by Leon O. Poole.
The need for edification is one of the greatest needs that Christian believers have. That is true because many things work to tear down our spiritual life. Our body needs food, exercise and rest to be in “good physical condition.” We need spiritual food, exercise and rest to be in good spiritual condition. We can sense when we are edified, and we are wise not to “skip” what is needed to be in good Spiritual condition.
The Bible tells us how to do that. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up…” (Acts 20:32). Again, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself…” (1 Cor.14:4). Also: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thes.5:11).
In the Bible, the word Edify means: “the promotion of spiritual growth; literally, things of building up”.
When believers have a problem, it’s often because we are not built up enough to overcome it. We tend to be strong in some areas of Christian life, but weak in others. If we do not edify ourselves in the weaker areas, they may cause us distress or failure.
Truly, we are saved by God’s grace through faith, (Eph.2:8-9), but it is our duty to edify ourselves. If we neglect to edify ourselves, we may be trapped by sin, error, or other serious problems.
Since we are affected by information, it is vital that we get correct information. The Word of God is the source of correct information about Him, and His will. God has also given His Holy Spirit to help us understand what He offers us. 1 Corinthians 2:9,15. We often need greater spiritual strength to be faithful in what we know.
According to the Bible, there is general edification, and special edification. We need to be so edified that we have constant victory in all areas of God’s will for our life. We often to try to make general edification serve for all of our needs. According to the Scripture, that is not the way it “works”.
For instance, on one occasion, Jesus told His apostles, that He had many things to say to them, but they could not bear them yet.
QUESTION: Why not? They had been with him for over three years. They saw His miracles and heard His wisdom and His gracious words. They became sure that He was the Christ. Yet, they were not built up enough for the special things that He intended in the future. Jesus told them to watch and pray. Through prayer they could gain God’s help. So can we.
Spiritual edification, like good physical fitness, is a condition that we must keep. Believers can be edified in several ways. A few of them are: believing prayer, praise, worship, praying in the Holy Ghost, reading, hearing and meditating on God’s Word, and fellowship with other believers. Then there are special ways, such as by the Spirit of Revelation from God, or by the ministry of angels.
Of course, we can cause neither Divine revelation nor God’s angels to minister to us; those are given by God’s choice. But we can, and we ought to do all the others. For example, Jesus said that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1. In this book, we want to study ways to edify ourselves.
We read of things in the Scripture, or we hear of them in church meetings. If we do not understand them, fear or unbelief may cause us to reject them. Therefore, we need to edify ourselves by studying what God’s Word says about them. Then we can overcome our fears or unbelief. It is an error to avoid them simply because we do not understand them.
Jesus said to His Apostles:”I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)
This lack in the Apostles was not unique to them. According to 1 Corinthians 2:9, 14, it is common to everyone. Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would come and reveal things from God to them. He will do that for us also. Without the Holy Spirit’s help, neither they nor we, can grasp the things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.”
Verse 10: But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
Verse 11: For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
Verse 12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Verse 14: But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
According to John 7:39, before Jesus died and rose again, the Holy Spirit was not given to His Apostles and other disciples, as He was after Christ’s resurrection. God knows the facts of human weakness. He knew that the Holy Spirit would be needed to help us gain what He intends for us to have. Notice what Jesus said about it in John 16:7:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”
Putting all these verses together, we find that Jesus said that the Apostles could not bear what God intended for them in their future, but that the Holy Spirit would help them. For that reason, it was vital for Jesus to go back to heaven after His resurrection, so that the Holy Spirit could be given to them, and later to us. Without Him, they (and we) would be permanently “blocked” by the barrier of 1 Corinthians 2:14, noted above.
Also, there is another aspect of human nature that may hinder us, as noted in Romans 8:7: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
God testified in Isaiah 55:8: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.”
Jesus stated: “…no man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him…(John 6:44).” The Holy Spirit works to persuade hardened, blinded hearts and minds of unsaved people to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and thus, the new birth. John 3:3-5.
The above facts clearly show that we MUST have the Holy Spirit’s help, in order to receive Jesus as our Savior. Thank God, in Jesus Christ, God has provided for all of mankind, according to Ephesians 2:8-9. “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.” The Holy Spirit expresses that grace to us.
Notice that we are saved by God’s grace which is offered freely to all of mankind, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The most concise statement in the New Testament about how to become saved is found in Acts 16:31. “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us what really happens when we become saved. At that time, we receive a new nature, new faculties and access to God’s grace and power. It is these new faculties that we are to edify.
Some new believers think that their “problems” are over, when they get saved. The truth is that Jesus said that we would have trouble in the world, and He taught us to pray that God will not lead us into temptation. Matthew 6:13.
We also have a evil and determined enemy, who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. That is, the devil. We are to firmly resist him in faith. The world and basic human appetites can also affect us and make us fail. Therefore, we must be wary of things that weaken us or make our new faculties dull. That is why we need to edify ourselves constantly.
We must understand that though we have eternal life, and are new creatures in Christ, we are yet mortal. Mortals can become weary, distressed and “worn out” with the trials of life. We need to edify ourselves through faith, so we can overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4)”.
