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Sunday, July 13, 2014 am                            Basics Index

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The New Testament Church 6
The work of the church – Edification

 

Last week we began examining the work of the church.  We addressed the need for evangelism.  As we continue our study of the work of the church today we want to address edification.

As noted in our introduction last week, there is much misapplication concerning the work of the church, both in the denominational world and among brethren.  It is so prevalent that the church has lost its Biblical distinction in many places.  When people see a church today they see a social organization designed to cater to their worldly needs, with the gospel message as secondary.  That is NOT what the church is about! 

We have defined the church as the “gathering of the saved” and is a spiritual relationship with God and Christ in its universal sense, and in a local sense (a congregation) it is “a gathering of saints (membership based upon belief that they are in the universal church) who join together in a given location to do the work God has given to such bodies.”  In detail we have made the distinction between the two.  NOTICE, that as you define the church it has to do with the saved.  It is about our spiritual life.  That is borne out in every work of the church.  Worship is about God and not us.  Evangelism is taking the gospel to the lost (through supporting its preaching and edifying its members).  Today we want to discuss the work of edification.

 I.                    What is edification?

a.        One of the problems we have today in church is a failure to scripturally define this word and others.

b.       Edification (edify) is a word that means to build up –
ο
κοδομή, (oikodome – noun); οκοδομέω (oikodomeo – verb) – is actually a compound Greek word with 2 roots meaning 1) a house & 2) to build.  The word is used about 39 times in the New Testament in its varying forms. 
According to its usage in the Greek language, it was a common word that could have two meanings – either a building that had been constructed OR the act of building that structure. 
As a building it is found in Matt. 24:1 speaking of the “buildings of the temple.”
As the act of building – Luke 12:18 the rich fool desired to “tear down my barns and build greater”
Matthew 7:24, ““Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:” (also vs. 26)
Matthew 16:18, “…and on this rock I will build my church.

c.        Edification – spiritually, to build up. 
Building, build - Sometimes the term “build” or “building” is used to describe us– for example:
1 Cor. 3:9, ““For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Ephesians 2:21,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
1 Peter 2:5–7,  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”

d.       Edify, edification - ANYTIME the word “edify” is used in the New Testament (NKJV), the word is dealing with building up the saints. The word is found some 10 times as a noun, and 9 times as edify as a verb.  A study of these texts gives us a good grasp of how the word is to be used.
Romans 14:19, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
Romans 15:2, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.
1 Corinthians 14:3–4, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (, NKJV)

1 Corinthians 14:12, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
1 Corinthians 8:1, “Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

CONSIDER: When we see this word “edify” or “edification” you will notice it consistently has a spiritual connotation to it.  It is dealing with strengthening brethren in the gospel.  It is not dealing with supply for our material and worldly needs.
As a church we are expected to grow – that is what edification is about.

e.       Fellowship – from the Greek κοινωνία (koinonia - Noun) & κοινωνέω (koinoneo – Verb), it is a word that means, “close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, close relationship.” (BDAG) 
The idea of fellowship is sharing something.  WHAT is shared is indicated by the text. 
The word in its various forms is used in the New Testament about 38 times.  In the KNJV it is most often translated “fellowship”, then communion, partakers, partners, sharing, contribution (1x), etc.
A study of the various texts ties this word, as with edify, to spiritual things (with occasion reference to beneficial relief of saints – next week).   Consider the following verses:
1 Corinthians 10:20, “…and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
1 Corinthians 1:9,  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Philippians 2:1, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:6–7,  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
This is a sampling of the passages that use the word “fellowship”. 
As noted there are other words translated from the Greek, “koinoneo” (and its forms) – distributing to needs of saints (Rom. 12:13 – benevolence); contribution (Romans 15:26 – benevolence); share - “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” (Galatians 6:6)  also 2 John 11 – shares in his evil deeds; shared (Philippians 4:15 – evangelism), Philemon 6 – the sharing of your faith; partake – (1 Pet. 4:13 – in Christ’s sufferings), 1 Cor. 10:18 – partakers of the altar (speaking of priests); etc. 
NOTICE how in EVERY passage based upon the Greek (and translated into English), it is not dealing with social gatherings, but that which we share spiritually (for good or bad). 

