FRUITFULNESS OF THE ASSEMBLY

  1. Focus of the Assembly
  2. Foundation of the Assembly
  3. Figures of the Assembly
  4. Fragrance of the Assembly
  5. Fruitfulness of the Assembly
  6. Function of the Assembly
  7. Fellowship of the Assembly

1Ti 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1Ti 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness.
1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
1Ti 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

God will bless His Word.
You will notice immediately that chapter 4 presents us with 3 possibilities for ministry for the assembly.
Verses 1-4 tell us about teaching.
Verse 7 talks about empty or useless teaching.
From verses 12 onwards we are told of the edifying that can be done.
So what we want to see is how there can be profit and usefulness in the assembly.
So the mandate for exemplary living is:
That you need to be the right person before you can find the right work for God.

When the Lord Jesus called His disciples He said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
So for believers, especially for young believers who want to be helpers in the assembly – the first thing to do is to ‘Follow Christ.’
And the next thing we will have to look at is the example he will have to be.
We read of the requirement of the deacon who serves in a public way in the assembly that he must be the husband of one wife.
Now, all of us think that we are the best husbands in the world.
And this is what I have learnt in my 46 years of being married …
Back in our 25th anniversary, I made a big mistake in asking my wife what I could do to make our marriage better.
I thought she would say I was the perfect husband and there was nothing I had to do.
However, an hour later after having told me what I can do better the ambulance had to be called to take me to hospital.

We as husbands are usually good at providing material needs for our families.
We may also be fairly good at leadership and giving directions.
But I learnt that I was failing in giving the love and warmth that a wife needs to feel.
So since those 21 years that have gone by I hope I have got better.
But I guarantee that if we make it to 50, I will ask no more questions.

Paul tells Timothy to be an example to the believers.
It is your character that gives weight to your ministry.
Notice that there are some things that work outward while others work inward.
Timothy was to be an example to the believers in how he acted and in what he said.
Then there were inward qualities that would characterize his life.
He was to have love, faith and purity.

Speaking of just one quality for lack of time – speaking of just faith …
When we were young we had the idea that faith was for the preacher and the missionary to live on.
However, everyone who serves God must know the principles of faith.
FAITH MEANS THAT I AM MOVING ON THE BASIS OF WHAT THE WORD OF GOD SAYS.
Faith does not mean that I do not know where my next meal is coming from or where my next pay cheque is coming from.
Faith means I depend on the promises of the Word of God in my service … to serve with nothing before me but pleasing God.
This is serving God by faith.
It means being faithful to the Word of God without seeing results.
This is serving God by faith.
And so Timothy’s service to God was to be marked by this kind of faith.
So we have now the mandate in verse 12 that Timothy was to be an example to the believers of what a Christian ought to be.

Now speaking to young believers – of the means of finding a place of usefulness in God’s assembly.
Many young Christians spend much time worrying and praying in wanting to discover their gift.
Could I suggest a different approach?
Let me first of all mention the need for us to first acknowledge that whatever I can do comes from God.
It is NOT a matter of natural talent.
It is NOT a matter of what I want to do.
But rather am I looking to God to direct me and use me with whatever He has enabled me to do.

There is a difference between natural ability and gift.
I believe God gives every human being certain abilities.
He is doing that with a view to adding a gift to it.
The ability itself is not enough to serve God.
A man may be eloquent but that does not fit him to be a teacher.
A man may have great management skills but that does not fit him to be a shepherd
So what we are reminded is that, God gives gift to ability.
And in Romans chapter 12, we learn that God now gives Grace to gift, and gift to ability.
So all our natural ability we owe to God.
All our spiritual gift too we owe to God.
And the grace that comes to use the ability, we owe to God.
Therefore we cast all our crowns at His feet.
Anything we have done or we do is only because of the grace of God given to us.

Second Principle:
What needs to be done in the assembly where I am found?
I can either complain or I can contribute.
I can either add to the problem or I can become part of the solution.
So you complain meetings are slow and boring.
So do I come exercised for the meetings?
And then you complain Bible readings are not relevant.
Do I come with something to contribute … maybe even a good question?
And you complain that Gospel meeting is small?
Do you yourself think of bringing people to meetings?

If God has given you insight to see a problem, it is not for you to complain about it, but rather that you exercise yourself in helping to find a solution?
We all like to be consultants, to give advice.
However God is looking for commitment – for people who want to work and help in the assembly.

Third Principle:
Am I available to meet that need?
Am I so tied up with my work that I do not have time to serve God?
I need to be available to serve God from where I am.
If you cannot serve right now from where you are, it is unlikely that you will ever serve God anywhere else.

