The Vibrant, Organic Church
An organic garden can produce many colorful, nutritious, delicious vegetables if the gardener cares for it well. If he does not, weeds and pests will invade, inhibiting the growth of the plants. In the same manner, a Christian’s life can produce much wonderful fruit if the individual diligently seeks God and willingly obeys His Word. He must set his affection totally on God and live a life of true worship. If he does not, he will surely fall prey to the enemy and not bear good fruit. The same is true of the Christian Church. This article is an analogy of the Christian life, describing many similarities between a garden and the church. The church in America is in great need of revival. Sin abounds among those who call themselves Christians, and God is grieved.
In the true organic church, digging deep is a very important step in making real, living, vital, Holy Spirit-filled disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible refers to this step as true repentance. Today many people have been led to believe that they are eternally saved upon a prayer they said as a child or upon a baptism they received as an infant. True salvation will result in a man or a woman becoming a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. God chose the word disciple to describe His children because it reveals the character that will develop in an individual as the Holy Spirit leads him. The word disciple literally means a “disciplined follower.” The promises and commandments of Christ can only be a reality in the life of an individual if he has the grace of God, which is the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to live a victorious life over sin. Christ did not die to save us in our sins but to save us from our sins. The word Christian has become so commonplace that 80% of Americans claim to be one. The word Christian literally means “little Christs.” Many people in America believe that the “church” is in sad shape. Why is this the case when Christ promised abundant life to His disciples? Everything Christ said and did was from His Heavenly Father. We are told in the Scriptures that this same mind is to be in us as well (Philippians 2:5). So how does someone truly repent?
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
You can only be saved if you are willing to humble yourself before God. If you have no godly sorrow, which comes as the Holy Spirit reveals the depth of sin in your life, then true repentance will not come. When godly sorrow flows over the man who sees the depth of his sins before a Holy God, and he seeks to repent, the Holy Spirit will show him what specific sins he needs to repent of and deal with.
And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.... John 16:8
The word repentance means a full turning from sin. True repentance means that our lives become transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If He reproves us of the sin of stealing, we need to ask God’s forgiveness in brokenness and ask Him to give us His grace to enable us to go and steal no more (see John 8:11). We then need to restore what we have stolen and seek forgiveness from the one we have stolen from. As this true repentance takes place on our knees before God, we stay there until the Holy Spirit stops showing us specific things we need to repent of. Once complete repentance takes place in an individual, he will not need to be told how to worship; it will simply flow out of him. True repentance will relieve such a burden from the soul of a man that there will be no doubt in his mind what has taken place. Even after our initial conversion, the Holy Spirit is always present to lovingly reprove us at times when we need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness. God’s love toward us is so evident in the precious gift of forgiveness He has given us.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:9-10
Testing the Church's PH: Its Balance
The stories of people that have been hurt by others in the church are varied and numerous. Some fellowships are very harsh with the man-made rules they teach as Bible doctrine. In other fellowships, where false concepts of God’s true love, mercy, and grace are taught, sin abounds. New Christians quickly realize that God has set in the body, His body, many different gifts. God intends for these gifts to be used to edify and build up the body. Few fellowships have found the balance necessary to deal with sin in a Spirit-led, biblical, loving way. Immature believers with the gift of prophecy tend to be harsh and demand that sin is dealt with. Others with the gift of mercy tend to overlook sin that continues to grieve the Lord. In order to achieve the right balance, all members of the body need to check their PH reading with the full spectrum of God’s Word.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Testing NPK and Trace Minerals in the Church
Instead of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), the organic church has FHC (faith, hope, and love).
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Just as NPK in the soil plays a major part in plants receiving all the necessary elements to grow, faith, hope, and charity in the organic church are critical to allow all members of the body to reach their full potential in the Lord. We need to use 2 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to test the trace minerals in our Christian lives as well as our FHC. We will only fully mine all the important trace minerals of the Word of God as we diligently study with the help of the Holy Spirit. Just as living organisms in the soil break down organic matter to make it available to the plants, so will the Holy Spirit take God’s Word and make it understandable meat for His children. If we have all the right doctrines (trace minerals) but lack love, our Christian lives will not prosper. Just as compacted soil in our gardens will not allow the plants to grow properly, sin that hardens our hearts will not allow proper growth in our walks with God. We must remain broken and repentant.
We also need to be very cautious in reading books other than the Bible. Just as the gardener who applies heavy doses of manure to his compost piles over time finds deficiencies in trace minerals, the man of God who spends too much time in other books will also be deficient. There are nuggets to be gained in reading other books, but where did the author find his nugget? Hopefully, he found it by spending time with the Lord in His Word. Some other books are fine to read, but make sure it is on a limited basis. Today “Christian” bookstores and radio stations are filled with every wind of doctrine available. False doctrine can only be detected in the same way a bank teller detects a counterfeit bill. Bankmanagers do not show the tellers examples of bad bills. Instead, they teach them to know the real thing. When a bad bill comes to them, they are able to recognize it immediately, because they are so familiar with real ones. We need to be so familiar with the Word of God that we can recognize false doctrine immediately. This will only be possible by knowing Jesus Christ, the Author himself, and by studying His Word diligently. Only He can reveal the truth of His Word to the hearts of His children.
Another tendency found in the church is the tendency to shy away from certain doctrines that are being abused in other settings. We need to flee this tendency with all that lies within us. If we see it occurring, we should be driven to the Word. We must rightly divide the Scriptures to know and discern why this right doctrine is working death in these people. So many sincere Christians explain away a doctrine that is very dear to the heart of God simply because other believers have approached it in a legalistic fashion or have used it in a sinful way. The abuse of a truth is never sufficient reason to explain it away. In the end, the enemy will have stolen a precious gift that God intended for our health and vitality.