Earlier, we listed prayer as one way to build up ourselves. Not ritual prayer or prayer without faith, because without faith, it is impossible to please God. But prayer that is based on what God has said. Prayer by which God’s Word, through faith, becomes the petition of our heart.
We know that it is hard to have faith if we are guilty. 1 John 3:20-21. If we are guilty, 1 John 1:9 is given to free us from sin and guilt. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We should build up our faith in the above facts, by deeply pondering on them. Nothing builds up our confidence quicker than what God Himself has said in His Word. Therefore, His Word edifies us. The same principle can work for us in any other need that we may have.
Many verses in the Bible show that God is willing to forgive sins. Notice Hebrews 8:12: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus 1:2).”
The Bible tells about many other things that God has given us in Christ, in addition to the forgiveness of our sins. We can be edified and blessed by them also.
We have showed how God’s Word builds us up, and we will study that more, later. For now, let’s study how prayer builds up, or “Edifies” us.
Some people have problems with prayer, because they aren’t sure that God is listening to them. But His Word assures us that He does listen to us when we pray.
“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will (His written Word IS His will!), He hears us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desired of Him (1 John 5:13-14.).”
Our praying becomes “faith filled” when we pray on the basis of what GOD has said. That means that what His Word says, becomes our prayer. We should KNOW that God will hear His Own Word! Therefore, 1 John 5:14 applies to us.
“His Word becomes our prayer” means that we pray what His Word says, to Him, as the desire of our heart. We are literally praying, “God, let what your word promises happen to or for me!” This is simply another form of: “…thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven (Mt.6:10).” Again, God’s Word IS His will.
This manner of prayer is not a new concept. Notice Isaiah 43:26: “Put Me in remembrance; declare thou, that thou may be justified.” Again: “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord…(Hosea 14:2).” Our “putting God in remembrance,” means that we are reminding Him that we are trusting in what He has said. He CANNOT LIE! Titus 1:2.
If we pray prayers that are not according to His written Word, we CANNOT know what His attitude is about our request. That’s why many do not have confidence when they pray. They do not know what God’s written Word states about what their request.
Surely, God has a general “mercy attitude” towards every one, praise God. But He has given special ways to meet special needs.
Notice what Jesus said: “Therefore, I say to you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them (Mark 11:24).”
Two conditions needed to get whatsoever we desire from God. First, what our desire is. Second, when we pray, we are to believe that we get our desire. I trust that you can see how God’s Word edifies us, so that our prayers become effective. We want that!
Then too, praying God’s Word to Him, can become fellowship with Him. We take His point of view, and agree with His wisdom, judgment and grace. We talk WITH Him, using His Words. In such cases, we “move” out of human rationale, into God’s view point, and enjoy communion with our Father.
Very often, He will show us more about the words we are using, than what we knew before. That is a great joy; assuring, comforting and edifying us. Both Moses and David did this. Exodus 19:20-24; Samuel 7:25-29.
We have just described one form of being by edified by fellowship. There are others, as we shall see later. Also, we will consider how these various ways to edify ourselves can work together. When they do, we gain a greater degree of edification. Thus, we can have great boldness of faith. God wants us to do that.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb.4:16).”
These various forms of edification work so closely together, that it is easy to miss the differences between them. But they are distinct, and it is to our benefit to know their differences. God’s Word is the foundation upon which we build. It is the first element in our knowledge of God.
We cannot know God or Jesus Christ apart from what they have revealed in God’s written Word. Matthew 11:27. The next element is faith that comes by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17. Belief is closely associated with faith. As a result of faith in God, by hearing His Word, we are to believe when we pray. Mark 11:24.
God’s written Word is the record that God gave of His Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:11. It is the facts of redemption. It is normal for a believer to pray: “Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ, I ask you for your promise. You said…” (quote the promise that you are asking Him for). That is praying God’s Word to Him.
In addition to all of the foregoing, to just live in daily fellowship and obedience to God will edify us. This principle is a foundation for the structure of our Christian experience. Jesus said that if we do not deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow Him, that we cannot be His disciples.
The foregoing is but an outline of what it means to be a born again Christian believer. By knowing that fact, we should be alerted to anything that works to detract us from consistently practicing these things.
Notice what Isaiah 40:31 says: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Basically, we cannot neglect our obligations to edify ourselves, and succeed in Christian living. Someone has said that being a Christian is not for weaklings. Not that weaklings cannot be saved. Rather that weaklings can wait upon the Lord and be made strong. Notice Hebrews 11:34:
Notice Hebrews 11:34: “…out of weakness were made strong…”. We should know that human strength is not what Isaiah spoke of. Also Psalms 27:1: “The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”
All of us know that God does not wish for us to worry about things. Yet believers do sometimes worry about things. When we do, we should realize that we are not listening to things that edify us. We are listening to things that tear us down.
If we mulled over God’s promises of His grace as easily as we worry, we would be much stronger than we are. If we didn’t feel condemned, we could be much more effective in Christian living than we are.
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