(taken from Building Christian Unity, pg. 30-32)
Principle #3: The body matures as each member ministers. “According to the effective working by which every part does its share” (Eph. 4:16). Are you doing your share? Each of us has a ministry to fulfill in building the Body of Christ. Are you doing your part? Remember, nobody else can do the job God has called you to do. And if you don’t do it, you miss the blessing and you rob the church of growth.
We have too much individualism in the church today. People stay at home and read books and listen to cassettes and radio programs. But we need the fellowship of the local church if we are to serve and grow in a balanced way. These other activities are good only as they enable us to edify others.
God uses the fellowship and ministry of the local church to equip us (v. 12). He also uses the Word of God (II Tim. 3:16,17).
We are also equipped through prayer. Paul told the Thessalonians that he was praying for them: “Night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith” (I Thess. 3:l0). We can help people grow through our prayers. Are you praying personally for people in your fellowship?
Sometimes God perfects and equips us through suffering. “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (I Pet. 5:10). If we permit Satan to have his way, suffering will tear us down. But if we allow God to work, suffering will build us up.
The church body matures from within, in an atmosphere of love, as each member ministers the truth in love.
Principle #4: The body matures to a predetermined image. God wants His people and His Church collectively to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not to become like our preacher or some media minister whom we greatly admire. We should become like the Lord Jesus Christ. “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). “Conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).
How do you measure the effectiveness of the ministry of the local church? It certainly is not based on money, buildings or political popularity; or the church in the Book of Acts would be considered a failure! Jesus Christ is the measure. If you want to measure the ministry of your church, ask yourself, “Are the people in this fellowship becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we acting like Jesus in our committee meetings and church business meetings? Are we becoming like Jesus in our care for other people and our burden for the lost?”
You don’t measure the effectiveness of the ministry by annual reports, as helpful as they are. You measure the ministry by the changes that take place in the lives of people as they serve one another and become more like the Son of God.
Here, then, are four principles for us to follow as we seek to develop maturity in the local church. The body grows from within – not by addition but by nutrition – as we “speak the truth in love.” The nutrition is the Word of God, and the Word must be shared in an atmosphere of love.
The body matures as each member does his share. This means discovering, developing and dedicating our spiritual gifts to serve Jesus Christ in our local church and wherever He sends us. Finally, the body matures to a predetermined image – “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Thank God that one day all believers will be like the Lord Jesus Christ! But today we ought to be growing more like Him and helping others to do so.
We will have unity in our churches if we cultivate maturity, the kind of maturity that allows unity and diversity to live together and work together to the glory of God.
© 2004 Warren W. Wiersbe
© by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).