Perfecting the Saints

In Sunday School this week, we are studying Ephesians. In Ephesians 2 we read the following:

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Then in Ephesians 4 we read the following:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Paul teaches us that the citizens of God are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The teachings of all the prophets should be the foundation of our lives. The apostles and prophets are given to us by God, to help us become perfected as individuals and edified as a church. The church leaders are called to unify the people of Christ in one faith and one knowledge. They are called to help us to become strong enough to stand firm through the changes of the world and the deceit of mankind. They are called to help us to come unto Christ. My life has been greatly blessed by the prophets, both ancient and living in our day. They teach us so many amazing things about having faith in God, the plan of salvation, the atonement of Christ, the blessings of the priesthood and so much more. Their teachings are consistent and apply to the whole world. They do not teach conflicting ideas of the gospel and therefore they unify us in our understanding. Even more, they bare witness of the knowledge of gospel truths in their own lives. The testimonies of the church leaders give me a strength and courage to continue trying to live a righteous life, and they are a sure foundation that I have come to depend on for consistency and truth.

I love that Paul teaches the concept of putting off the natural man that we once were and becoming a new person.

In Ephesians 4 we read the following:

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (emphasis added)

When we are baptized and again each time we renew our covenants, we should be recommitting ourselves to being that new person. The old man in us, is the one who returns to the ways of the world which come so easily to us. The new man in us, is the one who works hard to live the way that God would have us live. Each day will probably bring new trials that will tempt us to fall back into old habits and old ways, but with the help of our Savior we can repent and come unto Him. He will help us to remain faithful and strong.

Another teaching of Paul to the Ephesians is in regards to how children can help to strengthen the family.

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Even as adults, we can add to the unity and peace in a family if we are obedient and respectful to our parents. The commandment to honor our parents does not stop once we leave their home. Latter-day prophets continue to teach this principle. They teach that families will be strengthened if they are built on the teachings of Jesus Christ and make the time to be kind, loving, respectful, and patient with one another. This is so important, because the family is the center of the plan of God and the goal is to be together as a family again, in the eternities.

Paul teaches about the whole armor of God, which will protect us from the temptations of Satan and the wickedness of the world.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Armor is made to protect the body from harm in a battle. We are constantly engaged in a battle against Satan, and the Lord has given us the armor that we need in order to be kept from harm. A girth of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet coverings of preparation in the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit or word of God, and an overall protection of prayer. This means that in order to be kept safe we need to do the simple everyday things that the Lord asks of us. We need to read the scriptures and study them carefully, so that we can gain a testimony of truth, have the spirit as our guide, have the desire to live righteously, be prepared with the gospel, and so on. We need to pray every day, and often. We need to have the faith to be obedient to the commandments and follow the prophets. We need to have the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ and so on. These things make us strong and firm where we stand. If we work to keep these things in our lives, the temptations of Satan will not be able to work their way into us, the way a fiery dart would pierce us in battle.

I think that the thing I get most out of this particular book of scripture, today, is that there is strength in unity. If we are united in the gospel we are able to stand strong. If we are united at church, there will be no separations among us. If we are united in our homes, we will become strong and have the opportunity to be forever families. If we are personally united with the gospel of Christ, the Spirit, and so on, we will be kept safe and protected from anything that stands against us.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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