Summary: This is the third sermon in a series called "On Purpose." Part of our responsibility as God’s church is to help Christians grow in their relationship with God so they can grow to maturity.
EDIFY THE SAINTS
ILL> There was a church in a small town in Tennessee that had a most interesting name. The sign in front of it said, "Left Foot Baptist Church." There was a young man who passed by the building several times, and he always got a good chuckle from the name. Finally, one day when he was waiting on his bus, he asked someone about the church with the unusual name.
I don’t believe that he was counting on the answer that he got. He found out that several years before a great conflict arose in the church. You see, it was a foot-washing Baptist church–they washed one another’s feet as an act of worship. But the conflict broke out over which foot should be washed first. Half of the congregation thought they should start with the right foot. The other half thought that they should always start with the left foot. The conflict simmered and brewed until finally the left-foot proponents split off and organized their own church. Of course, they called it "Left Foot Baptist Church."
A. While that story is unusual by itself, we know that it is not unusual for churches to allow small and insignificant matters to tear them apart.
1. And when these small things become the focus of the church, then they keep the church from fulfilling God’s purpose
a. I am very thankful for the positive spirit of unity that exists in the church family here
b. It is something that we need to continually work at as we strive to live out God’s purpose for our lives and for this church
B. At the start of this year we began talking about our purpose as God’s Church
1. The leadership team recently adopted a purpose or mission statement for the church
a. It begins with what we talked about last week--our number one purpose is to evangelize the lost
2. Today we want to take a look at the second part of our mission statement
a. Not only are we to reach out to the lost and bring them to Christ, be we are to help those new believers grow in their relationship with Christ
b. 1 Thes. 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
c. The word used in the KJV for "build each other up" is the word "edify"
3. So, the second part of our purpose it to edify the saints
a. "The Mt. Gilead Church of Christ exists to evangelize the lost and to edify the saints..."
b. In Hebrews 10 Paul gives us some guidelines as to how we might edify one another and build each other up
c. I call this Paul’s vegetarian sermon because this short passage is full of "let us"
d. READ: Hebrew 10:19-25
I> PAUL 5 STEP METHOD OF BUILDING A STRONGER CHURCH
A. First of all, Paul says that we need to Focus on God
1. VS 22 - let us draw near to God
a. This seems to be elementary, but may be the hardest step if you been walking the wrong direction and have found yourself running away from God
b. It may be that you need to sit down and have a serious discussion with God about where your life is headed
c. You need to be open and frank with a desire to change and let God cleanse your guilty conscience
B. Follow the straight and narrow
1. VS 23 - let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess
a. That would "unswervingly" is a word we don’t use much today
ILL> In November Alan got his driver’s permit. I let him drive from Marion. Of course, like most new drivers he had a tendency to swerve back forth. The trick is to make small adjustments to keep the vehicle moving in a straight path.
b. That’s the way you should drive
2. Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
C. Help Others Grow
1. A Kick in the Seat of the Pants
a. VS 24 - let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds
2. The word "spur" means to provoke or to irritate
ILL> Have you ever been walking along and you get a stone in your shoe? You don’t want to stop to take the time to get it out so you keep walking, but eventually you feel like you’ve got to remove this boulder.
Then when you take your shoe off the stone is so small that you can hardly find it. Small as it was, however, it sure was irritating.
D. You cannot help others grow unless you are faithful to the body of Christ