“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
[There is] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received–5[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all. 7 Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift. 8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. 9[But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? 10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).
Ephesians 4:4-10 AMP
Before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the presence of God filled the earth. His presence was in man and in all of His creation. Man’s decision to disobey caused sin and death to take over where life once reigned. Jesus bought back the right for life to reign over death when He defeated death by His sacrifice on the cross. Once again, there will come a time when His presence will fill all things. Right now His presence fills the lives of those who choose to love, obey and serve Him, and as they spread the Word, He fills the lives of more and more people. His will is that all men would hear the Gospel, receive it, and be filled with His presence, until the whole world is changed and filled with Him, Himself.
And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. 12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), 13[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. Ephesians 4:11-13 AMP
God anoints and equips men and women to stand in the five-fold offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their job is to prepare – perfect and equip – the saints to do the work of ministry and to build up the Body of Christ. The process of growing up and being built up involves getting to know Jesus as He really is and growing in love and unity as a body. Father God wants the Body of Christ to develop and mature. Jesus is our standard – we must measure ourselves against Him and no one else. Father God wants us to be more and more like Jesus until we grow up and become just like Him.
So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Ephesians 4:14 AMP
When you spend time in God’s presence and in His word, when you receive from the ministry gifts that God has placed in the church, you will mature in the word and the things of God to a place where you are protected from deception. When people are ignorant about what the word of God says, they are more vulnerable to being deceived. God does not want any of us to be lied to or deceived at all. He wants us to know the truth – the truth about Himself and the truth about the devil – because it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32).
Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). 16 For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 AMP
Growing up into maturity in God involves growing up in love. If we don’t know love, we don’t know God (1 John 4:8). Because of Jesus, the whole body of Christ is closely joined and firmly knitted together, working together, and growing to full maturity, building itself up in the love of God. We are being filled more and more with His presence and becoming more and more like Him until we see Him face to face. This is God’s kingdom coming to earth – we are His kingdom and we need to press into Him to be all that He wants us to be and to do all that He wants us to do!