Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The Bible teaches that child-like faith is necessary for salvation. A person needs to come to God and place their trust in Him alone for their salvation. They cannot come trying to barter their way into salvation. They will either trust in the Lord and be saved, or they will walk away and remain lost.
In our text, God tells us that He does not want His saints to remain in a child-like state after salvation. He wants people to grow in their faith and trust in God. He wants His children to be able to stand upon the truth and be able to help others to walk in the truth as well.
Verse 14 tells us that children lack stability. Children are much more affected by peer pressure than adults should be. There are many adults today who have never grown up. They are still heavily influenced by peer pressure. Most politicians are influenced by peer pressure. They do not know how to think correctly. They do not know what to say unless their leader tells them what to say and they change their policies depending on what their constituents tell them they want. There is a great lack of godly leaders today. That is also true within local churches. That is what God is addressing here. Let the world flounder around and fall from one mud puddle into another. However, when God’s people cannot stand upon the truth, that is a major problem. In my lifetime, I have observed the church I grew up in move from a place that did teach the need for salvation, but had difficulty teaching what true salvation looks like. From that very weak and childish position, they have come now to a place where they are driven by the winds of the world. They have no backbone. They are what is known as “wet noodles.” They are a clear example of what New Evangelicalism is. New Evangelicalism has decayed from the time of its conception to where it is today. When you do not build on the truth, you have no mooring.
In the context of our verses, “adults” have learned how to stand upon God’s truth and they stand there whether the crowd likes it or not. They stand there because it is the right place to stand. They stand there because that is where God is.
The devil introduced the first wind of doctrine in Genesis 3. Adam decided to believe that wind, rather than the truth. Remember what we learned from Hebrews 11:1. True Biblical faith has substance. The wind does not have substance. It blows from the south today and from the west tomorrow and then maybe half way through the day it changes to another direction. God directs the wind for His purposes. He does not direct His children to be like the wind. He directs His children to stand upon the Rock.
Notice in verse 14 that the deceivers use different methods to deceive the simple minded. They use sleight of hand. The illustration given by Strongs for the Greek word here is that of the card dealer in the gambling room. The crooked dealer will deal those cards in a manner so as to rig the game against the players. He does this in a manner that is difficult for the gullible who choose to indulge in this game, to catch the cheating that is taking place. There are many false teachers who use this method to deceive people into believing false doctrine. I am always trying to learn how to better answer the nay sayers and how to help others to avoid being deceived. I listened to a man recently describe what the Calvinist calls unconditional election. He followed the same pattern that all of those type of people use. He placed all people into one of two camps. Either you are an Arminian or you are a Calvinist. Last time I checked, the Bible does not support either one of these heresies. There is such a thing as being a Biblicist. However, in this man’s mind, anyone who has some form of religion is either one of these two. From there he built his bad argument for unconditional election and he claimed to be a Calvinist. I did not need to put that idea into his head. He declared himself to be that. The man has rejected the Word of God and chosen to pull a few verses out of their context to support his previously taught position. Augustine, a lost Catholic monk, is the one who came up with the views that John Calvin then expanded upon and developed into his false teachings. Had John Calvin first been saved and started from the Word of God, he would never have come up with his heresies. He enlisted the help of another false teacher to direct him in his thoughts. Calvinism is a great scapegoat position for those who do not want to believe what God clearly teaches regarding salvation and that those who are saved will be actively involved in becoming more Christlike all the time.
God tells us that the Word of God and the ministers of the Gospel are to carefully and clearly teach the Word of God to help those who are lured to go after those who would use sleight of hand, to see the folly of that way. The lost will resist and will follow the false teacher. The saved will turn and follow the truth because the Holy Spirit indwells them and their eyes will be opened to the truth.
