A Growing Church
These last few weeks we have been considering who we are as All Nations Baptist Church. This week we will consider the second of three things we do- we grow in the Lord.
Who are we?
We are and seek to be a simple, local, faithful Church
What do we do?
We confess the gospel of Christ, grow in the Lord, and go out into the world.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Although we begin with our confession, we cannot simply be content with saying what we believe. Our beliefs must affect every area of our life: our desires, feelings, and behaviors. Simply put, the confession of our belief ought to drive us to grow. Corporately, this means that we are continually growing in our gatherings of worship. Our joy in worship will grow as it is deepened by the experience and sight of God’s providence through the ups and downs of life. And so as a congregation, we gather and grow in our worship of God. Every week is a new time to remember and know more deeply how great of a treasure the gospel is, and how great the work of Christ is in reconciling us, we who were enemies with God. Like the man in the field who found a treasure, so when we see his great worth anew, we ought to grow in the great joy of giving up worldly pleasures for the sake of the gospel and the calling of God on our lives to be a disciple. As we study God’s word, and have fellowship with the people of God, we should grow in being motivated by joy in the nature and work of God and our fellowship with Him, just like Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
As a church, we also should be growing in our behaviors and desires. Not every desire is either good or bad. Some people desire to be an overseer. Others desire to be a woodworker. These are the sort of desires that pertain to an individual and are not necessarily good or bad. God uses such desires to direct us (with the influence of others we are in relationship with.) But there are also desires of the flesh and desires of the Spirit. There are evil behaviors and there are good behaviors, and these behaviors tend to be the fruit of our desires. Paul in Romans says that we ought to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh. In Galatians, he lists things like sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. These are just a sampling of evil behaviors. I would suggest that people commit such behaviors because they have allowed evil desires to grow in their hearts. They have allowed the root of bitterness to grow in their heart, and before long, this comes out in rivalries, divisions, and envy. Or sexual immorality has run rampant in a person’s brain and eventually it is acted out in the viewing of pornography or adultery. Our Instead we are ‘to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God,’ walking in the Spirit whose fruit is ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’
So through the simple means of change that God has given us, through the power of God’s Spirit, through prayer, meditation on scripture, and participation in the life of the church, we ought to seek to kill the desires and deeds of the flesh. This is both an individual Christian’s work and a work done corporately as a church: we are to confess our sins one to another and we are to seek to hold one another accountable with charity and courage. As we do so, we grow up into Christ and, as His body, we are built up in love.