In the first post we considered what the primary task of “doing church” is: the teaching of God’s word to God’s people. In the second and third posts we considered how to pursue the goal of doctrinal unity in the church.

Today we consider another goal of “doing church” from verse 13.

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

The Goal of Doing Church Is Unity in Knowing Christ

In verse 13, the apostle Paul writes, “until we all attain to the unity…of the knowledge of the Son of God.” This is a parallel goal to being unified in sound doctrine. It also clarifies what Paul means by sound doctrine. Unity in sound doctrine is doctrine that promotes knowing Christ. Holding to and teaching sound doctrine is nothing if it does not help us know and live for Christ.

Later in chapter 4 Paul works through what life without Christ looks like from a Gentile perspective. In Eph 4:17-20 Paul writes, “Therefore this I say, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the Gentiles walk: in the futility of their minds, being darkened in understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts, and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way.

After working through that spiritual resume in verses 17-19, we might expect Paul to say something like this: but you did not learn the truth or right doctrine in this way. But Paul writes: you did not learn Christ in this way.

This tells us something important about the goal of the life of the church.

The church is not first and foremost about having its doctrinal ducks in a row, as if that were the primary goal. Instead, sound doctrine is God’s ordained method for knowing Christ rightly. Sound doctrine serves something like guardrails for mountain pass road. They are there for protection, but they are not the road. Sound doctrine helps us enjoy and worship the Lord Jesus whom God has revealed to us in His word.

But it goes one step further: sound doctrine leads to sound living. And this sound living is modeled after and conformed to Christ Himself. This is where Paul goes in verses 23 and 24: “that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which, after God’s pattern, has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Here we learn that knowing Christ first involves how we think about Christ and His word, which is immediately followed by how we live. In other words, if we don’t think rightly about Christ, then we won’t live rightly for Christ. And, in much the same way that Proverbs 1:7 teaches us, the beginning and foundation of living rightly is in knowing Christ.

So, in “doing church” the end result is to live for Christ. How we live for Christ only comes by knowing Christ. How we know Christ only comes by knowing His word according to how He has revealed it. And how we know His word is through the faithful teaching of His word matched with the humble reception of His word.

In the next post we will consider still another goal for “doing church.”