How can we help others to be saved?
Maturing in God’s Word
As we begin this new book, let me remind each true believer that we’re all laborers together for our Lord. We are part of what Paul calls in I Corinthians 3:9 “…God’s building…” As we study I know there are countless millions who are so hung up on tradition, and they based their very eternal destination on some of these traditions Tradition is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, and many never bother to check the Scripture to see if these traditions are really true for the Body of Christ believer. I just thank the Lord that over half of the New Testament was written by Paul for the Body of Christ, who gives us can’t miss instruction for eternal life.
Last lesson we left off in Ephesians chapter 4. Today we’ll pick up with verse 12. Remember that in verse 11, Paul leaves the Church with evangelists, pastors and teachers as we discussed in the last lesson. These are specially gifted men that God is going to provide for the Christian community. I think it also ties in with I Corinthians chapter 13, the love chapter. It’s almost the same kind of scenario, only we shake out off the superfluous things and we end up with the three things that in the end will abide. And what are they?
I Corinthians 13:13
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, (or love) these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Those are the things that remain with us even today. These three words in Paul’s epistles just keep popping up. Now all three may not be together all the time, but watch for those words. Now coming back to where we were in Ephesians chapter 4, and we have much the same thing. So forth of the various gifts and so forth, that people make so much ado over even today, they’ve more or less just fallen by the way side, but three of them remain. These three are as absolute as anything can be even today, and what are they? Evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Those are the three main criteria for any local group of believers. Now verse 12, and what’s the purpose of these three?
“For the perfecting of the saints, (notice Paul said to perfect the saints, not the lost. and what’s the purpose again?) for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
You know I’m always stressing that I think too much of Church activity is geared in the wrong direction, not that it’s all that bad, but so much Church activity is supposedly directed to lost people. Oh we’ve got to save the lost, most Churches will say, and I’m also concerned about the lost, but the best way to reach lost people is not wait for that poor preacher, or Sunday school teacher to do it all, but every ordinary believer should be in the position to open the Scriptures to lost people, and that’s what I think Paul is referring to here. Now look at it again in that light. All evangelists, pastors, and teachers are given for what purpose?
“For the perfecting (or maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” This is where all Paul’s effort is being directed to the to edifying the believer. Now verse 13.
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,…”
Now those of you who hear me teach over a period of time, know that I’m always stressing that there’s no use trying to go out and witness to people if you don’t know what you’re witnessing about. You have to know the subject, and you need to be able to show the lost the correct Scripture so they can see with their own eyes. If you ask an auto mechanic, or some other person in a specialized field about their profession, they show how professional they are real quick with their knowledge of the subject. But if you asked them something that’s out of their field, they would clam up, because they don’t know. Well it’s almost that ridiculous when we try to send people out to witness to the lost, when they know nothing about the Word of God. So the whole purpose in Paul’s writings is to edify the believer, and now let’s look and see what the believer is supposed to do.
II Corinthians 5:18
“And all things are of God, who hath (past tense) reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us (the believer) the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, (that is to say) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses (sins) unto them; (they’re forgiven) and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.:”
In other words, we’re to tell a lost world that because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, He has already reconciled them, but they have to believe that beautiful Gospel. And how are they to believe it?
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher (or proclaimer?) Paul tells us someone must present this Gospel to them. Now finishing our thought with verse 20 of II Corinthians chapter 5.
II Corinthians 5:20a
“Now then we (as ordinary everyday believers) are ambassadors for Christ,…”
Now what’s an ambassador? He’s a representative of his home country, but he’s living in foreign territory, and everything that he does is being viewed by the foreigners. Everything that he says is being analyzed by the people in the country which he is serving. Now folks that’s exactly where you and I are. We are in foreign territory whether we know it or not. Everyday that we live we see it more and more, I mean the opposition is rising against Christianity. We’re in foreign territory! Paul tells us as believers our homeland, and citizenship is in heaven, and we’re to be ambassadors.
