Lesson 13 -- fourth quarter 2004
November 28, 2004
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Do you have any enmity and animosity left within you?
Do you treasure the church or are you a malcontent?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Only because God intervened are we saved.
In exercising our God-given freedom of choice, we all eventually chose the wrong path, headed for judgment and destruction. We lacked the power to save ourselves. Often we even lacked the desire and will to save ourselves. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Without that divine intervention, without that richness of mercy, without that greatness of love (Ephesians 2:4) . . . .
Genuine peace comes through Jesus.
Often when we achieve the absence of outright conflict, we content ourselves with calling that peace. Jesus, our peace, draws us close to Him and to each other, making us one and killing all enmity (Ephesians 2:13-16). He alone is the source and cause of peace.
Jesus gives us access to the Father.
In the world and away from Jesus, we have no way of connecting with the Father. In Jesus, "we have boldness and access with confidence" (Ephesians 3:12). That means we now may "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). It also means that "if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). We have access; we have connections!
Christ assembles His church "just so."
The Master Builder is working with us and through us to make us a "building fitly framed together" (Ephesians 2:21). Praise Him!
Questions and Responses
What's so great about being part of the church?
As the church we experience the awesome work of God that takes differences and oppositions, no matter how great and how deep, and produces seamless oneness and peace (Ephesians 2:15,16).
As the church we experience the incredible reality of God Himself living in us. It is for that reason that we are "fitly framed together" and "builded together" (Ephesians 2:21,22).
As the church we experience the divine wonder of fullness and completeness because the church "is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22,23).
As the church we enjoy the benefits of being "fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part" (Ephesians 4:16). Notice that this results in "increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
As the church we discover our personal usefulness to God's work in the world, learning that He Himself has " set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (1 Corinthians 12:18). He has made us functioning, contributing, essential members of His own body (1 Corinthians 12:27)!
How does the church grow in maturity?
Maybe your congregation falls short of the greatness briefly shown in the previous section. Perhaps you see yourself as the weak timber or the crumbly brick or the faulty connection in your congregation's structure. Whatever the case, what leads to maturity?
Choose the right foundation. "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). Amazingly, many congregations try to establish themselves only partially on this foundation.
Submit to God's architectural plan. He alone knows who all belongs in your particular group (1 Corinthians 12:18) and how each of you should be "fitly framed together" and "builded together" (Ephesians 2:21,22). Each member must arrive at and remain in the place of purposefully allowing God to place and use him as He wills.
Hunt for more answers to the question, continuing with these verses: 1 Corinthians 1:10; 12:11, 31; Ephesians 4:3,16; Philippians 2:2,3; 2 Peter 1:2,3; and John 15:5. Maturity is attainable (Ephesians 4:13) so don't give up!
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