When the Body Grows by Pastor Abidan Shah

WHEN THE BODY GROWS by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

When the Body Grows

Introduction:  Back in 2009 our family decided to take a trip out west. We were all able to get in my truck with our luggage under the bed cover. We all had plenty of room. It was a trip of a lifetime! The other day I said to Nicole – “That was so much fun! Maybe we can do that again one day.” To which she replied – “If we all tried to get in your truck and ride 5000 miles, we would kill each other.” So also with our church body. There was a time when 20 people on a Sunday morning was a good Sunday. The children’s ministry had 2 kids, that’s Rebecca and Abigail. We would count anything that breathed. Things have changed since then. God has truly blessed us and our church body keeps growing. If were not careful, we would kill each other. With that said, let’s turn to the book of Ephesians for our message titled “WHEN THE BODY GROWS.” We will do a series through this book soon but for now just a few verses from chapter 4.

Ephesians 4   14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 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.

Question: How do you relate with others in the body? What is your role in this church body at Clearview? Are you helping to edify this body in love? To be a part of this church body, you have to be saved. Are you saved?

Context: Before we can understand the meaning and application of the passage we just read, we need to first ask “Why did Paul write this letter to the Ephesians?” Although there is no clear consensus, most scholars believe that Paul’s main purpose was to promote unity and love among the Ephesian Christians. He wanted them to love one another with the same deep love with which they love God and Christ. Those two are interconnected. Why did he feel that this was important? Maybe because he sensed that they were losing their grip on love. Was he right? Yes. Just a few years later, listen to what John wrote in Revelation 2   1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: (that’s Jesus) 2 “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; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” What will people say of our church a few years from now?

With that in mind, let’s return to the passage but let’s begin in Ephesians 4 verse 1 to truly understand what we read. 1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord…” Meaning: He is bound to Christ. He goes where Christ goes, does what Christ tells him to do, and says what Christ tells him to say. In other words, he is not writing on his own authority but Christ’s. What does Christ demand? 1 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” Paul begins this section by urging the Ephesians to remember the Christian graces. They are given in 2 Peter but some are here as well. Lowliness means humility. Nothing will destroy unity faster than pride. Gentleness means meekness. It is not weakness. Instead, it is knowing when to be angry and when not. Longsuffering means patience. It means don’t say what comes to your mind and your mouth. Bearing with one another in love means learn to tolerate each other and do it with “agape” love. Don’t resent the other person. What’s the goal? 3 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It makes a difference in how you treat and interact with each other.

Application: Are you marked by Christian graces?

Now, if I were to end the message here and tell you to remember the Christian graces and be nice, kind, and loving to each other, it probably won’t last 10 minutes. Our Christian graces are linked to our foundational beliefs. We stand upon a 7-layered foundation:

  1. One Universal Church – 4 “There is one body…” Paul was dealing with issue of Jews and Gentiles coming together. So also today, there are many churches and denominations but if you are willing to receive Jesus Christ as your only Savior and God, then we are part of that one body.
  2. One Spirit4 “There is one body and one Spirit…” The same Holy Spirit indwells you who indwells me.
  3. One Hope – 4 “…just as you were called in one hope of your calling…” We have the same expectation that God will work his plan out for us and this world and Christ will ultimately come for us (the blessed hope and glorious appearing).
  4. One Master – 5 “one Lord…” The same second person of the godhead who became man and died for me and rose again on the third day is your master as well.
  5. One Faith – 5 “…one faith…” There is one settled body of truth which Jude calls 3 “…faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
  6. One Baptism – 5 “…one baptism…” This refers to the baptism Paul talks about in Romans 6 where we “were baptized into His death,” “buried with Him through baptism into death” and raised with him to “walk in newness of life.” The water baptism is the demonstration of this inward spiritual baptism.
  7. One God and Father – 6 “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Through Christ we have the same God the Father and we belong to the same family. The Lord’s Prayer is not “my father” but “our father.”

