12. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people)[That they should do] the work of ministering towards building up Christ body(the Church)
13. [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness of the faith and in comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood(the completeness of personality which is nothing less than Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ and the completeness found in Him.
14. So then, we may no longer be children tossed (like ship) to and fro between chance gusts of teachings and wavering with every wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men,(gamblers engaged) in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.
15. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth (in all things speaking truly, dealing truly,and living truly).Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him who is the head [even Christ](The Messiah, the Anointed one)”Ephesians. 4:12-15(AMP)
Verse 15 of this passage addresses the subject of our discussion. The preceding verses also sheds light on and are important in expanding knowledge of the subject. A careful look at verse 15 reveals two things that are fundamental to growing up in Him (Christ) in all things. They are: Truth and Love.
Truth and Love are the foundation on which every true and enduring spiritual growth is built. Any spiritual growth that does not have this foundation stands the chance of crumbling no matter how long it has stayed since it is not built on a proper foundation. It is like the house described by Jesus in Matt 7:26, 27 which was built on faulty foundation. Such a building will ultimately crumble in the face of the storm.
For this discussion, we will consider one of these foundations briefly and that is; Love
I Corinthians 8:2 (Amp) puts it this way
“If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary”.
Consequently, no genuine spiritual growth exists in the absence of love.There are three aspects to discussing the subject of love as it relates to us: The Love for/of God, The love for/of oneself and the love for/of our neighbour. For the purpose of the subject at hand, we will concentrate on the love of God and especially as it is the mother and embodiment of all true love. Let’s quickly do a brief review of the love of God for us with the following basic truths
God loves me more than I love God!
That’s true! God’s capacity, choice and willingness in love for me far exceed the love that I can ever exhibit towards God. Ours is love in response to His love. God’s love is the initiative love that stirs our response to love.
“In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us…., we love Him because He first loved us…”
1 John 4:10, 19. So, while you “struggle” to prove your love to the “invisible” God, know that He loves you more than you love Him. Also remember that he loves you exactly the way he loves Jesus (John 17:23). It is humbling to note that God went as far as “reducing” Himself to demonstrate and prove His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6-8). Oh, this is the highest display of love!
God is the originator, the restorer and the sustainer of our love relationship.
God started this love relationship in the first place. Jeremiah 31:3 says
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me saying, yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee”.
God restored this love relationship when it went sour and got broken.
“But God commended His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”(Rom 5:8).
God went as far as giving up Christ to die to ensure that this love relationship is restored.God is also the one who sustains this love relationship.
“He that spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”(Rom 8:32).
Little wonder He is the author and the finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). God has done more to sustain the love relationship than we have and possibly could do.
God’s love is everlasting, His gifts and callings are without repentance.
People often say that love is “give and take” and that “the more we know about each other, the more love we exchange” but God’s love is far purer, nobler and more intense than this. You see, before we even knew who God was or respond to His “wooing”, He was already in love with us!
God’s love does not change, fade away or diminish with time, circumstances or situation. God does not love us because we attend church regularly. He does not love us because we pay our tithes faithfully, or any of those important things and attitudes that are vital to enjoying the love of God.
Similarly, God does not stop loving us if or when we are cheats, kidnappers, fornicators, witches or wizards, terrorists, or any of those vices that tends to hinder the flow and receipts of God’s love in and through us.
Surprised? But that’s just how it is!
“But God so loved the WORLD…(John 3:16) not only the godly.
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29).
God’s love is not dependant on our actions-right or wrong. Its flow can be hindered by it no doubt, but its existence is a function of His choice based on His personal will.
“And it was of His own (free) will that He gave us birth (as sons)” (James 1:18(Amp)).
God gave birth to us as sons on His own free volition. It was and still is desire fulfilled for Him. I could say it is “a dream come true” for Him. God loves us because He chooses to and because it is His will. His will for us is love.
God is love. As such, His love is everlasting and does not fade or cease since it does not depend on our actions but on His ever constant choice drawn from His will. Ever heard of the term “unconditional love”? That’s exactly what God’s love to me is. (Selah i.e., pause and calmly think on that).
You may ask, why then does he send sinners to hell? Well the answer is simple. If anyone continues to reject God’s love shown to him in Christ Jesus, he will have to face the consequence of such a choice as the requirements of justice demands. God is Love AND God is Just! With a broken heart, God will watch him slip away into an eternity of sadness, pain and torment. What a sad thing it is when we reject God’s love!
Having had basic knowledge and understanding of God’s love, it is vital to believe in and receive the love of God personally. 1 John 4:16-18(Amp) is an interesting light on this;
16. And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continue in him.
17. In this (union and communion with Him) love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment (with assurance and boldness to face Him), because as He is, so are we in the world.
18. There is no fear in love (dread does not exist), but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment and (so), he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love (is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection)
Have you noticed that it is easier for many people to say “God loves us” than to say (and believe in it) “God loves me”. A prominent feature of belief in and receipts of the love of God is the absence of fear. Where true love exists, fear, shyness or shame and suspicion is eliminated and replaced with trust and boldness.
I often remind myself that when I have a “face to face” encounter with Jesus, I should not be afraid, ashamed or want to hide due to a sense or feeling of unworthiness. I should know then, as I am progressively realizing that God loves me and that His love alone (and consequent the redemptive work of Jesus Christ) is all I need to stand before Him.
I will run to meet Him and bask in His love like a child in his father’s love.
I will be overwhelmed no doubt, humbled and “weakened” by awe and amazement of His glory, but not afraid because of uncertainty of what He will do to me. God is my Father. He loves me and I love Him too. Even if I see Him with a “cane”, I will still feel secured.
Maybe He needs to chastise (not vent His personal fury and frustration on me like some earthly fathers do) but then it’s a father to son thing and that’s normal. I invite you to learn more and develop a deeper understanding of your father’s love personally if you have not yet begun to do so. Shalom!
1st Vice President, Save the Lost Gospel Evangelistic Ministry.