THE CHURCH-WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
Pastor R. B. Shiflet
What difference does it really make whether I, as a Christian, understand the scriptural teaching about the Church God is building today? I find myself surrounded by churches of every description. I had nothing to do with the divisions that started these various denominations. I can do nothing to bridge the gap between them.
So what difference does it make whether I understand the Biblical doctrine of the Church. Should I not just find a denomination that I can work in, join this church of my choice, and do the best I can?
These questions are asked in all sincerity by many of God's children who are perplexed in regard to the many divisions in Christendom today. Perhaps we can begin to answer these questions by using Paul's metaphor or illustration of the Church as a building (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Viewing the Church as a building, we become aware of the fact that as believers we are members of the building, but in another sense we are also the builders.
In every building program God has undertaken, whether it be the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the Temple in Jerusalem, or the Church, the Body of Christ, which God is building today—He has stressed the importance of building according to plan.
Therefore, if we are to please God in His building program today, we must know the building plans.
THE BUILDER'S AIM Understanding What The Will Of The Lord Is
Let us consider our aim as builders, first. We are warned in Ephesians 5:17: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Only as we know the will of the Lord concerning the Church can we be builders who can be used.
UNDERSTANDING THE WILL OF THE LORD
Ephesians 5:17 What God Has Determined
As we study the Word, we learn that the will of God sometimes has to do with what He has determined. God has a definite plan that is being worked out and will continue to be worked out, until His ultimate intended goal is reached. Satan and his demons, evil men and wicked organizations, cannot hinder the will of God in this sense.
A sketch of God's determinate will for the Church today is found in Ephesians 4:11-13. He has given the Church evangelists and teaching pastors. The evangelists and teaching pastors are given to adjust and to fit the saints for the work of the ministry and for the work of building up the Body of Christ. These functions are to be performed "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. . ." As each of us accomplish our part of the work of the ministry, the Church will grow into the "perfect man" God has determined it to be. Understanding what God's will for the Church is, will make a difference in the strength of the Church.
What God Has Desired
The term "will of the Lord" is also used of what He has desired. The will of God as thought of in this way is God's wish. For example, God "... is not willing (does not will or wish) that any should perish . . ." (II Peter 3:9). Yet people are perishing daily.
A clear statement of God's desire for today is I Timothy 2:3,4. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come u-nto the knowledge of the truth."
Each of us must spread the gospel so men can believe and be saved. "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30), for he understands what the will of the Lord is.Understanding God's desire will make a difference in the growth of the Church.
UNDERTAKING THE WILL OF THE LORD Separation
Once we understand the will of God and our role as builders, we must undertake His will in our spiritual life. One is just as important as the other! If we know Bible doctrine—even dispensational truth—to the extent that we understand clearly the will of God, it profits us nothing unless we undertake to do His will. In the same way, if we undertake to do His will without a Biblical and dispensational foundation, we will be completely^ frustrated. There can be no acceptable work apart from an acceptance of the Word.
The context of Ephesians, chapter 5, stresses the importance of a life of separation from things that would hinder us, verses 1-12, and a life of separation unto the God who has called us, verses 18-21. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).
This life can be lived only in the energy of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). It is the Holy Spirit who baptized us into the Church, the Body of Christ when we believed (I Corinthians 12:13). It is the Holy Spirit who sealed us in the Body of Christ until the day of our redemption (Ephesians 1:13). It is the Holy Spirit who also lives within us (Ephesians 2:22), and desired to fill or control us, making it possible for us to understand and to undertake the will of God in His building program for His Church today.
THE BUILDER'S APTITUDES
In the Old Testament, Jehovah gave the craftsmen building the Tabernacle a special aptitude for their task (Exodus 31:2-6). The Messiah told the builders of the Millennial Church to wait in Jerusalem until they received needed power from on high (Luke 24:49).
Each of us must know our human limitations, "not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think," and to appraise our talents and abilities properly, "to think soberly, according to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). Nevertheless, we should proceed with the knowledge that "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). This is a worthy Christian attitude of our aptitudes.
THE BUILDER'S WALK Walking Worthy Of The Vocation
This divine ability referred to in Philippians 4:13, provides for our walk, as members of God's construction crew. It is that power which gives us, who were once without strength, an aptitude for service.
A Walk That Is Worthy
This aptitude makes it possible for us to walk worthy of the high calling that is ours in Christ (Ephesians 4:1).
A Walk That Is Different
It is to be demonstrated in a life that is different from our lives before we became Christian builders. "This I say therefore and testify in in the Lord, that ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind" (Ephesians 4:17).
A Walk That Is In Love
It is to be a walk in love toward our brethren (I John 4:11-21) and toward all men (Romans 13:8-10).
A Walk That Is In Light
It is to be a walk in paths of righteousness as the children of God bearing a family resemblance to Him (Ephesians 5:8,9).
