Originally Published in The Global Voice, Volume 16 Issue 3, August 2017.
Read the whole edition here.
Ephesians 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
This passage of Scripture continues to guide the efforts of our organization, and in particular the aspect of it that is an educational institution. Let’s take a quick look at the text and make some observations.
The task of equipping belongs to the leadership formerly mentioned in verse 11, and it is the saints who are to be equipped. The word saint is the New Testament equivalent to the Hebrew concept of holy ones. In fact, the Greek word translated saint (hagios), can be interpreted as a holy one. In that case, the holy community of God is to be equipped by leadership for the purpose of “the work of ministry.” The Greek work for ministry, and even the word ministry in English, both mean service. The word is often translated as ministry to highlight the ministerial aspect of the service effort. Note that this equipping is not solely to enhance intellectual capacities, but is to culminate in a practical service effort. The second half of verse 12 then emphasizes the development (building up) of the body of Christ, as a result of such equipping.
According to verse 12 then, education should be aimed at those set apart (holy) for God’s ministerial purposes in such a way it develops their corporate (body) presence, and effectuates practical ministerial service to the world around them.
The task of equipping the saints must continue with the aim of bringing about the unity of faith concerning a knowledge of the Son of God. This is explicitly Christocentric Theological Education. It’s not just theological, because the context carries that Jesus is the Son of God, and in that case, it’s Christocentric. The verse continues to teach that maturity comes as a result of receiving this theological education within the context of community because it anticipates a unity of faith and the corporate development of the group to experience the “full stature of Christ.”
Via metaphor, the verse shows that theological education leads to the kind of maturation that does away with the common issues related to youth, that unfortunately sometimes carry over into adulthood: childishness (“be children”), fickleness (“tossed by waves”), easily manipulated (“carried about by wind of doctrine), undiscerning (deceived by “human cunning”), and swept away by fleeting trends (“deceitful schemes”).
Learning to be communicators of truth, with love as the approach, becomes a major aim within the maturation process of growing in Christ. All members of the body must learn to be subject to his rule, his word, as he is the only head in the body--yet another emphasis on Christocentric Theological Education.
This verse makes explicit that the body and its individual parts only work properly when they are effectively connected to the head through proper organization, which hinges on that previously mentioned unity of faith, where the body builds itself up to stronger covenant and commitment keeping, based on love.
These 5 verses reveal that the health of a body of believers, subject to the rule of Christ, is directly connected to a Christocentric Theological Education that brings about a unified effort to serve others and to build up a covenanting, connected, community of love.
In this edition of the Global Voice you will read more about our organization as an Educational Institution and the paramount importance of a theological education prior to any kind of service effort as to ensure the actions are a result of God’s direction, and not our limited, cultural perspectives. In order to serve effectively, a renewing of the mind must take place.
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