Pursuing the Stature of Christ
by Francis Frangipane
by Francis Frangipane
In a most profound verse the apostle Paul unveils God's supreme plan for the church. He tells us we are called to nothing less than "the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). The Father's glorious intention is to exhibit through us all the attributes and power of Jesus Christ. He has purposed that, not only in eternity but here in the midst of our battles and temptations, we are to grow "in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (v. 15).
We have put such limitations upon our call in God! The Almighty's goal for us is not that we merely become nice, but become Christlike, literally partakers of His nature (1 Cor. 12:12; 2 Pet. 1:3; Heb. 3:14; Gal. 2:20). There is a difference between hallowed doctrine and hollow doctrine. Let us quickly abandon the boundaries of spiritually empty religious traditions: God has invited us to partake of the fullness of Christ! The depth of His grace has rendered us capable of climbing the heights of His holiness. Through the Holy Spirit, the responsibility of wielding Christ's very authority has been delegated to us!
Having received the expanse of Christ's love, we are now called to reveal it in its full redemptive power. Indeed, whatever we see in Jesus is what God has purposed to reveal in us. It is this vision of attaining Christlikeness that centers us firmly upon the path to doctrinal purity. Once we clearly grasp the vision of Christlikeness, an amazing change occurs: "We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14).
Let us also note: Paul did not specify whether these "winds of doctrine" were simply false teachings. Indeed, dogma does not have to be false to be misleading; even a true doctrine with an overly exaggerated emphasis can sidetrack us from Christlikeness.
It is here, where we boast in our doctrines and spiritual gifts that many of us are being led astray. For what compels us forward into new religious activity is not always the leading of God. If we do not see conformity to Christ as central to our future, what may be guiding us is a wind of doctrine.
In the church today there are a number of doctrines which have grown bigger than their scriptural proportions and, thus, tend to obscure our vision of Christlikeness. Teachings concerning personal prosperity or the timing of the rapture have become, for some, unbalanced precepts, which easily distract us from the ultimate truth which is in Jesus.
Some churches overemphasize the doctrine of "speaking in tongues." I firmly believe that all the gifts are for today, but gifts, too, can become winds of doctrine for many. Again, we are not talking about false teachings, but true beliefs that have become caricatures of the Gospel. Correct and balanced doctrinal understanding is fundamental to our spiritual well-being. But when our energies are absorbed more with a particular doctrine than attaining the character and power of Christ, we are probably being misled.
Paul also said our pursuit of Christlikeness would keep us from being "tossed here and there by waves." A wave is a spiritual phenomenon that sweeps over a church or a city. It is a spiritual "high tide," where we can be washed and healed. A true spiritual wave can release wonderful joy and bring healing to areas within us otherwise untouched by God. Yet, if we are following after waves, we should consider: the tide that comes in with manifestations and blessings also goes out. When the wave is over, it does not mean that God has abandoned us or that His ultimate purpose has changed.
A genuine stirring of God's Spirit, either through a fresh doctrinal understanding or through unique spiritual manifestations, is given by God to empower us toward conformity to Christ. The fact is, whether we are in a time of preparation or in the glory of a visitation, whether we are carrying the cross or soaring in resurrection power, our focused, passionate goal must still be Christlikeness.
If you are confused about what is happening in the church at large, or even in your own personal life, remember: God does not want you tossed by waves or carried by doctrines. The issue is not whether we are following a doctrine or falling under a wave. The real question is whether we will rise to the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.