What if the people of God actually believed the central doctrines that bind them together? Continuing from my previous posts, I want to ask this question, beginning with the core values of the church that I work for, but ultimately dreaming about the church as a whole. I want to see a people, united by God, come to full belief in the things of God, so as a personal exercise of hope and reflection, I want to draw out these lines of thought. The question I will go from today is: what if the church was committed to equipping the saints?
The Purpose of the Church
I think that a good place to start in addressing this topic is to ask what the true purpose of the church really is. Here you can find a post I wrote previously about why it is important to prioritize the church, but what is the actual purpose of the organization of the church?
Looking at the picture of the first church in Acts 2:42-47, I think the church body is designed to serve 3 primary purposes:
These things are seen in this picture of the first church, and throughout all of the New Testament we see believers being encouraged to pursue them. The institution of the church, then, exists to support these things in the body of the church. Ephesians 4:11-13 talks about how Christ has given members of the body certain gifts, and some have been called to be “pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” so that all can be brought to maturity in their walk with Christ. It is no surprise that Paul lists “able to teach” as a requirement for leaders of the church (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9). If God has designed the church to fill these roles, and has called some to equip the saints, then as the church we should want God’s people to be equipped for God’s work.
Isn’t this just for pastors though?
The calling to ministry is not just for those in vocational ministry. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us that Jesus’ work for us not only frees us from sin, but gives us a mission. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” He goes on to say, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, 20). This message is not for the pastor or the ministry worker, this is being written to all believers. If you are a follower of Christ, you have received the ministry of reconciliation and have a mission to be pointing people to Jesus.
Do I need to be equipped?
If God has given us all a hand in his work, then to submit to that means that we should seek to do his work to the best of our ability. Going back to Ephesians 4 where we see that the church is called to equip her people, we also see why. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). We get equipped so that we will no longer be infants, but be mature in our faith. Part of the reason that Christ gives us his Holy Spirit is so that we will not sit in our ignorance and infancy of faith, but be grown and developed through His work in us (John 14:26, Philippians 1:6).
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)
What would this look like?
Would it not be amazing if all of God’s people were trained for the advancement of God’s kingdom? What if the everyday Christian was not someone sitting in complacency being spoon fed the basic doctrines of Christ, but was instead fully equipped to raise up and train others in their faith? In the great commission, Jesus says to make disciples, but he doesn’t stop there. He says to make disciples AND teach them to observe all he has commanded (Matthew 28:20). Part of our mission as a people is to train people in righteousness, and I believe if we are faithful to that, we will not see people satisfied with complacency, but people who are “not ashamed of the Gospel,” because they know “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Let’s be passionate about people growing in their faith!
Please join me in praying that I would personally be growing in my faith and love for Jesus. Additionally, pray that churches and Christians would see that value of training people and equipping them for the work of ministry. Finally, ask that God would build you up in faith, and that you would understand the power of the Gospel to be unashamed in your living of it!