Keep the Plants in the Church Close
Just as the gardener spaces his plants closely to gain the most advantage in water retention and weed control, it is critical that members of the organic church are very close as well. Water in our lives is the refreshing flow of encouragement that comes from the Holy Spirit. If we as believers are close, each of us will benefit from this flow in a more beneficial way. We also benefit in weed control by being in each other’s lives daily.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
Companion Planting and Watching for Disease in the Church
We discussed earlier that an organic gardener often plants many types of plants together in one bed with many beneficial results. The Lord also puts the needed mix of gifts in the members of His body for the health of the entire body. Many fellowships find themselves pest-filled and diseased because they have held to some false doctrine that has gathered many itchy ears. A group of itchy-ears people that are like-minded in a dangerous way tends to create a mono-crop atmosphere where many obvious sins are overlooked. What a blessing it is, though, to be in the presence of a proper mix of God’s people where the Holy Spirit has free reign through all the members to edify all.
Now, just as the gardener was very careful with what seedlings he allowed in the garden, so must we be very careful who is allowed to have close, intimate contact with the body of Christ.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
Another danger we must be aware of is that of fellowships that have a formal list of members. Sadly mistaken, many of these fellowships allow sin to go unrebuked because a person has not made a formal commitment to the local body. Many fellowships have been leavened with such an approach. With this form of membership, people who are not formal members are not treated as members of the body of Christ and are not held accountable. The attitude of having non-members has caused many people to be hurt and has allowed much sin to go unchecked. If a person is one with God, they should be considered one with the people of God.
For our own sakes, as well as for the sake of the body of Christ, we need to keep a keen ear open for those who make accusations of sin in others’ lives but do not take necessary steps to restore those accused. We often see this form of evil-speaking in settings where a denominational attitude prevails. Brothers from one denomination discuss sin in the life of a brother from another denomination. This only works to divide the body of Christ. If someone speaks evil of another in our presence, we need to lovingly encourage him or her to go to the person and lovingly rebuke him and restore him. If he is not willing to go to the brother he is accusing, then we need to rebuke him in love to repent of speaking lies. If what he is saying is true, and he has the love of Christ in him, he will go to that individual and seek his restoration before the Lord. There is only one body of Christ. We are to receive everyone whom Christ receives and reject everyone who Christ rejects. There is no middle ground!
Size of the Garden: the Church Will Grow
If we are faithful, the Lord will delight to increase the size of our garden. The older must disciple the younger in each family as well as in the entire body of Christ. Fathers have a very important responsibility, for the qualifications of an elder hinge upon his ability to make disciples in his own home. If a man cannot disciple his own children, God’s Word makes it clear that he is not worthy to disciple His children.
A man should not seek to be a bishop (minister) or a deacon, but should rather seek to be qualified in every way. Then if the Lord chooses to give him the high calling of being the servant of all, he will be fully prepared. Today the church in America is filled with men who do not meet the qualifications of the epistles of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Our nation is lacking qualified men because proper discipleship is not occurring. The church is in great need of fulfilling the command of Christ put forth in Matthew 28:19.
The great need of this hour is for godly men and women to be making true, faithful, Holy Spirit-filled disciples of Christ. The nurturing of disciples will not happen on its own any more than a garden will flourish if left to itself. Discipling needs to go beyond just listening to messages on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Discipling is a daily commitment that the whole body with all the gifts needs to embrace with the same mind as Christ.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
The Living Soil Called Grace
All that we have discussed will only be possible if we possess the grace of God. Christ’s whole reason for coming and dying was to redeem a body of people that would display His glory throughout the whole earth. We must receive the grace of the Holy Spirit that enables men to live holy lives, set apart unto God. The only way to receive the grace we need is to be truly humble. The temporal things Christ asks us to give up for His purpose and glory are very small in the light of all He gave up for us. Christ humbled himself and gave up all the riches of heaven to redeem us. In fact, the world calls this foolishness because they have their affection on the treasure they have stored up and invested in upon the earth.
When Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount (in Luke chapter six), He used a very interesting phrase. Three times the Lord asks the question, “What thank have ye?” He was challenging their weak lives in these verses. He is really saying, “what grace have ye?” Below is a definition from the Strong’s Concordance defining the Greek word charis, translated “thank” in the above verses. Look at the true meaning of this word. A correct understanding of the word grace is a powerful tool in rightly dividing the Word of God and understanding what He desires to do through His people.
What should stand out to us as we consider what is said in this definition is that charis (grace) is “espec. the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” When we come to this realization in our walks with the Lord, the Scriptures come alive. Then we can understand why Paul said:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
We are saved by repenting from our dead works (Hebrews 6: 1), yes, even our dead good works, and are willingly crucified with Christ and raised with Him in newness of life. This newness of life is the Holy Spirit filling us and flowing through us to the edification of the body of Christ and as a display of God’s glory to all the earth.
In closing, a vibrant Christian life in the believers will make a vibrant church—one that is healthy and strong. If there was ever a day when this is needed, it is our day. May God grant us grace, real grace that will produce fruit, real fruit, to the glory of God. A. W. Tozer’s words are fitting here in this conclusion. What a prophet he was in his day! God give us more prophets.
“Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart, that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodoxy divorced from life, they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection. On the other hand, the man who preaches truth and applies it to the lives of his hearers, will feel the nails and thorns. He will lead a hard life, but a glorious one.”
This article was adapted from the booklet,
- Hits: 2327