Building A Mighty Force Thru Fellowship

Eph 4:10-16

 

This morning I want to address primarily those of us who are members of the Church that we might build a dynamic force for God. And in order for that to occur, we must built a mighty fellowship at the local base.

 

As we study the word of God we recognize that there needs to be growth God expects growth. And the 4th chapter of Ephesians is giving us a picture of the majesty and grandeur of the church. As the writer talks about its internal health, he states:  Ephesians 4:11-12 

 

11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”.      

And then in verse 16 ¾ “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”.

 

I want you to notice in this context, he is declaring that leadership is equip the saints. Not only with knowledge, but to train and hone their talents, and abilities that they may be able to perform works of service. And in verse 16 he says that the whole body is to energized  and built up, as  each joint supplies its part.

 

And so he deals with the body corporate and yet he focuses in on each individual member functioning in the body of Christ.  He says ¾ “which causes the growth of the body for itself in love.”

 

I believe there is growth in three dimensions.  There is  growth numerically, and we are interested in that,   we need to fill our buildings with precious souls. There is spiritual growth. We grow into the very nature of Christ. It says in  Eph 4:13  That  we all might become a mature man to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fulness  of Christ: “ 

 

But there is also growth in inter-personal relationships and that is what verse 16 is all about. Not only numerical growth, and spiritual growth individually, collectively as a body, but we are to grow in this living organism. The church is more than an organization,  it is living body,  and we are to grow,  we are to look out; but  we are  first to look in,  and reach in to  one another.

 

All through the Bible, it is replete with pleas  us to be unified and in harmony, and working together in concert . We are to meet each others needs at the local level: why even David in the Old Testament in the Psalms said.

“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”         Psm.133:1  

 

When Jesus came to establish his church , In John 13:34-35    there is a most potentate passage that I want you to look at with me. Jesus had just washed the disciples feet,  and he says in verse 34 ¾

 34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

 

You know Jesus said the real mark that you are my people is love.  Now I might have been prone to say, “You know the mark of discipleship is that we are baptized for the remission of sins,”  And as important as that is, that’s not what He said. Or I might have said, “You know the real mark of discipleship is partaking of the Lord’s supper every Lord’s Day, or  simply using a capella  or unaccompanied singing” He didn’t say that either.

 

He said the real heartbeat of my movement is love for if we love God and love our fellowman, everything else will fall into place, that’s central, that’s cardinal. But someone says: “Bro. Cope I don't understand, A new commandment? I thought OT commanded us to love one another”.  And it does,  but  you see Jesus has upped the ante. Not only are we to love our neighbor as ourselves, but now He gives love in a new dimension. There is a new point of reference, a new dynamic has been added by Christ.  He says; “that you  love one another,” Watch It: “As I have loved you. 

 

And so we are to love as Jesus loved. He’s our  example: He’s our inspiration, and that suggests a sacrificial love; laying down life for each other. And while Jesus died on the cross, He has more than this in mind,  He has a “Serving Love”  Sometimes it's easier to die for one another, than to live for them. 

 

He has just washed the disciples feet,  And He is telling them to join the holy order of the towel. They are to roll up their sleeves, and serve the needs of their fellowman.  Now you and I  would line up to wash the feet of the Savior, but the trouble is washing one another's feet. The problem of being sons of God is  sometimes being brothers and sisters with one other isn’t it? 

 

And so He is declaring here that this new movement of Christianity is to be an incendiary flaming fellowship. It is to be a mighty brotherhood, it is to be disciples relating to each other, loving each other, serving each other, physically, emotionally, and socially, and spiritually.

 

And sure enough on Pentecost day, Luke describes this movement. After they had obeyed the gospel and 3,000 had stepped out of sin Luke declares  Acts 2:44-47

 

44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  47Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

 

Here he talking about that fellowship, mentioned in verse 42 he says that they   And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers”. Fellowship, that is the word koinwniva/ it means a mutual participation, a sharing.  And so the early church, was an island of love in a sea of indifference and hostility.

 

The word fellowship is an Anglo-Saxon word from the word fee. And it literally means, cow. Years ago in England, in a common enterprise people would put  their cows together, for a common profit.  And so in essence we see here people who were mixing their cows together for a commonality, to meet needs, they even sold property when that was necessary. They shared alike and the Lord's church has not  captured this spirit in the 21st  Century.

