Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 4:15 and 16. Verse 15 says, “But holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, Who is the Head, Christ.” The fact that Paul begins this verse with the word “but” indicates that the truth in verse 15 is in contrast to the sleight of men, the craftiness, and the system of error in verse 14. Holding to truth in love is in contrast to the sleight of men and error in verse 14. To be carried away by the winds of teaching in the sleight of men unto a system of error is not holding to truth.
There is some disagreement among translators concerning the rendering of the Greek word for “holding to.” Some prefer the translation “speaking.” Those who advocate this translation regard truth in verse 15 as that which is opposed to a lie. Hence, to them speaking the truth is in contrast to telling lies. I do not say that this understanding is wrong. However, if we consider this verse in its context, we shall see that in its spiritual meaning a great deal more is involved here than merely speaking truth instead of lies.
Truth here means things that are true. According to the context, it refers to Christ and His Body. Both are true things. We should hold to these true things in love so that we may grow up into Christ.
To hold the truth in love is to handle the truth in love. The word truth in verse 15 denotes that which is real. In this universe the real things, the true things, are Christ and the church. Only by speaking concerning Christ with the church do we actually handle the truth. This means that although we may refrain from telling lies, we still may not be speaking the truth. For example, certain reports in the newspapers may not be lies; however, these reports are not the truth, the reality. On the contrary, they are vanity. Anything apart from Christ with the church is a vanity and a falsehood. If I am a person without Christ, my very being is vanity. A person may be extremely wealthy and possess an abundance of material things, but if he does not have Christ, all those riches and material items are nothing but vanity. The book of Ecclesiastes says that all is vanity (1:2). Apart from Christ with the church, nothing is true, nothing is real. To those who love the Lord Jesus and who are for today’s church life, the only reality in the universe is Christ with the church. Day by day, we may talk about many things. But if we do not speak concerning Christ and the church, we are handling vanity; we are not handling the truth.
Instead of being carried about by winds of teaching, we should handle the truth and embrace it. Suppose someone comes to you advocating a particular doctrine, such as the doctrine of foot-washing. Although his particular teaching may be true, even this true teaching can distract you from Christ and the proper church life. Thus, even something such as foot-washing may become a falsehood, a vanity. I know of a brother who became distracted and eventually dissenting over this very thing. This indicates that we may talk about scriptural doctrines but still not be handling the truth.
The entire fourth chapter of Ephesians is a chapter of truth. The first item of truth in this chapter is the oneness in two aspects: the oneness of the Spirit and oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God. If you truly desire to handle the truth and to speak the truth, you must care for the oneness of the Spirit and the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God. Furthermore, you must take care of Christ, who is the center of God’s New Testament economy. God’s economy today is nothing less than Christ with His Body. However, many Christians care neither for the Head nor for the Body. Instead, they are occupied by secondary teachings. To neglect Christ as the Head and the church as the Body and to speak about secondary matters is not handling the truth. This is not the speaking of the truth; it is the speaking of vanity.
Holding to truth in love means to handle, embrace, and speak Christ with the church. Others may teach differently, emphasizing doctrines or opinions that distract people from Christ and the church. However, we should not speak in such a way. Rather, we should speak those things that bring us into contact with Christ and that build us up as the Body of Christ. To speak in this way is to handle the truth.
According to verse 14, the babes are tossed to and fro by waves and carried about by winds of teaching. No doubt these waves and winds refer to various teachings and practices. Although these teachings may be scriptural or fundamental, they do not minister Christ to people. Their effect is to distract people from Christ and the church. Others may be tossed or carried about by such teachings, but we must hold to the truth in love; that is, we must hold to Christ and the church. This is what we speak, and this is our fellowship. It should even be the focal point of our prayer.
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