People ask me now that I am retired if anything has changed.
Most people do not do a lot of changing after retirement.
If you have not had time for spiritual things before retirement, then rarely will you find time for them in later years.
The entire bent of your life is framed in your early years.
The reason why preachers at Conferences address young people is very obvious … it is because as you get older entering into your 40s and 50s, it is very difficult to change habits.
So the pattern of your life in the service of God is frequently developed in your teen years and in your 20s.

Be aware if God puts a burden in your heart.
The next thing for you to do is to be active in it and to do it.
Think of the man named John; He stood by the cross of the Lord Jesus.
Then the Lord Jesus looked down and saw His mother, and He said to her “Woman behold thy son”
And then turning next to John He said “Behold thy mother”
Scripture very definitely says of John – From that hour he took her into his own home – John 19:27.
John could have so easily said but I have the gospel to write … the epistles … the Book of Revelation …
But take home a widow? That is not big enough!
John displayed no hesitation or delay.
John was available and he acted on what he was called to do immediately.
Perhaps committed into your hands is the teaching of a few children.
Or maybe the service God has for you is to bring in unsaved friends.
There is not any minor service for God.

Notice in the story of Solomon:
He had a vision and God asked him what he wanted.
Solomon responded by asking God for wisdom to guide so great a people.
So God gave him wisdom.
What was the first place Solomon exercised his wisdom?
It was not in an international crisis or during a national disaster or in balancing the budget.
His wisdom was displayed in a controversy between two harlots … a dead baby and a living baby!
Most of us would have thought that this was too unworthy a place for the display of my wisdom.
Yet the gift that God gave him he was willing to use it in a very small place to start off.

Whatever God gives you to do, do it in the best of your ability.
You may look back from eternity one day to discover that the small thing was really the BIG thing in your life.
Then think of those people who appear in Scripture in just a verse of two and then they just vanish away never to be mentioned again.
Joseph of Arimathae is one such person.
He comes along from nowhere to bury the Lord Jesus and then just disappears from the scene.
That probably was the reason for his birth.
You don’t know the value of the little service you do for God.
God has no minor roles for anyone to play … and on top of that if you do what God has called you to do faithfully, you will get as great a reward as someone who had a great gift.
Reward is not based on size or success but on faithfulness.
So if you are faithful with your small gift, God will honor you in the same way He will honor the one with a big gift.
So be aware of need and be available to meet that need and be active in that need.
Be approachable by others as you serve.
Be open to all brothers and sisters who come along to help and guide you, and then be appreciative that you have the opportunity of serving.
Remember that God needs none of us.
We have a great privilege and honor if we have a little part in the work of God.

Let me give you an example from Scripture as to what his means:
Remember Ruth when with Naomi she came back from Moab?
God had great plans in store for her.
However, she did not know where her road was leading her to.
She began just by being aware that there was a need.
The need was to eat. And then she had the responsibility of her mother-in-law.
So she began by being aware and she was responsible.
Then she went and she was active.
She was approachable by Boaz and the others in the field.
And so by the time the story is done, she moves from the field to famine and from the famine to the fields of Boaz and into the future where God wanted her to be.
So finding a place of usefulness is all about being available, being aware and active in whatever place God places you in.

1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

What the above verses tell us of the motivation for the exercise of the gift.
Paul reminds Timothy of his public responsibility in the reading of the Word of God.
The reading here is not of Timothy’s day by day private reading of the Word of God, but the reading of the Word of God to the people of God.
He is to seek to give attendance to the Word of God as a priority for the Assembly of God.
It is to be marked by Exhortation and Doctrine – one is the teaching of ‘Why’ and the other is the teaching of ‘What’ and to be responsible for both.

One of the best illustrations of the teaching of the Word of God is found in the book of Nehemiah.
Neh 8:8 distinctly tells us that he was reading out of the book of the law and caused the people to understand the words.
THIS is the responsibility of the man who stands to minister the Word of God to God’s people.

1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
The verse above is Timothy’s personal responsibility.
He is NOT to neglect the gift given to him. He is to seek to stir it up.
So it is possible for a believer to have a service for God and not fulfill it.
And so it is possible for me to neglect my sphere of usefulness.

You recall the sad days back in Egypt that you read in Exodus chapter 1.
There were 3 things that marked the Children of Israel under Pharaoh.
There was Burden … there was Barrenness … there was Bondage.
When Egypt could not kill the male Jewish babies, they made life miserable for them making them serve under cruel bondage.
Satan cannot ‘unsave’ Christians.
But he can do all he can to keep you from growing to stop you from being useful for God.
It may be long hours at work or increasing responsibly and demand on your time.
Or it could be a hobby to get involved in.
And you are spending more time on yourself than helping the people of God.
Distractions and detours in other areas result in tragic neglect of your usefulness to God.

