Healthy, Growing Churches (5)
And He Himself gave some to be…pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should be no longer children…Ephesians 4.11-14
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2.2-4
On Penitence 7-8
“You have sinned, yet you still can be reconciled. You have someone to whom you can make satisfaction, yes, and one who wills it. If you doubt that this is true, consider what the Spirit says to the churches. He charges the Ephesians with ‘having abandoned charity.’”
Self-denial and sacrificial love for others must be learned. They do not come naturally. It is characteristic of children that they love themselves first. The church in Ephesus was in danger of reverting to childishness and immaturity, since they had left their first love. They were effective apologists, and doctrinal purists in all their teaching. Outwardly they were holy, with many good works and ministries ongoing. But they had lost their first love, and must have been loving themselves in all they did. Rather than being no longer children, they were becoming infantile in the faith once again, and failing to discern their dangerous condition. When church and Christian faith are all about us; when we raise money, hire staff, and build facilities for us; when our worship resounds more with earthly beats and whimsy than heavenly mysteries and sin-exposing truth; then we are becoming children in the faith once again; we are not pressing on to the maturity of Christ as a body. And when we cannot even discernthat this is the case, then we are an unhealthy, infantile church.
What would you cite as evidence that your church is still supremely focused on Christ as its first love?
T. M. Moore
Healthy, Growing Churches
Our assessment tool, Twelve Questions that Could Change Your Church, can help you discover the extent to which you are building the Lord’s church as He intends. Use this tool with your church leaders to discern the health of your church, then to plan the next phase of your growth as the Body of Christ. You can download Twelve Questions for free by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Quotations from Church Fathers are from the Ancient Christian Commentary Series, published by InterVarsity Press.