 II.                  The work of edification in the church

a.        Ephesians 4:11-16 helps us understand edification within a local church.
Leaders are given to build us up, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” (4:12) …“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.” (Ephesians 4:16)

b.       The church edifies as its leaders look out for the souls of its saints
Cf. Ephesians 4:11-16
One of the terms used to describe elders is “pastor” or “shepherd.”  (1 Peter 5:2)
 In scripture, when the word is used it is in reference to the ELDERS and NOT the preacher (unless the preacher is an elder).  The idea of shepherding is to lead them and feed the flock. 
Heb. 13:7, 17 – the elders are watching out for your souls. 
An example of this is given in Acts 20:28-31 where Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders and he challenges them saying, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Paul continues to warn them that wolves would arise and not spare the flock.  Therefore they were to WATCH.   

c.        The church edifies as it worships God
Last week as we were introducing what the work of the church is we noted 4 works.  Typically 3 are mentioned. 
1 Corinthians 14 deals with spiritual gifts and the assembly.  While these miraculous spiritual gifts have completed their purpose and thus are no longer present, the attitudes and principles established in this chapter still apply.    Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” (1 Corinthians 14:12)   Paul’s point is that in our worship, the WAY we execute IS to build us up. 

Colossians 3:16,  teaching and admonishing one another

d.       The church edifies through the teaching of God’s word – again notice Ephesians 4:12-16.  What are the saints being built up for?  So that they are grounded in the faith and not “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” (vs. 14)   So that they can through truth GROW into Christ (vs. 15)
Acts 20:32 as Paul concluded his admonition to the elders he said, ““So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Colossians 2:6-7 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

e.       The church edifies when we assemble together -
1 Corinthians 14:26,
 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Heb. 10:24-25 – we find that as we assemble, we are exhorting one another.

f.         The church edifies as we exhort and encourage one another – many passages dealing with edification are not directed at the church, but at individuals. 
Jude 20, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
Romans 14:19, Rom. 15:2 – as previous mentioned we pursue that which edifies
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”  When we have the love for one another we ought to have, it will contribute to the body growing.  
Again, consider Ephesians 4:16 which notes that when EVERY part does it share it causes growth in the body for the edifying of itself in love. 

g.        Much of this growth is also developed by individual efforts – the church CANNOT make you grow spiritually.  It cannot give you enough knowledge so that you don’t need to study on your own. 
2 Tim. 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God…rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Peter 3:18 tells us each to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-11 describes how we build upon our faith so that we will be strong. 
When we grow in the faith, it will reflect upon the growth of the church. 
By doing its work – in essence when a church is doing what God intended for her to do, edification will be taking place.  IN other words, the body will be built up and we will be strengthened in the Lord and in the faith. 

 

 III.                What is NOT authorized

a.        IN the name of edification, churches have veered off into many unauthorized practices.  Today we have churches who see it as their mission to “cater to the whole man”.   For some this has become their PRIMARY focus. 
As a result of this, they will build “Fellowship halls” to provide social and recreational activities; they will use some of these activities to “attract” visitors from outside; they will conduct seminars of financial planning, successful parenting and family counseling, addiction groups, etc.
Some will sponsor sporting teams and events.
Some will build day care centers, schools and colleges to provide secular education (with a biblical foundation), etc.

b.       EVERYONE of these things has a place in our society and are needed.  They are good works, and quite honestly, they need to be organized with godly principles intact.  I would even go as far as to say Christians can, and maybe should, be involved in every one of these activities.

c.        BUT, ARE THEY THE WORK OF THE CHURCH?  Is the church authorized to build, sponsor or support such works? The answer is NO!  That is NOT what the church is about!  There is NO Biblical authority for such!  Not ONE example, command or even a remote inference to the church doing such things.  As we have seen, in the Bible, edification is about building us up spiritually.

d.       Sometimes it is argued that such things can be used as a tool to evangelize.  You provide social activities, they will come and you have opportunity to teach them.  Even if this were true it is STILL not authorized. 
BUT, consider what Jesus said in John 6:26 after feeding 4000 with a small amount of food, “Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 
In Acts 2:46, 1 Cor. 11:22 we find that it was in houses where Christians ate together (not the Lord’s Supper)

e.       IF it takes such to get one into services, usually it takes MORE of the same to keep them.   That is why churches caught up in these types of activities are always seeking bigger and bettering things.

f.         One final note here:  As already noted, there IS a place for these things and Christians MUST prefer one another and ought to engage in social functions often.  In many instances churches have taken the work that belongs to the individual and applied it to the church.  That is not right.  That is NOT the work of the church.   We CANNOT “hire” the church to fulfill our personal responsibilities (Gal. 6:5).

 

And thus we can see that edification in the Bible is about building us up in the faith.  When we draw closer to God, it will draw us closer to one another.  The result will be that we will prefer to be with one another, even when we are assembled as the Lord’s church we are a part of.  And I think that is what God intended.  Let us keep the work of the church where God intended for it to be, even in these things.  Think about it.