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"...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 4:16.
Acts 9:26-29 - When Paul came to Jerusalem, he sought to join the disciples there. After it was clear that he was a Christian, he labored among them preaching God's word. Note that Christians must express their intent to be recognized as part of a local congregation.
Acts 18:27,28 - When Apollos went to Achaia, the church in Ephesus sent a letter to the brethren there to receive him. He then worked diligently among them. [Romans 16:1,2; 2 Cor. 3:1]
Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28-30 - Members need elders watching for their souls. But the oversight of elders extends only to the local church where they have been appointed (1 Peter 5:1-3; Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1). It follows that elders must know which sheep are their responsibility and which are not.
These verses show that, when they move into an area, Christians should find or begin a local congregation, should become recognized as members of it, and should labor to help accomplish its work. There is no such thing in the Bible as "floating membership," where Christians visit around but never commit themselves to any local church. Each person should be recognized as part of a particular local church, so he can participate in its work.
We have responsibilities to the local church, not because the members of the local church so decided, but because God says so in His word. Please notice the duties God gives us in the local church. In what specific activities should we be involved? As you study this lesson, ask yourself, "Do I do my share to make this congregation what it ought to be?"
Christians should praise God individually or as families, but Christians should also worship God as part of their responsibilities in the local church. We should be as diligent as possible in attending church meetings and being actively involved in the work.
Consider specific forms of worship we should be involved in:
We studied prayer in an earlier lesson. Notice passages that emphasize prayer in the local church or prayer for members of the church.
>>> Please read Acts 4:23-31. <<<
*1* With whom did Peter and John meet to pray? (Cf. 1 Cor. 14:15.) Answer: They met with __________ (the local church).
>>> Please read Acts 2:41,42. <<<
*2* In what did these converts continue steadfastly? (a) apostles' doctrine, (b) fellowship, (c) breaking of bread, (d) prayer, (e) all of these. Answer: __________.
>>> Please read Ephesians 6:18-20. <<<
*3* For whom should Christians pray? Answer: Pray for all __________ , especially those involved in teaching.
Diligent prayer should include praying with the church and praying for the work of the church and all the members of the church.
Again, we should sing in private or with our families (Jas. 5:13), but we should also sing in meetings of the church (1 Cor. 14:15; Heb. 2:12).
>>> Please read Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19. <<<
*4,5* What purposes does singing accomplish? Answer: In singing we __________ one another and praise (make melody to) __________.
Think: Should Christians sit in our assemblies neglecting to sing or singing only halfheartedly? Does one need to be an accomplished musician to teach and praise in song?
The emphasis in singing is on the message in the words, not on the artistic ability of the singers, nor on the catchy melodies. Those who believe in the value of worship in the local church, will sing out as enthusiastically and zealously as they can.
We also studied giving in an earlier lesson. Briefly review here passages that show the need for giving to assist the work of the local church.
>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. <<<
*6* How were churches instructed to obtain funds? (a) rummage sales, (b) collections from members, (c) bingo, (d) raffles, (e) all of these. Answer: __________ .
>>> Please read Philippians 4:14-18. <<< (Cf. 2 Cor. 11:8f.)
*7* What did the church at Philippi do with some of its funds? Answer: They gave money to support __________ in his work of preaching.
Local churches collect funds so they can accomplish their authorized work, but often they are hindered in their work because some members do not give as they should. Those who really want to serve in the local church will determine to be truly generous in their giving.
As with giving, all Christians should participate in the Lord's supper, but only on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
>>> Please read Matthew 26:26-28. <<<
*8,9* Explain the purpose of the bread and the fruit of the vine. Answer: The bread is a memorial to Jesus' __________ and the cup is a memorial to His __________.
>>> Please read Acts 2:41,42. <<< (Cf. 1 Cor. 10:16,17.)
*10* How many Christians should participate in the Lord's supper? (a) all, (b) none, (c) it doesn't matter, (d) all who never commit sin. Answer: __________.
All who love the Lord and value the work of the church should regularly meet with the saints to remember Jesus' death. (Cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-26.)
We will study later about teaching the lost and edifying members.
Do you regularly attend all the meetings of the local church? Do you worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), paying careful attention to the meaning of prayers, songs, and teaching? Do you pray diligently at home for the work of the church? Would Jesus worship as you do?
All members should admonish, build up, and even rebuke other members. This duty does not belong just to elders or public preachers.
>>> Please read Hebrews 3:12,13. <<<
*11* What should the members do to help one another avoid sin? Answer: Members should __________ one another daily.
>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:11,14. <<<
*12* What members may need our help? (a) the unruly, (b) the fainthearted, (c) the weak, (d) all the preceding. Answer: __________ .
Every member should work to edify the body by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15,16). [Cf. Rom. 15:14.]
>>> Please read Hebrews 10:24,25. <<<
*13* In what circumstances should we exhort one another? Answer: We exhort one another when we are __________ together.
Think: Make a list of ways you can edify or exhort other members in church meetings (assemblies, classes, etc.). How can the announcements help you think of people who need your help?
>>> Please read Galatians 6:1. <<<
*14* What should we do for a member overtaken in a trespass? Answer: We should __________ those overtaken in trespasses.
Think: Make a list of ways you can encourage and admonish members who are in sin (James 5:19,20; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; Matt. 18:15-17).
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 4:12. <<<
*15* What must we do if we seek to edify other members? Answer: We must be an __________ to the believers.
Think: Will we be effective in encouraging others serve God if they see us live unfaithfully (1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7; Matt. 5:13-16; 18:6,7)?
Edifying others is one of the best ways to help the local church.
