of God’s will that rests on the knowledge of God and of Christ found today in His Word (Precept Austin). This all means that the knowledge we seek is not mere facts about Christ. No, we are called to be unified or at one in the comprehension of the full, precise, accurate and through knowledge of Him. What we initially receive as a gift is now presented as an experience we are to attain. Keep in mind that this is not cognitive knowledge but this is experiential knowledge which is the knowledge which transforms.

This is knowledge is beyond salvation knowledge! See Col. 2:2, 3. This is knowledge that is ours as we plunge deeper into the revelation of who He is and that which is produced as we bring together and to bear the personal and individual knowledge which we are graced to receive from Him. This is the Father’s heart for us! Paul, in two intercessory prayers gives insight to several aspects of this experiential and accurate knowledge he wants the readers of this epistle to attain. See Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19.

The Father desires for us to know His Son in this manner! His will is that the Body of His Son arrive at this destination in unity! This is key because it is only as we come to know the Son that we can come to know the Father! The Son is the Revealer of the essential characteristics and nature of the Father. And the 5-fold, especially the apostles and prophets who have be given a unique revelation of Jesus Christ as Son and God as Father, are responsible to impart this knowledge to us!

Brethren, I really want to say more! But we will pick this up again in our next post. Just keep in mind, staying on target includes a pursuit of the full, thorough, and accurate knowledge of Christ!

A Particular Set of Characteristics

What’s going on everyone?

We are continuing to work our way through Ephesians 4:13 – “till we all come to (attain to) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;“. So far, we have seen a definite time frame – “til” or until, a specified people – “we all“, and last we saw an appointed destination – “come to or attain“. Today, we want to begin looking into “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” which covers the remainder of the verse – “the unity of the faith and the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

I chose to use the phrase “a particular set of characteristics for this destination” to describe this three dimensional destination for all in the Body of Christ. We are not an aimless people, engaging in a endless series of spiritual exercises with no ultimate target or aim. No, we have been given a common eternal destiny which is captured by these three specific aspects. We are called to:

  1. the unity of the faith
  2. the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God
  3. to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

Let’s take a broad look at each of these separately beginning with “the unity of the faith“. “Unity” (1775) (henotes from heís = one + genitive of henós = of one) articulates a oneness or unanimity. This oneness and harmony among believers is possible only when it is built on the firm foundation of sound doctrine. The only other use of henotes is Ep 4:3 where the unity of the Spirit is stated as a present position and possession that we must work to maintain.

In this context the phrase “the faith” (the definite article “the” indicating not just any belief system but a very specific belief) refers to the content of what is believed. Although this is the Greek word “pistis” (4101) which means one’s trust or belief and thus their conviction of the truth of anything. Here “the faith” is the entire  body of revealed truth or doctrine that constitutes Christian teaching. See Jude 3. Occurring 38 times, the specific phrase “the faith” is used nearly fifty-percent of the time to refer not to the EXERCISE of believing but rather to the CONTENT of what is actually believed by the saints. WHAT or the content which actually believed is the appropriate usage that the present context provides. The first mention of “the faith” referring to the body of doctrine believed by the saints is found in Acts, “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) Additional references include: Acts 14:21, 22, 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 1:23; 1 Timothy 3:9,4:1 5:8 6:10).

To the unity of the faith” – the oneness our text speaks of is attained when a singular body of doctrinal truth (“the faith”) is embraced, and is implemented in the Body of Christ. Earlier Paul specified the importance of “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) being given to us and makes an additional point here is that the Church must attain the goal of appropriating all that is contained in the “one faith”.  The divine aim here becomes practical in the sense that the Church can never attain unity apart from doctrinal oneness. So much more can be said on this critical subject but we will leave it there for now.

It becomes apparent to the reader that where the Church becomes divide is along the line of the faith. We require unity as it pertains to the faith and it is from this oneness that the Body is to be and become all the Father has desired. This requires the much needed and required ministry of the 5-fold gifts as well as the applied knowledge of this oneness of the faith being a target we all must attain.

In our next post, we will examine the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God. Until next time, stay on target!

An Appointed Destination – “come to or attain”

What’s up everyone?

