WHEN IRON SHARPENS IRON IN LOVE,
THE CHURCH IS NO LONGER ANEMIC
We must get the church body to again love as it was always intended. Until it assumes the role that will put it into a healthy state, it will continue to be the anemic group of congregations that it is now . The church congregations are now beset with unrest and many demands for change. The Holy spirit is unsettling the church bodies. The traditional forms of services, the hymns, and even the architecture are being shaken and changed. People are clamoring for replacing the large congregational services with smaller fellowship groups. Small group worship will be more effective, personal, and spiritual... we are told. The Holy Spirit is attempting to get the church bodies to change, and to get back into harmony with the plan of God for the church.
The debate will continue, and the search for the "perfect" church will not end in these searches.
The key is not to find the perfect ritual. Ritual of any kind is not to be an end in itself. Our rituals, and forms of worship, are intended to be vehicles to get us to the proper expression of the church. The proper expression of the body church is the koinonia fellowship between the members of the congregation. Worship of the Lord cannot find its epitome until love of the brethren finds its proper zenith.
Worship requires us to commune with the Lord. It is adoration of our Lord Jesus, with the aid of the Spirit, that brings us into a harmony of relationship with the Father. The problem of reaching this kind of adoration is that the Lord measures the worship by the koinonia between the members of the body. Our attitude toward God is measured by our attitude toward our brother. To love God, as we ought, we must love our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The Lord desires to bring the congregations into a perfection of knowledge, of number, and of holiness. God is trying to add daily to the church (Acts 5:14, 2:47). There will come a time in the latter rain revival when the number will jump immensely. The Lord has begun a good work in us, and will continue to strive with our misconceptions, our mistaken rituals, and our hindering hypocritical ways until He gets the church to the revival of blessing that He wants us to have.
"He Who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."
"Him, we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ."
The Lord uses all of us in this ‘perfecting’ role. Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets, and every saint, to sharpen iron. We need to know how to measure our love for the brethren.
The deceitful kiss of Judas on the cheek of our Lord in Gethsemane shows the deceitfulness of the heart of people. Many churches have learned to pretend a love, and a fellowship. They may greet at the door with smiles and handshakes, and stab in the back in the committee meetings. They may say all are welcome, but shun those who do not measure up financially, or dress in proper wardrobe, or speak with educated verbiage. The traditional ways of measuring koinonia and love of the brethren need to be thrown out the door. God has given us a special way to measure our fitness in His program.
"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, Who is the Head, even Christ. From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
The measuring stick with which we measure our maturity and accomplishment in the direction the Lord wants is the Lord Himself. We are to come into the "stature of the fullness of Christ." We have been predestinated to be "conformed to the image of His Son..."(Romans 8:29). We cannot be like unto Jesus without first getting the body healthy, and then growing in this health to a maturity. Lack of love shows the unhealthy state. Lack of koinonia shows a sick and weak body church. However, even after we have gotten to the place of having healthy relationships in a congregation, we must then mature. Iron sharpening iron, in love, is the way the Lord wants the church body to mature.
Immaturity is shown by:
"tossed to and fro..."
"carried about with every wind of doctrine..."
"carried about... by the sleight of men..."
"carried about... cunning craftiness... lie in wait to deceive..."
This shows that the undiscerning of the evil treachery of the devil and his false prophets (that are hidden within the church) make us immature in our development. We must learn to exercise our love and fellowship, but then grow in faith, and learn to discern evil, detect the false prophet and the heretic.
Peter was undiscerning of the treachery of the devil and his doctrines...
"...others may deny You, not me..."
We must be "child-like," but not "childish." We have been instructed by the Lord to "become like little children..." but too many have stayed in a child-like understanding of the wiles and treachery of the devil. He has placed within the church bodies many of his children in disguise. They will attempt to hinder and cause others to think the false are the true.
I Corinthians 14:20
"Brethren, be not children (PAIDIA) in understanding, but in malice, be ye children (NEPIAZO), but in understanding be men (TELEOI)."
We are thus instructed to not be "paidia" in understanding. This Greek word indicates "children beginning in school." Too many Christians are still beginning students in understanding the spiritual battle we have in Christianity. They are immature students who are easily fooled and led astray by the hypocrites, tares, and false prophets within the church. In malice we are to be "nepiazo," which means "infants who do not yet speak." The Lord wants us to be immature in battling each other, but not immature in recognizing the sinfulness of the false prophets of today. In understanding we are to be "teleoi", which means "men of mature age."
By maturing in understanding, but not in malice, we learn to avoid certain false teachings and their proponents. We will learn to avoid certain judgmental members of the body churches, and their gossip and condemnation. We will stay away from the arguments on color of carpet, type of brick, and manner of dress. We will not look to condemn others for attire or embellishment. The search will be for those we can help, encourage, lift up, pray through, and carry. The condemnation, fault-finding, and judgmentalism will be shunned and avoided. It is vital that the loving church grow up in understanding which paths and which people lead us in the wrong directions.
The Lord Jesus could rebuke Peter, send Judas out of the door to do his work, condemn the Pharisees and Sadducees, gently rebuke his mother and brothers who sought His attention, and still be ready to gently encourage the woman caught in adultery, encourage the weeping women at the tomb, and lovingly encourage the attention of the children who sought to come to Him. The maturity that we are to seek within the church body is the same maturity that Jesus had. When we can have the loving relationships that Jesus had with most in that time, and still be able to correct, rebuke, and discern evil when it is present in the midst, we have come to the maturity of koinonia that the Lord desires.
Maturity is maintaining the fruit of the Spirit. The "faithfulness, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) are to be exercised on purpose by a congregation of believers.
"Rather, speaking the truth, grow up in love..."
This ‘speaking the truth’ is iron sharpening iron, and the result of such is to ‘grow in love’.
There is a necessity of learning, knowing the truth, and thereby also knowing what is the error, the heresy, and the false. Yet, when that has been learned, we are to then "grow up in love." This is a real test for love, to know error and its proponents, and still be able to love and show the fruit of the Spirit in the local body church.
The Lord desires to have the "whole body fitly joined together" (Ephesians 4:16). The word "joined" is made up of three Greek words. One means "harmony", another means "with", and the third means "choosing." We need to come to a place of love and fellowship (koinonia), where we have chosen to be at harmony with the others. It is a choice, not an accident, and by chance. We must choose to love and fellowship with those who are imperfect, weak, and stumbling saints. It is time-consuming, difficult, and wearying to us, but we choose to continue in the koinonia of love.