Lesson 3 -- first quarter 2006
June 18, 2006
© Copyright 2006
Working with God
Perspective One. You were born to reproduce yourself spiritually, to "bring forth fruit" (John 15:16). As God perfects His work and His image in you, He expects your help in accomplishing that same work in someone else. "We are laborers together with God" (1 Corinthians 3:9)! Now this business of reproduction is a sobering thing. I will be reproduced in others. God purposes that such a reproduction be in "the image of His Son." So how is your life before others? Are you an example of and to the believers? That's your mission! Your success contributes to that of others.
Perspective Two. Having served as a "boots on the ground" sent one, I assure you that the faithful sender is no less important, essential, and valuable to the mission than the sent one. We are all "labourers together with God." Mission work must be executed as a whole-body endeavor or it surely shall fail to achieve its full potential. God brings success to the faithful mission efforts of any congregation that is "fitly joined together" and knit into unity "by that which every joint supplieth" because of the coordinated, effective "working...of every part" (Ephesians 4:16).
First, a good foundation
The Church is a glorious building. Have you seen the foundation recently? It was laid by none other than the apostles and the prophets. Put another way, the apostles and prophets and all their teachings comprise that foundation. And what about that corner stone, eh? From it alone comes the building's strength and structural integrity. How fitting that it should be Jesus Himself. But that's not all about this glorious building, the Church. We are integral parts of it as well! All these diverse pieces that we are have been framed together just so. And as we grow (and grow together) we become increasingly glorious, made even more so by the incredible fact that God dwells in us through His Spirit.
Building for success and survival
Spiritual darkness, deception, and destruction continue to deepen all around us. The Lord Himself warned us that the spiritual peril of the last days would be such that "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" lest the deceivers should "deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:22,24).
What can we do for our own survival in these latter times "when some shall depart from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1)? Our spiritual success most definitely depends entirely on the grace of God (Jude 24). However, He does not intend for us to take a passive role in our own lives. So let's notice two specific survival instructions given in Jude.
"Building up yourselves on your most holy faith" (Jude 20). To survive we start where we find ourselves . . . and build upward, daily expanding our spiritual building on the foundation of faith. "OK," you say. "Fine. But don't you have anything more practical than that?" Most definitely! Read on.
"Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification" (Romans 15:2). Living for the blessing and benefit of another causes edification (building) to take place in his life . . . and in yours. To avoid deception, live selflessly and sacrificially.
"And he gave...apostles...prophets...evangelists...pastors and teachers ...for the perfecting of the saints...for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11,12). Listen to the teaching and follow the example of the godly leaders and teachers God has brought into your life. Study their writings. Apply their precepts. Then you will avoid deception.
"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Be an active, responsible, accountable member of a faithful congregation. Within that local body of believers, be an encourager and a builder in the lives of the others. God will use them to encourage and build in your life. Thus, together, you will all avoid deception.
Now search the Scriptures for other ways to build and reinforce your faith. Remember faith and faithfulness cannot be separated, so faithfully walk in the light you already have. As James observed, "Faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" (James 2:22).
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