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, 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 4:11-14 ESV
We have the teachings of Jesus Christ and of the prophets and the apostles to instruct us in the wisdom of God, and to equip us spiritually for the work of the ministry and for the encouragement in the faith for the body of Christ. And, they are written down for us in our Bible (Genesis to Revelation). So, we need to be studying our Bibles, especially the New Testament, so that we know what God has for us, and so we are equipped for life and ministry.
And, we have pastors and teachers of the Word, and those with gifts of evangelism, discipleship, prophecy, teaching and encouragement, as well, for the equipping of the saints and the building up of the body of Christ.
And, this equipping of the saints involves evangelism and discipleship, and it involves training in specific areas of ministry, but under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, and according to the teachings of the scriptures, and not according to humanistic philosophy, modern psychology, and/or business marketing schemes.
This equipping of the saints is first and foremost training us in holy living, in forsaking our sins and our idols, in surrendering our lives wholeheartedly to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in following our Lord in walks of obedience to his commands and to his will and to his ways. And, this is to be taught as a daily practice, and as something that must be continued throughout our entire lives.
And, this equipping must be practical and applicable to our everyday lives. It must touch home right where we are and deal with our real life issues. And, it must instruct us and encourage us in how to deal with these issues in a godly manner, according to the teachings of scripture. For, we must be taught how to deal with anger, bitterness, jealousy, pride, selfishness, lust, etc. and in how to put these things off and in how to put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness in their place.
Lies vs. Truth
We must also be warned against deception and false teachings and against falling away and lukewarmness, and against idolatry and selfishness, and against sinful practices. And, these must be named specifically so that we know what to be on the lookout for. But, these warnings must be biblically based and not just be the opinions of men.
And, then we must be taught the truth in contrast to the lies and the deceptions and the false teachings, etc. so that we can put off the lies and put on the truth, and so we don’t continue to be deceived, but so that our eyes will be opened, and so we will now walk in the light of Christ and of the truth of His Word.
And, all of this is part of our encouragement in our walks of faith. All of this is included in the building up of the body of Christ to unity in Christ and to spiritual maturity in Christ, too. For, encouragement is not just a pat on the back or a word of cheer, but it is urging, inspiring, fostering, nurturing, persuading, and moving people away from what is of this world to walks of holiness in Jesus Christ, their Lord.
And, this is, too, so that we aren’t led astray by false doctrines and teachings which are not of God and which are opposed to God and to His Word. It is also so that we don’t bounce back and forth from this teaching to that, having no solid direction, not knowing what is true or what is false. And, it is so that we don’t get caught up in teaching that sounds good but that is not good, for it comes from liars and deceivers who are scheming against us and against Christ and against his gospel.
So, we need people of God within our church fellowships who are going to teach us the whole counsel of God and who are going to teach us to walk in purity and holiness, and who are going to teach the truth of the gospel, and who are going to bring us to maturity in Christ, and who are going to warn us against false doctrines which tickle itching ears.
But, in our day and age, these seem to be severely lacking in the majority of today’s modern congregations, and that is contributing greatly to so many professers of Christianity living immature, selfish, unruly and ungodly lives. So, we need to call out to God and pray for him to send us men and women of God who will lead us to maturity in Christ and who will lead us to walk in holiness and in purity and in faithfulness to our Lord and Savior.
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. Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV
So, instead of us being led astray by these men in their deceitful scheming, and instead of us allowing others to be led astray, because we are afraid to say anything, lest they feel we are being judgmental of them, we need to be those who make it our practice to speak the truth in love to one another. For, lying to one another just to make one another feel good is not of God, it is not loving, and it is definitely not kind.
And, this is not the responsibility just of people with specific gifts, or just of people who are in specific roles of leadership within the church. This is the responsibility of each and every one of us within the body of Christ. We are to be telling each other the truth and warning each other against being deceived, so that we can help one another to maturity in Christ.
We are ALL needed. We are ALL necessary to the proper working of the body of Christ and to the maturity of the body of Christ. The church can’t work as God intended if we don’t all have a part, because we are all supposed to have a part. For, we each have something to add, which is something today’s modern church is greatly neglecting. For, it is all lopsided and top heavy, and there just isn’t any or much room at all for us to all use the gifts God has given us for building one another up in our faith to maturity in Christ.
But, our parts are not decided by man. The roles we are to have within the body are not assigned by man. They are assigned by God, and our gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit of God as he determines (Rom. 12; 1 Co. 12).
But, yes, the elders and deacons are selected (chosen) based on particular spiritual and biblical criteria, at least in theory, and men, led of the Holy Spirit, are the ones who are to select these men for these positions, as best as I understand how this is supposed to work.
And, within the physical gatherings of the church we are all to submit to godly leadership, and we are to work under that leadership in proper order, so in that sense men do choose us for specific ministries, and they are to give us guidance and direction of the Spirit of God which we are to follow. But I believe we are to seek the counsel of God in these matters and make certain that what we are being asked to do is what God wants us to do.
For, God is not going to lead every one of us to ministry within the formal gatherings of the church, but he may use us in home ministries, or on the internet, or out in the work place, or on the mission field, where we will still be ministering with and to the body of Christ as well as he will use us to share our faith and testimonies with those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
So, we need to each seek God’s face and inquire of him as to what He wants us to do, for I believe he has a very specific calling for each and every one of us, and it may not be anything you or I have thought of before. Like, I would never have imagined that I would be writing devotions and posting them on the internet, but I believe God had this planned for my life all along, and that everything that has happened in my life up to this moment has been in preparation for what he is now having me do.
So, I just want to encourage everyone reading this to find out from the Lord what he wants you to do within his body, which is not limited to one specific gathering or location, for remember his body is universal. And, then obey him in doing what he has called you to do, but which should also be for the encouragement and strengthening of the body of Christ to maturity in Christ, by God’s Spirit.
An Original Work / September 21, 2011
Lord, I love to have You near me
As I go throughout my day,
Walking daily in Your footsteps,
As I humbly pray.
List’ning to You, hear You teaching
Me to live and work for You,
Lord, I pray You lead and guide me
Daily in Your truth.
Lord, I want to be Your witness,
Telling others of Your grace;
Telling how they can be set free
Of their sins today;
Share with them the love of Jesus,
He died on a cruel tree,
So that we’d be forgiven
For all eternity.
Lord, I want to serve You only,
As I bow on bended knee,
Making You my Lord and master,
And Your servant be.
Humbly walking in obedience,
Doing what You say to me,
Lord, may I be an example
Of one who’s set free.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019