Healthy churches equip believers to the dangers generated by false teaching crafted by deceitful scheming. Unhealthy churches ignore the danger.
As Paul reminds the Ephesian church of the design plan for the local gathering of genuine Christ-followers (the church), he notes the end result of following this plan.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Newborn babies are cute (at least in the opinion of parents and grandparents). But a baby that doesn’t grow alerts rightful concern on a number of fronts. Spiritual babes, those who have just recently been born again through God’s word, need to grow. Health churches with proper care and teaching will protect and provide for these new Christians. Ministry from equipping leaders, speaking and serving ministries of grace combine together to provide a healthy environment.
Ignore these new Christians, let them ‘find their own way,’ and you will see them unstable, fluctuating in many ways. Paul illustrates this instability with pictures of wild waves tosssing about a small boat on a stormy sea and strong winds blowing in a variety of directions.
False teaching seems omni-directional. Some follow the ‘teaching of the week’ and pursue with passion weird and wonderful ideas from self-proclaimed prophets. Tons of ink is used to crank out novels, textbooks and teachings that in a few years will prove to be false.
The mark of sound teaching is its Christ-centredness. Truth is spoken in love and growth results. In time the baby matures into a growing youth and ultimately a solid adult. Jesus Christ, the only head of the church, supplies His body with what is needed. The true body of Christ on earth (the church) has evidence of life and strength and functions with unity and diversity wherever it follows God’s plan.
Next to the doctrine of salvation (Soteriology), I strongly believe, the doctrine of the church (Ecclesiology) needs to be studied. I am grateful for the initiative which Heritage Seminary leaders have called me to direct. The Graduate Certificate in Church Health & Evangelism is needed in Canada and around the world. Will you join me in praying God’s direction and blessing as we work through applications this month and launch our first training module in January? If you know of a church which would be interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact me. May Christ be honored and His church strengthened in multiple ways by God’s amazing grace! This is our prayer.