For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – Ephesians 4:12
(1.) The word itself and all the ordinances of the gospel are appointed and given unto us for this end, Eph. 4:11–15. That which is the end of giving gospel officers to the church is the end also of giving all the ordinances to be administered by them; for they are given “for the work of the ministry,”—that is, for the administration of the ordinances of the gospel. Now, what is or what are these ends? They are all for the preventing of decays and declensions in the saints, all for the carrying them on to perfection; so it is said, verse 12. In general, it is for the “perfecting of the saints,” carrying on the work of grace in them, and the work of holiness and obedience by them; or for the edifying of the body of Christ, their building up in an increase of faith and love, even of every true member of the mystical body. But how far are they appointed thus to carry them on, thus to build them up? Hath it bounds fixed to its work? Doth it carry them so far, and then leave them? “No,” saith the apostle, verse 13. The dispensation of the word of the gospel, and the ordinances thereof, is designed for our help, assistance, and furtherance, until the whole work of faith and obedience is consummate. It is appointed to perfect and complete that faith, knowledge, and growth in grace and holiness, which is allotted unto us in this world. But what and if oppositions and temptations do lie in the way, Satan and his instruments working with great subtlety and deceit? Why, verse 14, these ordinances are designed for our safeguarding and deliverance from all their attempts and assaults, that so being preserved in the use of them, or “speaking the truth in love, we may grow up unto him in all things who is the head, even Christ Jesus.” This is, in general, the use of all gospel ordinances, the chief and main end for which they were given and appointed of God,—namely, to preserve believers from all decays of faith and obedience, and to carry them on still towards perfection. These are means which God, the good husbandman, makes use of to cause the vine to thrive and bring forth fruit. And I could also manifest the same to be the especial end of them distinctly. Briefly, the word is milk and strong meat, for the nourishing and strengthening of all sorts and all degrees of believers. It hath both seed and water in it, and manuring with it, to make them fruitful. The ordinance of the supper is appointed on purpose for the strengthening of our faith, in the remembrance of the death of the Lord, and the exercise of love one towards another. The communion of saints is for the edifying each other in faith, love, and obedience. – John Owen. The Works of John Owen.