Peter was detoured by Satan … but he was eventually restored.
John Mark got discouraged and did not accompany Paul, possibly because he was anxious not wanting to go into Gentile territory.
But he too was restored.
But Demas loved this present age. He was a man who was commended by Paul and who had accompanied him previously but now had deserted Paul.
So we see here both Peter and John Mark who got side-tracked by Satan had their usefulness nullified temporarily but were eventually restored.
And in the case of Demas we learn that not all who get away from God get restored.

One of the more puzzling lives in Scripture we find is the life that of Samson.
Samson was a man who had a unique and supernatural gift.
But most of the time he used it for his own necessities.
Three times he was turned aside from what he saw.
First he saw a woman …Then he saw a harlot … And then yet again he saw another woman.
As a result much of his usefulness was nullified by his behavior.
And so it is puzzling to find his name listed in the 11th Chapter of Hebrews where all the heroes of faith are mentioned.
So it must probably be that Samson was a very ordinary looking man.
He probably did not have those bulging biceps or look like he would have had steroids for breakfast.
He might have been a very puny little man and hence every time he used his strength, he would have been completely dependent on God.
And this being the case, it would have been good cause for the Philistines to enquire as to where his strength lay as there was no evidence of such strength in his appearance.
Someone once said that one of life’s greatest tragedies is what a man could have been.
Don’t look back at your life with regret.
Don’t think of what I should have been or could have been.
Be what God wants you to be RIGHT NOW.
God does have greater things for you and He will bring you to them.
So Timothy here is exhorted by Paul not to neglect his gift.

Notice now Verses 15-16:

1Ti 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Think of the degree of involvement he had to have in what he was doing for God.
He was to meditate on those things.
They were to be in him and he was to be in them.
This is the idea of a man totally immersed in what God wants him to be.
This is a reminder for you that if you are going to be useful to God; it is going to be hard work.
Gift is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
So to develop in usefulness for God – Time, hard work and commitment are the necessary ingredients.
Timothy is reminded of the need to be involved in it, and let it get involved in him and to look forward for God.

See also the display of his growth: That thy profit may appear to all.
The reason for being approachable is a single reason.
A man or woman is a very poor judge of his own gift.
We either over estimate or under estimate our usefulness.
Therefore others will see your growth and usefulness that you have and as a result they will come to either to encourage or discourage you.

Notice the duration in which he is to manifest these things:

1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
This is not referring to the Lord’s coming, but to Paul’s coming.

1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Continue in them … So God intends you to keep at it.
It is so easy to get discouraged, laboring and not seeing any results.
Serving and not seeing any fruit.
And so the tendency is to think is there any value in what I am doing?

There is a proverb that speaks of plowing in winter.
It says that a man who does not plow in winter is not going to eat and drink.
Plowing in winter does not appear to be profitable or useful.
Nothing is grown in winter. But it is something that needs to be done in the light of future fruitfulness.
So it has to be kept at constantly and consistently.
You may spend hours studying the Bible, and end up having only one minute to say something.
But everything that you have gleaned will one day have opportunity to help the people of God if you have plowed in winter.

Reaping a harvest for the future:
I just had an e mail from home.
A girl who attended Sunday school 15 years ago called on the phone. She wanted her husband and her children to come for meetings.
The sister, who taught her, never thought she would ever see her again.
So the need is to keep at what you are doing and not to be discouraged.

Now see how this chapter ends:
Paul tells Timothy:

1Ti 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

You may respond by saying – but Timothy was already saved! And so too all in the assembly!
So what really does Paul mean?
In Chapter 1 of this epistle, the Lord Jesus came to save sinners – This is personal salvation.
In Chapter 2 – women were saved by child bearing – this is not the salvation of the soul.
But by the problem Eve got into, by being out of place.
In Philippians Chapter 2 we read: 2
Phi 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
There was a problem in that assembly between 2 sisters.
And this problem had the potential to destroy the assembly.
So Paul exhorts them to resolve the problem and working out your own salvation is what is in view in Philippians.
So coming back to verse16 in our chapter:
It began with evil teaching.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Verse 7 was about empty and useless teaching.
1Ti 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
And now Paul says what is going to save and preserve the assembly is this kind of teaching and service for God.
So how can I be a blessing in the assembly where God has placed me?
First of all be an example to the believers of what a believer ought to be.
Secondly, find out what God has given you to do and do it to the best of your ability.
It may not be public and visible, or important and significant.
But the salvation of the local testimony depends on every believer putting everything they have into the Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So just to summarize what we have looked at here:

  • Paul has stressed the character of the servant.
  • He has stressed the centrality of the Scriptures.
  • He has stressed the need to cultivate the gift.
  • He has stressed the need of consistency to just keep at it.

If we want to be fruitful in God’s assembly – this is God’s formula.
May God richly bless His Word and raise up believers who will serve and honor Him with their lives.

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