Cherish the Past, Celebrate the Present, Commit to the Future 4/9/00



JESUS CHRIST said, “I will build my church and
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

As a result of what our Lord has done, is doing, and will do to build His church we have reason to:


Ever since His resurrection, by His Spirit, He has been busy building His church universally and locally. I believe in the local church because it is what Christ called His “body.”

Some contemporary thinkers speak in grandiose terms of belonging to the church universal, that is, the invisible church. They profess they don’t believe in or belong to the local church. Their involvement is with the invisible church. To them I would like to say, “That is so wonderful that I would like to contribute some invisible money to help your invisible church.”

Those who declare their belief in the universal but not the local church need to go outdoors and look around. As they stand basking in the sun, they might say I believe in the sun universal. Take away the sun local and there would be no sun universal. Take away the local church and there would be no church universal.

I believe in the local church because Christ believed in it. I believe in the local church because the Greek word for church is used 85 times in the New Testament to refer to the local church.

It is spoken of by Christ as His “body.” To me one of the most distinct evidences of His love and sense of intimacy with the church is found in the life of Saul of Tarsus. Saul had been appointed by the Sanhedrin to investigate the accounts of the resurrection of Christ. The Scripture describes him on his way to Damascus to interrogate by intimidation and if need be death to Christians there who professed the resurrection. He is described as breathing out threats of cruelty.

Suddenly a heavenly light blinded him and he heard the voice of the resurrected Christ saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Saul was a brilliant young lawyer. Under these conditions can’t you imagine his immediately building his defenses. “Jesus, you said ‘Me.’ What do you mean ‘Me.?’ Its not you I am persecuting, its the church.”

Jesus: “Saul, that is Me!”

That is how intimate He feels about His church. I want to treat the local church with the same dignity and love I do its Head.

The church is also called the “bride of Christ.” I know there are some sick churches but I am not going to use them as an excuse to diminish my devotion to His church.

One of the first weddings I performed here has served as a graphic for me regarding this principle.


In Ephesians chapter 4 several illustrations are used to help our understanding of the church. One of the primary analogies found in the passage related it as being like a human body. Observe:


“Him who is the head – Christ” I like that. Christ is the control central of the church.

READ: Eph. 1: 20-23.

He is not only the Head “of” the church, He is the Head “over” the church. He is the Organic Head and the Authoritative Head.

II. THE HEART OF THE CHURCH Vss. 13, 14 & 11

The heart of Christ’s church is purity of doctrine and order.

A. Purity of Doctrine

For a multiplicity of diverse people to live together in harmony there must be accord in what is believed. The uncommon common denominator must be belief in the same Bible truths. This is a point of entry for Satan to work. Verse 14 describes tactics used by Satan’s ambassadors.

One is “trickery” or “slight of men.” The Greek word so translated is KUBLIA, literally meaning to play with dice. It is a reference to tricky words. One of Satan’s classic twist of words has to do with Christ Himself. There are cult groups if asked will say they believe Christ is the Son of God. But if pressed and asked if they believe Christ was God the Son, they must truthfully answer no. He was Immanuel, God with us.

Another deception is “cunning craftiness” and refers to ingenuity in inventing errors. In a crafty manner Satan did it in Eden. He added to and took away from the Word spoken by God. He still confuses congregations with doctrinal errors.

At this point I must bring in a detail that is a bit personal. Therefore, I am speaking of a principle and not a person. This principle is one of the most humbling in a pastor’s life.

B. Dedication of a Person

In verse 11 it is said “He Himself,” the reference is to Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”

Ideally, the pastor is Christ’s gift to the church. The church that receives the gift receives the Giver. The church that rejects the gift rejects the Giver. I praise the Lord for this beloved church that nearly 35 years ago received the person sent by the Lord to serve Him as pastor.

The last two titles used here are a reference to one person. There is a rule in Greek known as Granville Sharp’s rule. It states: “When two nouns in the same case are connected by the Greek word “and,” and the first noun is preceded by the article “the,” and the second noun is not preceded by the article, the second noun refers to the same person or thing to which the first noun refers, and is a further description of it.”

That means the expression “pastors and teachers” refers to one person fulfilling two functions.

This is the only time in Scripture the under shepherd of Christ is called “pastor.” The Greek word for it is POIMENAS and means shepherd. The root meaning is to protect, tend, and feed the flock. Bible teaching is one area of protecting and feeding.

The other term describing this person’s role is “teacher.”

One way purity of doctrine is to be preserved is by a pastor consistently working as a pastor/teacher. Thus he protects the flock from false doctrine and teaches them true doctrine.

Order is essential for unity in the church. The pastor must be under Christ’s authority and fully surrendered to it. The members of the flock must wilfully put themselves under the authority of the pastor/teacher and learn from him.

The humbling aspect for the pastor is to know some day he must give account to the Good Shepherd.

That keeps the under shepherd from any ego trips.


A dad who had been away on a trip returned with a gift for his little girl. After visiting together for a while dad settled into reading the paper and the child to playing with her new game. Soon dad’s subconscious began to pick up on sounds of frustration coming from his little daughter. He put down his paper and got down with the child to show her how the game worked. Later at bed-time the child said, “It was a lot better game than I thought dad.”

If you get involved in a vibrant fellowship that teaches the Bible and is Christ-centered, one that is growth oriented, you will have cause to say, “Church is a lot better experience than I thought.”

The church is described as being like a human body with many functioning body parts. Body parts differ but each contributes in its own way. Imagine having two noses; one each where your ears are. Think about having one oval ear where your nose is. Each in its place fulfilling its function makes for a better body.

Observe in verse 8 that every member is given a gift by Christ. That is, a measure of grace that enables them to fulfill some function in the church. This is further defined in vs. 16.

The body is – – –

A. UNIFYING – “joined and knit together”

When one member of the body hurts, all hurt. Another wedding lives in my memory as an illustration of this.

Those fingers hurt so bad that my body sat up much of the night to keep them company. That is the way the body of Christ works.

B. SUPPLYING – “every joint supplies”

Christ has given you Spiritual gifts that enable you to contribute to His cause. No one need feel left out.

Reputedly there once was a church with four members whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. The church had financial needs and Everybody was asked to help. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have. Amid this confusion you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Then the church needed a work day, and Somebody was asked to help. Somebody got upset because Anybody could have done the job just as well and, after all, it really was Everybody’s job. In the end Nobody did it. Nobody did a good job. Thereafter, when there was work to be done Nobody could be counted on. Nobody visited the sick. Nobody gave generously. Nobody shared his faith. Finally the day came that Somebody left the church and Everybody and Anybody decided to follow. Guess who was left! Nobody.

C. EDIFYING – “effective working by which every part does its share”

In the word “edification” you can hear the word edifice which means a building. To edify means to build up. In this instance it means to build up spiritually. We are to do that.

If the average car has as many parts that don’t work as the typical church, it wouldn’t run down hill. Are you doing your part? “I’ve been a weight for long enough on the church’s back. From now on I’m going to take a completely different track. I’ll work and pay and pray and carry my load instead. And not have others carry me like people do their dead.”

D. MULTIPLYING – “causes growth of the body”

Dawson Trotman in “Born to Reproduce” gives this illustration of multiplication. If one Christian won one person to Christ and spent six months helping to mature that one before each of them won someone else, the world could be won in 16 years. At the end of six months, the two would become four. At the end of one year the four would be eight. Multiplying this conversion, maturing, conversion cycle every six months the total in seven years would 33,000 converts. If that process continued for sixteen years, the total would be nearly three billion converts.

To win our community it is not enough to add members, we must multiply.