Adult Bible Fellowship- PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY CHURCH

 

Prescription for a Healthy Church – Intro.

ABF – January 2016

Background: We begin this month with a new subject. What are the ingredients of a healthy church? List some of the attributes and characteristics that make a healthy church.

 

As with any living being on this earth, there are certain things to maintain life and certain things that are necessary to promote health. Fresh air, a balanced diet, regular exercise, proper sleep are just some of them. The church is also a living organism and it also requires some basic items that will promote strength and health.

 

  1. There is a need for food.

As it is in our physical life, it is not enough to have food that taste’s good. We have to have food that is good for our well-being. Not all physical food that is good for us tastes good. There are some that like vegetables, but most people like the foods that are bad for them more than they like the foods that are healthy. Eating junk food is an epidemic in America.

A church has to have the right kind of food that promotes the right type of thinking.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Notice that there is milk and there is sincere milk. Not all milk is sincere. The word in this verse is adolos which means without guile, without deceit. There is plenty of deceit in the world. People mistake that type of food for healthy food, but when you eat deception you do not grow. There are many in our world who drink the milk of deception and after years in church have no understanding of the Word of God. They do not know their Bibles and even after years of church attendance, cannot use the Word of God or find a passage.

There is a need for meat.

Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by rea-son of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Notice that not every Christian can handle meat. If a Christian is a baby or a child, they are not able to chew, to swallow, or to digest meat. They still must use milk. There is nothing wrong with milk, but it is wrong if that is all that you eat or drink and you never grow to use meat. A healthy church has to have men and women who have grown to the point that they can eat strong meat.

  • What would a church be like if no one could handle meat?
  • Is it enough to have the teachers in a church eat strong meat?

 

There are a number of churches that preach what tastes good. They want numbers and since most people like junk food, the Biblical diet in those churches is fluff. The people enjoy that food, it makes them feel good about themselves. One large church defined sin “as a lack of self-esteem.” The health and wealth message has been very popular in the past fifteen years. That message appeals, but it does not tell the story that men are sinful, in need of a Savior. The message does not teach people to use God’s Word for doctrine, reproof, correction, or instruction. There is coming a time when “men will be lovers of their own self.” The need is not self-esteem. The need is God esteem, and self-demotion.

 

  1. A Need for Exercise

1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

 This verse is not saying that it is wrong to exercise your body. It does profit. It just doesn’t profit as much as godliness. The contrast is not between physical exercise and Spiritual faith. The contrast is between physical and spiritual exercise.

As in a physical life, there are a number of different exercises that we need to per-form. Physically, we need strength and conditioning. Strength training is weight training. Cardio is for the heart and lung; building endurance to keep our bodies fit. The more muscles you use, the more you can accomplish. There is a principle, “what you don’t use you lose.” If you do not use a certain muscle, it will shrink and become unusable. It is a problem physically to sit around and watch television. You may use some muscles to sit and watch, but most muscles will not be used.

Spiritually, we also must use what we learn. If we don’t use it, we will lose it. We will not retain knowledge that is unused. The more we do, the more we can do. The phrased that we hear most often is, “I can’t do that.” Yet, if we would rely on God’s strength we could do more and we would grow in strength and endurance through exercise.

Godliness is not about a belief system. It is about life choices. If we do and if we keep God’s Word, there is a promise for now and for the time to come.

The one who built on sand was one who heard but did not obey. The one who built on a rock was one who heard and did.

Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

 

A healthy church is one who exercises itself to godliness,

1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

  • What are some of the exercises that a church needs to perform?
  • Are there many different exercises? How do these exercises affect the church?

 

III. Fresh Air

 Fresh air in my illustration is about the Holy Spirit. The word Spirit is the same as the word for wind or air. The word pneuma is the word for spirit in the Bible, and the word that is used for the Holy Spirit. Pneumonia is a disease that affect our ability to get air. It is a disease of the lungs. We need the Holy Spirit in our lives as much as we need air in our lungs.

A healthy church has to have air coming in all of the time. You can’t stop breathing for a day. Respiration requires the air to come in and go out. As we breathe physically, we are able to provide our bodies with the oxygen that they need for the cells to survive. It is a continual process.

An unhealthy church does not have respiration. They know, but they do not breathe in and out. They do not live by the power of the Holy Spirit. The difference between life and death is the breath of life. God began life in man by breathing into man the breath of life. Just because we have air does not mean we have the breath of God. God breathed into man; that produced life. If a church wants life, we must constantly receive the breath of God.

  • How does a church or a Christian receive the breath of God?
  • Where do we go to find God’s breath? He breathed into us, where is that breath now?

 

We must rely upon the breath of God. All of God’s word is inspired, or “breathed into” by God. We read,

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The word for inspiration means more than just being inspired, or breathed into. The word is θεόπνευστος theopneustos. It means the very breath of God.

  1. As air is needed, so is the Word of God.
  2. The breathing is a constant need. You cannot survive without breath.
  3. The breath is not a normal breath, it is God’s breath.
  4. The Word of God is the continuation of the breath of God that created man a living soul.
  5. As we use the Bible for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, we breathe.

 

Breathing not only takes in oxygen, but it also expels carbon dioxide. It rids the body of waste as it brings in fresh air. There is a need for instruction, but there is also a need for reproof and correction. We confess sin as it is revealed to us, and as we do, we continually cleanse our environment.

 

  1. The need for proper rest.

Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Again, our bodies need to rest. Many of the problems that we experience are caused by a lack of sleep. Some feel that they don’t need sleep, but God designed our bodies to rejuvenate through rest. People need different amounts of sleep. Some need more than others. It is also true that at different times in your life, you will need differing amounts of sleep. As you get older, you need more hours of sleep.

As a Christian we also need to rest. But we rest differently than the world.

  • How does a Christian find rest?
  • Do we have to stop working to rest?

 

There is a balance between labor and rest. Humanly speaking we rest when we cease to work, but spiritually we rest when we labor in His strength.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was be-stowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

There is also a balance between my labor and my trust. I do not have the power to bring about a spiritual result. That is up to God. But I labor more abundantly. I press toward the mark. I run with patience the race that is set before me. As I do, “God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” The grace of God is the power behind all of the exercise we do for the Lord. We read,

Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

We labor to enter into a rest. The rest of Hebrews 4 was passage into Canaan. Canaan was not without work. There were many battles to fight, but none of the battles were won through any human effort, but through the working of God through His people.

To be healthy, a church needs to labor abundantly. We labor more than others but it is not our labor, but His labor through us that allows us to rest. We are rejuvenated by seeing God at work in us.

We know that we are yoked together with Christ,

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

  • When we are yoked to Christ, who does the work?
  • What is my part in working with Him?