The act of edifying, is to build up, especially in a moral, emotional, or spiritual sense, through encouragement and instruction.. This is accomplished by the members ministering to one another.
The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul reveals how the church is
brought into this purpose, "And He Himself (Jesus) gave some
to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some 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 and 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 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, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all
things into Him who is the head, Christ, 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." (Ephesians 4:1-16).
Notice the five wonderful gifts apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, that Jesus gave to His church. Also notice the ministry that they bring to the church which causes growth. They equip the saints for the work of ministry, which is for the edifying of the body of Christ. When we look at church history and even look at the church today, we find that many sectors of the church reject the ministry of the apostle and prophet. Yet their purpose, (not function), for the edifying of the body of Christ is the same as the other three ministries, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Next, these five ministries are to function, till we all come to the unity of the faith. I suppose that those who do not believe that the ministry of the apostle and prophet exist today also believe that the church for centuries has been flowing together in the unity of the faith.
These five gifts are also to bring the church to the knowledge of the Son of God. The word knowledge here is the Greek word, epignosis which mean to have a full or complete knowledge. This complete knowledge would bring the church to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. But is this true for the church as we know it today? Maybe the rejection of the apostle and prophet is the main reason why the vase majority of the church is still a child being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. I like to say it this way, being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine created and accepted by faithless church leaders, that operate in and through their senses.
The church is to be a related body of believers speaking the truth in love, that is growing up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ, 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." Let's look at some of the ways the church, every member of the body of Christ is to edify itself...
- Love one another (John 13:34-35)
- Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
- Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Be kind to one another and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Esteem one another better than yourself (Philippians 2:3)
- Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
- Encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13)
- Do not speak evil of one another (James 4:11)
- Have compassion for one another (1 Peter 3:8)
- Fellowship with the Father, Son and one another (1 John 1:7)
Making a long story short, first, it was my passion to see large numbers in the church (it still is) but to achieve this it would come at a price. Church programs would need to be implemented to meet social needs, replacing true discipleship to meet spiritual needs. The church grew rapidly but the people did not grow spiritually. The danger behind this is blending the glorious Body of Christ with worldly concepts for the sake of numbers. It is twisting the Word of God so people can feel good about themselves by avoiding any scripture that might sound offensive or seen as being intolerant. In other words, it's presenting a people pleasing passive gospel rather that a God pleasing life changing gospel. General William Booth said it best, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” (This was spoken over one hundred years ago)
The second part of the equation is revealed in the ministry of Jesus. He also had a "feel good" crowd following Him. (John 6:26) But when the truth was revealed many of these followers were offended and walked with Him no more. (John 6:60-61, 66) After ministering to thousands of people in the three and one half years of His ministry on earth as the Son of Man, only four women and one apostle stood by the cross. (John 19:26-26) Then after His resurrection He was seen by Peter, then by the twelve and five hundred other brethren. (1 Corinthians 15:5-6) However, after His ascension only about a hundred and twenty disciple gathered in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4, 15). Not a very large number of disciples after ministering to multitudes of people for three and one half years.
The point is that edifying one another in the church does not mean being social only, but more important, being spiritual. The church must get back to relating on a spiritual level, God is Spirit (John 4:24) and love one another as God loves (Romans 5:3-8) for God is love (1 John 4:16) We must understand that the God kind of love in the believer is a fruit of the recreated spirit (Galatians 5:22) and for the church to truly edify itself in love, every believer must respond to the God kind of love that is spiritual and not the social kind of love that is carnal. Finally, the church must let all of the ascension gifts operate in their individual functions to fulfill the mandate of Ephesians 4:12-16. So, let us all decide to take our part in edifying one another in the God kind of love which is spiritual.