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God's Body-Building Program, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
March 2, 2023 7:05 am

God's Body-Building Program, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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March 2, 2023 7:05 am

Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots


Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. There's a lot of confusion about the purpose and role of the Church. Some see it as an evangelistic method for attracting the lost.

Others consider the Church a safe place where Christians gather with other like-minded people. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll challenges both of those notions as we look at the New Testament for defining statements about the Church. In this study, our goal is to gain a whole new respect for our personal investment in a local Church family.

Chuck titled his message, God's Bodybuilding Program. A typical American family was driving home from church. Dad was fussing about the sermon being too long and sort of boring. Mom said that she thought the organist played a little too loud during the second hymn we sang. Sis, who was a music major in college, said that the soloist sang about a half note off key during most of the song. Grandma said she couldn't hear very well. They were sitting in a bad place. Little Willie listened to all of this and started to fuss about the woman who sat in front of him with this big hat he couldn't see around her. Then he nudged his dad and he said, but Dad, you've got to admit it was a pretty good show for a nickel.

Pretty good show for a nickel. More people than we would dare admit think about those things when they think about church. They want to be entertained and the entertainment stays good, they keep coming. It begins to wane off and get a little sluggish, a little slow, a little downbeat, then they're going to find some other place.

Most people feel completely at ease complaining and fussing about the most petty of things you can imagine. And yet you've got to admit the price of admission is still pretty hard to beat. All of this is true unless of course you get serious about this thing called church. And then strange things happen. Before you know it, you don't want anybody entertaining you because you didn't come to see a show. In fact, you find yourself resentful of people who try to perform.

Secondly, you don't feel the freedom to fuss and complain about petty things because you're now seeing the big issues and this is life and death stuff. And furthermore, you're investing in it. Your time and a lot of your treasure. As a matter of fact, you've begun to see this is really the only eternal thing you're messing around with on earth. And it is this thing called church that in fact gives you a filter system through which you're able to view all of life with the right perspective. Do you know that our God is involved in only two worldwide construction projects? Only two.

Only two. The first is called evangelism. Where he reaches around the world with his big arms and using all different kinds of people like you and me, he continually every day of every calendar year, he continues to reach and to win and to recruit the lost. This is called God's world program. The church calls it its mission. The second worldwide program that God is involved in is this construction project called the church. And you know the materials he uses for building the church were the materials he won when he reached around the world and won the lost.

So these two programs are like the one-two punch, I guess we could say. He reaches the lost and then he implements those who come to know Christ in this building project called his church. Now I don't have in mind some independent local church as I talk on it today.

Understand that. I have no denomination in mind. I don't have any geographical location in mind. I have no color in mind. I have no nationality in mind.

I have no language in mind. I'm talking the worldwide church. The whole world universal program of God called his family. And the longer I live, the more I believe in it, the more I admire what God has done, and the more I want to be involved in it till the last breath out of my lungs passes. Because it is the most exciting thing I have ever studied or know anything about. I'm going to come right up front and tell you before I go any further that my hope is to elevate your appreciation for his family.

Just in case it's been sagging a little lately. In case you've gotten a little more involved in the world system and that happens so easily, I understand. In case you've lost the edge and begun to get a little bit petty in your view and all, I just want you to know ahead of time I want to sell you on some propaganda.

Because I want you to get back on target. Now I have to confess to you, I'm a prejudiced spokesman. I don't hide that from you. All my life I've been involved in church.

To be sure, it's been with local churches, but I cannot remember a time where our family, my immediate family or our present family has spent a week without addressing sometime at length something pertaining to God's world program. I'm in it up to here. And so I'm absorbed with the thoughts of it. It is my life. I think of it in the daytime and I dream of it at night. My creative energies are all poured toward the work of the church because I believe in it 100%. And therefore my hope is to sell the product everywhere I go and the price is right. It's free.

But once it gets a hold of you, I have to warn you, you're addicted. And compared to it, nothing, nothing seems that important. I notice, by the way, that people who look upon the church as a pretty good show for a nickel spend a lot of time thinking about what people wear and what kind of car they drive. Or how they look. Or color of skin. Or background. Or problems they have in their life. Or sins. And they haven't lifted their vision above that level to see the big picture where all of those things, I mean all of those things become insignificant. So, as I share with you that objective, I think of the words of Louis Sperry Chafer in one of his fine books, Major Bible Themes.

Listen to what he said. Next to salvation truth, it is vitally important for the believer to know the Bible doctrine of the church. Now that is quite a statement. Right next to our salvation and knowing our salvation, having it firmly entrenched in truth, is the knowledge of the church. Let's learn a little history together. Let's keep it interesting, okay?

