Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”
God has given many different roles (parts in the body) to his people, his saints. And, we don’t all have the same function. To some he specifically assigned them to make ready (to prepare) the saints of God for the work of the ministry, which is for the building up of the body of Christ to maturity. Thus, all of us, within the body of Christ, have a responsibility for encouraging, strengthening, and nurturing one another to maturity in Christ.
So, how do we go about building one another up in the faith? Well, first of all we need to understand what that means, for it means to encourage one another. And, to encourage means to inspire (stimulate), cheer, and reassure, which also means to influence, and to move or guide others by way of inspiration of God. In addition, it means to urge, incite, counsel, admonish (warn), persuade, and to move to action, to stir up and spur on.
You won’t see this much in today’s modern market-driven church, though. No, there we are being encouraged to “stay in our own lane,” and to only say to people what makes them feel good about themselves. Or, we are told that we have to form relationships with people for at least two years in order to earn the right to admonish, to influence, and to stir them up in the Lord, or to even share the gospel with those who are lost in their sins.
Or, we are given the impression that the preacher is to be God’s sole voice to us, and so we are to sit back and be quiet and just listen to him. It is almost as though you have to have a seminary degree for people to listen to you, as though you have no authority to speak unless you are in some leadership position within the church. But, this is not how God designed his body to work.
Yes, there is a line of authority to be followed within the gatherings of the church, and there is structure and protocol to be followed, as well, as laid out for us in the Word of God. And, we are not to usurp authority where it is not given to us, or where it is not our place. I agree with scripture on this.
Yet, that does not mean there is not a place within the body of Christ for all of us to exercise our God-given spiritual gifts and ministries for the purpose of inspiring and urging one another to walk in faithful obedience to our Lord. For, this passage of scripture, and others, too, talk much about how we are all necessary, and how we all need to be doing our part, and how we are all to spur one another on to following our Lord in surrender to his will.
How, When and Where?
But, this doesn’t have to wait to be done until we are in some official position or until we are in a formal gathering of the church. For we, the body of Christ, are the church, and we are all over the world in so many different places. And, there are so many different ways in which we can use our gifts and fulfill our callings within the body of Christ which are outside the formal gatherings of the church.
The important thing here is that we, the body of Christ, are caring about one another’s spiritual development. It doesn’t mean we go around jumping down everyone’s throat, though, or that we take a high and mighty position that we are somehow perfect, or that we have arrived, while everyone else is beneath us, and so they should listen to us.
And, it should never be implied, either, that this (above) is our stance, just because we are taking our God-given responsibility for our brothers’ and sisters’ spiritual development seriously, and because we are caring enough to speak the truth in love in order to help our fellow saints grow to maturity in their walks of faith with the Lord.
So, how can we do this? Well, if the church, in general, is under the impression that only the preacher is to speak to us about our walks of faith, then it may be difficult breaking through that barrier. For, many people do have this idea that the preacher/pastor is to be the one to encourage us spiritually, and that it should only happen during the formal gatherings of the church.
Yet, as we read the scriptures, we realize that this kind of encouragement of one another on a deeper spiritual level should be a natural outflow of our walks with the Lord and with one another. And, these should be the kinds of things we talk about when we get together with other believers in Christ, instead of us talking about all the same things that the people of the world are talking about.
So, when we get together with other believers for a meal or to hang out, or we talk with them on the phone, or we text or chat with them via an electronic device, or we speak with them on social media, or we write blog posts and read each other’s blogs, or in whatever other ways that we communicate with our fellow Christians, we should be talking about Jesus and our walks of faith, and we should be encouraging one another.
Ephesians 4:14 ESV
“… 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.”
So, why is this so important that we are all actively encouraging one another in our walks of faith, and in admonishing and spurring one another on to holiness and righteousness and walks of obedience to our Lord Jesus?
For one, it is because the days are evil, and because temptations are strong, and there is so much deception out there encouraging the saints of God to engage themselves in fleshly and worldly pleasures and to forsake holiness and righteousness, too. So, we encourage one another in our walks of faith so that none of us become hardened in our hearts against the Lord, and so none of us continue in willful sinful practices.
We need one another, too, because there is so much deception going on, even or especially within the gatherings of the church, and even among the leadership. Yet, so much of it is so subtle, and it has crept into the gatherings of the church so stealthily, over many decades, to where so much of it has gone on undetected probably by the vast majority of those who profess the name of Jesus as their Savior.
For, there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing within the gatherings of the church working to lead the people of God away from their Lord, and away from the scriptures, in order to follow after the ways of men, instead. And, they are very crafty at what they do, too, so that the naïve and the immature are likely to not even realize they are being duped by master manipulators and deceivers.
These wolves in sheep’s clothing are convincing many prospective believers in Jesus, and many immature Christians, that faith in Jesus Christ is merely forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when they die. And, some are even going so far as to say that Jesus doesn’t require us to turn away from our sins or to follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will. But, they are lying to you, and that lie will come back to bite you if you buy into it.
For, scripture is real clear that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness. It teaches us, too, that Jesus gave his life up for us on that cross that we might be delivered out of our addictions to sin, and walk in his holiness, not that we are merely forgiven our sins so that we can go to heaven when we die.
Scripture is also very clear on the subject of our walks of faith and what they should and should not look like. And, so the scriptures teach us that if we continue in sin, in practice, that we don’t have eternal life with God, and we are not saved. We are not forgiven of our sins. And, they teach us that we are all going to one day reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
So, if we truly care about other people, and if we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will tell them the truth of what God’s word teaches us with regard to sin, to judgment, to salvation from sin, and to eternal life.
For, all people are going to come before God one day, and he is going to say to a good number of them that he never knew them, and that they are to depart from him, even though they called him Lord and did things in his name. And, this is because they never submitted to him as Lord. They never turned away from their lives of sin. And, they never walked in obedience to his commands. For, this is what is required as part of genuine faith in Jesus.
Zeal for Your House
An Original Work / August 1, 2016
Based off Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
Lord, I love my times with You.
I love to worship You and sing Your praises.
Time in Your Word brings me closer to You,
List’ning to You speaking to me,
Gently guiding me in truth.
Lord, You are my life’s example,
Showing me how I should live.
I love to walk with You where’er You lead me.
No greater joy have I when serving You.
Loving, giving, resting in Your strength,
I’m yielding to Your will.
Zeal for Your house, it consumes me.
See the church turned upside down:
Marketing ventures taking place of worship,
Men of the gospel turning into clowns.
Gospel message made appealing,
So the world will feel at home.
Lord, we need a great revival.
Turn their hearts, Lord, back to You.
Open the blind eyes, turn them all from darkness,
Lord, to the light. May they return to You,
Turn from their sin, forsake idols,
Be restored to God again.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019