Chapter 16 – According to the Working of each several Part

‘That we may grow up in all things into Him, which is the Head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint together supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.’–Eph. 4:15, 16.

The Apostle is here speaking of the growth, the increase, the building up of the body. This growth and increase has, as we have seen, a double reference. It includes both the spiritual uniting and strengthening of those who are already members, so as to secure the health of the whole body; and also the increase of the body by the addition of all who are as yet outside of it, and are to be gathered in. Of the former we spoke in the previous chapter–the mutual interdependence of all believers, and the calling to care for each other’s welfare. In this chapter we look at the growth from the other side–the calling of every member of Christ’s body to labor for its increase by the labor of love that seeks to bring in them who are not yet of it. This increase of the body and building up of itself in love can only be by the working in due measure of each several part.

Think of the body of a child; how does it reach the stature of a full-grown man? In no other way but by the working in due measure of every part. As each member takes its part, by the work it does in seeking and taking and assimilating food, the increase is made by its building up itself. Not from without, but from within, comes the work that assures the growth. In no other way can Christ’s body attain to the stature of the fulness of Christ. As it is unto Christ the Head we grow up, and from Christ the Head that the body maketh increase of itself, so it is all through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part. Let us see what this implies.

The body of Christ is to consist of all who believe in Him throughout the world. There is no possible way in which these members of the body can be gathered in, but by the body building itself tip in love. Our Lord has made Himself, as Head, absolutely dependent on His members to do this work. What nature teaches us of our own bodies, Scripture teaches us of Christ’s body. The head of a child may have thought and plans of growth–they will all be vain, except as the members all do their part in securing that growth. Christ Jesus has committed to His Church the growth and increase of His body. He asks and expects that as wholly as He the Head lives for the growth and welfare of the body, every member of His body, the very feeblest, shall do the same, to the building up of the body in love. Every believer is to count it his one duty and blessedness to live and labor for the increase of the body, the ingathering of all who, are to be its members.

What is it that is needed to bring the Church to accept this calling, and to train and help the members of the body to know and fulfill it? One thing. We must see that the new birth and faith, that all insight into truth, with all resolve and surrender and effort to live according to it, is only a preparation for our true work. What is needed is that in every believer Jesus Christ be so formed, so dwell in the heart, that His life in us shall be the impulse and inspiration of our love to the whole body, and our life for it. It is because self occupies the heart that it is so easy and natural and pleasing to care for ourselves. When Jesus Christ lives in us, it will be as easy and natural and pleasing to live wholly for the body of Christ. As readily and naturally as the thumb and fingers respond to the will and movement of the head will the members of Christ’s body respond to the Head, as the body grows up into Him, and from Him maketh increase of itself.

Let us sum up. For the great work the Head is doing in gathering in from throughout the world and building up His body, He is entirely dependent on the service of the members. Not only our Lord, but a perishing world is waiting and calling for the Church to awake and give herself wholly to this work–the perfecting of the number of Christ’s members. Every believer, the very feeblest, must learn to know his calling–to live with this as the main object of this existence. This great truth will be revealed to us in power, and obtain the mastery, as we give ourselves to the work of ministering according to the grace we already have. We may confidently wait for the full revelation of Christ in its as the power to do all He asks of its.