Over the last eight lessons, we have used gravity as a springboard to study God’s divine work in His body. From the mysteriousness of its power to the delicacies of its effects, gravity has helped us join together our thoughts with God’s truth. In a way, it has been used as God designed it—for His glory.
Gravity glorifies God as we study and discuss its many conundrums. It glorifies God when we reach our limits and acknowledge that God is much more versed with His creation than we are. Gravity reminds us that God is far bigger than we can imagine and far more intelligent than we would ever credit Him. Gravity reveals, in a big way, God so cares for all of us, that He designed this vast “garden” over which He has also given us dominion. It also informs us of how small the details are and the great length to which God went to make everything. Gravity points us far beyond ourselves to wonder about the God of creation.
It has also glorified God in helping us understand rich truths about His supernatural design for His supernatural body. When we briefly take our eyes off the dark sky and lay hold of the gift of God’s church, we are thrilled all over again. All of the power and wisdom that are behind the making of the cosmos are also behind the making of the church. All of the creativity and purpose poured into the galaxies was also poured into the community of God. What a tremendous thought!
Gravity does, however, have its limits, as we will see now. While it does help sustain life on earth, it does not enable it to produce any. Gravity has no power to make the solar system better. It only maintains what exists. It can do no more. But God’s church, when His power is at work in it, can do far more.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.Ephesians 4:15-16
A Devoted Body
Our study has brought us through many things. We first looked at the instrument of God’s gravity. It is the truth. And by its very nature, being the truth of God, it is also love. The two are inseparable. These two make up the means by which the body of Christ is built up. The standard, or blueprint for the building, is none other than Christ, who is also the source and authority of the body. He works, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring transformation to the whole body of believers. This is what we are calling God’s gravitational force—bringing together His people to form one body through which He dwells in the earth.
We then turned our focus to the body’s members. We are the individuals He transforms and renews into mature people of faith and knowledge. To be clear, the work God performs is a work of renewal that taps the mind in order to shape the heart (Rom. 12:2). It is the transformation from the inside out. He does this through gifted leaders who equip the members to perform their ministries to which they were personally called. When these ministries function by the power of God’s Spirit, they produce maturity in the other members and bring about invincible unity. Where there is no maturity, there will be no unity.
In our final two posts, we will see how all of this comes together. In short, it will result in a body that is equipped to withstand being “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). Furthermore, it will bring about a perfect love that makes Christ famous throughout the world. In this post, we will focus on the initial result—how each member “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up” (Eph. 4:16).
Acts 2 describes the very first church of God. It is a dynamic story. After Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, the disciples were praying in an upper room. Then, a sudden sound and rushing wind swept in and filled the room. The Holy Spirit came into each of them, and they immediately proclaimed God’s wonders in unlearned, foreign languages. Crowds outside were astonished and asking questions. Peter saw it as an opportunity to preach the gospel. The crowd was “cut to the heart” and begged to be saved (Acts 2:37). That day, the church went from 120 to over 3,000 members with just one sermon, and the first church was born.
A Healthy Body
The explosive story of the first church gets better and better. After that big day, there were bigger days. Just two chapters later, the disciples were continuing in their devotions, and God added to their numbers. “Many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). In ancient writings, these numbers generally referred to the men, not the women and children. So the numbers could easily have been 20,000 by that day.
It didn’t stop there. A short time later, the Jewish officials were filled with rage and sought to stop the Christian movement. They killed Stephen as he proclaimed the gospel, but this only fueled the fire of the church. “The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” and even “many of the priests” were saved (Acts 6:7). By then, the numbers were too large. The author couldn’t keep count. Still, it didn’t stop there. “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up,” that is, the church was building itself up (Acts 9:31). By this point, the author had given up on keeping track of the church’s size. He simply said “it multiplied” (Acts 9:31).
When the members of the church reach maturity, it becomes what you can call a “healthy” body. It is not that every member is without sin, not even that any member is without sin, but that the members are working together, devoted to the Lord, building the body up. You can see it first with the leadership. Remember that God gave gifted men to the church “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:12). They are the equipped ones God uses to equip others.
It starts with the pastors. But when the leadership is lugging the load by themselves, the church is not healthy. So it is also seen in its members. The members are the ones working the ministry, participating in the life of the church and meeting the needs of one another. It is seen in strong discipleship, passionate worship, consistent prayer, deep fellowship, giving, and evangelism. In short, a healthy church is a wellspring for other churches. It doesn’t reach out for help, but reaches out to help. It is a body that plants churches and trains churches. It reproduces itself. It is a church where God’s gravity is evident and strong.
When the church devotes herself to the Lord, the Lord devotes Himself to the church. This is His desire. In Ephesians 5, we find what Paul referred to as a profound mystery. It is how the picture of marriage teaches us about the love of Christ. “Husbands,” he said, “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). This is the gravity of God illustrated by marriage. God “nourishes and cherishes” the body so that it becomes mature, lacking in nothing, but is also a wellspring of grace to others.
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