Personal maturity is the substance of unity in the local church.

The 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team changed the face of women’s sports worldwide because they were well-trained and passionate about working toward their goal as a team. If we are functioning well as a church, we also will influence the world – for Christ.

In these verses, Paul’s focus changes to individual responsibility within the body. Each member is specifically gifted by God, and each part works together toward a glorious goal. God designed the team and empowers it to have divine influence.


Each individual in the church has the responsibility to…

I. Assess the Glory and Purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice (verses 7-10)

When God saves you and places you in a local church to be discipled, He intends to use you for eternal purposes. The “grace” in verse 7 is the ability God gives you to function in a local church, to become like Christ, and to persevere in growth until He comes. Jesus measures out the exact measure of grace ordained by God for you to be successful in your walk. His grace is capable to make you faithful unto the end.

Jesus went through a lot in order to make this grace available to you. Paul reveals some of this in verses 8-10. The plain interpretation of the passage refers to Jesus’ descent to earth as a man and his ascension to Heaven. His life was dominated by the glorious purpose to die for sin to rescue those in captivity to the world.

This passage can also be interpreted as revealing another descent Jesus undertook between his burial and resurrection. Jesus descended into Sheol, made up of Paradise for Old Testament saints and Hell for unbelievers. He proclaimed victory over those who had rejected Him and took those who believed with Him to Heaven at His ascension.

Jesus underwent all this, not just to save you, but to place you into service to the King using His divine ability. He is infinitely capable to fill His church, each individual believer, and ultimately the world, as His purpose is fulfilled in all these areas. When we see maturity, sanctification, and evangelism being divinely successful in the church, we know it is God working out His purpose.

II. Apprehend the Role of Spiritual Leadership in Your Life (verses 11-14)

God has particularly gifted each one of us with a role to play in the local church. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is the most comprehensive list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament. Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4:7-11, along with these verses in Ephesians, are the other main passages that discuss spiritual gifts.

Here, Paul addresses only the leadership gifts because they are to lead the way in understanding and living out this grace. Unity also starts at the top (see Psalm 133).

Individuals gifted as apostles and prophets formed the foundation of the church. Evangelists take the Gospel where it has never been. These 3 gifts are itinerant, but pastor-teachers are local and stationary. Also called elders, overseers, or bishops, they are responsible to nurture, protect, supervise, and teach the church. The goal of these tasks is to help develop the gifts of others. As the flock follows their example, the pastors’ passion and goal becomes ours too.

The pastor’s aim is to equip the saints. This word means to prepare, put right, or mend. He equips the church for service in the daily duty of ministry.

When every member is involved in service, we will attain to the faith. The word here refers to doctrine and knowledge. Christ will fill this place as we continue to grow to full maturity. The word “stature” shows internal and external maturity. Our growth should be recognizable to others!

As a result, this church will avoid the lack of direction and purpose that comes from being influenced by the world, our work, our homes, and circumstances, instead of being an influence on our surroundings.

III. Remain Assured in Your Walk (verses 15-16)

Just like an ailment in one part of the intricate human body affects the rest, each part in the church affects all the others. Every member is necessary for eternal purposes. When we’re all working together, we can be assured of divine Presence and growth. If you’re a saint, it is never too late to get involved in helping grow the church.

Application Points

  • Have you personally considered all Christ went through in order to save you and empower you to serve? Think about all the purposeful effort of His life – descending to earth, living for a purpose, dying, and ascending in victory. He did this not just to save you, but to place you into service to God through the church. Thank Jesus for His work on your behalf! Are you living out the purpose He worked so hard for?
  • Our spiritual growth should be recognizable. Do others in the church know you well enough to see that you are growing? How can you get to know others better for mutual help in your spiritual growth?
  • Are you following your pastors and elders? Are they your model for faith? Is your passion becoming more like theirs? We must all follow the leaders of the team to achieve our glorious goal.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Philippians 2:5-8 – Jesus’ descent to earth.
  • Mark 10:45 – the purpose of Jesus’ life.
  • Acts 1:9 – Jesus’ ascension.
  • 1 Peter 3:18-20 – Jesus’ descent to Sheol.
  • Luke 16:19-31 – the geography of Sheol.
A Hymn to Encourage: “I Will Follow”

I will follow Thee, my Savior, where-e’er the pathway may go:
Through the storm or through the valley or through great trials so low.
I rest in Thee, trust in Thee, I place my life in Thy hands.
I will follow Thee, my Savior; Lead on, my Shepherd, lead on.

I will live for Thee, my Savior, tho’ war and strife mark the way.
I’m so weak, but Thou art mighty, so live through me day by day.
I rest in Thee, trust in Thee, I place my life in Thy hands.
I will follow Thee, my Savior; Lead on, my Shepherd, lead on.

I surrender all, my Savior, I hold no thing back from Thee;
Every part is Thine to use, Lord, Thy living sacrifice be.
I rest in Thee, trust in Thee, I place my life in Thy hands.
I will follow Thee, my Savior; Lead on, my Shepherd, lead on.