When Christians reach spiritual maturity, they will no longer be like children – confused, constantly fussing, and captivated by every false teacher that attracts them with “a new view.” Instead, they will “speak the truth in love and will grow up in all things into Him who is our head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:13-15). It is from our head, the Lord Jesus Christ, that the whole body fits together! Even though He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, His life and ministry to this world continues through every joint of His body (Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). He has given to each of us a work of faith. How do we determine this work? As we serve the Lord and observe and receive ministry from others, our own gifts begin to become clear. We see our spiritual strengths and weaknesses in others.
If our gift is Bible teaching, we will observe this gift in others and the Holy Spirit will impress on us the desire to teach.
If our gift is mercy, we will see this gift in others and desire to do the same.
If our gift is helps, we will have the overwhelming desire to help with all the tasks of the church – without being asked. In the process we will teach others what it means to help the body of Christ and we will encourage others with the same gift to become involved.
If our gift is faith, we have the desire to trust God to do what He says He will do. In the process we train others the value of living by faith, and alert others who have this gift.
If our gift is administration, we become God’s efficiency experts – not in a demanding way but with gentleness and grace.
If our gift is evangelism, we have the overwhelming desire to share the gospel with the lost and by example teach others to share the message.
If our work of faith is encouragement, we find joy by encouraging others, and by doing so, we teach others how to encourage. This works equally well with young people. God is the Great Genius, is He not!
As we give and receive these grace works, the church will grow both spiritually and numerically in direct proportion to the quality of the work of each (Ephesians 4:16). This should shout to us God’s prescription for the spiritual growth of the church. Missing is the exclusive role of a pastor to equip the flock alone. Missing are human schemes, gimmicks, or motivational methods of every sort to get the crowd and keep it. Missing is “the show.” Missing are the performers and the audience coming to watch them perform. Every member of the body of Christ will grow based upon the spiritual contribution of every other member in the body. We have all been uniquely gifted to do our part.
The result will be unity of the faith and a strong knowledge of the Son of God. Folks will begin to like each other, and then to love each other. Children of God will grow in knowledge of His Person, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His return to establish His kingdom. The character of Jesus Christ will pulsate through the body (Ephesians 4:13). We will all come to understand what it means to learn and live by faith within the community of believers (2 Corinthians 5:7). We will all become spiritually mature, strong in Biblical doctrine, and productive.
The body of Christ is alive and well on the earth, but it must be nurtured. Jesus Christ continues His ministry to His body through His body. His body grows—spiritually and numerically—as a direct result of the ministry that every believer performs. When every part does its share, the body matures and grows in love. That is the purpose of every believer’s faith work. This has been God’s prescription for growth in the church since Pentecost. Jesus Christ continues to build His body the same way. There is no other method of church growth taught in the Bible. Peter went one final step showing us the value of knowing and using our giftedness.
Peter’s letter was written at a time when the body of Christ was under great persecution. The church had received word that the Roman authorities had discovered their location. The soldiers were probably on their way. The little flock felt that there was a real possibility that they were going to die. Very similar to anticipating a worldwide pandemic! Peter’s words to them were extremely important, maybe his last. Notice carefully what he said. He told them first to pray. I get that! Then to express their love and respect for one another. I get that too! But finally, he said, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Peter is saying that God had given to each a spiritual work of faith. Finish well (1 Peter 4:7–11). Wow! Stay safe and stay tuned.