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Understanding Edification and Encouragement

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Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. - Ephesians 4: 29 (NKJV)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. - 1Thessalonians 5: 11 (ESV)

We get so much wrong in modern American Christianity. This is to be expected considering our propensity for wickedness and the fact that the Bible teaches us that few find the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. Few. Let that word sink into your spirit for a moment. We have churches claiming to save people by the thousands now. Churches performing spontaneous baptisms on thousands of people. Churches claiming tens of thousands of "decisions for Christ" every year. Yet the Bible plainly states that only a few will find the narrow gate that leads to heaven. Someone is mistaken and I am willing to bet it is not God; the Author of the Bible.

On top of this there are Christian buzzwords used throughout our faith to quell any true light being shone into the darkness that pervades the church today. People like what they like. They want to hear what they want to hear. The Bible teaches us that we will gather around us teachers who will tell us exactly what we want to hear. That this is our best life now. That we need to discover the champion inside of us. That God doesn't care about sin anymore and is never angry with us. That God is just waiting to throw open the windows of heaven and pour blessings down upon us until we figuratively drown in them. Two such misused buzzwords are edification and encouragement.

The Bible cannot be clearer about the reality of false teachings and false teachers. We are warned over and over again throughout the Gospels and the New Testament. It is clear they are a poison to the body of Christ. It is made plain that they lure people away from Christ and will result in the eternal damnation of many. It is clear we are to openly and publicly rebuke them, lest people continue to fall for their lies. Yet despite these glaring Scriptural facts, it seems so many well intended and even solid preachers/teachers will jump to the defense of what is false. They will sell out the sheep for the one pretending to be a shepherd. As a discernment ministry writer, I often receive these criticisms from good brothers and those who are just seeking to protect what they want to hear. These criticisms will eventually utilize the buzzwords edification and/or encouragement. They claim the work of exposing what is false is somehow not edifying and that the writing should be of more encouragement. I believe in what Paul Washer once preached - the person who loves you the most is the one willing to tell you the most truth. If you see someone driving their car off a cliff it is not encouraging to hold their hand on the way down and tell them everything is going to be OK. That is just cruel. Let us take a closer look at edification and encouragement as God intended these words to be used. The key verses are two often employed to discourage people from truth telling within the body. The first verse deals with edification but let's look at the entire context:

Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin":do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. - Ephesians 4: 25-29 (NKJV)

To edify means to build up. It does not infer goodness one way or the other yet it has been hijacked in modern Christianity to mean that anything critical is not edifying. That is pure nonsense. The entire context reveals what Paul was trying to express. What do we see when we consider the entire context?

1) We are to put away lying.

2) Everyone is responsible to speak the truth with everyone else.

3) We are part of one body.

4) We are to turn from sinful behavior towards righteousness.

So when we see the key verse we have a much better perspective as to what God is trying to teach us here. The "corrupt words" that are not to proceed out of our mouths are the same "lying" we are to put away. When we see the term "what is good for necessary edification" we now know refers to truth-telling. It is the truth which is edifying for a believer. This notion that edification must be a glowing positive statement is born out of the word faith heresy. Word faith teaches the law of attraction where our positive words attract positivity into our lives and negative words attract negativity. That sounds great from a worldly, carnal perspective but it is unbiblical. No beloved. What draws negativity into our live as believers is untruth. That is one reason why we are to put away lying. Falseness does not edify a believer. It tears a believer down. If I see a brother in sin and I just tell them to speak positive words over their life I have imparted nothing edifying to them at all. If I see a false teacher leading hundreds of thousands of people astray and I choose to not expose him for the worker of iniquity that he is, I have not edified anyone. That is because we are all responsible for telling the truth, no matter how much it hurts, for the betterment and maturity of the whole body of Christ. After all, we are part of one body. When we turn a blind eye and a mute tongue towards what is poisoning the body of Christ that is not "edifying." Only the truth is edifying beloved. Only the truth. Still unsure? Let us turn to Scripture where all of our questions are answered.

The Galatian church had been infiltrated by a group known as the Judaizers. This group was trying to mix the requirements of the law, such as circumcision, back into their new found grace through Jesus Christ. The equivalent today would be a preacher who is preaching something just as false. Maybe the notion that God wants you rich. Maybe the notion that if you give $100 to the preacher, God will give you back a thousand. Maybe the notion that God is never angry with you. That sin doesn't matter anymore. That the Ten Commandments are obsolete. That saying a three sentence prayer means you are saved. That our words have the power of creation. That we are little gods. That clairvoyance is prophecy. That false signs and wonders are real. All of these things are just like the Judaizers in the Church of Galatia. They are all mixing in what is false with what is true. They are all poisoning the body of Christ. What did Paul say to the Galatian Church? Did he hold their hand, sing Kumbaya, and tell them everything was going to be OK? No, he most certainly did not:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. - Galatians 3: 1 (ESV)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1: 6-10 (ESV)

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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