 

Acts 4:32  He said they were of one heart and one soul.  Like one man, with a commonality of purpose.  We read again from   Eph 4:3  that we are to be unified in the spirit. “"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Now that’s the Holy Spirit, that binds us together with chains that cannot be broken.

 

You know fellowship is not something that’s humanly created.  We don’t just sit down and eat together and then say we’ve got fellowship. I mean the Lion’s club can do that. Fellowship comes  at the Divine level,  it is given to us in Christ.  Eating together is an expression of fellowship  it’s a by product of the real fellowship.

 

Fellowship comes when we have in common the Holy Spirit, because all of us are born of the water and the Spirit. And so we are all family, we have been born again, alike. John 3:3-5

 

But not only do we have in common the Spirit,  but the father and the Son. In 1 John chapter one beginning in verse 3 he addresses fellowship.   He says the goal of the gospel is fellowship,  For our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. “ And we’ve missed that.

 

And so we’ve surrendered to the Deity, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we get that vertical relationship right, the horizontal relationship is right.  But the vertical comes first. And though I come in here from Tennessee, and you are from other places, we converge here and become a local congregation we are family, we are the koinwniva/, and we ought to feel closer than our flesh and blood, if they are not Christians, because the ties of grace are stronger than the ties of blood.  And if we don’t feel that way, there’s something wrong with our Christianity.

 

And so we have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to bind us together. But we also have in common the old rugged cross. 

32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die. “

John 12:32

   

At some time back yonder you  obeyed  the gospel and some where I obeyed it , where ever it was you surrendered and I surrendered to the same person; the same event. Jesus and Calvary, And things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.  So we all found commonality in the cross.  That what he said, He said my cross is going to be a mighty magnet, to draw men from all walks of life.”

 

And then He said you have in common the word of God…. 

1 John 1:7

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. “

 

He said you have in common the Word of God. And so you come and stand in the light and I stand in the light and we have fellowship. Now if you stand in the light and I refuse to do so, there is no basis for fellowship. And so this thing of the ecumenical  movement  is a farce, you have union but you don’t have unity.  Because there has to be an agreement on doctrine. And so these things the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, the cross of Jesus and the Word, make us  the New Testament Church ¾ the koinwniva/. And so we are carved out of the world and set apart,  and with this in mind, I plead with us to see  that we need this desperately.  Stand fast in  one spirit, one mind;  striving for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). One in mind and one in purpose and one in spirit.  In  1 Cor. 1:10   being perfectly joined together

 

So I suggest we need to build a loving fellowship; first because  there's a lot of loneliness out there.   The  church is the one place where we ought to find friends, family. But so often  we see, crowded pew, filled with lonely people. In many of our congregations they play freeze out. They ignore one another.  Many times people move into a community come to worship looking for a friend, and leave as lonely as when they arrived.   Now you tell me if we fill a building with people like that, we are going to take the world for Christ?  People with unmet needs. We need to break down walls and start building bridges into each other lives.

Crowded Pews but   Lonely People:

 

When I grew up there wasn't much loneliness as there is now.   Loneliness is the greatest  scourge or our time did you know it?  It has caused so many mental and emotional problems. We are crowded in the city, we gotten out of the rural settings, and in masses now we live close. And the closer we live together, the more lonely we become.

 

When I grew up in rural Tennessee, we had  front porches and front yards, and people would get together talk about times, and problems. We knew just about everything there was to know about one another. But then two events occurred which changed America. One was television and was air conditioning.   And these have taken  us off our  porches and out of front yards, into comfort of homes, with our favorite boob tube.  And this has changed America more than anything I know.

 

And so we've become more and more isolated in  our cities, we put up bars on our windows, and more and more we are isolating our spirits. We have become a faceless crowd, a number in our society; pulling away more and more. from one another.  Isolating ourselves from one another, and its taken it’s toll on the church, No wonder we have a sick society..  More and more we are moving away from each other and this has impacted the church.

 

We need to build this loving fellowship to find forgiveness:  Beloved we all need forgiveness. The world will not forgive us.  Make a mistake and thy have a memory like an elephant.  They will never forgive you.

 

There ought to be  one place a person should be able to find for­giveness, and it ought to be here in the  church.  There ought to be a sign over that door, forgiven, because that’s what we are,  “Forgiven”.

