The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 12 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #236)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 4:11-12:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
J.G. Morrison said, “Can’t you do just a little bit more?”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “What is preaching? It is to open the eyes of the blind, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God. How many preachers do that?”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “A lady visiting from Los Angeles heard Seymour preach in one of those meetings and recommended him to her pastor back home in California. That recommendation led to an immediate invitation to preach in a little storefront church on Santa Fe Avenue. The church had been started as a split from a local black Baptist church over the doctrine of the second blessing. When the invitation arrived, Seymour saw it as his own version of the apostle Paul’s ‘Macedonian vision’ calling him to a new place of ministry. He borrowed train fare from Parham and made his way west.”
The first aspect of the overarching reason why God gave spiritual gifts to the church is “for the perfecting of the saints.” The second aspect is “for the work of the ministry.” Today, we are going to consider the third aspect, which is “for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The word “edifying” means “building or building up.” It is “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness.” Commentators have pointed out that this does not refer to what we call “church growth” — an increase in the number of people within the local assembly. Here, God is looking for quality over quantity.
There are very many people in the body of Christ who have been saved for a while but who remain spiritual babes. God has given spiritual gifts to His people so that we can help each other grow. The concept of edification takes us back to Paul’s description of the church as a physical structure as the word “edification” was often used to refer to the construction of a physical building.
Instead of living for ourselves, we should begin to live with the benefit of the church of God in mind. How can we build up the body of Christ as a whole? How can we build up others in the local church? This is a responsibility for all believers, not just church leaders. Ray Stedman said the fact that the church has shifted responsibility to “spiritual leaders” “has resulted in a sadly impoverished church which has made little impact on the world and increasingly withdraws into weakness, irrelevance, and isolation.”
The only way the church will be built up and remain strong is if each individual person in the body of Christ is built up spiritually and is using his or her gifts for the benefit of others. Every believer has a role to play in helping other believers grow spiritually. We are to encourage others, help others learn the Word of God, and, when necessary, rebuke others in love.
Deborah Ann Belka wrote:
Encourage one another,
hold someone up in prayer
let others know how much
for them you really care.
Listen to their problems,
feel their aches and pains
help them to see that Jesus
has His hand on the reins.
Help them to be stronger,
in their trust and belief
assure them the Holy Spirit
will bring their soul relief.