Study Notes

Ephesians 4:14-16


Paul has been telling us that Jesus gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. These ministers are to equip the saints for the work of service to build up the body of Christ. Now he says in verse 14...

4:14 As A Result

As a result. In other words, "Because Jesus gave us people like evangelists and pastors so that we will be equipped..." God has given these people to preach the gospel to us, establish the church with us, edify, exhort, and console us, and teach the Word to us. All so that we will be properly equipped. And when we're properly equipped, we will not be deceived by false teaching.

Three Word Pictures

Paul uses a word picture to illustrate what it is like when people are deceived by false teaching. He says that we are no longer to be children tossed here and there by waves, carried about by every wind of doctrine. I can identify with what Paul is trying to communicate - what kind of picture he is painting with his words.

When I was about 13, I went with some friends to a privately-owned beach in Southern California. No crowds, no lifeguards - just us and our Boogie Boards ready for a day of uninterrupted fun. But as soon as we got out into the water, we knew something was wrong. The slope of the beach and the intense rip tide that day combined to make some deadly conditions. When the waves would build, they would quickly suck all of the water away from the beach, and build six-foot-high cliffs of surf. The first wave I caught, I was riding inside of it near the top, sticking out of this sheer face, traveling at a high rate of speed, and looking down at bare rocks underneath me, with no water to cushion the impact. The wave violently threw me down onto the rocks, destroying the bottom of my Boogie Board, flipping me over, cutting and bruising me on all sides as I tumbled down. Then the wave crashed over me, spinning me around underwater until I didn't know which way was up. I tried to swim to the surface, only to find, as my face impacted the bottom, that I was going in the wrong direction. Although I survived, that would be my only ride of the day.

Paul is saying that when you're led astray by bad Bible teaching and religious philosophies, you're just like that. You are a little child being thrown around by waves, carried about by the wind.

Winds Of Doctrine

You can see how important it is to hold on to sound doctrine. And we are in an especially dangerous time today. You see, Paul warned us long ago about the days we're in now:

2Tim. 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Even with that warning, it never ceases to amaze me that Christians are so regularly deceived by the winds of doctrine that blow in. To me, they smell like they blew in from the refinery. And yet, time after time, there are the people, lining up to hear the latest thing that's blown in, to be blown away by the latest book, to be blown over by the latest anointing. In reality, they're just being tossed about by the latest wind of doctrine.

Paul's writings warn about these doctrines. He calls them strange doctrines (1Tim. 1:3), doctrines of demons (1Tim. 4:1), and different doctrines (1Tim. 6:3).

How can you tell if a doctrine is strange, different, or demonic? Well, first of all, if the ministers are equipping the saints the way they're supposed to, it's obvious. But if you haven't been equipped, then it takes a little more work on your part. They key to knowing what is a wind of doctrine is to see if it is biblical - and you can't know what's biblical unless you know what's in the Bible.

If you know the Bible, when someone says, "God wants you to be healthy and wealthy," our response is, "First Timothy says that..."

1Tim. 6:7-9 ...we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

When someone says, "You have to follow the Old Testament Laws," your response is, "Acts 15 tells us that no greater burden than a few essentials has been laid upon us" (Acts 15:28-29).

When someone claims that the Holy Spirit is causing people to pass out or laugh uncontrollably, your response is, "Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control."

When someone says that Christians can be demon-possessed, you respond, "First John 4:4 says..."

1John 4:4 ...greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

When someone says that you have a "generational curse," you say, "Ezekiel 18 says..."

Ezek. 18:20 "...The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

You see, when you are properly equipped, then you will not be tossed around by these lies like a child tossed by waves and carried by winds.

Trickery Of Men

Some might respond, "Now Ron, isn't it strong language to say that these are lies? Don't you think that the people who came up with this are just honestly mistaken?" No, I don't believe that. I believe that anyone who has the Holy Spirit living within them, is reading the Bible with a right heart, and has no ulterior motives or agendas, will not fall into such blatant falsehoods.

The fact is, these things are born in trickery, craftiness, and deceitful scheming. "What will sell books? What will give me authority to control people? What will make me wealthy and famous? What will exalt me as smarter than all other Bible teachers?"

John warned against heresies, winds of doctrines, saying,

1John 2:26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.

Paul said that these men are simply peddling the Word of God (2Cor. 2:17), walking in craftiness and adulterating the Word of God (2Cor. 4:2). The proverb warns,

Prov. 30:6 Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.

Now, the danger in standing on the truth is that we can become self-righteous, condescending, and even mean in our delivery of it. That's why Paul tells us emphatically here...

4:15-16 Speaking The Truth In Love

Souls are not won through arguments. People who are deceived by false doctrines will not be convinced through heated discussion. Instead, we must make sure that we are speaking the truth in love. And never forget...

1Cor. 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind... and is not arrogant,

1Cor. 13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked...

Too many people who have a handle on the truth don't have a handle on love.

The Whole Body Working

When we are properly equipped and not deceived by winds of doctrine, then we're growing together as a body. All the parts are in place, rightly connected, and functioning properly. That is God's desire for our fellowship - for each part individually to be in working order, fitted together in love.

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