It is good to be part of a church and to be blessed by each other’s ministry, but what about moving on from simply being members to working as builders? We have the blueprints to accomplish what the Lord requires; we just need the labourers to become active and get the job done.
The evangelical builders
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch” (Acts 14:19-21).
Paul, so the Jews of Antioch thought, was dead, but as the disciples stood around his apparent lifeless body, he sprung up and went right back into the city. This world believes that we are living in a post-Christian era. The Bible has been replaced with Darwinism, and the church cannot recover from that knockdown blow, or so our enemies think. Jesus on the other hand states that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” His church (Matthew 16:18). So who will we believe?
After leaving Antioch Paul heads to Derbe to reach other lost souls with the Gospel of salvation. We know that evangelism was the burden of his heart. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). His travels around Europe, though mainly Asia Minor, are called his missionary journeys, and it is certain that he desired to do nothing less or more than preach the good news and to teach the new converts. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). If only the modern church had the same drive preach and desire to build!
The exhorting builders
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
To exhort is to encourage others to continue to live for Christ despite the hardships that they might face for being believers. Paul encouraged them to increase their faith rather than to allow difficulties to discourage them. What would he have said to them? Would he have given them a pep talk like the positive confession preachers do and tell them to feel good about themselves? It is more likely that he would have reminded them that trouble is never far away when the Gospel is preached and believed. He would have encouraged them to maintain a holy lifestyle no matter what evildoers did to them. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). He would have urged them to stand strong in Christ in the assurance that nothing could take them away from Him. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Those who desire to build up the church must draw alongside those who falter and feel like giving up. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak” (Romans 15:1). But it is not just those who are weak in faith that need our encouragement. What about those we think are strong? Maybe they are not as strong as we suppose. We should encourage all of God’s people to keep on trusting in the Lord.
The edifying builders
“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed” (Acts 14:23).
Sadly there are some Christians who think their ministry is to tear down rather than build. They have nothing good to say about anyone, but are quick to find the least fault and expound upon it. Paul was not like that, instead, since he had a pastor’s heart, he arranged for the church to be spiritually fed, so elders were ordained to teach the believers. “And [God] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
We must never be part of the ‘demolishing team’ when it comes to things pertaining to the church of Christ. Those who engage in the practice are employed by a different company. It is the devil whose goal it is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). We ought to build up our fellow believers and be ready to share the wonderful truths of God’s word with them. This includes what Jesus commanded regarding our interaction with each other: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45). Which means laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).
God created man to be a builder, and throughout the millennia he has built wonderful and amazing things. Jesus is a builder too, for He built His church upon the solid rock (Matthew 16:18). Those who follow Him are builders because they build their lives on His word (Matthew 7:34). And as we have seen in this study, we can build other people up with evangelism, exhortation and edification. It is time for the church to rise up and build according to the blueprints found in God’s word.