Could you please explain Ephesians 4:11-15 for me?
Beginning the verse 8 Paul writes of the ascended Christ and the gifts that He bestowed. When Christ ascended, He did not return to heaven empty handed. He returned in full triumph with salvation for his people. He who ascended was the one who had descended. He descended to make atonement; He ascended as the new mediator between God and man. 1 Tim. 2:5. As a part of his ascent, he provided His body with gifts. It is not Paul’s purpose in v. 11 to give a complete list of the gifts. See 1 Cor. 12:28. The emphasis here is not on the gifts themselves, but on the fact that they are gifts from the ascended Christ to His church. The purpose for Christ’s gifts to the church is to provide it the necessary equipment for the building up of the body of Christ. The ideal in view for the building up of the body is found in verse 13 – all believers advance to “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. . .” This brings us back to the spiritual unity demanded in verse 3 and the one faith of verse 5. The ideal of full Christian maturity is stated negatively in verse 14 (no longer children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine) and positively in verse 15 (grow up unto Him). As Head, Christ causes His church, His body, to live and grow.
This spiritual maturity should also be compared with 1 Cor. 13 – “When I became a man I put away childish things.” These gifts were given “until” maturity was reached. Thus, this passage joins 1 Cor. 13 in establishing the cessation of miraculous gifts. If miraculous gifts have not ceased, then the body of Christ, the church, is still in its infancy, having never reached maturity. If this is so, then the purpose for which Christ gave these gifts has failed.
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)