If you are willing to stand on this 7-layered foundation, we can work out any other disagreements we may have. If we step off any of these layers, no amount of pretend niceness is going to hold us together.

Application: Do you know our foundational beliefs?

Remember our Christian graces. Remember our Foundational Beliefs.

Remember our role in the body.  7 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, (established churches along with signs and wonders and miracles. Today we don’t have this gift but we do have missionaries) some prophets, (communicated the divine revelation of God. Today we don’t have this gift because we have the New Testament but we do have revivalists) some evangelists, (preach and explain the good news of salvation like Philip the evangelist to the Ethiopian eunuch but today Billy Graham) and some pastors and teachers 12 for the equipping (katartismos = “mending” restoring, putting things right) of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (This is my goal as the pastor/shepherd of Clearview) 16 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.” It’s like a spiral. The more it turns the deeper the unity grows.

Our church body is growing but we need to be aware of our Christian graces, our foundational beliefs, and our role in the body.

Are you doing your part in the body? Are you in the body? Are you saved?

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

CHANGING THE WAY YOU SEE YOUR SELFMany people have a false understanding of how God sees us. They see God as looking down with anger or disapproval. They also see God as demanding obedience. They see God as only interested in saving our souls and not interested in our physical bodies. Sadly, all these have a direct impact on how we see ourselves. Rom. 12:1 is a corrective to many wrong beliefs we have about ourselves.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Overall Background:  Some people see the Book of Romans as a deep theological book with spiritual principles. Nothing could be further from the truth. From Romans 1-11 Paul has focused on theology and doctrine. Now, starting in Romans 12, Paul is focusing on application.

There are 4 things packed in this passage that will change the way we see our self.

I. GOD CALLS US FRIENDS NOT SLAVES.

Listen to how verse 1 begins “I beseech you therefore, brethren”

Background: That word “beseech” implies tenderness. Paul did not say “I command you” or “I order you” or “You better.” Paul could have done that –

  • As an apostle, he had the authority to command them.
  • There are commands in the Bible for Christians. Look in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Why did Paul not command us? Because the Christian life is not motivated by a set of rules, checklist, duty, fear, or punishment. It is motivated by love.

For e.g. My wife loves me. She does things for me daily that I don’t even realize. I’m glad she does them for me because if not we’d be in trouble. But what if I made up a list of all the things that she has to do and put it on the refrigerator and titled them “Commandments to be obeyed by wife.” I would be in the doghouse. She does it out of love and not duty or fear.

Listen to what Jesus said in John 15:14-15  14 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

This is the difference between Christianity and all the other religions. Obedience is part of all religions. Christianity is unique in that the relationship is one of friend not slave.

Application: How do you view yourself? As a wretched sinner at the feet of a Holy Savior, as a worthless slave at the doorstep of the Master of the Universe.

How do you obey God? Grudgingly? Fearfully? Or Friendly? Psalm 119:143 “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.” Are you doing it because you have to or because you love Him so much that you cant help but do so?

II. GOD REMINDS US OF HIS MERCIES NOT JUDGMENTS.

I beseech you therefore, (“therefore” points back to all that has gone before Romans 12:1 – everything between Romans 1-11.) brethren, by the mercies of God,

Background: What are these mercies? All these mercies of God have been laid out between Romans 1-11. Let me summarize them:

