The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 22 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #246)
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 4:14-16:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Hudson Taylor said, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “The original missionary went out on a one-way ticket — no return trip. They didn’t go down to Guatemala for a weekend to hand out tracts believing they did God a favor.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “In their earliest days, the meetings at Azusa Street were multiracial in character. Though Seymour initially taught that speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he felt increasingly uncomfortable with Christians who spoke in tongues yet still harbored racial prejudice toward people of color. He soon began preaching that the dissolution of racial barriers “was the surest sign of the Spirit’s pentecostal presence and the approaching New Jerusalem.” Unfortunately, not everyone in the emerging Pentecostal movement agreed.”
If every member of the body of Christ is fulfilling their role in the church, the end result is the “increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” If we want to see our churches grow, both spiritually and numerically, every Christian must exercise their spiritual gift in the body.
Before we become too concerned about getting new people to populate our pews, we ought to be concerned about the spiritual condition of the people already sitting in the pews. Are they truly saved? If so, are they growing in Christ or remaining spiritual babes? That is what Paul is talking about when he speaks of the “increase of the body.” Is the whole body becoming more mature in its behavior? Is it growing from the inside-out?
John MacArthur explains that “the tense of the noun ‘growth’ indicates that the body produces its own growth through resident dynamics. As with all living organisms, spiritual growth in the church does not come from forces outside but from the vital power within that causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself. All of this is in love, which is always to be the spirit of the fellowship of believers. Above all things, the Body is to manifest love, and when it is built up according to this plan, the world will know it is the Body of Christ.”
The unconditional love of God sets apart the true church that is spiritually alive. Every saint must be driven by love for God and love for his fellow believers. Wherever love is, that is where the spiritual gifts that God has given are being used most effectively — not out of strife, pride, or trying to get glory for one’s self, but as an extension of God’s love for His people and for the world.
Someone once wrote:
We are made for service, to care for each other;
We are made to love each sister and each brother
With love that will last through sorrow and pain,
A love that will never leave us again.
God sent His Son to show us the way,
One who shared His love each and every day,
One who gave His life that we might live
And His Spirit to help us others to forgive.
Life can be lonely when nobody cares;
Life can be empty when nobody shares;
But if we give ourselves both time and again
The joy of Christ will dwell within.