A Strong Church
-by R.J. Evans
Over the years, much has been written on how to build a strong church. And, no doubt, much of what has been written is good, scriptural, and should be applied. The Apostle Paul has given an inspired formula for a strong church in Romans 15:14: “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” We would do well to constantly keep before us this passage.
A strong church is one that is “full of goodness.” To be full of goodness is to be characterized by the excellence of the inner person which manifests itself in a quality of life that is attractive to others. A striving for moral excellence should characterize every member of a congregation in order for the church to be strong. Churches composed of members who are of questionable moral character are weak churches. Preachers who shy away from strong teaching on moral issues for fear such would diminish their numbers in attendance are making their contribution to the weakness of the church. The strength of a congregation is not to be equated necessarily to the number in attendance at its services. A congregation with thirty-five members who are full of goodness is more honorable in God’s sight than one of several hundred members who are not.
A strong church is one that is “filled with all knowledge.” This means that strong churches are not made up of people who are ignorant of the Bible. This is true because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). One simply cannot have a strong faith based upon a weak understanding of the word of God. Our age is an age of shortcuts and convenience, but there is no shortcut to acquiring a genuine knowledge of the Bible. Nothing will take the place of honest, diligent study and meditation of the scriptures. We must study to be approved of God and to save our souls (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul knew that he could not expect to help build a strong church at Rome out of people who were too lazy to study and meditate on the word. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that we can allow emotional excitement, entertainment, or anything else, to substitute for the truth of the gospel.
A strong church is one made up of members who are “able also to admonish one another.” That this might be true, two things are necessary: (1) sufficient knowledge of God’s word in order to communicate it to another, and (2) the disposition or desire to do so. One cannot teach what he does not know, and one cannot know the Bible if he has not studied it with great interest. But all the knowledge in the world will not make a strong church unless those possessing that knowledge are of the disposition to communicate it to others. How sad it is that many members of the church do not have enough zeal to admonish their brethren or to encourage sinners to obey the gospel of Christ. Zeal without knowledge is just as bad as knowledge without zeal (Rom. 10:1-3; Lk. 12:47-48).
Let us all do our share (Eph. 4:16) so that the congregation will be a strong church.
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