Body building — the athlete’s biggest endeavor — is also the Christian’s most important task. In God’s infinite Wisdom, He has chosen us, His children, to take on the most important job in this administration of Grace — build the body of Christ. Are you involved in this task? Do you want to know more about it?
First there are two aspects of building the body of Christ.
1) Geographically — called “holding forth the Word of Life”
Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.
2) Spiritually — called “edification” of the saints.
Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Now these verses talk about those with specific ministerial gifts (Greek: charismata), but in case you’re wondering, there are also verses that command every believer to edify others in the body of Christ. Here’s just one of them:
I Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do.
The Rise and Expansion of the Christian Church
The book of Acts presents the rise and expansion of the Christian church in the first century. By ‘rise’ I mean the result of the edification of the saints and by ‘expansion’ I mean the multiplication of believers in quantity and geographic location. The ‘rise’ in the body leads naturally and fuels the ‘expansion’ of the church. Let me say from experience that when you are edified, you have little choice but to overflow with God’s love and grace which leads you to speak about Christ to others, leading to the expansion of the church. Make sure you get the order correct for best results: Edification (rise) precedes multiplication (expansion).
The edification of the saints (rise) precedes and fuels the multiplication of the saints (expansion).
The greatest apex achieved by the first century church can be found in Acts 19:20.
Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Notice what ‘grew.’ THE WORD OF GOD! How does the Word of God grow? “Mightily.” Where does the Word of God grow? In your heart.
Psalm 119:11 Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Out of the heart come all the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
The word “keep” in the above verse from Proverbs means to “guard.” Guard your heart by saturating it with God’s Word. The ‘heart’ is figurative for the most inner part of your being — it’s what makes you “you.” Out of the heart come blasphemies, murders, drunkenness, revelings and the like. Also out of the heat comes love, compassion and mercy. What’s emanating from your own heart? Is it positive or negative? Good or bad? Light or darkness? If you’re like most of us there is a mixture there.
Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Storing more of God’s Word in your heart plants the seeds that will sprout into good words and good works that glorify your Father in heaven. The more of God’s Word you store in your heart, the more protection you have from the onslaughts of the enemy. For good to triumph over evil in your own life, all you need is a solid foundation of God’s Word dominating your inner being. Give up control and let God’s Word take root. The spirit of God is within you if you have indeed been “born again’ so let it reign unto victory in Christ.
3 Steps to Build the Body of Christ
This leads us to the ‘how’ of building the body of Christ in the love of God. Let’s see how easy it is to do what God has asked us to do.
1) Trust What God Says with All Your Heart
It all begins with trust. When a parent asks a child to do something they aren’t experienced at, trust is what will take them over the barrier of disbelief into action. Do you remember the first time your parents tried to get you to swim? Swimming is something we have to learn. To some it comes more naturally than others, but we were not born as fish. Fish know how to swim intuitively because that’s what fish do — they swim. To teach a fish to walk would be very hard. They don’t have the equipment they need to walk. Neither do humans have the same equipment as fish. We don’t have gills. We have to swim with our heads above the water most of the time, at least take another breath of air. So we have to learn how to swim. When your child trusts you, they are more apt to just ‘go for it’ than if they don’t trust you. Once you understand what God’s Word says, trust God with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
2) Act on What God Tells You to Do
Once you understand what God’s will is in a situation, simply act on what God has told you to do. Your first source of revelation, and that by which you judge any other ‘information from God’ is God’s written Word. God will never tell you to do something that contradicts His written Word. That’s because God’s Word is God’s will. Acting on what God says in His Word is the evidence that you trust God whole-heatedly. Not acting but saying you trust God is just “lip service.” God’s not well pleased with those who feign trusting Him. Yes He still loves people who don’t trust Him but He can do little with them because they don’t act on what He says.
3) Believe God Will Do His Part
The third step is the easiest. Many think it’s the hardest. “Believing God” isn’t a mystical thing you have to develop physical or spiritual muscles for. It’s built-in to your being. Did I really say that? Yes, I believe it’s true. Believing God is built into your being. Let me explain.
There is a teaching that boils down to “name it and claim it.” It’s called, “the law of believing,” “positive thinking” and by other like terms. This teaching is false because you, with your mind, cannot even add an inch to your height.
Matthew 6:17 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
What on earth am I taking about when I say believing is ‘built into” you?
“Humans are programmed to believe in God because it gives them a better chance of survival, researchers claim.
A study into the way children’s brains develop suggests that during the process of evolution those with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs – possibly by working in groups to ensure the future of their community.
The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force.”
The Bible tells us God wrote ‘eternity’ in man’s heart:
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
The human heart naturally believes there is a God but cannot figure God out. That’s why God wrote His Word. God communicates Himself to us through His written Word which we call the Bible and through His living Word, Jesus Christ.
This third step, believing God will do His part is axiomatic to acting on what God says. By taking action you are emphatically stating in real terms, here and now, that you believe God will do what He says. That’s why it’s the easiest of the three steps.
Building The Body Internally and Externally
Building your physical body requires effort extended over a period of time. Nothing happens immediately. Those muscles have to tear through use and grow back stronger. Spiritually building the church requires extended effort also. A good study on the words “edify” and “edification” will yield a wealth of information on how to build your life on God’s Word, how to build others up in the faith and how to reach out to others to build the body of Christ in numbers and in other geographic locations.
Take consistent effort and do not worry about the results. It is God who gives the increase (step 3 above) as you just understand (step 1 above) God’s Word and act on it (Step 2 above.)
I Corinthians 3:5-9 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
God is in total control. Nothing has or will ever happen that He is not aware of and has not planned for in advance. God knows the end from the beginning (Issaiah 46:10) and nothing can thwart His plans (Issaiah 14:27). You are part of those glorious plans of our Father God and it’s your privilege and opportunity to participate in the grandest missions of all time — the reconciling of the world to God through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8 -10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Have at it and have fun glorifying God or Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Be that spiritual athlete that exercises continually by learning God’s Word accurately, living it by acting upon it and reaching out to others with the love of God in your guarded heart.