Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth


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Growth is an integral part of all life; from plants, the animal kingdom, to humanity. We expect to see growth in all that lives, so it is in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul explained to the Colossian believers; “…holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).

Let the Body of Christ grow with God’s growth

As Paul was warning Colossian believers of imposters infiltrating the congregation, he inserts this affirmation of how God works to grow His church. Healthy saints cling to Christ who “is the head of the church, his body” (Ephesians 5:23). It’s Christ who administers nourishment and knits together every member of the church body. No one is left out or overlooked; however, each member must accept the growth God gives.

God designed growth

God’s design for “the whole body” is to grow its “joints and ligaments” which are the individual Christians that make up the local church congregation. No member is ever qualified to step aside and stop growing in Christ’s body. Individual believers grow best when connected and functioning selflessly in the body.

Christ circulates the necessary spiritual nutrients for growth through church relationships by feeding on God’s Word, united worship, fellowship, prayer, and service. This is how individual members grow connections with other members to develop a healthy church body. Sadly, if a limb separates from the body, it quickly withers, losing the nutrition for life because it chose amputation. This is never God’s intension or desire.

Christians need each other. First, because togetherness maintains connection with the Head (Christ). Second, the various gifting’s of other believers enable you to receive nutrition from the Head. Third, it’s only in the church body that you grow “with a growth that is from God.” Any appearance of growth that’s isolated from the body is not from God and is imitation (James 3:13-18).

Growth is interpersonal

This was Paul’s point to the Ephesians; “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). If the body development is not Christ centred, with the exaltation of Christ as the source and purpose, it’s not of God. Paul explained it to the Corinthians this way; “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). Believers need each other in order for God to grow them in Christ for His glory alone.

Paul personalised this for the Ephesians by saying; “the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). When ‘agape’ love is deficient in the body or an individual, growth is stunted and the body is deprived of the ability to grow in God’s strength.

Here, Paul is speaking to heart intention; your motives make a difference to your church growth. Personal growth, or lack of it, in part, effects the growth of other members of Christ’s body in your local congregation. It’s inescapable! If God’s love dwells in you (Rom 5:5), you will be compelled by that love (2Co 5:14) to benefit other members in Christ’s body by doing everything you can to permit God’s strength to be your strength.

Today, intentionally do the things which will enable the body of Christ to grow with God’s growth? Share this with another believer to encourage their growth. The Lord will be honoured, they will be blessed, and you will be joyed.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

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I encourage you to let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

In Ephesians 3:14-16 we find the apostle Paul praying for the strength of the church. Two thousand years later, few believers would deny their need for spiritual strengthening. So, we’re going to look at Paul’s specific requests, acknowledging they are as relevant today as they were then.

Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

God’s mercy provides all that’s needed for His children “according to the riches of his glory” (Eph 3:16a). The Lord doesn’t hand out left-overs, nor does He give second-hand gifts. No, He provides the very best Heaven has to offer; and what He gives is a reflection of the infinite wealth of His own holy majesty and power, His glory.”

Therefore Paul was requesting the very best God had to offer the Christians in Ephesus. He wanted the Lord to grant them “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16b). Paul’s not asking God to simply help them. He’s not asking for external assistance, nor is he asking for a top-up of energy to get them through the day. No, Paul’s asking God to engage His Holy Spirit in energising their entire inner person; spiritually, emotionally, and physically, with the required measure of divine resources needed in each individual.

A big request for a big God

This was no small proposal. In order “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17a), Holy Spirit intervention is needed. Therefore, Paul wanted the Lord’s will to win the day (Eph 1:11) through Christ’s Lordship over the believer’s entire inner being through the mechanism of faith. As we know from Ephesians 2:8-9, faith is gifted from God due to mankind’s inability to possess it. This faith is a deep belief which is so convinced of God that dependant trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour is the only appropriate expression of that faith. That’s precisely what Paul wanted for believers.

Consequently, by God’s design, the body of Christ is to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17b). Authentic Holy Spirit generated love (Rom 5:5) is healthy, enabling others to know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Likewise, deep selfless love affirms a believer’s authenticity. Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Grounded in love” is obvious because it’s marked by obedience to Christ.

Christians need heavenly “strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:17b-19a). Make no mistake; God’s children are dependant upon the Holy Spirit’s inner strength if they are to mature to a truly deep realisation of Christ and His love.

