For quite some time now, we’ve been looking at Ephesians 4:7-16, where the Apostle Paul outlines God’s four-fold method for building and growing a Church. We’ve seen the first three principles: the Foundation (Leadership, vs. 7-11); the Approach (Discipleship, v. 12); the Purpose (Maturity vs. 13-14). This brings us to the fourth: the Instrument or Material for building, which is Truth: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love (vs. 15-16).
A building is only as good as the materials used to construct it. There was a time, for example, that houses were wired with aluminum wire because of how much cheaper it was than copper. But because aluminum expands and contracts much more than copper, this gradually worked connections loose on switches and receptacles. So, because loose connections cause heat and heat causes fire, many houses were burning down. Eventually aluminum wire was outlawed for branch circuit wiring.
Perhaps you remember when two suspended walkways in the atrium of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed in 1981, resulting in the death of 114 people. It was caused not only by a serious error in the original design of the connections between the hanger rods and the main-carrying box beams of the walkways, but also a change in the hanger rod arrangement during construction, which doubled the load on the connections.
All this vividly illustrates that as engineering and building materials are crucial in a physical structure, they are even more critical in a spiritual one. Tragically, however, the trend in the Church today is poor engineering and inferior building materials. In fact, if we built our buildings the way we build churches, none of us would dare live in one because its collapse would be inevitable. Most churches are engineered according to the philosophies of Relativism and Pragmatism and the materials used to build are entertainment and emotional appeals to “felt-needs.”
In stark contrast, Paul declares that we must engineer and build God’s work based on one ingredient—TRUTH. Let us notice three principles: the command, the control, and the consequences.
First, the command concerning our building materials it to [speak] the truth. This is not optional, not just “one approach to ministry among many.” It is rather the single mandated method to building and maintaining a Church. We are to speak truth (aletheia), not opinion, conjecture, hypothesis, or theory, rather what is true, absolutely reliable, incontrovertible, irrefutable, incontestable, unarguable, and unchanging.
Beyond tragic is the fact that this is anything but the norm today. The vocabulary of much of the Church today is politically correct catch-phrases, sentimental expressions, and psycho-babble. Instead of confronting false teachers with their error, we embrace them with such schmaltziness as, “Our bother brings up an intriguing, thought-provoking point,” or “Our brother is entitled to his own ideas, to which we should be open.” No, we are supposed to speak the truth.
Once again, we see that true doctrine is essential in the face of “every wind of [false] doctrine” mentioned in verse 14. Speaking on the importance of doctrinal preaching, one writer comments: “If you take away the doctrine, you have taken away the backbone of the manhood of Christianity—its sinew, muscle, strength, and glory.” Wanted today are showy churches and glitzy ministries, but shunned is the preaching of Truth. Many Christian leaders think they know more than the inspired Apostle Paul and many great leaders in Church History who came after him. As a result we are already seeing the shipwrecks that are left behind. May we, indeed, [speak] the truth at all costs.