So I'll keep it brief. The church in the first century was a pristine object of God's love. It was purified by persecution. It was on the move like a sweeping flame across a wheat field in Nebraska. It just permeated every little nook and cranny of the known world.

The Roman Empire, much to the embarrassment of its emperor, began to buy into it. And before long there were pockets of believers here and there, none of them with edifices, but all of them with a heart for God. And spokesmen that had walked with Jesus and had heard his words and had been handed the mantle or the torch and now they ran the race till martyrdom. Many of their followers became the spokespeople of the church and they too were martyred.

And that went on into the second century and somewhat into the third century and something strange happened in the third century. Church became a formal thing. It took upon itself an organization that changed authority into power. Power causes someone to force other people to do something because they are intimidated.

Authority creates a following because people respect the leaders. But the authority was shifted to power and before long there was the voice of the church. And people were manipulated and intimidated and finally the church lost its excitement and its zeal.

And before long it was shrouded in the dark ages. And the Bible was chained to the pulpit in the language of the clergy. Great edifices were built that pushed people away from the pastor and kept them at bay, kept them ignorant, stone ignorant. So that before long you could live your life and die and hardly hear the scriptures ever declared in your own tongue. Men could stand that only so long and by the 14th, 15th and into the 16th century a band of straight thinking tough minded men called today the reformers.

Broke with that. Decided to bring authority back in place of power and they broke with tradition and they spoke for God. The doctrine of soteriology, salvation, began to take its place again in the mind of many believers. And these reformers became again martyrs as history repeats itself. But their vision caught on and before long this growing body of people who protested against the church and became the protestants, Protestants, stepped into their own rank and began to move in another direction and to the frowning and dismay of the prelates of the church, they became a body that had to be dealt with.

Couldn't be ignored. It swept across England in a great awakening and it came across to America as our forefathers believed in the scriptures and in the God of the scriptures and the Savior as the Son of God. And children were again taught the things of God and then a wonderful time of enlightenment came again. As the church began to write itself, as it began to develop its ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church.

It seemed like history's acting out Schaeffer's thoughts. Right next to soteriology, there ought to be ecclesiology. But I observe in our day a lot of fuzzy thinking about the church. A lot of critics, most of them on the outside, not really churchmen and church women.

But from the outside throwing rocks and taking shots at the church. However, there is also at the same time a growing body of men and women committed to this church, this project. And all through the years, God's program has been like a crescendo mark on a musical score. From the point which would be the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came right up to the present day, it is ever expanding, ever enlarging.

And you could even put a little dotted line for the future. It will continue to enlarge. The church is larger today than it was yesterday. It will be larger tomorrow than it is today because even this day God is reaching into lives and bringing them into his family.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Matthew chapter 16. Not only is the church developed late in history as far as doctrine is concerned, it appears late in scripture. Never once in the Old Testament and not until Christ is well underway in his ministry does it appear in the scriptures. Matthew 16 is one of the earlier references to the word church. It appears at the end of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. The dialogue starts at verse 13 of Matthew 16. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he began asking his disciples saying, who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they said some say John the Baptist, some Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Jesus said to them, plural, but who do you, who do y'all say that I am? All of y'all.

What is y'all's opinion of me? Now the reason I'm emphasizing the plural is because Peter speaks. We take a lot of shots at Peter and he has to handle a lot of our flack and comment, but Peter's never been more right.

He stands alone at this moment. Even though the question is addressed to all of them, Peter's response, verse 16, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus' response is first a blessing, and then a promise, and then a prediction. The blessing is, blessed are you, Simon, son of John, Bar-Jonah, son of John, blessed are you, Simon.

Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. You've been talking to my Father. You got that in prayer, Peter. That came right from heaven. Blessed are you, Peter, for that insight. You didn't get that information from other people, but from my Father who is in heaven.

Now look at this. I say to you that you are Petros. That must have been wonderful for Peter to hear.

We can't appreciate it today because we don't talk that language. But he gave him a nickname. All of his life he's known as Simon. Which I guess if you pressed it to the limit would mean vacillating one, shifting, moody, changing. And now Christ says, good job, rock. That's the way to go.

That's the right answer. Peter, you're like a rock. And upon this Petra, he plays on that nickname, not the same word. Some have taught it to mean that Jesus built his church on Peter. No, Jesus built his church on a rock-like truth, which is Petra. Upon this rock-like truth, which is what? You are Jesus. You are Messiah, the Son of the Living God, verse 16. That's the Petra. Good for you, Simon.

