38 Edifying Believers (2)

God grants spiritual gifts to Christians that they can edify one another, thus they can strive toward spiritual maturity. Evaluate your spiritual condition by referring to the table as follows:

Your UnderstandingChildhood FaithMature Adult Faith
Pain and DisappointmentGood Christians don’t have pain or disappointment.God uses our pain and disappointment to make us better Christians
In Regard to HelpGod helps those who help themselves.God helps those who admit their own helplessness.
God’s ExpectationGod wants to make us happy.God wants to make us into the image of Jesus.
In Regard to FaithFaith will help us always explain what God is doing (things always work out).Faith helps us stand under God’s sovereignty even when we have no idea what God is doing.
Perfection or SinfulnessThe closer we get to God, the more perfect we becomeThe closer we get to God, the more we become aware of our own sinfulness.
Facing ProblemsMature Christians have answers.Mature Christians can wrestle honestly with tough questions because we trust that God has the answers.
Strong or weakGood Christians are always strong.Our strength is in admitting our weakness.
In Regard to ChurchgoingWe go to church because our friends are there, we have great leaders, and we get something out of it.We go to church because we belong to the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11–16

11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 

12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 

13until 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. 

14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 

15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 

16From 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 4:11–16 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

3 Circle all of the spiritual gifts that God grants and number them in ascending order.

4 Circle the purpose of the spiritual gifts that God grants and number them in ascending order.

5 Underline all the behaviors of infants and number them in ascending order.

6 Refer to other translations and come up with some new insights.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

Whether a church can be united or not, it is closely related to the spirituality of her believers; therefore, God grants spiritual gifts to the believers with the intention of strengthening the foundation of their church, and they can move toward spiritual maturity in the process.

1 Why did God give spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:11)?

2 What are spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:11)?

3 Why did immature believers act like this (Ephesians 4:14)?

4 Why did mature believers act like this (Ephesians 4:15-16)?

Christ is the Head of the Church and the local churches that dispersed everywhere throughout the ages are His body. The unity of a church is interrelated with the spirituality of her believers, and both cannot be separated. God gives spiritual gifts to the Christians, not only that they can edify one another, but a church can also move toward the path of maturity. In regard to the unity of churches and the effort of spiritual maturity, there are three important points that are worthy for our attention:

1 The workers for spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-12)

2 The focus of spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13)

3 The behavior of spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Ephesians 4:11-12

4:11-16 is one long sentence in the Greek Bible. It chiefly points out that the gifted believers are to equip other believers so that they can attain stability in their doctrines and thus lead them to serve practically and edify one another. There are three groups of words in verse 12 that are worthy for our attention, namely, “to prepare God’s people,” “for works of service” and “the body of Christ may be built up” (NIV).

1 “To prepare God’s people.” 

“Prepare” is used to describe the refitting of a ship or setting a bone in classical Greek. This implies believers are imperfect, and they must undergo the process of refitting as means to have them restored to their original condition. By referring to its context, there is an implication that sinners were disobedient, and by means of gifted workers, they could be led to follow the original intention of God in His creation. Many contemporary English versions translate it as “equip.”

2 “For works of service.”

By the bestowal of spiritual gifts, the Lord’s intention is to equip all believers for works of service, as means of building the Church and expanding God’s kingdom.

3 “The body of Christ may be built up.”

“Prepare” (NIV) is a process and “built up” (NIV) is the necessary nature of the work of ministry. In other words, all spiritual gifts are for the building up of believers.

Ephesians 4:13

“Until” in the Greek Bible is a preposition. Based on this preposition, indicating that the Lord has three different purposes of bestowing spiritual gifts to the believers:

1 Purpose 1

“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God” (NIV) might be interpreted as “the totality of Christian doctrines and practices.” The “knowledge” is not only head knowledge, but also an emphasis on experiencing the presence or the power of God’s Son.

2 Purpose 2

“Become mature” (NIV) can be interpreted as “mature manhood,” and one translation renders it as “a mature person.” This indicates the process and completion of growth of believers; therefore, this can be translated as “we shall completely grow up in our faith.”

3 Purpose 3

“Measure” (NIV) can be translated literally as “the measure of the stature” (NKJV). “Measure” can be interpreted as “the desired height.” Paul reminded the Church at Ephesus, the utilization of the spiritual gifts that the Lord gave, could make them become more like Christ. Thus, they can attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ one day.

Ephesians 4:14-16

1 “No Longer Be infants”

God grants the spiritual gifts to the Christians for He intents them to move toward growth and maturity. Paul points out that immature Christians are like infants, they are “inexperienced,” “instable” and “gullible.” As the foundation of their belief is not solid, and they are inexperienced spiritually, thus immature Christians cannot distinguish between what is right and wrong, that they are easily influenced by counterfeit and false thinking.

2 Be grownups

Mature Christians have the three different characteristics below:

Characteristic 1

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (NIV) Mature Christians not only have love, but also their deeds reflect truthfulness as well. In other words, mature believers reveal love in practicing the truth.

Characteristic 2

The Apostle Paul sees the Church as a living organism, Jesus Christ is the head and Christians are His body, and both cannot be separated. Furthermore, each believer has one’s distinct responsibility, and also their functions are different, thus they both are complementary to each other. In simple terms, Paul reminded believers should not go their own way, but should grow together. That is to say, mature Christians not only should care for their own spirituality, but also care for the spiritual condition of other believers.

Characteristic 3

Mature believers should be loyal to their duties, so that the Body of Christ can grow consequently.

The Comparison between Natural Talents and Spiritual Gifts

Natural TalentsSpiritual Gifts
Given by God through our parentsGiven by God independent of parents
Given at birthEvidently given at conversion
To benefit humankind generallyTo benefit the body particularly
Ought to be dedicated bybelievers to God for His useand gloryOught to be used to God’sglory

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Strive for spiritual maturity should be the resolution of mature Christians; believers should try to continue to grow (Ephesians 4:13).

2 Memorise Ephesians 4:16.

16 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 4:16)

3 Resolve to discover my spiritual gifts from other believers and spiritual gifts survey.

4 Resolve to make good use of my spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:11).

5 Equip my spiritual knowledge and ministry skills and attempt to take up new ministries.

6 By means of evaluation to discover whether or not I had made well use of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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