Now let me ask you something, would any president in his right mind send somebody to Japan to be an ambassador from my background, for example. Would he just send an ordinary dirt farmer over there to represent this country? Why I wouldn’t know how to even begin a conversation. So before we send an ambassador to a foreign nation by an appointment, usually of the president, and the congress has to OK it, what do you expect that person to have in his background? Everything that prepared him to be an ambassador. You wouldn’t send anyone over there with no education or background, but isn’t that exactly what we do with most Christians? We send them out into that world of wolves with no background, they have no knowledge of the Scripture, and as soon as the scoffer hits them with something, they absolutely melt, they don’t know what to say or where to find it.
This is why we have to teach the Word, this is why God has left evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The believing community has to be prepared to go out into the world and win the lost. We’re to have a heart for lost people, of course we are. God has a heart for lost people, but you see too often we put the cart up in front of the horse, and we wonder why it doesn’t work
I Corinthians 2:14
“But the natural man (the unbeliever. I don’t care if he’s in church every Sunday. If he’s still unsaved and in the natural he) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; (it’s impossible for him. Why?) for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
So when you’re talking with unbelievers, and you try to express some of the deeper things in Scripture, then expect them to look at you with a blank look because they can’t help it. The Bible says, “They can not know about these things. The spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.” So the unbelieving world will argue and fuss with you and give you all their ideas, but listen, it’s nothing but secular gibberish. But when they finally get the Spirit of God, then they can certainly comprehend. That’s why Paul makes it so common for the believer to understand these deep things of God, and he expects us to. Now let’s go back to the Book of Ephesians.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (that is the love of God that brought us unto Himself. That we ) 18. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;”
We can step into the whole spectrum of spiritual understanding, and the unbelieving world can’t get that. But oh listen, for us, it’s all here if we’ll just search it out. Now then verse 19.
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Read that verse again)
“And to know the love of Christ,…”
Remember a program or two back when we were following the “unsearchable riches of Christ?” And I mentioned, “How can you and I, mere mortals, comprehend the fact that the Eternal Sovereign Creator God condescended to be born of an ordinary little lady in Israel, to be born under the humble circumstances of Bethlehem, and then go through 30 years on this old planet for the sole purpose of going to that Cross.” Now listen that’s beyond human comprehension. But what did it? “The Love of God!” How God loves the human race! And how He paid the very extent of the very riches of heaven to accomplish a plan of redemption!
Now remember lost humanity is under the clutches, chains and control of a powerful, powerful being. Oh, never lose sight of that. And in order for God to bring salvation to the human race, first after taking upon Himself all the sins of this human race, He also had to break the powers of Satan. He literally had to break the bands of Satan that held everything in it’s power, which He accomplished at the Cross. And then again you repeat that for every believer that is saved, then God has to do it all over again, breaking the power of the Satanic forces that hold us. Keep your hands in Ephesians, but for a moment let’s come back to II Corinthians chapter 4, and look at this for a moment so you can see what I’m talking about.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (now remember every human being on the face is lost until they’re saved) 4. In whom (in lost people) the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
So who’s the culprit? Who is keeping lost people lost? Well Satan is! We’re in a society that you almost cringe to use the term, “Satan.” People think you’re a fundamentalist kook if you use that term. But listen, the Bible explicitly tells us that his power is tremendous, and only the power of God can break his blinding the unbeliever. And that’s where I think prayer comes in. Oh let me give you another one that I use. Come back to Acts chapter 16, and Paul has been up in northern Greece, and comes to Philippi.
“And on the sabbath (remember that early on in Paul’s ministry, he’s still coming out of the law background, and this of course was the Saturday Sabbath, and so these were Jewish women no doubt) we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14. And a certain woman named Lydia a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, (she was Jewish and worshipping the God of Abraham, and this Lydia) heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, (now before the Lord could open her heart to believe Paul’s Gospel, what other power did God have to exercise? He had to break the blinding power of Satan. This Lydia was no different than anybody else. Just because she believed in God, doesn’t mean she wasn’t blind to the truth of the Gospel, for she was blinded. But here we have the perfect account of how the Lord opened her eyes, and heart, the Lord broke the bands of Satan) that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Lydia believed Paul’s Gospel and became a believer.)
