The Bible and Problems in the Church

Chapter Two

Be Strong In The Lord

Ephesians 6:10 says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

All churches of all ages have had weaknesses. Strong churches overcome their weaknesses; weak churches are overcome by their weaknesses. It is necessary, therefore, to understand what a church’s real weaknesses are so as to overcome them instead of being overcome by them.

The only possible way that a church can be weak is by weak members. The church in Jerusalem was being persecuted when its members were being persecuted (Acts 8:1-3). This shows that the church is its members. Every congregation is made up of “living stones” which are its members (1 Peter 2:5). Unless a church’s stones (members) are weak, the church itself cannot be weak.

It is true that the world about the church is strong. Christians wrestle against strong oppositions and powers Ephesians 6:12). The devil is like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But the strong opposition of the world outside the church cannot make the church weak, unless it first makes the members weak. Persecution against the church is like the sun which makes well-rooted plants grow. But the same sun makes shallow plants weaken and die (Matthew 13:3-6,20,21). Likewise, the persecution of the world can make the church strong, or it can make the members weak who are not strong enough to resist. The church at Smyrna was under tribulation and poverty. Its members were being tried, imprisoned, and killed, but it was a strong church. Even though it was located in a strong center of blasphemy where the “synagogue of Satan” was, yet it was encouraged to “overcome” (Revelation 2:8-11). Outside opposition itself cannot make a congregation weak unless it does so by making the members weak. Financial poverty cannot of itself make a church weak. The church at Smyrna was physically poor, because the Lord knew their “poverty,” but really they were “rich” (Revelation 2:9). Being poor in money makes Christians see how rich they are in spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). Financial poverty, therefore, need not make a church weak unless it causes the members to be weak. The church will be strong if its members are strong. But strength outside the church does not mean that the church within must be weak.

Human flesh is naturally weak. Our spirit is often willing but our flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Even when we may wish to serve the law of God with our mind, we may fail and serve the law of sin with our flesh (Romans 7:25). In our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). The flesh lusts against the Spirit so that we do not the things that we should and would do (Galatians 5:17). This is why man must not trust in his own fleshly power to try to overcome his weaknesses. Physical or natural power cannot control and conquer our problems. We must be strong “in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). We must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we may stand against the wiles of the devil (verse 11). God is all powerful. His might is exceedingly great. When we go to Him and depend upon Him, we are able to overcome.

The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Christians can overcome as Christ overcame (Revelation 3:21). We must turn from ourselves and turn to God’s power as it is revealed for us in the Bible. The Word of God is quick and sharp and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). When we use the Bible to learn of the strength and power of God, we cannot be weak, we cannot fail. God’s power is made perfect in man’s weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we see that we are weak and turn to God’s grace for strength, then we are strong.

We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). In spite of the fleshly weakness of man, Christians can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. When a congregation’s members are strong, the congregation is strong, for the congregation is made up of its members. Only by weak members can a church be weak, and only by strong members can a church be strong. And members can be strong, not in themselves, but only in the strength of the Lord.

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