As we press ahead in our close look at Ephesians 4:13, keeping in mind that this verse captures what I believe to be God’s goal, aim and target for the Church and work of 5-fold ministry. So far, we have given a broad overview of this verse and stated more specifically that this verse reveals a Definite Time frame – “until”, and a Specified People – “we all”. In this post, we will discuss an “Appointed Destination – come to or attain”.

Ephesians 4:13 – “till we all come to (attain to) the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;“. This short phrase points to the saints moving to an appointed destination. “Come to or Attain” “(2658) (katantao from katá = intensifies meaning + antáo = meet) means to happen to, with the implication of something definitive and final coming upon one. Katantao is used figuratively in this verse and means to arrive at a particular state, with the focus on the end point. One gets a sense of the meaning of katantao observing the repeated use in the book of Acts to describe travelers arriving at their destination. In this verse katantao conveys the thought of believers arriving at their “destinations” of “unity of the faith” and full knowledge of Christ, and ultimately mature man.” (Precept Austin)

Now, this gives us insight into how the five-fold ministry is to function relative to helping the saints arrive at a particular state, which we will look into tomorrow. The work of the five-fold is the equipping or perfecting of the saints with this end point or particular state in mind. This “appointed destination” dictates the completion of this work. And until this work is completed, these love-gifts continue to be needed. The will of God is not for the saints to come close to the target. No, arriving near the target is not His will and desire! His heart is that the saints hit this target and become what He intends for all those who are His. This is why we must continue in His Word as it is the only hope of our remaining on target!

Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post as we detail what our God-given destination entails!

A Specified People – “we all” (Eph. 4:13)

What’s up everyone?

We are continuing our sharing from Ephesians 4:13, coming into a deeper understanding of this verse as being descriptive of the Father’s “Ultimate Intention” (DeVern Fromke). Fromke taught and I believe that the Father had a desire even before the world was created. That desire or ultimate intention is to have a family of sons just like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was written of Jesus Christ that He would bring “…many sons to glory…” Hebrews 2:10. It is my belief then that the work of ministry and the penultimate goal of the Church is to give the Father what He has eternally wanted!

So far, we have taken a very broad look at Ephesians 4:13, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, referencing it as the ultimate goal of the Church and the work of the five love-gifts revealed in Eph. 4:11.

We shared most recently  that there are key aspects of this target mentioned that need to be further unpacked. These aspects include:

  1. A time frame – “til” or until
  2. A specified people – “we all
  3. An appointed destination – “come to or attain
  4. A particular set of characteristics for this destination –  “the unity of the faith and the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”

We last wrote to you concerning “A Definite Time frame – ’til’ or until. Please review that specific post for more details. Today, we will speak to “A Specified People”.

This verse of scripture, in the Apostle Paul’s magnificent letter to the Church at Ephesus and which speaks specifically concerning the mystery of the Church incomparably to any other of his epistles, unveils “WHO” the revelation, wisdom and application applies. Paul says, “…until WE ALL…” (emphasis mine). “We all” pertains to God’s people here referred to as “the saints” (Eph. 4:12). The “saints”, which literally means “holy ones” are those set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose. Saints, which is the Greek word “hagios”, depicts all whom God has set apart and dedicated to His own special use and design. Saints are those who are no longer “in Adam” but are now in Christ Jesus. We are “holy ones” positionally  and expected to demonstrate holiness in our daily living and character. These are the “specified people” Paul has in mind as he writes “we all.”

We all” is the Body of Christ. This phrase says that we who are born again and sons of the Most High God have a common destiny or destination. (We will discuss this as we continue to unpack this verse this week) Paul is revealing the Father’s expectation for all believers! This is not for some special or elite group of individuals. But this is for every person who by grace through faith has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! This is a command given to the entire Church! In other words, our Father’s desire pertains to all Christians past, present and future. What Paul is uncovering for the reader is for the entire Church “until” we all attain the three dimensional destiny that we will get into in our next post. My prayer is that as you continue to read and ponder these posts that if will become more and more clear to you that our Father has always had an ultimate aim for His Church and its our responsibility to make sure we stay On Target!