Now this is all part and parcel of what we’re up against even in our own day. Satan has blinded the eyes of those that believe not and only the power of God can open their understanding. Now let’s come back to Ephesians chapter 3, and let’s read verse 19 again.
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
We can’t comprehend what love it took to drive Him to the Cross. And all the fulness of God is what we’re to be filled with. Now I don’t think any of us understand what that is do we? I don’t think there’s ever been a human alive, at least not on this side of the apostle Paul that has really understood the fulness of God. We can’t even come close, but potentially it’s there for us. Now verse 20. Here Paul ends this prayer.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
What a prayer request on behalf of you and I. Just for a moment let’s come over to the Book of Colossians and look at another prayer for believers.
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, (that is their salvation, we) do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” Does that ring a bell? It’s almost the same thing we were looking at in the Book of Ephesians. Now verse 10.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, (remember God never tells us to be a thorn in people. We are not to be obnoxious, or to make a fools of ourselves, but rather we are to be a living example of the love of the One who died for us.) being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (now that’s a constant thing isn’t it? We don’t get all this knowledge of God all at once, and say, ‘well I’ve arrived.’) 11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
My goodness, what a prayer request for us. And that’s for every believer, not just for the preachers and teachers, but rather it’s for everyone of us. Now back to Ephesians and we’ll wind up the chapter.
“Unto him be glory in the church (the Body of Christ) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
In other words this isn’t the end. Eternity is out there in front of us, but our Lord Jesus Christ will never change. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!
I Corinthians 1:18
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;”
At some point in the next few lessons we are going to come back to the New Testament and show that so much of what we are hearing today is leaving out the Cross. And we can’t do that. No one can be saved by simply believing in Jesus. It has to be the work of the Cross. And so Paul states that here. The world may think the preaching of the Cross is foolishness, but to us that are saved, it is the power of God. It takes the power of God to save us, to set us free from the shackles of sin And that power can never be released from God until we BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. That Christ died, was buried and rose again.
I may say it again before these next four lessons are over. I always tell people that it’s not because I’m getting senile, but I repeat a lot of these things purposely for emphasis, because the Scripture does. What we have to understand is that today, even among evangelical Christians, there is too much use of what I call “clichés.” Now, you know what a cliché is? It’s just a little coined statement, that we’ve learned to use in the proper places.
I think too much of Christianity is using clichés which, if the person fully understands the whole Gospel picture, that cliché may say it all. But too many don’t. You say, “what are you talking about?” You have all heard the expression (I’ve used it and imagine you have used it) “Well, I’ve accepted the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior.” Now, there is nothing wrong with that, but what is it? It’s a coined phrase. It’s not in the Bible! You show me one verse where it says that if you will take Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior, that you will be saved. It doesn’t say that.
Now, if you take the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, based on the fact that He, the very Son of God, became flesh, went to the Cross, shed His blood, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you put that whole truth into your cliché, then I have no problem with that. But how many people can do that? Another one we like to use is, “Well if you just believe in Jesus.” Which Jesus are you believing in? Are you believing in the Jesus of the three years that He ministered to Israel, or are you putting your faith in that Jesus that went to the Cross, and rose from the dead?
Do you see what I’m saying? How many times have you heard the expression “Well if you’ll just take Jesus into your heart,” and again, there is nothing basically wrong with that, except, unless the person who is taking Him into his heart, understands that the only reason you can have Christ in your heart, is because He died on that Cross. This is what worries me, that people are being led into a false security by simply taking a shortcut, or clichés without knowing the full truth of the matter. So we are saved by the power of God, from the preaching of the Cross.
Editor’s Note: In summary we see that:
1. Every believer should be in the position to open the Scriptures to a lost person
through their knowledge of the scripture.
2. Only the Lord can open someone’s heart.
3. When we have the opportunity to share the scripture with someone we should
clearly share the Gospel with them, first and foremost. Corinthians 15:1-4