And Jesus gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,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. – Ephesians 4:8-16
When I first began to look more closely at the teachings of Jesus, and the confession of the Christian faith by Lutheran believers, I discovered a great treasure. The twin towers of gospel-centered and Scripturally-grounded teaching made a deep impression. I was impressed that when I had a question, there was a solid answer from the Bible, not simply a human-reason-based logical answer.
I was also deeply impacted by the fact that I was learning about Jesus and the Christian faith in a manner that was grounded in the grace of God. I so deeply appreciate this treasure of Jesus’ love and grace! The center of the Christian faith is in the forgiveness of sins, the gift of eternal life, and the hope of the resurrection. Everything in Lutheran theology radiate from that center.
My faith was not so easily to be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” I was centered in the grace of God and standing on the solid ground of God’s word.
This is the purpose of Jesus’ gifts to the church. That we may hold fast to this hope and truth of God, and that we may grow up into him who is the head, and that we may support each other in that faith and calling.
We are being equipped by God through pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles, and prophets for the work of ministry: the mutual conversation and consolation of brothers and sisters in Christ. We are being prepared for works of service so that others may come to know and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
One of the saddest experiences in the Church is when someone who has the truth of God’s word fails to speak the truth in love. An equally sad experience is when someone who has great love abandons the truth in order to grant a kind of grace that has no true foundation.
Truth and love – when held in their proper tension – together with Scripture and grace are the DNA from which the body of Christ is built.