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12. Learning in Fellowship

The Master's Instructions about the Christian life. (Ephesians 4:1-16).

Just as God has ordained that a human baby should have protection, love and care from parents and friends within a home, so He has also planned for the born-again Christian to have an immediate family in the local church. We tend to think of ‘church’ as a building, but the New Testament church was not a building to which people came, but rather a

community into which people were born. The building God had in mind was the building up of people!

(see 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

In Ephesians 4:1-16 we read that every Christian has an individual and a

collective responsibility to encourage others to ‘live a life worthy of the

calling received’. Verse 1. All true Christians are born into the church community

by the Holy Spirit. They must endeavour ‘to keep the unity of the Spirit

through the bond of peace’. Verse 3.

In any local group of Christians there should be those who serve as

leaders (v.11). However all of God’s people should work in God’s service

(v.12). You and I should build up and strengthen the Christian testimony

of the church community within the larger community of our village, town

or city.

When a person is born again he or she is a baby Christian. Babies are expected

to grow! Your aim should be spiritual maturity (v.13). This spiritual

maturity comes from:

1. Serving (vv.11-12). As you discover what God wants you to do in the

church and then you do it.

2. Stability (vv.13-14). As you learn about God, look at your own life

and listen to what others say in order to live collectively in God’s will.

3. Supporting (vv.15-16). As you grow into Christ, as you grow in love

and as you grow in strength gained directly from Christ and from

one another.

You were not able to choose the members of your human family. Neither

can you choose the members of your Christian family! God has given

those around you to you and He has given you to those around you. He

plans your mutual benefit and encouragement. He may plan to give you

counsel from a wise old head. He may also plan to teach you grace,

tolerance and self-control through learning to live with those who are

hard to get along with. He may also be teaching someone else the same thing

through you! God does plan to use you to help others and, remember, you

only have to be one step ahead in order to lead.

In the later verses of Ephesians 4 we are warned against giving the devil

a foothold. He will divide us if he can. Verses 25-27 warn us to be

truthful, tactful and timely in our dealings with other people. Verse 30

warns us that we can ‘grieve the Holy Spirit’ if we do not bridle our

tongues, banish unwholesome talk, and build up one another according to

needs that are seen.

You should be able to say: ‘Thank you Lord for everyone else in my

church.’ If you cannot say this there may be an area of spiritual

immaturity in your life that needs to be dealt with.

As well as learning from the Bible individually, the church community

should learn together. The following references from the book of Acts

show that the New Testament church valued such community study. Acts

2:41-42 speaks of the activity of new believers who ‘devoted themselves

to the apostles’ teaching’. The priority the apostles gave to their own

‘ministry of the word of God’ is highlighted in 6:2-3; and 11:22-26; It shows

the outworking of these two ideals. When God’s people seek to

understand God’s pattern for their lives, as revealed in God’s word, then

the outside world can see that the church is a specifically Christian


Discussion guide on ‘Learning in Fellowship’

Read Ephesians 4:1-16.

1. Explain church, not as a building to which people come, but “a

community into which people are born”. What do you understand by


2. List the ways a Christian can live a life “worthy of the Christian

calling”, Ephesians 4:1. Use only the reading passage to find your


(I found 10 ways).

3. God gives unity to Christians. How must we try to keep this unity?

What qualities must control our lives?

4. What kind of people, and what practical activities, help us toward

the Christian’s goal of spiritual maturity? Verse 13.

5. Is it difficult to say, “Thank you, Lord, for everyone else in my

local church”? Why? Why not? How can you change your attitude?

6. From the references given in Acts in the last paragraph of the

lesson, explain the role and the value of the Bible and Christian

teaching in learning together. How important is it?

7. What kinds of things could “grieve the Holy Spirit” in a local

fellowship? Ephesians 4:30. Find the answers in the reading. How

should these things be dealt with?


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