by Greg Jordan
Originally published in
The Christian Informer
WE ALL WANT THE SAME thing--a strong, thriving church. We want our children to be the church of the future. We want our friends and neighbors to obey the gospel, become part of the church, and go to heaven with us. We all want to see the church grow. To achieve this, we must be willing to do all that we can to grow spiritually and help others grow spiritually as well.
We need converted members. No one expects a boat to keep afloat when it is full of water. A church that is full of the world cannot expect to convert the world. Sometimes it is because of fear that we fail. Sometimes it is because of selfish desires that we fail. Sometimes it is because of vanity. The result is that we find ourselves trying to hold on to the world. There were many chief rulers in Jerusalem at the time of Christ that believed in Jesus, but were not converted. The reason they were not is not new to us. Notice what John 12:42-43 says: "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
In essence this is what we do when we try to hold to the world. We try to love that which is temporal more than that which is eternal. What happens then is that the Church is weakened in our locality. Our influence turns against the Church. We become as enemies of the cross because we do not keep his commandments. In Romans 2:17-24, we learn what happens when we are not what we ought to be. Look carefully at verse 24. "For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written." We cause dishonor to the Church and to God. May we all take the advice of Solomon in Proverbs 1:10, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Let us be fully converted. Whatever stands in our way, let us remove it. Whatever holds us back, let us break free from it.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reads "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." We need to keep in mind that Christ died that we might be converted.
We need to be educated members. That does not mean that we are to be educated in worldly matters, but educated in God's word. Far too often people have absolutely no desire to learn about God's will. We ought to be eager to know more about Jesus and anxious to hear God's will. We are a blessed people. We have the written word of God, ample study helps for the original languages, and brethren who know the bible. We have many occasions to learn more about what He will have us to do. Every time that we come to services it is an opportunity to learn. In all things let us be willing to hear what God has to say about a matter.
The brethren at Berea heard the teachings of the apostle Paul--THE APOSTLE PAUL--and they still searched the scriptures to see if he was teaching them the Truth. Listen: "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:10-11).
We ought to do that as well. The word "searched" comes from a Greek word meaning scrutinize or examine. This is a biblical example of how we should be when it comes to examining God's will. The need to study should not be overlooked. The Bible says that we cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), and that we get faith from God's word (Romans 10:17). How, then, is it possible to have faith and be pleasing to God if I do not study His word?
We need peaceful members. Now, this doesn't mean members that will compromise truth. Peace is never gained over truth that is compromised. Peaceful members are not the stand-for-nothing type. As members of the Lord's church we must stand up for the truth of the gospel. Notice what Jude says: " Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Jude said that it was needful for him to write that members would contend for the faith. Evidently something was going on, whether it was compromises or whatever. Too many churches will never grow because of constant friction between its members. We have seen this from time to time, that where there is strife there was eventually division in the Lord's church. Over and over, we are admonished to be peaceful and to be so without hypocrisy. Paul teaches, "Let love be without dissimulation" (Romans 12:9).
In the Roman leter the apostle Paul continues, "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head" (Romans 12:16-20). It may be that this is pretty hard from time to time, but God wants us to be peaceful, especially one to another.
Galatians 6:10 teaches, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." It is our solemn responsibility to be in "harmony," even when we are not singing. Notice the following list of scriptures. Ephesians 4:32: "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." 1 Peter 1:22: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love with a pure heart fervently." 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12: "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."
Christians are to bear fruit. Congregations will die in areas where there is no work being done by the members. On the average, I feel that members out-number preachers by ten to one. Imagine the work that could be accomplished if all the members worked as hard for the church as what they expect out of a preacher! Truly, we could "turn the world upside-down."
The grand old apostle encourages the Christians, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (Colossians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
We need to look for ways that we can scripturally participate. Our men need to be exercising their talents in teaching, singing, and praying. Each of us need to invite all that will come. We need to set up Bible studies for the preacher and go with him to the study. We do not need to be like the one-talent man and hide our talent. We need to be busy showing ourselves approved unto God. Can you imagine what would happen--indeed how much growth we would experience--if we would but do our share?