In our last study we learned that becoming a church member means a willingness to honour one another through humility. Among other things, this humility shows itself through deference, service and sacrifice. In this study we will continue to look at the “one anothers” of scripture and see that the Lord desires all believers to encourage one another in the truth.
Encourage One Another in the Truth
Church life is a corporate life. For this reason, God compares the church to a body, a family and even a building. What do these things have in common? They each have parts or members that are dependent upon one another. God has designed it so that corporate church life would be an indispensable part of every believer’s spiritual growth.
It is within the community of the church that we receive teaching, encouragement, comfort, and even needed rebuke. As you complete this study, consider what role you should play in encouraging other believers along in their spiritual growth.
Encouraging One Another Through the Word of God
You may be surprised to learn that teaching is not exclusively the responsibility of the Pastor or elders. It is true that men holding these offices are commanded to teach, and should be gifted to do so (1 Tim 3:2; 2 Tim 2:24). But it is also true that every church member should be able to employ the word of God for the building up of one another.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Clearly Pastors, teachers, and evangelists ought to teach, but look closely at verse 12.
Ephesians 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Pastors and teachers are given to the church for the purpose of building up every believer so that they also can do the work of the ministry. This work may not have anything to do with holding an office or having a title. It is all about ministering the word of God to one another. As we minister the word to one another, believers are encouraged and the body of Christ is built up. It is in this way that every church member is a minister of the word of God!
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
God has chosen to build his church through the ministry of the word of God. This means that when we use the Bible for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness, we are using God’s means to build up the body. In fact, the subsequent verses in Ephesians 4 indicate that through the ministry of the Pastors and teachers and through the work of the ministry performed by the church, the church itself will be built up into loving unity, spiritual maturity (v13) and doctrinal stability (v14).
So how does the average church member fulfill his calling to teach his fellow believers?
Colossians 3:16 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.
Romans 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Don’t think of teaching here as a professor in front of a classroom. Instead, think of believers sharing the word of God with one another in everyday situations. Maybe words of encouragement over coffee. Perhaps scripture shared with a struggling brother, just at the right time. Or maybe help seeing life circumstances through the lens of scripture. Each of these is an example of believers encouraging one another through the word.
In each of the examples above, one thing is sure, before we can ever hope to encourage or build up others through the word of God, we must first know the scriptures ourselves. The commands we are about to see from scripture, assume first of all that we ourselves study the Word frequently; that we are familiar with it; and that we are living lives of obedience to it.
When we as believers are familiar with the scriptures, we can share the word with others. Relationship troubles, emotional turmoil, struggles over sin and temptation – the word of God has answers for all of these. Would you be able to share the relevant truths of scripture with someone who was dealing with these things? How about the believer who is studying and having a hard time understanding a doctrine of the faith? Would you be able to explain it more clearly? Only if you yourself are familiar with the word.
Your spiritual growth and maturity isn’t just about you. Your fellow believers need you to grow and learn the Word so that you can teach and encourage them when they need it. It is for this very reason that God has entrusted you with His Holy Spirit (1 Pet 4:10; 1 Cor 12:7).
Encouraging One Another Through Our Spiritual Gifts
The word edify means to “build up” or “strengthen” one another. As church members, our desire should be to build each other up in the faith and to encourage one another in becoming more and more like our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
The Corinthians were jealous for the flashiest spiritual gifts – those which were often in the spotlight and therefore thought to be the “better” gifts. Paul told them that the best gifts are those which are exercised for the building up of one another.
As church members we should be constantly looking for opportunities to build each other up in the faith. Whether it is speaking words of encouragement when others are down; reaching out to them when they’ve been absent; sharing the word when they have struggles or simply modelling a mature Christian life – each of these is helpful in building each other up. The key is always to be on the lookout for opportunities to do so.
Encouraging One Another Through Our Conversation
Just as words can strengthen and build, they can also weaken and tear down. For this reason, we should always be on guard against unhelpful or hurtful conversations within the church.
Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Believers should be in the habit of speaking to one another about the Lord, about His glory, about His work in their lives and everything else that pleases him.
We should avoid profanity, off-colour jokes and vain talking in general. This includes refusing to make the world and its lusts a regular topic of conversation (movies, celebrities, gossip, etc.) and even sharing unnecessary details of our lives before salvation (Eph 5:11-12). Our words can build or they can destroy. It takes a conscious effort on our part to speak words of encouragement to others.
Encouraging One Another by Denying Ourselves
Romans 15:1-3 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
Sometimes our effort to build others up in the faith means that we will have to forgo some of our own Christian liberties. If my actions (though not sinful), become an impediment to the growth of others, I should be willing to limit those things. Sometimes loving others and building them up in the faith means that I will have to deny myself.
You can see how this study and the previous one are connected. If we are concerned with building up others, sometimes this will mean sacrificing the exercise of our rights. In the example cited by Paul, strong brothers had to be willing to limit their spiritual liberty for the sake of weaker brothers. This is an act of selfless sacrifice for the sake of others and a wonderful reflection of the character of our Lord Jesus Christ (Php 2:5-11).
Encouraging One Another By Our Example
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
As believers we should always be consciously considering how we might provoke, encourage, stir up or spur on our fellow believers in the faith.
Sometimes at Calvary Baptist Church we will ask people to share what they have been reading in their Bibles, what they have been studying, what answers to prayer they have received, etc. This is our way of helping the church encourage one another. When you share your spiritual life with others, it will encourage them to follow your example. The best way for this to take place is for such things to be shared within your everyday conversations with others. It ought to be the regular practice of believers to seek ways to encourage one another in the faith.
As stated in the passage above, one of the easiest ways that we can encourage one another is through our regular church attendance. Our corporate gatherings are an extremely important ingredient in the spiritual lives of our members. Your regular attendance on Sunday, Wednesday and any other services is a tremendous encouragement to others who gather along with us. It is also another opportunity for you to connect with others and to find ways to build them up.
Encouraging One Another Through Rebuke
Building each other up in the faith is not always a matter happy affirmation. Sometimes what we need in our lives is a gentle rebuke tempered by love. This is what the Bible refers to as admonishment. (Col 3:16; 2 Thess 3:15).
1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Admonishment means to warn, caution or reprove gently. When might such admonishment be necessary? Perhaps when you notice a fellow believer beginning to develop sinful attitudes, affections or habits. Maybe, they’ve begun receiving teaching from questionable sources. It could be that they’ve been offended and are not handling it in a spiritual way. Maybe they have developed a sinful attitude toward other believers. It could be that they have begun to spread gossip and cause division. Whatever the case may be, sometimes we as believers need each other to gently, patiently and lovingly admonish us.
The key to admonishment is that it be administered well and received well. For this reason, the scripture is clear that we should admonish one another with patience. The word for admonishment itself assumes that it be carried out with gentleness. The only motivations for admonishing a fellow church member are for their own spiritual good and the spiritual good of the church at large. It is not to be done out of spite, anger, frustration or impatience. Before ever approaching a fellow believer for the purpose of admonishing them, we must first check our own attitude and motivation (Matt 7:3-5).
As believers, we are not only accountable to God and the leaders he has placed within the church (Heb 13:17; 1 Thess 5:12-13), but we are also accountable to one another. Because we are mutually accountable, we should not only be willing to admonish others when they need it but also receive admonishment from them when we need it.
The Christian life is a corporate life. That is, God has designed the Christian life in such a way that believers are utterly dependent upon one another. Whether you think of the church as a family, a body or a building, each part needs all of the others. Consequently, the Christian who is not a part of a church will not be able to fulfill the responsibilities that God has given him, nor will he receive the spiritual benefits that God has provided for him – because these are born out in churh life.
The church is a body of believers who are devoted to teaching one another, building one another up, stirring each other up in the faith and even, when necessary, admonishing one another. As you consider joining Calvary Baptist Church, also consider the responsibility and accountability that comes with church membership.