That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15, KJV).

To Speak In Love

We hear much about verse 15 of our text today – Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. If you notice carefully you will notice there is a conjunction here that begins this verse, which means that if we are to fully understand it we will need to look back at prior verses. Here is the entire section from the King James Version:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

So taken in context this oft-quoted verse is primarily talking to those of us who have been called into leadership positions within the Body of Christ. For those who may not know, in my case I am pastor-teacher of a very small church that currently meets in the home of one of our members. In addition the Lord has been kind enough to also give me this forum to teach, and I do not take it lightly (see–James 3:1). Now for sure we will need to keep in mind that these verses do indeed apply to all Christians as well in a secondary sense. The most important thing to remember here is that in every case the true disciple of Christ must comport himself just as his Master Jesus of Nazareth did while He was here on His earth.

Your key to really getting behind what God the Holy Sprit is saying here is the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith. And I can tell you from first hand experience we are certainly far from that in His Church right now. As unfortunately speaking the truth in love today to the Body of Christ will require us to tell the Church that His people in this country are currently struggling with spiritual pride. If more of my ministering brethren were willing to “take the heat” for it, they would also be telling you that this nation is not an easy one to preach/teach in because there are so many who will just simply disregard what is taught if they don’t happen to like it. I sincerely wish I could tell you differently, even I would love to be liked, as I am not a machine, but truly I can’t.

Please understand, I most certainly do not advocate placing yourself under just anyone’s teaching, nor would I tell you to just take any teacher’s word for anything – But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NASB). But speaking the truth in love to you, the fact is that not enough of us are really doing this. Rather too many Christians just go by “what I’ve always been taught”; or they tend to revert to the infamous: “I have the Holy Ghost.” Yes, and so did the Apostle Paul who wrote our text about the critical role pastor-teacher must be allowed to play in the Church for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Debating Jesus

I have said all that, to say this. We now live in an era where people are sensing the Lord may return in our “lifetime.” Whether He will or not is in His providence alone, but did you ever think that just maybe it is His Spirit Who is stirring us to this feeling? My point being, we need to better interpret the signs of the times (see–Matthew 16:1-4), and come to recognize what that reddening sky above us this morning means. When you see someone like me using vitriolic language in this public witness for Christ, please know there is good reason for it. We go the woodshed long before you do. My position in this forum is to speak the Truth boldly and to mince no words in doing so. The intent in the Lord is to make the message more difficult to ignore, as well as to provoke thought and discussion.

Why you know, this is actually what the McLarens of the Emergent Church will tell you they are doing. The main difference perhaps, is that oftentimes people aren’t really sure what is actually being said by these leaders within the emerging “conversation.” Say what you will about me, but at least it’s fairly obvious where I stand–and this too is by careful design. Still I must tell you that, even though it is often not perceived this way today, to speak boldly and plainly is to speak the truth in love. As apologist James Spencer often says: “Truth without love is too harsh, love without truth is too soft.”

Men and women, I exhort you today that you’ve been sold a batch of ill-gotten goods about the proper way we are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV). Let show you one quick example of what I’m talking about. When the Christian teacher speaks publicly–and especially in a time of apostasy–he is to be clear and direct. I know the ecumenical seeker sensitive crowd won’t like this, but I’m not here for them to like me–quite the opposite. If we look at Matthew 23, for instance, here we will see Jesus in a public setting; and do you think that an exchange like this happened just this one time?

But notice there is a similar instance described in Mark 12 during the Apostle Peter’s recollections of some of our Lord’s public discussions with religious leaders who opposed the Truth. Look at verse 28 – One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating – the KJV uses reasoning together – which is what a good debate should be. Now we move to the next part of the verse, let’s watch the result of the Master’s strong stance for Truth – Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him. The Master’s good public exchange leads to this man later approaching Christ privately. And if you read the rest of this conversation it is likely that it eventually lead to this man getting into the Kingdom of God. Our Emergents should note that this inspired text makes it very clear that this man wasn’t already in the Kingdom through his adherance to his religion.

To Speak The Truth Boldly Is To Speak In Love

It is my prayer this will help clear up possible misconceptions in this area about what the function of a preaching-teaching ministry for Jesus Christ is, and more specifically what I’m doing. However, my larger intent is to speak to my fellow ministers–whether you be formally in ministry or not–and to exhort you that we must speak the Truth boldly when we preach in public for this is to speak the truth in love. And then as people may come to us privately we will be afforded the opportunity to approach the same subject in a gentler manner. For instance, anyone who has taken the time to write me concerning their differences with something I have taught will attest (if they be honest) that I have answered them accordingly – with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition (2 Timothy 2:25, NASB).

With this understood however, because of these times in which we live, and due to the unbridled arrogance of this postmodern pagan nation Christ to which has sent us, it will require our Lord’s true ministers to approach the more public stance much like John the Baptist did. As you recall he wasn’t exactly the proto-typical ecumenical seeker sensitive purpose driven emergent sort now was he? The man of whom Jesus said “among those born of women there is no one greater than John,” had but a six month public ministry and then “off with his head.” In fact, Joseph Parker put it quite well when he said:

“The man whose little sermon is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will for the time being be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man — ‘off with his head!’ You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven.” (cited in Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries)

Friend, how about you; have you pledged your head to Heaven? A look at the Biblical record reveals that our Lord’s prophets have always been difficult to listen to, and especially so to those who are apostatizing. And brother pastor-teacher, if you would presume to stand behind a pulpit, then this is exactly the role you have been called to. And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Can you hear Him…

Whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed… They practice deceit,…but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me (Hosea 7:1-2).

“Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over. Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice. Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him. Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria (8-11).

Woe to them, because they have strayed from me…they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts…but turn away from me (13-14).

But it’s not too late for you dear Christian to awaken from this dream we’ve had foisted upon us that we can just live a life of ease and compromise with the world because somehow the LORD God Almighty “understands” now how difficult it is to live a perfect and holy life in our sin-sick society today:

Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

C’mon…we’re almost home…