In the early years of the church, the Christian faith was simply called, “The Way”. The name may have come from the words of the Lord Jesus, “I am THE WAY, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). The Way was most basically the course of living and believing which the Lord Jesus had set before His disciples as the marks of redeemed humanity. As many of you know from our ordinary world, there are many implications when we speak of a particular “way”.
My family lives in a little town called Huntingdon. I don’t know of any other place that has more wandering one-way streets than Huntingdon. There are still some streets that I have never driven down because I’ve never approached them from the right way. But of course, there are those simple black and white arrow signs everywhere which read, “One Way”. They are markers meant to guide hopeless drivers much like myself. These signs inherently bear two messages. First, the explicit: Go This Way. Second, the implicit: Don’t Go That Way.
What happens if you choose to disregard these simple little black signs that litter the streets? Catastrophe. You may find yourself in an accident and injured. You may find yourself on the receiving end of some unpopular consequences with law enforcement. In short, you’ll find your world worse off if you disregard these signs. We recognize this to be the case physically, but are there signs like this spiritually?
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:13-14 instructed the church both in the ways they ought to go, and in ways they must avoid. All of these instructions come together to guide the believers in how they ought to live the Christian life. And this of course is not according to the wisdom of the Apostle Paul, but of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to His bride, the Church, by means of His Spirit. Looking then to Ephesians 4:14 in particular we observe Paul’s warning of the dangers that will trap all who choose to disregard God’s design for His church. To put it another way, Paul is warning us of what is going to happen if we decide to spiritually drive at full speed down a road in the opposite direction of the “One Way” sign.
The Apostle writes that the church of Christ must mature in the faith, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14 ESV) We must consider these words in light of the preceding context where Paul makes clear what are the aims of Christian discipleship. Consequently, if we so choose to disregard this vision for the Christian life, Paul is warning us what will inevitably follow.
If we fail to pursue the knowledge of the Son of God, or fail to pursue spiritual maturity according to Scripture, or fail to pursue conforming our lives to look more like Christ by the Spirit we have only one end in view: spiritual catastrophe. And perhaps today you are floating along on the wreckage that was once your vital Christian life.
If we are truly unacquainted with the Word of God we will inevitably fall prey to false teachers. Now these individuals aren’t only deceptive pastors, but include well-intentioned friends and family members, movies, books, T.V. shows and the like. If we are not regularly steeping ourselves in the Word of God then we are spiritual driftwood unable to control where we go, unable to rise against the tide. Without the whole of God’s Word we are spiritually defenseless, helpless and carried about wherever a stronger force leads. We need to be aware of this because there are whole churches and denominations that have shifted from God’s Word and as the people of God we must call them to repent and not sit idly by.
Christians who refuse to grow in the Lord Jesus are like fallen leaves in the midst of a powerful gale. They are simply along for the ride and may find themselves further and further from the Lord because they were never grounded on the Rock that is Christ. To put it simply, just as there is a Way that leads to your spiritual life and growth, there is also a way that leads to your enslavement, your spiritual destruction, and the death of your growth.
As Christians we need to be warned and aware of these things because if we are not aware, we will be devoured by spiritual wolves in sheep’s clothing. We must then be discerning believers. We must be aware of spiritual charlatans who season a lie with just enough truth to make it seem enticing and plausible. And we can only do so as we become inscripturated believers, that is believers so acquainted with the Word of God that we can immediately identify when something is in disagreement with the words of the Old and New Testament. Our only hope of survival then is by familiarizing ourselves with the truth, with the words of the Living God in Scripture. The chief means of accomplishing these goals is public worship, faithful biblical preaching, and prayer.