Believers of all maturity levels must remain consistent in reading and studying God’s Word, submitting themselves to sound doctrinal preaching and teaching within the local church. There are no shortcuts. There are no substitutes. There’s no fast-food that will achieve the level of maturity required for the turning-the-world-upside-down type of unified ministry Paul commands within the body of Christ.
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul is principally concerned with unity in the body of Christ—how the church functions as one unit for the mission and purpose to which she has been called. Paul identifies this “one body” (Eph. 4:4) as those who:
- Walk “worthy” of their calling (Eph. 4:1).
- Bear “with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
- “Maintain the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3).
- Equip others “for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12).
- Build “up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
- “Attain to the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:13).
- Speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
These splendid features identify the body of Christ and distinguish all mature believers. Maturity is essential in achieving the purpose and call of the church. How do we produce mature believers?
In an age when doctrine is marginalized and disdained, Paul reminds us that biblical, sound doctrine is the golden chain linked to all the characteristics listed above. Without sound doctrine, the chain falls apart, releasing a torrent of false teaching and an onslaught of immaturity. We could put it forthrightly: the church falls apart without sound doctrine.
Sound doctrine is fundamental “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” (Eph. 4:14). Paul isn’t mincing words here but distinctly points out that without sound doctrine, the church is susceptible to being carried away by cultural ideologies, false teaching, and deceptive methodologies.
Paul employs the analogy of children (immature) and adults (mature) to define the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 13:11, he writes: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Those susceptible to being “tossed to and fro” are children, those immature in the faith who have not had a steady diet of sound doctrine and have therefore been stunted in their spiritual growth.
If it were up to me, I would have eaten Snickers candy bars for every meal as a boy. Children are undiscerning and must be carefully taught, educated, and formed.