May 25, 2017 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments
We've all seen body builders, haven't we? Both men and women that work very hard to lift heavier and heavier weights in order to build up their muscles.
Some have a goal of being more fit. Others have a goal of winning competitions. What do they have in common? They all have a goal...and they work towards that goal. They are disciplined about it. Committed to it. Their day is scheduled to include that goal.
Obviously, we are not a church full of body builders...at least not in the physical sense. But we should be a church full of body builders in the spiritual sense!
In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul writes...
"And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."
Here we learn that Jesus has given us those who preach and teach the Gospel in order to help us become equipped for ministry. What this means is that each one of us is commissioned by God to be working, to be serving, in some aspect of ministry. And we know from Paul's writings to the church at Corinth, that each of us is gifted as individuals, for the benefit of one another.
Paul continues in Ephesians 4 in verses 13 through 16 to let us know what God's goal is for us as we work to build up the body. There are some things He wants us to pursue and some things He wants us to avoid. He writes...
"...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 fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. 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 knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love."
Here he is letting us know that part of the goal for being taught and equipped is so that we will not remain in a child-like state of faith. He wants us to grow up! Growing up sometimes involves the inevitable growing pains and going through hard circumstances and so it can be something we try to avoid. The idea of never growing up or old is often thought of as a positive thing to be pursued, ala Peter Pan. Yet, that concept is not encouraged in Scripture. God desires for us to grow, and so does Paul.
Another aspect of what those who teach us are to do is to teach us doctrine and to teach it in such a way that we will have solid ground to walk on, spiritually speaking. In other words, we are to have good doctrine taught to us so that false doctrine won't fool us.
The third avoidance is for us to be able to identify and not fall prey to those who come to deceive. The Bible is full of warnings about false teachers and false prophets, who will come "in the name of the Lord" but are truly wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15).
On the other side, Paul gives us things to seek after as we work to build our body. We are to "work out" in a manner that helps build:
7) Functioning Properly
Each of these are aspects of the Christian life that we are to be working towards together. Those are given the task of doing the equipping (our pastors and teachers) are to teach us right and deep doctrine so that the body will then turn around and minister to each other in ways that will encourage and help all nine of these to be continually developed.
In order to do this, we must be involved in each other's lives. None of us are called to be "Lone Ranger" type Christians who isolate themselves from other Christians and from serving the body of Christ.
A key phrase in what Paul says is..."when each part is working properly...".
Jesus...he must do his part in giving pastors and teachers to his church...which he does. He must also be the one supplying all of the body parts...which he does. He must give us truth to stand on as a foundation...which he does. Jesus is never the reason that the body building process struggles or fails to produce the desired results!
Pastor and Teachers...they must faithfully teach doctrine. Paul told Timothy to study and teach in a way so as to be approved by God in how he handles the word (2 Tim. 2:15). They must not just teach head knowledge that merely puffs up, but along with helping the body grow in understanding, they must also help the body grow in application (1 Cor. 8:1).
The Saints, the Body of Christ...each Christian must fulfill the role God has given them as well. I know that some Christians have grown up in a culture where "the Pastor does the ministry" and the church listens to messages and brings food to potlucks. But what the Bible describes and prescribes is that it's not just the pastors fulfilling their role, but the believers in the church who also are to be doing the work of the ministry.
We know Jesus won't fail, but the other two components...well, we can struggle sometimes, can't we? But that should never keep us from striving to do better, to be in the process of building up the body for the sake of Christ and the Gospel!
Let me ask you again, are YOU a body builder? Are you working towards the goal that God has for you? I want to encourage you to set your goal to be a body builder here at Grace. In our youth ministry, we have what we call "Body Builder Teams" where students take part in different aspects of the ministry in order to love and serve one another for the purposes that God has for us.
It's always a blessing to see students grow into young men and women who understand that part of what God desires for us is to be involved in His work, both inside and outside of the church.
Being a body builder takes sacrifice. It takes discipline. It takes putting yourself in a position to serve others and to allow them to serve you. Don't hold back. Don't hesitate. Don't make excuses.
I know sometimes circumstances may dictate how much we may be able to be involved, but we usually tend to be able to carve out time for other goals that we have, so work on carving out time for the goals God has for you too!
If you are not sure how you can serve or where you may be needed, please contact the church office or speak with one of the pastors and we'd be glad to help you!
Remember...Jesus is our best example of this. Let's follow his lead and seek to build his body.
Building with you!
Chris Kiiskinen is an Elder at Grace Bible Church
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