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Ephesians 4:12

Perfecting the Saints

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and preachers are given to the church because the saints are not perfect. All have sinned, all have become addicted to the pleasures of the flesh and all have learned the ways of the world. Upon their rebirth, the saints become new creatures in Christ, old things are passed away and all things have become new, but the flesh is still there and they still live under the influences of this world.

The saints enter the kingdom of God as babes that must be trained and nurtured in the way that they should go. Therefore, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and preachers are given "for the perfecting of the saints." The word "perfecting" is only used here in the N. T. and means to make an adjustment. It was used in Greek literature to refer to the repairing of fishing nets or the mending of a bone. Thus, it means to make something whole or complete.

The leaders of the church are responsible for the spiritual growth and maturity of the members. They must be taught to resist temptation, they must be taught the doctrines of the faith, they must be strengthened in their faith, they must be made to feel like they are a part of the church family, they must be helped to discover their calling and spiritual gifts and they must be encouraged to participate in the work of the ministry.

We should not misinterpret this passage to the extent that all of the work of the ministry is here assigned to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and preachers. That is not what is meant here. The American Standard Version is a bit more accurate. "...for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:" The perfecting of the saints should be "unto" the work of ministering. Each member of the body of Christ is called to be a minister, and it is the job of the church's leaders to properly prepare them (perfect them) for that work.

One of the reasons that the growth of our churches cannot keep up with the growth of the population is that church members want their pastors and other leaders to do all of the work of ministering. It is not possible for them to understand the enormity of the work until they have themselves become involved in it. It is the leaders' responsibility to disciple and to motivate the saints to join in the work.

When all of the saints are involved in the work of ministry, the church will also be built up in the number of members, because there will be a greater number of people spreading the gospel. As more members come into the church, it is also strengthened financially.

It will also grow in unity, because all of the members will be working toward a common goal. There will be fewer tendencies to argue over the color of the new carpeting in the church building when everyone is focused on leading the world to Christ. Worldly concerns disappear as one involves himself in the work of Christ.

The church will also be built up in knowledge, righteousness and holiness as the people set themselves to the ministering of the gospel, praying together and teaching one another.

Finally, there is the ministering to the emotional and physical needs of the members. When this is done, the church is built up in love and its unity will become very strong.

There is room for every member to increase his or her involvement in the body of Christ. Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church. If your church leaders are not at least trying to encourage you, train you and involve you in the work of ministry, you need to either become a leader or look for a new church.

Before The Throne:

Ask God to show you what you can do to help build the body of Christ. Pray that He will unite you with at least one of the leaders of the church to be discipled for spiritual growth and in the work of ministry. Thank God for the gifts that he has given you and continue looking for ways to serve Him with them.

For Further Study

** perfecting: Luk 22:32; Joh 21:15-17; Act 9:31; 11:23; 14:22-23; 20:28; Rom 15:14, 29; 1Co 12:7; 2Co 7:1; Phi 1:25-26; 3:12-18; Col 1:28; 1Th 5:11-14; Heb 6:1; 13:17; ** the work: Act 1:17, 25; 20:24; Rom 12:7; 1Co 4:1-2; 2Co 3:8; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; Col 4:17; 1Ti 1:12; 2Ti 4:5, 4:11; ** the edifying: Rom 14:19; 15:2; 1Co 14:4-5, 12, 14, 26; 2Co 12:19; 1Th 5:11; ** the body: Eph 1:23; Col 1:24;


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