 

We need to learn to forgive one another, but yet we find in many congregations people who can’t get along. Oh they don’t fuss and fight, they just ignore each other to death. People don’t speak to each other. Passing in the isles like ships at night. Haven’t spoken in years because somebody got their feeling hurt, somebody got burned.  Often we sing songs like   “Love One Another”  or “Angry Words “ But  Jesus knew this would happen that why He said: if you're gonna get it right , first clean up your act with your brother.  Notice Matt. 5:23-24

23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift”. There it is,  then we can join  hands and hearts and sing “Love One Another”.   That’s what the church is all about.

 

We need to build this loving fellowship to find   acceptance. It’s hard for us to accept each other, racially, socially, intellectually.  We  kind of  gravitate to our own kind: We like to be around our kind of people.  That was what was wrong in Acts Chapter 6, the Grecian widows, were being neglected, The Jews were neglecting them and so the wall had gone up, and it had devastated  the growth and harmony of the body of Christ.

There isn’t anything more devastating than to accept someone on the condition of who they are, where they live, how much money they have, the color of their skin. It is  not the spirit of Christ to accept any person on the  basis of condition.       

 

Johnny went off to  the Korean War: And after some time, his parents received a letter from the state department, stating their son was missing in action, presumed  to be dead, behind  enemy lines.

The mother not willing to accept the worst, said; “Johnnie is not dead, Johnnie will be home, he’ll be home.”  And sure enough after some time past, the phone rang, and Johnnie was on the other end.  And she was so happy,  Oh Johnnie, I knew your weren’t dead, I knew you’d be home.” 

 

But Johnnie was sharing her jubilation. Johnnie said, “Mom I have a friend I want to bring home with me.” The mother answered, “Bring him with you, Johnnie you know your friends have always been welcome here”.

 

Mom  Johnnie said,  my friend is a little bit different., He has had part of his face blown off in this war, his is missing an arm and a leg….”   “Now wait a minute, Johnnie, you know how the neighbors are, they’ll talk…” and the phone went dead on the other end.  

It wasn’t but two weeks later that this mother and father received a letter that their son Johnnie was dead. He had committed suicide, jumping out of a hotel window in San Diego California. The body was shipped home for burial, when they went down to identify and claim the body of their son, Johnnie had part of his face missing, also an arm and leg gone. They had rejected their own son. There isn’t anything more devastating than to accept someone on conditions. May we build  here this loving  fellowship that accepts every one unconditionally. 

 

Next, We need to build this loving fellowship so we can find encouragement. Encouragement is powerful and the church is the one place where we ought to find encouragement…     

 

Seven out of every ten people are suffering some kind of problem and  need encouraging: Studies have been done, seven out of every ten have suffered some great loss or are  wrestling with some acute problem, and they need encouragement.    That why the Bible says.     Heb 10:24 

24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 

Not just provoke one another, but provoke one another to love and good works. And that is what the body is all about.

 

When people step out of the world, and become children of God,  we are to hug them to ourselves, and to build them and to lift them, and encourage them in Christ. Brethren they are not going to get this  out in the world.

Heb. 3:13 “13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; “  1 Thessalonians  4:18 “ 8Wherefore comfort one another with these words”

 

We All Need Help: and God has placed us here in the local congregation to help each other in this life and to make the way here more beautiful and help each other reach heaven: 

 

Charles Hodge says there's a money cage over in Fort Worth with a sign "I am my keeper's brother" Well we know that is not true. But we are our brother's keeper. 

Eccl. 4:9-11  

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”    Strength in number..

 

James 5:16  is still in Bible

shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. 16Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.”

 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get on knees  pray for each other: No preacher would have to beg us to serve God, to attend the services, they would just be wanting to get in on that kind of encouragement, and fellowship.

 

 We all struggle why do you think a man goes down to the local bar?  Because he likes that stuff?  It is mainly that down at the local bar, there is Oscar the bartender. He is able to go down there and  pour his heart out, Oscar will listen, and cry with him, and that thing becomes a confession:   Men get there what they ought to be getting at the Church.

 

Why don't we just unmask  ourselves,  tell each other who we really are:  you pray for me and I will pray for you. That what God wants: God help us to build a dynamic force through fellowship. 

 

 If we can be of any help to you in your resolve to serve God please contact us

 

contact:

Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658