Thursday, September 14, 2017

Edification - The Growth-Focused Service of the Church

We're all involved in a building project. Anyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ is also a disciple.  That's a loaded term that has the basic meaning of being a learner or a follower.  Our pursuit is Christ-likeness and our teacher is Christ Himself.

God uses a LOT of tools to help us grow as Christians.  Historically, the church has used the phrase "means of grace".  One of the major means of grace that God has chosen to use for thousands of years is the Church.

The Church is not a building, but a people.  The Greek word for church is "ekklesia", which could be translated "a called out assembly".  God has called out people, through salvation, and put us together into various churches in order to display His glory through the spread of the gospel and the growth of disciples. Simply put, we need each other and God has designed that we help each other.

Ephesians 4 tells us precisely God's plan for our spiritual growth as disciples of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-13 - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This passage tells us a few things.  Firstly, the entire building project is the plan of God and also under His direction.  We do things His way because it is His project, not ours.  Secondly, Jesus has placed gifted men (in the case of the modern church, evangelists and pastor-teachers) in order to equip the saints (that's all of us) to do the work of the ministry.  Pastors are not the paid professionals who do all the work.  They are equippers.  Thirdly, we all do the work of the ministry - serving one another, teaching one another, loving one another.  It's our responsibility.  Fourthly, we all grow up together through the power of Christ and become more like our Savior.

This whole plan shows why the church is vital to your Christian growth.  You can't do ANY of this stuff by yourself.  Oh, you can read the Bible and get some knowledge about God and the gospel, but you can't live it out on your own.  You were meant to be part of a growing body of believers who love and serve God by loving and serving others.

While our church is small and doesn't currently have all the age-segregated programs some other churches might have, there are plenty of opportunities for both learning God's Word and applying God's Word in the context of the relationships you will build here.  The challenge is to not sit on the sidelines, but jump in and get involved.

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