Divine strength – not fantasy

Now, all this may sound somewhat fanciful, yet the apostle Paul and God are quite serious. Both desire “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19b). Enabling intimacy with God to grow to saturation with His character is paramount. This is God’s will for your life, and in order to accomplish His will, the Lord graciously grants the required strength.

Be encouraged Christian friend; “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

I encourage you to let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength. Share these truths with another believer so they too may be built up in their faith, for God’s glory, their blessing, and your joy.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

 Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength   Let the Body of Christ grow in God’s strength

Let the body of Christ be filled with joy

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I encourage you to let the body of Christ be filled with joy

Out of all the emotions in life, joy ranks amongst the highest. Joy is pleasurable for everyone involved, including those watching on, plus it glorifies God. Joy can range from a simple thought of contentment through to bellows of laughter and excitement.

Let the body of Christ be filled with joy

The apostle Paul, when explaining unity of Jew and Gentile in the church, offered up this one sentence prayer for the believers in Rome. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Paul is saying; God is the source of true joy for the church! He’s speaking of an unpretended resident joy which satisfies and is accompanied by peace. This overshadows all other emotions and grows out of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not dependent upon circumstances, although circumstances do impact it obviously. It’s a calm inner realisation that all is well because God is in control, and because Christ has paid the price to qualify you for His blessing. This settled realisation of satisfaction in Christ causes contentment that survives life’s greatest pains because of it’s eternal perspective.

How much joy?

This is why Paul asks God to fill you” with it, so that the pattern of your life would be one which is saturated with His joy, recognising Him as the reason for it. Paul is not asking God for happiness for the believers, but for “all joy.” Only the Lord can gift a believer with gladness that impacts the whole of life, that is flexible enough to endure the greatest trials, and survive the many variations of human emotions. “All joy” ranges from calm contentment to great excitement. It’s present through all the highs and lows because it permeates every other emotion.

Make no mistake; Paul is requesting something big for the body of Christ, which only God could deliver. He’s seeking a state of heart that is evidence of God as its source, accompanied by “peace in believing.” Belief in Jesus Christ as Lord settles the human heart. The spiritual battle is over, resistance is finished, and isolation from God and His church is in the past. Belief transports the saved sinner from separation to the path of peaceful joy.

This heart condition has great diversity in how it is experienced from person to person, from day to day, and circumstance to circumstance. Plus, it’s not intended by God to be a selfish experience. Rather, as joyful peace is a gift from God, it displays His mercy for His glory, therefore it has to be shared. This is because Holy Spirit generated joy is other-minded and inspires joy in other believers.

Out of this world joy

While this may sound too good to be true, we should remember that we cannot generate this of our own ability, rather, it’s “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Worldly peace which Jesus spoke of in John 14:27 is temporary by nature and dependent upon good circumstances and emotions to keep the sensation going. On the other hand, Holy Spirit generated joyful peace presents itself as a natural product, as a natural fruit of a life controlled by Christ (Galatians 5:22).

Paul concludes; Holy Spirit fuelled joyful peace is purpose designed that “you may abound in hope.” Hope in Jesus Christ is mankind’s only hope for eternal life and security that survives the grave.

I encourage you to let the body of Christ be filled with joy. Share this with another believer to built up their faith, for God’s glory, their blessing, and your joy.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Let the body of Christ be filled with joy   Let the body of Christ be filled with joy

Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

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I encourage you to let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

While peace is desired by many, few permit it to actually rule their lives. Life is sweet when peace governs; however, often temporary peace is nothing more than the product of getting what you want. It’s short lived because selfishness can only produce turmoil.

Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

The apostle Paul experienced much pain and betrayal during his life (2Co 11:24-28), yet writing to the believers in Colossae, he instructed them to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15a). Paul’s difficulties and lack of comfort or luxuries did not prevent Him wanting the very best God had for other believers. There is no greater treasure than the peace of Jesus Christ. God’s best for you is for Christ’s peace to govern your hearts by mastering your hearts.

The apostle Paul experienced much pain and betrayal during his life (2Co 11:24-28), yet writing to the believers in Colossae, he instructed them to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15a). Paul’s difficulties and lack of comfort or luxuries did not prevent Him wanting the very best God had for other believers. There is no greater treasure than the peace of Jesus Christ. God’s best for you is for Christ’s peace to govern your hearts by mastering your hearts.