Cunning craftiness has to do with using deception to gain your wish. The example of a criminal who uses a fake sickness to get out of jail in the hopes that while being transported to a hospital he might be able to break away from the guards that are transporting him. This method is used by the “word of faith” movement. They claim that if you will give them your “seed money”, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing on you that you will not be able to bear it. They will even point to the success they claim to have from doing the same thing. Greed is very common among us as people. Getting something for nothing is enticing to many. That is why casinos and lottery tickets are so popular. The suggestion is that you spend a few dollars and you win back much more. The trouble is that it takes many suckers to give one other sucker the idea that he or she won because they were so clever at playing the game. The “word of faith” people are greedy and they know there are many more people that are just as greedy as they are. They play their game and manage to convince gullible people to give to them and then they go around and brag of how God has blessed them and He will do the same for them if they just believe.
Paul says these people lie in wait to deceive. They are ready to grab anyone who comes along and will buy into their lies. The greed of man makes it fairly easy for these types of people to rip them off. God tells us that those He has chosen in verse 11 are to teach the saints the truth so that they grow up and become fully convinced of the truth in their hearts and they do not fall for these deceivers.
In verse 15 we see that the God-called leader operates in love. The deceiver claims to operate in love, but he hates God and he hates God’s people. He could not care less if the gullible have given their last penny to them so they can buy that plane or take that trip or buy another house or whatever their fancy is. They will even set up their prayer rooms and list their 1-800# that you can call and mention your need to them and they will have these special “prayer warriors” there to pray for you. They may even shed a tear for you, but they have no interest in helping you.
However, those listed in verse 11 are not out to use you. They love souls and they want to see the childish saint grow and be strong in the Lord. They are not promoting themselves. They are promoting the Lord. They know Jesus Christ is the head of the body. They know they are privileged to be faithful servants of His. They know they have no power or wisdom in and of themselves. They desire to point the saint to the Creator of all things and the one Who is the head of every true local church. Knowing Christ is the key to true blessings.
In verse 16 we see that all true Christians are a work of God. The picture here is of a good cookie dough. Eating some flour is not very tasty. Some might like to eat some sugar by itself, but too much of that is not good. As the baker puts the various ingredients together and mixes them together properly, and then puts that compacted dough into the pan, a good tasting cookie comes out at the other end. There are no lumps of unmixed flour or one cookie with many chocolate chips in it and the next one with maybe one or two chocolate chips. The idea is to make those cookies as uniform as possible so that everybody gets the same taste in their mouth and that all will appreciate the cookie that was baked.
Those mentioned in verse 11 are God’s instruments who are willing to serve God in teaching His Word so that the hearers all benefit from it. Each one is growing in the Lord and being strengthened, and each one has a clear testimony of salvation, but also of how to grow in the Lord. The end result of this process is that the entire church is united and working together for the glory of God, motivated by the love of God. There is no animosity. There is no jealousy. There is no envying. There is a rejoicing as each member is growing in the Lord and each one can be an encouragement to others so that all work together to show forth the work of God in their hearts.
The book of Acts tells us that the first century apostles were so effective in their service that they were able to turn their world up-side down. Idolaters were being saved. Those using books of witchcraft were burning them and trusting in God instead. Those who were trying to make money selling false gods and other similar things were losing money. People were no longer interested in buying their junk. They had been gloriously saved and they were so interested in truth that they had no time or interest to look at the lies of those deceivers.
Today, churches do not have that place in the eyes of their communities. Governments have classified churches as non-essential. Most professing Christians have agreed with that assessment. They are not going to risk anything to support and faithfully attend a good local church. When we get back to what God’s Word says, I wonder what kind of blessings God would pour out for His glory? Are you willing to find out? If you are truly saved, will you let God work in your heart to bring about that unity of the Spirit that He wants to bring about? What a shock it would be to our ungodly society to see the mighty hand of God at work in making such wonderful changes in a few saved people.
The question was asked recently with regard to those who were willing to go to the stakes during the time of the inquisition. What was it that motivated those people to reject the Catholic heresies to the point they would die for what they believed. Is there anything that we would die for today? Is there anything we would stand up and say, I will stand with God and let the world say or do what it wants, I am not going to move from where God wants me to be? God wants us to stand strong for Him. The world is watching to see if there is anything out there that is better than what they have to offer. God is far superior to anything man has to offer. God’s doctrines are all pure. They are right. When applied to the heart of the true saint, they will make a difference. It will be a glorious difference.