I. THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH.
A. To perfect the saints for the work of the ministry.
B. To build up the body of Christ.
C. The goal is to bring them into a unity of the faith.
1. The church has been divided through the years more over our differences in belief than anything else.
2. One might question whether the unity of the faith is even a possibility.
a. Protestants differ with the Catholics.
b. Presbyterians differ in form of church government from the Episcopalians, who both differ from the Congregationalists.
c. The Baptists differ from the Nazarenes and the Church of Christ seem to differ from everybody.
3. There is one thing that I think is more important than the unity of the faith, and that is the unity of the Spirit, of which Paul speaks in verse 3.
4. Even if we differ from another in forms of church government, or positions on baptism, or gifts of the Holy Spirit, or when the rapture might take place, we still need to realize that there is one body, and one Spirit, and one Lord.
D. The second goal is to bring them into the knowledge of the Son of God.
1. That you might by knowing Him come into a full fellowship with Him.
a. When Paul was writing to the Philippians, he spoke of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he expressed His desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
2. That you might know all that you have by possessing Jesus.
a. The resources that are available to you through Him.
b. The future hope that you have in Him.
c. Thus Christ should be the central theme of all of our ministry.
d. It is by Him, through Him, for Him that we exist.
e. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, the author and the finisher.
E. "Unto a perfect man."
1. Again the Greek word signifies fully mature.
2. Paul often expressed his concerns because of their spiritual immaturity.
a. He called the Corinthians babes in Christ. He said that he fed them milk not meat.
b. The writer to the Hebrews who I believe to be Paul, rebuked them for at a time when they should be mature enough to be eating strong meat, they still had need of milk.
c. So many believers never grow beyond the bottle stage. They still sit in their play pens throwing their temper tantrums. They are in a state of arrested spiritual development.
d. Much of the blame must be put on the pastors who are not giving them the kind of spiritual food that prompts real spiritual growth.
e. Only the Word of God can prompt spiritual growth. It is alive and powerful, able to pierce and divide between the soul, and the spirit.
f. You cannot grow spiritually on experiences, no matter how exotic they might be. It takes the solid teaching of the Word to promote spiritual growth.
F. To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
1. Our goal is to see you conformed into His image.
a. Pure as He is pure,
b. Holy as He is holy.
c. Righteous and He is righteous.
d. Loving as He is loving,
e. Forgiving as He is forgiving.
2. Jesus Christ is the model that the Father is using as He seeks to conform you into the image of Christ.
3. If you desire to know the finished product, just look at Jesus.
a. David said, "And I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness."
b. John said, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
II. THAT WE BE NO MORE BABES.
A. This seems to be the prayer and desire of Paul for the people.
1. Grow up. Become mature, quit acting like immature little babies.
2. Quit being ruled by the desires of your flesh, and begin to walk after the Spirit. No more temper tantrums, if I can't be the king, I'm not going home and I am not going to play with you anymore.
3. Paul was tired of changing their diapers.
B. One of the marks of a babe.
1. They are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.
a. I want to commend you people for your spiritual maturity.
b. The Christian T.V. is promoting all kinds of spiritual hodge podge, every kind of weird doctrine, it is as though they are lacking and devoid of any spiritual discernment whatsoever.
c. You have been mature enough that you have not chased after all of these so called men of God who are espousing all of these unscriptural practices and beliefs.
d. There are constantly new winds of doctrine blowing across the church.
e. It was happening in Paul's day, it is happening today.
f. The teaching that everyone ought to be healed.
g. The shepherding doctrine.
i. The faith teachings, of commanding God and writing your own ticket.
j. The "You are god."
h. The deliverance doctrines. Your overeating disorder is the demon of gluttony that needs to be cast out.
i. The slain in the spirit.
j. The spiritual auras.
k. The laughing hyenas, or Toronto blessing.
2. The spiritual babes are deceived the cunning craftiness of these charlatans who lie in wait to deceive.
a. They spend their time trying to think up some new and novel gimmick whereby they might draw the crowd that they might then fleece them.
b. There are idea men who make their living by thinking up new money begging appeals, and they get a percentage of funds that come in by their clever ideas. The man who thought up the idea of seed faith made millions off of that gimmick.
III. "BUT SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE MAY GROW UP INTO HIM IN ALL THINGS."
A. So it is the duty of the pastor teacher, the evangelist, the prophet or apostle to speak the truth in love.
1. I have heard some speak the truth, but they seemed to be very lacking in love.
2. They always seem to have a chip on their shoulder, some ax to grind.
3. Their tongues are like a sharp razor by which they seek to shred anyone who disagrees with their position.
4. They use their pulpits like a sledge hammer to destroy all differing views.
5. They come off as loving as an atomic bomb.
B. May God help us to present His truth in a very loving style, so that the people may grow up in Him.