The True Method and Conditions of Christian Growth
Ephesians 4:15, 16
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

The apostle sees the conditions of Christian stability in a faith that worketh by love - the love being at once the sphere and the means of our spiritual growth. The expressive figure used by the apostle sets forth several important truths concerning the Church and its development.

I. THE SOURCE OF ITS GROWTH - CHRIST THE HEAD. As the Church is a spiritual body, so the characteristics of the natural body are found in it. It is a body divinely framed as truly as the natural body, and designed to bring greater glory to God than the body which types it. Its Head is the Lord himself. It has its being and form in him, as well as all its nurture, such as its life and light, grace and joy, strength and fruitfulness; it depends upon the Head for subsistence and for safety; it is united to the Head by a bond that is both close and indissoluble.

II. THE AGENT OF ITS GROWTH - THE HOLY SPIRIT. For "by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12). As the one spirit of man wields at will all the functions of the body, and concentrates the various members upon its purposes as they arise, so the Holy Spirit gives each member of the mystic body its peculiar action and power in the divinely appointed diversity which contributes to its eventual unity.

III. THE RELATION OF THE MEMBERS TO EACH OTHER. "The whole body is fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth." Each member is in relation with all other members as well as with the Head. Each is dependent upon the other. No member can dismiss another as useless; none is so great as not to be indebted to the least. "God has tempered the body together." Now, just as the parts of the human frame are necessarily of different functions, and set, some in superior, some in inferior, places, yet all act together in the fullest sympathy; so all the members of Christ's body must keep rank and order, acting within their own sphere with due wisdom, harmony, and love, the eye not doing the work of the hand, nor the hand the work of the foot, but abiding each in his own calling.

IV. THERE IS AN INDIVIDUAL ACTION OF EACH MEMBER, "According to the effectual working in the measure of every part." Each must do its own proper work, according to its position. Just as a man is strong in the faculty which he most exercises, so the member who is strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus becomes individually efficient according to the operation of that grace. One member is thus apt to teach, another to convince, another to counsel, another to stimulate.

V. THE CHANNELS OF SUPPLY - "THE JOINTS AND BANDS" -ARE THE WORD AND ORDINANCES. They convey grace from the Head to the members. The Word of God is the grand means, in connection with baptism and the Lord's Supper. These two ordinances are, indeed, the two appointed symbols of the Church's unity - baptism representing the first action of the Holy Spirit in fitting the members for the body; the Lord's Supper, the drinking into one Spirit, who makes the table a visible center of union to these brought out of the world.

VI. THE ELEMENT OR SPHERE IN WHICH THE GROWTH OF THE BODY IS EFFECTED. "Love." It is not asserted that we are to grow in love, but that in love, as the sphere of growth, we are to grow in all the elements of perfection. That love which follows the things which make for peace and edification, and bears the infirmities of others, has peculiar faculties for edifying the body of Christ.

VII. THE RESULT OF GROWTH. "It maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself." The increase is twofold - in the addition of members to the Church, and in the growth of the members in all the elements of spiritual perfection. - T.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

WEB: but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ;

The Mission of the Clergy; Or, the Faithful Preacher
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