Christ’s peace impacts others

Paul is clear about the relational nature of Christ’s peace; “to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15b). When God determined your salvation before the world existed (Eph 1:3-14), He purposed that His peace would NOT be kept in isolation. Christ’s peace is experienced best when it’s synchronised with Christ’s body.

Peace is one of the products of unity in the family of God which grows a safe haven for troubled hearts. So, obviously Paul says you should “be thankful”. Thankful because peace is such an enormous gift from God, which, when allowed to domineer your hearts, will enrich the life and vitality of the whole body of Christ.

The question begging to be asked is; how is Christ’s controlling peace activated in a believer? Paul explains; Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

The Bible is necessary for peace

Scripture is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit to ignite Christ’s peace. You are to saturate yourself with Christ’s Word so that it becomes the dominating truth, the ruling set of values, and the governing motivation in your thinking! Thoughts, feelings, ambitions, expectations, and responses are all to be ruled by Scripture. Then your Bible permeated thoughts will flow through your relationships and activities for the world to experience.

Bible induced peace equips God’s people to wisely teach each other in love, even correct one another in love. Only when the body surrenders to the rulership of Christ’s Word will peace stimulate you to sing and praise God with each other lovingly. Only then, is the collective church empowered to be thankful from the depths of their hearts producing unity in worship.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Once the governing peace of Christ overshadows your life, you will desire to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Meaning, each day you intentionally think how to live as a representative of Christ. You think of yourself as living in the place of Jesus in your environment. This great privilege lifts God’s children with an appreciation which becomes the spontaneous response of the life ruled by the peace Jesus Christ.

Today, I encourage you to let the peace of Christ rule you. Share these truths with another believer so they too can be built up in the faith. Forward this to someone you would like to disciple in following Jesus Christ, for God’s glory and their blessing.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ   Let the peace of Christ rule the body of Christ

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

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I encourage you to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled

The New Testament is loaded with descriptions of rightly controlled attitudes for the children of God. Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 fuels rightly controlled attitudes, which is a challenge for the entire body of Christ. “For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised”  (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlledNotice what ignites passion in a life for Christ. It’s NOT your love for Jesus. No, it’s “the love of Christ” directed toward we sinners, that’s the bullseye here. Christian’s need to remember, that of themselves, they were naturally disinterested in Jesus Christ.

Your relationship with Jesus is completely built upon the love Christ had for you while you were still distanced from Him in unbelief. It was God who initiated the relationship by showing his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In fact, in love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

There’s no deterring God

The Lord did not wait for you to show interest in Him, or until you were living a good enough life to qualify for His love. He didn’t wait to see if you would develop sufficient faith which would enable Him to join with you in a journey towards God. NO, he acted “according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11) in order to move you to respond to His love for you (Eph 1:7; 2:8-9; 2Ti 2:25).

Notice how Paul explains that it is Christ’s love which controls and compels him in the Christian life. Why? Because Paul had “concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2Co 5:14). Paul was gripped by the enormity of what it meant when Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for his sin.

Thought provoking belief

Paul thought it through, which is a great place to start. Christ died not only for Paul’s sin, but for the sin of all. Every person who would ever believe in Jesus death as God’s judgement for their own sin; that’s who Jesus died for. That’s a staggering number of sinful people Jesus was punished for. There’s no fluffy thinking or marshmallow belief here.

The result, Paul argues, is those who believe in Jesus “no longer live for themselves” (2Co 5:15a). Here’s the authenticity of a person’s faith. Christ looks to see if your appreciation is real enough to move you to obedience. This negative expression of genuine faith is refusal to live for self. The cost of your salvation to Christ is intended to transform your entire reason for living. So compelling is the sacrificial love of Jesus, that a sinner becomes motivated to stop living for self.

Consequently, the believer intentionally thinks and behaves “for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2Co 5:15b). This positive expression of genuine faith is intentional living for Christ. Living for Jesus is not an optional extra. Christ is your life, not self, not popularity, and not accumulation of wealth, but Christ (Col 3:4). It’s your living for Christ which testifies of the authentic gospel transformation within you. No pretending here. It’s either all for Christ or not at all. There’s no room for compromise or half-heartedness with Christ as Lord.

Today, encourage another Christian to consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong      www.baybiblefellowship.co.nz

   Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled   Consider what the body of Christ looks like when rightly controlled