Conclusion

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Over the past several posts we have seen how the local church is an essential component to the growth of the believer.  The reality is that when God’s people utilize God’s ordained instrument the results are unbelievable.

There are three specific, positive results that are revealed by Paul in Ephesians 4: 13 – 16 with the condition that they will come to be if the members of the church body will faithfully exercise their individual spiritual gifts.

  • The church will be unified and loving (v. 13).
  • The church will become mature and wise (vv. 13-15).
  • The church will become effective and successful (vv. 15-16).”[¹]

In light of these statements it is imperative that we recognize that this success is not necessarily equal to the success as would be defined by the world.  However, this success will be exactly what God has planned for that particular ministry.

Romans 12 is another passage to consider when attempting to understand this concept.  In Romans 12: 3 – 8, we find the Apostle Paul exhorting the Roman church to utilize all of their gifts for the effectiveness and efficiency of the ministry.  Paul makes it clear in verses 4 – 5 when he says, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”[²]

Therefore it is imperative to recognize what God’s plan is and then, as God’s children, follow this plan while utilizing their individual God given gifts. When we take God at His word and follow His plan be prepared to see amazing things take place in our own individual lives while also in the lives of those around us both individually and corporately.

[¹] Wayne Mack & Dave Swavely, Life in the Father’s House, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 158-159.
[²] Romans 12:4-5, KJV.
©2013 Mark Davis

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The Medium of Growth

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Within the context of the local church there are several pieces that can, and should, encourage the spiritual growth of the believer.  Those things can range from the pastoral leadership to the people you sit next to during the service to the appearance of the facilities, inside and out. 

While it is certainly healthy to have all of those “things” being just right, the reality is that the pin-point aspect that should encourage spiritual growth, and thus being seen through all of the peripheral items mentioned above, is the Word of God itself.

The Bible speaks much about the value of itself but we will focus only a few key passages in this post.  In 2 Timothy 3: 16, the Apostle Paul states that “All scripture is profitable….”  In making this statement, Paul is most definitely including the writings of the Old Testament (the Law) in conjunction with the writings of the New Testament.

No matter how you attempt to translate what appears in our English Bible as “All Scripture” you will find that “all” means all and “Scripture” is referring to the writings found within the canonical Bible.

As we follow this idea to the next step, we need to explore what these writings are profitable for.  Paul’s statement continues by saying that it is profitable for “doctrine [teaching], for reproof [rebuking], for correction [adjusting], for instruction [training] in righteous-ness.

Thankfully Paul does not stop at this point but he continues on to tells us for what purpose these things are profitable.  In verse 17 he tells us that they are profitable in order to guide the man of God to be “perfect [proficient], thoroughly furnished [equipped] unto all good works.

This plays out in a number of different ways in the local church today but John 17:17 provide some great insight here that helps us see exactly why it must be central.  The words of Jesus Christ read “Sanctify them [make them holy] through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  This verse provides a concise view of what medium must be used in order to see growth in the body of Christ.  The Word of God is the only medium that will not change and is profitable for many things (2 Timothy 3:16).[¹]

Paul, in Ephesians 4:15, exhorts the reader to be “speaking the truth in love”.

When true lives are married to love, the Spirit is free to do his work, and the result is wonderful.” [²]

The sufficiency of Scripture must be relied upon in both the life of the teacher and the life of the student (all believers).  If this reliance is not found on one side of this equation the effectiveness of the medium of growth greatly diminishes.

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[¹] Not only is God’s Word profitable for instruction in righteousness (which is what we all love about it) but it is also profitable to reprove and correct us when we make those wrong turns that we are all prone to make in life.
[²] R. Kent HughesPreaching the Word: Ephesians, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990), 136.
©2013 Mark Davis

<< The Goal of Growth

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The Goal of Growth

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The ultimate goal of the preparation of the saints and the work of their ministry is the building up of the body of Christ.”¹ This building up of the body ultimately finds itself producing a great level of unity within the body of Christ.  This unity allows for believers young and old to be able to come together around a common goal and push forward.

As the local church (the body) grows toward Christ-likeness individually, the corporate unity begins to take place.

Having established that the gifted people were given to the church for the immediate purpose of preparing all the saints to minister for the building up of the body of Christ, Paul explains the need for the process to continue until attaining the goal that believers mature to the measure of the fullness of Christ.”²

Maturity does not always equate to unity nor does unity always equate to maturity.  Many times one will make the other to be more likely, but they can be used synonymously.  Full maturity that is to the measure of the fullness of Christ cannot humanly be experienced this side of eternity, but it is extremely necessary for the believer to continue to strive toward that end.  Paul explains in verses fourteen and fifteen the importance of growing individually so that the whole body can function as it was designed.  If one part has failed to develop as it should then failure is eminent and thus the entire body will suffer.

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¹ Frank Thielman, Ephesians, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2010), 280.
² Harold Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 551.
©2013 Mark Davis

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Lesson 13 – Baptist Distinctives – Assignments

Lesson 13

ASSIGNMENTS

1.     Memorize 1 Timothy 4:16

2.     Read Romans 9 — 16.  Make notes of truths you find in this section about doctrines and about the Baptist distinctives.

NOTES

1.     A blessing I received each day as I read in Romans 9 — 16:

Day 1 — Romans 9 _______________________________________

Day 2 — Romans 10 ______________________________________

Day 3 — Romans 11 ______________________________________

Day 4 — Romans 12 — 13 __________________________________

Day 5 — Romans 14 _____________________________________

Day 6 — Romans 15 _____________________________________

Day 7 — Romans 16 _____________________________________

2.      Notes on doctrines which we believe and the Baptist distinctives that I found as I read Romans 9 — 16:

1.     The Bible (only role for faith and practice) __________________

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2.     God _____________________________________________

3.     The Lord Jesus Christ _________________________________

4.     The Holy Spirit _____________________________________

5.     Man _____________________________________________

6.     Salvation __________________________________________

7.     Satan ____________________________________________

8.     The Christian Life ___________________________________

9.     Heaven and Hell ____________________________________

10.    Future Events _____________________________________

11.    Separation of Church and State (Particularly  note truths you learn from Romans 13 about a Christian’s relationship to government.)

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12.    Regenerate Church Membership _________________________

13.    Baptism of Believers Only ______________________________

14.    Priesthood of Believer ________________________________

15.    Autonomy of Local Church _____________________________

16.    Eternal Security ____________________________________

17.    The Lord’s Supper ___________________________________

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© 2012 Mark Davis

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