The Believer’s Well-being
The Sonshine by Walter Olsen, July 1, 2018
The Believer’s Well-being
Introduction: One of the great blessings of the Christian life is to walk in harmony and genuine fellowship with God and to know His ministering presence in our lives. The Christian life is more than just a set of facts we know and agree with. It is an experience of fellowship with Him. Only in such a relationship can we find true joy and satisfaction. I write on this because I think it is a fact either ignored or rejected by many believers. The result is, we stumble along in our Christian lives never knowing the fullness of His intended blessings.
Part of the problem is that we look in all the wrong places for spiritual contentment and well-being. Upon so doing, we feel we are experiencing the “normal” Christian life. Often, the result of such “contentment” is a sense of emptiness, frustration, and disharmony with others, even other believers. Personally, I fear this condition characterizes many believers and even many churches. The result is, the lives of many believers and even many churches is that they are not presenting a true picture of the reality of Jesus Christ. The picture they present is one of a kind of mechanical organization held together by loyalty to leaders and structure. When Christ Himself is not the center of worship, spiritual growth, and fellowship, the results are predictable chaos! But we can make it look so good!
Let’s consider for a moment the true basis of the believer’s well-being and fruit bearing as Jesus Himself taught, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples” (Jn. 15:4-5, 8). Thus, personal well-being, fruit bearing, and the ministering presence of God in our lives depends upon our personal relationship with God Himself.
Now, some of the things I believe believers look to for spiritual well-being are the following. The list is not complete but is a representative sampling of many things. I must point out that the things discussed are not wrong in and of themselves. Many of them are things that are very significant and important to our spiritual well-being. It is just that they in and of themselves are not the primary focal point of our Christian lives. Does that make sense?
Identification with a Bible believing local church. Such identification is really crucial for obedience to the Lord. God would not have it any other way. In the early history of the church we read, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls…and they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:41, 46). The importance of the local church in the life of the believer cannot be overemphasized. The church should provide for a regular hearing of the word of God, a place to exercise one’s special spiritual gifting, a place to give one’s tithes and offerings, a place to enjoy the fellowship of fellow believers, and a host of other things. To in any way diminish the significance of the local church is to diminish God’s plan for our time.
Now, the problem is not the local church itself. The problem comes when one assumes some kind of spirituality because of his identify with the local church. He is satisfied that, since he is a member of a good local church, he must thus be spiritual! But it is not the church as an identity that makes one spiritual. One could be a member of a good church for years and never grow spiritually.
A wealth of Bible knowledge. The knowledge of the Bible is a wonderful possession. Such knowledge should be sought as much as possible. Solomon said, “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength” (Prov. 24:5). The Lord said to His own people, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no more priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
A lack of Bible knowledge can lead to innumerable problems for the believer and within the local church. For a believer to live without a good knowledge of the Bible subjects him to his own whims and wishes, leaving him befuddled spiritually. Not only so, but his spiritual influence upon others is often a series of mixed signals. A local church that lacks a thorough knowledge of the Bible cannot give spiritual help and counsel to those who attend.
But now, it is possible to have accumulated much knowledge of the Bible without the Spirit’s ministry to make it spiritually relevant. That is, knowledge alone is not sufficient to a Spirit-filled life. Indeed, knowledge by itself can be a source of pride. Paul warned, “…knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (I Cor. 8:1). Further, Paul spoke of some who are, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7).
The knowledge we may have of the Bible is not to show how much we know as opposed to some others, but is to be shared with the Spirit’s accompaniment to bring spiritual blessing and enlightenment to others. If we just want to show how much we personally know, we have lost the opportunity to be a blessing.
So, if we look to our Biblical knowledge as a barometer of spiritual well-being, we will have missed the very purpose of Biblical knowledge. It is not that we may have something to boast of, but that we may be encouraged and corrected by its truth as brought to our hearts by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Further, it is to share the truth of the Bible with others who have a need for God and His truth.
Participation in Christian fellowship. Fellowship with other believers is essential to Christian growth. We need the encouragement and conviction that other believers can bring into our lives. Solomon exhorts, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). God never meant believers to be isolated from other believers. This speaks of the need and blessing of local churches.
But a word of caution may be added here. We should never assume that all who claim to be believers are necessarily so, nor are all true believers a good witness to the reality of Christ in their lives. The point here is that, just spending time with other believers is not the same as genuine Christian fellowship. True fellowship is identifying with the spiritual life and objectives of other believers. Really, it is a fellowship with the presence and Person of God in the lives of other believers. One may spend much time with other believers and never enter into much true Christian fellowship!
Remember, Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13).
Now, I wonder if it is not possible that we may assume spiritual well-being just because we spend much time with friends even though they have little identity in Christ. Please don’t misunderstand! We are not saying we should not spend time with people who are not growing spiritually much. That is not the point. The point is that of assuming spiritual well-being for ourselves because we spend time with people who have little evidence of spiritual life. It is not just being with others that encourages spiritual growth. True Christian fellowship is a oneness in Christ in interest and purpose. Some people edify us and encourage us in our spiritual walk and some do not.