A Walk That Is Diligent
Finally, it is to be a walk in diligence and caution, exercising great wisdom and avoiding the foolish (Ephesians 5:15,16).
THE BUILDER'S WORK Let Every Man Take Heed How He Buildeth
The divine capacity to please God in building His Church includes not only our walk as Christians, but our work. Just as He strengthens us and controls us
by His Spirit in our walk, so He enables us to be accurate in our work as builders for Him.
Paul, His apostle to the Gentiles, has given us the blueprint. He describes himself as the wise "masterbuilder" or architect, and tells us to take heed how we build from that plan (I Corinthians 3:10).
The materials involved in this building are sinners saved by the grace of God. Our work as builders not only involves getting them into the building (evangelism); it involves using every provision available for their adjustment to service, (pastoring and teaching).
The methods we use must be scriptural. The Bible warns, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (II Timothy 2:5).Schemes and gimmicks may attract more people; organizations and committees may be able to control more; recreation and entertainment may allure more, but our apostle warned young Timothy that even when men would not endure sound doctrine, his responsibility was still to PREACH THE WORD.
We cannot depend on carnal means to do spiritual work. Though hard work and good planning are always important, methods must not take the place of the preaching of the Word.
Our motives, too, must be pure. The love of Christ is our compelling force (II Corinthians 5:14). We labor to be accepted of Him (II Corinthians 5:9).
THE BUILDER'S ASPIRATION Pleasing The Lord In All Things
Our aim as workmen is the third great reason for understanding the Church, God's program for today. Paul, our masterbuilder, shows us what our single desire should be, "proving what is acceptable [well pleasing] unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10).
Our ambition is to edify or build up the Church. Greatest care should be taken to be sure that our aspiration is always in keeping with sound doctrine. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and lov& which is in Christ (II Timothy 1:13). False teaching and doctrines of devils will steer many to destruction (I Timothy 4:1-3; II Timothy 2:16-26).
Think again of the instruction to "prove what is acceptable unto the Lord." The word "prove" means to "put to the test and then approve." We can test spiritual things only through the searchlight of God's Word—trying the things that differ (Philippians 1:9-10), and then holding to that which is sound doctrine.
When we know what is well pleasing to the Lord, we can "approve" those things by "practicing them" through the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. The result will be sane deportment!
THE RESULTS Finding The Peace Of God
The result of our labors as workmen aspiring to please the Lord in sound doctrine, will be the peace of God keeping our hearts.
Fruitfulness In Service To God
Another outcome will be fruitfulness in the service of the Lord. This fruitful-ness will be found both in our lives (Colossians 1:10); Galatians 5:22-23), and in our service to the Church (Romans 1:13; 16:5).
Furtherance In The Knowledge Of God
Still another effect of aspiring to sound doctrine will be continued growth, a progression, in the knowledge of God and His will.
Bible knowledge of God's plan, put to practice in Christian service as builders with Him, is somewhat self-perpetuating. The more we study the Word, the
greater our desire to serve the Lord. The more we reap the joys of service, the greater our appetite for studying the Word.
THE BUILDER'S APPRAISAL We Must All Appear Before The Judgment Seat Of Christ
The purpose of the judgment seat is not to determine our salvation. That, praise God, was settled at Calvary and became ours when we believed. The aim of the judgment seat is to examine our works as believers. Work that meets the building code (standards laid down by Christ through the Apostle Paul) will be rewarded. Work that is not in compliance with the architect's plan will be condemned.
THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE JUDGMENT SEAT
The proceedings at the judgment seat are given in detail in I Corinthians 3:9-15.
THE PREPARATION FOR THE JUDGMENT SEAT
The time to prepare for this in spection is NOW. Let every man TAKE HEED how he buildeth.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE
What difference does it make whether or not we understand the Church as revealed by the risen Christ through Paul? What difference can it make as far as our Christian life is concerned?
What difference does it make whether or not the carpenter who is to build your new home understands the blueprint? The difference in both cases is the same.
Recently in a large city, a new multistory motel was under construction. When it was about half finished, something went wrong, and five stories came tumbling down one upon another. Someone did not understand the architect's plan. It did make a difference.
Today, the majority of builders in Christendom are following the blueprints of Judaism that were given to Peter and the Eleven to offer God's earthly kingdom to Israel. Others go all the way back to the blueprints of legalism given to Moses for the Dispensation of Law, which was also given to Israel.
Israel failed miserably in the Law Dispensation; she rejected the gospel of the circumcision preached by Peter and his associates (Galatians 2:7-9). The ascended Christ has now given us the plans for His building in the Dispensation of Grace. Let us follow the master-builder and TAKE HEED how we build on the foundation (I Corinthians 3:10-15). It does make a difference!
How God Saves Men
Believing Christ DIED, that’s HISTORY.
Believing Christ DIED for YOU SINS and Rose again that’s SALVATION.
Read Romans 1:16, Romans 10:9-10 and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4
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