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Rom. 1:18)
  • Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into this world, as promised by the Scriptures and gave His life on the cross for our sins.
  • He died for the sins of every human being. All we have to do is receive Him as our Savior and all our sins are forgiven.
  • But that’s not enough. We still have a problem – we belong to the family of Adam/the family of Sin. We still carry the germ of sin that was in Adam and was passed down to us. What we need is to get out of the family. The Blood can forgive us of our sins but only death can get us out of the family of sin.
  • Jesus not only died as our Substitute but He also died as our Representative. Meaning: He died our death from the family of Adam. All we have to do is keep our eyes on the cross and there we will see that “We have been baptized into His death and we were buried with Him.” That’s what baptism symbolizes.
  • But, there’s more mercy – Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and when He arose, we arose with Him to “walk in newness of life.” His resurrection represented our new birth in the family of God. We died in Him as the last Adam and we live in Him as the second man.
  • There’s more mercy – Now we are no longer under law but under grace. We have a new law. It is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
  • So how do we live? So how do we deal with Sin? Not by keeping the Law but by walking according to the Spirit. You are no longer alone. You have the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you and empowering you and making Christ real in you and “working all things together for good to those who love God.”

That in a nutshell is “the mercies of God.”

Application: What is your motivation of the Christian life? Is it judgment or punishment or disfavor or is it the mercies of God. Have you received the mercies of God? Are you saved? Is Jesus your Savior? Have you by faith received Him as your Representative? Are you living under grace? Is the Holy Spirit leading you?

III. GOD LOVES THE WHOLE OF US – SOUL AND BODY.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,”

Background: What is very interesting to me is that Paul does not say – present your soul, spirit, or heart. Instead, he tells us to present our physical bodies.

Throughout history people have looked down upon the body. For example, the Greeks stressed the importance of the soul but did not care about the body. Even in Christian history people have looked down upon the physical side of us as being sinful, carnal, fleshly, dirty, worthless, and temporary. You hear that even at funerals – “This body is just the shell/husk. The real person is no longer here.”

Some have purposely punished their bodies as the source of their sins and problems. They have subjected themselves to long fasts, and scourging and wearing cilice – a hair shirt or a barbed chain. They believe that they have to mortify their bodies in order to please God and be acceptable to Him. Some of the ancient paintings and stained-glass windows show Christians and martyrs as being pale and sickly and withered.

But listen again to how God sees our physical bodies – present (not hand it over or relinquish or surrender or bind) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” (God calls our bodies as holy and acceptable to Him.)

What can we draw from this passage?

#1.God wants us to take care of our physical selves just as much as try to take care of our spiritual selves. We spend so much on developing our spiritual side but completely neglect or trash our physical side. We are rough on ourselves. We have bad habits that are ruining our bodies. We would not dream of soiling and corrupting ourselves with pornography and immoral things. Yet, we do that all the time with our physical bodies.

#2.God wants us to be happy with ourselves. No one is ever truly happy with himself or herself – someone doesn’t like their eyes, nose, legs, and hair. By the way – hair doesn’t count for women. They can always change the color. The point is – we are never quite satisfied with how God made us. We talk bad about ourselves. We cut ourselves down. Researches have found that people who are extremely encouraging to others are sometimes extremely harsh on their own selves.

#3.God wants us to trust Him with our physical problems. He is willing to give us grace in the time of our need. This specially shows up when we are facing back, knee, migraines, and cancer problems.

Application: How do you see your physical body? As a curse, as a source of trouble, as not good enough, or as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?

IV. GOD ONLY EXPECTS FROM US WHAT HE HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO US.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Background: The word for “reasonable” is a hard word. It shows up only one other time in the NT. There are many ways that different versions have translated this word. Some say “spiritual worship,” some “rational worship” or “intelligent worship” or “true worship.” Taking the context into consideration, I have a better translation – “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is a worship that makes sense. Meaning: It’s not unreasonable. It’s not unfair. It’s not over the top. It’s not expecting too much.

Why? God only wants what already belongs to Him.

I Corinthians 6:19-20  19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Application: Some people over indulge their bodies. If you are saved, you are a new creation. You belong to Him – body and soul.

When General Booth of the Salvation Army was in his deathbed, someone asked him – “What has been the secret of your amazing ministry?” The Old General, propping himself up on his elbow said, “Well, if there’s been any secret at all, it’s just been this – Jesus has had every bit of me.”

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