Building Up The Local Church
11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into him, who is the head even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
If there is one thing God wants, it is for His church to grow.
Notice some of the phrases that are in this passage that carry the idea of some sort of advancement.
Whether or not the local church is built up depends upon the individual Christians that meet in the local body. For our application, this means us.
Why does it depend upon us?
God still is the one who gives the increase, but only when we do our part.
1 Corinthians 3:5-6
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
You and I are responsible for building up ourselves into the local church.
This year (as in years past) will offer a great many opportunities for building up the church. Unlike our past practices, we need to resolve to improve our behavior and concentrate our efforts upon the work of this local body and determine to do those things which God has asked us to do. We must work together in this effort. One or a few can bring the rest down and cause us to sink into apathy or rebellion.
Let us discuss six keys which will help us be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities God grants us. Of course there are probably many other keys which are just as important and necessary for this purpose. But we will concentrate on these six in this article.
This is where it all begins. The first key to building up the church is desire.
All of us have learned that we can pretty much accomplish what we want to do. When we establish attainable goals and desire to accomplish those goals, we have no problem. If we have the ability and tools at our disposal we need, we can do what we want to do. Even if we do not like doing it, we still have that ability in most things we do. But remember that desire is a great part of this formula.
You can learn to play an instrument if you desire to do so. The desire will cause you to purchase such instrument and pay for lessons, or how to books, and the dedication of time to practice to eventually learn how to play this instrument. The better that you want to be at it, the more time you will spend working on the skill levels and techniques.
All of this is the same if we want to learn a profession, take a vacation, set up goals for financial security in later years, or even build up the local church.
You and I can help build the church, but only if you and I really desire to do it.
That's why Paul was so great at building up churches. He was willing to sacrifice everything to do it.
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude;
Building up the church was Pauls heart's desire,
Brethren, my hearts desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
And, it would seem that he would endure anything to accomplish this task. Now, in view of the example of Paul, we must ask; What is YOUR heart's desire?
A healthy family?
A life without hardship?
Building up the local church?
Or maybe a combination of all of the above. God certainly does allow us to make such plans and work to accomplish these goals, yet it is wise and scriptural to prioritize these in the order that God would have us do them. Things spiritual should always be at the top of the list in all things that we do. And we should never compromise the truth, ourselves, or anything else to accomplish our goals.
Either as individuals or as a body of members in this local body.
What do you want to see accomplished this year?
A Christian without faith is like a song without a tune. (words but no "life")
Faith is a vital ingredient to building up the church. REAL growth will never rise above the level of REAL faith. Desire without faith usually ends in defeat.
Faith is necessary for the Christian to exist.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
But 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.
We must have faith in God that He will give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6,7)
We must have faith in what we preach
Faith should cause us to dream, plan, and visualize growth.
What do you visualize the church doing this year?
What do you visualize you doing for God this year?
Prayer is the most neglected key we have, yet we little realize that it is the most effective. Prayer is a powerful force in building up the church. It ties us to and unites us with God.
One cannot consistently pray for growth...and do nothing themselves, and expect any growth.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
23 And when they had been released, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, O Lord, it is Thou who Didst make the Heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence, 30 while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
When was the last time you prayed for church growth?
How many days this week, month, year, ever?
Is our church growth a sincere desire of yours?
God saw the necessity for leadership. Throughout history, God placed certain ones in charge of others. This is what we call the natural order of leadership.
In the church we have a slightly different order.
God gave instructions, duties, qualifications for leaders in their various capacities..
We must have a leadership with DESIRE, FAITH, PRAYER . In the absense of qualified elders, we must lean upon each other and seek to encourage any of those who want to take the initiative to inspire, motivate, and lead the others. [recognizing that these people do not have any authority]
God has always needed men to lead His people and always will.
We are no exception. So let us work hard on this goal this year.
All the faith in the world is useless without work,
14 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
All the other keys are useless unless this one is also used.
Let's determine this year to say with Isaiah
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, Here am I, Send me!
You cannot be a Christian without working, serving, doing,
21 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
Going back to our original text in Ephesians 4:16, we see every joint supplies its part. We also see a "proper" working of each individual part.
16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Let us break down this verse into the individual components and examine it carefully.
Speaking of the Christ which we learn from the context.
the whole body
A reference to the church which is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23)
, being fitted and held together
As a building structure of brick and mortar or wood and nails. The less space between the parts will result in greater strength and result in longer life.
by that which every joint supplies
The bonding material (mortar, nails, glue, etc) which bonds us together comes from us (the membership). It is our attitude towards each other that will allow us to work together as a single unit of Gods people.
, according to the proper working of each individual part,
And each part must do their job properly and in order and by the authority of Christ. (1 Corinthians 14:40; Colossians 3:17)
causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Consider that this is the final result or our actions.
Let's also keep in mind: We cannot build a successful congregation without having successful Christians.
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