That's Petros. And upon this truth, I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. The risk of being a little pedantic, let's just dissect that prediction, I will build my church. Note first, to whom the church belongs, Jesus. I will build my church. You say, come on, Chuck, how elementary can you get? I could probably get more elementary than that.

And sometimes I need to because it's easy to forget that. The church is not the work of the pastor. The church is not the work of a body of elders. The church is not the work of a body of seminaries. The church is not the work of a denomination. The church is not the work of the pope. The church is not the work of any person on earth. It is Christ's body.

Those who are weak at this point are weak in their ecclesiology. If I may use today's terms, Christ is our boss. If I use the terms in the first century, Christ is our Lord. And we are his servants. That has never changed those centuries that passed. He holds the patent on the church. It was his genius that originated it.

He deposited it into the truth of heaven and he revealed it to Peter and he carried it out through the lives of the disciples and it's still going on. It's his church. That's why you will never, I seldom say never, you will never hear me call you my people. You're not my people.

That's ownership. Christ owns you. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. He is our Lord and we are his people. That's his right to call us my people. Not a pastor's right. It's helped me a lot to change that habit that I fell into early in my ministry. As long as I owned them, I was responsible for them. But it's God's responsibility, this church.

It's not a relief. I will build. Look at the next one. The dictionary says to build means to form by uniting materials, by gradual means, into a composite whole to construct.

Another definition, to develop by a definite process. Now that's what's going on right now. It's been going on since the first century. It will never stop until Christ comes for his own and we've studied that in days past.

You remember that. We are called the bride. He is called the groom. Sounds a little humorous to say it, but the bride's getting heavier, waiting for the groom to come. She's enlarging her size. Every day she's getting bigger and bigger and bigger, waiting for his arrival.

And the groom will someday come and say to the bride, your mind, come on home. Until then, he's in the building process. It's made up of all nations, all cultures, all creeds, all languages, all colors. In fact, the white church, if we could call it that, known in America is fast becoming the minority. As his work is being built all around the world. You talk about being exciting in some particular program, get involved in the mission program of Christ, and you are on the front edge of what he's doing. He calls us the church.

I will build my church. You've learned a little history and I learned a little Greek. The reason you're going to learn a little Greek is because I don't know a lot of Greeks.

I'm just going to give you a little bit of Greek, okay? This word church, ekklesia, comes from two words, ekk, which is a little particle meaning out from among, ek. If you pull a credit card out of your wallet, you pull the credit card ekk, your wallet.

Out from among 20 other credit cards, you pull one out, okay? That's ekk, out from among. Ekklesia is from a verb, kaleo, K-A-L-E-O, meaning to call, to call forth, to call out, to call aloud. Various ways of saying it, but it means to call out from among.

This word ekklesia. I will build my called out ones. What a wonderful thought. Since the beginning of the church, our Lord has been reaching down into the ranks of humanity, selecting, choosing, calling, drawing to himself people, men, women, boys, girls, teenagers, older folks, all different sizes, all different kinds. He continues to call them out from among. And he places them where? He places them in his family. Well, it's clear that Chuck Swindoll places a high priority on the local church.

After all, he's invested his entire life in the local church as a pastor, Bible teacher, and the shepherd of a flock. And there's much more he wants to teach us about this important topic. We encourage you to keep listening so you can absorb the final half of his message, titled God's Bodybuilding Program. To learn more, visit us online at

Just to clarify, this study is just one small portion of the larger 22-part series. It's called Growing Deep in the Christian Life. If you're prepared to take your next steps towards growing deeper in your walk with God, I'd highly recommend his book by the same title. In this no-nonsense study, Chuck blows the dust off the dull doctrines and breathes life into the practical side of theology.

And becoming grounded in key theological truths will provide a strong foundation for whatever comes your way. You'll find Chuck's book, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, at slash store. You can also purchase a copy right now by calling us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As we close today, let me encourage you with this comment from a grateful listener who said, Thank you, Dr. Swindoll, for teaching God's Word. I've listened to Insight for Living for three years now. I've learned so much, maturing my growth as a Christian. I never knew I could fall so in love with our Savior. Thanks to all at Insight for Living. And he signed his comments, Saved by Grace. You know, that is such an encouragement to us, and it should inspire anyone who supported and prayed for this nonprofit ministry. You see, your gift makes these moments possible. We invite you to join in this effort to help others grow deep in the Christian life. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You can also give a gift of any amount online at I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us next time when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about God's Bodybuilding Program on Insight for Living. The preceding message, God's Bodybuilding Program, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, 2011, and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. The duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 14:10:30 / 2023-03-01 14:19:16 / 9

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