Category 1: Edification
1. You need to edify others who are committed to the church body
Ephesians 4:7, 11-16 (ESV)– But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11 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, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom 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.
Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus that they are to be equipped by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers to build up the body of Christ. They are to speak the truth to each other in love and grow the body. When they do this, they build the unity of faith, keep each other from satanic false teachings, and strengthen the church as a whole, including the strengthening of the individual parts. You must speak the truth in love to others and build up the body of Christ.
1 Cor. 12:4-7, 12-14 (ESV) – 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
Paul tells the Christians at Corinth (and by extension, Christians today) that we have spiritual gifts for the common good of the whole body (all the members of the body of Christ in a locale). So the spiritual gifts are for the good of the local church to which one is committed. You must use your gifts given to you by the Spirit for the common good of the body of Christ.
Heb. 10:19-20, 24-31 (ESV) – 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,… 24 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. 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
Because of Christ’s death, Christians are to stir up each other to love and good works. This means they must meet together. If there is no meeting together there is very little possibility of stirring up in that culture, and even with increased technology, the same is true today. We are humans and part of our humanity is our body, and we lose something when we try to stir up each other away from each others’ presence. The need to stir each other to love and good works is because if we don’t we go on sinning, and if we go on in sin then we will find out that we were never really Christian. You need to stir others to love and good works. You need to meet with them to do that.
Hebrews 3:12-14 (ESV) – 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
So here, the God tells Christians to exhort each other every day lest we be hardened by sin and fail to hold our original confidence firm to the end. No Christian can see himself perfectly and so he will miss sin in his life that he needs to deal with. Who’s going to see it and tell him about it? You are. You need to exhort others everyday in their walk with Christ and their need to fight sin.
To summarize, you as a Christian need to be speaking the truth to others, using your spiritual gifts for the common good, stirring others to good works, meeting together, and exhorting one another away from sin. One way to say this is that you must edify/build up other Christians. This happens by necessity in local churches (as the next two categories will make clear). But before that, reason number two.
2. You need to be edified by others who are committed to the church body
This second reason to join the church is the flipside of the first reason. Not only do you need to edify others, you need to be edified by others. You need others to speak the truth to you. You need others to use their spiritual gifts for your good because they are gifted where you are not. You need others to stir you to good works and love because sometimes we lose passion. You need others to meet with you to stir you up. You need exhortations from others regarding sin in your life because you have blind spots and cannot see all of your own sin. In short, you need others to serve and edify you if you are to grow the way Christ wants you to grow.
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