SHARPER THAN A SWORD

SERMONS

Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

Self Edifying Body

The church of the Lord as described and established by New Testament scripture is edified or built up within itself! It was never the Lords' intent that His church be educated by a society, institution, or college.

Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love .”

The work of teaching and establishing Christians for proper living and service, according to the will of the Lord, is most certainly a mission of the church.

There is a strange notion among saints that the sole responsibility for the edification of the brethren rests upon the evangelist. It is true that evangelists play an important part in this work of the church.

At the end of Paul's third journey, as he traveled towards Jerusalem , he and his companions stopped in Caesarea . Here he would come across Philip the evangelist ( Acts 21:8 ). This is the same Philip that we find going and staying in Caesarea some twenty years earlier ( Acts 8:40 ). He has been with these brethren in Caesarea , evangelizing, teaching, building them up (a located preacher), for some time!

Likewise, after Paul's release from prison in Rome , he would take Titus to Crete . Leaving him there, He would then go on to take Timothy to Ephesus (for them to evangelize or edify). When he returned to Greece, he would write them both back and charge them to continue in the work he verbally relayed to them (to Titus: set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city – Titus 1:5 ; Timothy: that he charge some that they teach no other doctrine – I Timothy 1:3 ). Note the specific instructions Paul gave Timothy and its application for the work of the evangelist:

2 Timothy 4:2-5 Preach the word ! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince , rebuke , exhort , with all longsuffering and teaching . 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist , fulfill your ministry.”

In this we see that the evangelist is an important piece of the churches mission to edify itself in love. However, it was never the Lord's intent that these bear the responsibility alone, note:

2 Timothy 2:1-2 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also .”

2 Timothy 2:14-15 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God , a worker who does not need to be ashamed , rightly dividing the word of truth .”

Here we see that evangelists are only part of the mechanism necessary to edify the body.

 

Let's look at some facts concerning this process of edification and denote exactly how the body is to edify itself!

 

Fact #1.

Ephesians 4:16 “from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies , according to the effective working by which every part does its share , causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

The church is edified by the growth and production of its membership! Note that Paul does not say, “By the elders only”, or, “it's the evangelists job!” The elders have the oversight, the evangelists are to preach the word and charge that no one teaches any other doctrine, but the fact of the matter is that for the body to grow, it requires every part to play a role.

The apostle Paul, writing to Christians in Rome concerning certain liberties in Christ, describes a specific focus each and every Christian is to have (man or woman, elder, preacher, deacon, or saint):

Romans 14:19 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another .”

The congregation is edified and strengthened to the same degree that its membership is developed in Christian character and service (see: Titus 2:1-10 ).

 

Fact #2.

Ephesians 4:13-15 “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love , may grow up in all things into Him who is the head —Christ”

Edification of the body of Christ is a vital role in the mission of the church and must be prioritized by the church ! In order for the church to successfully accomplish the work that the Lord gave, it requires a prepared people!

Consider the Hebrew Christians of the letter that bears this name! They were about to give up Christianity and go back to Judaism because of persecutions (an antiquated system of service to God, that no longer fulfilled its purpose – Colossians 2:14 ). This weakness and backsliding was due to a lack of growth among these Christians, note:

Hebrews 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

In many cases, the lack of church growth is blamed on the evangelist (not just numeric, but in edification also)! However, just like these Christians, the blame truly and more accurately falls on the lack of growth of the individuals within the body.

When our children are failing in school, regardless of the subject, regardless of the quality of the teacher, we get them tutors. We do this because we expect them to learn and grow ! How is it possible then that this same application is not the priority of struggling saints?

 

Fact #3.

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service . 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord , knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Spiritual growth is to be attained through individual effort ! Spiritual growth is not based on emotion, entertainment, or predicated on the growth of someone else. It is each of our responsibilities to find the motivation within us to grow spiritually!

Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Having been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus our Lord (by the remission of all our sins), and having been added to the greatest entity the world has ever known (the kingdom of His dear Son – Colossians 1:13 ), is that not motivation enough?

 

Fact #4.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works , 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another , and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Christians are to encourage and edify one another! Face it! The reason this lesson hits home is that it is easy to become distracted from this obvious duty of ours. This is why we are so important to each other. If we are truly of the same family in Christ, why would we ignore the obvious needs on one another to grow?

Exhorting one another can be encouragement. Sometimes it might take on the form of discipline or a warning. Other times it might take on the form of bearing with the weak or being an example, note:

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”

In considering one another, we must learn to be both a student and a teacher. We must recognize our own needs and recognize those of others (see: Philippians 2:1-4 ). However, above all else, we must learn that the worst thing we can do is NOTHING!

 

Conclusion:

There can be absolutely no doubt that a body of Christ is expected to edify itself. This is then one of the primary concerns and works of a congregation. Edification is not the sole responsibility of the evangelist, but is the primary function of each and every part of the body. A congregation grows in edification as a direct correlation and in proportion to the development of its membership and their understanding of this need!

Do not be deceived, each congregation's growth is measured by the Lord (see: Revelation 2-3 – read the descriptions of the seven churches of Asia as portrayed by the Lord!).

 

Each of us needs to find the instinctive desire that a newborn has for nourishment, with regards for our growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord ( I Peter 2:2 ; II Peter 1:2 ). As we mature, this is not an excuse to relax and decrease in our efforts. It is the time to dive into solid food, that which requires careful discernment and application, note:

Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

 

My grandmother used to say, “Weeds grow in the garden right next to the vegetables, without any effort. It takes effort to grow a plant that bears fruit!” If we do nothing towards our edification, we become like the weeds; or we can be diligent towards our spiritual growth and be able to bear the fruit that is expected by the Lord.

Colossians 1:9-10 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

 

As the oversight establishes classes, services, and events to comply with this vital church function, we must support them all. When we find ourselves failing, find tutors! In addition, we must edify one another in love (you cannot edify or be edified by those whom you never see!). Remember that the measure of the body is found in what every joint supplies, till we all come to the unity of the faith.

 

If We Are All Involved, The Body Will

Edify Itself!