Equipping the Saints – A Pillar of the Church
Text: 2 Timothy 3:10-17
As we enter our third week in focusing on the church, this week we focus on the second pillar of the church, namely edification. Edification or equipping is a major function of the church, although Jesus focused more on evangelism, it is logical that equipping or edification took place before the disciples were sent out on evangelism missions.
It is important to note that edification is not simply training, it goes much deeper than that, and the fact that it is not only the pastors or teachers being edified, it is the building up of the entire body of Christ.
In the text for today Paul was encouraging his young disciple. Timothy knew Paul’s doctrine (teaching); his manner of life (conduct); the purpose that motivated his life; the faith that sustained him in trial; the long-suffering, love, and endurance that he showed, even when persecuted; and the wonderful way God took care of him through it all. Paul had been a divine object lesson to young Timothy,
Today I want to look at 3 ways in which the members of a church are equipped or edified.
One of them is fellowship; the early church in the New Testament shared all things in common and cared for each other as we see in Acts 5. However we sometimes lose the intention of true fellowship. We meet together for meals, share a cup of coffee and don’t really fellowship as Christians, unfortunately sometimes it is little more than a get together that turns into gossip meetings. However I like to call true fellowship, fellowship with Purpose – when we get together, let us intentionally speak about things that build one another up, encourage one another, speak about the word of God, what is God saying to you in your life right now? What are you learning? This is true fellowship that leads to edification.
Another method of edification is preaching and teaching- Today we have access to literally hundreds of thousands of training and teaching tools, from the internet and printed material. Timothy knew the scriptures, and Paul commended him on that (v15). The Bible transforms the child of GOD into a mature person in Christ; it equips the saints to be servants. “Equipped for service.” In other words, the Word of God furnishes and equips a believer so that he can live a life that pleases God and do the work God wants him to do. The better we know the Word, the better we are able to live and work for God.
The purpose of Bible study is not just to understand doctrines or to be able to defend the faith, as important as these things are. The ultimate purpose is the equipping of the believers who read it. It is the Word of God that equips God’s people to do the work of God.
As church members are edified, the church grows healthier, as the church grows healthier, the church grows in number. But the foundation must be set with equipping or edification or training.,
The final method of edification is Discipleship; this is one of the most overused words and misunderstood terms in the modern day church. Some people question whether or not Paul truly discipled Timothy, however as we look at our text this morning it gives us a clue into his methodology of discipleship (see verse 10). How did Timothy know all these things about Paul? Obviously he observed Paul, they spent time together and lived life together. We confuse discipleship with teaching, we have this picture of an overweight guru sitting on a rock “discipling” his students. We can easily allow our students to believe that we are wonderful people who never get flustered or angry if we limit discipleship to a teacher/student paradigm. However Jesus modeled for us the perfect form of discipleship, his disciples knew him well, he taught them when he was teaching formally and he taught them when they observed his life. Jesus knew that he had to model for his disciples how to live this new life he was presenting to them. They had to see it in action.
You may say, how does this have anything to do with me? The discipling of new (and sometimes old) Christians in the fundamentals of living the Christian life has largely been neglected in churches. Here is a great place where you can make a difference. When you lead someone to Christ, take him/her under your wing (so to speak) and show them how to be a Christian disciple. Don’t worry about being a master teacher just share your life with them.
But the primary reason for discipleship is to equip people to lead others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If we are not discipling intentionally towards training people to lead others to Christ, we probably need to take the name “disciple” out of it.
So why is equipping or edification so important in our churches today? What we all need to understand is that when we are saved, we all become God’s ministering people. We need to see the church as a place where we become equipped and trained to go out into the world to serve the Lord in our particular area of ministry. Wherever Christians go, they are the church, reaching and touching people for the Lord Jesus.
A church that is equipped and engaging in ministry becomes a powerful church and makes a difference in the lives of those around them.
How about we change our perspective and seek to find a job for every member rather than trying to find a few members to do all the jobs. As we train new members, high on the list of priorities will be a challenge to them to be plugged in to some area of ministry. This is discipleship, this is equipping!