Teaching the gospel to the lost is both a congregational and an individual responsibility. Every member should join in the work.
>>> Please read Acts 8:4. <<<
*16* What did these Christians do? Answer: They went everywhere __________ .
Note that this did not refer to the apostles (v1). Converting the lost is a duty of all members, not just church leaders.
>>> Please read 2 Timothy 2:2,24-26. <<<
*17* What should faithful men do? (a) leave the teaching to others, (b) just support preachers, (c) learn to teach others, (d) none of these. Answer: __________ .
People have different teaching abilities, but all have some ability, all must use their ability, and all can increase their ability. If we are not now able to teach, we should be studying to learn how to teach (Heb. 5:12).
[Prov. 11:30; Phil. 2:15,16; 1 Peter 3:15; Dan. 12:3; Jude 1,3; 1 Thess. 1:8; John 4:35,36]
>>> Please read John 4:35. <<<
*18* How did Jesus illustrate the need for gospel teaching? Answer: Jesus said the fields are __________ .
>>> Please read John 4:28-30,39-42. <<<
*19* To whom did the Samaritan woman speak about Jesus? Answer: She spoke to the people in the __________ where she lived.
>>> Please read Acts 10:24,33. <<<
*20,21* Whom did Cornelius bring together to hear the gospel? Answer: He brought his __________ and __________ .
Think: Everyone you meet is a possible contact to teach about Jesus. Make a list of people you know who need to hear the gospel.
There are many ways you can teach people. You can invite them to church meetings, Bible classes, etc. You can pass out tracts or literature, start them on a correspondence course, etc. But your ultimate goal should be to set up Bible studies in which people take out their Bibles and study God's word. You may teach or invite someone else from the congregation to teach. Use printed study guides or any approach you prefer, but set up a study.
Did you learn the truth by yourself, or did someone help you? If someone helped you, did they do a good work for you? If you care for the souls of others, shouldn't you be finding people to teach? (John 1:40-49)
Note the following passages showing individual responsibility.
>>> Please read Matthew 25:34-40. <<<
*22-26* Make a list of some of the good works Jesus described here. Answer: We should: give food to the __________ , take in __________ , __________ the naked, __________ the sick, __________ the prisoners.
>>> Please read Luke 10:30-37. <<<
*27* What principle did the Good Samaritan illustrate? (a) love for a neighbor, (b) selfishness, (c) indifference, (d) all the preceding. Answer: __________ .
The church is responsible to care for needy members who have no one else to care for them. Also as individual Christians, we should especially be concerned for assisting other needy saints.
>>> Please read Romans 15:25,26. <<< (Cf. 1 Cor. 16:1,2.)
*28* For whom did these churches provide? (a) everybody, (b) all needy people, (c) the poor among the saints, (d) no one. Answer: __________ .
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 5:4,8,16. <<<
*29* If individuals help needy relatives, whom can the church help? Answer: The church cares for those who are __________ .
Those who are really widows have no relatives to help them (vv 4,5). Note how this distinguishes individual duty from the church's duty.
>>> Please read 1 John 3:17,18. <<<
*30* If we don't help our needy brethren, what does that show? Answer: To not help shows that we lack __________ .
Aside from the church's duty, individual members should especially care for other needy members. [James 2:15,16; Gal. 6:10]
Think: Make a list of needy people you know, then list specific things you can do to help them. Remember, sometimes people need our time and interest more than they need physical things. (James 1:27)
There is no lack of ways to be helpful to people around us. Whether you are a man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, there are things you can do to help others.
Several works in the church involve responsibilities related to the works we have already listed. Those who truly want to serve in the local church should consider what assistance they can give in these works.
>>> Please read Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5. <<<
*31* What leaders does God want each church to have? (a) popes, (b) elders, (c) apostles, (d) prophets, (e) all the preceding. Answer: __________ .
Note: Each local church needs a plurality of qualified elders. If it has no such men, it is in a state of immaturity, missing something valuable. (Note the qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.)
>>> Please read 1 Timothy 3:1. <<<
*32* How is the work of elders described here? Answer: Being an elder (bishop) is a __________ work.
Think: Who can deny that elders, deacons, and their wives do a good work? Christians should be "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14). If being an elder is a "good work," should we seek to do that work?
Many churches are without elders because few men and their wives desire to qualify themselves for the work. If all members were zealous of good works, more churches would have qualified leaders.
We have now listed many works that are needed in a local church. To accomplish these works, many other day-to-day duties are needed, such as cleaning and maintenance of the building, correspondence, printing, etc.
Make a list of many other specific activities that local churches need members to do. Think of ways you can be useful in the local church.
Remember the example of Jesus. He came to earth, not to be served, but to serve others (Matt. 20:28). Instead of expecting other people to serve you, start serving other people! Instead of focusing on what you can get out of an activity, start thinking of ways you can help others.
The way to become a part of things is to get involved in the work! In other words, find ways to serve. If you want to serve, talk to the people who are in charge of various works. Let them know what you would like to do. Volunteer to serve!
Galatians 6:7-9 - We reap according to what we sow. We get out of any activity according to what we put into it. If we sow sparingly, we reap sparingly; if we sow bountifully, we reap bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6).
1 Corinthians 15:58 - Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")
*33* Are you actively involved in a faithful local church? ___________
*34* If the Lord came to live with you, would you work more diligently in the church? ______
*35* Would you like to be more active in teaching others? _________
*36* List other church works you would like to be more involved in: ___
(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2001 (click for copyright information)
Is Church Membership Essential to
Is Obedience Essential to Salvation?
Giving to Finance Church Work
Church Organization, Government, & Work
Power of Prayer
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.