Participation in Christian ministry. I know all believers are involved in Christian ministry to others; at least they should be. That is part of the normal Christian life. However, I am referring here to those who are active in some kind of special ministry. They may be regular members of the church doing special service or they may be those given to a full time ministry. We thank and praise God for all true ministry offered in His name.
The problem, though, comes when we assume a special blessing and standing with God on the basis of the ministry we perform. No one is spiritual on the basis of what they “do for God.” True ministry is God working in and through the believer revealing who He is, not who we are! As Paul said, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Consider Jesus Himself who said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn. 6:38).
Is it not easy for those who serve to become proud of their service, of their God given talent, of their worship? When that is true, we serve to draw attention to ourselves rather than to God! Jesus warned, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast, Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto the Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 16-18).
Indeed, our ministry as believers needs to come from God and be given back to God.
A given position in the local church. Serving in the local church is a special blessing, whatever the position may be. If one is confident he is there by God’s appointment, he can be assured of God’s blessing and provision for the ministry. Indeed, Paul reminds us, “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (I Tim 3:13). Bible believing churches need Godly helpers to assist in the ministry of the church.
The truth is, though, sometimes people get in places of leadership who are really not called of God. They are there because they have certain skills, have a reputation as a leader in some other capacity, have been in the church a long time, or are just generally appreciated. In seeking for deacons, Paul said, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3).
Being a church officer is a wonderful avenue of service, but again, no one has any special standing with God on the basis of position! A position in the ministry of the local church does not make one Godly or in any way spiritual. Yes, a person may grow in their walk with God as they serve, but it is not their service that makes them spiritual. A walk with God begins in one’s heart, hopefully before being elected or appointed to any office in the church. This is true of any position in the church.
Unfortunately, when people assume spiritual standing with God on the basis of position, that often leads to disharmony in the church. Do you think maybe churches need instruction as to what really is spiritual leadership? Is it not possible that many churches are crippled spiritually because they don’t comprehend what it really means to have a personal relationship with God? Is it maybe possible that we become satisfied with a Christianity more defined by man than by God? Perhaps we should pray, study, and think about some of these important issues before we move on to other things.
A good reputation. A good reputation is a most precious asset and one to be sought after. The Bible is clear that, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1). Solomon also said, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” (Eccl. 7:1). A good name suggests one that is not sullied by public scandal and suggests such things as honesty, reliability, and friendliness. Many unbelievers live an upright life and are good citizens but that doesn’t mean they are Christians.
A good name for the believer is an important part of his witness to others. If one does not have a good name, his witness to others will very likely fall on deaf ears.
As important as a good name is, it by itself is not the essence of one’s spiritual well-being. A good name because of one’s identity with Jesus Christ is ever so precious to the believer, but a good name apart from Him can be deceiving to oneself as well as to others if it suggests special standing with God. A righteous standing with God can only be because one has personally accepted Jesus Christ as his own imputed righteousness. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor.5:21).
The purpose of this very brief study has not been to in any way diminish many of the things people hold dear. It has been rather to show that these things are not in and of themselves the reality of the Christian life. Yes, they are a part of it, but only as one has come to faith in Jesus Christ and is growing in Him. To hold otherwise is to be deceived about the nature of the Christian life and to ultimately suffer the consequences. We all need to study the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak truth to our hearts. Only then can we begin to appreciate and comprehend the Christian life for what it truly is.
On Sunday evening, June 3rd, Pastor and Mrs. Tapp and BJ and I attended the farewell service held for Pastor and Mrs. Dwight Turbett at the First Baptist Church in Hillsdale. It was a tremendous time. It began with a very delicious supper served and then a service of singspiration and testimonies of appreciation for the Turbetts ministry of nine years. The entire evening was one of great blessing.
June brought wonderful sunshine and lots of very warm weather. It is so wonderful to be able to spend some time outside enjoying God’s creation. Of course, we have to cut the grass at least once a week.
We enjoyed attending a number of graduation open houses and also had a wonderful Father’s Day. BJ took Tim, Dan, and me out for a very delicious dinner.
BJ attended a ladies High Tea at church for which the fellowship hall was beautifully decorated.
As usual, the spring and summer months seem to go by so fast! It should remind us of how fleeting our lives are. A reminder from the book of James is helpful here, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, ‘If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that’” (James 4:14-15).
It is well for all of us to think of the priorities of life. Are we sure of our salvation? Do we know from the Bible and by the Spirit of God that we are truly saved and ready to meet the Lord? So many put such thoughts off, thinking they have much time! But nobody has any guarantee of another day to live! To die without being prepared to meet God on His terms is the greatest of all possible losses. If we are not sure, we should make this the day of our salvation. Thankfully, we don’t have to do any special work. Jesus Christ has done it all for us when He died on the cross for our sins. All we have to do is believe and, by faith, receive Him as our Savior.
Of course, we should have a like concern for those we love. To fail to witness to them of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is the greatest of failures! May God give us a willing heart and grace to be a testimony to all about us.
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