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How Do We Grow?

Our Church in 2018

Date: February 4, 2018
Speaker: Jim Stanley
Series: Our Church in 2018
Text: Ephesians 4:15-16

Listen to this message:

But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.

- Ephesians 4:15-16, NET

Yesterday at House of Faith we talked to the kids about the first of the five “loves” that make up the greatest commandment.  We showed the kids (literally) how all the other commandments “hang” on the five.  Specifically, we shared how loving God will be seen in how we live every day.  What we do and what we say make visible something that only God can see.  If there is no outward expression, we can be fairly certain there is no inward reality.  Likewise, putting the inward reality into practice enhances it, expresses it and causes it to grow.

This is the dynamic of the passage we are considering today.  I love the NET translation of verse fifteen.  When we practice the truth in love, we grow up in all things into Christ.  Growing up into Christ is something no one else can see.  We know it in our own hearts and minds.  His thoughts become our thoughts; His ways become our ways; His will becomes our will; His life becomes our life.  All of this happens within us by faith.  But it is lived out and expanded as we practice the truth in love.  As Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, “The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.”

The only way the body can grow together from Christ is if they, likewise, grow together into Christ.  It is like nutrition.  The only way our bodies can grow and function effectively, is if we put the ingredients of a balanced diet into them.  Others may not see us taking the food in but they can observe the effects of good nutrition in our outward appearance and the way we live our lives.

Practicing the truth in love then is more than just doing the right things.  It is doing the right things guided by the principles that can only come from a relationship with Jesus.  As John puts it “Love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  There must be knowledge and understanding put into practice and guided by the love only God can supply.  Jesus put it this way, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10).  Growing up into Christ is the product of practicing the truth in the context of loving the Savior as well as the people He loves.

How we relate to one another in the church is vitally connected to our relationship with Jesus.  We cannot have a flourishing church without a flourishing faith.  We cannot be guided by the head if we are not closely connected to it.  If each of us will grow up into the head by practicing the truth in love, the whole body will begin to function as it should.  There will be an unbreakable unity.  There will be a thrilling diversity.  Equipping will be offered and welcomed and the saints will do the work.  We will be mature and resilient.  All this because the life of the body will be flowing from the head, Jesus Christ our Lord. The unseen realities of our walk with Jesus will then become visible within the life of His Church.

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